Tag Archives: poetry

Six Poets Recite Original Work for Nan Lacy Poetry Competition

Six of Radford’s best poets recited their original work to a crowded room during the annual Nan Lacy Poetry Competition. The readings were held in Heth Hall on April 18, and the readers included the top three undergraduate students and top three graduate scholars chosen from an undisclosed number of submissions. Each winning poet was awarded a cash prize of $100, $50, and $25 for their achievement. Hosting the ceremony was Dr. Louis Gallo of the English Department who informed the crowd that Dr. Justin Askins, who in the past has co-hosted the ceremony with Dr. Gallo, would not be able to make it to the readings due to serious illness. Dr. Askins’s ill health was not the only bad news that night, however.

“I am sad to say that the Thomas Coleman Writing Competition, which has been held alongside the Nan Lacy for decades, was cancelled due to the low number of submissions,” said Dr. Gallo during his opening statements.

According to Dr. Gallo, whom I spoke to before the competition, the deadline for the Nan Lacy competition was extended in hopes that it would not meet the same fate as the Coleman. Dr. Gallo also expressed his concern for the state of the arts in today’s society as well his hope that the Nan Lacy would continue to be held for more years to come.

During the ceremony, each of the six winners read five original poems from the 10-page chapbooks submitted for the competition. The undergraduate poets included first place winner Ryan Alcorn, second place winner Austin Morgan, and honorable mention Ashley Dawson. The graduate poets included first place winner Kelly Nickell, second place winner Phelan Tinsley, and honorable mention Jessica Mattox. All contestants were met with applause from the audience, which included friends, family, peers, and several professors from varying departments. After the reading had begun, Dr. Askins finally arrived to listen to the majority of the poets and was met with warm regards by those around him. The annual Nan Lacy Poetry competition came to a close with a group photo of the winners taken by Dr. Gallo.

 

The Pulpit at Izzy’s Speedy Station

In a gas station with a faded sign on the other side of

Burned Pine Avenue, across the street from

Our Father’s, Will Parish,

I shambled into the restroom where my legs collapsed.

My kneecaps cracked on the browned tiles,

Forehead nestled in narrow trenches,

Clear streams digging estuaries into the murk

Beneath the lightning of a flickering bulb.

I studied the scriptures scratched on the stall:

pulpit
“I bowed before the throne once more, Confessed in holy catharsis.” Photo from: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mriEwIDY9OU/U8s7T9iAC_I/AAAAAAAAAPY/ENNC65jTpZY/s1600/pulpit.jpg

The Epistles of Kilroy, the Little Black Book of Numbers,

I bowed before the throne once more,

Confessed in holy catharsis.

Bells from the parish sidestepped the station.

Izzy placed his hand on my back,

Pulled me to my feet and smiled

As the flock left for their townhomes.

Little White Snowflake

snowflakes
“Little white snowflakes falling on the pale white skin.” Photo from: https://writinginnorthnorfolk.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/snowflake-tears.jpg

Little white snowflake falling from the sky,
Little white sparkles falling on the curls.
White flakes hanging from the lashes,
Light blue eyes watching the gray clouds go by.
Watching the little white snowflakes falling all around,
One, Two, Three, time to fall down.
All the little white snowflakes acting as a bed,
Nice, soft, and very cold.
Little white snowflakes falling on the pale white skin.

Rising Song

If I told you once
I loved you–
I don’t think I foresaw
A life held back
Against a cold hard wall.
You suffocated me
With sparkling chains of words
I tried in vain to embrace.
I was grasping at an empty vessel
Of half-meant hopes and dreams,
And ‘almost like a dream’ meant
Nothing
If I could not catch my breath
From running aimlessly to escape.

A young woman’s escape–
I leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind
As I run out of the monster’s howling lair.
You carried me away
From the truth of a thousand lies
And wounded me with blows.
The skin is thick on the scars
You dug into the mental flesh
Of my blood-stained heart.
The places you struck me
Will heal with the falling snow.

Ring off finger
And flung away.
My finger can bend again–
I was numbed to the bone
From hypothermic waste.
Screeching,
I flung open the bars
Of the prison in which
You held me.

Your heart’s key–
I never meant to unlock
That door.
I threw the key away
Somewhere in the garden,
As drifts of white
Danced in the solemn breeze.

You denied me life
And pushed me inch by inch
Into a living grave.
I was a foot deep in mud
Before I hitched myself up
And braced my feet against the wall.
I won’t say it was easy–
The grips at the bottom
Were hard to cling to
And you were there holding me down.
I made it anyway
And overcame.
Your smug face shuddered
And collapsed into itself
Before the smoke cleared.

