2009 Jeanne Lohmann Winners

 

 

Boyd W. Benson lives in Clarkston, Washington, with his wife, three stepsons, two Chihuahuas and a Pomeranian puppy.  He has taught at Washington State University for the last decade and has published poems in The Iowa Review, Ascent, Free Lunch and other publications.  Additionally, in 2007, his twenty-poem manuscript The Owl’s Ears was included in Volume 1 of the Lost Horse Press New poets Series: New Poets| Short Books, edited by Marvin Bell.  Recently, his poem “Owl” appears in the Anhinga Press anthology The Poets Guide to the Birds, edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser.  Benson serves as poetry editor for A River & Sound Review.

Rachel Dilworth’s first manuscript, The Wild Rose Asylum: Poems of the Magdalen Laundries of Ireland, won the 2008 Akron Poetry Prize, and it will be published by the University of Akron Press in Fall 2009.  Her poems have appeared in AGNI Online, TriQuarterly, American Literary Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Perihelion, CutThroat, and elsewhere, and are forthcoming in Chautauqua Literary Journal, Bay Nature, and Southern Indiana Review.  She has received, among other awards, a Fulbright Fellowship to Ireland for creative writing, a 2009 Jack Straw Writers Program residency, Yale's Clapp Fellowship for poetry, commendation in the UK National Poetry Competition, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and scholarship support from the Bread Loaf and Napa Valley Writers Conferences.

 

For money, Dennis Held, once wore a giant clam suit -- yes, a 7-foot foam-rubber geoduck outfit, replete with siphon -- in which he danced a version of the Mud Bay Stomp with the vice-president for student affairs of The Evergreen State College. A bit later, he received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana, and now teaches in a writers-in-the-schools program for Eastern Washington University. His first book, Betting on the Night, recently sold out its second printing. He lives in Spokane, where he runs a secondhand store called Area 58, with his wife, Connie Grove.

 

 

Leaves

                                                            Invention: from L. inventonium (nom. inventio) “a finding, discovery”

 

Because winter is a type of failure, from the center of a widening circle 

you walk beneath speechless trees to the river in the snow.

 

Because a leaf in winter shapes itself to the palm.

 

What widens outward like birdsong or leaves 

pointing, you follow, from the walls of a small room, downtown,

 

one window overlooking a vacant lot,

 

with what little choice you have. Because ripples turn blue water

silver, the gold beneath

 

the leaf is needed too.

 

     ~

 

These are leaves Meriwether Lewis found: yellowing upon a lip

of grass, knotted in the hair of children or dogs, or circling slow,

 

silent creek beds – leaves a form of bankruptcy had brought him,

who needed failure

 

like blood’s ink through veins and, then, written in a face,

like winter,

 

to send him elsewhere.

 

Because the muscles of his cheekbones complicate with age,

we wonder about Lewis’ face had he lived beyond thirty-five,

 

a face distant from itself, in portraits, the thin pout and brown eyes set

 

to a remote corner of the painter’s room, a fly circling,

or to some other life. A face somewhere else. A child’s face

 

of green leaves on the uppermost Missouri in August,

beneath a Hunter’s Moon or pressed between pages of a book,

 

leaves that knew only Spanish, or French, that spoke only

wind, like birds.

 

Only, birds are silent now – and your face abrupt

and urgent, completely here, in winter, beside a river.

 

     ~

 

A sketch of brown and yellow leaves against a fence, a dark green wine bottle, damp

newspaper, feathers, and a sandwich bag – like a thumb pressed against flesh – smeared and

heaped there. I wonder about the woman with a baseball cap standing over them.

 

Lewis kept notebooks filled with the shapes of leaves and trees, hills and rivers, birds and

beasts. He gathered these shapes into a truth. He invented: meaning he discovered what each

shape would mean and pieced together, page by page. This piecing together begins from a

single leaf.

 

When you are not here I hold the leaf between thumb and forefinger, press and sketch it

into the silent space I imagine you, between the city and the wider hills, and try to make it

sing. 

 

-  Brian Boyd

    

 

 

 

Valence

 

Rain runs like a panther on the islands—

sprung indigo of limbs and oxidation,

of sky and riding land and the distance

between there and here.  I grow impatient

with watching.  The hard wind stings like liquor

and I want to be in, to be soaked, to be overtaken

by the change of storm, by the predatory merger

of movement with moment in the claim of sensation.

 

This is the way I had waited on beauty to come,

hunting, severe and irresistible.

As though surely there was more event than one

curve of light up a white crocus or spilled

through the underfeather of a sparrow.  As though

it would catch me in its teeth and not let go.

 

-  Rachael Dilworth

 

 

Matrimony

 

Fishing. To piss her off, she said it

again: Fishing. So no, he didn’t have time

to pick up the wedding invitations

which is why she’s straddling Main Street

 

surrounded by hundreds of dollars’

worth of declarations of undying love

blowing into sewer grates, under loutish

SUV tires, the tissue inserts

 

gently unfolding their wings to rise 

in the breeze. Which is why she is crying,

which is why the quite elderly woman

bends to straighten the remains of the broken box

 

in the middle of the street – of course she was

in a hurry, set the damn thing on the trunk

which she never does but she was on her

lunch hour, sandwich now discarded in a heap

 

drawing flies, she dryly notes, thinking of him

casting thigh-deep in the Bitterroot, another

passerby chasing down the envelopes

cartwheeling up the sidewalk, miraculously

 

spared she thinks of his thighs, the river

pressing against them she thinks of moonlight

on downy hairs she thinks some times

she knows how it feels to be a river.     

 

Fishing. To piss her off.

 

-  Dennis Held