2011 Inglis House Poetry Contest Winners

Contest Winners

Category 1

Category 2

The judging for the of the 2011 Inglis House Poetry Contest has been completed. The contest grows larger each year and this year's contest was the largest so far. Below are the contest winners and their winning poems. The winning poems reflect the great diversity of style in the entries received. As in the past, this year's contest had two categories. Category 1 was open to all writers and the poems had to have some connection to disability. Category 2 was open only to writers with disabilities and could be on any topic. For each category a first, second and third place prize was given as well as three honorable mentions. Many of the excellent poems that are not seen below will appear in the September issue of Wordgathering.

Category 1

First Place

Meg Eden
Gambrils, Maryland

the order of things

1.the letter A is red. she is the leader, the heroine, type A personality. she rescues people, and she
    always has a plan. she is a little like the number nine, except nine is the villain.
                 and if you mix three and six, you get strawberry-raspberry. I mean, if you mix six and
                 eight, you get raspberry swirl. so when the answer  to my math problem is 68, my mouth
                 tastes like berries and I want to go to get ice-cream sticks.
                              when you subtract numbers, the song is minor and sad, but if you add numbers,
                              the tune is major and everything is happy. I like it when my math ends with an
                              addition or a multiplication problem because that means all the numbers got
                              along and nine didnít hurt anyone.
                                          seven and three are teal and yellow, I mean seven and nine are teal and
                                          yellow, and three is something between orange and red, or some warm
                                          color, but I can never see her for a long enough time to tell.
2.the letter a is blue and a boy and heís lower-case. small. no one gives him much notice because he
    is just placed in words. e is a big boy, I mean, E is a girl, and she has pigtails and is yellow. O is
    older, larger, dark blue or purple, I is a skinny boy with front teeth, tall and lanky, blue, grinning
    U is older and larger than O, like a grown up.
                 and theyíre all friends. they make things better. they save confused normal people, old
                 people, consonants. they make words. I donít always think about it like that; I just
                 know that they are very important kids. kids are very important, and I think we all know
3.Weíre in math and I canít remember why the answer twenty five feels right. is it because thatís
     what oreos are: black and blue. does that make it the square of five? it sounds like a nice number,
     complete, five makes things sound finished.
                  I think three is a chameleon. she changes based on what other numbers are around her.
                  sometimes sheís yellow, and sometimes orange and sometimes I canít tell because she is
                  very clever for her age.
                                 there are no green numbers.
                                              seven and nine look good together, maybe because seven is calm and is
                                              a boy and nine is loud and bossy and is a girl. eight is purple and shy;
                                              four is mango-colored, and one is red, like A, so maybe the story
                                              should go:
4.there once was an A and 1, and they both started the whole story. They are very important
    because they set the order. They keep peace. And most of all, theyíre both very nice.

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Second Place

Jessica Jacobs
Lafayette, Indiana


Marie took her to the desert where the light
wrapped her fragile shoulders like a shawl.
She turned her to the sun and pleaded, Can you

see it? No, said Georgia; but I know it's there.
They placed her in the center of a large spare room
and turned her toward the light Unresponsive

they agreed, as the wind whined at her
window like a lonely dog. She had taken
from the world all she could. The canvas

is so much larger now, she thought
and I am no longer separated from it
by brushes
Still, they came to hold her

hands and weep at the thought
that no more paintings would come
from them. They were the ones

who could not see. Nothing has gone, she said
to herself, until the day she saw
her work was finished.

She painted herself a door and walked through.

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Third Place

AC Lemming
Tappahannock, Virginia


I've always liked learning German,
but I love this word like no other.

It sounds like an actor with a bad
Russian accent attempting to say,

Ze wolf iz at ze door. I am no
longer afraid of ze beeg, bahd wolf

because his bigger badder brother,
ze strohk has already sunk his teeth

into my neck and shaken me until
I can no longer stand on my own.

So ze beeg bahd wolf, he no scare
me no more.
His brother took me

down when I was zwölf.

*Originally published in Robert Lee Brewer's blogPoetic Asides

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Honorable Mention

Michelle Fernandez
San Juan, Puerto Rico


A realization never hits just the mind.
Knowledge sinks cold uneasy peristalsis,
an electrical exodus of fluid and fever
from head to gut
a shunt.


A communication can never be just that.

Conversation is perpetually punctuated by the percussive
internal yet inhuman slow drip of
an insistent flow of intangibilities incommunicabilities
purging purging purgatorying
from head to gut
a shunt.
And so, what was it you were saying again?


