October 21-27, 2013: Douglas Richardson, Aaron Gardner and Donal Mahoney

This week presenting the winners of the
2013 (16th annual) Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest:

Douglas Richardson, Aaron Gardner and Donal Mahoney


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Douglas Richardson
weakcreature@aol.com

Bio (auto)

Douglas Richardson won first place in the 2013 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. He was born in Duluth , Minnesota , and raised in Camarillo , California . He currently lives in Los Angeles , where he works as a proofreader, editor, novelist, and poet. Publication credits this year include Straight Forward Poetry and The Nervous Breakdown. His books Poems for Loners and Ghosts in Time and Space were selected by Poetry Super Highway as Holiday Recommendations in 2010 and 2011, respectively

The following work is Copyright © 2013, and owned by Douglas Richardson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Notes from the Graveyard Shift

1.
We sit silently at our stations waiting for work.
There is time to think.
There is time to listen for answers.
We fear what might happen
if we lose our jobs: insomnia, starvation,
the violence on the streets during these hours which,
for us, are hazy and placid.
The halls in our building are dark.
The lights turn off for lack of motion.
There is time to think.
There is time to listen for answers.
We hear the ticking of our watches,
the hum of the air vent.
We think, If death is like the graveyard shift,
that wouldn’t be so bad.

2.
Because you are human beings,
you expect vivid descriptions of the character quirks
of we who sit silently at our stations waiting for work.
We are reluctant to indulge you, however,
because we are skeptical of such descriptions.
We find they are mostly exaggerations and
are sometimes outright lies.
There is nothing phonier than a big personality.
There is nothing more demeaning
than a nickname.
Work with us for a month and you will
appreciate our position on this matter.

3.
There isn’t much difference
between night and day.
Both are lit by stars,
as any space traveler knows.

4.
Preparations for work begin just after sunset.
When the sky has darkened, we prepare our lunches
and then sit as still as possible
to conserve energy.
Listening to classical music is advised.
Reading is not.
You may be surprised to learn that few of us
think of ourselves as night owls and that
most of us are connoisseurs of sunrises,
rather than moon phases.

5.
Lunch hour is at 3 a.m.
We always take lunch in the lunchroom because
we are afraid to leave the building at this hour.
If we take a disagreeable bite,
we are free to spit it into the lunchroom sink
without fear of judgment or reprisal.
We are also free to genuflect and to pray out loud.
When lunch hour is over,
we wash our dishes in silence.

6.
(4:15 a.m.)
The moths are awake at this hour,
orbiting a desk lamp. They don’t believe in night prowlers,
incubi, or succubi. Nor do we.
This shift can make a realist out of anybody.
(4:45 a.m.)
Where did the moths go? Who turned off the lamp?
What was that chill? Those shadows?
Who slammed the door?
Oh, we must have nodded off.
Hosanna.

7.
On bad nights, we work like satellites,
like drifters in the dark periphery.
On bad nights, we know not to answer voices that ask,
Where is your girlfriend sleeping tonight?
It is better to occupy ourselves with Internet articles,
such as “Hubble Reveals Ghostly Ring of Dark Matter”
or “Mars Experiment Might Help Earthling Insomniacs.”

8.
We who sit silently at our stations waiting for work
understand immediately when one of our own is in trouble.
Just last week one of our security guards
began to obsess on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The rest of us called a meeting in the halls,
which caused the lights to turn on,
which gave us an idea for an intervention.
We requested, and our security guard agreed to
three days of intensive light therapy without sleep.
We are happy to report that he now watches surf movies.

9.
When the final graveyard shift ended
and we all went under,
we were delighted to discover
more than silent slumber.

10.
We who sat silently at our stations waiting for work
see each other in daylight in the outside world.
We see each other at beaches
or on park benches in the sun.
We can be spotted all around the world.
A liquid presence surrounds us,
as if we are swimming.
Outsiders catch themselves staring at us.
A curious peace overcomes them.


Aaron Gardner
mistergardner@gmail.com

Bio (auto)

Aaron Gardner won second place in the 2013 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. He lives in Ojai, California and is a poet, educator, and father of two phenomenal children. He has been heavily involved in the spoken word scene since 1999, and was the Oakland Grand Slam Champion in 2010. Aaron continues his work locally with young poets to help them discover their voices and the power contained therein.

The following work is Copyright © 2013, and owned by Aaron Gardner and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Goosedown

His words had weight. Each one
making it just past numbed lips
only to crash onto the formica top
of the desk between us, gouged deep
by the scratching of countless pencils.

We both stared at them sitting
there on the table; bold, harsh
they dared me to hold. Dared
him to believe in their existence.

“I’ll have to hide my father’s gun”
he said, words clattering like spent
shells at his feet, “it’s too tempting.”
My heart and silence broke like a fever,
I spoke without thinking.

I told him a story about birds;
how a single Canadian goose will fly down with
an injured comrade while the flock flies on
and wait until he recovers enough to continue.
As I spoke, the color returned to his face
like mercury rising.

The pressure of holding all those leaden
words for so long gave way.
He sighed like a steam engine into his elbows
scooped each word carefully into steady hands.
One, he lingered over, broke in half, handed
me the remains.

When he returns from the place one must go
with words like these, I will remove the half
from my pocket. I will light a fire,
and we will dance like only weightless people can,
like geese returning to the flock.


Donal Mahoney
donalmahoney@charter.net

Bio (auto)

Donal Mahoney won third place in the 2013 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. He lives in St. Louis Missouri and has been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poetry and fiction published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found here: http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html

The following work is Copyright © 2013, and owned by Donal Mahoney and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

So Fingertips Kiss

Five kids, eight years.
And then one day my wife
shouts to me on the tractor
roaring in the field:

“I’ve had enough.”
And like a ballerina,
she rises on one foot, sole
of the other foot firm

against her knee
and with arms overhead
so fingertips kiss,
she smiles,

pirouettes,
and then like a helicopter
lifts into the air,
whirls over the garage

and keeps rising.
I can do nothing now
but curse
and be proud.

As if at the ballet,
I applaud from the tractor
and blink at the inferno
as she hits the sun.