First Place: Trevor Griffith, “City Life is a Grievous Thing”
Honorable Mention: August Lysy, “The Aril of Memory”
In her message to the community congratulating the winners, Barbara Stone, Dean of the College, thanks the judges, Professors Eileen Buchanan, Aron Dunlap, and Harold Stone, and the sponsor of the contest, Shimer alum and poet Peter Cooley. Barbara said, “I especially want to thank all the students who submitted poems to the contest. Eighteen students submitted poems. I’m quite sure that this is a record: it is about 20% of the Shimer student body!”
Barbara added, “I ask everyone to continue reading and writing poetry, and maybe even memorizing and reciting it. It is one of the great joys of life. I look forward to your entries in next year’s contest!”
Congratulations to this year’s winners.
City Life is a Grievous Thing
City life is a grievous thing. Men were not meant to live
Well-connected or with ease of haste.
We are not a swarming species
Or a swelling being
Interwoven without moments
Of the sweet reprieve of solitude,
Nor are we well attuned
To the heaping pile of crawling
We must be alone and if
We must be alone it is better
To be truly alone.
It is better by far to be lonely
Than moved about and obliterated
By so much communion.
Trevor Griffith, First Prize Winner, 2014
The Aril of Memory
Our pomegranate withers in the icebox,
Blanching red with deep shallow sunken cheeks
Puckering up the last of its juices.
Dear friend: like a stranger, I took and ate,
And see: memory’s wisdom is too great.
An excised heart bearing a withered crown,
The red pomegranate tucks its thick, pocked hide.
My smooth incision, with calm precision—
The flat blade of the cleaver’s edge falling
Down like an axe on the red pomegranate.
Surrounded by a bitter, white membrane,
The aril: a filmy, gloss enclosure,
A viscous red juice around a hard pit,
Suspended, inert, like memory
A red pomegranate we two did split,
Dazzling in a blind fluorescent glow.
The red on our fingers and teeth and smiles—
The juices swirling around the open drain—
Crimson streaks flow down a porcelain sink.
Blunt fingers grip the red pomegranate skin—
Claw and burrow, clench and bulge, gouge and burst—
Tear asunder—devour—aril nest revealed—
Remembering the midnight communion
August Lysy, Honorable Mention, 2014