Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Second-Place Winner

Second-place honors go to Mark Smith-Soto for his poem “Flamingos.” Mark Smith-Soto is Professor of Spanish and editor of International Poetry Review at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  He has published three prize-winning chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections to date, Our Lives Are Rivers (University Press of Florida, 2003) and Any Second Now (Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2006).  His poetry, which has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won him an NEA Fellowship in Creative Writing (2006), has appeared in Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, Literary Review, Nimrod, The Sun and many other publications.  In 2010, Unicorn Press brought out his work of translation Fever Season, the selected poetry of Costa Rican writer Ana Istarú.  His most recent works are Berkeley Prelude: A Lyrical Memoir (Unicorn Press, 2012) and the chapbook Splices, just out from Finishing Line Press.

            by Mark Smith-Soto 
What advantage in the wild
could there be in perching on
one leg, skinny and knob-
kneed, or in parading, among
predators, so openly pink?
What quirk in nature led
to this queer turn of bird,
gaudy bundle on stilts,
Cyrano beak, a neck for
sticking out? At the zoo,
thirty or forty of them stood
like an installation, ablaze
with improbable tranquility,
not a feather aquiver for minutes
on end. A while now I’ve
known unexpected beauty
can break you into a grin,
pluck the irony out of you
clean as a thorn. Watching
them that day, I raised one foot
and placed it on the other ankle,
for ten seconds at least
I stayed that way.

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