Literary Hook: Poetry and Prose Contest presents poetry honorable mentions

This week, we are back to the Rock River Poetry and Prose Contest winners, and will begin featuring honorable mentions.

The two poems we offer this week offer a glimpse of ordinary life, looked at through a lens that Emily Dickenson calls “slant.”

In one, we visit a cash machine; in the other, we encounter a dragonfly amidst the tumult of various medical machinery.

Coincidentally, both honorable mentions are from Massachusetts.

The first is by Mark Wacome Stevick, from Gloucester, Mass.:

24-Hour Teller

for DMS

At the cash machine I think how easily

zeros become hundreds thousands millions

even when I’m just hoping for ten. Circuits

evaluate my credit, then a sharp 10-spot

spits into the cubicle: I am worthy.

Right outside the door stands a pay phone

that’ll trade these hundred paper dimes

for anybody’s voice I want to hear

or book the next flight to a coastline

where juniper and cypress survive

whatever numbers the tropics can dish out.

My card returns. I order my billfold and

exit. Though the evening is mild, the walls

of this building radiate heat, and my cheek

against the hot bricks leaves a dark spot.

They survive by leaning over, even in calm.

The second is by Marion Kaplun Shapiro, Ed.D., from Lexington, Mass.:


Letters float, genderless

angels, wings sheer as dragonflies

whose airy bodies circled our canoe

last August on the Concord River.

Almost out of human range, their tiny

cymbal voices sang to us, hmm-ing

round and round, soprano guardians

asking nothing of us at all.

Dragonfly, I hear you

in the hum of the heart monitor, in

the sigh of the blood pressure bulb

as it exhales, in the spongy soles

of the nurse’s shoes, the squeal

and squeak of the dinner cart. Unto

us you are given. For no reason,

free, and without indemnity.

The Rock River Times is pleased to present these interesting poems. They were chosen not only for their interesting perspectives on everyday situations, but also for their style and form. Notice the uniform four-line stanzas (quatrains) in the first poem, “24-Hour Teller,” that blends seamlessly with the speaker’s narrative line.

Also notice the uniform eight-line stanza (octet) in the second poem, “ER, IV, EKG, CAT, BP…” as well as the surprising focus on the dragonfly amidst medical machinery. Both poems infuse surprising images of the natural world into a mechanical, technological world, devoid of sweetness. This is the stuff of good poetry!

From the Aug. 23-29, 2006, issue

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