Award Winners

Cecil Hemley Memorial Award - 2006

Rusty Morrison


1. Repeating verdancy

Ask our eyes for this avenue of aspen, assembly unnecessary, each step annotated separately

Blink and we'll have ambered it; the occasion was sunset, now only judgment slips into this

last slit as atmosphere

The vista foreshortens into seamless tricks of stealth

I said yearning, but the aspen are already milked down to their whitest drapery

I say open, but the valley backs away from us behind its wan smile, a once-close friend, I'm

not asking the amphitheater to get physical

With ruse of onyx, still no flesh beneath our night-skin; say body with every orifice, hear

only echo in shine's underbreath

Now all recognizable accents sliding off the actual

Instinct, commonly frightened by the least missed-rhyme, snaps off at its stem

Within the smallest waterdrop, a heated rustling, till all its mirrors splay

We must stop arguing about the planning of rocks to fill up our substance

Bullying our distinguishing marks

Be easier on the un-emphatic syllable

As if a breach synthesized its two sides, its strong emptiness

So will each long-shut resemblance begin again to ovulate

Cal Bedient on Rusty Morrison

"Sky Clutches Any Strong Beat" ambles through its subtle, leafy long lines as if unaware of their strong surprise; it inhabits originality without any self-consciousness at all. A species of vespers, it seizes on what's left to emphasize back into distinctness as if in the last moment of the day; it floats a delicate and wavering balance between the dusk that would subtract everything from itself and what keeps adding itself even in our "vexed eventual": "a cricket's wing-scratch," "the sound of slowness as slowness comes upon a thing," our "privacies, our needful decorations," and much more. Its subtitles formpairs of inverted terms (e.g., "Repeating verdancy," "Verdancies of repetition"), in keeping with its attention to time's "two sides," as well as its layaway plan that "each long-shut resemblance [will] begin again to ovulate." The poem is open to swings of inflection throughout; it's splendidly searching and various. It doesn't want to be summarized, it intends to be equal to everything. And in that great ambition it can't be said to fail.