Read six exceptional poems by the winner and several finalists of BOMB’s 2012 Poetry Contest.
We are proud to present the poem “Glass Horse,” by Daniel Poppick, the winner of BOMB’s 2012 Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Daniel, who will have additional poetry appearing in BOMB’s Fall Issue 121, and to the runner-up, Diana Hamilton, whose poetry will appear online soon, as well as in the Winter Issue 122.
BOMB’s staff have selected our favorite poems from several other finalists in the contest, published below. Thanks to everyone who participated, especially this year’s judge, Ben Lerner.
by Daniel Poppick
The sea can do things that are almost amusing. And to think
it thinks some spells are conductive, and goes on letting
you believe just what it does. Given the salt it isn’t
unreasonable, if you deem air
malleable, this present air.
Our fathers are laughing, and the waves.
Allow me to dwell on this. The trick I believe is our fathers
already abundantly there for the bending,
abundant as rocks the sea generates.
It is a matter of selecting
from the menu of temperatures your face is
pressed to even as we speak. A meteorologist
rides a horse out of a forest to find us sitting here by the sea.
His robe drenched with paint, perhaps glue.
He is whistling, he hums
and then gulls flying away, the former melody
gulls pinned to the sky. Are you watching him as
We were trying to build serious
grasses, lamping baseball in its fiction.
Before departure darkened those strings
sunset busted from my lip, but now
it’s balding, the field replacing its mouth with graze or the useful
armor blue slips from our house,
from the window, a mammal.
I watched one leave the kitchen and another chase and
the scene immediately misused, a small
motor piece in Technicolor’s
dialect gone rogue, an illustration when we
whole albums to choose from and model ourselves
with and after, because it was night,
and whatever we made was going to have to diamond
both of us until morning. When I watched them pour
across the street it was like
I wrote a story about my father, only
the first sentence was true. No knowing when I finished
and denying beginning both
lungs and bees engineer a peace not peace.
So when I tell you I don’t know anything you can
believe me with skin, as the glitch
language is there to argue with truly
stuns me into something like night. I wrote a story about gulls,
only the word goodbye was true, an army of referees in
two languages, one for winter and the other
for fall. A laughter filled the field designed to break people.
Silence for riding, the door to my bedroom would not
click shut, like silence the sun makes available in trees
and the desk trees are thin parable for.
The sun moved among my calculations
writing a story about a father stitched with bees.
I am standing by the sea, a parking lot for
We had this ashtray
storing sex in a little annex. Without knowing
who had filled it (you and I had not and our fathers
had only just arrived) the guess I hazarded that afternoon
seemed to helium whole neighborhoods
against our chimes.
You suggested we play a game about celebrities.
In one round each person could use a word
and in the next rounds we couldn’t use words.
We pasted cards to our foreheads and when our fathers
leaned in to hear us hazard our guesses
whole instants came to last like cigarettes.
At the breakfast table we averaged two blessings per meal
and conversation often lighted on as many
as six saints, one being baseball, another our house, another
the animal we had forgotten, another photographs,
another gulls eating ash from our hands to
The horse melts to houses where her hooves touched water
so still its houses touch fire.
Air the masterpiece of obstruction, in color and
every night of our lives, an anniversary cleaning its teeth with gulls.
We can agree gulls are as much a government as the changing
of sails, but by what color rope? The horse says governments
speak in color bars while television
only speaks in news.
In my father’s version news is spun from trees’ fingers
as peace stained blue
and you and I need white. The meteorologist perched above the
sea setting off flares incites us to
move, but you select the sounds you bead yourself on.
You’ve fallen asleep in the lighthouse again. I’ll keep
listening for both of us tonight, rattling in the branches
lit red yellow blue