Dr. Hurley’s Sonnet Contest: the Results are In!

After fighting long and hard in iambic pentameter, we are happy to announce both the popular choices and the editors’ choices for winners of Dr. Hurley’s first-ever poetry contest. Our vote has already made the first decision, and we doff our caps to our popular choice winner:


“On Young Marriage” by Laura Hallman

Our editors thought long and hard, read and re-read, and then had a brief but well-edited sword fight before settling on our choice, which is:

[Drumroll followed by cymbal]

“Soon After We Had Shoved Off from the Dock” by Joe Heidenreich
Congratulations to our winners, and stay tuned for news of prizes and of our next competition!



Sonnet: On Young Marriage

Grace and figure Nature soon doth misplace:
Thither they find place in younger a’ thief.
Sleep thee on ice: ye freeze ye now thy face.

Thine rivals o’ aortic arteries,
Come adorned, lavender-ed and heather-ed,
To dance before folk o’ thou’st coteries—
Aye: but lover in love is weather-ed.

Thy wager hand is bet nye on instinct;
If patient refuge—knowest Spinster’s plight.
Tarry nay: among th’ unbound in precinct,
The pairings of youth happen as they might.

If thou be willed quick to etern’ty;
Pray lookest not thou at thine absurd’ty.

by Laura Hallman

* * * * *

This is part of a series of featured entries in our first-ever poetry contest.
Stay tuned for more and get ready to vote for your favorite!

Irish Balderdash: A Cnoc Buí (Knockboy, Co. Waterford)


ising seven-hundred-and-six meters into sky, unearthed at the base of the isle between the city of modernity and bustle, and the place where they make the Claddagh rings and speak old ways, sits a thing of majesty.  They call her Knockboy.  They call her Yellow Mountain.  Earth itself sent roving heaps of ice to polish her the right height to lookout for invaders of empires long from memory.  Travellers spring from her streams.  Plants with no purpose but beauty thrive into the strangest of soils on Éire.  But if no one tells you, you might think Knockboy only a mountain.

by Laura Hallman

[gathering point.]

redriding-hood me.
somebody’s pale ghost slip of a girl,
hoping she’s riding the elevator by herself.
you cannot find her in an Alpine forest,
in a New Jersey winter,
even if you’re looking right at her sitting in the snow—
feigning color and appetite like
the look of a diseased tree.
orange in the rafters,
Jesse James in the woodwork:
illness is illness,
psychosis is illness,
ain’t it the same?
you never know the whole story.
you can know the myth
or the man.
not always the woman.
she’s retained private council:
they’re singing about me
like churchbells through empty
cold air.
I am feeling remarkably American—
there is no verbal translation for that.
it’s something about the way
my body
and the intermediate height of my cheekbones.
it’s something in syntax of my brainwaves—
and I’m loud because I’m shy
and labeled ice queen
because I have secrets wrapped in
cardigans and flippant flirtations.
I’m well made until I cry.
do you know who I am yet—
statue-frozen in a garden,
befallen of avalanche,
waiting for the heist?
would I be recognized uncovered?
I need a cloak for cover.
I need a fairytale for confidence.
I too get gobbled by wolves-in-pink-nightgowns
while everybody thinks I’m just
robbing trains in the woods
and laughing about it.
what you see isn’t all that
you get.
you know what else they’re hollering about me
like a shotgun-search-party
into the frigid-no-leaf-air?:
artists and beautiful
women are just like that.

* * * * *

This poem is part of a series of works inspired by the Smithsonian Institution’s photo archive, made publicly available on Flickr. If you would like to, choose an image from their collection and create something – be it prose, poetry, audio, or visual art – inspired by it, and send it to snakeoilcure [at] gmail [dot] com.


Am I supposed to be not paying attention
to what’s going on beside me?
Thoroughbred race horses wear blinders for a reason.
I would like today to be dressed as a jockey—
so neat and bright and well-fitted.
But I can only change my outfit so many times
or put on so many bangle bracelets
before even Coco Chanel
is yelling,
into my twisted, canal-ed, smooth ear
that people are being slaughtered by natural disaster
and each other.
I read a guy say in a book
that a woman’s ear reminded him
of a woman between her thighs,
and now I just want to wear padded satin earmuffs
of the
And I’m blushing because onceuponatime
I wore five earrings in each ear.
Don’t read so deeply into me.
I like to ride on trains.
I like the legend of train robbers.
I would not like to be on a train when it’s robbed.
I have to focus on these things
because thinking too much
about each vibrant human life
of smiling teeth, and expanding breathing ribcage, and hand strongly clenching another…
earthquaked, tsunamied, diseased, genocided, dismembered, disremembered;
swallowed by the Earth I’m also rotating on—
is too much for my silly, compounded words.
How am I reconciling this and continuing function?
Frivolity is the answer.
I’m a little frenetic today.
If I had on brighter clothes,
you’d notice my cerebral cortex humming.
I’m a little close to jumping off the page.
Ohmygolly you can just see me switch-leg-leaping
between the lines, can’t you?
Alright: you got me—I’ll just admit everything
like I’m three-minute-guest-starring on a courtroom drama:
It’s not that I want to
actually hurt you,
but I want the ability.
It’s not that I want to be able to
demolish you
if things don’t go well—
I want to mean
that I could.
Is that asking too much?
I’m asking too much.
Sometimes it’s easier to stay single
than worry about what everyone needs
cradled to him.
I have mountains of delicate handwashing to be done.