PCCA is now accepting entries for the annual poetry contest. Anyone may enter; however, only Perry County residents will be eligible for the title of Perry County Poet Laureate. Other prizes include First, Second, Third, Honorable Mention, and the Kenneth P. Allen Award for poems written in any form with the theme of “exposed,” chosen by last year’s KPA Award winner Ingrid Mara Hansen Guderle.
Lynne Reeder, “How to Analyze a Poem (Or, How to Diagnose the Damage)”
First, take stock of format.
Check the use of white space, the
v o i d
between each rib.
Discover what is being said
the body carries trauma
by what is left unsaid.
Focus then on punctuation.
Where are you asked to pause,
pressure points like commas
and where do words simply move
handprints bone deep
to wind about your wrists
Are you told what is meant
or must you leave room
Do you need to look for what is unsaid
skin unraveling in ink
beneath what’s being said?
And then, perhaps, after this,
you are ready to roll the language
about your tongue.
Find all this figurative
living between commas
inside the literal.
Only then can you savor
what is offered to you, what
d r i p s
down the page
taste what remains
the body carries trauma
Ingrid Mara Hansen Guderle, “Midnight Sidewalk”
Rough with wrath and pebbled grey
as taut as an elephant’s hide
on the Savannah
black sheep of the family concrete
an old animal
sister of the streets
lying in uneasy rest
her condition: lamentable at best
depraved, pathetic path
feels its prey creeping up
clip clop clip clop
a creature of the night
high heels dominate the beast
crunching down like teeth
to the beat of their quickened pace
another one escapes
Samantha Bise, “The Scene”
You don’t wake up knowing that today
will be one of the worst days of your life.
You just move through the hours, until you are caught off-guard
by the spinning blue and red lights from the side of the road,
grabbing your attention like stage lights snapping on,
while the rest of the world goes dark.
It felt like just like a movie scene,
so it was only fitting that it was Friday the 13th.
A cinematic close-up of your life turned film,
the side of the road turned horror story on display.
I pulled over at the sight of you,
and suddenly the street became stage.
I stood there as they read you your rights,
handcuffed your hands behind your back,
two arm lengths in front of my eyes,
searched your car for more paraphernalia,
proof of another non-recovered recovering addict.
I knew you were waiting for me to say something,
but I was never given this script.
The audience was waiting for my punchline,
as your head was pushed into the backseat
of a cop car with tinted windows,
feeling too much like a curtain closing.
I didn’t know my lines, but I ad-libbed for the sake of you
by mouthing “I love you” to you through the glass.
I wanted you to know that being locked up alone
doesn’t mean you are alone.
I wanted you to know that I wasn’t mad.
I wanted life to be like a film,
so I could edit your bad decisions out,
turn them into bloopers we could laugh about.
I never even auditioned for this part,
but my name is still rolling in the credits,
my name is still rolling off the tongues of the critics,
as if I could have somehow stopped you
from making the decisions that led us to this.
there are only a few ways this storyline ends—
an epilogue of you behind bars,
an institutionalized life as the backdrop,
or a eulogy soundtrack playing
as all the extras we forgot about reappear to take a bow.
Roses placed upon your chest
as I exit stage left.
Ingrid Mara Hansen Guderle, “Insects”
It is not what anybody knows or expects
unlike other diseases when they infect
it does not show
by some, it has been described as an insect
crawling and fluttering wearily inside
It brushes its wings against the door
where memories are stored
like butterfly kisses from the one who swings the fist
the door begs to be unhinged
the night seeps in like smoke
through the key hole
wherein, cracking open
plumes of “better left forgotten” mushroom up
something has awoken
you will not see the struggle in my face
or hear me choke and whimper from the heat
I will not bleed or scream in agonizing breaths
or pace the room in fear of defeat
the only symptom I present
Is the ability I have to drive you mad
and with every day that you resent me more
the insects multiply behind the door
Lynne Reeder, “Impressionism”
portrait: young girl sits
painting her desk with
amber locks, staples her eyes
to the textbook and
decoupages her depression across
the blank lines of a worksheet
she will fail to hand in.
teacher notices this art in formation,
offers a paintbrush
the girl hasn’t learned to hold.
still life: young girl opens
the frame of a medicine cabinet, spills the
amber bottle from its shelf, cradles twenty tablets
like poems in her hands
lines her throat with their palette,
swallows around the clay of regret
coating her stomach, the lump
she has failed to shape.
girl stares in the mirror,
realizes this is not
a watercolor action.
the oil acrylic seeps into her veins.
mixed media: young girl flourishes
out of manila folders, rips up
diagnostic reports to shape flower petals,
presses them between pages.
teacher shows girl how to hold the paintbrush, how to
flick her wrist and blend
colors, and girl emerges with
amber locks woven with heart strings,
canvas tattered, taped, tilted,
teacher notices this art in formation,
knows the layers,
the girl drips from her fingertips
while she learns what it means to live.
photograph: young girl and teacher,
side by side,
a story unframeable.
William Davies Jr.-2013
Kenneth J. Little-2014
William Davies Jr.-2015
William Davies Jr.-2017
Jeanne Marie Beaumont is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Letters from Limbo. Her other books are Burning of the Three Fires, which was a finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, Curious Conduct, and Placebo Effects, which won the National Poetry Series in 1996. She is also coeditor of the anthology The Poets’ Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines including Good Poems for Hard Times, Harvard Review, The Manhattan Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2007, and many others. She won the 2009 Dana Award for Poetry. She currently teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd St. Y and has also taught for the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine, Rutgers University, and the Frost Place. She was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs and now resides in Manhattan.