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Poetry: Just Buffalo's 5th Annual Member's Writing Contest Winners

judges’ prize

Lost in Space

When we were boys we fought like dogs,

our palms pressing the glass door between us

until it shattered, slicing flesh.

Even now my wrist is marked

by a raised pattern of old stitches,

a warning in Braille I can no longer read.

In second grade, you sat in the back of the bus,

bouncing with every pothole,

singing out lines from that old TV show

about a family with a robot, lost in space.

“Danger, Will Robinson.”


In your private corner of the basement

you read Popular Electronics

and fixed old radios, the vacuum tubes

glowing like cigarettes in the dim light,

but you refused to read

their stupid books about Dick and Jane

and they bussed you even further

to a school for children who did not fit,

the ones some of us called “retards.”

The seedlings we planted that summer

are full-grown pines, but we moved away,

and for years you’ve said nothing to me

beyond an awkward “hello.”

I do not know when the seizures began,

but I have seen you drop to the floor

like a puppet whose strings were cut.

At 48, you lost your job pushing dust

across the floor of an antique shop,

and at 51 you slept in a jail cell for months

after you threatened to drive your rusting van

through the vestibule of a church,

an echo of glass shattering again.

When I think of you now

I remember that day at the lake

when you were young.

You slipped on the dock

and scraped your shins raw,

and there you were,

swimming trunks clinging to wet legs,

your thin chest bare in the hot sun

and a galvanized pipe in your hand,

beating the wooden planks

with every bit of your strength,

blow after blow,

as if you were

a blacksmith hammering,

trying to reshape the world

into a place

where you

might belong.

Stephen Paskey

audience prize


Tonight the city harbor is still

And there is no me and you.

Time stretches out from sun to sun

Air stretches out from breath to breath

The lanterns: half honey, half bees,

Are yellows flooding the night.

Neither you nor day will come.

Your memory is a body of stone

Your skin is a landscape of distance

And to have once held you

Is to understand the concern of land

In search of a missing bridge.

I would have the moon arch over us

And darkness flow under you

I would have a rose break its chains

And the birds captive in silence

I would have the voiceless hours speak

for me. When I think of you

Light shifts and drifts apart

Dying wherever forever mourns.

This isn’t death, just the blackness of always.

Tonight I write for a moment of dark limits

Beneath an artless sky without name.

Bryan P. Roland

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