Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 2016 Poetry Challenge Winners

Both judges, Diana Anhalt and Jim Barton, selected the same two poems as winners in the September Poetry Challenge. Congratulations to Timothy Cheeseman and Maura Snell. These two poems are about as different as Anhalt’s and Barton’s poems in the previous post, but both show excellent craft.

McDonalds Comes to Milford City

An inky buggy sulks down Maple Street,
the clap of iron horseshoes mingling
with a backhoe’s groans. This morning,
workers lay brick like bees stuffing hives;
Eli hitches his mare at Yoder’s Hardware.
A tin bell jingles as he steps inside;
waxed hardwood screeches under his Red Wings.

Gliding through the aisles, he’s a shadow
scratching his beard over the bin of 10
penny nails. Hooded bulbs drizzle misty
light on the feast of metal aroma:
unbruised hammers, dusty new pipes. He rolls
a dowel between his fingers, recalling
the pasture’s tired posts and sagging barbed wire.

Perry bags staples as Eli fishes
in his coin purse. Like empty Friday pews,
they nod in a hymn of silence. Between
the brass register’s key clacks, Perry cleans
his pipe and thumbs brittle bills. A storm
of swallows flees the window sill as Eli
rests inside his thin suspenders.

Outside, Eli stashes the staples under
the buggy’s clapboard seat and glances
where Lovejoy’s Dollar Store stood last week.
The sun ignites a massive M leaning
against stacked cinder block. He remembers
dead Joe Souder, who flipped his John Deere off
Price Road, and how Joe loved cheeseburgers.

~ Timothy Cheeseman
Originally published in The Evansville Review, 2001


It’s been so many times I forget the way.
I forget the smoothness
of route 89, the car hitching
into cruise control as green
mountains slip up over the dash.

You sleep in the passenger seat, my story
on speakers, windshield splattered
with moth wings. Silver lights
on Main say hello as if the moon hasn’t
set ten times since we left,     
the sun hasn’t risen, hasn’t burned.

At the house you troll the property
checking for water. We sit
next to the bonfire, stoke in the dark.
Your mouth is full of intentions.

Your hands are the river’s stones—
smooth, round, warm.

The Army Corps of Engineers
had to dredge it after Irene,
the bartender had said. His t-shirt
is from a bin bag at the Salvation Army.   
He watched his house go under.

For our hike we buy peaches at the fruit stand.
The farmer squeezes our cash in his palm.    
It disappears.

From the top of Mount Tom we see
everything. You feed me
because my hands are dirty.
I eat because I can.     

We come with the intention of new settlers.
We come stomping our feet in the dirt.
~ Maura Snell

Timothy Cheeseman is currently a guidance counselor at Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio where he previously taught literature and theatre. He has a B.S. from The Ohio State University and a M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University and studied under Allen Ginsberg at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. A former Sacramento Poetry Prize Winner and Ciardi prize finalist, he last placed work in the Evansville Review and Facets Poetry Magazine. Prior to teaching he worked as a professional social worker, college professor, naturalist, cook, and janitor. He was raised in the predominately Mennonite town of Plain City, Ohio. He resides in Lima, Ohio with wife Kellie Armey and two sons Tristam and Charley.

Maura Snell is co-founder and Poetry Editor at The Tishman Review, and is a freelance editor, having worked on such projects as the forthcoming anthology The Golden Shovel Anthology honoring Gwendolyn Brooks (University of Arkansas Press, 2017). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Bennington Review, Red Paint Hill Quarterly, MomEgg Review, Brain Child Magazine, and in the anthology Our Last Walk: Using Poetry for Grieving and Remembering Our Pets (University Professors Press, 2016). She splits her time between Massachusetts and Vermont.