We are excited to announce the winner of the October 2023 Chattanooga Writers’ Guild Monthly Contest is John C. Mannone with the submission “Synthesis of Bone” and runner-up is Ken Harpe with the submission “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”
Synthesis of Bone We are his workmanship, his poetry —after a Greek interpretation of Ephesians 2:10 My atoms, salt and bone, once were dust in the stellar wind. My carbon molecules peppered lattices in clay, and water seeped His whisper in—the spoken words spread to every line, to every curve of DNA, sequenced perfectly, replicating Him, Elohim, a miracle of mitochondria. Organic chemistry of flesh, ligaments, cartilage; bone cantilevered for balance and grace, every curve, every line crafted. A skeleton of metaphors cages the heart beating its song, resonates the dark, calling for my mate. The other piece of me lays shattered—my ashes entrained in dirt, transform to blood, traces of salt, chalk to bones, still remains a piece of broken poetry.
John C. Mannone has poems in Anthology of Appalachian Writers XV [Barbara Kingsver], Red Branch Review, Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His full-length collections are Disabled Monsters (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2015), Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love, and Poetry (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2022), Song of the Mountains (Middle Creek Publishing, 2023), and Sacred Flute (Iris Press, 2024). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other journals. He’s a professor of physics teaching mathematics in East Tennessee.
On A Clear Day You Can See Forever There were treasures in the old house, But this was not one of them: The baroque gold frame of the broken mirror Weathered, one corner warped open. Why was the mirror still hanging here In what had been the dining room? What could have caused the implosion, The point of impact clearly visible? These were quiet, dignified people. The Sun through the sheer curtain Lined a kind of map in the broken glass. Standing a certain way, the world Was a lovely opacity in silver and red. But head-on and face-to-face, The sliced-pie mosaic could be a life in chapters: Leaden, contained, finished in blood; Bound in the sharded circle of herstory: Ever reacting to someone else, always other. Her face in the mirror. Broken apart. “Hello, Trauma Surgeon,” She says aloud. The blondeness – her strongest feature – That boys used to long to touch, Has long since had a chemical crunch; Her too intent eyes are scrunched Together; the thin professional lips Are rose petals fallen on foil. Her weak chin is bifurcated, So that even the practiced Kirk Douglas Jut … cannot compensate. Long nails Remove a small triangle of glass - the lower quarter of her chin – But the lead backing is a dour prosthesis. She moves her hands in front of the mirror, As if to remake her face: The face she faces every morning - the nineteen face/ the fortyfive face – But the fragments do not click in place. Her sigh is just a punctuation mark. She is an artist of ormolu and gold pins. Slide in a new glass and make a new world, And old wood loves an elixir of kiln and oils. She smiles.
“On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” is the title song by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner from the long running broadway musical that opened on October 17, 1965. It has been recorded by several singers, most memorable by Frank Sinantra and Barbra Streisand. The play has been revived in various formats, including a 1970 movie starting Barbra Streisand, Yves Montand, and Jack Nicholson. (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever: a musical play by Alan Jay Lerner. Music by Burton Lane. New York: Random House, c. 1966).
Ken Harpe won second place in the 2022 Chattanooga Writers’ Guild contest for his poem “Blaze.” He is a Poet, Fiction Author, and writes professional articles. He graduated with honors from UTC, has a fellowship in English, fulfilled military commitment as Officer, and founded a long standing professional business.
In the poem, “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,” the “bones” are the remnants of a broken antique mirror in a house a realtor seeks to sell. The poem is “about” vision, memory, and identity or talent – the multiple selves each of us possess and usually don’t reveal. KH
The Monthly Contests rotate through a pattern of Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction throughout the year, with a new theme each month. Go to the 2023 Monthly Contest Series Info page to view the genre and theme for each month.
This contest is free to enter for members of the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild. To become a member, click HERE