An interpretation can never just be that.
The world your face a sound
snap-catalyzed in enzymatic reactions of consumption and transport.
And the guilt guilt galea of all this,
like that last bite you shouldn't have taken
sits undigested unarticulated
as judgments jolt
from head to gut
a shunt.


A digestion can never just be that.
We are both what we absorb and what does the absorption.
alphabet soup ideas and food in limbo
between head and gut
a shunt.

You cannot know what it means to be human until part of you isn't.
Part of me isn't.
I'll get back to you on the meaning.


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Honorable Mention

Christopher Jon Heuer
Alexandria, Virginia


Not once did my father sign to me.
He was a farmer; his explanations
were for the ground. Corn, rain,
earth—this was language,
the planting and bringing forth
of things. He did not like talking
to people, their noise and pace
and frantic lives. To him a sense

of hearing was only good for wind
and thunder, for the moaning
of cattle. I remember the hands
of my father, fingers clenched white
like teeth around the steering
wheels of tractors and the grips of
pitchforks; taking refuge from
the movement of my language

among the motions of his life.
Mine was not the kind of silence
that he knew, standing in rows
to be entered like a church—
undisturbed beyond the brush of
the leaves against his face and arms—
in the fields we would not cross
to meet one another.

My kind of silence was flood
and drought. He watched me
as if God had set the locusts on him.
His hands struck the dinner table
with the fast crack of lightning.
My silence was famine and disease,
forces of nature he could not
root out, or control. Or cure.

But now that he is dead, I see
his fingers in the corn, reaching
over the hills and fences to his son,
to say that he is sorry. At the
field's edge, the touch of each
kernel against my palm is a kiss
from his lips. I would go to him
if I knew where to walk.

*Originally published in The Deaf Way II Anthology: A Literary Collecion by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers

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Honorable Mention

Judith Fitzpatrick
Corrales, New Mexico

(after The Book of the Dead Man -Vertigo by Marvin Bell

                        Light dances on the walls.
                        I feel the heat and power
                        of my own fire.
                            Dara McLaughlin

      1. About the Dead Woman and Resentment

The dead woman watched the food channel on television though she could not eat.
She resents those years she spent in bed, her throat gradually closing,
  her withered legs twisted beneath her, muscles waiting to cramp.
Her medicines induced sleep, or kept her jittery and awake.
One day the same as another, if she was lucky. What she could expect.
She remembers the men she made love to, resents that they moved
  on to make love to other women, while she was crippled in time.
The first hour of each day was the worst, combing the knots
  from her hair and brushing the fuzz from her teeth.
No reason to wear clothes in the cold or heat, lying under a bed sheet.
By mid-morning, everything she needed to do was done.

      2. More about the Dead Woman and Resentment

She confesses it gets easier, this urge to do less and less.
Half her lifetime was spent sitting in a chair, rolling instead of walking.
Now she dreams of those hours when she was merely
  handicapped, disabled, not dead.
No longer resents not walking, that loss accepted long ago,
  but it puzzles her: this need to go on when the road she's on
  stops at the sheer edge of a cliff.
Even now she works out with weights, attempts to bathe herself,
  tries to lift her legs, roll over without help.
Her dependency unnerving. Unending. Unbending.
She is tougher than most, more creative and maybe smarter.
If she could only get up, step away from the bed, she would set the world on fire,
  then happily dance in the mesmerizing light of the flames.

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Category 2

First Place

Kobus Moolman
Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa


This is the hand. Talking.

This is me. Holding up the hand
and looking hard into it.

Is anyone listening?

The hand swims through the quick
water of daylight, through the slow
water of the night.
The hand burns during the day and
curls into brown smoke.
The hand burns at night and
crackles with electricity.
It jumps when anyone walks past.
It gasps and swallows short breaths
and stumbles over its broken teeth
when anyone asks it a question.

Is anyone listening?

I do not want to listen.
I do not want to sit and wait,
holding the hand in my hand
like a woman in the cold, a woman in the
cold and the dark cradling a dead child,
like a woman cradling nothing.

I hear the hand all day.
I hear it whispering behind walls.
Behind thin doors.
I hear it in my dreams. In my desire.

My lust is filled with the dark
blood of the hand, the dark light
that pulls, that calls, pulls
like a heavy rope at my heart.

I look at the hand and see
the scars of fires and knives.
I look at the hand and see
the calluses of stones and sticks.

