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DOWNTOWN EGG HARBOR • 7821 HIGHWAY 42

THE HAL PRIZE 2017

THE PURPLE BUILDING

POETRY 2ND by Catherine Jagoe

THINGS I LEARNED THIS MONTH

after William Stafford

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Honey-bees point their co-workers toward food, dancing to show which way to fly, and for how long. Sometimes you can forget how to speak, if you pass your days in silence. An old man from Mexico with Alzheimer’s was shot dead by a cop in California who assumed that he was armed. In fact, the object in his pocket was a wooden crucifix. A sunflower’s face is made of hundreds of tiny flowerets inside the disk. When Tranströmer’s right hand was paralyzed by a stroke, he taught himself to play piano with the left.

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“Colors are the smiles of nature.” LEIGH HUNT

The people who built Stonehenge and other Neolithic monuments and tombs were most likely teenagers. Less than 60 years after the first manned aircraft flew for just three seconds, astronauts were orbiting the earth. The human eye relaxes when gazing at distant objects in the landscape, and finds the color green most restful. After being temporarily blinded in a factory accident, John Muir went on a thousand-mile walk. When my heart stops, I do not want to be resuscitated. I want to close the door quietly, and go. Finback whale-speech travels further than that of any other mammal: a hundred miles underwater, maybe more. Ice has an entire sonic repertoire—it can sound like explosions or gunshots, or music from another world.

‘Things I Learned This Month’ performs a careful study of the original Stafford poem in formal approach, but reaches for a more lyrical understanding of the information we receive. Similar to Stafford, the speaker here pauses amidst this factual recounting to contemplate how they would like to die. These lessons braid together to tell us something about the nature of accumulation and time itself. The facts of life are undeniable, but poems like this one help us bear them.

Poetry Judges Alessandra Simmons and Tobias Wray, cream city review

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DOORCOUNTYPULSE.COM  AUGUST 4–11/2017 • v23i31  PENINSULA PULSE 

Catherine Jagoe is a Pushcart Prize winner and the author of Bloodroot, which won the 2016 Settlement House American Poetry Prize and the Council for Wisconsin Writers Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award. She also has three poetry chapbooks: News from the North, Casting Off, and What the Sad Say.

Profile for Door County Pulse

Peninsula Pulse - 2017 Hal Prize - August 4-11, 2017 v23i31  

Each fall, the Peninsula Pulse newspaper in Door County, Wisconsin invites people of all ages, backgrounds and artistic abilities to submit...

Peninsula Pulse - 2017 Hal Prize - August 4-11, 2017 v23i31  

Each fall, the Peninsula Pulse newspaper in Door County, Wisconsin invites people of all ages, backgrounds and artistic abilities to submit...