Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest adult finalists

  • Poet’s Seat Tower on a windy fall day. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Published: 7/21/2021 6:53:02 PM

Wrapping up this series, here are poems from three finalists in the adult category of the 2021 Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest conducted by the Greenfield Public Library. The adult winners, as well as the winners in the youth categories, were announced in previous editions.

The contest, which drew 275 entries, was open to all residents, as well as students of Franklin County schools.

The neighbor gave me a grapefruit

The neighbor gave me a grapefruit.

It was January, and we’d just

shared a poem called “The Orange.”

The next time she saw me she asked,

Did you eat the grapefruit?

I hadn’t, and felt guilty, but I’m

somewhat uneasy about citrus, and

gambling, I have no investments to speak of,

and so it went with me to work and back,

up and down slow winter roads,

and then sat on the counter for a

few days longer, looking forlorn.

My uncle said the weather was warmer

than average, but we were still short on light,

so on the day the sun yawned out pink

through its mouth of crooked icicles,

I took it as the right time to finally cut away

the leathery and bruised grapefruit skin.

This was when I thought of my ancestors,

repeating their pains again unto others,

because its underside was dry and white,

and came away only reluctantly, at last

proud of what it had surrendered,

wet like a newborn, and temporary.

I attempted to impress its weight on

my palm and gather up the juices, while

the window went on praying, and across

the road, Gregory Orr called out

from the mouth of the maple.

We often relate about old gun wounds,

our favorite words, nevertheless and bittersweet,

deliberate on what is just, and who’s exempt from holy.

I’m never sure if it’s worth all of the

godforsaken mess, if other people

have an easier time just receiving

and consuming such presents

without seeking after the hearts matter,

but a mentor told me not to waste any

of what I am given. Yes, thank you,

I tell my neighbor, that grapefruit

really brightened my morning

Chelsea Jordan-Makely

Minister from Kidder Brook

When the new minister smiled,

It was like daybreak, like sun

warmed all parts of you.

Lavina Dolittle grew weak-kneed

when he smiled from the pulpit.

When Minister Hix preached, his

eyes sparkled something new.

They were practical in this community,

living on the edge of wildness.

Women forgot about Sunday service

or fixing dinner after.

Instead, they daydreamed

about walking along

Kidder Brook with Minister Hix,

listening to song birds,

while Kidder Brook thundered by,

drowning need of talk or prayer.

Women imagined reaching for his hand,

touching him, and not stopping.

Their blood ran faster than Kidder Brook.

Elaine Reardon

Note: This poem is based on events that happened in the late 1700s in Warwick when Minister Hix introduced members of his congregation to the idea of partner-swapping and “spiritual marriages.”

Morning Stories

When I woke in the mornings

and begged for stories, Gram said

don’t talk to much, flies

will get into your mouth.

I still wanted to hear her stories.

She’d say later, after our work.

She tied an apron around me,

Pulled the stool to the table,

gave me parsley, cracked wheat,

ground lamb, and my own basin

of water to wet my hands

as we worked together.

She said knead so it’s

soft as a baby’s bottom.

Shape round smooth balls.

Then we poked our thumbs in

to open them up, and spooned

in stuffing. I still wanted a story.

Gram said, My grandmother made kufta

And I carried pilaf, kufta, and yogurt to my

father, in the fields. Sometimes she

rode the donkey, other times a horse.

Gram said never ride a horse, or a camel.

And we never did.

That house was different from ours.

Animals lived downstairs, people above.

I asked if we could have chickens here, now.

She said no, not here. She said to keep my mouth

closed, not to talk so much, flies would get in.

I watched her story unfold in my mind.

Here final day home, when she and her sisters

Returned from school and found everyone dead,

the locked church on fire. A quiet town now,

except for soldiers that gathered up leftover people.

They walked from their mountain village,

part of the desert death marches,

thirsty, eating grasses and leaves,

anything they found.

Two sisters fell in the desert,

Three trudged on to Aleppo

and onward from there, survivors.

Elaine Reardon

Summer Hands

Winter hoods pulled tight

by hands busy with the

sounds of early morning

when the forecast is

calling for snow: the

kettle whistle, the radio,

the base-boom-thump of

the boiler; the clinking of

spoons in oatmeal bowls

and the lonely taste

school in our mouths.

It’s below freezing

outside and the street

lights flicker through

dark trees while she

warms our cheeks with

the summer in her hands.

Matt Scotten


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