August 19, 2009
Bourjaily: Poetry Contest Winner
By Phil Bourjaily
Because I am poetically challenged, I fobbed the judging of the poetry contest onto my son Gordon, (author of “Flight of the Pellets”) who is home for two weeks in between interning with the Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C. this summer and beginning his junior year of college. Here’s how he judged the contest:
There were a bunch of good poems, to be honest, and three in particular really stood out. ENO's was neat--repetition is always effective, and always hard, and it's handled here well. The poem is formally quite like its subject matter--slow, measured, and dignified. I'm imagining this poem read aloud, and liking it.
Weathered steel in weathered hands…
and a fine walnut stock with a weathered brand.
Side by side two weathered barrels stand…
and side by side walk a dog and an old weathered man.
Through the weathered upland there calls his command…
and a flush is made from a weathered grassy stand.
The bird erupts with its weathered tail fanned…
and the weathered gun is shouldered and fired offhand.
He holds the lifeless bird in his old weathered hand…
and wonders how much longer his weathered steel can withstand.
I also have to give props to Amflyer's poem; it's simple, sweet, and elegant. I'd write more about why I like it, but I like it because of its simplicity--further analysis would kill the golden goose.
Metal burnished by my father’s hand.
Rough, strong hands, red from the cold.
There’s a worn spot on the stock
from some old belt buckle.
“Old Betsy”, “Meat-in-the-pot”, “Lightning;
Many names for one old gun. Each
as worn and as used as the man and his gun.
Its balance is bad, its stock is too short,
It’s a clumsy, awkward thing really.
If I should have found it on a shelf, marked
low for quick sale, I think I would pass.
But in the hands, of that weathered old man,
It grew lively and quick; magical,
Like the man himself.
And if I close my eyes, I can hear
shots in the draw, And watch, as birds
Fall from the sunny sky.
My favorite, though, has got to be ingebritsng's. stream-of-consciousness rant, for a few reasons. First, I really love the way the writing is structured--not in stanzas or lines, but in staccato bursts of thoughts and ideas. I can relate to the poem because I tend to think in that manner too. It helps that I've been in the same situation the poem's describing far too many times. The alliteration is killer (especially friggin flabbergastedness), and really helps propel the language along. By the way, the colorful, creative language really syncs with the overall feel and realism of the poem.
I'm reminded, actually, of ee cummings' great "Buffalo Bill."
Even after taking points off for the phrase, "weapon of death," you do very well sir.
There you have it straight from Gordon, and here is your winner of the first ever Fieldandstream.com Hunting/Shooting Poetry Contest:
KABOOM!!! Ears still ring from that first left barrel fired upwards fiften feet above my head. Fifteen feet to that winged pest that flittered still above me in comparable storm. Fumbling finger finds the back trigger while eye unbeliving watch its feathers shake off my weapon of death like hail in winter.
Nothing! pupil dialate and a look of friggin flabbergastedness settles on barely furry cheeks. Damn it quick u fired on it, fire again while it is still in flight. lever right flip out empties, grab last 2 from old worn belt, next it rests against cheek again and now u slow, take aim, make sure keep both eyes open and slowly pull. Kaboom! Fu#k!
last chance veer into wind-take aim make sure and steady as a rock. kaboom! pellets frisking wing of feathers flitting down in frisky wing. shake of tail and hardly glimmer at the pest down on the earth, flies that dabnaggin dead bird!
Congratulations, and thanks to all of you who entered.