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Just Buffalo announces annual members reading award winners

Just Buffalo Literary Center is pleased to announce the winners of its annual members reading awards: The jury prize was awarded to Marc Pietrzykowski, while the audience prize ended in a tie between Florine Melnyk and Carl Schneider. Here’s the work:

The Mite

There is a black spot nestled in the living sky.
There is a hole in the curtain.
There is a fleck of grit in the lidless eye at the center of the cosmos.
There is a center of the cosmos.
There is blood in the yolk. There is no yolk.
Would that I could believe,
that I could do more than trust the earth not to crumble
under my feet, the sky
not to fall in like a tent gone slack,
but I cannot. I cannot believe
in time’s finger pushing us along. I cannot believe
that coral grows a million mouths in shallow bays,
I cannot believe in the Coyote,
I cannot believe in the blood leaking into a hamburger bun.
I cannot believe in Kevin Costner, in bedroom slippers,
in the flight of doves;
I cannot believe what is written
in the Codex Argentus or the Diamond Sutra or the Principia Discordia,
or in the lies of children,
or in non-overlapping magisteria, the thumbs of pandas,
or in the Mona Lisa, la Joconde, la Gioconda.
I accept and trust the tales my senses tell me and I walk on,
I breathe and do not stop; hunger tells me I must eat,
my heart tells me love, my skin says touch her, touch him,
and the earth is steadfast beneath me,
and the sky is taut and living and stretched well above,
but still, there is a speck, a mite, a possibility—
and that is enough for doubt,
and without doubt there would truly be no things,
no need for love, for other mouths and other words and the sound
of another breathing, and O, do I love the path made by water
through stone, the taste of ripe tomatoes, the sleep
my love takes beside me and that takes me with her,
and all that is cruel and wrong and makes me weep, I love it all
because I can fight or I cannot fight and am helpless and even my hatred
I love, but I cannot believe,
and given the choice, I would choose love every time,
and I would love my doubt like it sprang from my temple fully formed,
squinting, knowing every hole, splinter, and crack of me
better than I know myself, yes, my doubt knows better
than to believe such a pitiful story; it knows
I doubt nothing, that I believe it all.

marc pietrzykowski

John Ashbery and paint drippings at the Albright Knox
Friday, October 21, 2005, 8 p.m.

The auditorium was crowded with people and the reading
didn’t start on time; John wore a blue tie with daisies.
There were no sea hags on green couches, they were all in Newfoundland
with older brothers. The Albright Knox is not a fleabag
establishment, apparently the man in the fifth row scratching his scrotum
did not know this. John Ashbery’s kind face is very avuncular,
and he reminded everyone of their own favorite uncle. Including the avuncular
way he scratched the part of his head under his hat, where the flea-bag
dog must have been. You know, the fun uncle that would take you to Newfoundland
just to buy the ice cream. Just like the time you were all reading
Make way for Ducklings and then he took you to Boston Public Garden when the daisies
were blooming, to see the ducklings and swan-boats & despite the man exposing his scrotum
everyone had a great time. Only, little Sally from that day on drew a scrotum
on every animal in every picture for a year! Once even on some daisies
until we explained. One of the best moments at the reading,
besides when the door opened and swee’pea crept in, was People of Newfoundland
a great poem, very humorous, which received many many avuncular
chuckles from the crowd, and yet I don’t think it will ever be published in Fleabag:
a journal for the down and out. But then the last time anyone read Fleabag
the Buffalo Bills won the Super Bowl. One musty gusty evening in Newfoundland
a Francis Bacon wannabe, on canvas, attempted to capture the inner-terror of daisies.
He was successful, and the paintings can be found at the Dean Gallery next to his scrotum
paintings, abstract, of course. The gallery was called Dean Gallery for the small avuncular
gentleman who was founder. There were probably several artists at the reading
this evening. Artists very often like hearing poetry in art galleries, as the reading
seems so much more authentic & inspiring. They will go home and paint Newfoundland
as never before seen. “I’m taking the brat back to the country” said an avuncular
gentleman in row 3, removing a screaming child, as he received a swift kick in the scrotum,
the child’s legs flailing. What he said next is something you’d only hear in a fleabag
hotel on the wrong side of nowhere. John Ashbery glanced down at the daisies
on his tie for a moment, as the audience succumbed to a strange new hush, the daisies
seemed to stare back mockingly. After a seemingly long awkward silence, John kept reading,
a bit more animatedly this time, especially when he remembered a dear old avuncular
college professor, and the time they traveled together and had to stay in a fleabag
motel in the middle of nowhere. The motel manager just sat taking pictures of his scrotum
all day w/ a cell. At least they got to meet the artist Reg Cantwell from Newfoundland,
they loved his still-life Doublemint & remember reading an article in the Newfoundland
Times that said “Reg’s paintings are not avuncular, but will never be found at a fleabag
resort.” Although no one saw Ashbery’s scrotum, it sure was pleasant to see his daisies.

florine melnyk


Something of a riddle, why it was so
that only Vivaldi’s music would bring
this calico orphan to the railing
of my porch. There, just outside the window,
she would stretch as I coaxed my bass and bow
to carefully follow Tony’s bidding.
And though my practice needed perfecting,
she would remain, my musical shadow.

Undeterred by the yawning of this sphinx
I’d play into the afternoon, striving
for music inspired by a sonnet,
giving rise to notes as the day would sink.
And with his four seasons and her nine lives
communion in a redheaded sunset.

carl schneider

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