Winner 2017 Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry
Judged by Rebecca Foust
$1,000 First Prize
Followed by bio and Q&A
Note from Rebecca Foust, judge: What stands out for me in this poem are the sounds. Its use of rhyme is both controlled and highly inventive, happening as end-rhyme across and within stanzas and also as internal rhyme within lines. I also admired its interesting diction, and the beauty and power of that amazing last line.
At birth, what was I, some
clustered as a limbed self-
driven fusser? Repurposed
fusion stuff, thrust
from countless novae, my atomic
populace had seen the hottest
hell all time could throw us.
Then cooled, composed, a creature—
like a snowdrift risen just
where temperature and wind conspire,
mist gone crystalline
and there’s a contour, spine
a little serpentine. It shifts
by grainy increments, appears
to sidewind, to desire,
till it’s washed away by just what
forces shape it. I melt
by my own metabolic fire,
if nothing else. This self,
what is it? By the next
warm day, it isn’t. I’ve watched
my father thrash and lose his words,
unknow himself and me,
a self-erasing signature,
blown wisp of star-spray. He
looked out with pure first wonder.
At death, how new I’ll be.
~ ~ ~
Jed Myers lives in Seattle. He is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award) and two chapbooks. Honors include Southern Indiana Review’s Editors’ Award, the Literal Latte Poetry Award, The Adirondack Review’s 46er Prize for Poetry, and the McLellan Poetry Prize (UK). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, The Greensboro Review, The Southeast Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. He is Poetry Editor for the journal Bracken.
In the few years after my father’s death, I continued to feel his comforting and encouraging presence. Exploring this in a poem, I found his own pure wonder, still in his eyes to the end.
What is your favorite dietary pleasure?
It’s a nexus of affectionate company, openhearted conversation, Prosecco in a flute with a shot of a good amaro poured in, and a light simple herb-dressed pasta. You ask why? Well, doesn’t it sound fantastic?
You’ve just discovered a new planet. What are you going to name it?
New Earth. Just that. Because it would be! A new start, a chance for more balance, trust, and humility in how we might live.
Which is your favorite season: Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?
It’s spring, no question, simply because it knocks me out every time, as if it really were a more magnificent cascade of blooms than any spring before!