2016 String Poet Prize Honorable Mention

The Alcove

That room upstairs with just three walls, no door,
its ceiling sloped, following the roof’s slant.
That space that rhymed with love and light leaned toward.

Where, in its own slant, the drawing board
made its home, my father or brother bent
with pen or brush, no need for walls or door

to dream for hours over canvas or paper.
Where art was in the open, as it’s meant,
and loved, that space for art the whole house leaned toward.

And where, when our room was being painted, my sister
and I slept as though within a tent,
no matter that it had three walls, no door—

our beds pushed together, our whispers, an adventure
beneath a slanted sky. That close and different
time before sleep we loved and all day leaned toward.

My father and brother at their drawing board.
Two sisters tucked and whispering, content.
That room upstairs with just three walls, no door
in need of love, and sleepless, I still lean toward.

The Tape2016 String Poet First Prize

No way to play it now, this cassette
I saved from my old answering machine
so I could hear you again and not forget,
bring back your hopeful lilt from nineteen-
ninety-eight, a day I must have been out
shopping, or taking Neenah to the doctor,
or maybe already on my way, about
to turn onto your road, almost there.
No way to play these thirty seconds or so
where you’re forever calling to remind
me to pick you up for dialysis, no
buttons I can press to pause, rewind
your hi, honey through my speakers, no device
to get this strip to move, unspool your voice.