Poem of the Week: “How to Skip a Stone” by Jackson Graham

This week’s Poem of the Week is a very special one, as it features the winner of our Sixth Annual Richard Benvenuto High School Poetry Competition! Richard Benvenuto taught in the English Department at Michigan State University for 20 years, and his wife, Joyce, started the competition in his name for all Michigan high schoolers. The competition is cosponsored by the Mid-Michigan chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters. This year’s winner, Jackson Graham, is a Senior at Detroit Catholic Central, and will read his poem, along with the second and third place winners, at a Center for Poetry reading featuring Jim Minick on November 19. You can read about our High School Poetry Competition and see the other winning poems on our website.

How to Skip a Stone
By Jackson Graham

Leave the full cottage;
yes, it’s your birthday, but it’s as much theirs too.
Close the door and betray a shadow.
Float down the steps, past the weeping fire,
past the black oak and its children.

Fill your nostrils with war-torn air.
Stop. Take off your muddy shoes and socks.
Roll up your hand-me-down pants as your eyes adjust
to the pale breath of Earth’s younger brother.

Now the glass is visible
and you are visible to the glass.
The stone: find it. You know what you’re looking for:
sleek and slim, with a little heft.
Perfect. Allow it a few hops in your hand.

Now you are ready to wade in.
Anchor your toes in the gravel below.
Bend your knees, and cock your arm,
with your eyes fixed on the soft target.
Wrap your pointer finger around the shiny edge.
Prepare to maim that silent, mocking mirror.

Whip it. Let out a blistering war cry certain to disrupt the universe.
Yet even after eighteen, nineteen, twenty hits, it won’t shatter,
but it gives the thousand candles on your celestial cake
a reason to dance around your own silly smile.

Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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