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2012 Morton Marcus Poetry Prize:

Runner-up: David Sullivan
As Air

            (for the poet Kathleen Flowers, 1964-2009)

1.
Cancer hollows bones
to those of birds, grants you wings.
Pillowed in bed, bright

flowers are larger
than you. Days you nap, travel.
Some places pain you,

others grant giddy
happiness. All is fluid,
like strained chicken broth

that at least stays down.
You dictate words to those nearby,
each one privileged

to hear. You aren’t in
this world. No one can keep track
of you anymore.

2.
I’d picked out poems
I’d wanted to read to you.
Find a page I’d marked

in my Rumi: Fire
is my child, I must be consumed
and become the fire.

A child’s body
in the crematorium
seems to rise and fall

into its ashes
as the heat contracts muscles
before dissolving them.

When our daughter died,
stillborn, you folded me in
without consoling.

3.
On this darkened beach
I see the dead cormorant
by my cell phone’s glow.

I half-expect it
to blink, body to flap off
the log where it’s propped.

I hoist it and climb
slimed rocks, watching for a wave
big enough for it.

Stretch apart webbed toes,
bones like elongated fingers,
see black mites crawling.

Wherever it lands
it will be taken inside
by other bodies.

4.
I remember your
love of nut-encrusted brie,
garlic buttered snails,

the edgings of pies.
We celebrated your life
by baking dishes

you’d taught us to love.
Nothing for it but to turn
and head up the path

so I don’t see it
roll over onto the sand,
so I’m off the hook.

You always said: Look.
I turn around. Water’s skin
undulates, endless.


David Allen Sullivan

David Allen Sullivan’s first book, Strong-Armed Angels, was published by Hummingbird Press, and two of its poems were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Every Seed of the Pomegranate, amulti-voiced series of poems about the war in Iraq, was published by Telbot Bach. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his love, the historian Cherie Barkey, and their two children, Jules and Amina Barivan.

 

Spring 2012

Fiction
Vinnie Hansen
Clifford Henderson

Nonfiction
Vergere Street
Dena and Becky Taylor

Poetry
Bri Bruce
SA Smythe
Debra Spencer
J. Zimmerman

Morton Marcus Poetry Runners-Up
Curt Anderson
Catherine Segurson
David Sullivan

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