I want to thank the numerous poets who submitted poems for the first annual Gravity & Light Poetry Contest. All submissions demonstrated excellence. The judges, however, selected two poems as their favorites: “Administering My Dog’s Cancer Therapy, I Think About My Sons,” first place, by Cati Porter & “ Bermuda Grass in Lincoln Park,” second place, by Brandon K. Wallace. Both are published below.
Administering My Dog’s Cancer Therapy, I Think About My Sons
My thumb and forefinger pinch a pill as I thrust my fist
back into his throat. His teeth, a bracelet of blunt
tines, rake gently over my wrist.
I pull out my hand sticky with his saliva
and hold his mouth closed
and stroke his neck
until I am certain he has swallowed.
At seven years old he is two years older than
my oldest son. He is my oldest son,
I tell myself, but of course, he is not.
He is just the dog, I remind myself daily,
because, if he were my son,
I would okay the endoscopy, biopsy
the lining of his stomach. I would make the drive
into the next county for intravenous chemotherapy.
Once he ate reluctantly from my hand chicken breasts
boiled for him on my stove. If he were
my son, I would not hand-feed him
the breasts of dead chickens. I would slice
off my own, boil them
pink to white in my very best pot.
I would shred them, feed them to him
warm, if only to keep him through the night.
Bermuda Grass in Lincoln Park
Brandon K. Wallace
The sound of black musicians on guitar- Earth, Wind, and Fire combining the
elements in a gravitational groove, pulled into the dizzy of a neutron dance.
A lipstick, cherry bright as the light of a smile, red Thunderbird, the
blackenized Barbie turned inside out, pulled up into the alley, against the
crosspatch, metal fence behind the house with shaved top and delicate cement,
only the slightest bit of grass growing through the cracks where we played Red
Light/ Green Light Red Green Red and Green Lights flashing, blending together
in backgrounds of black and sunshine yellow, the red appears in pores and
freckles in the brightness of the sun with the distant green tops of trees, the
green of the electric carpet against which I used to rub to feel the current.
Rows of houses, claustrophobically close, creating closeness and warmth, Coca
Cola and Pepsi, in red bottles with white lines, sprite in green and lemon
yellow, juicy fruit and Ronald Reagan, Jesse Jackson in wool overcoats holding
signs, campaigns for change. Change.
Harold Washington, change, the color of his suits. Kinetic movement, promise