#TBT Reading “At the End” at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities

I just happened across this video and hadn’t realized it was up. Back in April of 2014, I was invited to read “At the End,” which won an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition and was first published by ONE, by Jacar Press out at the beautiful Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities.

I was honored to be included with the other winners in 2014:

First Place: Alan Michael Parker, Davidson, NC
First Runner-Up: Maureen A. Sherbondy, Raleigh, NC
Honorable Mention: Melissa Hassard, Triad, NC
Honorable Mention: Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Vilas, NC

It was fun to think back on 2014. I have dear memories of time spent at Weymouth, and cherish those days.

 

“What Catches the Light” | up at Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal

I am thrilled and honored to have “What Catches the Light” up on Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal this month. Love and gratitude to founder and managing editor Stephanie Bryant Anderson, along with editors and staff E. Kristin Anderson, Deidre Sloss, and KB Ballantine, for including this poem alongside fine work by poets Avra Elliot, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Jill Khoury, and Nicole Rollender. Read it here.

Publishing just five poems a month, check out this beautifully artful microjournal. Red Paint Hill also publishes chapbooks as well as full-length collections. Check them out.

“Valentine”

The mail has come, as I was thinking of you

I was wondering about the man that delivered your letter

 

when the dogs barked, I didn’t think anything of it

was his day suddenly made inexplicably better

 

but I meant to say earlier that I didn’t miss it

when your letter fell into his bag 

 

when you said I should watch for the mail,

perhaps his shoulders suddenly happy and relaxed 

 

only I didn’t know quite what you meant

and the dog down the street didn’t jump the fence 

 

I just held onto it, slipped it into my pocket carefully.  Now

I bet his wife suddenly called and said something kind

 

I have a sweet mouth that is a little on fire –

the rain held off and he could even turn off the heat 

 

it must be all the way up into my eyes as I write this.

because it warmed up more than predicted.

 

Chocolate, chilies, cherries.  I can hardly write.

Now his feet don’t hurt and he’s even humming a tune

 

But if I could get to you right now, if I could get to you,

he hasn’t thought of in years- probably jazz– 

 

I would surely kiss you all the way to next week,

and he hums and smiles and maybe whistles, too

 

until your lips were raw, ‘til you begged me to stop

even when he turns the corner

 

to let you breathe, to let you eat, or speak

he keeps smiling, his heart light

 

and you will taste like chocolate and chilies and cherries, too

all the way, all the way, all the way home.  

 

***

First published in Pine Song. Winner of first place for the 2016 Thomas H. McDill Award, judged by James McKean, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

***

 

 

 

“At the End” wins Honorary Mention in the 2014 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition

I am thrilled to share with you that my poem, “At the End,” won Honorary Mention in the Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition, from the North Carolina Writers’ Network.  This year’s judge was Jillian Weise.

At the End was first published in the beautiful poetry & art journal, One, from Jacar Press. I would be honored if you clicked the link to read it there.

I am humbled to find myself in the company of the esteemed winning poets:

Alan Michael Parker of Davidson is the winner of the 2014 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition for his poem, “Lights Out in the Chinese Restaurant.”  Parker has won the Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition two years in a row. Maureen Sherbondy of Raleigh was named First Runner Up for her poem “After the Funeral.”  Kathryn Kirkpatrick also received Honorable Mention, for her poem, “Visitation.” Sherbondy also received an honorable mention in 2011.

 

How to Write a Poem

First, get a cow.

Why a cow, you ask?  Well, it could be a chicken, I suppose, or even a dog.  A few deer could wander through.  But a poem, especially a first poem, can definitely use the sturdy architecture and sweet domesticity of a cow to build itself around.  You can lean against a cow.  She won’t run away unexpectedly.

Cows never mock and are utterly sincere.  They will either listen to your poem with soft brown eyes, or they will eat grass and ignore you.  Consider this freedom to keep going.

You don’t have to be your most clever with cows.  You need neither witty dinner party banter nor tony restaurant.  Cows appreciate simplicity.

Melodic lowing makes for beautiful score.

As an aside, cows seem to understand birds.  This becomes important later on down the road in other poems.

You need something for her to eat.  A first effort might have you move toward those first, tender shoots of spring, though she may already be ready for clover or even bramble.  Decide once you get to know her, and lead her there.

Her days would be of blue sky, green grass, dandelions, bees.  She will lie down in the field when it rains, in acceptance.

Somewhere within her lines lurks a wolf.

At the end of her day, quietly lead her home.

Head out, then, across your green hills, into the white light of the day.  Take us with you, down to the creek where she drinks, where you played as a boy, and show us the smooth wet stones.  Wash them in the creek, turn them over and run your finger over them.  Make us yearn to do the same.

When we are there, when all is quiet save for the babble of the creek, you can share with us your secrets.

And we, your faithful readers, will keep them.

 

© Melissa I. Hassard