2005 Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize Winners

 

Lyn Coffin – Lyn is currently a Writer in the Schools for Seattle Arts and Lectures, an actor with EffectiveArts, and an experienced certified social worker. She is the author of seven books, three of original poetry, four of translation from Russian and Czech. One of her stories appeared lifetimes ago in Best American Short Stories, edited by Joyce Carol Oates.. She moved to Seattle a little over a year ago, and has read at Bumbershoot, Burning Word House of Open Mics, Elliott Bay Bookstore, and elsewhere, and launched Hugo House's series, "Writers and Work" last year.

 

Kevin MillerKevin lives in Tacoma, Washington. For the past thirty-three years he has worked in public education in Washington State. He presently is an assistant principal at Washington Middle School in Olympia. Blue Begonia Press has published two collections of his poetry, Light That Whispers Morning and Everywhere Was Far.

 

Ocean - Ocean lives in Olympia with his four-year-old daughter. His first collection of poems, "Jupiter's Sorrows," was released in 2003.

 

 

Ned's Aria (a run on sestina)

 

Beginnings, yes. But who knows how things will end?

As a feverish child, singing in my everyday sickbed,

I didn't. Neither did my seamstress mother, forced to bend

every night over her own lap, biting off thread

as she sewed. She said, "The truth isn't in wine,

or song. If you want the truth, you have to divine

 

it like underground water, with a stick, not try to define

it as yours, but the one truth worth knowing, we learn at the end."

My Sunday school teachers didn't confine

themselves to the truth: "Sing at the table, sing in bed,"

they said, "The Devil will get you when you're dead."

They really thought-- I thought, as well-- God would send

 

singers of love songs to hell. But my path there took a sudden bend

in high school, when my art teacher praised "the Romantic, divine

Fragonard..." She said Classicism was hanging by a thread,

his swinging girl, her half-off shoe, marked its end.

I hung a poster of that girl above my bed:

­I could almost hear her singing. Some nights, I'd dream her fine

 

day, her lover, her world, her after-world, were mine:

I'd swing into heaven on a song. But that dream would end

in daylight guilt, my covers at the foot of my bed.

Mom said, "Start dating. Develop your own party line."

Her words wandered. When she finally found the deep end

of her life, her mind bent over, and bit off the thread

 

of her thought.... Ned, my college voice coach, said

"Your voice is hopeless, and I love you." Ned drank too much wine,

but he wove my name into an aria. He became my friend,

my confidante, my lover. The school year came to an end,

and Ned had no job. He got drunk and enlisted one fine

May day- Nine months later, his last letter home said

 

music obscured the truth... When I'm lying in bed

some nights, the aria Ned rewrote for me starts to thread

its way through the dark of my mind like a musical vine.

The ticking clock is a metronome, then, not a mine.

I hear his love song coming from beyond the bend,

"Carolyn ben, credimi almen."

 

A sword hangs by a thread above the bed

I call mine. I hope our spirits will blend into mercy

like music at the end: it's a hope I savor like wine.

 

Lyn Coffin

 

 

When My Mother

 

tired of her life, she re-arranged

furniture and re-painted the porch.

On the way home from school,

I'd see the hydrangea staked back

like a blue circus tent in a big wind.

Once she recovered, she asked me

to paint the house to match.

 

My mother tried to drive fear from my life.

She gathered a box of snakes to show the way.

After school when she opened the lid,

the snakes had disappeared.

She giggled till she cried, her box of air

and tears a cloud I carried around

until another woman blamed me for rain.

 

When our mother died, she was fifty-seven

and down to eighty pounds. She ordered

living room carpet and talked of her youngest's

graduation. The next ceremony, Father said,

Stiff upper lip, so we swallowed the sky

in thin sips. My brother, just fourteen,

did the dead man's float for a year.

 

Another November nears, and water color

falls from maples, other worlds return

through the lines of black limbs.

My daughter's laughter winds through a day

the way slough carries the markings of another

season. No one fears winter, the northerly

blue-eyed clarity to match mother reason.

 

Kevin Miller

 

 

Octopus

 

The end of your liquidy undulations came

When you dragged your flowerpot head out

Of the purse-seine net onto the iron ships’ deck

And slimed down a drain hole

Behind the rear cargo hold.

We didn’t get to you for eight days cuz the catch was on.

By then you stank and had frozen into a solid wad against a grease trap.

We had to crack you out in bits.

I kept and thawed your black-pouch;

Your ink has let me write these lines.

 

Ocean