2004 poetry award winner 

Annalynn Hammond is 22 years old and lives in Wisconsin, where she is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in English.

Her first book, Dirty Birth, was the winner of Sundress Publications' First Annual Book Contest and will be available in the summer of 2004. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals: Gargoyle, Can we have our ball back?, Diagram, Shampoo, Spork, Failbetter, The Glut and others.

View this year's award winner

Annalynn Hammond

Annalynn Hammond has been selected as the winner of the first Marc Penka Poetry Award. Her work is conspicuous for its linguistic clarity, and for its seamless fusion of novel and refreshing imagery with precise, often ironic emotional expression.

I've struck the damn stones together
and no blood has spewed from the sky.
The desert keeps rubbing
its pale ankles against each other
like a night insect.
If you wander this landscape
for a million years
you'll grow sand in your head.
Little lizards do cartwheels
and it means nothing at all.

Words are the ghosts of regret.
- Bruce Andrews

Night bumbles over the Earth,
replacing rotten apples
with tadpoles,
stuffing its pockets with rust.
C closes its little mouth
and becomes O.
Somewhere daylight is biting
the tail of dark. A snowblink blinks
its autobiography.
can be a very loud sound.

Sad Things
Big slow fish and a child's hand
on appleskin, bat wings, arrows, rocks
that look like elephants, willow leaves,
iron pans, faces in the half-light,
barbed-wire, basements, the tips
of penises, swollen nipples, mother
and the riverbottom, I never
really loved you, the cow that got out
but still stands along the fence
like hung meat, antlers,
shoulder blades, we're just sitting here
smoking, gray hair, motorcycles,
this road and the hills.

Forever and Ever Amen
the inside of my mouth has been bleeding for days
we make love tonight because our bodies ask it
there should be bone flutes
tender sinew between our teeth
what offering to beg with
I've forgotten to give myself
yet somehow you swallow me
into a place like silence
there are stacks of newspaper in the corner
filled with breath
when I close my eyes I see membranes
static electricity
snow and copper wires
have you ever climbed a telephone pole
I cannot speak
my tongue like crushed eggshells
one blade of grass between our thumbs
we cannot worship
or even pray
so we become the rituals
on the backs of our eyeballs
in the inner ear
a marble circles
on the bottom of a jar
this is the sound
in the soft spot of the brain
I trace a fingernail
dead skin sloughs off
tiny claws break out of my nerves
we've forgotten what we've come for
but it's too late now
too late to ask the way
too late to admit we're lost
some people walk barefooted
their entire lives
slivers of glass
rise up through their feet
and cling to the hollow bones
in their legs
this is why
you must follow a thin line
down my neck
and split the space
between my shoulder blades
with a nail
if only
we could bring our faces close
two smooth clay bowls
and pour our only gift
our need
an offering to beg with
what word what single word
should I scratch into your lip

On a Tuesday, In a Room
There's a centipede on the wall
and it looks like a scar that healed up bad.
Someone I love is killing himself
slowly. It makes me want to stop
ruining my life. The centipede moves
its puckered body. I sit here and do nothing
and everything wrong.

The Clang and the Clatter
In the beginning
there must have been
I imagine:    (you imagine:    )
A creature was once created
with eyes and eyelids
like the insides of oyster shells
and behind the eyes were wings, myriad wings,
of Japanese beetles. The chest was filled
with tongues cut from black and white photographs,
a few drawings of fingers rough with Mexico dirt.
There were no feet and the mouth
made the sound of a railroad spike
driving in.
This has been forgotten
but never forgiven.
It is impossible to imagine the end:
crystal balls:
you and I and our angry:

A Shovel Floats from the Red Barn
At some point, we all have to deal with a horse head
coagulating in the barn. The flies, unforgiving,
sizzle their wings and say, it's too late, too late,
you killer of wind. There, we always fold and pound
our heads against that tongued stump. Oh how we roll,
then with sawdust drool, blubber, I tried, I tried,
but the wind is so fragile, I tell you, it never
* * *
The blood dries into shiny flakes, and the eye grows
familiar in its fixed stare. Old friend, I say, how
long have we been lying here with our faces in the

* * *
The loaded shovel is not as heavy as I thought it
would be. All I feel is the thump of my feet through
the clodded pasture.

* * *
At last, the sky has shut its eye, and the sweet
windless earth is quiet.
[first appeared in Failbetter]


The Writer
Sometimes he believes collecting stones, placing them
in a small bag, is enough.
But other days it's not, and he writes stories of
faceless characters, tries to place bags of small
stones in their hands, but they don't want them.
Why, he asks, with your faceless faces, would you
not want stones, a bag to carry?
They don't answer, only stare in a faceless way.
So he writes a story of a face so fleshy and real,
gives it blue eyes and rosy cheeks, a mouth wet and
open, and then carefully places one smooth stone on
its tongue.
The face spits it out and says, I don't need your
stones, I have my own, look at my teeth, how hard and
gray you've made them.
Now his small collection seems sinister--too many
stone faces in one body bag, too many mouths that
can't open.
[first appeared in 2River View]

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