First Place
Arbuckle Award
Gardens grow
at the base of the statue,
mostly composed of
honeysuckle.  It's a flower
that grows slowly, but loves
yearns to smooth away
watery boundaries of
light and stone. 
This one grew up
into the eyes of the Christ,
which were mostly
cheap concrete,
but now seem
with their blooming
pupils; soft, petaly

the winter turnips have
turned musky, earthy;
we knew they would.  these
odd, old baskets
don't protect against much,
no skin on them, and
cold sets in quick.
did you think they would
last until
spring? I didn't,
I envisioned marching
them into me
oil-lit, prone, full-
eyed into me,
some even night,
long past.
but now, we shall have to
undo this twine,
undo this
sweet, quiet dream, set
the ashy fire to
purging them,
us, of their picture, their
cornered, earthy hulk,
waiting in these
tired vaults,
tired lights, air.
we shall eat,
of another labor,
another crop,
dry toothed, salt-
our labor
will fruit our
bodies once, again

My father was a doctor.
He patted withering heads and put
his hands on women when the
pain and push of labor became
a great weight on the heart.
He took a full measure of the weight
on himself.
Every night
he came home
with the blood of our kind blotted into his loosened,
swinging hands, and smiled
when I put my fingers
on the great whiteness of his coat,
touched the dark and deepening stains.
Those are the signs of life, he said.
He washed in silence, with strong soap.

A gray hair in the hairbrush
and a marble stillness rolls
over the tongue like
the final word
in the Latin rite.
It's really beautiful,
that color, like water just before
the sweep of ice. A slowing
river, strangely curving
the warm selfness
of the hand.
Allow me to shine the
light on the untruth we
all tell ourselves: it's
here on my finger, wending
its way to the trash bin,
a final journey.
we always thought it
how on birthdays
and funerals
our faces looked
the same.)

East of Asher, there where
the highway meets the tarpits
and the stink of diesel,
pulling in air,
girls cry like trees sighing
watching their bellies
mound with fruit, thinking:
we all shrivel and die
so why not this one?
Kings rise up with
the corn, under the
pathos of growth,
ruling with green thumbs,
muddy fists,
the populous cracks
under their weight,
and shifts like ice
And God, we all
watch these yellow
lights flicker like candles,
ugly, tumorous torches—
while night, lubricated,
slides over the body.

As a result of the wind
he was merry,
going down with the
brethren to pick
damsels off of towers
like brown seeds
in the tall thorntree
be not afraid, he said
to himself
the caress is yours
should you choose,
if you choose,
and I do
the summer heaviness
unrolled upon
him then, that boy
(with the bleating
heart and racing
feet) in June's

Second Place
Arbuckle Award
Lights simultaneously blinking pictures of angelic models and expensive watches as
Yellow cars begin to rush in rivers of exhaust. The prophetic man sleeps on a heap of
Newspapers as the kabob vendor beside him begins speaking in tongues.  The sun
Begins to rise east.  Grease lines street curbs as the great apostles of our time hail
Limos. Buildings are lined as though they are great grey columns which cease to end
Among the clouded sea of asphalt. They open for me as though I’m the great Moses
Red Light,
Green Light,
Hell billows its smoke from the middle of streets in an orgy of excitement. Noises
Ambush me from every corner of this wild metropolis.  I am a slave to its direction;
It refuses to let me escape.  A Latina woman with succulent breasts smiles as she is led by the
Hand in the opposite direction, she is wearing nothing but a short black skirt. There
are colored bodies everywhere with stories to tell of what is and what should be,
Coming from those without faces. Their ten-dollar essence permeates my clothing.

If I once had a conversation with a goat,
pretty yellow
car that went
all the way to
the land of oz
on the fear of
who told me
I would be the
next president
of the world
based upon
being misunderstood, how would I know?

I am the rickety janitor man
Washed away by society.
Solving the problems of the world
I’m thought of with much notoriety.
I clean up the messes that you may leave
For that I deserve recognition.
Just don’t be quick to judge me so
For all of my lack of ambition.
There are things I see, Things I hear
Of which I’m not at liberty to tell.
My silence is my Sisyphus
My sentence, a push cart and Hell.

My evolution has occurred for over a thousand years.
I have walked with the disciples in Qumran,
     And executed the Christians by order of Nero.
The Powerful rely on me, yet the Desolate take me for granted.
I’m a vehicle used in the takeover of countries.
    I cannot differentiate between who I help kill; I am impartial.
I have the ability to take away and be received.
I keep the sick healthy, yet I have burned for my sins.
I may be obsolete someday, yet my blank expressions
     Strike fear in the heart of the bravest men.
I am the lover of love, yet the hater of love as well.  Ask John.
I am the destroyer of families and the mender of the Virgin’s heart.
If one were to look, you would realize that I am sitting next to you now.
I am the King of Clutter!

I caught the last bus today
And rode until I felt satisfied
That no one would know me.
I began to walk the avenues
Throwing change to singer-songwriters
On lonely doorsteps.
I ate at a tired café
No outsiders had visited in years
And saw the beat of life
In an old man’s smile.
I walked to the railroad tracks
And felt the wind of change
Run by me with the engine.

