Thursday, January 8, 2015

Photographs And Poem By Gillian Conoley Dedicated To Gabrielle Giffords, Who Was Shot On January 8, 2011 By Jared Lee Loughner In An Assassination Attempt

Christal Cooper

Poem Excerpt from Peace by Gillian Conoley
*Copyright granted by Gillian Conoley 

            for Gabrielle Giffords

So it was like sleep and waking, sleep and          

fraud on my       Visa, sleep


waiting out radioactive plume,                                                                                              

and today another

trying card

in Miami

                             did they want groceries   

or did they want cash, sleep

Freeway sign said      take Lucky Drive
           to bypass

bank robbery in shopping mall

so that’s where

              the two bullets went through,

What sphinx pushes up out the fog in the parking lot     

turning each

upon  each

our moral imaginations.  If it’s a gun law,

         this tragedy will pull through.

And what was there to      and did she

see, gritty blue sink desert of night sky      

with her

off to the side like a wonder, or

your basic hospital room, sleep,

                                        a solitary male nurse, a husband.                  

Here we pour a new layer, visible                                                          
for all to see how we want
        to be as transparent as possible,

        but remain gradient,                                                                                
dangerous when once it was them,

                                     an error, a horror now that it is

What are we to the man

who attacked the gunman

as he started to reload , a constituency?



in the arcade stir a glassy water, sleep, amplify

  Gun with cord tied to it so no one will take it

    The little girl with a hole in her chest                                                

            first girl player to play            

in the middle leagues

Gritty blue sunken – shame – 
as if the desert

                                    could hiss, fold,

The six dead behind her eyelids.  Leave them open,

let us place no more constraints on the eyes of the dead,

          illegible cross-outs turned inward

searching themselves to escape

like figures met in a dream,

she is walking down the hall with a shopping cart

                           --Never and always

a back to the door --      Whose side –

   Once she appears again,    
      but they won't show her to us

  at her husband’s launch of four spacewalks

to install the alpha magnetic spectrometer    It will take all four walks

                            to sift, sleep

through cosmic rays

to define the origin of the universe, though

                           by now, that plays a minor key.

   It could be plutonium, it could be uranium,

we just don’t know.

                          A radioactive plume

to drift over California Friday by noon     
a shadow of cloud on the stream

Crows that range and radiate

  from cloud to tumbling cloud

       And what will she say

privately      and what she will say

                       in that language of our conviction.

This tragedy will pull through,

and will stand by you tomorrow.

   It isn’t really heavily radiated water.

             How one eye keeps one eye

                    on a deep and bitter thing.   


*Poet's Biography:
          Gillian Conoley was born in Austin Texas, where, on its rural outskirts, her father and mother owned and operated a radio station.

          She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including PEACE (, THE PILOT GENIE, PROFANE HALO, LOVERS IN THE USED WORLD, and TALL STRANGER, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

          Her work has received the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from The American Poetry Review, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Fund for Poetry Award.  Her poems have been anthologized widely, most recently in W.W. Norton's Postmodern American Poetry, Norton's American Hybrid, and Best American Poetry.
          A poet, editor, and translator, Conoley has taught as a visiting writer at University of Denver, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Tulane University, and Vermont College.
          Her translations of Henri Michaux, THOUSAND TIMES BROKEN:  THREE BOOKS BY HENRI MICHAUX, appeared in City Lights in 2014.

          Editor and founder of Volt, she is Professor and Poet-in-Residence at Sonoma State University.  She lives with her family in a small town just north of San Francisco.   


Photograph Description and Copyright Information

Photograph 1
Official portrait of United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords
March 24, 2010
Attributed to the Untied States Congress
Public Domain

Photograph 2
Plume of the Space Shuttle Atlantis after launch.  The sun has set just behind the camera, so only the upper part of the plume is in the glare of the sun.  It casts a shadow through the Earth’s atmosphere that seems to stretch towards the moon, which is nearly full and thus almost exactly opposite the sun in the sky.  The Earth’s shadow is also visible, as a dark band of sky below the moon. 
February 7, 2001
Attributed to Patrick McCracken
CC BY SA 3.0

Photograph 3
A Winn-Dixie branded as Winn-Dixie Marketplace store located in West Palm Beach, Florida on Okeechobee Boulevard and Military Trail
Attributed to Walgreens Osroio
CCASA 3.0 Unported License

Photograph 4
La Toscana Village Shopping Center in Casas Adobes area of Suburban Tucson, Arizona.  Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and more than a dozen others were victims of a shooting attack here on January 8, 2011.  The attack occurred near the Safeway main entrance, which is below the peaked roof in the middle of the photo.
Attributed to Steve Karp
January 18, 2011
CCA 3.0 Unported.

