October 5-18, 2009: Jim Knowles, Sian Lindsey and Brenda Tate

week of October 5-18, 2009: 

This week presenting the winners of the
2009 (12th annual) Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest:

see the complete contest details here

Jim Knowles
Sian Lindsey
Brenda Levy Tate

click here for submission guidelines

Jim Knowles

Bio (auto)

Jim Knowles is from Andover, Massachusetts He wone first place in the 2009 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by Jim Knowles and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


A ship, they said: an island’s more the case One touch of lips that tore four souls apart The clock has stopped above the campus lawn What matters most can hang you from a chain.

Three sets of feet were splashing in the foam Above canals, the windows cut the sun And there you are in photo number three You started skidding sideways on the road.

He leaves a candle where the future died There still are things that he can never say That grey flypaper will not let her go But nothing here exists that won’t be gone.

The rubber mask, the hiss of oxygen Outside the silent river rumples by.

Sian Lindsey

Bio (auto)

Sian Lindsey won 2nd place in the 12th annual Poetry Super Highway poetry contest and lives in County Donegal Ireland.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by Sian Lindsey and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Slainte (A sestina for Ireland)

I have turned my face to the winter streets
of Ardara and traced the curling lines of smoke
from lively fires that crackled bright with turf And in the thickening cold the mist
that rises from the rain-steeped russet bogs brings in
the smoke and settles just above the window frames.

I have stood at the edge of the battered cliff that frames
the roiling sea beneath Slieve League, and in the streets
of Donegal I’ve closed my eyes and revelled in
the smell of earth, and the thickening smoke
that eases down like winter soup on the soft, grey mist I have stained my shoes in puddles brown with turf.

In Galway I once stole some turf
from a field, where it sat in triangular frames
of hand-hewn clods cool-glazed with mist Later, with my stolen lump I hurried back through empty streets
to burn a piece, but found it hard to light, the smoke
too watered down-I tossed the whole thing in.

In Dublin I queued at St James’ Gate to be let in
to try the perfect pint, brown-brewed with turf,
bubbles jigging through the creamy black like smoke
that rises up through the evening grey and frames
the chimney squares And walking back to Eden Quay the streets
were quiet save some bodhran beating through the mist.

One year I walked from Arklow in a closing February mist
to Glendalough, and knocked on unfamiliar doors to be let in
to pay my twenty euros for the comfort of a bed The streets
fair glistened with mid-winter snow and smelled of turf
not cut there, but far to the north in Donegal, where in wooden frames
it waits in row-carved russet bogs rich-blanketed with smoke.

An Irish life is measured in the vibrant grey-white smoke
of peat fires burning, hearth by hearth, and in the mist
of centuries of nights spent under lively timber frames I left my cherished Ireland on a rainy Thursday morning in
October, left behind my home, my fireside stack of turf I drink my Guinness now and ponder only hollow streets.

For all the rain-blessed streets I love, all the earth-rich smoke
from turf fires melting cotton-softly in the gloaming mist,
for every green grass hill that frames the greying sky behind — slainte.

Brenda Levy Tate

Bio (auto)

Brenda Levy Tate won third place in the 2009 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest She lives in South Ohio, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by Brenda Levy Tate and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Ten o’clock is poking around my trash, and here I
am on the inside, petrified of windows I don’t want
to try for rest just yet I know how it goes: I’ll start praying
and forget what I’m begging for, debate with three cats
over bed-space, then recount all my wrongs-inflicted
even on people I haven’t met and can’t identify
There are too many sins to number I string myself
along the eternal abacus, whose beads clack like fangs Forgive me; I have been cruel Forgive me; I did not
believe Forgive me; I thought myself the only true sun
and dismissed everyone else Send me wherever
failed stars go – where the iron hammers them down
See me, Lord: I’m the one spinning without center,
straining to breathe the whiff of passing feathers I’m the one stretched over this canyon like a sternum,
a bone-bridge carrying my blur of red and white light I’m the one who can’t swim, but I jump off anyway,
trusting rocks will get me before the water does
Wearing a lamp-nimbus, I use the Book as my soporific The resident angel asks to guide me through it; I shake
my head at his pale braids, gleaming in the mirror Instead, I choose to translate the icing on a hot-cross
bun I wonder if holy words are edible, how they taste Sweet-berry, butter? I spread them hopefully on a roll
The angel’s voice grinds me like a rockslide I lie down
again, while he smokes and exhales very old stories In a rift valley, an almost-woman lifts her sandstone face
and stares up Something stares back She throws away
a half-eaten kidney, screams when her chest cracks open She falls asleep The watcher crawls in, closes her ribs.

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