A poem I wrote several years ago (and have been tweaking to get right) has won 2nd place in the OPA “Members Only” category, which will also appear in Verseweavers next year:
Today I Am Venus
Of course, Alexandros, I’ll gladly pose for you.
Your reputation precedes you—the way
you mold your models. I’ve heard stories
of your jealous wife. Will she be joining us?
Is this your first time?
Sculpting an amputee, I mean. I hope
you’re not alarmed by my lack of arm.
Where would you like me to disrobe?
I may need a little assistance unzipping my dress.
You don’t mind, do you?
I’ll let you drape the peplos. Would you rather
I leave my prosthetic arm on
or take it off?
Today, I am your Venus,
I’m already beautiful. Now mold me
into something timeless.
Members Only — Tim Whitsel, Judge
1st Place: “Ghazal in June” by Louise Barden, Corvallis, OR
2nd Place: “Today I Am Venus” by Shawn Aveningo Sanders, Beaverton, OR
3rd Place: “The Steens” by Janna Roselund, Oakland, OR
1st Honorable Mention: “No Bonsai Anymore” by Brigitte Goetze, Philomath, OR
2nd Honorable Mention: “The Fixer” by Toni Hanner, Eugene, OR
3rd Honorable Mention: “Rudy” by Linda Ferguson, Portland, OR
Limited to twenty lines, the poems in this category delivered memorable imagery and resonant meaning with great economy of language. The very best of them also gave the reader the gift of surprise—a quality shared by the diverse assortment of poems honored here.
The three Honorable Mentions exhibit their own excellence. “Erasure Poem #72” gathers meaning from the scattered remnants of a passage in a Tom Robbins novel, and is a tour de force of its challenging genre. “Souvenir” drops us into the heat and dust of an Alabama cotton field, leaving us to confront the “whipping, the weep / the countless hammers cocked.” “Repast” is a moving testament to a daughter’s loving care. The detail of the dark O of the mother’s mouth, open to be fed, is heartbreaking.
My thanks to all the poets who shared their work. It was a pleasure to read this fine collection of poems, and a difficult challenge to select only a few for recognition.