Congratulations to all our entrants!

We are pleased to announce the winner of our 5th Mystery Box Contest:




First Place


Botticelli’s Venus in Later Life

You never think to question how I’m posed.
What mollusk gave its life? (So I could raft
on its shell, above the waters of my birth.)
I’m naked but for the hank of haunch-length hair
with which my arm (so oddly hinged) and hand
contrive to hide my pubis (as the age
required). I wonder: is it the spectacle
that draws you in? Two Zephyrs in human form
blow me dry. Lips pursed, cheeks puffed, the male
sports wings. To keep aloft, the wingless female
clings to him (as women should or must?).
From this airy pair, spring flowerlets waft my way.
Likewise sprigged are the gown the Hora wears
and the cape she offers me. This is the page
where (nubile, pliant) I end my tale for you.

News flash: my After clashed with my Before.
Once immortals left me to my fate,
birds—swan-geese—came to my defense.
They goosed me: “shed that robe of servitude!”
I donned a fire-red gown of mutiny
as they haloed me and squawked of where to find
those folklore realms where risk and turmoil lurk—
where pulse pumps up, eager to seek thorned paths.
Their invitation pledged that I could win—
or lose!—depending on my will and wit.
While you weren’t looking, that’s the life I chose.
I’m out of your control—and in my own.
Now nothing’s hidden by my sultry hair.
Disheveled, skipping summer, trading spring
for fall—I dare winter to do its worst.


- Carolyn Moore


Second Place


Dynasty, Falling

The empire spreads indiscriminate tonight,
the priestess in her menstrual robes.
Faint pock of dead moon, split tile
underfoot. Small teeth of sand break
through the western gate—a rope
of hookah smoke chases the emperor
around the pillars of his dreams. Wake

and knock over the urns already. Rake
the ash for ancient teeth. The palace
will burn, the bed sheets tongued blue.
Already the priestess is husking blood
from her body, a lamentation of mute
swans is wheeling overhead, and far out
in the desert, camels flee, passing one
after another through the split eye of night.


- Corinna McClanahan Schroeder


Third Place


By day I wear a cloak of grey
Nod my head in false submission
To those who would my spirit flay--
In routine crush of soul and vision
But when night falls, I rise in slumber
Cast off my numbered die-cast shell
My midnight cloth is made of amber
I dance an antidote to hell
In dream, familiars flock around me
Their whirling flight, and beating wings
Protects and feeds my witchly power;
My footsteps’ sound on stone tile rings. 


-- *Author unknown


Honorable Mentions


In alphabetical order:


"Animalspeak" -- *Author unknown

"Blue Shoes" -- Ruth McGinnis

"Slant" -- *Author unknown


*Because the judging for this contest was blind, and because our system of cross-referencing the entries was imperfect, some of the poem's are impossible for us to identify. So, if you recognize one of the titles as your own, send us a note so we can give you credit.