The Winner of the Mystery Box Contest



First Place (and Winner of the Box)

Ellen Kombiyil

"Boy Holding a Box of a Boy and His Horse: A Russian Doll Poem"


Second Place

Margaret Flint Suter

"Balthasar's Box"


Third Place

Khadija Anderson

"We Are Riding Once More"


(click here to view the original contest page)

__________________________________________________________________________________________ BACK


Boy Holding a Box of a Boy and his Horse: A Russian Doll Poem

1. Sunlight

I am destined on an impossible errand.
The boy who holds me traces lines, the not quite green
of underwater coral that’s my horse’s color,
calls me Ahmed, out of his favorite storybook.
Sometimes I tire of always being
about to begin, never about to land.
Destination’s a circle and the citrus sun
bears down without rest. The cool grass
is what I miss, and then the boy whispers
let’s find a lake of cool water, and snap!
the scene changes. I’m floating on my back,
periwinkle, the horse knee-locked in slumber.

2. Shadows

My gauge is pre-set. I go back to dreaming
about the ride that never ends, clicking
of hooves, on, on, my friend, the replicated
bobbing until the speed works up to seamless
wonder, the only sound pounding: horse heart,
strengthening the legs. The green shadows keep
changing. I move at speeds slower than the sun
and barely perceive that I’m moving.

3. Color

He peers at me shrinking and perfect and wonders
who are you, carries me from room to room.
The curtains change, the view, but that’s not me,
that’s everything else, changing around me.
Green is green, even in the absence of light.

4. Darkness

So many motions, impossible to keep straight.
Imagine, the movements of space! The Lord’s breath,
calling planets, gases, rock from emptiness
into being, his word the beginning.

5. Inside the Darkness

Set in motion, I finally have my mission.
The boy opens the final lid and whispers
starlight: captured, held and then returned.



Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, and a graduate of the University of Chicago, Ellen Kombiyil’s poetry has recently appeared in 2river, Beloit Poetry Journal, Juked, and MiPOesias, among others. She currently lives in India with her husband and two children.



Balthasar's Box

Wrapped in royal purple silk,
the boldly delicate box rode ever westward
as the magi followed the star that stopped over Bethlehem.
Balthasar had carried frankincense for the holy, deep in the
tooled leather case draped across his camel's saddle.
The box was emptied into the gold spun icon of Melchior's
jewel box - fragrant incense for the priest of priests.
Balthasar bartered the box for fresh dates to share with Gaspar
on the round about journey home as they avoided Herod and
the sycophants of his court.
The date seller buried the box, carefully wrapped in kidskin,
under the hearth stone of his mud floored dwelling,
it's mystery lost to the present until,
once again, war opened the soul and earth of this place
and turned the soil over.
The miracle of the intact box of Balthasar sprang into the sunlight
to begin once more the journey,
hand to hand,
horse back to horseless carriage,
dhow to steamship,
Constantinople to Los Angeles, onward,
treasure shop to junk shop, mystery to possibility,
inspiration looses imagination,
Balthasar's Box becomes the lyric of modern psalm.
-- Margaret Flint Suter
We Are Riding Once More

The great Khan is dead
and Persia is conquered
the Abbasids fallen as
Mongol armies murdered
over 2 million
burned our libraries
turned our Mosques into temples

But we remaining are strong
for we fled from the conquerors
into the hills of our homeland
and have been rewarded
with ample game
by the grace of Allah
we will hunt and feast
-- Khadija Anderson
Thank you to all of our entrants. Please watch for a new contest, coming soon.