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.

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Poetry: Roger Snell


Journal II

After G.A.

Shapes of the unsaid
puncture the ordinary—

“astonished by daylight”

from exile, in

derivations of

would efface this
prelude for the sun

its solidarity—

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Poetry: Eric Baus



I looked down to sustain the camera’s hide. I have never seen an Ibis mirror. The house rained. The beds echoed. A dead oud’s resin cloned the first sentence. An apple in the closet developed the scene. I felt the sun.

I fell into an opaque bed. The clone smiled. I have never seen a clone smile. His snails grew fur. The closest ant grafted the smoke with sand. This is the first piece of wood. This is the first piece of glass. Clouds arranged them behind dead doves. The membrane’s séance broke. The doves died again. The dead doves reset. I arranged them into flowers. I have never seen a flower. I have never seen a dove.

The sky and its stills mated. I have never played an oud. I have never said Bird. O snail, I heard outside. When the first dove died, the ouds ate apples. I died too. My glass fermented opals. The second séance failed, my fur glued to flowers. I have never seen a cloud. I have never looked down. The organs smoked. The clone strummed. I fled, immersed in planes. The mirror in the closet chimed. Dove. Oud. Bed. The blue membrane’s array split. Inside, the blanks bred herds.

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Poetry: Karen Garthe


      in LA rain

This was To Be’s Fantastic
but packed in the querulous use

Ancestor of Narcissus amassing
mirrors to compass

A self of magic blond and air
nest, spark


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Poetry: Patrick Pritchett


The Real Real

       Whoever sees the real charges the eye with a flare. Keeps evening kneeling, a
blue-smoked air stripped of its string of

lights given as the park to the people and where they move there, from path to
path, each node cinched and fluid, the cold edge of a run over ice to

where the middle is a bridge and not anything separate. The weather for it
melting, I mean the way it’s built out of the ground and because

of it a shelf is what it says will last, will hoist the fables of the margin even after
the spire is misrepaired.


Patrick Pritchett is the author of Burn, Lives of the Poets and Antiphonal. He is a Lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard University.


Poetry: Julie Doxsee



Everyone’s tooth
is a little machine

that can’t starfish itself
to the lip it loves.

The way you speak
hits the ceiling & stays there

laryngitic, a blue noise
photoshopped clean I can’t

stand so vertical. What brought
this image to light made a

motorcycle-growl & chicks
exploded from the eggs

you would have cracked into
my mouth. What brought this

image to light wrapped a
perfume ad around your hand

during the immaculate peeping
so you wave goodbye to infinity.

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Poetry: Reginald Shepherd


Somewhere Off the Coast of Cyprus

Gods don’t get what they want, they stumble,
falter and halt at the frontiers of fulfillment, puzzled
that power isn’t always pleasure. They want
to know what know is (I have known, I knew, I know, I will
know, I will have known
), instead learn only no. (Conjugate
this, decline every noun.) No happy ending to this sentence
for a god, sentenced to helpless
potency, all will and self-belief but somehow
substanceless, a notion of force that steals a form
and calls it body, steals a body and calls it mine, impervious
to touch. A litter of porous marble’s all that’s left,
paint-stripped but still stained, nothing that anyone
could use. How useless immortality becomes
in time, rubble retrieved from a receding river
in a year of drought. The goddess has no arms,
the god’s hand drawing back the bow
is missing, there’s no protection for them
anymore. Acid rain worms through their statuary
skin. Better to wait for the waters
to return, the mildewed monuments to finish
crumbling. Let the shipwrecked cargoes sleep
where they sank (myths buried in them
like birds that won’t be heard), gold leaf and lapis lazuli
dreaming of love, whatever love means to a god.


Reginald Shepherd
is the recipient of a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship, which he plans to use to pay off the medical bills for a year’s worth of nonstop sickness. When not in the hospital in one capacity or another, he’s the author most recently of Fata Morgana (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007), Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2008), and Lyric Postmodernisms: An Anthology of Innovative American Poetries (Counterpath Press, 2008). He lives, and takes long naps, in Pensacola, Florida with his partner Robert Philen, a cultural anthropologist and paragon of love, kindness, and generosity.


Poetry: Edward Smallfield


autumn in New York

A blur
at this tempo
a memo
often mingled ignores
with pain the store-
fronts lit with & rowing
against the river the going
& coming a blur:
prints on the keys
on the knees
of the city a lingering
I want to live
it a sieve


after Niedecker 4

slip so white
it hurts the eyes.
Nightgown blow
thru my bare snow
-blanket I
freight the night
—the marrow
of the hummer
(hotly) cared
for no objects here
water , summer
(the hot) shore
Good-bye to lilacs by the door


Edward Smallfield
is the author of The Pleasures of C and the coauthor of One Hundred Famous View of Edo, a book-length collaboration with Doug MacPherson. His poems have appeared in alice blue, Five Fingers Review, New American Writing, Parthenon West Review, 26, and a number of other magazines. He lives in Barcelona with his wife, the poet Valerie Coulton.


Poetry: Liz Waldner


Lacustrine and Midrash

This is what kind of sweet life I have had:

Someone wrote to me:

what a shame it is your love of life
should be pulled into its best channels by a lady radio

and I wrote it down
and I found it long enough later
that I have no idea who or when or why.
I did love that lady radio.


Someone sang to me:

up in an airplane
smoking her sweet cigarette
she went way up in an airplane

Then I read, years later, this very thing
in a Walker Percy novel
knew someone else had heard it sung
knew this was marvelous for I was so lone, so solitary
that whatever I heard was rendered
solitary too. Or so I thought but Oh

like Robinson Crusoe, I was not alone.

Now call upon my soul within the house,
go on, please.

I will answer, I am so happy.
Whereas before I knew this had all been so sweet

I would merely have hoped you would love me.

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Poetry: Brenda Iijima



as if a final descent                                          HABITUATION RABBIT

the primeval swamp

the common herd

the crowded giant suns                                    HOVERS THE NORM

the many questions posed

the many species written off

the most helpful people

in fact, the several individuals

in fact, their sense of loss                                              ENTREAT TREATY

TREATMENT            SUCKER            QUARREL           THESE CLAWS

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