The contest chapbook, “twenty-fourth,” featuring cover art by local artist Doug Johnson, is available for a $10 donation (plus $2.50 for shipping). The chapbook can be found at Inklings Bookshop or by contacting Ed Stover, 509-833-8577.
Yakima Coffeehouse Poets presents just a few of the fine examples of the 2018 year’s prize poems from the Twenty-fourth chapbook…
Here are some samples of the twenty-fourth chapbook poems…
Reading Naomi Shihab Nye
In class the teacher reads poems about yellow gloves
and onions old as cedar trees. Small miracles.
She reads one about a Palestinian broom maker
working “thumb over thumb.”
You can write these poems, she says to the class.
Find your own broom makers.
Laughter swells. We have Baffaro someone calls.
Everyone laughs thinking about the school’s vice principal.
“Yes,” the teacher says. “Every school has a Baffaro,
but he answers to different names.”
The “Enforcer” someone calls and a poem is taking
the shape of polyester pants and ties wide as rivers.
Orson doesn’t care. On his desk
he has Sports Illustrated—the bathing suit edition.
Tyra Banks in a red polka dot bikini lies
just beneath his hot fingers. Tyra Banks
is more real than rules about attendance.
His Tyra is worth attending to. “Orson”?
The teacher’s voice echoes across a beach
in Cancún, as though it has traveled many miles.
“Orson? Can you think of a small miracle?”
He pauses. “Yes,” he says looking up from his magazine.
“White sand. Black skin. And strawberries
so cold they hurt your teeth.”
2018-from twenty-fourth chapbook
took me home to my waiting father
who passed no judgment on me
for my loss of direction
were all those years ahead
the ones my father warned me about
and how quickly they would pass
trying to draw his words back
the ones never spoken
about my war or his
of memory’s deepest water
shows snow across the lake
and distant train dreams
is a road we both traveled
and I feel his iron heart
throwing hammer blows to my own.
If I were a mountain, I would be a volcano.
Not just tall granite carved by long departed
glaciers, but a living breathing sculpture
with roiling innards made of fire. I could
be a volcano like Rainier, her pure cone shape
curving up to kiss the sky. The Indians call
her Tahoma, mountain of the gods.
Less perfect, but still a sleek cone, St. Helens.
Until one day she went crazy and blew off
her west side bulge. Hot breath killed a whole
old growth forest and dead trees tumbled down the Toutle.
But I wouldn’t be either of these. Not even
their cone shaped cousins who dance the ring of fire.
I’d be more subtle, look stable like the bread loaf
volcanoes that are Hawaii. You’d trust my broad
quiet shoulders and build your house on me.
How surprised we both would be when I cracked
into rivers of fire in my mad rush to the sea.
— After a line by Diane Seuss
It’s crazy how a daughter remembers the
mistakes her mother made—the purple-pink
bruises of going-along-to-get-along, the buttermilk scars of
not-wanting-to-make-a-scene, how a woman becomes moth
between window and screen. Her mother’s dreams were orchids
too frail to be spoken, her backstory pinned
to the bottom of her shoe. She came to
lean so hard on a man her legs grew gangrenous roots. A
daughter believes she’s run from this dance, this calamitous prom,
then discovers she’s wearing a hand-me-down dress.
He knows what’s coming. His older girls
grown, married, mothers themselves now.
This newer child the evidence of a second
life with Santa Claus and Halloween.
Sometimes putting her to bed, he remembers what’s
about to happen in a life cycle alien as any insect’s.
After the warm, wriggling larval stage,
there comes a coolness at the bus stop.
The daily goodbyes grow stoic and unsloppy.
Her eyes begin to roll. Her naked dancing stops.
Her phone calls grow furtive. Her mirror exhausted
as she spins the cocoon of adolescent pupation.
In the recombinant swirl of that dark chamber
are sobbing break-ups with warbling boys,
strategic emetics for hangovers and weight control,
tactical sweetness as nerve roots probe for purchase
in the crack between daring and life-threatening;
all encased by a membranous chitin, tough but not yet hard.
A final estrogenic surge and the cocoon splits.
The long wobbling legs unbend, and she stands
translucent and swaying on the cracked carapace
of her childhood: an alarming duplicate of her mother,
who, after the drying of wings, demonstrates
how to chew the head off an astonished mate.
2018-from twenty-fourth chapbook