The Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize is sponsored by the English Department at CCSU. It was created by former English professor Barry Leeds to celebrate the memory of his daughter Leslie.
2021 Poetry Prize Winners
Winner— Nehway Sahn
Finalist: Madeline Christensen-LeCain
Finalist: Samuel Sandoval
Judge: Professor Sarah Strong
Lost in Boston
by Nehway Sahn
Slept with the upsetting sun
as the valley thickened
with the chrysalis,
padding me in packaged “peace”
in case the morning mattered and mine
began to look like natural light
and hibiscus tea in the one-bedroom
on Boylston Street,
where the ticking birds – taut, yet free –
awaken the cornerstone
of roads and dreams.
and still – the wing –
A Blue Morpho
in the corner
of my Connecticut calamity.
by Samuel Sandoval
She was a dancer we called Strawberry
Who had worn strabismus like a flounder
Eye, and bowed to greasy men saluting
Aging men with their watered-down Mai Tais.
I think of Moses when I see their scalps
Reflecting blades of neon. Strawberry
Bends to ballads her mother wrote: music
Attached to a life plunged in Mexico;
Her cursive body, in bruised glitter, tests
Dysfunction in the vicarious men,
Who throw damp dollars to grab at her strings;
They offer motel rooms rattling keys,
But Strawberry turns to wink at the crowd,
Shaping herself into an aria.
by Madeline Christensen-LeCain
The threaded wind pierces splintering bones
Threatening to snap brittle limbs
And leave you strewn across the snow,
Nothing but shards and blood and teeth.
Your muscles creak with each frigid stride
The fall of each bare footstep
Barely cracking the shell atop the snow
You should turn back,
But the prints of your prey urge you onwards,
Even as the fall of silence covers them once more.
Her den stands looming,
A cave atop the mountain you once called home
No sign of soft grass or wildflowers,
All that remains is stone.
The great beast’s eyes weep,
Even now as she lay curled,
Deep in aching slumber.
Her pointed tongue hidden behind yellowed teeth.
A smell like rancid gasoline hits,
You fight tears and sound alike,
Doubled over with putrid regret pouring from your lips.
The beast sleeps.
You could drive your staff through her heart,
Slice her stomach and watch gore and muck and deep deep red spill out.
You could kill her.
If only it were so simple.
If only the beast could be defeated with strength.
If only you hadn’t slaughtered the creature time after time,
Only to wake up with her sleeping in your mothers bed the next morning.
You are not here to kill the beast.
You are here to reason.
The beast cannot speak, will not listen, and yet you will make your case.
The beast sleeps.
Nehway Sahn is a senior studying Computer Science at Central Connecticut State University, and by night a singer-songwriter, deep-feeler, and writer.
Samuel Sandoval is a writer, musician, and senior at Central Connecticut State University studying English and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in Aislin Magazine and his music has been reviewed by such places as the New Haven Arts Council, CTVerses, and The Deli Magazine.
Madeline Christensen-LeCain is a junior at Central Connecticut State University.