That smile was a dream
I attempted foolishly to keep.
As the flames of your fire
Scorched the meat
You had me cook for you,
The bonds of female servility
Were already crumbling
At our feet.

running in woods
“I was numbed to the bone From hypothermic waste.” Photo from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

As you held me down sweating
Against tear-streaked sheets,
I watched the window open
A crack to let the wind in.
As you pulled away and stood
At the door beckoning me to follow
Down the hall of portraits
Of faces smiling in false confidence,
I leaped at the chance
To fly out the window
And baptize myself in
Melting banks of snow.

You can swing at me again–
Your broken dagger was
Never too sharp anyway.
I won’t be hurt again
By untended wounds.

When spring comes,
I will run barefoot
Through the woods
With the sun beating down
And the wind following
My movements
There
And never back again.

Free and Fierce

fire
“In the dead of the night, the brilliant flames were alive with a seemingly insatiable hunger for fuel and fodder.” Photo from: http://forest.ambient-mixer.com/images_template/7/a/5/7a5f2da770d424198f5fe0e88b573b10_full.jpg

The night was alive with crackling light and shifting shadows. In the dead of the night, the brilliant flames were alive with a seemingly insatiable hunger for fuel and fodder, eating through the wood and the walls. The people outside on the ground stood in silent awe of the gold and orange flames that danced in the windows of what was once their home. They could do little else. They had been roused from the depths of sleep by the heat and the smoke, going from groggy to completely awake and alert in a second, only to have the adrenaline disappear from their bodies as they made it to the safety of the street. No one had seemed to be hurt much, and the fire had only just begun to roar in full force. As if it had waited for the last resident to leave before it feasted.

Free of any human chains to slow it down, the fire seemed to start anew, growing and blazing with a strange ferocity. It burned brightly and quickly, tearing and clawing its way through the apartment building. The entire building would be gone in seconds, but for the residents on the street, it seemed to take an eternity. Every flame slowed to a crawl, creeping up through the windows and along the walls. The flames seemed to gently brush against their prey before slipping into the wood to consume it from the inside out. Black spots of destruction blossomed forward, spreading out in a slow wave like a drop of ink in water. It would spread and spread, becoming wider and greater while it weakened itself, until it began to crumble away from its center to its very edge, the ash falling through the air like snowflakes and dancing in front of the viewer on the street.

Sunny Day

I am hiding outside

In the sun.

 

My black flats are worn –

The heels torn to the sole.

I am wearing the shirt

Your mother bought me –

The blue floral print

That falls off the shoulders

And exposes my bare back

Beneath crisscross strips of thin fabric.

 

I don’t like it –

It reveals the freckled maps

On each shoulder –

My essence.

 

girl
“It reveals the freckled maps On each shoulder.” Photo from: thenletitbe.tumblr.com

 

People glance at me

As they pass on the sidewalk.

 

I could be an Armadillo

Or a Turtle

Or poke my head out

Of this hardened shell.

I can choose to be an Emu

Or a Donkey

Or keep my mouth shut firm

In solitary silence.

 

You would be angry –

I did not wear my jacket.

My back is ice

And I don’t care.

I am a rebel without

A flag to wave –

All eyes on me

And mine on them.

Rain and Ramen Noodles

It rains.
I wake up,
Roll over and see
Class has been over
An hour or more.
I have no guilt.

I pull myself up slowly
And move across the room
On legs that could collapse
Beneath me.
I’m ill today
And it rains.

window
“I pull myself up slowly And move across the room.” Photo from: mediacache.pinimg.com

It rains,
And I am hungry.
I pull on my jacket
And stumble outside.
Somehow,
I have not fallen.
Make my way across a flooded plain;

Reach my destination.
Inside
My treasure sits upon the shelf:
Beef, Shrimp, Chicken.
I make my choices –
Head back.

I wait:
A boiling hot cup of
Ramen.

Power Outage

I sit on my grandmother’s porch and pray for a breeze.

She complains about the heat from behind her fourth glass of sweet tea in as many hours.

The distant, unending buzz of cicadas stretch every lapse in half-hearted conversation.

She eventually disappears behind the screech of a flimsy screen door,

But I hardly notice her absence.

As I lean heavily into one of the wooden beams keeping the home relatively upright,

I pick absentmindedly at the chipping brown paint.

photo album
“Grainy instant photographs labeled with fading ink, Smiling family members I’ll never meet.” Photo from: nibsblog.files.wordpress.com

She returns from the pitch-dark house

Clutching a thick photo album in her shaking grip,

Pulled from wherever it lurked,

Locked tight in some cabinet I wasn’t allowed to touch.

