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Moving Words 2010 Poems

The six poems below were selected from nearly 300 poems by competition judges Naomi Ayala, Paulette Beete, and Lane Jennings.  See the poems on Northern Virginia Metro buses from April through September 2010. 

Excerpt from A Vessel Interior

The paper cut-out sun raises
what’s behind us
all these buildings were born
from some mountain
& carried into shape
block by bird by straddled
horn & crossing
many rivers.

-Tony Mancus


Each year these woods claim the hundred-year path
from farm to farm, brother to son.
Newcomers, desk people, we follow their steps,
saw and drag clear a storm-downed poplar,
cut back the long thorny whips of spent berries,
clip down to stubs the path-choking spicewood.
We are only woods-walkers, not hunters or gatherers.
We only keep clear the path we were shown
by arthritic Rosie, the last of the farm dogs,
plodding stiff-jointed into her woods.

-Judith McCombs

Geology of Our Bed

The cat. My wife. And me.
Slumbering continents adrift on inner springs –
reckless knees and paws
heaving Himalayas in the comforter,
cutting crazy canyons in the top sheets.
Colliding and receding all night long
in this tectonic dance
till the cat disappears to who knows where,
like some purring Atlantis.

-David Moss


Coffee, hashbrowns, eggs, 2 AM and over easy.
Fat hisses on the grill.  Glass door swings shut,
says Don’t break the night apart.  We should have
gone home hours ago.  Waitress slippers by our booth.
The man with the raveled mittens watches.  My fingers
sizzle under yours.  Steam wraps wet wool around us
while street lights spill their crystal grains on rainy
streets.  Juke box ballads spread their tears.  We are
traveling incognito, two conspirators against time,
in a pool of  yellow light. 

-Ann Rayburn

It Used to Be Called Tenderness

How many times do I have
to tell you, don’t be late?
Meet me at five on the pillows
at the bottom of the bed, where
our lost socks and underwear swim,
where please means thank you.
Call me Constance and I will be
your humming oak tree, forest, game.

-Elizabeth Rees
First published in Passages North, 2004.

from A Travelogue

The grinds cast their fortunes
through your teeth.
If you aren't careful,
if you smile,
the neighbors
will be able to tell
everything about you.

-Marcela Sulak
First published in Immigrant.  Black Lawrence Press, 2010.