Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize Poetry

Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize – 2021

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

2021 Winner

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 – 

it beats. 

A Blue Morpho 

in the corner 

of my Connecticut calamity. 

Lost in Boston

Finalists 2021

Her DJ

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.

And sleet.

And her.

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.

You straighten.

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.

No more.

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.

You sit.

You wait.

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.

Blue Muse Magazine is a general interest literary magazine published by the students of the English Department at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. We publish poetry, fiction, and a gamut of creative nonfiction on anything and everything the blue muse inspires us to write.

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