Two poems by Curtis Rogers, third place winner,
The College Alumni Society Prizes, 2009

Anger / Grass

The fields
    refused weeks of decay, the soil
bent like knuckles into the air -
     pregnant and inconsolable. In those

hot months, you found our son pulling feathers
     out of a hen in handfuls, twice,
his face wet with surprise
     and mud caught on his jeans.

The fields pulled the shadows
     from the clouds and heavy
planes that rolled through our sky until
     they became soaked and soft.

They raised flowers from the
     bones of our wheat, petals
smooth as fingernails and violently
opened, like ports to the wind.

You found me offering my black half like a gift
     to the clouds and sky and machines,
those that strayed and shook but could
     no longer cool the bright face of

anything below themselves.
     It had returned to us, the new year,
in a wind that stirred like
     anger through rows of empty stems.


Our dad declared he
would be dead soon
and began to build
the next day. Setting out a
wire frame and cutting
neat outlines through the grass
with the sharp rim of a dowel. We
all watched at first,
I remember him huddled
under a shy rain, screwing
metal rods into the dirt --
following him into the hall
and watching him peel
a slug from his boot
with a delicate fuck. He declared that
he was starting over
--replacing the lopsided brick
with cinder blocks --and we
quickly lost interest,
so that when he finished
there was no sudden unveiling,
just a strange acceptance of
the completed structure and
of our father -- crawling into it
long after he wasn't
supposed to be walking,
lying on the grass inside
and pressing
himself against the wall,
screaming madly
when we sit
down to eat.