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1st Place Poetry Winner: Cassandra Adjacent - HR Harper

It’s overtime. And we’ve replaced

presence with performance.

We captured an image

to withdraw intention. We rattle cagey syntax

to lose the clues and count cold likes.

The likes pile up and the subtle body relaxes.

I warn of these attacks with but a sleepy muse.

Late-stage capitalism limits limbs and sinews.

Bloodshot eyes choose the garden’s rot.

Three particles from stars already dead

convene the most marketable headshots.

It hurts to stand in the way.

I guess I am more a crack on the spectrum

than a Cassandra. Look at where trees limn

the heavens. For fuck sake,

look at how seed surrenders to the larger life.

For fuck sake, allow me to remember how

the world was before poison chilled

with the needle of numbers and accountable grace.

Before original blessings in the glass gardens

pulled the rhizome prank

to monetize the dark matters at the root.

There, when the lucid apple broke rank to place

the infinite memory in finite space.

Let’s say it’s God, then, in your face.

(Free me from the algorithms’ virtual absolutes.)

This practice is to knock three times on the Tree of Life

to count on the anima of what’s left.

Ah, the metrics of codes and clarion calls!

I yearn for you to hear all of me dispute

the standard model

as it invents the space and time it also denies.

(Thrice denied before the dawn of stones).

A new Tree of Last Chances and ciphers and ones won’t grow

from this rare earth nested in metals’ secret.

The danger is more finite with every dawn,

it’s time to move on.

The word changes its holy profile to ghost you.

You won’t recognize anyone.

Turn off. Turn off. Turn off oh bruised body.

Repeat this 20 minutes every day. You won’t be left out.


HR. Harper, a poet living in the redwoods above Santa Cruz CA, was a creative writing major at UCLA and studied in the English Ph.D. program there. He worked as an educator in central city schools for years. Writing poetry and fiction over decades, he only began to publish in 2021 in several online and print journals.

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1 Comment

Joanie Fritz Zosike
Joanie Fritz Zosike
Jul 30, 2022

Masterful!!! And congratulations! This deserves first prize.

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