twenty-third chapbook

The contest chapbook, “twenty-third,” featuring cover art by local Yakima artist Chyrl Hahn, is available for a $10 donation. Please contact Ed Stover for more information.

Email Yakima Coffeehouse Poets for more information.

The Yakima Coffeehouse Poets presents just a few of the fine examples of the 2017 year’s prize poems from the Twenty-third chapbook…

Yakima Coffeehouse Poets



PLAIN ENGLISH
 
Plumb at the center
of any word
a tiny heart waits
for a voice
to set it ticking.
Noun hearts are often
enlarged
and slack
from a heavy diet
of adjectives.
Verbs are a divided tribe,
Norman and Teutonic.
The shortest own the most
vitality, unless
adverbs upstage them.
Be careful
as you speak
which words you wake
and feed. They might
follow you home.
          —Joyce Hernandez
  2017-from twenty-third chapbook 
Yakima Coffeehouse Poets
BELOW ZERO
 
The night fell into a deeper tighter night.
The house creaked like ship timbers.
Morning came slowly, parting the trees.
The cows’ noses are nubbed with ice.
The bull’s sheath hairs are icicles.
The horse’s ears are frosted milkweed pods.
The chicken water, despite its heater,
is ringed in ice. The horse’s water-trough
frozen tight as each split egg.
You leave frost prints through foggy silence
as you go to hack at what squeezed
down and hardened in the night,
that fist closing around all living things.
You pry it open, then feed the steaming breaths.
                    —Joe Powell
    2017-from twenty-third chapbook
Yakima Coffeehouse Poets
THE GREAT PYRENEES BITCH
 
These brittle solstice nights stars tangle buried in
rivulets of icicles won’t make it above zero while
     White Pyrenees shatters sleep her muzzle folds snarl tooth
           howls outside the house and cold waves me awake

 

Dream of you like an important friend I swim forward
gasp and flail after years of tumbling dark chipped hole
     Old neighbor far above sights four wolves stock still cracks
           dark as he stumbles dizzy to rifle for the brittle stars

 

Those many years I still remind myself of myself, curls and borrowed
long leg litheness hardly anchored beyond next sharp-nosed male ahead
     This mix of dog weaves metallic-coat mountain-thread she claims entire
           range her yodels crystal growled in more than one language

 

Entire resume´ of work and midnights you stretch on the couch always important
welcome until an itch or scratch too long like just another flea of yours not mine
     Her silver shoulders thrust the long legs bend and fling devour cascades
           she races fields of sheen-barred-light a sword point with curled tail

 

We lose that fragrance with age and complexity never hesitating as if we
know what is vital still stutters the back of the throat then slumbers us a lullaby.
                                   —Penny K. Johnson
2017-from twenty-third chapbook 
Yakima Coffeehouse Poets
UP HERE ON SCHULLER GRADE
 
I wake to a rooster’s crow
Mexican music in the orchard
ladders already reaching up, up
into trees thick with apples.
Stubbled fields and sky for miles.
Lupine and balsamroot
splash purple and yellow
on a sagebrush canvas.
Sometimes these hills reassure,
rolling on and on.
Ahtanum Ridge to the south,
Mt. Clemens, to the north.
Mount Adams always there,
like a birthmark. A loyal sentry
guarding the horizon.
Tumbleweeds and goatheads ask
if dying might be something I’ll be able to do
without being scared out of my mind.
This landscape is teaching me things.
How to gather it up, take it all in.
How to kneel where I am, and pray.
                    —Terry Martin
        2017-from twenty-third chapbook
Yakima Coffeehouse Poets
MIDSTREAM
 
“So God, we…”
Every Sunday
our pastor begins the prayer
this way
as if already deep
in the middle
of a conversation
with God—
and we just joined in.
I recall the words
of my Japanese calligraphy 
teacher
the thick wet tip
of his bamboo brush
poised high above
a blank sheet of
rice paper—
The brush stroke begins
before
the ink touches the paper.
 
From invisible to visible
From silence to hearing
A message flows
through us
and we receive it
midstream.
          —Victoria Patschke
  2017-from twenty-third chapbook