Poetry: Finalists of Omnidawn’s 2016 1st/2nd Poetry Book Contest

This month we feature new work from the five finalists of Omnidawn’s 2016 1st/2nd Poetry Book Contest:

Lisa Alden – Truth & Subsidiaries
Mark Faunlagui – On Some Hispanoluso Miniaturists
Nicholas Gulig – ORIENT
Douglas Luman – Constructs
Caroline Young – Catastrophiliac

Survival & the Maple

Lisa Alden


the truth of us

            out of ourselves

I had my questions.

we had:             survival               myth

acquiescence                  survival

loss        our hands                        survival


green of an eye

            of the sky when it’s wrong

                           as far                 as the county line and beyond:

            there are only people we dare not know.

and things          with shapes we can’t name


fall again, the blind planet

catches no one               everyone              nadie                     todos

and I sense a cabal                        over there            over there

and we               we we                                fall here


pivot, point

            pivot, point

pivot.                              and on

our conjugations are                    impeccable

imperceptibly      impoverished


the face I had is gone.

            if I ever see you again, will you remember it?

                        and how would I know.

press the heels of your feet all the way into your shoes

            like it will help.

                        sometimes it helps


            falsehood dented

from overuse, we kneel

            with sore arms. we can barely

stand. if there’s a you, I’ve lost the trail.

            what’s the larger point.

it’s leaking, check

the tap on the maple


so this is what it has come to.

and not enough


LAlden photo1Lisa Alden is a Mensan, WashU alum, and lecturer in creative writing at SFSU. She lives in California with her sons. lisaalden.com


Mark Faunlagui

lazarillo is counting on pyroclastic flows that will to a crisp crispen this splotch on his neck incurred from falling down stairs and on top of teeth of coffee grinds powdering his thigh it’s best that it should he is waiting for volcanoes tumbling to oceans tumbling round whales immensities in the affinities between lazarillo’s and manny’s tree climbing pasts manny that is the monkey’s name the one on the monKEYS locksmiths shirt KEYS capitalized it is a jovial ape ape in overalls ape to your rescue she has locked herself out of the car again when will this ashen flow come though the arachnid did predict it the one whose webwork gave lazarillo a sinking feeling that he had barreled through and undid her night’s webwork beer at hand but he hopes this searing ash doesn’t crisp up the little deer in his dream last night he had cupped in his hands and had helped over the rockies of his rumpled bedsheet


170607.06 pic haloMark Faunlagui was born in the Philippines and studied architecture at Cornell University. His poems have appeared in The New Engagement, Sibling Rivalry Press’s Assaracus, Omnidawn’s OmniVerse, Augury Books and Greying Ghost’s The Corduroy Mtn, and his manuscripts have variously been Finalists or Semi-Finalists in contests for 1913 Press, The Song Cave, Omnidawn and Augury Books. On Some HispanoLuso Miniaturists, to be published by 1913 Press in 2017, is his first book, and the first installment in the ThirdWorldLover Trilogy. Mark is an architect, and lives in Jersey City.


Nicholas Gulig

Grave of race as culture halved by sex and category. It turned to sorrow,
to dismay, to anger, a catalyst

for action. “What is there
to live among, or for.”
Within a pixel’s moribund

circumference, at first I was surprised.
It began to make a noise.

Defining strategies to fight the enemy wherever it rears its head,
grave of nations, names

their origins existing
somewhere, it could be said

and has been. Triggered by a clash, I hear it
there. “A soldier speaking,

his weaponry erupting.” Occurring
in the open pit between our happiness, grave of our despair.

“Modernity” and “Barbarism.”

A grain of sand against the ground which curves itself to greater noise,
the sound upon which grows a sense of self

increasingly opposed. To not forget
the shock. A feeling sexed but faceless, the desert does decree itself among a light

that doesn’t blind. “The enemy
is waiting.”
In the moment post-immaculate, grave of the eye

of the beholder.
Descending like a vulture and existing.

