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These poetry finalists from the 2006 poetry contest were published in the MMM Vol VIII print edition:
Blended Woman and Man
by Kathleen Kirk
You are the many minnows kissing me
in a luminous cave
You are gush and spout of me, needless-
saying sap, milk of wood stem,
lilac petals dripping
You stitch my words
inside your stovepipe hat for later,
a silk tattering
You cover your mouth when you laugh,
the butt of the gun having
shattered the teeth and bones
of the past
You cover my mouth with your mouth
in the tilt of the room, tender
spangle of fishnet, button
You are a shadow spread
of brown birds in the dooryard
We are shy of one another
since the bold garden
You are the tree and the shy birds roosting,
you are the opening forest
I am a snow of plum petals,
always the lilac blooming,
lavender triangle of spiderwort
beside the road
You are the man without
I am the woman without
Home from Market
by Jennifer Chapis
Walking home from the market,
the back of my head opens like a garage door.
I hug the wet paper bag. Groceries slip out the bottom.
Flies. Birds. Illusion. Weather.
thundershowers. The street,
thousands of —
Then still, altogether.
Rubber ball spit out by a gumball machine
Who doesn’t want it?
Boundless passion, spellbound
Neither of us
could have kept this going.
Sunk in the mud, a cherry tomato could be
a kid’s rubber ball.
Pasta sauce splatters the pavement.
There was a time when
on my back I worshipped you.
might distance get started?
by Rita Brady Kiefer
#1 (for Lara)
All those years i hated blue, the color of
cops who never believed me, and black
for the priest who told me to stay,
my X’s calculations deceptive as the hair
that covered what the wall did to my head
each time ‘til i dropped my daughter,
a manic for order, barely able to straighten
family photos between episodes
that wall was convincing enough i stayed
to reform: my looks my attitude
my spaghetti straps proof i was the slut
he dubbed me (my apricot silk and all my sheer
favorites now bunched at the bottom of the oak
chest, hidden under more sturdy reliables)
fourteen summers i stayed.
You should have left sooner, friends told me.
And the therapist.
Easy for them to say.
#2 (for Angelica)
I have nothing to say for now
someday, maybe then
even the Chatfield Dam won’t hold.
In the beginning I thought I was happy until
the grading began: B- for housework, D for
meals, a C+ in bed. I tried to improve.
The cracked ribs were one for each
girl-goddamn you for not giving me a son-baby
both F children, still I stayed ‘til I found
what I found in their little pajamas
one morning convinced me.
#3 (for Lizette)
I thought it was my fault, my sensitive skin
mom used to call a Reubens when she
lotioned me on the changing table,
and on my wedding day she glowed:
eighteen and still peaches and cream.
Often after love my bruised thighs
had memorized his fingers. I’d heard
some men in love are like that.
Then he began to shred my watercolors
and charcoals. That last night my naked feet
bled from the ground glass in the carpet space
I dubbed studio, but I didn’t even wince at
the splinters between my toes on that
nine-mile walk to A Woman’s Place.