October 23-29, 2006: Steve Norwood, P.B. Rippey and Katherine L Gordon

week of October 23-29, 2006

This week presenting the winners of the
2006 (ninth annual) Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest:

see the complete contest details here

Steve Norwood
PB Rippey
Katherine L Gordon

click here for submission guidelines

Steve Norwood

Bio (auto)

Steve Norwood lives in Lewisville Texas He is involved with open mics , slams, notebooks and chapbooks He writes the Controlled Burning blog and won first place in this year’s poetry contest for his poem “two kinds ” Of historical note, Steve also took second place in the 2000 Poetry Super Highway poetry contest.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Steve Norwood and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

two kinds

there are two kinds of people in the world:
those who know the lyrics
.and those who know the tune

we are all of gas chamber music, encoded with death sentences
before we ever meet the air; it is the symphonies we compose
during our era of breath that truly matter

the distant half-sister of my mother lay in a hospital bed, frail and spectral,
drowning by degrees from the fluid that filled her lungs,
alternately lucid and oblivious to her surroundings

they buried her ashes last week;
my mother takes the receipts and invoices of this woman’s life, retrieved from
between dust-coated sofa cushions,
under eleven-deep piles of unworn, identical sweaters,
inside neatly stacked boxes that line one entire wall of a room;
my mother takes the receipts and invoices of a life and stacks them tidily,
making lists of phone numbers to call so the debts of madness will be wiped clear

there are those who let the weariness of their lives blur their vision and judgement,
.and those who stack the brackish sanctions of life into small, manageable piles

they buried her ashes last week;
what could have been a pauper’s burial in a forgotten ceremony was well-attended,
almost a dozen grieving acquaintances that included
the young wife of a man who did yardwork for her because gestures of kindness require action,
the neighbors who provided groceries and cash because isolation devours the elderly,
and the diminutive nurse that rubbed her icy hands in the final hours and said
“of course I’ll come home and take care of you”
because that’s what she needed to hear
in the moments before dying,
and they wept, shed tears for a woman that treated them inconsequentially, at best

there are those who bar their doors and windows with anonymity and contempt,
and those who whisper psalms of compassion through every crack
in the hermit’s walls

they buried her ashes last week
and this week I wonder where mine will flow out,
not worried that any unsavory memorandum will be discovered after I pass,
for I remain confident I will have published them all,
not concerned about what will become of any wealth or affairs I leave behind,
not baited with doubts of my name, reputation or legacy,
for these are the badgers of younger men, still cocksure with surface cool,
while underneath trembling with doubt

I wonder if I will have done enough right in my days and good in my nights,
wonder if the throng at the wake’s door will be committed out of well-timed obligation
or because the song sounded so soft and sweet between the cracks
that they could not help but add their voice

there are two kinds of people in the world:
those who know the lyrics
.and those who know the tune

and sometimes I wear my headphones unplugged,
unable to hear all the sad reminders as they hammer at the door,

but the chorus remains hopeful and vigilant.

we are audience to all songs.

PB Rippey

Bio (auto)

PB Rippey (North Hollywood, California) has had work appear in ZYZZYVA, Runes, Pool, Solo 7, Mary, Slope, California Quarterly, Phoebe, Spork Press, Crab Creek Review, Poetry NZ, Chattahoochee Review, Santa Barbara Independent and other journals She was a Top 25 finalist in the Glimmer Train Poetry Open and a finalist in a few 2005 and 2006 Glimmer Train fiction contests Her short story Backup placed third in the 2005 WestSide Story contest, she received an Honorable Mention from Redgreene Press for a poetry chapbook and she was a finalist in the 2006 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards (so often a bridesmaid) Currently completing a full length collection of poetry and a novel, she lives in North Hollywood, runs a doctoral creative writing program at a Los Angeles university and escapes to Venice Beach for weekly poetry workshops conducted by the Hoir Poets Her first poetry chapbook, Nightmares With Moons was published two seconds ago by Pudding House, the most wonderful independent chapbook publisher on the planet Her poem “Bright Spot Through Wires” took second place in this year’s poetry contest
Visit PB Rippey on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by PB Rippey and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Bright Spot Through Wires

