Winner of the longest of my poem titles, On the Sidewalk by the Hospital I Find a Torn Corner of a Book Called 'The Problem of Pain' from the Chapter 'Human Wickedness', Page 59 & 60, was also the winner of Southeast Review's poetry contest, judged by Julianna Baggott, and published in vol 28.1. In addition to this poem, she selected A Brief History of Razor and Shaving as a finalist in the same contest.

contest winner

On the Sidewalk by the Hospital I Find a Torn Corner of a Book Called The Problem of Pain from the Chapter Human Wickedness, Page 59 & 60

 

In front of the liquor store, a woman’s dressed
as a chocolate Easter egg. The foil-covered kind
with a cartoon chick hatching on her back.
Her fat body hidden by the round costume, balanced
on skinny legs in white stockings. Bunny ears
on top of her head—such confusion. When I told you
your fish was dead, I was sad, too. An hour later,
it was swimming around. Resurrection,
‘tis the season. We’re deceived by the outside
and sometimes, the cellular level. A woman
leans against the bricks by the ER door,
the tears, the cigarette, the cell phone—
Still no word, they’re doing more tests. It’s hard
not to write about spring. The fiber twigs
in my cereal taste bland after eating a tray
of lemon squares and so much candy—I have to
lose weight. I have to take the first step out
of this fool’s paradise and utter illusion—meaning,
chocolate will make you less lonely is a lie.
Why did you say you would call when you didn’t?
How much a piece with all the rest? The sun is warm
is to say, I forgot to put on sunscreen, is to say, perhaps
I want to get burned. It takes me a week
to recover from cigarette smoke blown in my face.
I’m sick from the inside out. There’s not enough water
when water equals alcohol. Only a scrap of what is—
I’m not ready for the egg to be cracked, to be cracked
like a shell. I’m a woman and should be thinking
of these things. Ma’am, said the man,
holding the door for me. Shut up, I said, I’m not
that old. In the same day, a man
in the hardware store told me, you look good
enough to eat. Walking home, I watched a cat
eat a baby rabbit. As is the time, the rabbits
are multiplying. There are bunnies the size
of cell phones. They are getting bigger. Call me.


contest finalist

A Brief History of Razors and Shaving

     

The king of hearts does not have a mustache.
He’s the only king in the deck who owns
a razor. The simplest solution:
correct. Shave in the direction of growth.
Replace the old cut-throat. Peter the Great
taxed any man with a beard. Sun. to Sat.,
somehow, vanity entered the picture.
Make good use of sharpened flint: primitive
metal working against flesh. Pushing safety-
tab pulls spring-loaded blade for removal—
pat. pending, physical evidence required.
In the barber’s hands (pliers, steel), skillful
at bloodletting, teeth pulling. Surgeons and
nature operate with max. precision.

 Nature operates with max. precision
using Occam’s razor, shaves off rulers
and the transformation of clocks. Desire
is time mixed with memory—invention,
from fire. With burning twigs, cave men singed
their whiskers, quarter-inch stubble the best
one could expect without electricity,
AA-batteries. Gillette’s family home
burned in Chicago’s famous flames; he turned
to sales. A design from the carpenter’s plane,
guarding the blade with wood, now the progress
of plastics guarantees protection against
nicks and cuts. Emperor Hadrian grew
a beard to cover his poor complexion.

 A beard to cover his poor complexion,
a man tried and convicted for wearing
a false mustache to church—in Alabama,
this happened. In Kentucky, everyone
is required to take a bath once a year.
If done right, one can drown in 5 inches
of water. Wet area to be shaved,
produce lather. Rinse. Repeat. The razor
found in Tut’s tomb was sharp enough to shave
dark shadows. On his mind—suicide:
the simpler, the better. His blade sharp
and sharper still across a leather strop.
Begin at the beginning—what is known:
The king of hearts does not have a mustache.