Photograph 5
Great Sphinx of Gizo, Egypt.
July 16, 2008
Attributed to Barcex
GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.2

Photograph 6
Web logo and description of Gabby’s Pledge from Americans For Responsible Solutions  (
Fair Use Under the Untied States Copyright Law.

Photograph 7
Mark Kelly holds his wife’s hand in the Congresswoman’s hospital room at the University Medical Center in Tucson the day after she was shot.
Photo Attributed to Getty Images
Photo released to the public from United State Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ office.
Public Domain

Photograph 8
A photograph of a Glock that Jared Lee Loughner posted to his MySpace page.
Fair Use Under the United State Copyright Law

Photograph 9
United States Army Col Bill Badger, 74, tackled Loughner to the ground after being shot by Loughner.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photograph 10
The famous picture taken of Jared Loughner that has been commonly mistaken for a mug-shot at the Pima County Sheriff’s Office’s Forensic Unit after the shooting.  This image has been photo-shopped to make him look more menacing.
Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law

Photograph 11
Christina Taylor-Green, age 9, was one of the six victims who died.
Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law

Photograph 12
The six murder victims:
Top Row from left to right:  Christine Taylor-Green 9, Dorothy Morris 76,  John Roll 63
Bottom Row from left to right:  Phyllis Schneck 79, Dorwan Stoddard 76, and Gabe Zimmerman.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photograph 13
President Barack Obama embracing Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords before delivering his speech at the 2012 State of the Union.
Attributed to Pete Souza – official White House Photographer
Copyright the Executive Office of the President of the United States
Public Domain

Photograph 14
Former United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband mark Kelly NASA astronaut and commander of mission STS-134 pose for a picture at the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Payload Operations and Command Center at the the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Meyrin near Geneva
July 25, 2012
Attributed to Reuters/Valintin Flauraud
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photograph 15
The Energetic Gamma Ray Experiment Telescope (EGRET) on the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory has detected gamma rays from the Moon as it passed through the instrument field of view several times between 1991 and 1994. The average flux, and the energy spectrum of the lunar gamma radiation are consistent with a model of gamma ray production by cosmic ray interactions with the lunar surface, and the flux varies as expected with the solar cycle. Although the same processes may occur on the Sun, EGRET does not detect the quiet Sun. Thus, in high-energy gamma rays, the Moon is brighter than the quiet Sun.
June 9, 2012
D. J. Thompson, D. L. Bertsch (NASA/GSFC), D. J. Morris (UNH), R. Mukherjee (NASA/GSFC/USRA)
Public Domain

Photograph 16
The Moon's cosmic ray shadow, as seen in secondary muons detected 700 m below ground, at the Soudan 2 detector
Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law

Photograph 17
Mixed media art photograph combining a painting of crows by Nicoletta Ceccoli and an image of Gabrielle Giffords in the hospital taken days after the shooting.

Photograph 18
Image of Gabrielle Giffords one year after the shooting.
Image released by Giffords’ office
Public Domain

Photograph 19
Facebook photograph of Gabrielle Giffords
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law.             

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Six Cash-Prize Winners In Fitzgerald Museum's 2014 Mad Poet's Poetry Contest . . .

Christal Cooper   985 Words

         On December 13, 2014 the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum (,located at 719 Felder Avenue, in Montgomery, Alabama hosted its second annual 2014 The Mad Poet’s Poetry Contest Event.  Executive Director Willie Thompson, presented the winners who were present with cash prizes.  There were six winners in this contest.
         In this feature we are presenting the winners, the place his/her poem was placed, the winning cash prize amount, and the poet’s contact information.   

1st Place $50
The 1st Place Winner wishes to remain anonymous and not have his/her poem included in this feature.