I pointed out Griffith Observatory He said: through those wires?
I said: Yes He nodded
as if he had no qualms
with my particular mangy view
of heterogeneous city I think,
in fact, he was preoccupied,
having left prescription glasses
inside, high on my kitchen counter
with the rest of his emptied pockets–
metal-ish mannish items: clipped
bills, a pocket knife Could he see
the bright dome of the observatory?
He saw the wires On a clear day, I
pressed, you can see the Hollywood sign I wasn’t looking at him, not directly,
but caught his nod—the type of slow
solo nod one might give mortality I liked it But I was worried: I invited
him here to my balcony of sky and scape
to watch the sun drop, this dusk confined
by haze like a sad sea creature netted,
hauled to a surface, forced
into display One thought dug
into me like nails: You can’t see it You can’t see it You can’t .

Later, after pan-fried tilapia and red
potatoes, he confessed he was a dolphin
in another life And in yet another, a sea
turtle I was astonished He struck me
as a man of logic like narrow ladders,
simple-cousin equations applied to both office
and home (should he ever visit there), compass
brain clicking, green, chartable eyes Perhaps
he was, in fact, a lunatic I liked it And I
had to know: How did you die?

1 .ripped to shreds by sharks drunk on the blood of seals–
too close, reckless, too close.

2.a simple drift to the bottom of a fathom,
an acute sense of 100 years
following like a pleasant

I liked it Slasher death Gentle death I sipped my yellow wine, I laughed out loud
and at that moment the green eyes slipped
from mine

and I was lost.

Midnight, city light wriggly as live bait,
the kiss a mild struggle reeking of déjà vu
and off he went This is what happened next:

On the balcony–nursing a burn, dis-
secting the kiss–I watched his headlights
coast and bob down the one-way street
I live on, a dusky rise named for canyon
echoes and echoing mayhem down there
(invite someone new into that) The distant
howl of a famished coyote became brakes
whining, then screaming Reverberation
whumped the far canyon wall, then my
wall, a city slit of instant war I closed
my eyes, tuned in: What Happened Get The Hell Off Me Then, nothing No sirens No helicopter wielding
a surefire beam I thought:

This is all new You don’t know–
how could you when I ask questions
in the middle of a surefire kiss, but I
had a title I died for Too close So
reckless! Get off me .What
happened Nothing Except that I
died I did I

He left in time
(green eyes slipping).

Oh, yes:
he also died a soldier’s death in WWII Shot in the head He’s not saying it’s real Not one of his lives,
lives But he’s open: what can’t be proven might
be true.

I like it How can I

Katherine L Gordon

Bio (auto)

Katherine L Gordon (Rockwood, Ontario, Canada) is the author of “An Impact of Butterflies,” “Saving Camelot,” 2 full collections, and many chap-books Her most recent is “A Conjunction of Hearts, A Renga” with Joan McGuire This Renga is being studied in Israel, where a group of Israeli poets hope to produce one of their own She has edited 7 anthologies and published articles and essays on the value and unifying force of poetry Katherine’s work is published in India, Cuba, the U.K and North America She is an editor, author, publisher, judge and reviewer, working for many poetry organizations to promote poetry as a vital part of culture and an antidote to an impersonal world She writes from a secluded river valley where she b ends in well with the birds and beasties She won third place in this year’s contest with her poem “Smog Retribution”.

The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Katherine L Gordon and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Smog Retribution

To-day the heavy heat is visible
clinging like molt
to veiled birds, bewildered flowers The cat stretches endlessly as a python
beneath a chair The old stones of the house remember lava I turn on the fans and hear Icelandic geysers
steaming the air Aproned ladies in summer kitchens
once faced infernos to make pies,
I reach for salad and water,
green betrayal of old cuisine,
wonder if the fields will resign
curl up and wait another eon
while we feed them our failures
with our bones