Arizona Attorney

July 1998

Fine Art, Fiction and Photo Contest Winners

First-Place Poetry

Where Am I From?
by Mary L. Verdier

When I look into my heart, I see all the places I am from;
cold damp winters and glassy lakes,
and splashes of color that crunch when you walk.
In this place,
the sun sometimes shines,
and tries to penetrate,
but never can.
And in this place, a grey wind greets every day,
and a blanket of solitude,
is the only comfort that warms.

And in this place, where I come from,
actions speak louder than words;
and words of love don't get said.
Secret longings are hidden in this place
by hard outer shells and stiff upper lips.

And in this place,
my father smokes his cigar in his leather chair,
and reads Earle Stanley Gardner,
and my mother, soft and strong,
with warm brown eyes and auburn hair,
remains forever young.

In this place, where I come from,
proper little girls wear pink dresses
that never get dirty,
and children never, never
say what they think.

And I can't even remember
when I ever felt good
about this place.

But I am also from strong Irish women with
love in their faces,
who come from an enchanted land
with fairie rings and sad stories.
And in that place
truth rises out of misty clouds,
and green hills slip into
the lakes of Killarney,
the color of my grandmother's eyes.

And now I live in the sun.
And I'm from a place with
crisp mornings and new beginnings,
and where purple sunsets lead to
saxophone nights.
And old stories with sad twists of fate,
turn into heart-opening tales with no endings.

And I'm from a place where elk live
near my cabin, in the forest,
and sun streaks through pinion pine
that smell like rain,
and the quiet feels like
God's breath on my face,
and the darkness of the woods is lanced
by a ribbon of moonlight on the deck.

And I come from a place
where blue jeans and flannel shirts
have replaced
important appointments and
traffic jams.

And in this place,
where I live now,
the mysteries live happily ever after,
and the stories do not end.....



Second-Place Poetry

Autumn Sunset in New Mexico, 1950
by Barbara Atwood

I am barely three
sitting cross-legged on the porch step
and the cement is so cold through my corduroys
that I'm shivering, but I dare not move.

Resting on the same step
the folds of her skirt draped over her knees
my young mother leans into me. She is singing
a nonsense lullaby, her low, fluid voice

close to laughter.
I breathe in the familiar smell of cologne
on her skin and somehow I realize,
despite the cold, I want the moment

to continue on and on.
We stare at the old cottonwood across the street,
a giant silhouette against the dimming sky
whose limbs sway and tremble

in the wind.
Slowly, a leaf descends, then another,
lilting downward with the cadence of her song
through shadow and light. In increments

the shadows increase.
Alone in the chill dusk my mother and I
are smiling as we watch
the world before us disappear, piece by piece.



Third-Place Poetry

by Thomas Phalen

The history of my family is written in smoke.
The craggy heads of the old men,
Coughing fatefully in the night,
Grey and wizened
Leaning, brooding
Into their pipes
Have, in my memory, haloes
Made of wreaths of it.

Serious conversations uttered
In the hushed hues of dusk,
Of sickness, birth and death
Thick with portent and meaning,
Were obscured weirdly
By silent and thick clouds
That queered the light into eerie suffusion
And added dense mystery
To my child's eyes.

The robust pungence of virile cigars
Haunted rooms trespassed by men
Who smelled of wool and work
And of heavy coats musty with a sodden scent
On chilly autumn evenings.

Fires in sooty chimney boxes
Spoke in blue and yellow tongues
And gave like offerings to the chill
An homage in smoke's perfume
And in the starry nights
Under the dome of sky
The sputtering coughing fire
Split the heavens with its trail of ash.

Always, too, the cigarettes
(And the sulfur fume of matches
Alluring like ether and gasoline
With an aura of forbiddenness
For one mustn't play with fire)
Played nervous on the fingertips
Stained brown and orange by overmuch
On frantic telephones late at night

There to aid in the crisis
Or savored to pass the morning
Over too many cups of coffee.
Smoke and coffee.
The staff of life.

Smoke to ashes and up from ashes again.
From the wafting flag of tough-strut youth
Cigarette dangle and smoke on the wind
To the craggy heads of the old men
Coughing fatefully in the night
Grey and wizened
Leaning, brooding
Into their pipes
The history of my family is written in smoke.