The Courtney Holley Literary Award BIG MOON OVER THE NEIGHBORHOOD

The herd is strong in me. It steers me when I think.

I feel it grunting in my stomach when I sleep.

I walk with my herd invisibly around me.

All my confusions are forms of loneliness.


But you keep your distance as if it were money

and smile on all roofs with superficial light.

Remote therefore happy, you swing

above the neighborhood’s dust, rumble, and gas.


Anyone looking up admires you.

And how we do look up, all together.

Our guts and throats silent as scared crickets,

we cease for a long moment our chewing.

The Robert Watson Literary Prize Poem THE WHALE

There is still a spotlight aimed at a paper moon.

There is still a young woman reading the classics

out loud in a downtown park—


though the park lights are out

and the whale is pulled through the streets in the evening

by ten groaning oxen.  We are all being swallowed.


Night by night, the avenues empty,

the whale hollows, its gut expands.

But it is warm in here.  There’s plenty to eat.


We’re burning the blubber for light

by which to sew tents.  In the tail,

someone is stirring a soup, someone is baking bread.