2018 Fall Contest, Theme – Harvest, 2nd Place Winner

by Joshua Boettiger

I figured I was
a forever henchmen,
slinging clay one
handful at a time
from an endless
bank of red earth.

But now, look—
it’s late Fall and
I got pockets
lined with loot.
I’m thick in the
right places.
The trimmers
are back in town
with their sticky
fingers and dull eyes.
Stand back, boys.
There’s enough
to go round.

The katsura tree
smells like burnt
sugar. Its heart-shaped
leaves rain gold
upon the patient.
I said,
I am blessed.
You said, No.
You are lucky.

Judge’s comments
“Payday” mixed common language (“Stand back, boys.”) in short lines. It created for me a mix of the weary laborer and the joyful Sisyphus that Camus describes walking back down the hill. It’s September and October. Its language: lined with loot, sticky.
—Michael Hanner

Joshua Boettiger’s poems and essays have appeared in Parabola, San Pedro River Review, and Zeek. He is a contributing author to the forthcoming anthology, Neither Here Nor There: The Many Voices of Liminality. He teaches poetry at Southern Oregon University’s Young Artists Institute, and at workshops through the Oregon Poetry Association. He is also a rabbi, a teacher of Mussar (Jewish Ethics) and Meditation, and a timber-framer. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.

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