2013 Writing Contest Winner
by Bill Voyce
Wordsworth famously defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." Sometimes out in the quiet of the Southwest, as in Bill Voyce's poem here, it's tranquility itself that gives rise to powerful thoughts and feelings.
Author's note: While sleeping on a clear, late, November night, a strong north wind came up and battered me awake to batten down loose ends. Standing out in a midnight sky, I recalled many of the stories within my knowledge of the constellations and stars. The moonless sky seemed to close over my thoughts and become the roof of those magnificent caves in southern France like Le Ceaux and Chauvet, with their superbly animate drawings by anonymous talent working in their depths by fire. Then I came back to the cold night and its infinite view.
Bedding down on a caliche ridge,
Icy Night navigates the tangled geometry
Of piñon, juniper and mountain mahogany,
Lacquering my skin
In its penetrating embrace.
An anthracite sky,
Bejeweled for a coronation,
Speaks in bold abstractions of antiquarian dramas
Recorded across its sooted and storied ceiling
By anonymous hearts,
Defining in the weight of a line,
Or strength of a gesture,
The judgment, at the root of each creation.
En-wombed in this primal studio,
With only a clear eye to amplify the pale light,
I paint a world of muscled Auroch, spiked Ibex and the great Bear
Emerging in harsh lines,
Mingling with subtle hues,
Animating my cerebral landscape of the canvas overhead.
Pecking a hole in the hard shell surface of this aging sky,
I peer through its revealing light
At a world, fresh and fluid,
In the purity of its creation,
Before the fear of overreaching its Perfection,
Darkens the condensing sky into weeping stone,
Sheltered within its dimly lit cave,
Awaiting a new season of artists
That unlock the anthracite sky once more,
Inviting us to cross over
Into the ever unfolding electric Wonder
That never rests.
Bill Voyce won our 2010 Grand Prize for his poem, "Llamas in a Summer Meadow." He is currently finishing a collection of 30 poems titled The Long Dirt Road to Euphoria. They draw their inspiration, he says, "from the humbling beauty of our planet, wet and dry, that Jane and I have been fortunate to embrace for six-plus decades, while living on the Hopi rez, our ranch along the Mogollon Rim, the Big Sur coast, in Southeast waters, and here in the hills near Pinos Altos."