Poetry Spring 2017, First Place: Audi Alteram Partem (Hear the Other Side)

We received an extraordinary number of amazing submission for our first poetry contest of the year. Congratulations to Amanda Rachelle Warren for taking first place in the Spring Poetry Contest of 2017! 

Audi Alteram Partem (Hear the Other Side)

I shut my eyes; a dead man sings in my head.

And I can pick the tune, well enough to
know it is a hymn for banjos and fiddles,
but he is a capella. I can pick the tune,
but not the words.

Drunk at sixteen, you sung church songs
to them few saints we believed in:
Our Lady of Lost my Last Dollar,
St. Speeditup,
Dear Done-it-now,
and all the Demi-Gods of Beech and Blossom.

Lying back in the mown grass, gathering dew,
you: mouth sticky, pink drink sweet and sweeter.
Revelation and damnation all soft-serve swirled like the Dairy King.
Every note dead set, but half the words cold, dead wrong.

I trace, on the map,
the path that led/took us to us.
Wet grass to pound cake.
Tender to foreign.
Touch to Touch-me-nots.

I ask the dead man to speak up.
What he’s singing seems important
only because I can’t make it out.

Sometimes there is a choir.
Sometimes the quick bright chatter of many voices.
Sometimes, with startling clarity, a woman, loud in my ear, distinct,
telling me about the nemesis sun, armed pirouetting galaxies,
and the smell of carded wool before it is spun.

And then asking me, over and over,
Don’t you understand? Don’t you? Don’t you? I do not understand.

I ask the dead to speak up.
I tell them in my real loud voice,
Ifin ya’want something, ya haveta says so I can hear.

 

Amanda Rachelle Warren‘s work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Anderbo, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, Pacific Review, Cimarron Review and Hayden’s Ferry as well as other journals. Her chapbook Ritual no.3: For the Exorcism of Ghosts, was published by Stepping Stone Press in 2011. She is the 2017 recipient of the Nickens Poetry Fellowship from the South Carolina Academy of Authors and currently works as a freelance writer and poetry pusher. She lives in Aiken, SC with her husband, poet Roy Seeger.

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