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Selections from the 2009 Phoenix

Fiftieth-Anniversary Issue

Granddaddy’s Shirt (Phoenix poetry winner)
by Mollie Moore

Granddaddy was an extension of swaying
grass, long and lean, carried by the wind.
His one slow step equaled my three stutters.

I kept pace with the tan line on his wrists.
His long, pale sleeves swayed back
and forth with the rhythm of his walk.
I saw sun spots on the darker skin above his stiff,
faded blue shirt collar. Wrinkled skin gathered
below the crown of gray circling his head.

His skin was thin, like the tattered material
of the old dress shirts we wore in the garden –
stretched pockets, missing buttons.

They were too aged to wear to church.
Grandmother would allow them outside.
They were cool and protective, for labor and leisure.

He is always in front of me on the path,
looking back and laughing under a cloudless sky.
When I go outside, I can always smell his shirt.

All’s Fair in Words and War
by Audrey Carey

Pen-sword slashes the parchment
And bloodies it with sable ink
The word-shield protects the prodigy
Prodigy being notion
Dripping in life-blood,
Spilling from the pen-sword
And staining vellum leaf
Battling, dying upon paper
As the word-war winds on.

The First Signs of Winter
by James Yarbrough

The whisper of fabric in the cold air
Jolly words nap and crystallize
       and breaking
Releasing their joy and potential
Empowering the faint of heart
Rejuvenating the faint of mind
Reviving the faint of spirit

The flower, though dead beneath its frost façade
Is more beautiful by the icy sheen
The frigid petals are preserved, given structure
The rigid form a pause before withering
Thus words hold their shape
       (Though only slightly longer)
When voiced into the frozen air
But the power outlasts the vapor
       the cold cloud of expression
                swirling and fading
The words are less transient
The words are eternal
       when spoken in breathless winter night
And so the shadow of a man
       shivering in the cold
Changes the course of history
With the snowflaking words
       He yells to the stars

Click "Flight of the Phoenix" for more on the literary magazine.

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