Friday, June 30, 2017

2017 Second-Place Winner--Lawrence Kessenich

This year's Second Place Winner goes to Lawrence Kessenich for his poem "Healing."

Lawrence Kessenich
Photo by Joseph A. Cohen
Lawrence Kessenich, who has practiced Transcendental Meditation almost continuously since 1971, won the Strokestown International Poetry Prize in 2010. His poetry has been published in Sewanee Review, Atlanta Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and many other magazines. He has a poetry chapbook, Strange News, and two full-length poetry books, Before Whose Glory and Age of Wonders. Kessenich has also published essays; he had short plays produced at festivals in Boston, New York and Durango, Colorado; and his first novel, Cinnamon Girl, was published in September 2016. His website is

by Lawrence Kessenich

Tasting stillness and knowing that it was medicine.
- Roshi Joan Halifax

What we call stillness may be composed of
sea bird calls, waves shushing across sand,
the almost audible sparks of light dancing
on water. Even in the deepest stillness,
the heart beats, blood whooshes through the ears,

joints click as the limbs make small movements.

The still are steady as the earth on its axis,
their stillness a way of being, of interacting

with the world. Like a gyroscope balanced
on a string, a dervish spinning on a mountaintop,
an angel dancing on the head of a pin.

And what is healing but the restoration
of balance, that which is out of sorts sorting
itself out? When one tastes stillness, like warm
sweet milk settling the stomach, all that has
been troubling, disturbing, all that has made
one feel sick gently dissipates, and all

that’s left is being.  

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