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.
Winner: Nicole Moulton
Finalist: Samantha Jones
Finalist: Allison Nadeau
Judge: Professor Emeritus Steven Ostrowski
by Nicole Moulton
She smells like gasoline, but it’s stunning and nasty. They will stare
like it’s their business no matter what store it is, judgment their conductor
on the train that never stops. She dresses in long checkered patterns and tight
orange heels, and dances through the night as if she cannot feel them. Bystanders
turned spectators, jaws dropped spewing sneer comments or sipping gossip or probably both.
Utterly simplistic rumors come from cotton mouthed smirks,
they will think what they want. She licked her spoon stuffing gulps full
of chocolate cake between her perfect rose tipped lips now covered in grime,
because the number on the scale never wins. Is she anorexic, bulimic?
No, she was labeled fat her whole life and decided to change that. They will
rip you apart whether you’re covered in paint or wearing all gray. If you can’t
change a tire you must be a girl, and if you can, you must be a car girl.
Round and Round
by Samantha Jones
My twenties is the mechanical carousel sitting on the bookshelf of my childhood bedroom
Fragile, the porcelain was intricately detailed by its creator with precise, painted strokes
And reminds me when my father sternly said I was no mistake.
The lined lightbulbs surged to life when played with
Dizzying as it wound around, the machine cranked a ballet-pink waltz
The red tented top twirls the painted horses
Like my dancing mother, orbiting me around her
The shiny sculpted stallions cast their silhouettes
Distracting from the cracked base
The paint thick and textured
Is beginning to chip with age.
by Allison Nadeau
this is the blue sky at night
deep, deep indigo
in the Stop & Shop parking lot
seventy degree heat lightning
was it ever this beautiful?
in New England we’ve got all four seasons
but nothing compares to
the first fifty-degree day
roll your windows down.
I want the soaked polyester
grey sand fingers
the ocean is evidence of Christ.
I want the sun poisoning
brown blemishes littering my shoulders
blister skin, burning skin
nothing rolls the eyes back
I want to lose my ability to sleep
even silk sheets are too painful
for this licorice flesh
I’m only beautiful with sunburn.
I want the hell-hot car
leather that sears your thighs
lay me down in only a t-shirt,
there’s no scent like the summer solstice
but I can never get over winter.
the snow that touches down
is gone within hours
it’s March and we’re all crying,
I want it to be warm
I want to feel warm
but it’s sleeting again tomorrow
and I’ll always be grateful.
the sun will crawl closer again
it forever loves me the same
but I worry
there won’t come a day in which I don’t miss the cold.
the red nose, the unbearable sensation of
a freezing car
the numbness in my hands
I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.
Header Photo Credit: Daria Washington for Blue Muse Magazine
Nicole Moulton, Samantha Jones, and Allison Nadeau are all students at Central Connecticut State University.
Congrats to all three poets. I loved hearing you read your work yesterday at the awards ceremony.