WALLACE STEVENS Challenge Winners at From East to West

These poems were inspired by 10 short phrases culled from the poems of Wallace Stevens.
Pueblo Cactus
1st place

A cactus wren dances on the boughs
of his desert temple. Gawky flitterings
disturb the tree’s stillness and draw
a young girl’s interest

as she sits leafed-out
in adjectives of lace, black and sheer,
corset-strung, duskly feminine.

Her dark hair matches the tight
lingerie yet glows lighter
at the roots where sunlight fuses
blue fire among the violets. She
arranges svelte, mandarin slices
in her lap, selling oranges as a fan
to the morning view.

She thinks of the bird. This one
came early before the sparrow
or mourning dove.

He tends to the craft of dreaming
And drones in prayer. He is
more tolerant than the others
and will stay the longest. As mortals

we live and die but the sparrow
will judge us, scant, Bible bird
who flees to his pueblo house
after the proverb. The dove
will mourn us, lament our passing
and sleep in a swirl, fantastic star
of feathers burning through
the Joshua tree.

These are things she has observed
at dawn when each cloud blooms
like a beautiful iris, a bearded queen
in a stream of light. Then she listens,
sky attending its flowering shadows,
wren attending the ancient columns
of his Seguaro shrine.

He will dwell here throughout the year
seeing without reflection, glancing
at the girl who fears life.

He watches the wind causing a thin
branch to scratch the rock, lesions
that appear faint on this long wrist
Of stone. Faint like the same scars
surfacing on her skin – only they
are lit by her scalp. Its shadow
arching over them, a purple-leaping
element of grace

she emits this day
To be alive and lick fruit,
To breathe and defy dust.

©2006 by Wendy Howe

like the light you are
2nd place

over suns selling oranges, clouds lie
among violets above the world’s worms
and gawky flitterings    two million rats

and rabbits, memories of flesh and blood

remind us to live and die and come
to a love’s window, feet first, playing
piano preludes & purple-
leaping elements of ragtime

& jazz       there is seeing
without reflection , an endless chill
inside, the scare of blue robin’s eggs

when one came early
so small that egg, so cold
a house, leafed out in adjectives
and bric-a-brac          to lie

under the reddest fantastic star
to lie on bearded queen, princess
pine, gray moss

to lie

©2006 by PJ Nights

Orange Horizon

back to featured poets winter '07