Second place — Lee Potts

Lee Potts is a poet with work in many journals including Rust + Moth, Whale Road Review, UCity Review, Parentheses Journal, Riggwelter, and Sugar House Review. He is poetry editor at Barren Magazine. His first pamplet, And Drought Will Follow, will be released by Frost Fire Press in early 2021. He lives just outside of Philadelphia with his wife and their last child still at home. You can find him on Twitter @LeePottsPoet or online at leepotts.net.

Lee Potts placed second in 2020 Frosted Fire Firsts and is a triage judge for the 2021 contest. His first pamphlet, And Drought Will Follow will be published by Frosted Fire in the spring of 2021.
Following are five poems from Lee’s pamphlet:

Crows crave and gather

Father abandoned his patch of ground, barren as a kiln’s brick floor.
Might as well plant rows of rust chips in coal dust, he said.

He followed stars that said water north and, finally,
settled like silt where the river widens and slows.
He planted an apple tree by our home and willows along the water.
                                  . . .

Graveyards always occupy land that no farmers desire.
The departed are sown in the shadows of tombstones that tilt
and dissolve as the rains erase words their dead never saw.

Storms hide the stars all summer and lightning reaches down,
bores into the ground, and fuses soil, leaving behind brittle stone roots
glazed as smooth as porcelain and just as slow to grow.

As it rains, crows crave and gather rage back to their branches.
They each watch with one eye as I tend to a garden my father
will never see.

First published in UCity Review


Compass

Another of my father’s dense metal hand tools
that he’d never find or use again
once we took them from his shed.

That caught the exact size of things
by reach, touch, sight —
not needing inches and eighths
or arid calculation.

That turned perfect circles without
even trying.

That had a not-so-well-oiled joint
twisting between two sharp points, important
only in how far one was from the other.

That my brother and I blunted.
Spiking it into rocky dirt and tree trunks
while almost always missing the
tiny, half rotten backyard apples.

That, after an unmeasured arc,
stuck, for a moment, just above my knee.

First published in Literary Journal


Honey Hollow Farm

Pray for the dead barn mouse caught deep in the oats barrel,
dried up and deceived and finally beyond any claw.

Pray for the yard dog and his two dozen ticks,
hanging like dirty teardrop pearls.

Pray for the angry mob of sparrows.
They hear the owl at dusk but simply cannot see it.

Pray for the pond still waiting to become glass again.
The morning storm unsettled its silt.

Pray for the harness hung from a nail
so near to the horses it aches to restrain.

Pray for the pasture, knocked flat with too much sun.
“The road,” it cries. “The fence.”

First published in 8 Poems


The Finding of Names

We continue to watch his landmarks shift
to an empire he can no longer cross into.
A garden far beyond the tree line dusk there
harbors all of creation he can no longer name.


Family photos now seem to him like penny postcards sent
by strangers, wordless, arriving without address,
depicting foreign places, the injuries time inflicts,
and room after room of people he does not know.

First published in Kissing Dynamite


What Having a Home Taught Me

Build the porch after the house
and it will groan to the trees
that grow to lean in above it
as long as it stands.

Use pennies in place of fuses
and every lamp will tarnish the walls
and each corner will fold
shadow into its empty pockets.

Pry up flat slate stones from the path
and drought will follow the bare dirt patches you left
right up to your garden gate.

First published in Riggwelter

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