Carissa Knepper

2nd Place, Poetry



If what I said about you can be counted as

completely true,

then also I must realize that truth is made of parts.

Intricate by their design

inlaid with luring labyrinths

of two-way mirrors

and phantom fears

with every choice, another’s missed.

Truth is just a consequence

of suffering a need to know

planted by some unknown hand

left to grow in some strange land

invisible until its roots

fiercely twist themselves around

oblivion, and force their way

to being found.

Truthful ambiguity,

the lies we sell ourselves and

tell us to believe. 

I know you’ve been there, too—

the daffodil that didn’t know

(because you never let it show)

that it was really nothing more

than a humble dandelion.

And only when you looked and saw

the buoyant fluff when fields were dying

that all along you were lying

and it was you who made you cry.

But still it would be improbable

to deny

that you know what you saw

and you made it with your mind.

And so the seed takes root!

Which part of truth makes sense

when there really is no difference

between the things we want to see

and all the things we need to see

and all the things that can’t yet be

and what is really there?





Consciousness fades.

stealing away in an amber haze

distant dissonance falling away

in layers drifting further down

slowly away and away and away.


Nobody knows this spring breeze in October—

a beautiful stranger come to meet me.

Skin pulling toward the setting sun

I am numb.

And electric.


This form, long suffered by gravity,

forgets me so soon.

Goodbye old friend.

(I don’t suppose we’ll meet again.)

A new place stands empty on the horizon, waiting,

and there I may be found

stripped of chains, unbound

with feathers at my back.

Eyes close.  Fade to black.


Edge of Day

You might call it an unwillingness to indulge your simplicity,

or worse—

a perceived complexity that won’t exist, but still I see.

Some things mean simply nothing.

Or is nothing without relevance to every other nothing?

Sometimes I cry—

but it’s the laugh inside for which you love me best.

Limbs on trees outside reach high and dare to dream of heaven,

while the willow weeps and sweeps her arms across the floor,

and never cares to hope for more.

I handed you a stone you held awhile

before you called it gray

and tossed it merrily away,

whose gentle smooth and graceful hue

were memories alive in my fingertips

well before it left yours.

And the shadows of the setting sun

touched your face and rode the lines around your eyes

and slid slowly down the side

of your cheek and lost themselves below the cotton ridges of your collar.

In the burning orange you glowed

and I wondered if you’d ever know

the way the sunlight touched your skin

and spoke to me, and screamed your name

and burned in me everything you’ve never known about you,

until I grew so hot inside I had to make it rain

and it was everything that ever was

all at once, and was too much.

Your eyes saw the sun, the rain, the rising mist

yet somehow you managed to dismiss

the significance of all that was,

and to this very day your eyes have not forgotten

and when I look, they remind me.