Fall 2011 Orlando Poetry Prize Finalist Excerpts
LAURA DAVENPORT, “IN A NASHVILLE LIQUOR STORE, I REALIZE I DON’T LOVE YOU”
Three days after New Year’s,
we are buying champagne. I watch you pull
from a pocket the cash you made tonight.
Enough for a bottle and a six pack, enough to drink
ourselves to sleep. We have come from a party
where the room unspooled, a girl collapsed on the sofa
gripping a fifth of whiskey. Legs flung wide,
her skirt rode up around her thighs, exposing
fine hairs, dark cotton underwear. You count change,
your shadow in the window flickering
like fluorescents over the aisles of mixers…
LAURA DONNELLY, “INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE BINOCULARS”
All night the courthouse plays this recording
we call birds of prey to scare pigeons from nesting,
and I think aren’t they smarter than that? And I think
I too fear. This darkness not quite, this no one else out
which means only the homeless man waits at the bus stop,
a lone student carries his bike up the steps. I fear
I have given you the wrong impression. I love this town.
I keep leaving this town. My mother takes out a book
and says chimney-swifts, migrating.
This is what the sky looks like here.
LAUREN HENLEY, “POEM FOR JOSHUA TREE (1984-2002)”