“glancing through the past, I fear my future”

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2017 Barrett Winner

1st Place Isobel Brown

“glancing through the past, I fear my future”

scruffy man in 1970s yearbook, you remind me of Walt Whitman.
(though you may not appreciate the comparison) as I carve my composition,
found, from the shadowed flicker that pauses my questing paw –
when my mind’s sleepy eye instead catches on his glossy bones.
is it the beard? tufty bristles like an aggressive broom,
like thorny brambles – the briar patch in that old Sleeping Beauty movie,
which would rather be cut down completely than surrender
passage into your (his) domain.
I’ve seen only a few photographs of ol’ Walt.
(though I’ve not gone looking) in my memory he reclines,
cheekbones forming impassive walls around his arch eyebrows,
or giving the impression. His eyes rank no larger than his other features,
yet looming and limpid, he pervades
beyond pixel resolution and 200 years of decomposition
to raise a sardonic smirk behind his bushy yap
as I wrestle my yawning mind into her most disciplined ensemble and drive her to work.