Ryan Chartrand

Spotlight asked some Cal Poly poetry classes to submit their most promising work for our contest. Here’s the cream of the crop:

Bog Thistle Trail
– Helen Knight, English senior

Bodies of oak trees recline
beneath their canopy, nude,
white sides rippling in the mottled light.
Hard bone of the mountain gaping
behind me, where God ripped
the rib from its side. I wander.
Wide-leafed ferns rest in the shade,
spores tightening like hobnails
beneath the leaves. I can’t resist crushing
the square-stemmed mints against my palm,
for the scent-Horse Mint, Yerba Buena
and sage, called “Black” for it’s biting odor.

This is the only place I hunt for serpentine
and bog thistles, whose fleshy leaves
spike the hidden waterways, blood-purple
blossoms rising in the salt wind.

The Sweet Broom is blooming now,
infecting the chaparral with a rash
of yellow, sour as a lemon’s pith.
Vetch creeps in among the ferns,
shoulders out the bright Blue-Eyed Grass,
which I notice now for the first time
in a year-the colored catches me.
The arches of my feet ache as I sink down,
back into the trees, together slipping
into the canyon’s evening darkness.
I jump away from the continuous shiver
of stems, a snake. The crunching
of pebbles beneath my feet marks
that I’ve reached the riverbed, dry
already despite the March rains.
Grey spires of last year’s Hemlock
gather thick and quiet about me,
enclosing the trail home.

Internet Ghosts
– Megan Fay, animal science

Fingers fly, caress the keys,
Call forth words with joyful ease,
Watch the screen for friend’s reply,
In this way the hours pass by.

Omfg, look what is here;
Communication strange and weird!
Sentences clipped like fragile wings,
Lol, who thought up such a thing?

We type our lives on Internet blogs,
LJs and Xanga snarl and clog,
What happened to phone calls every day?
Wtf is all I can say.

This growing web, a spider’s trap,
And within it we all are wrapped.
Thousands of prey, feeding the host,
Changing us, into nothing but ghosts.

Ten-Minute Spill
– Shannon Brown, liberal studies junior

Plucking the plumpest blackberry
Biting down as juice squirts in a smile
Licking sweetened lips
Gargling voices of summer nourishment
Whirring of vanilla latte foam clouds as
Grandma’s needle threads blue throughout.
Giggles and flutters float below
Cliffs silent, as whispers climb to reach us
Secrets flying like eagles
Mother waiting at home, keys in hand
Ignorance is this.

– Jared Sousa, economics sophomore

And they come crashing in
A stampede of liquid hills.
silence. rising. Sonic boom shatters matter.
And it hisses back into itself.

A stampede of liquid hills,
a rush of jagged needles.
And it hisses back into itself.
“No it’s cold, baby it’s cold!”

A rush of jagged needles,
My feet are disappearing.
“No it’s cold, baby it’s cold!”
White bubbles kiss my calves now.

My feet are disappearing.
A gust of wind, my spine turns crescent.
White bubbles kiss my calves now.
My hands swing backwards, catch my balance

A gust of wind, my spine turns crescent.
She runs to catch me, eyelids clenched.
My hands swing
backwards, catch my balance.
Her palms, my chest,
my pulse turns rapid.

She runs to catch me,
eyelids clenched
I turn to face her,
noses united, Her palms,
my chest, my pulse turns
rapid. And they come
crashing in.

Point of Turn
– Kimberly Steigmeyer, English sophomore

Look at her, she’s
The goose bumps crawling
up her skin, masked
only by the hair that grows frantically,
futilely trying to keep her warm.

Those arms, creviced,
riding up to her armpits baring
the bone barely covered by skin.
Fleeting muscle, unnourished and weak,
tears a little more with every pounding
beat of her terrified

The abyss of a barren stomach
framed by jutting bones and
bulls-eyed with a stretched

Look at the way she speaks, scared
and timid – like she can’t even
control her own lips.

How could someone ever love this?

Turning, from
the mirror,
she rests her head back near her shoulders.
Lifting her arms, she spins in a wobbly circle,
spotting her reflection so not to fall.
The first spin, she is beautiful in the
pristine glass.
Spinning again, she sharply recognizes
her back –
riddled with vertebrae.
She quickly lowers her arms, stumbles.
Legs cracking from exhaustion,
she leaves herself
and lets her voice carry her away
once again.

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