1999 Christina Sergeyevna Contest Winners
Third Place Winner - Sharon Becker of Northridge California
Lisa with a Mustache
always wondered if bleaching her teeth
have helped. If her enamel
been just this side of dazzling
he have left a phone number
ring, a teacup full of leaves she could read and read?
she not hesitated when he asked
keep the lights on, not felt
that her stomach could turn
man on his heel, belt buckle
undone? Should she have waxed
upper lip, removed the shadow
thought only she could see?
her feet not small enough?
her touch too light? Had he needed
be punched down and prodded
bread dough? Back in the old days
thought, people would pull out
own teeth or let them go to rot.
drink or two for ambition
paint brush later to put a shine on them
if they had been plucked from oyster bellies.
beads ready for stringing.
are hard work. Perhaps she'll have leave them in.
out the spaces along the strand
found objects. Twigs and feathers and such.
Second Place - Frank Pool of Austin
Corridor of Memory
Museum, Washington, D.C.
shoes were made to endure, but not to last
many years. The old leather sags into a softness
animal origin. Wasn't it Einstein who said a physicist
be a cobbler, one who should theorize at the last
punching with his awl? What a Jewish science
would make, humming in the shetl, smelling bread
in the ovens across the street, little gingerbread
in there, philosophizing. I have seen the pictures,
and moving, and wound my way in slow progress
mostly silent crowds. The energy in a mass
old leather sucks light from the white corridor. Brown
mostly, made for concrete streets and bare floors,
for endurance in ghettos, in dim poverty--
the open-toed summer sandals, the girls' shoes,
elegant ones, gleam a muted white in an expanding
of brown. The photos keep their sepia tones,
cosmos of black and white, and black and white,
brown shoes, and brown shirts, and black ashes
in the continuum of time. I have seen many
these images before. But I can smell the shoes,
reek of slaughtered cattle, fashioned for the feet
walked this earth, our moral planet, coming now
rest in their pairs, in their mountains of silence.
every shoe, an emptiness, a man or woman or child
out, absent to the very last, to their Jewish souls.
First Place - Liliana Valenzuela of Austin
2, 1998, on the Eve of Becoming an American Citizen
me, not I
gringa I would never be
de "muera el imperialismo yanqui"
en mi cabeza
is always me-search in research"
bona fide Chicana chayote-head
life is here now
my bilingual chilpayates
metida hasta las chanclas
this brave new world.
citizenship, at least,
politicos en Mexico finally woke up
us "raza" on this side of the border.
Paisano, Bienvenido Amigo,
que se les prendió el foco, cabrones.
sí, pásenle, que su nopal está lleno de tunas.
en la frontera, en el no-man's-land,
puente, mujer frontera, mujer Malinche.
sí, cuando me chiflen por la calle
podrán decir "gringuita" y por primera vez
seré, una bolilla, una gabacha,
ojos azules y cabello rubio por fin
a los estereotipos de la gente
you don't look Mexican..."
¿qué parezco? ¿acaso tengo changos en la cara?
I die, spread my ashes along the Rio Grande,
Rio Bravo, where I once swam naked.