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.
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,
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
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
- Brian Boyd
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
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