Poetry: Finalists of Omnidawn’s Poetry Contest


New poetry from the five finalists of Omnidawn’s Poetry Contest: Ethan Saul Bull, Michael Tod Edgerton, Carolyn Hembree, Brandon Shimoda, Jordan Windholz.



The turtle pond is floating in the plastic

Leaves are cutout in the shape of famous
artists and constellations.

I’ve written it down—I am religion and
not religion

in the grass selling shapes.

It all looks like the pad of grass at the top
of a baby’s head.

The size of it intrigues me—you are a
turtle looking at a duck.

I will stay here master of tax deduction
strategies and tabletop figurines.

We’ll end up in the refrigerator arguing.

I’ve gone out to a new artificial yard near
the bank.
The earth is in my eyes.
I’m getting another parking ticket
and the damn tv no longer obeys me!

We’ll have to lie down awhile.

It’ll feel like standing where we are

making piles and tossing matches.

Ethan Saul Bull currently lives and works (a little) in Mexico City. He received his MFA from The University of Arizona in 2008 and then immediately fled the country (again). He loves parentheses. This poem is from his work entitled (INSIDE YOU) WITH NARRATIVES ON. Other poems from this collection have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, The Raleigh Review, Bare Root Review, and Cause and Effect Magazine among others.


(Curtain. Alter)

(in the spot, fades)

In the fold of curtain the amber. In the fold. Curtain seeks amber. Its darkening. In the dark. The spot. Over the spot across filled. Over the seats slow. Across filled seats. (cross fade to red back) To velvet back. Curtain folds. The light. Over the velvet. The warp. In the velvet. Holds the spot. The shadow frames. (hold) Shallow focus on the curtain’s. Or amber, but velvet or. Dancers. Blue or black. In the dark. In the dark wings. In the dark burgundy bright scarlet. Holds.

(music, cued crane view, roll)

Dancers in the wings the curtains. Down. Doors. Close house. Fades. Over the fold of the amber over the burgundy. The scarlet lit. Velvet. Opens. An opening in the stage. Music cues. (pan across) Filled. Full. Fold the seat down. House. Lights opening. Cues. Or silence. We crane. To see to. Or small noises. Reach. The stage the light the opening. Wings.

(walk walk, slowly, cut, to audience seat backs, cut deep focus, center stage)

Sounds entering the melting under. Warm. Lights cue, the music. Dancers the dance, the audience. Stage all set, set all blue. Expanse. (hold spot) She holds his hand. He stretches. He warms. Wings, noises, with waiting on stage. He holds his hand. Eyes follow. Seated. Wing, the way out to, across, his waiting in the, opposite, by step by. Lips.

(reach, )

Michael Tod Edgerton holds an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University. His poems and reviews have appeared in Boston Review (contest winner), Chelsea, Denver Quarterly, Electronic Poetry Review, Five Fingers Review (contest winner), Mantis, New American Writing, New Orleans Review, Skanky Possum, Word For/Word, and others.


Bird Tells How It Went with Skinny’s Beloved

Sh, Bird say from his clock tower
thus twitter nor tweet be heard all night
wide, drafty them halls orange feathers swoosh through
Bird: Old Sweetheart talks to hisself nowadays
he thinks nowadays he be judging crime
(seen on court steps, seen midday ranting)
Bird: He lives nowhere now you know!

I know
I picture him: Sweetheart’s always to me
an oil paint boy—bluely plush knickers
crop in hand, too young to ride the mead
‘hind him a whinny or neigh or brrr
‘hind him a horse alights, it has wings
all things live long enough they get wings
alas! I and he be what? fly-by-night
tonight old snow outside courthouse
caught in dogwood branches so

From on high seems they be blossoming
by park’s spiky gate latch near froze
a girl jogs the square her dog crimson-
collared be white it be late nearby
bronze horseman his right hand free spots her
Yaah now! she hears she falls she falls
snow drifts and snowy tufts drift up

Who done it? ’twill be in court in short
order: the judge be in the clock tower
Bird: Order —everafter hurray down
down in tunnels with have-nots, has-beens
with them Old Sweetheart live this way
achoo! ‘neath the courthouse ‘neath pink sheets
Bird say, Boohoo
yank courthouse to close
ne’er be I whispery to him, It
be ok be ok ok? o!

Carolyn Hembree has poems out or forthcoming in the following journals: Antennae, Archipelago, Colorado Review, The Cream City Review, CutBank, Faultline, Forklift, Ohio, Indiana Review, Jubilat, Meena, New Orleans Review, Puerto del Sol, RHINO, and Witness. Her poetry has also been anthologized in Intersection, Lush: A Poetry Anthology & Cocktail Guide, and Poetry Daily. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Carolyn received a 2005 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts. She is Poetry Editor of Bayou, the literary journal of the University of New Orleans. Carolyn was born and raised in Bristol, Tennessee. Before receiving her MFA from the University of Arizona, she found employment as a cashier, housecleaner, cosmetics consultant, telecommunicator, actor, receptionist, paralegal, coder, and freelance writer.



Refugees … disembark from the ship
that brought them

Preterm flowers
Dark, unbridgeable water

Not the land we envisioned
Nor the attraction
Rainbows stripping in the gutters
Fine hairs of finished color falling to the cock-film
We might relieve ourselves
Within so as not to blister the pattering
Feet or the feet sniping colors

Greeted with silence, scrabbling the sun
Turning bones to insouciant meal

The ocean had the estimable nerve, at least
Humping the waves
Outside of time—to kill without equivocation

This country shakes loose bearings of death
A tart little seed, fruit destining its pistols

Waiting in the wreathes, I bite hard
Into pig quarters. The trees never part
An aggrandizement of flowing roots
To acquit love
Like a champ I eat every last
Bite of the shrub, chase it through straw
In the repellant heart
Dip into my breast I am liquid

Brandon Shimoda is the author of The Alps (Flim Forum Press, 2008), The Inland Sea (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2008) and, with Sommer Browning, The Bowling (Greying Ghost Press, forthcoming). Recent work can be found now and soon in A Public Space, Boston Review, Cannibal, Fence, Fou, jubilat and elsewhere. Born in the United States, he currently lives in the United States, where he works for Slope and Wave Books. The poem featured on this blog is from A Giant Asleep in Fortune’s Spindle, an assemblage of poems, drawings and collaborative questionnaire-in-progress. This, and others, are dedicated, variously, to the living memory of A, E, G, K, K, L, L, M, M, M, P, P, R, S and Y.



something like grace cottons the

limbs when the I is lost. lambs

without shepherd huddle

a landscape, eat their names

like tender shoots, like swallows

feast in flight. the air forked

and feathered with warblers,

their song, a broken

adjective, spilling. that whole field,

a cathexis of green

these lambs see, the pasture’s every I

hearing as one herd.

Jordan Windholz lives in the Bronx with Erin, his deepest love. He is currently a PhD candidate in Early Modern Literature at Fordham University, which he mostly enjoys, though he gets strong urges to hole away somewhere with as much O’Hara, Stevens, Melville, Crane, Dickinson, and Hopkins he can get his hands on so he can forget 16th and 17th Century England. He strongly believes mystery is what it is all about.