1999 Graduate Poetry Winner


Thomas Gribble

An Orange Under Pressure in the Desert


 It was the summer I took an orange into the desert

for its diversity

among yuccas and diamondbacks.

Having tasted another part of the world

far from where Jerusalem crickets were tiny motors

pulling on the stillness,

pulling the stars closer.

I believed fangs could enter citrus

and change life forever.


You canít imagine this conflict between the orange

and the desert snake

unless you had been caught screwing:

twenty years old, naked in the burning grave

of Yucca Lake.

There was an orange in your hand,

and the snake

had shaken off the chill of his night

to become a policeman giving orders to your bare ass.


Atoms lay everywhere.

Something more:

your unlucky lover took that moment to scream

into that rock and space.

Some things in the desert were best eaten raw,

like the slow wind,

the mussel moon,

and the grudge of a snake.

In that biotic metronome, in the shade

of a Dodge police truck,

ants taste like lemons.



About the Prize Winner:

Thomas Gribble was a winner of the Associated Writing Programsí Intro Journals Project for 1998, poetry. His work was selected as a finalist in both the 1997 Floating Bridge Chapbook Contest and the 1998 Palanquin Press Chapbook Contest, and has also appeared in Hawaii Review, Puerto Del Sol, Crab Creek Review and others. Gribble was this yearís recipient of the Touchstone Graduate Poetry Award.

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