2nd Place Winner $150
MP Jones IV

*Fish Tale was previously published in Harpur Palate and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize

Fish Tale

My brother died with a trunk full of fish
        and beer bottles crashing together—
                 in the Mother’s Day darkness—
I am endlessly returning

                 as if to a worn photograph,
a lure drifting along the lake’s rim
                          in Vermont,
a place I’ve never seen, and so

can only imagine some dim shore growing certain
        in torn threads of afternoon light.

I go back to those improbable stories

he would tell, eyes alight with the consuming
fire of beer and bourbon,

like the one where he is driving through the desert
all night,
just driving through the sand, until finally he stops
at noon—perhaps in Arizona,
                          perhaps nowhere at all—

on a waterless sea of solid glass,
supposedly the wake of some explosives test.

Walking over the burnt sand-lake’s surface, breaking apart
                 frozen waves and currents
beneath his boots,
crumbling like some hopeless metaphor for certainty.

I listen as he wavers—wanting only to fix some narrative
over the near end—
                          recounting as his slurring sways,
circling to the moment just before the hooks are set,

before the surface quivers,
the bottles break,
        and everything is finished.

And everything is finished:
                                    the bottles break
        before the surface quivers,

circling to the moment just before the hooks are set,
        recounting as his slurring sways

                                   over the near end,

I listen as he wavers, wanting only to fix some narrative.

Crumbling. Like some hopeless metaphor for certainty
beneath his boots,
        frozen waves and currents.

Walking over the burnt sand-lake’s surface, breaking apart—
        supposedly the wake of some explosives test—

                                    on a waterless sea of solid glass.
Perhaps nowhere at all

        at noon, perhaps in Arizona,
just driving through the sand, until finally he stops
all night.

Like the one where he is driving through the desert
                                    fire of beer and bourbon.

He would tell, eyes alight with the consuming.

I go back to those improbable stories
        in torn threads of afternoon light,

can only imagine some dim shore growing certain—
        a place I’ve never seen—and so,

in Vermont,
        a lure drifting along the lake’s rim
as if to a worn photograph—
                           I am endlessly returning

in the Mother’s day darkness

        and beer bottles crashing together.

My brother died with a trunk full of fish.

3rd Place $100
Peter Huggins

The Harpist Plays Romeo and Juliet

In Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet
The dancers become the lovers they play.
I marvel at their ability to slough
Their age and inclination and assume

The role of that pair.
They glide together, unite,
Separate, and meld once more.
They whirl and spin but not for long.

These lovers must have each other to be
Who they must be. Then I play my part.
I pull my harp to me, run my hand
Along its curve, and pluck

Its strings which hum and vibrate.
In this pit and hall
These lovers are the music I play.
I play until the music and the body are one,

Until the music and the body are at rest.

4th Place Winner $75
Maya Perry


We are the electric youth of a lost generation.

With wedding rings placed delicately on our fingers, we frolic with friends and turn
a revolving door into an infinite merry-go-round.

Drunk with happiness and pregnant with child,
our favorite hobby has become wrecking hotels.
Missing spoons here, stolen pin cushion there,

a putrid Armenian goat skin thrown lackadaisically,
An ice cream bowl left out in the sun, and postcards filthy with neglect.

We have a torrent zest for life.

Our daily amusements were at will to our capriciousness.
The love between us spins like a whirlwind.

So, give us the gold painted filigree and the summer wines!

Immerse us in the tales of men drowned in their own sorrows because the war was
too much to bear.

Then show us to Hemmingway; he’ll lead us there.

We will only die

when we have lost it all

and that tearful eye on the wall gazes upon us.
Until then, drinks are on us.

*This poem was inspired by “Show Mr. And Mrs. F to number-“ by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

5th Place $50
The 5th Place Winner wishes to remain anonymous and not have his/her poem included in this feature.

6th Place $25
Laura Hanna

Scott to Zelda, July 1918

“I love her and it is the beginning of everything.”
--F. Scott Fitzgerald

If fear like the train tracks
came unbolted

and all the silence
inside me became the words

of a poem and words
I want to hear myself speak,

I would tell you
when you touched even my hand,

it was sweet electricity
like black sparkling hose

against carpet in cold midnight.
I would tell you

something so simple
that there is no way

to put it gently,
that I would give you

every word every poem I have,
tell you each one is about you,

that no words are enough
I would tell you that if you

cracked open my longing
from these strictures,

it would be enough
for a thousand years,

enough to set fire to my blood,
to give it life again,

but there are no
words for this

except yourself