Moving Words 2011 Winning Poems

How It’s Measured

We were born hiccupping—
grew up
all Thelonious Monk: a sync-
opating genius misguided    sick
misunderstood. We lived in the im-
provised rhythm of unusuality:
if the heart skips
             enough, it stops.

–Leia Darwish

When We First Met

At some point that night
I set fire to my hair; the smoke
lingered for days. The taste
of hot oil on our lips
became a brand.

–W. Luther Jett

Before Language

We walk the streets, pulling leaves from the trees,
petals from the flowers. They wouldn’t last but now
the net of the day catches them, pins them in the albums
with the photos we will never show to anyone.
The clouds pass over us like words we might
one day say to one another; we have no use for them.

When it rains, we pull the letters off the shelf,
wear them on our heads, tuck them behind our ears.
They hang there as though their only purpose were adornment.

–Holly Karapetkova

The Musician’s Suitor

“How much does a song cost?”
asks the musician with his bow casting
dark shadows on concrete walls
his plucked melodies soothing
the screams of the metal beast
an anonymous Orpheus against spray paint graffiti
his notes struggle to wake phantoms
as they shuffle to the escalator
coins falling softly from their palms
muffled by the velvet lined case

–Jess E. Stork

The Hydrologic Cycle Trades My Muddy Creek for Her Holy River

“It’s fine to see
the glass half full,”
I tell her,
“just keep evaporation in mind.”

If the glass
is half empty
(she answers)
you can expect rain.

–Charles Edward Wright

     Married A Long Time

        Elisa’s                                 Abraham’s
                        thoughts are like
birds flown                                   horses hitched
to the mountains.                                  to a plow.
Sometimes                                            Row by row,
            they return                    working the books
with tumbled stuff                                 they hope to find
         for nests. a bright fruit.

–Suzanne Zweizig