Award Winners

George Bogin Memorial Award - 2001

Brian Henry


I said well why not when confronted
with the sternness of a life ill-suited
to anything but conflict and conflation,

a derelict hole revolving mindlessly
before the matters of fact dictate terms
to those of us ill-used by truth and what-

not, garters and thongs awaver past dawn,
the mania for bargains breaking every
last one of the hungers (I mean hunters)

until the wax owns the car rents the road,
until the interest rates so highly the bank
manager offers to drive your small ones

to school and back as long as the principal
is up and running, though debt can grow
into its own form of tribute to plains and rivers,

the mountains between, beaches welling
at the edges—how they flank a billion passions
for cooking oneself under melanomic suns—

the remains of what you own being fucked
by what you owe, the dog spayed beyond
good breeding, and the darkest hours swelling

with intent to instill on a surface where
understanding cannot spawn but so often each day
and only then just so often,

as the boredom factor dishes out
more than any sane person can take
while another branch of worries is brought

to whomever is least able to cope
with being sucked off in front of his boss
or by his boss (taking that request for a raise

too far past the point of the request):
this business of ass and balls can wear down
a worker seeking sleep and dreamlessness

though the moon cutting through
the screen, the blinds must touch him here,
on his back, and here, on his arm, the one

that has worked its way from under
the sheet covering the bother he calls a body
and inching toward the end

of what everyone would call the bed,
lovely, the timing in my life is lovely

a line that stiffens through him

as he staggers downward into the sleep
he knows he needs but cannot,
desire for a moment desire's absence, a push

beneath the thoughts uncertain of the effect
they seek, but certain the effect, once achieved,
will attract whatever is needed from within.