•  Annual Literary Reviews 

available at all events

All rights revert to the individuals published. These works may not be reproduced without permission of the author. These pages may not be reproduced without the express written permission of Performance Poets Association, and may not be stored in any electronic data retrieval system.

Winners

  Little Things

 

I am bound to you sitting

Beneath an umbrella of warm silence

Your eyes following open-mouthed wrens

Hopping near our feet repeating

Secrets to hushed grass

That carpet the hour we walk through

 

I am bound to you arching your eyebrow

Asking for understanding

Knowing the angle will melt anger

Heating the surface of my nervous smile

Waiting for comfort

 

I am bound to you bowing

Opening restaurant doors that promise

Escape from beeper and phone

Intruding upon our valued time

 

I am bound to you smiling at waiters

Who interrupt our rhythm

Bring us wine when we are already

Intoxicated with each other

 

Joan Magiet

 

 

 

 

Candles of hope

 

There is a Cathedral calm about the place

Voices echo softly down the hallways

Whispers sound like vespers prayed

 

We wait against the west wall

Wrapped in blue robes

We sit in wheelchairs

 

Skeletons, our skin sallow as bee’s wax

Eyes flicker, ablaze in sunken sockets

They flutter hopefully in shining skulls

 

Blue nubs for the I-V needles

defined by wraps of brown bandage

Await the cool burn of the I-V hose.

We search the parochial beige hospital walls

 

Van Goghs, Latrecs, Gaugins

Stare back at us

On dead canvas they imitate life

 

We wait in private heavens or private hells

We whisper the empty question

“How are you today?”

 

We answer with the lie

“I’m fine. Thank you.”

We sit like fluttering candles

We dare not snuff the fires out.

 

Matt Connors

WHOLlY AMPERSAND

 

I found a key chain, or it found me

a zero of beads that dangle, no key,

no ID, just a silver ampersand,

a sign I knew but didn’t understand—

             the 27th letter, and per se,

             the end that follows Z,

             a closed 8, its tails crossed to a T.

 

It turned me thoughtful,

that silver symbol,

made me add a light-pull

to the short key chain,

so I could wear the ampersand,

priestly round my neck.

feel it with my fingers,

press it to my breast.

 

I blessed it with a smiling prayer

addressed “tow whom it may concern”.

My vision an ampersand

to bridge the division of signs,

of star & cross & crescent,

divisions of man and man,

of good & evil, hand in hand,

made one by my wholly ampersand.

 

Charles Ferrara

Accepting Night

 

Shadows of solar eclipse elicit doubt

Our world will survive the darkness.

We live for light, accepting night

As welcome respite from day’s labor.

 

Our world will survive the darkness

As long as we trust in day’s return.

A welcome respite from day’s labor,

Night might bring love and sleep, deep needs.

 

As long as we trust in day’s return,

We’ll resist the shadow of doubt

Night won’t bring love and sleep; deep needs

Met, we thrive; unmet, we fold.

 

We’ll resist the shadow of doubt

That solar eclipses elicit.

Brought love and sleep, deep needs,

We live for light, accepting night.

 

George Held

I Have A Friend Who Signs

 

I have a friend who signs

for the deaf.

She teaches kids who can’t hear

how to read

and gives them voice

to speak their mind.

She can

hear and talk of course

and has no need to sign

when she’s “off duty”

so to speak.

But even then

whenever we dine

or are engaged in a private exchange

her hands have a way of rising

out of her lap and into the air

fluttering

like trained birds

her fingers fanning the breeze.

Her hands seem to have a life of their own

and fly higher

if our words are too hot or the soup is not.

“The deaf”

she tells me almost in a whisper

“have a thought that when they die

God switches off the lights

so they will know they have arrived

in Heaven.”

 

Joseph E. Scalia

TECATOS

 

Brother Calvin toured East Harlem’s dirty,

drum-rumbling, cuchifrito-scented streets.

In his pockets he packed gum balls, lollipops and quarters

to distribute as limosnas to kids, cripples and beggars.

Flying high — but without drugs or alcohol —

he was buzzed up on benevolence for God’s unfortunates.

 

One morning on 117th and Lex he spotted

a caramel-colored muchacha perked on a long splayed staircase.

She sat hunched over, her pink-tipped fingers

scratching her arm pits in clow motion.

Ebony hair fell across brown shoulders, breasts

like ripe avocados bulged beneath her nylon blouse.

 

He couldn’t believe his eyes: men in rags nodded near

his brown beauty, cigarettes burning into their fingers

their arms a patchworks of purple scars.

He thought: these must be the tecatos

Reverend Arquímedes had warned him about.

 

He slipped into a reverie: he’d resettle his brown beauty

away from this scum of the slum

care for her every painful minute of the way

as she kicked her drug habit.

He’d turn her on to books, museums, plays, parks, and beuna gente.

 

Her Spanish sighs and naked thighs flashed through his mind

sex would only be icing on the cake.

 

Suddenly his brown beauty lifted her head

Oye, camarón! Yo, undercover cop!

A loud rustle swept the tecato flock,

eyes swirling fire, glaring down at him

his quarter jingling as he sped off the block.

 

Gil Fagiani

Performance Poets Association®