McKinney 2016: 1st Prize Poetry

in Creative Writing/McKinney 2016 Winners/McKinney Contest/Poetry/Undergraduate

Zach Spurrier



title one

hello my friend i woke this morning and in your arms i found the strength to confront the sun


my dear i said to that sun in the sky that celestial ball of fire that hello goodbye cancerous kind of

visible light radiation i said keep away from my love for


his skin lies sensitive to that corrosive variety of gods light his eyes cannot manage their way

through a sunlit garden of shattered mirrors his hands wont craft butterfly and puppy dog



the sun in an attempt to explain the universe to me responded with stormclouds and

lightning rods and one single compromise

then i knew how i would martyr every stanza for you


goodbye taller letters and fancy titles and little ink freckles telling me how i should say


hello my love i love


i love you forever


title two

a setting sun dusk dust sprinkled at my feet there is not another hour in the day to do anything but sit and wait and let my eyes fall open fall open slowly creep down to fused eyelids forced sleep unwarranted peace unprecedented silence follows a restless week and moonlight too soft to project out of that shadowy nightmare


every midnight vision has stolen something from my nightstand one night glass shattered like crystalline termites dutifully devouring a stained painting another night tree branches held hands over fences before crashing headfirst into the pale concrete leaves lie in cemetery formation over their graves


no sleep precedes no sleep tags along behind this unfurnished universe of naturally occurring devils this barely pieced together rodeo of humanity this obsessive compulsive fatigue

syndrome sleeping keeping shut eyes shut forgetting to fight the rubber cement sandman with definitive marks between sentences syntax direction in diction half spoken half choking on words i cannot say entirely in one breath hoping to out speak sleep i cannot do that much longer without rest


too tired unfinishing myself to death

title five

to have fallen in love with exclamation points and periods and commas that say

pause for a smile

to have fallen for the tricks of a colon in half form or the horror of ellipses that say

pause for mystery to open trapdoors underneath the reader

to have fallen in libraries over dashes that demand

one slight pause

one soft teardrop to fall falling over and under the capital e for empire the capital w for wreckage

the capital i for

i dont remember the last ink trail on paper that demanded any sort of mechanic

what heavenly rapture ripped the rulebook from my hands

what western fiction gun draw forced me to shield myself with a capital s and shoot with sharp


and murder

with backstab backslashes in the middle of a sentence


title nine

wristband brackets clamping one writing hand to the other while capitalized snakes slink around

her feet in the bottom of this hole in the ground named america land of the free and home of the

less fortunately uncapitalized


long sleeves long tees long legs too much to try and cover every etched in exclamation point

turned period turned silence drip drop dripping from stitched up voodoo dolls bleeding colons

and semicolons


they spell out words she cannot pronounce for isolation has stolen from her each word that does

not end in lollipops moonshine and heavens grace from the lord above so stumbling and

fumbling through dark libraries she hopes to find ancient punctuation and protection

undiscovered by her demons