Laury A. Egan / HBAC Poetry Contest Winning Entries

The 2019 Laury A. Egan / HBAC Poetry Contest yielded marvelous entries - so much so that judges Laury A. Egan and Beverly Jean Harris chose two first place winners. Congratulations to all entrants! Our winners list and two first place entries are below.

First Place Winners
Lisa Hartsgrove, Atlantic Highlands, "Something Like Dragonflies"
Susan Boston, Middletown, "The Easy Way"

Second Place Winners
Anya Jodziewicz, Highlands, "Degrees of Loss"
Stephen Sikora, Wall Township, "Apprentice to the Queen"

Honorable Mention
Miles Kierson, Highlands, "A Friend's 1980s Passing"


Something Like Dragonflies
Lisa Hartsgrove

When you live in a small town, the small town lives in you.

You know everyone.

You know the woman who used to live in the lighthouse.

You know she saw hundreds of dragonflies after

her grandmother died, and again after her husband was shot.

You also know that dragonflies, to her, look something

like second chances.

You know the man who lives on the corner and greets passers-by,

usually while watering his lawn with his thumb pressed up

against the spout of the green garden hose.

You know he has a wife and two little dogs that bark

the way little kids scream.

You know he beats his wife.

You know how she screams,

and it’s not anything

like the little dogs.

You don’t know what second chances look like to her.

You know the old drunk who falls asleep in his chair,

outside, every night.

You know how he slumps over, how his neck curves in

and his head falls down, lolling back and forth

like the pendulum of a grandfather clock.

You don’t know his wife, but you do know she left him, years ago.

You don’t know, but you have an idea of what

second chances look like to him.

You know that little girl, the one with the bucktooth smile

and feet smaller than her hands.

You know how she grew up to watch her father die

in front of her, how he had a heart attack and collapsed,

violently tumbling down the stairs.

You also know her father.

You knew him, before he died.

You knew how much he loved his daughter, but also

how he once tried throwing her out of a moving vehicle.

You didn’t and still don’t know why.

And you know her mother, too.

You knew her, before she died.

She died slowly, a death so imminent it became a greeting.

Goodbye, Mom, good to see you again.

How many dragonflies has that little girl seen?

How many chances does one person get?

You don’t just know the cashiers; you know TJ and Kimmy

and Jeremy’s ex-girlfriend and you notice when

one of them misses a shift.

You don’t hear names; you hear stories.

Even the ones you don’t want to hear.

You know the girlfriend who sneaks in when the wife is away.

And you know the wife.

And the husband.

And the kids.

You know the fishermen, every one of them,

how they wake up before the sun, not always

fishing for fish, but always fishing

for something to catch.

You get it.

Living in a space like this—it’s big and small.

There are no second chances,

but there are

hundreds

of dragonflies.


The Easy Way
Susan Boston

“The easy way is not the easy way,” my sister says.

Evidence observed at second hand

sets her heading to a resolute true north.

The acquiescent path, her mother’s route,

is sheltered from the sting of wind and sleet.

It circles wide of risks and steep terrain,

ever yielding, confrontation-free.

Its sly meander masks the lengths it goes to.

The swallowed words, the un-rocked boat, the self denied,

these mile markers mount, unceasingly.

The easy way is not the easy way.

Miranda Nash