Deborah Hauser

Self inflicted Gaunt spare laid bare

Honored to Make the Top Ten in Robert Lee Brewer’s Prose Poem Challenge


It took me a while, but I’ve finally landed on a winner for the Prose Poem challenge. I found great difficulty in choosing a winner, because the prose form seemed to liberate a lot of poets. This meant that I read a lot of really great poems.

However, there can ultimately only be one winner, and this time it’s Jane Shlensky for “To a Stunned Titmouse in My Hand.” Here’s the poem, which will be printed in a future issue of Writer’s Digest (the February 2012 issue, I believe):

To a Stunned Titmouse in My Hand, by Jane Shlensky

I hear the pop and swoosh of your wings against the sunroom door, what you mistook for a through passage becoming a slap to your senses, a snap along your ruffled neck and, for a moment, a flash of pain and darkness, your beak hanging open, your eyes unfocused, with a listening quality. What do you hear, small flitting friend? When you bump into the glass, do you see stars and a circle of small birds tweeting around your head, like some Wile E. Coyote cartoon? Or do seed-bearing tiny people dance around yours, singing cheeree, cheeroo, sweet seeds for you? In my hand, I mark your quickened breath and fluttering heart along my lifeline, your feet stroke-curled and useless, your eyes huge and unseeing. I smooth your feathers and ladle drops of water into your opened mouth, then seat you on the banister away from predators like my cat until you can regain yourself and take to air, your head-sprout suddenly alert, your tail feathers perky, your wings spread sure and sharp, your tiny head now filled with a story for the nestlings of being handled by a giant featherless seed-bringer with water emerging from her fingertips.


If you want to read all the entries, check out the comments on the original challenge (click here).

As some of you may know, I try to narrow down all the entries into a winner and a Top 10 list, which is always difficult to accomplish as well. Here are my favorites:

To a Stunned Titmouse in My Hand, by Jane Shlensky
Impregnate, by Uma
How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and Write Haiku, by Cara Holman
Coyote, by Taylor Graham
Given War as a Male Instrument, by dhauser
Walt Whitman’s Boys, by Kavetchnik
Jawbreaker, by Marissa Coon Rose
How Much for a Photo?, by Carol A. Stephen
Lucky, by Nancy Posey
Foreboding, by Bruce Niedt
As you can probably tell, I only had usernames for a few of the Top 10. I thought about taking my best guess at who each was, but then, I thought better of it (having made incorrect guesses in the past). Just let me know in the comments of this post or via e-mail if you’d like to have a different name listed.

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