Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011


by Gary Nelson

You there, dawdling in a chair in the bookstore cafe,
sipping on coffee and reading nothing but people like me,
I can tell you this much: If you were capable of understanding someone
quickly and easily as the taste you taste
of that wild blueberry muffin,
you might be disappointed with the depth of flavor.

Know this more: I am poor and hungry.
The only difference between one place and another for me
are a distance and a dollar.
I am colored with poverty and passing
blanched with the best clothes I can muster
from a rank pile squeezed in storage.

Although I belong there, a member,
I take showers like a thief in the night at the health club
where I have seen you work out.
When I walk out to the cold air overheated,
you get in a car more expensive than a house could be for me.
I cannot imagine one so grand I could ever afford.

You are 30, female, and white with acceptability.
I am hungry from need, killing the time that kills me
on the hard wooden chair, hungry not for love,
or wisdom, but something simpler, food and shelter.
I would love to bed you down.
I could use a good night's sleep.

Added: 13.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


instantly connected with this. inspired and insightful.


This seemed to really start after the start. Consider the first stanza- everything got stronger after this point. :) Well done!


I liked the pace and the way it read aloud. Thought the imagery and emotion was powerful.


Almost uniformly excellent read, but the last two lines can use slightly more transition to read more seamlessly with the rest of the poem.


good, descriptive heartfelt poem.


i relished rereading and indulging in the resentment. maybe i'm proof that most people sing along through gritted teeth. strong poem.