1st Place Poetry Contest Winner: Seasonal - Joseph Norris
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,
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.
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
driving you back inside so that you might know me better.
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.
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.