A train whistle wakes me from my slumber,
I glance at the clock.
It’s the 4:05 from Detroit.
I count the clicks of the wheels
And try to imagine how many cars there are.
The whistle becomes distant
And the clicking cars become a drone
Mixed with the fan and rushing highway.
I feel my eyes drop again,
And I drift into my dreamless sleep,
Knowing the 4:05 will make it to Detroit
On time.

A heart can’t beat
Encased in concrete.
Feet can’t dance
Tethered to a parking meter.
A bus ride
Won’t satisfy my taste for freedom.
I need to see the green on the other side-
Smell fresh alfalfa in the fields
As I drive past with my window down.
Taste the country life
In every peach pie
On the windowsill to cool.  
Stake me out in a field of clover and heather
And let the birds sing the song of my soul
Clear to the heavens.
Let my arms reach deep into my heritage-
My acreage.
An old John Deer and plow
Can scrape away city memories
On my heart

I sit down and tell my kids about the story of the toilet paper changing man. I tell them about the pasty bumpkin, hobbling through the night with his disheveled comb-over wet and matted, and his raspy voice echoing throughout the nothingness. He is obese and club footed, gap toothed and googly eyed, carrying his silk wrapped cylinders in a small paper bag attached to his hunched back. He waits for children to go to sleep, and in that crucial moment he changed the toilet paper roll like some super hero saving the world. Then he hobbles back to his office, coughing and gagging, running his fingers through his stringy-thin comb-over, searching for a radio to keep him company.

Time and time again
I put my face to the mirror.
With a rolled dollar
I quickly become one with myself.
The mirror shows me
My cheekbones stick out like cliffs
From under the eyes.
Colorless eyes,
Apples of coal
Dull and tweaked.
Two lips of sun-dried worms
Punish me with bleeding cracks
At the hint of a smile.
Skin once bronzed,
Now pale and luminous,
A thin white sheet.
Two have become one,
My nostrils blended together.
My face has become a
Reminder of my addictive behavior.
Every rail gives me that quick fix,
Every reflection haunts me.

She grabs the glass and throws it back.
The cool wetness of the demon’s drink plunges
Into the depths of her throat.
The clear poison sets her chest afire.
He grabs her face and manipulates
Her lips to meet his own.
Their bodies become
A drunken love.
His hands tempt her.
His kisses convince her.
In the morning
He’ll run like the
Mascara down her cheeks.
Black rivers running,
Hugging her cheeks
But she doesn’t worry.
The demon’s wine will
Meet their lips again.
And when their eyes are full of moonshine
For one drunk moment,
The mascara river will not run.

Hmm…why not?
when I was little,
I liked to write poetry.
I used yellow pencils
with purple erasers.
Now I type poetry into my computer
I miss my handwriting.

- In Man v. Beast: Man Always Feast -
heavy sting and stench of bovine breath
bless your salt stained tongue
and your meaty paws
holding hands with death
I give you leave to stamp your feet
and sling mud
and snort hot air in my face through your snout
feed yourself on grains and grass,
say it’s truth of pains of past
and satiate yourself with the only fodder
your weakness can digest
Thick is your hide, as is your skull
too thick to retain red letters,
leather bound and weathered, time tested,
but you flick your tail and swat them away like
vexing gnats and flies, flitting
biting at your end
your clapping maw chomping, spitting
and catching naught but bitter breeze
it would take but a flinch
to flash and slaughter you with my ammunition
and hang you by your haunches
while I stand, arms crossed, and grin, but
time will tame your cloven crass, or
time will pass your archaic voice
lumbering, plodding
you mull over the choice:
cauterize your caustic flood
let your madness fall
and graze the pasture with me
or charge me, with gnashing teeth and horns bared
-White Dove Asylum-
In the distance of my memories
harp strings are being strummed
By an angels fingers reminding me
of a time when I was loved
The melody mixes with muffled cries
a-brew inside my head
Illuminating the reality
that I am not yet dead
The blessing of these padded walls
suspends most vapid nights
Of aimless strolls down sterile halls
bathed in blinding white
  It is a white darker than
the darkness of my Id
Where spirits hide secrets
better than midnight ever did
I can see a shadow where
a shadow shouldn’t be
Plastered, blatant, on the walls
where only trained eyes can see
Feathers are strewn about the room
from daily bouts with tortured dreams
My pillow shredded as I try
to muffle my own screams
Ardeo, down the hall
sits cradled, rocking back and forth
Raking fingertips on tiled floor
contemplating the flames true worth
His reflection steals from his pride
as the scars sneer and taunt
And the acrid smell of hair aflame
unceasingly haunts
Suffering, his only truth
amidst the embers lies his fate
Nothing bur ns though, save for his flesh
within White Dove Asylums Gate
Sundry resides beside my room
she’s lying underneath her bed
Her pillow in her arms, the floor
resists the pounding of her head
Voices began speaking to her
then eventually took the helm
Now, she prays every night
for the solace of deaths realm
She longed to find a place
where her plight was comment state
Alas, she incurred the lucid welcome of
White Dove Asylums Gate
Cobblestone walks accompany souls
into a vacuum for sane and serene
As windows, with pupils paned and barred,
oversee the land unclean
Festering thieves, screaming souls,
murderous hoards abound
Commandments broken take the place
of creeds that no longer resound
Decadent society thrives so lush
but the guise is realized too late
As the true freedom, from the truly disturbed
lies within White Dove Asylums Gate