She motions me to sit next to her

And I wordlessly oblige.

 

Grainy instant photographs labeled with fading ink,

Smiling family members I’ll never meet.

Wistful recollections of long past memories.

My grandmother pours decades of family history into a single, sweltering afternoon.

I couldn’t tell you what time the lights inside finally flicker back to life;

Neither of us notice when it happens.

In The Dark

Silence hangs in the air like an axe.

The clock tick-tick-ticking closer toward the witching hour.

Gradients of darkness give shape to the room.

A black mass in the corner waits, quiet and knowing.

 

A face with two sets of eyes stare,

One a ghastly green, the other a blazing blue,

Never blinking, always watching.

High above it waits, eternal.

clock
“Never blinking, always watching.” Photo from: media4.giphy.com

The axe falls by degrees, a slow draining drip of dread.

Whispers, voices, leak through the wall,

Crawling along the ceiling and echoing,

Loud enough to hear, muffled enough to hide.

 

Scratches dig deep into the door,

Claws dragging long grooves.

Just wait, wait until the night ends

And the blood red light leaks in.

Floating

Ripped cellophane drifting in the wind,

Covering my childhood spot.

 

A habit of harmony and wonder

Turned resting place for all creativity.

 

Sleeping dog, covered in careful spots,

Striped with innocence.

 

I come here to dream

Drab and crass thoughts.

forest
“This place is mine.” Photo from: www.pixabay.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never have I shared this place,

Not even as a curious child.

 

False impression of ignorance,

This place is mine.

 

My place of sin,

Shaded by fading memories.

Waiting Room Blues

We’re all sitting in a makeshift waiting room.

A drug treatment facility masquerading as a fidcus emporium

The doctor is late

It’s as if having a medical degree comes with a broken watch

All of us are here for the same reason

Our brains flood us with that feel-good chemical

Get my heart racin’ baby

We shift uncomfortably

Unsure as to whether or not we’ll get our fix

waiting room
“The doctor is late. It’s as if having a medical degree comes with a broken watch.” Photo from: www.juiceforskin.com

 

 

 

 

 

They leave us in twos

Some cross the threshold and never come back

Gone into the zone of white lab coats and Zoloft

‘Not I’ said the bipolar

‘Not me’ said the schizophrenic

We shift and stare

Trying to find the drug addict among us

Only to find that we’re all addicts,

Getting high off serotonin.

Hazel Eyes

The touch, the feel,

The heat, the sweat.

A hand running along the hip,

Feeling of rose petal lips against the heart.

 

Dark, spiraled hair of ebony,

The golden-green hazel eyes framed so well.

The soft, pale pink lips,

Often mistaken for a cloud.

hazel-eyes
“Those hazel eyes see horror and pain.” Photo from: www.muscledudelife.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those hazel eyes see horror and pain.

Her pale lips are lowered.

These curls hide the face of a girl.

 

Those who passed her over,

Who didn’t bother to look beyond her skin,

Far too self-centered to see the damage,

Unable to see the women she would become.

Forest of Wolves

Brightly dying leaves scatter the damp ground

Drying Red painted on the greenest moss

Bare trees weep from the caress of the wind

The suns cold rays scattered by reaching branches

Small animals scurrying in the under brush

 

A single rabbit emerges

It’s coat matching the decaying ground

Raised ears

Twitching noise

Searching for the fruit of life

While avoiding the Shadow of Death

 

Large yellow eyes appear in the distance

Hungry

Wanting

Eyes lock

Fur rises

Life holds it’s breath

 

Snap!

The rabbit bolts

Taking the path of the Wind

Over fallen trees

Through pricking bushes

Trying to stay in the light

 

Yellow eyes

Never losing sight

Large Paws

Slamming into the impressionable dirt

A coat darker than midnight

Casting shadows on its prey

 

The running stops

The sounds of struggling ceases

Rewards are reaped

 

Dying leaves

Crying Trees

Silent animals

All watching

Fresh Red

Painting the green canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firefly

This summer I saw a firefly.
It hit my windshield going ninety.
I recognized it only by its glow.
As I watched that light,
surprisingly bright on impact,
slowly fade to a dull smear,
I remembered death.
I remembered Clara.
I remembered an uncle.
I remembered fur-babies and friendships.
Grief seems to be a forced emotion.
Dramatic feelings painted on the body like a costume.
When the lights go down,
can you see my heart break?
Is it enough to prove I loved you fully?
For an eyes-off-the-road moment,
I recoiled,
aghast at my poetic mistake.

firefly
“When the lights go down can you see my heart break?”