The 2020 Award for New Poets, 2nd Place Winner: ON THE THING I CANNOT EXPLAIN TO MY HUSBAND by Samantha Samakande

We’re all very excited to share with you the winners of the 2020 Award for New Poets, selected by the stellar emerging poets Jake Skeets, Camonghne Felix, and Paige Lewis. Today, we have second place winner by Samantha Samakande. Stay tuned for our 1st Place Winner Taylor Byas’ poetry on the January 20th. You can see Nome Emeka Patrick’s 3rd Place poem here. Thank you to everyone who submitted this year!


Does the casual violence of one
cable guy infect all other
touch that comes after, the way
one ruined tomato rots its others
through the skin, plants
decay like a virus, so ripening
becomes a kind of plunder, a sort of
dying and replication of death?

Outside our window, the night
is vulgar with the wet
heat of summer, but the owls
go on talking and the trees go on
idling. I investigate their silhouettes
on the ceiling, the bickering
of light with shadow from between
the shut eyes of blinds, how moonlight
splinters over your face in a cryptic
kind of illumination.

The A/C wheezes its small,
counterfeit wind. You are deep-end
dreaming but I am too heavy for sleep.
In your slumber, you rake me
from across the bed and tuck me
neat into your corners; I forfeit
my spine and let you. I resist
the urge to pluck off each touch
petal by petal,
hum to myself over and over,
this one isn’t violence, this one is love
until the sky begins
to shrug off her midnight
and slip on her new morning.

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