I look at the hand and hear
the slow bending of bone, the curling
tongue of tissue and vein as the old words of my heart
close upon themselves like a leaf,
like the leaves of plants in dry lands
desperate to preserve the little that
remains in their veins.

I hear the hand call out and I turn my back.

I turn away from the sight of its large fingers
curled around the hole in my back,
its hard skin closing tightly like a
scar over the site of so many scalpels,
the loss of so many shoes.
The absence of feeling. Of so many feelings.
The feeling of being me, when I am so
few other things too.

This is the hand. Talking.

This is me. Not talking
to the one who exists at the still centre of the storm.
The one I have never seen. Only smelt.
The smell of lost flowers.
The smell of lost hair.
Eyes that opened once, flashed
like water under the sun,
spontaneously, and then were gone.
Beneath the black rock of fear.

This is me. Talking.

I cannot do anything else.
Cannot run, jump, climb, skip,
hurry, walk to the end of the sky.
Barely stand without falling over.
Because it is only the hand that
holds me up, that holds me onto
the narrow path, where there are no handholds,
only deep and empty falling.

But the hand is mortal.
It is not God.

It must burn.

Is anyone listening?

*From Kobus Moolman's book Light and After

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Second Place

John Thomas Clark
Scarsdale, New York


Most see Meg as a modern-day Gibson
Girl. Beautiful, demure, she does not wear
the long, flare-bottomed skirt or the puff-sleeved,
high-necked, tightly fitted blouse. But the winched-
waist corset she does wear – the one those long-
ago ladies used to achieve the idealized
"S-curve" for their figures. Few realized
back then that, this restrictive device was wrong-
headed for it cracked ribs, sapped muscles, pinched
the innards. But with Meg, all these aggrieved
her before the brace. Neath her stately air,
down deep, she is marred. She plays an Ibsen
girl where, in an anti-Victorian world scene,
her moves are directed by a misbalanced gene.

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Third Place

Raymond, Luczak
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Ice fills my veins. Emptied, I close up my retro denim jacket and feel the heat of our nights swirl next to my blued skin. The bed where we made love is now a coffin ready to go. The mystery of your presence is solved with bullets of hurt. The flames surrounding us are now bitter crumbs of cinder. I cough up ashes of your kisses. I am snowed with wondering why. The ocean of age tosses a net of waves over me. Caught, I scream your name. You are no longer at sea or on land. The blood in my joints coagulates. Your eyes are everywhere as I close my eyes in the whipping waves. The oxygen of our nights together merely bubbles to the surface.

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Honorable Mention

Linda Benninghoff
Lloyd Harbor, New York


rested on the incline
of the far field,
immobile, blending
in with the undergrowth
and thin snow.
I had forgotten,
if I followed the north trail
that led back to my home
or made some wrong turn
into the center of the park.
Only the geese
stopped there,
in rows,
hungry and bitterly cold.
They made jittery motions,
flapped wings
stood up in the air,
stretched their long necks,
exposed their pale under-wings,
flew skywards,
then bore east.
They made a sound as sad
as a child's cries.

The white hill was empty,
narrow, brown spaces left
where the thinnest layer of snow
had melted from the heat of their heavy bodies.

*Originally published in Benninghoff's bookWhose Cries are Not Music

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Honorable Mention

John Thomas Clark
Scarsdale, New York


In offering a book, the term 'shrinkwrapped'
said it best for the bookseller. This meant
the book was unopened, sealed, and it earned
highest praise for it looked like it just came
from the publisher. Terms as 'new,' 'mint,'
and 'very fine,' left open the book's state
to question. An opened book himself, a spate
of doctors studied him, to crack the flint
that shrank him. Year on year it was the same;
each year a page, each page a muscle, turned –
dissolved – its myelin wrap shrunk, its pulp spent
with the message of the neural ink – sapped.
But writ large is this – there's nowhere else to look,
and, on him, doctors have now closed the book.

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Honorable Mention

Patricia Wellingham-Jones
Tehama, California


She arranges river stones
water-worn and rounded
in a circle large enough
to stand in, eases the final stone
to close the gap

Eyes closed
herbs gathered in her hands
she sends thoughts of health and light
through the turgid air

Doesn't consider herself strange
not a witch of any hue
just another healer
in a world needing

*Originally published in Front Range (2010)

For comments about the contest winners, please contact us at inglispoetry@hotmail.com.

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