September 30-October 6, 2002: Chad Davidson, Erin Elizabeth and Dawn O’Leary


week of September 30-October 6, 2002

This week presenting the winners of the
2002 (fifth annual) Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest:

Chad Davidson
Erin Elizabeth
Dawn O’Leary

click here for submission guidelines

Chad Davidson

Bio (auto)

Chad Davidson lives in Binghamton, New York He won first place in this year’s contest with his saucy poem Cleopatra’s Bra.

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by Chad Davidson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Cleopatra’s Bra

Each mouthful of wine would raise her body heat
until a touch of gold slivered and rose
off her dark skin, caught somewhere

in a jewel of sweat This is the Egypt
I imagine: pyramids, obelisks,
the Valley of Kings, and one torn bra
Meanwhile, the Romans fashioned their parchment,
filled it with long strings of letters: A
for ave, B for beato–blessed, C,

of course, for Caesar, with no space between them
as to appear infinite Augustus did try The old argument: come home, she’s bad news
But for Antony there would be no empire
cloven: a pregnant dream as he lay
again with her, clothes strewn on the ground

like artifacts of a lost city
under ash, and those two bodies caught
once more, together, for all of Rome to see
Because it did end, Virgil says, in ruins
of a city, toppled towers, and one
fictitious Dido who let it all hang out

one Carthage summer so hot the oarsmen
gave up their fears, Acestes descended his throne
without bearskin, Aeneas loved and left,

Dido died I like to imagine her scrawling
a message to the future regarding love–
flagrant love–and sacrificial fires

like those she clothed her city in one night:
Beware the Roman come to lie with you,
one hand heart-heavy and bound there

like the swearing-in of a city
official Feeling her lover fiddle
with the clasp, Cleopatra must have thought,

does everything come undone with this
one small breach of virtue? One giant step
backward, she hears the inevitable

unleashing of the dogs, the centuries
head to toe in armor, and the lift,
they say, of a shallow wicker basket
I like to imagine her calmly spreading
her robe, a leisurely cup of wine,
her fingers unclasping the bra from behind

as the asp negotiates the sea
of azure silk that separates them, empires
colliding, and the golden tint of scales.

Erin Elizabeth


Erin Elizabeth lives in Binghamton, New York and is the creativestress behind Stirring: A Literary Collection, and it’s adopted parent She is the second place winner in this year’s contest

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by Erin Elizabeth and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

A Poem For Allie, Who Finally Detonated

Mom said that you were quiet and calculated
last visit, sitting on your furrowed sheets
folding and unfolding my letter, not sure whether
to rip the envelope at the stamp or the address
She tells me you were cheeking your pills,
wild in their wake, selling them for hands and
promise She wants to know why were they not prodding
your tongue, checking your ridge of gum,
and I wonder why you bother with this sharp idea
which will only end with someone’s teeth
on the floor, hair in a fist
On Tuesday, you carved his name on your wrist,
a yellow road sign A limb lit by lightning And Mom pulled you from the womb
of that building, and when you returned,
she barred your windows, cracked open
all your doors
She is not trying to quiet your whip smart
tongue, shake silent your humming hands It is just that your words are all a contusion,
a blackberry of bruise breaking open
along her cheek It is just that she is weak
from pirating your room of nail polish,
hair spray, that she does not know
how to be steady fingers through hair
Allie Really Should I tell you that you will outgrow this?
Because I am at the yawning mouth
of maturity, and sometimes still I break
into my veins with paperclips and knives
I want to I want to tell you it will all end soon,
this hard-boiled youth, this buffet of sadness,
but you have fumbled with death —
I can hear the cold beak of it speaking
through your mascara alphabet
You are too small to outrun this thing you have
conjured You cannot cram yourself under the sink,
with its intestine of pipe, Ajax It knows you It is waiting there.

Dawn O’Leary


Dawn O’Leary lives in West Hollywood, California and is the third place winner in this year’s contest

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by Dawn O’Leary and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

All His Years: Spring, 1944
(In Memory of George Stinney)

Humming, she’s stirring grits one Saturday in March
while a search party spots the girls’ footprints By the time their small bodies are found,
she’s spooning into bowls At noon comes the knock
of the constable, asking for her son Thus ends
the last peaceful morning of her life
His appointed lawyer won’t look her in the eye,
explains nothing; so her only appeal is to the Lord:
“Why didn’t You make those poor little girls
black too?” Through April she looks for His answer
in the kettle’s steam, the candle’s yellow twitch
In late May her son writes, begging her help She folds the letter, then focuses on a grain of rice
stuck between the floorboards After twenty minutes,
she remembers to pray: “O Lord hear my prayer for my days vanish like smoke ” On his last Sunday,
she visits him: green prison walls are sickly
in the light of June He sobs when he sees her His eyes roll back That night she stares at the
then dreams of the whites of his eyes
Friday Seven A.M She waits in a rented room
while others have gone to claim the body that now
is still her living boy Paper violets pattern the
she counts them till she reaches fourteen, then stops,
because the number measures all his years Fourteen –
“Lord, he is a child,” she says aloud, as if the Lord
might hear at last Then her prayer is silent At seven-thirty she’s praying for his soul She knows it She feels the difference.

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