1st Place - Feb 2012


step left inside the kitchen
ignore the itchy upholstery and take a seat
in the lopsided green chair where
you will be safe inside the story
and as far away from the slop pail as possible
which is a good thing
because a dead mouse floats face down in it
among the 'potato peels
lean slightly forward
it is important you should experience viewpoint
just like real life
the bread in the oven
the stew bubbling at the back of the cook stove
the fire burned down to hot embers
                        and the young man
his raw wool socks twisted around the legs of a painted chair
as he bends over the red chrome table absorbed in a mystery novel
his grandma
hobbles across the faded linoleum
her cane thumping to a rest beside the sink of dirty dishes
it might be wise to inhale
for it is precisely that moment she notices the wasp
as it comes lazily alive out of the wood stacked by the heater
see how she monitors its flight
she how she watches it land on her grandson's shoulder
see her slap open-handed and hard,   the perfect climax
but she misses,
the wasp doesn't .
the sting and the villain's knife penetrate at the smile instant
serendipity at its finest
the scream goes on for decades
reinventing itself at every family gathering
the essence of conflict and the resolution linger
you can too,
hang around mom's kitchen for awhile
drink from the dipper, spoon fresh cream onto your porridge,
tie on an apron, lick her spatula before it fades

- Jan Wood