So much beauty

Japanese poetess and her listeners. Before 1902We almost couldn’t do it. We got so many phenomenal poems that it was hard for In Our Books to decide on a winner for our first prompted poetry contest: “Money, money, money.” Each poem had so much that was special and striking about it:  imagery, idea or philosophy,  message, form (including pantoums, triolets, and limericks), narrative, and voice. We can’t thank you all enough for contributing so much wonderful work.

In the end, we finally managed to settle on not one but two winners between whom we’ll split the prize. The two winning poems are “The Value of Things” by Jay Sizemore and “this glamorous profession” by Daniel Ari. We will be posting short interviews with each of these poets soon as well as the list of runners up. We thank all of you, readers and participants, for sharing with us and one another -we’re so lucky to be in contact with so many terrific writers.

Jay Sizemore’s “The value of things”

Coins pressed into palms like silver stigmata
turn hands into the heads of venomous snakes,
their poisoned fangs penetrating the flesh
of all that is touched or owned.

The whiter the teeth,
the better the slave,
to feed and to bathe,
to whip with the tongues
of black ties like nooses untied,
deciding who lives, and who dies,
distended stomachs, and mouths
full of flies.

These elections are for slugs squirming
under flags faded by light,
pushing past bearded and dirt-caked faces
perched above cardboard signs,
a trail of slime ten miles wide,
waiting for the ambrosia
to trickle down,
mistaking the salt for snowflakes.

These snakes swallow houses whole,
jawbones unhinged, mine mine mine
whispered between meals and flickered
fork tongues, dead eyes wishing
that the sun was for sale.

Daniel Ari’s “this glamorous profession”
after Patrick Sokas, M.D.

Bill took an interest in my suit.
“Where did you get it?”

I looked at my feet and mumbled.

“I have one just like it.”

I glared. “This was my only suit, a mail-order suit.”

“You probably saw a picture on a model.”

“It looked good, though it was probably pinned up in back.”

“You said, ‘I want that suit.’”

“Actually I said, ‘I can afford that suit.’”

Bill took away my notebook,
and he played reporter for a while.


13 thoughts on “So much beauty

  1. Congratulations, fellas. Your poetry always pleases, sometimes surprises, and is always worthwhile. So glad to see it here. So, hats off to you, Daniel, and you, Jay. Well deserved win.

  2. Congratulations you two!! So very well deserved and I don’t envy Andrea in trying to choose. I love that she chose two such different takes–both wonderful. Always enjoy your voices.

  3. Pingback: Connections: chatting with Jay Sizemore | in our books

  4. Pingback: Connections: a little time with Daniel Ari | in our books

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