The 2021 Award for New Poets, 2nd Place Winner: Herma by Samuel Piccone

We’re all very excited to share with you the winners of the 2021 Award for New Poets, selected by the guest judges Rosebud Ben-Oni, Andrés Cerpa, and Mai Der Vang. Today, we have second place winner by Samuel Piccone. Stay tuned for our 3rd Place Winner tomorrow. You can see the 1st place winner’s poem, Chibuihe Obi Achimba’s “a sonnet: a slaughter field” here. Thank you to everyone who submitted this year!


Let mine be sculpted from dead skin peeled

and kept between the mattress and the wall,

a photo of a naked woman with a blurry face,

the tissue I closed my eyes and laid

atop my mother’s weave of trimmed pubic hair

floating in the pink toilet, the gym teacher’s penis

materializing from locker room steam,

the babysitter’s tongue drawing little flowers

around my bellybutton. As if a bloom

in need, the earth opened around me

like a mouth around a bouquet of empty stems.

I was tended and made the boundary of a field

where to be touched is to be buried

by the whisper of it later. Let me believe

the past is always liminal and lost completely.

They could ruin the entire prairie with digging

and never find my heart.



Samuel Piccone

—2nd Place Winner of the 2021 Award for New Poets—

Samuel Piccone is the author of the chapbook Pupa (Anhinga Press, 2018). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including, Sycamore Review, Passages North, Washington Square Review, and RHINO. He received an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University and serves on the poetry staff at Raleigh Review. Currently, he is a lecturer at Iowa State University.

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