In the near vicinity of objects. In the present tense of things.
Returning to the 13th century. Contained

in structure, scripture,
scar. “The war will be a long one.” Thus, the desert, it can be said, contains us

in a new society of arms. Like generalists
attempting to extract

a form of fuck I call myself into the crucible of ache.
As the printing press gave rise

to a religion. Ache of answer, error. A grave beyond a border
built in certain light, the glow

of order. “We are not the only element.”
When listened to,

when emptied slowly and replaced,
a grave that is a self

rehearsed before an audience of strangers.
To struggle over nomenclature. An effigy, when seen: “experienced”


Gulig author photoNicholas Gulig is a Thai-American poet from Wisconsin.

“The River,” Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut

Douglas Luman

What would we feel when the water does not come. The sea of faith was once
too full. Clay was the word & clay was the flesh. All sheep, lambs, & calves—
patterns; something in them is making a steady effort to die.
That’s the farmer’s impression.

The planet is made of language slips & we only need one to happen. The
algorithm of the harvest does not include want or body.

The days of the Earth are killing the season. Several forests gather
& they’re leaving. I see in them the stub of an atopia.

I asked where are you going. They answered
we don’t know, but we’re glad to be going there.

Murder started with an axe & pointed westward where
the weather is supposedly less perilous.

But, who am I to tell you what the world does.

I suppose the thing is that rivers are recurrent, & regarding fields: people question
the quality of light that’s there. As noon is careless, we know little
about how the day is yet. The light of the sun is the glitter of some old hope.

I could talk about houses, but they’ve seen too much violence.
& the landscape is not a house, but we say the river here is no more than a bed, or
the shadow into which an escapist abandons.

Time is passing by, how do we stop it.

& yet you have lived long enough that you might see your own children.

Sometimes it’s easier to imagine no one else alive.


Luman - 2016 - HeadshotDouglas Luman is Production Director of Container, Art Director at Stillhouse Press, Head Researcher at appliedpoetics.org, a book designer, and digital human. His first book, The F Text, will be released in fall 2017 on Inside the Castle.

Caroline Young

The Moon

of Changing Bodies

In the natural world, act natural. We first mate under a Capricorn moon but nettle down in detail. Of what shall we construct this nest? Horsehair, feathers, wire, string. Credit cards, PIN, and password. What becomes a compromise, consensual indecision. Using tools at one’s disposal I rust in your nest of hands. Sinew, cartilage, and bone. Thumb drive, nail, mandible. A branch snaps without water. I want to touch your wonder while your want to touch me wanders. We face time over unspoken online assumptions of human nature. On screen we look at stars above without the fear of falling. I say yes. I do I did it now. I did it haven’t I?

of the Horse Unfenced

There is no such thing as independence. We measure our responses. Crows, robins, cardinals, tits fighting in the leaves. We are want to gather what is left while earth remains visible. What is disorder? Head down, arms akimbo. This three-legged race goes nowhere. Unstrangled laces slip from eyelets. Rub our blisters into dirt. Absence bleeds. Brightening. A whole.

of Product Release

The Cancer moon being what it is, we consider our positions. We isolate our bodies in isolated beds, winter-wrapped packages of fur governing flesh. In camphor, tea no passion flower. Backs face wind and its unexpected liftoffs. Pretend to be alone while the white moon hangs across our sky. Jupiter swallows neighboring stars. We pray for change we fear we are unprepared. I recall that I once read: somewhere, someone once believed the moon a hole to another world. I try to imagine a tear in the page through which our bodies might pass.

of Hunger Ghosts

My dream I was and wake alone. The you slipped from the edge of the field I held on by my toes. No sign of echolocation. No weathering device. Who I was remembers only words you could not say. Silver-tongued skylight lingers. Sycamore shadow limbs. May’s reflected starlight falls as if the being who I am is watched by someone closer than God. I audition her name. Owl, cry pond, lilies, stone, starlight, goldenrod, pear. A predator’s breath is harvesting my prayer. Long bow, quiver, blanket remains. No archer nor the animal.


WIN_20170524_17_20_30_ProCaroline Young lives, paints, reads, and writes in Athens, Georgia where she received her PhD in English Literature at the University of Georgia. She teaches writing and communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.