HONORABLE MENTION – THE 2019 SANDY CRIMMINS
NATIONAL PRIZE IN POETRY
by Chad Frame
Outside, it’s scarcely my sixteenth
winter, pacing the drive, unsure
what’s led here—hours of typing,
the heyday of dialup chatrooms,
a torso photo, a phone call
to calm my jangling nerves—me out
the door, you on your way to pick
me up. Only the sparse, dead trees,
thinning hair on the hilltop’s scalp,
are watching when your car rattles
to a stop, your cracked face an old
catcher’s mitt slowly catching fire
within, spewing cigarette smoke.
Terrified, more of backing out
than anything, I creak the door
open and climb inside. We go.
Later that night, I am retching
in the bathroom when my mother
comes home from work. I do not tell
anyone there are parts of me
that will never shake free, never
be grown out of or eased into,
will never be the same again,
because they do not come from me.
This day I have learned to swallow
more than you, more than pride or Coke
straight from the two-liter bottle
to cleanse the taste—the hardest thing
to swallow is the idea
that there will be no second chance
at a first time. Persephone,
trapped in winter, aching for spring,
must realize because she swallows
her captor’s seed she can never
feel the sun, her mother’s plain face
bearing the promise of flowers.
Chad Frame was the 2017 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County and is a founding member of the No River Twice poetry improv troupe. He is also the poetry editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing and co-founder of the Caesura Poetry Festival. Chad has been published in various journals, including decomP, Barrelhouse, Rust+Moth,and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, as well as featured on the radio program The Poet and the Poem hosted by Grace Cavalieri in association with the Library of Congress.