Burning Bush Publications
is proud to announce the three honorable mentions of
the People Before Profits Poetry Prize 2001:

Nenia Weaver: It is Relative

Ann Henry : The Architecture of Bucharest

Cynthia Gallaher: Gulf Sheep

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IT IS RELATIVE
© NENIA WEAVER

I COULD NEVER TRULY SEE BEFORE
HOW ONE GENOCIDE COULD BE CONSTRUCED MORE IMPORTANTLY THAN ANOTHER,

"THERE THEY GO BRINGING UP THAT SLAVE THING AGAIN..." WAS SAID
THROUGHOUT MY LIFE TO DREAD.

HOLOCAUST MUSEUMS, MOVIES, MEMORIALS, HOLIDAYS, STUDIES AND
REFERENCE, REFERENCE, REFERENCE TO MY INITIAL DIFFERENCE...

THE ARM REACHED FROM THE POOL WHEN MY EYES CAUGHT SIGHT OF
THE CRUELTY,

152371 EMBLAZENED ON HER FLESH,
MADE MINE CRAWL AND IN THAT INSTANT I UNDERSTOOD IT ALL.
I WEAR MY NUMBERED, COLORED SKIN, SHE COVERS HERS WITH
SLEEVES.
WE BOTH WALK WITH HEAD BOWED IN THOUGHT.

THE PAST IS CARRIED FORWARD BY THE VOICES.
HERS, STILL FRESH ON HER ARM WILL FADE WHEN SHE'S GONE,
LIKE THOSE OF MINE.
ONLY TIMED REFERENCE WITH HER PLEA,
BY LEAVING THE EMBROIDERY ADDING A SMALL HEART BENEATH IT.

152371 IN THE DARK OR THE LIGHT, NEVER AGAIN BY SHIP OR BY
TRAIN.

 



The Architecture of Bucharest
©2001 Ann Henry
For Graham Green

Ceaucescau's palace squats, a malign toad
Flicking its enormous tongue at the sorry scraps of rent kids
Living underground, who prefer hard currency
To soft sympathy.

Ceaucescau's palace of Self
Is after all, no uglier than the Pentagon,
That gorgeous American altar of war,
No uglier than any structure imagining itself

More beautiful than its human food,
More gorgeous than its brutal purpose.
Why then do I forgive Gothic Cathedrals, reeking of death and peasant sweat
On the simple verdict of beauty?

We drift, like flotsam, down currents of change
And are eventually extinguished. Anyway they shot Ceaucescau, Good riddance.
They plan to build, in his memory, a totalitarian theme park. Tout Le Monde, Happy Meal!
Apres moi, the Golden Arches in every Transylvanian village.

The children surround me like a pack of feral dogs,
urgent clamoring, spitting stories in a half romantic language.
I almost understand. What can I do besides offer them the hollow benediction
Of coins from many nations? Poor them. Poor us. Poor everyone.

BIO: Ann Henry, which is not her real name, was born quite a while ago, and spent her twenties hating Ronald Reagen, her thirties going to grad school, and her forties drifting around Eastern Europe with little more than a camera, a notebook, and a little black dress for special occasions. She still has the notebook.

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Gulf Sheep
©2001 Cynthia Gallaher

The herds mill about because they have no pasture,
even the flocks of sheep are desolate.
                            Joel 1:18

To protect us from mines,
the shepherd walks ahead
instead of trailing behind
to round up the usual stragglers;
but what tent could he pitch tonight
to cover us from the black rain?

Who could count the hours
       foul wet tongues
       wagged their fury on our coats
not even our master who judges
days by the sun's passing'
a copper circle, blocked and impenetrable
as our smeared and crusted wool.

We, ancient clouds absorbing modern mistakes, 
Q-tips in a misbegotten ear, 
cotton balls dabbing at a prehistoric oil pan
that Paleolithic intentions would have kept
       underground
even a dinosaur's rampage
would only have taken 
a few of us at a time.

And though we almost slid
into oil lakes six feet deep,
and saw birds fall out of the sky,
we still could smell the earth
       beyond this desert,
       and greeen grass
       of the hills where we feed,
somehow, in our hunger, memory,
or faith in the shepherd
willing to shatter bone
for our thick, knotty hides,
we still believed in green.

And alongside the goats, we ate deeply,
on green hills slicked with sadness,
till the taintedness took our breaths away
and extingushed us like fire.

BIO: Chicagoan Cynthia Gallaher's latest book is a collection of animal and environmental poems 
"Earth Elegance," published by March/Abrazo Press. She is also author of "Swimmer's Prayer" and 
"Night Ribbons." In 1999, "Today's Chicago Woman" magazine named her one of "100 Women Making a Difference."

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Guidelines for the People Before Profits Poetry Prize 2002

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