Myna Wallin received an Honourable Mention in the CV2 2009 Poetry Contest and her poem will appear in the Spring 2010 Poetry Only Issue of Contemporary Verse 2.
1st Prize – Rebecca Ellis with the poem Proof of an Afterlife
2nd Prize – Amy L. White with the poem Painting in the Tropics, 2009
3rd Prize – Toni Van Deusen with the poem Station
Veryan Haysom with the poem Writing, after heavy spring rain
Myna Wallin with the poem Dinner Theatre (read it below)
I played Chopin on our grand piano,
languid legato, my mother suffering from radiation poisoning
that burned both the noxious malignancy
and her rage.
We had lived a kitchen sink drama in our
mansion on the hill.
But the set was pure Ibsen.
I was the freak in high school that ran crying
from band practice,
or French class. Ran home to make sure my mother
was still breathing.
Is there anything I can do,
my teacher pleaded so quietly, through dense fog,
as though someone had turned a dial,
the sound down, the picture out of focus,
all kinds of dials meant to be on-
off/ off/ off.
When my mother fell into a coma they
kept me from visiting her. It was melodrama now.
I had no idea what coma meant,
it was just a word after all,
and with no precedent in real life,
imagined her floating, astral travelling-
a gradation of death, (de)gradation of life into something
that wasn’t life anymore
All too soon, the porcelain teacup collection
that had quivered at her rage, sat calmly,
waiting for a civilized tea to be set in the parlour.
Guests had come to pay their respects
for she had always been an effervescent hostess.
And they knew nothing of the quagmire of hostility
that had held us all hostages for all those years.
What I remember of the Shiva is seas of tea
and every description of cake, kumquat preserves on
scones, clotted cream;
for seven days and seven nights we stuffed ourselves
with sweets, while everyone cried
and the bit players tried their best to improvise:
Is there anything I can do?
Here are three poems from A Thousand Profane Pieces.
THE OTHER YOUNG ONES
You look like Cat Stevens.
Fresh, unspoiled, tangle of black curls,
eyes of a zealot,
in the '70s young men wore,
tight faded denim falling apart by degrees,
Anti-establishment, no logos. A guitar
in one hand, hash pipe in the other.
I remember the boys in my Renaissance class looking
like a touring production of Hair-
free, naked and beautiful. That's what you remind me of-
a childhood I never had, your bicycle shorts,
skateboard career, maybe your Tour de France gold,
and me, my gray roots showing, drunk on gin & tonics.
“Live fast, live hard.” A method actor I once loved
followed Jim Dean's credo. “Live fast, die young.”
You remind me of him, somehow, and the other young ones,
the Cheshire cats, their hard teeth grinning in the dark.
A FEW TERMINAL D's
I am falling into bed
falling for you, on you,
your arms, questions, open ended.
My cat is dying. I am poised
between nightmares and a soaring
round of “Can't Get You Out of My Head.”
Kylie Minogue is wearing
my nightgown. No life without contrast,
or some such platitude, no real
meaning to life without death –
and love can't be felt without
famine, an extended
period of aloneness. A friend tells me the terminal
d's are critical to poetry (like loved and dead).
I dreamed that my cat's life passed through
me and I moaned. Reaching out, you were
there, gently breathing, dreaming melancholy blonde
dreams right beside me, our bodies letters which
needed each other – consonants, vowels,
a few terminal d's, all blended together.
My mother is alive again
in my dreams.
And so is my father,
though they rarely appear together.
In one variation
my mother returns to visit,
her cancer healed.
We talk for a bit & she whispers
Don't tell your father I was here.
I ask her why she doesn't stay,
I thought you were dead.
No, there's no such thing & laughs lightly
though she can't explain why her visits
are so infrequent.
Immortality makes sense at night.
My father's heart seems strong again
as he rushes around with purpose.
Sometimes he tells me not to worry.
It will be alright.
My mother though is still frail,
and we hold each other, rocking.
In the morning I'm startled that
I remember her touch-
the exact pressure of her hand on mine.
Copyright © Myna Wallin,