Brad Fairchild Wins the 21st Annual Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award
When we slogged, by air and car,
into that moss and drizzle
from four uneven corners of the map
to convene and wield our age-old argot,
to laugh and sit amongst and caress
the one of we who needed it now the most—
when, waiting in the waiting rooms
of crowded breakfast bars
or ensconced in magazine-ready parlors—
the regular, piped-in divas
filling corners plumb of the room—
a samovar of coffee seeming to resist;
the lost surname of a long-ago roommate
struggling to be heard;
our stories of heart-broken sisters,
and well-and-mal-and-well-adjusted daughters—
over the aromas of sunshine salads,
and mashed potatoes, raspberries,
and shortbread in shapes of famous men;
amid moments of harsh weedy cigarettes
and martinis spilled on bedclothes—
myths of Ezra Pound’s sofa
and the fur throws of early men;
Feydeau’s take on Ted and Alice,
ours on Carol and Bob—
the proud and the prejudiced;
the docent’s life at Tough Buttons—
needlepointed hamsas: are the fingers up
or are they pointed down?
What clenched fist was engraved on which
stoney mind these past decades?
Whose art is to be now negated for bad behavior?
There was the handcrafting of tea tins
depicting banal scenes of royalty,
and not a whitesmith amongst us.
And the appearance of a woman with four daughters
all named Claire, in biting adoration;
tales of Grace Jones in silvery shoulders,
singing to the groundlings at 54—
a penny-a-piece and a handful of hazelnuts;
of squatting on Saturna Island
and of east coast rappers vying for attention.
Who could be disinterested in the Irish?
Who knows why this court is deemed an avenue?
Or why Jane Smiley at this point
has done a life of Dickens?
Who knows how to kill a mockingbird?
And who knows why
a liver’s enzymes ever go awry?
The old, wooden newspaper holder
at the breakfast spot—a splintered stick,
split up the sides
(you insert into the slit
the gutter of the paper to keep it stiff while read—
separate prongs, but never separated at its base—
drawn fast, clenched in common aspiration)
is put back in its place
before the permutating of walking order
commences on our way back to the house—
we up front, then you and you,
then me with you, me back—
less organized but as inborn as birds inclined
to head for mossier climes.
Turn my oyster up—
can we not cant, titter,
and bevvy more in
your gildy dolly latty?
And here we are again, in magazine parlor—
discussions of handsy politicians
and least favorite/favorite concerts attended
and knives in backseats of cars—
of indecisiveness in dispensaries—
recorded all, surreptitiously,
in earnest Elizabethan Blackwork—
less Defarge, however,
and more Louis Comfort rendered
in dye-dipped threads.
This is when we ask ourselves,
out of sheer perversity,
but in all seriousness,
for the years are upon us now,
and enzymes have begun to go awry,
to Virginia Woolf?”
And will you choose to laden your pockets
or instead, revel
in the slimy exhilaration
as your foot
first touches the mossy riverbed.
Copyright © 2022 by Brad Fairchild.
About the Author
Brad Fairchild’s writing has been mostly for the stage, but his poems have appeared in such places as Qarrtsiluni, Phoebe, My Gay Eye, and most recently in Tilted House. He holds an MFA in dramatic writing from the University of Georgia and lives in the Atlanta area with his terrier, where they enjoy napping and working on found-object sculptures.
Brad Fairchild received a cash prize of $500.00. The 21st Annual Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award contest was judged by Jeff Walt.
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