“The Scientific Process” By Zachary Bradley (2015)

Collins Literary Prize Winner, Poetry (2015)

Ants can withstand 5,000 times their weight,
a strength attracting the envy of man.
But still, even the strongest backs can break.

I glue heads to a centrifuge and wait
for the force of spinning to make neck snap,
“Ants can withstand 5,000 times their weight.”

We’re making new robotics and they’re aimed
to kill because weapons are in demand.
We know even the strongest backs can break.

In Giza, they dragged limestone blocks for days
and died piling them into ant-hill-stacks.
Men can’t withstand 5,000 times their weight.

It’s a wonder built and polished by slaves,
three tombs for pharaoh’s bones with jewels in hand,
because even the richest backs can break.

A sultan scraped away the limestone face
and now the stones are lining his mosque’s halls.
Ants can withstand 5,000 times their weight,
but still, even the strongest backs can break.

This poem first appeared in the 2015 edition of LRR.

“Last Coyote” By Michael Stankiewicz (2015)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest, Third Place (2015)

for K.E.J.

Despite the buckshot of light from the sky’s many barrels
we can’t see them circling Boulder Ridge
at three o’clock in the morning.
You and I, blanket wrapped in the center of what you call
the moonfield—an abandoned soccer tract
where I’d played paintball as a kid.
Twelve years separate a paintball to the ass
from the truer peril of coyotes. When I used to worry about falling
victim to this town this is not what I imagined.
Yet from the part of my mouth
favoring the bitten cheek,
the bleeding tongue,
I enter into their conversation with a howl.
You laugh.
When I swerve to miss a coyote on the ride home
we’re still holding hands,
only I don’t miss and it’s not a coyote
but a girl dressed like a dog.
In high beam holy glow we come roadside
to a place where clairvoyance is a biting mosquito and we’re doing everything
wrong. You are without understanding
firing a paintball gun long after the whistle has blown.
My facemask is off.
You are still laughing.
You once told me you’d die
if a boy ever wrote a poem about you.
Be done with it
then.

This poem first appeared in the 2015 edition of LRR.

“Where are you from” By Marissa Stanton (2015)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest, Second Place (2015)

Silvana is talking about America,
my bike is between my skirt. I try to guess her age.
Later, I ask if she thinks the man next to the door is—
we talk, half-shouting in the café. Where is your daughter, now?
I’m mostly speaking to stones behind a fresco.
I’m still not good at it. But I want to make the most of my time.
Rilke talks to me the way I talk to myself.
In Connecticut lonely, dreaming about my ceiling,
I’m learning to see. I don’t know what it’s about.
Leaning into a city from another one, my neck
sticks out over the Atlantic. I try to belong
to where I place my feet, but they don’t know the difference.
The truth is I don’t miss people, the truth is I miss.

This poem first appeared in the 2015 edition of LRR

“September 18th” By Abigail Fagan (2015)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest, First Prize (2015)

Before they put the yellow sod back on
they asked if we’d like to take little clumps
of earth and help put him to rest,
fingerprinted bits to keep him
in the ground in the urn in Montana
where it’s cold underfoot and always dry.
We nodded and took lumps of earth
from the wheelbarrow. They sat
between our fingers like ice cubes,
cold as our wet chilled cheeks,
blue like the urn we circled with
our close-toed black shoes. We knelt
and placed our cloves of salt-watered dirt
in the hole. I put the dirt in my pocket first,
and it turned into dust in the warmth.

This poem first appeared in the 2015 edition of LRR