Wherewithal was thrilled with all the contest submissions that came our way. The choices were difficult, but our three finalist, Stacey Balkun, Alexis Rhone Fancher, and Gillian Wegener made it nearly impossible to choose the winner.
We are proud to announce that the winner of Wherewithal’s Annual poem Contest is “A Boy Comes Toward You” but Gillian Wegener.
Please enjoy the winning poem, and the two amazing finalist below.
A Boy Comes Toward You
he comes toward you down the sidewalk
he has something in his hands he’s eleven
he’s wearing a white shirt he smiles
he’s black he has something in his hands
his hood is up he’s a thin boy
he’s white he’s got an angry scar
his cap is on backwards he’s nineteen
he wears a black jacket he doesn’t smile
his hands are in his pockets he doesn’t make eye contact
he’s very tall he’s chewing gum
he’s got headphones he’s smoking
he looks away he’s holding the hand of a little girl
his jeans ride low he looks straight ahead
he’s alone he’s Sikh, his hair wound in his patka
what’s in his hands he’s fourteen
he smiles one ear is pierced
both ears are pierced his jacket is blue
a boy comes down the sidewalk you cannot tell what’s in his hands
he winks is that a book under his arm
he’s clean cut his hair is long
his shoes are dirty he says nothing
he says hey he’s carrying something
is it a coffee mug he says please
he comes toward you he asks if he can pray for you
he looks you in the eye you look at what’s in his hands
you look him in the eye the prayer hangs in the air between you
Gillian Wegener has had poetry published Spillway, Packinghouse Review, In Posse, and Sow’s Ear. Her chapbook Lifting One Foot, Lifting the Other was published by In the Grove Press in 2001, and her first full-length collection of poetry, The Opposite of Clairvoyance was published in 2008 by Sixteen Rivers Press. Wegener lives in Modesto, CA where she hosts the monthly 2nd Tuesday Reading Series, is founding president of the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center, and is serving as the poet laureate for the City of Modesto because she truly believes that poetry can make the world better.
In Brooklyn, my ex rides
. in a subway car
like the ones sunk to the bottom
of the Atlantic, repurposed into hope
. We don’t have to name it
. bereft or drowned.
Instead, call it new city,
. an ecosystem on the hull
. of an F train.
. we will call it that
. and I’ll refrain from calling him
to say how I feel like I’ve missed my stop,
thrumming too fast in a dark tunnel:
. a muffled hum in my chest, softer
. than the chime of a train’s closing doors.
I’ll say how hopeful,
. the way we recycle:
whatever we were has faded so easily
. into landscape camouflaged
. or skyscrapers, the pylons
. of a bridge lifting
from a riverbed.
. What trash couldn’t be emptied,
. What couldn’t be flung
. from a barge glinting?
. and only a memory of riding
. all the way to Coney Island
for the silver-scaled skirts and feathered wigs
of the mermaid parade one summer.
. I’ve lost him, the energy
. to walk a city
. into early morning
when the birds begin
. their calls.
My phone is silent.
. At night,
. the streetlamps and lighthouses always
. flicker on, even after the ships return
. to the bustling city, even if
some of us are lost
. outside the grid,
. alone on the darkened ocean floor.
Stacey Balkun, author of Lost City Museum, (ELJ Publications, 2016) is a New Jersey poet with her heart in the south. Raised in Piscataway, NJ, Stacey earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Fresno State before moving to New Orleans. Stacey works as a writing tutor at Delgado Community College and volunteers with several literary organizations, including One Book, One New Orleans and Big Class, Chapter 504. A 2015 Hambidge Fellow, Stacey served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Muzzle, THRUSH, and Bayou, among others. She writes for The California Journal of Women Writers at www.tcjww.org.
Snapshots and Lies
our bodies are a haven from August.
this summer all we do is rut
mattress on the carpet
him on me
a miasma of scorching discontent
dingy sheets. the
dryer eats them and my future
gets stuck in the holes.
how did I know he wanted that baby?
at the window,
he smokes Marlboros, taps ashes
on the losers below.
there’s not enough air to go around.
I found a corpse in the kitchen, I tell him.
he flicks his dead daddy’s Zippo
again and again,
surveys the neon-tinged city.
I want to steal something important.
I reach for his pride on the window ledge.
he flicks me away like a gnat.
the tv’s been broken since May.
Alexis Rhone Fancher is the author of “How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and Other Heart Stab Poems,” (Sybaritic Press, 2014). You can find her work in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Fjords, Broadzine!, Slipstream, H_NGM_N, The Chiron Review, Menacing Hedge, Ragazine, Cactus Heart, Carbon Culture Review, The Literary Underground, and elsewhere. Her poems have been published in over twenty American and international anthologies. Her photos have been published worldwide, including spreads in River Styx, Blue Lyra, Blink-Ink, and the covers of The Mas Tequila Review and Witness. Since 2013 she’s been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and a Best of The Net award. Alexis is Photography Editor of Fine Linen Literary Journal, and poetry editor of Cultural Weekly, where she also publishes The Poet’s Eye, a monthly photo essay about Los Angeles. www.alexisrhonefancher.com