Fall Poetry Contest – Poet’s Choice, First Place

OPA Fall 2020 Contest Results in the Poet’s Choice Category
“To all the poets who submitted to Poet’s Choice: it was a deep pleasure to read your work. It is
the nature of contests that only a very few can be recognized, and I regret the disappointment
felt by the many – having often experienced it myself. Onward!” (Pepper Trail, Judge)

First Place in Poet’s Choice: “Rise on Up” by Mark Hammerschick
I’m looking at George Floyd
on the cover
of The New Yorker
and he seems sad
looking south
into lands lost on the Delta
where cotton in the seam
covers the dreams of those
lost in dreams deferred
where hope is not allowed
and tears can see
the pure brilliance of invisible men
picking cotton
in the humid chill of mourning
down in the callous hollow
where the women come and go
chatting about their hydrangeas
where did the summer go
and how does it measure
a life lived in the cross hairs
of subliminal annihilation
step out of the vehicle
license and registration please
arms raised
arms up like Ezekiel holding the wheel
holding up against all hope
against the wall
that divides us all
and in that holding
a life is defined
a life is lived large
go down Moses
go down to the river
where the waters of redemption flow
and in that flow
we hug the lost raisins
so they don’t explode
and we know
that the flow
is rising on up

Poet’s Bio: Mark writes poetry and fiction.He holds a BA in English from the University of
Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a BS and MBA.He is a lifelong resident of the Chicago
area and currently lives on the north shore, most of his professional career has been
focused on digital strategy and online consulting as a solution architect and digital
transformation strategist. His current work will be published in The Metalworker,
Vext Magazine, Breadcrumbs Magazine, Meat for Tea,The Valley Review, and others.

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