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Brad Fairchild Wins the 21st Annual Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award

Vowelish Palares

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?

In Motherwell?

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,

“Whatever happened

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.

The finalists:


by Brian Farrey-Latz of Edina, MN

I never thought I’d wake up a middle-aged lesbian

by Nicole Santalucia of Chambers, PA


by Susa Silvermarie of Ajijic, Mexico



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