Award Winners

Robert H. Winner Memorial Award - 2001

Alice Jones

Jeffrey Franklin


I'll tell you sometime when we're vis à vis about the ease of memorizing dynasties, how Tang, the apogee, floats into Sung, the pedigrees of poets, those liquid trees in scrolls, eerie in the fog, or snow covered bamboo teasing us with thoughts of Spring. We're on our knees trying to take in time, wider than Lake Erie; you sneezed, we tried to squeeze it, don't believe it, my freezing carp of the day.


The temptation is to watch the clouds,
           swollen with moonlight, drift
    across the night sky, a migrating

Herd of leviathans, but if
           you lie spread open on the earth
    long enough and focus

between them, you may see
           the clouds slow, the obsidian
    depth behind them ease

into motion, and sense yourself,
           in a parallel gesture, begin
    to accelerate, until like

the twin runners of a dogsled,
           you and the night sky
    are reeling along the luminous track

of frozen cloud. Once,
               white men trundled a projector
    over the tundra, as only

white men would do,
           and splashed a movie across
    the igloo's breath-sheened wall:

black-and-white people raced
           to and fro, making
    overblown gestures to make up

for the lack of sound. What
           did they see, the Eskimos,
    polite enough to feign a chuckle

when the visitors slapped their knees
           and, when the film came
    flapping to a halt, to praise

the shifting abstract patterns,
           how with such slow grace
    they drifted and swam

across the igloo's starry dome
           like the breath of the Aurora,
    they said,

in the cupped hands of the night sky.