2016 Pangaea Prize Finalists

JC Reilly


In Venice, the rain on the calli chevrons reflects ombrelli like candy.  Under your own green polka-dot umbrella, you stroll west to find a pasticceria you passed yesterday, where fruit-shaped jelly candies to tempt his heart to sweetness gleam.  In Campo San Bartolomeo, Easter crème pinks, lavenders, and yellows blur gray of ancient tile and sky as tourists and Veneziani squeeze through alleys no wider than ribbon.  You find the store again.  Light spills from the door like butterscotch.  Arranged as a still life in the window:  candies tumbling from china cups.  Bundles of grapes, oranges, strawberries, and lemon wedges dusted with sugar-snow nestle beside non-pareils and nougats and nut chews. A jar of sunflowers.  Shiny pots whose copper glow gilds coconut lace.  You hurry inside, shake off the rain.   Others do the same.  The store is crowded:  mothers buy dolci for eager children while a pair of men wait on espressi, speaking so quickly to each other the last thing they need is more caffeine.  An old woman bites into raspberry truffle almost as it’s handed to her, her expression sunrise through mist as her tongue tumbles over chocolate.  It is your turn. You point to the candy you want, stumble through“Un mezzo chilo di caramelle di frutta?”  The clerk wraps up a box for you, tells you in English better than your Italian, “It is not the candy he wants.  He does not know what he wants.”  “Credete?” “.” Out into the rain you go, your box of jelly fruit crushed against you like dreams.

Contributor Notes

Cassondra Windwalker

A Futile Construct

The owl cannot keep all his treasures:
He consumes the blood, the life,
Then bundles the unholy bits:
The bone, feather, scale, and fur,
All the dressings that composed creature
From force and fury, breath and being –
These he discards, I will redeem,
Plucking stories from the pellet,
Laying out shards of bone to build a road
Back to the sparrow, finding in the shadow
Of these paltry broken feathers, a wing.
I Buried My Sparrow

They asked me to look in on her,
to lay out the clothes for her going away.
They wanted me to say, I see her,
but I did not see her.
I could only see the owl, ugly night-bird,
thief, spoiler, ravager, foe,
The devourer who had stolen her breath
under his silent wings and discarded
All her broken pieces here.

These shattered bones cannot hold her,
they cannot frame her feral will.
This calm with which they have painted
her face brings no calm to me –
It is my fierce child my fingers seek,
my wanderer, my challenger, my coryphee:
I would pick out the feathers and piece
back the wings death named dross,
But my little sparrow lies flightless still.

Contributor Notes

Amy Nawrocki


We like familiarity, a day’s commotion
repeated: the cup of coffee, that kind of bread,
beginning the day with prayer or ending it

so closings don’t seem so permanent.
The wisp yesterday’s air returns us to
the familiar, though the next day’s brisk motion

allows for a different breeze.  Still
we’re sure it will be here tomorrow so we can
begin the day with a prayer or end it

when the sun’s last gasp pushes nighttime on.
The moon we know departs but cycles on because
we like this familiarity; the night’s devotion

assures us of another morning, the same coffee
the same bread, maybe not as fresh. Sometimes a kiss
begins the day with a prayer or ends it.

We don’t ask too much for these remembrances
to be pulled again into the path of light and
the day’s emotion—we like the familiarity—
beginning the day with a prayer or ending it.

Contributor Notes

Flower Conroy

Elegy for the Pearly-Eye (Moth)

I was really sick but didn’t know it.  Dead on the sill: Nymphs & Satyrs. Broken feeler, apex, thorax, dust which is not dust—which is chitin: scales that reflect/refract light not unlike a soap bubble’s iridescent film transporting brilliance. Rooms you no longer enter, place you no longer exist in.  The chipped paint of Barcelona in the ‘30s, a potted, blighted fern, statues animated by a column of sun.  So when Lori, chapped lips blown out, lower eyelid detached, the eye afloat in its socket, face concave & radiated, breaks apart in the airport, cuts the chardonnay with OJ to wash down a handful of Valium, Methadone, Prozac, Valium—who thinks of the hour?  Part blubber, part plaint, she froths, You don’t know, my demons lived in that house—I could go outside & see birds & butterflies.  Lump in my throat, enlarged lymph node pressing jugular as if I’d gulped a cocoon.  If antlers of filament crooked from my skull, what I couldn’t do—& who would stop me?.
Elegy of the Darkling (Beetle)

Here gapes a wound of a self-inflected nature.  I unbutton my shirt.  Strange is nothing: nothing is strange.  A gothic mirroring.  Here the prionus, round-headed borer recites each fingerling & floral name along this gutted hollow.  Here alpine berry & licorice flourishes.  Of thieves, the glances.  My pleasure, you once said.  The cold sound of my feet pacing the wood floor.  Since ice is the foundation, above zodiac exacts itself.  Night rips out its resin heart, yolk in the marrow, I smear a tar-like substance across my stomach.  Inside the cloud unfurls another.  My pleasure, like the moon, a wound nature inflicted.

Contributor Notes