A Poem Lost

Karalyn Jobe
Winner of the 2021 Stellanova Osborn Poetry Prize

Every poem written is a poem lost.
My joints, a ticking time bomb,
Counting ever closer to their final arch.

I know I’m young, but I ache like I’m ancient.
If I use my hands now, I just know
The arthritis will win before I’m even forty.

In bed, when my other senses are asleep,
My fingers creak and groan with pain
As I ghost-type words a real page will never meet.

I’m aware now, like I never was before
That every single word I write today
Is one I won’t be able to write when I’m older.

It seems like my mobility is waning every day,
So I can’t imagine the pain that I’ll be feeling
When I’m forty five years old and

Twenty five years deep in a career where
Typing is the most important skill I’ll ever have.
What will I do, then, when I have to retire

Fifteen years sooner than I should,
With hardly half the savings a retired person ought to have,
And I can write no longer?

Who will I be when these fragile, crackling fingers
Can’t even hold a pencil anymore?
The written word has always been my identity.

The question that has plagued me every day,
Every waking hour of my life:
Which sad existence is a better fit for me,

To leave stories untold and hidden in my memories
To save my wretched hands, or to write my heart empty knowing
That every poem written is a poem lost?

Thank God and Blame Women

Leah Mockridge
I am no disciple,
I am the deity of misplaced desire.
Men often mistake my ego for exaltation.
My body is no place for expiation even as
hands press into my flesh.
Call it their providence.
Call it a gift from           

Dirtied hands delve into my holy water,
hoping that somehow, I could save them from sin.
I am their temple of temporary absolution.
The notion that women like me are just bread to be broken 
     for communion.
Indoctrination from years forced to my knees in divine retribution
     with expectation that I will break before the hymen.
The idea that virginity is just an apple waiting to be plucked 
     by some unworthy Adam.
I pray they don’t confuse me for an open chapel,
my blood for wine undrank, my body for bread unbroken.
I am no sacred place for stained men to seek asylum. 


This isn’t a confession of some cumbersome contrition;
in fact, I revel like red devils in the night.
Purgatory is just a name for the space between my thighs.
Penitence is what men prefer after impious action.
This isn’t faith, it’s fetish--
I am a sacrificial altar for masochists masquerading as messiahs.
Palms up they pray in demeaning doxology.
This is a covenant of crucifixes and false prophets,
filled with gnashing teeth and unhinged jaws,
hungry for whatever holiness I’m willing to impart. 

 Take all that I am worth and call it retribution.
              Take all that I have and call it tithing. 

This temple filled with false idols and forked red tongues that cry out,
“Repent, repent, repent!”
The serpent reincarnate is hidden in the anointed.
He whispers to Adam: 

                    Thank God,
                              and blame women. 

November’s Storms

Taylor Worsham


–a dedication to the SS Edmund Fitzgerald


When the night falls, I stroll along
the banks of Lake Superior
on the tenth of November.

Waves crash to the shore, made so Superior could
write stories she’s created into the sand, but
nobody knows how to read them.

The gale caresses my ears with whispers
of those who are lost, twenty-nine souls
eternally ringing the bell.

The nineteenth hour strikes and it’s deafening:
the harmony of water sloshing in the lungs and
voices pleading for help bounces off the pines.

These haunting melodies keep Fitzgerald’s legacy
washing up onto the sand. Superior forever keeps
the souls reined and wanting, never giving

up her dead.

At Ten I Was An Astronomer

Destinee Bruce


As a child I dreamed of the stars
I plotted my future
in the dead space between
galaxies of twinkling blue
light danced over the lines in my palm
If I closed my hands
I could capture the essence of life
all glittering stardust
breathing it felt like fire
Under the sun I was human
miniscule and wanting
but at night
doused in starlight
I was glory

In the Cabin

Charlotte Mazurek


Flames bloomed.
Heat petals
pressed to brick,
their silk stains
smoke black
on cinderblock.
Memories in rings,
the pop of sap,
bark black as
basalt. Crumbling.

The red flower
withered long ago.

Now sapling roots
make love to ash,
ancestral remains.
A shoot rises from
the ancient mortar.
Its new leaves
above the hearth
bloom green.

Dad Worries

Adam Uhrig


Dad folds his fingers
dirt and dried blood outline calluses
open sores on his legs and feet tell me
he hasn’t been wearing his socks
crawling when no one is looking

dad worries too much
his knees knock and shake and his teeth
grind as he stutters
he’ll be out soon
he always rebounds

dad is in the hospital again
the nurses smile at his charm and wit
they bring him baked goods and fish magazines
he said he would give up everything to live
in a home so he wouldn’t inconvenience us

“No one visits me” he says
my brother reminds me
I lose focus in school, forgetting
that no one has visited him
“not even the Mormons”