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1st Place Poetry Contest Winner: Seasonal - Joseph Norris

I. Spring

The hills move again,

the grasses bend and do not crack frost,

and the Earth is softened

by a wind that recites poetry to cherry blossoms and orioles

instead of trying to cleanse your lungs with freezing fire,

and there are people,

yes, the people begin to move again,

but slowly, tentatively as the creeks

that also wake and stretch

in the new freedom that is so familiar,

and you wish you could be among them,

those people,

and sail upon the new land

as a crocus petal on the swift brook

carried out to a still-cold lake,

still-cold, but waiting

under infant greenery

and sore birdsong soaring

on the wind like the crocus petal,

sore like old clockwork

injected right into the vein

with new electricity,

like old bones and tired muscles

washed over and soothed

by the bearer of the crocus petal,

that I wish would wash away my sins

that are not sins

and my sins

that are sins,

because the cross knows

that I repent like the boughs

asking for leaves again,

over and over,

that cross perched above my headrest,

like a chipmunk,

waiting for the first birdseeds to fall

from the clumsy feeder’s fingers,

just as desperate,

just as afraid of things

that could descend out of the air.

II. Summer

The heat, at first, pulls you outside

like a lover to a secret cove

on a Mexican beach

you discovered on vacation,

but then, it stifles

like the weight of my bedsheets.

The people now move madly,

buzzing like the incessant mosquito-choked fog,

slicing across the mirror of a lake like a surgeon’s knife,

so precise, that speedboat,

and they move like brushfires joyfully through the dried grass.

The water waits for you,

whether it be in the still basin

of the valley’s soul,

the tiny pellets loaded in the cumulonimbus’s airsoft chamber,

or the grave you dug it right in your yard

that you people of the outside insist on calling a pool.

The canopies will brag—

take a moment to look at their fullness,

their green clouds bursting

with bumblebees and birdsong,

held down with fruit and fearful animals hiding from us all, who would rip them apart for


dripping with natural, hedonistic energy.

The air often is many things:

an oasis passing through, allowing you to finally just sit,

a child’s hands that push you off the deck into the water,

a still, flat door made of lead, laying on top of you so you, like me, can’t go outside,

a silence, then a murderous screaming, firing arrows of heat and light from black castles

of cloud,

driving you back inside so that you might know me better.

III. Autumn

The leaves curl into themselves

and let their green fall off them,

like my blankets that won’t fall,

revealing shades of carnage

like flesh beneath the skin:

gold, (even the Earth wants too

much), brown (I can only think

of decaying paper), red

(blood, fire, rusty door hinges),

orange (the sun is dying).

The people move more slowly

under the eyes of gray skies

always looking left, right, like

jack-o’-lanterns watch them cling

to each other’s hands for warmth.

Not even the leaves can cling

to the branches, not with this

colder wind of dancing ghosts

that carries only wisdom

and the promise of winter.

IV. Winter

The ice of frozen

rivers will cut me.

The trees stripped bare would

make me kneel and weep.

I can tell the kids

sledding laugh at me.

The people don’t move.

They’re in their houses

looking out bedroom

windows, like I’ve been.


Joseph Norris - Ever since Joseph read Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men he has been obsessed with reading, writing, and analyzing poetry and prose. Joseph is currently enrolled in the BFA Creative Writing program at Emerson College. Joseph hopes to earn his PhD and teach literature at the college level, so he can discuss the written word with other people who have an interest – working incessantly on novels, short stories, poems and screenplays all the while.

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