“Fears After the Indonesian Forest Fires” By Anna Ziering (2017)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize, Winner (2017)

Death, of course. Having no God.
Sunday afternoons, New England falls. Sleet storms
like the one that dented the new car and traumatized the dog,

who never liked loud noise; who, like me
when I was young, couldn’t stomach fireworks. They made us
cry—that spinet-silence between light and sound; the pause

I associate now with xenophobic celebrants, fanatics, bombs,
the oil cliff, with flying
toward concrete

and with Misagh-1s. With floods; droughts; people
killing each other for water. Fire escapes and all that
they imply. With surviving too long, which seems worse

than not surviving. But then I’ve never liked the irreversible—
immediate or creeping by degree. In 2015, when I had my son,
I couldn’t look at him for days.

I knew the ending. Southeast Asia was on fire.
Our AC ran. Across the world, slow
ceiling fans carved circles in the spreading haze.

This poem first appeared in the 2017 edition of LRR.

“New Year on Pleasure Island” By Brian Sneeden (2017)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize, Second Place (2017)

What I did not know to make made itself
in vestigial hours between two o’clock

and dawn, when the shapes of birds
stitch together in my mind, and a single

cicada peels the air. Each letter I write
returns to water. I start one now and already

the flashy ceiling of a sentence
begins to fade, and I am left with nothing

but the island and its circuitous thought
like the bulb shards of sunsets in the reeds.

Without going to the place I had to go.
Without any of the particular things

I was told that I needed to make my life,
I walk again down this desolate bank, sitting

with the occasionally given happiness
of a cup with the last opaque drops

fingered, as the wet sand is fingered
by a blue roving thumb. There is no set time

for the clouds to lose their inherited gold,
no moment when the wind will stop

and the stenciled islands far out
melt into an even line. The last of

the season inserts its sun-wide button
into the waiting hole. The year is closed.

This poem first appeared in the 2017 edition of LRR.

“La Fusión” By Gabriela García Sánchez (2017)

It was reverence I felt then, and I did not
cower as it vibrated through me.
El ritmo bonded us by our pies, our caderas,
ventilating the air with scales speeding by.
The beats amplified between our pechos,
whistling for our cuerpos to collide. So I
took a breath that singed like
frankincense and myrrh spoiling my lungs.
I slipped into his steps, and I saw
why gods chose to keep us apart.

He cradled my hands like stolen pearls,
kneading them hasta que se sauvizaron como arena.
Swirling around in his palms. They blush
Como las Salinas de Cabo Rojo,
slick with sea foam. He slid his body
around me, mounting me into his arms.
We rippled as the beats liquefy our pace.
Step Step Step. He tapped, I kicked, We rasped
our caderas, gliding in, our piernas fused.
And we floated over the cobblestones, finessing
El tiempo to swirl around us like an eddy

Sending us through spaces in the heavens.
La musica’s grip tightened- tethering
Us en un nube de sus rayo . La luz bended
and slipped through our espacios.
We rolled and twisted it out, only letting it in
to glimpse at how our movimientos brillarion.
Straddling in, jolting out, side to side. Suspended
Here, we froze. Locked into a molten figure
Sizzling under dew.

This poem first appeared in the 2017 edition of LRR.