“Artifacts of Our Affection” By Amber West (2014)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize, Second Place (2014)

When I notice mold in my toothbrush mug
I remember the pigeons
roosting in the airshaft:
their toilet, their nest, our bedroom view
dusk and dawn

Monogamous, amorous, pigeons are known for their soft cooing calls

Once I had
three mugs. Gold-trimmed.
Blond carousel ponies
painted on each side. A gift from your parents
our last Christmas. I thanked them
politely, might’ve even cooed

Slaughtered indiscriminately, the passenger pigeon became extinct
in 1914

One shattered in the sink.
I sold another on the sidewalk. The last survives
demoted: bathroom workhorse

Servants and slaves often saw no other meat. Pigeons in your
dreams suggest

You left the photo I gave you
in the emptied dresser:
us against the wind on Golden Gate Bridge

you are taking blame for the actions of others, or may express
a desire to return home

but you took the bread maker,
the banjo engraved with a golden eagle

Once used for carrying messages, pigeons represent
gossip or news. It is thought they may navigate by the sun

I take down the cloth paintings
we bought in India. Pigeon
this message to the moon:

There is no true scientific difference

in the afterglow shuffle,
bedroom to kitchen,

between a pigeon and

your Valentine bathrobe remains
useful –

a dove

each man it embraces

This poem first appeared in the 2014 edition of LRR.

“Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Last One-Artist Show at the Baghoomian Gallery” By Kate Monica (2014)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest, Second Place (2014)
Collins Literary Prize, Poetry Winner (2014)

The passion’s bled out.
I’ve split open all the oranges I possibly could to see
the wet jewels shining like teeth in the sun and I’ve pushed

my fingers into the meat of it and I’ve popped the small
striated pouches; the sweetness is all over my hands and I am washing it off
without ever having tasted it.

This is how my mother describes my life to me over the phone.
I’m tearing the skin off all the oranges,
flushing the juice down the sink.

For a while I wanted no money and every night
met a girl on my neighbor’s roof to tell her
something inconsequential.

For a while I had a jean jacket with white-ringed sleeves and a sign saying
’Death To Docility.’
I had her hand

I played clarinet in the hysterical twilight on the corner of Green and Franklin –
Feel better feel better feel better
I rotted under her pillow and it was dark and warm and I liked it.

There is a sore under my chin from sitting so long
in the smoke of the city while my father loudly changed the page of his newspaper.
The graffiti on the walls and freight cars are about him.
I wrote it in my sleep sort of.

I am nodding off in someone’s basement.
I like the way this music goes with her hair.
I feel better don’t you feel better –

in the corner of the room do you see him the boy from my 9th grade science class is sucking cock for coke
for the past 15 years I have felt like a hollow skull with an unhinged jaw and a
football helmet on

my mother told me of Samson breaking down the temple
I am tearing all the nets off the tennis courts

these two broad brush strokes this orange this blue
are a madman crying in his hands or laughing
you don’t care which

I dreamt of my lifeless body because I didn’t know what else to do
I kissed her because I didn’t know what else to do
she tasted like a black-alley cackle and a figure slouching
towards me and the dripping and a Cheshire cat grin from a
red red face yellow eyes and
i’m standing there equidistance apart from both brick buildings
all the audience are poorly drawn mannequins
only their yellow heads visible oval-shaped and gawking
they eat me alive and i love it
the quick flick of their tongues over my corpse-thin extremities
red face yellow eyes
my art is hanging on the walls it’s as simple as that i am striding in front of the paintings in an armani suit the gallery is full of people the girl i love is smoking outside she won’t come in i’m icarus and she’s the sun i’m icarus and she’s the sun my father my father my mother is so proud i am the yellow skeleton oval-shaped corpse-thin extremities raised overhead in triumph riding my black horse towards death my mother my father are so

This poem first appeared in the 2014 edition of LRR.

“The Wall” By Miller Oberman (2014)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest, Winner (2014)

Once, drunk, and having just
avoided a fight,
the two walked outside
from the dark dive
smelling thrillingly of sour
beer and sweat and clapping
the blue pool chalk
from their hands, they,
coming to a boarded up
construction site,
made fists, their hair
stuck up stiff with grease
and punched the wall
as hard as they could.

The wall did nothing.
The wall did not respond
or retaliate, except if you
consider its lack of splintering
a kind of taunt.

He thought his knuckle
would be tender forever.
Though the green skin faded,
the bone bruise remained
and finally leached away, unnoticed.
It was ten lifetimes
later, he realized his friend
was gone and his knuckle
was also left lonesome
for that longtime buddy,

This poem first appeared in the 2014 edition of LRR.