Jenene Ravesloot and Mary Jo Balistreri agreed to judge the August Poetry Challenge independently—and both selected the same poem as the winner. Here is that poem.
My Asian Son Lifts Weights
with each of his curls,
a musical beat in 4/4 time.
On the TV, a PBS crew
explores the ancient
Ch’in emperor’s tomb,
an army of
arranged there on parade.
The cameras do profiles,
pans and close-ups
of the statues thin-lipped faces,
high cheekbones and Asian eyes.
my son’s reflected image
animates the molded faces,
as if he had been the model
2000-year-old sculpted clay.
The empty shells clutch life:
brows lift, black eyes shine again,
gray pottery cheeks flush to tan,
lips part and nostrils flare.
with his sets,
a red Hibiscus silk shirt
pulled over his head,
my son strides from the house.
In his silvered sunglasses
shields flash, banners wave —
ten thousand warriors bow.
~ Dennis Maulsby
This poem was previously published in the 2004 May-August Issue of The North American Review. Maulsby retains copyright.
Ravesloot says, "The poem is visually arresting, seamlessly connecting the present and the past in a surprising and engaging way.
agreed: “The poem is filled with love and
praise. The poet does it skillfully within the context of watching the
terracotta soldiers of Xian on TV—“ my son’s reflected image animates the
molded faces, high cheekbones and Asian faces...” I find the image of her son
intertwined with those ancient soldiers ennobling and inclusive—the last stanza
powerfully brings them together. [Note: Judging is done blind, so Balistreri did not know the gender of the poet.]
Congratulations to Dennis Maulsby, and also to Karen Loeb, whose poem "Ode to a Royal Quiet Deluxe" receives an honorary mention, for “praising as it does, with humor, the memory of the writer's first typewriter,” to quote Ravesloot.
Mary Jo Balistreri has two books of poetry published by Bellowing Ark Press: Joy in the Morning and gathering the harvest. Her most recent book of poetry, Still, was published by Future Cycle Press. Tiger’s Eye Press published her chapbook, Best Brothers, and a mini chapbook of her haiku, Along the Way. She has had nine Pushcart nominations and four Best of the Net. Her poetry, essays, haiku and haibun have been published in many journals in the US and abroad. She is one of the founders of Grace River Poets, a poetry outreach poetry for women’s shelters, schools, and churches. Please visit her at maryjobalistreripoet.com.
Karen Loeb finished a two-year stint as Eau Claire, Wisconsin's Writer in Residence in May 2020. Her poems and a story have won awards in Wisconsin People and Ideas, where you can find her poem "The Agility of Chopsticks" online.
Dennis Maulsby’s poems and short stories have appeared in The North American Review, Mainstreet Rag, The Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Briarcliff Review (Pushcart nomination), and on National Public Radio’s Themes & Variations. His Vietnam War poetry book, Remembering Willie, won silver medal book awards from two national veterans’ organizations. His books, Near Death/Near Life and Free Fire Zone, published by Prolific Press, received gold medal and silver medal awards respectively from The Military Writers Society of America. A book of short stories, Winterset (Eric Hoffer Award winner), and a novel, House de Gracie, were released by NeoLeaf Press in 2019 and 2020. Maulsby is an associate member of the SFWA and past president (2012 – 2014) of the Iowa Poetry Association. For more information go to www.dennismaulsby.com.
Jenene Ravesloot has written five books of poetry. She has published in The Ekphrastic Review, Ekphrastic Challenge, After Hours, Sad Girl Review, Packingtown Review, DuPage Valley Review, Caravel Literary Arts Journal, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, The Miscreant, Exact Change Only, THIS Literary Magazine, and other online journals, print journals, chapbooks, and anthologies. Jenene is a member of The Poets’ Club of Chicago, the Illinois State Poetry Society, and Poets & Patrons. She received two Pushcart Prize nominations in 2018.
© Wilda Morris