Honorable Mention 2016
From the great many submissions we received this year, the editors chose "Kaan and Her Sisters Consider the Past" and "Remains in the Rift." These poems spoke to bridging those gaps that leave us holding the Difficult Fruit of loss and longing. We look forward to publishing quite a few of the 2016 contest submissions in the Spring 2017 issue! Many thanks to all of the talented poets who submitted their work to the 2016 Difficult Fruit Poetry Contest.
Kaan and Her Sisters Consider the Past
*kaan: a past tense verb, Arabic for 'was.'
Once upon makaan they gathered,
Kaan and all the verbs that revel in negation.
What did not happen to us, what had not taken place--
these were the subjects they raised.
What had not washed away, what had not yesterdayed--
these were the predicates they demanded.
Kaan and her sisters were born for lamentation,
for dividing time and denying its work.
Miss Sahar taught us about this family in Arabic class,
The somber sisters of story,
and how they tell by taking time away.
Once upon makaan they walked through the market
and the woman selling grape leaves called to them
from the ground where she sat
and the girl making tea called to them
from the window of her house
and the man selling sesame loaves called to them
from his wooden cart
Ma kaan this our home once upon old time? Ma kaan an end to this story?
Once upon Jerusalem the boy collecting stones called out to them
Kaan a poem on this wall
but they keep trying to erase it.
I hear the words calling out to me
“If I do not burn and you do not burn
then who will light the way?”Back To List
Lena Tuffaha's poems have been published or are forthcoming in Drunken Boat, Borderlands Texas Review, Barrow Street, Blackbird, Sukoon, and the Massachusetts Review. Her chapbook, Arab in Newsland, won the 2016 Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize, selected by Poet January Gill O'Neill, and will be published in March 2017. Her first full-length collection, Water & Salt, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in April 2017.
Remains in the Rift
After the tsunami took his wife, Takamatsu took
up deep sea diving to try and find her. After a few years
he had learned that the bodies of drowned people
are usually found poised with buttocks high,
hands and feet dangling. The corpses of scuba divers
are like dead bugs, on their backs,
hands and feet floating. He keeps diving, he says, because
it’s where he feels closest to her. Heidegger called this type
of pain a metaphoric rift that holds together things
that have been torn apart. A rift to create a new space
that keeps the connection.
What will perish when I perish
is the image
of her standing at our kitchen counter, in front of the sink,
hip almost as high as the line
where the back of her elbow breaks
in the handling of sudsy dishes. It’s where
we had most of our arguments,
refueling with the meal usually I’d been the one to cook.
What remains in our rift, our decades of drift, is the look
of her haunch poised
in its reveal of that long, smooth curve of her thigh
as the right arm dangles a hand, robotically, towards the next dish.
Janet Joyner's poems have appeared in numerous magazines, among them American Athenaeum, The Cincinnati Review, The Comstock Review, Emrys Journal, Pembroke Magazine, and Main Street Rag. Her prize winning poems are honored in the 201l Yearbook of the South Carolina Poetry Society, Bay Leaves of the North Carolina Poetry Council in 2010, 2011, and in Flying South in 2014 and 2015, as well as anthologized in The Southern Poetry Anthology, volume vii: North Carolina; and Second Spring 2016 Anthology. Her first collection of poems, Waterborne, is the winner of the Holland Prize and was published in February, 2016, by Logan House Press. Her short stories have appeared in The Crescent Review, Flying South, and Second Spring Anthology 2016. She is the translator of Le Dieu désarmé by Luc-François Dumas. She lives and writes in Winston-Salem, NC.