October 24-30, 2022: Poetry from Contest Winners B. J. Buckley, Jan Harris and Ashley Cline

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B. J. Buckley

B. J. Buckley won first place in the 2022 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. She has worked in Arts in Schools/Communities programs throughout the west and midwest for over 45 years. She conducts residencies and workshops in schools, libraries, senior centers, homeless shelters, museums, at conferences, with writing groups and book clubs, and with special needs adults and children. Her poems address the stark and dangerous beauty of the west, its animals, plants, weather, geology and geography, as well as the lives of the people who choose it as home.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by B. J. Buckley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Hagendorfer’s Garage

Weeds breaking through black asphalt underneath the dirty snow. Rust,
wood shavings, a mess of scrap and stacks of rotting tires, decaying cardboard
boxes, Valvoline and Shell Oil, red-white-and-blue, red/yellow, the mock-tile
aluminum facade with its smart green stripe, windows miraculously intact
and caked in dust, gas pumps alien in their shapes, avatars of another century,
air hose as empty as the shed skin of a snake. Hag was a wiry man,
short from a childhood starved of dinners though not of kindness. He’d replace
your windshield wipers free, tsk like an old woman over burned-out headlights,
broken turn signals, radiators low on coolant, motors drinking oil the way
the old Basque sheepherders went through whiskey. He never charged
for anything save labor, engine parts, and gas, loved us when we left
the car doors open so his crippled dog could gimp up into the back seat
in the shade and sleep. Made coffee that could peel paint. We drank it
black and he loved us for that, too, for not hurrying, for the fancy cigarettes
we brought him out from town. He had a wife once. She died. We had
unworthy boyfriends who we loved too much, and he helped us whip up
courage to cut the rope and cut our losses. Sometimes his radio got
a signal and we danced to whatever music crackled through the ether,
skinny girls in too tight Levis and a bent old man, and we laughed,
promised him if we ever got married he could give us away. You gals
too smart for that, he’d tell us. Time for you to git on down the road.

Jan Harris

Jan Harris won second place in the 2022 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. She lives in Nottingham-shire, United Kingdom and writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories. Her work has appeared online at Ink Sweat and Tears and Visual Verse, and in publications such as Mslexia, 14 Magazine, and Envoi. She received second prize in the Earlyworks Press 2015 Web Poetry Competition.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Jan Harris and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

We eat oranges and talk about the nature of truth

I tell you that the orange has the perfect name,
an O to show its shape,
the zing of colour when you think the word.

But you – ever the entomologist – remind me,
if you could see through a honeybee’s eyes
it would look yellowy-green.

You score the zest with a knife –
release the citrus scent of Christmas,
satsumas tucked in stocking toes.

You’re so… traditional, you say, laughing.
I wonder if you’re thinking, old-fashioned,
predictable, maybe even boring.

To you, it smells of our holiday in Seville,
orange blossom in every street and square.
How we swept home at dawn, petals in our hair.

You cup the orange in your palm,
separate each segment tenderly
as lips might open for a kiss.

I slice my fruit in half and find a sunburst inside,
the radiance of your smile,
a wheel speeding away with us.

Ashley Cline

Ashley Cline (she/her) won third place in the 2022 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. An avid introvert, full-time carbon-based life-form and pop music scholar, she crash-landed in south Jersey some time ago and still calls that strange land home. A Best of the Net 2020 finalist, her poetry has appeared in 404 Ink, Okay Donkey, and Parentheses Journal—among others—and her debut chapbook, & watch how easily the jaw sings of god, is available now (Glass Poetry Press, 2021). Once, in the summer of 2019, she crowd-surfed an inflatable sword to Carly Rae Jepsen, and her best at all-you-can-eat sushi is 5 rolls in 11 minutes. Twitter: @the_Cline. Instagram: @clineclinecline.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Ashley Cline and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

mast years, or i am once again wishing we could be trees

it has been recorded that, deep in wild & ancient forests, tree stumps go on living, despite whatever violence cut them down in the first place. it seems that, on occasion, neighboring & nearby trees will nourish their felled friends, feeding them sugars & other nutrients through their root systems. this kindness can go on for centuries.

i am learning how to be soft / i take my cues from supernovas, thread my mouth
with velvet & pine sap / it is winter—& the radio plays something sweet & slow

& i am reminded / that there is earth that hasn’t known your touch; hasn’t known
the way you turn history over with your tongue / hasn’t known that—i should like

to be made beautiful; to be dressed in snow goose down / & quiet stillness, in some-
thing tied up in holy furs / what must it be like to bend beneath a new weight like

stubborn shelter / to be wed in summer’s clothing—& naked come the fall? i have
been told that it is better to be content / than happy & most days, i believe this to be

true / because the way to want is simply an unhinging of your jaw & breathing your
name inside of a throat / like a glass jar sweet with jam; it’s as simple as decorating

your delicate hands with / something like pinecones & morning &—it’s simple, you
say, when you can no longer grow as tall / or when your spine cannot stretch any

farther, i will spend my days describing the sky to you / every star & shade of blue
&—it is winter, & i am learning how to be soft / when i walk, i do not see the trees;

i do not see the forest / i see only you.

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