And The Winner Is…

The final judge for the Binghamton Poetry Project’s Fall 2015 Poetry Project, Leslie Heywood, has made her decision, everyone! Congratulations to the winner of the Binghamton Poetry Project Fall 2015 Poetry Contest, Audrey Sapunarich!

Audrey Sapunarich, a native of Catskill, N.Y., grew up in the woods without cable or Internet and entertained herself by writing and reading. She discovered her love for writing at age 7 when she began a series of short stories entitled, “The Kind Macy Mouse.” She started writing poetry in high school and has since written as a means of dealing with trauma and personal experiences. She graduates with her bachelor’s in rhetoric and global culture in December and aspires to be a journalist. She enjoys writing, hiking, trying new foods, and making arts and crafts in her free time.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, the winning poem:

Remembering the Men

 Aw shit

I think to myself

as my bra splits in half

I am waitressing

with two lopsided cups

moving under my shirt

as I lift trays of chicken parm

and bite my tongue for nasty old ladies

I don’t know how this happened

I have no boobs, I mean

I don’t think I even had nipples

until I was 16

I probably don’t need to wear a bra at all

but I do

because I still hear that boy

in 7th grade social studies

calling me a “flat-chested cunt”

After work

I stroll the lingerie aisle

to regain my dignity

I look up to see a man, standing and staring

as I try to find something

that isn’t covered in

a thousand sequins

I hope he will turn around

and walk away

And when he doesn’t, I look at him

and want to scream,

“Leave

me

the

fuck

alone”

I hurry as his eyes follow me

and grab a flimsy pink thing

with gaudy jewels

that’ll probably do a number

on my washing machine

and I walk to the checkout,

annoyed and disgusted

remembering that boy in 7th grade and

remembering the man who

with two young daughters in tow

asked if he could have

“a piece of that ass”

remembering the man

who followed me

through grocery stores aisles,

angry that I wouldn’t acknowledge

his “compliments”

remembering the man

who told me

my “man boobs”

were giving him a

“half boner”

the first time he saw me topless

remembering the man

who whistled at me in July

as I crossed the street

wearing shorts

and when I didn’t respond,

yelled “you can’t dress like that

and not like the attention”

remembering the man

who, despite being my uncle,

calls me sexy

every time he sees me

remembering the man

who tried to drag me

onto the dance floor

by my arms

and another man

who succeeded

and smashed his

body against mine

remembering all the times

I have felt enraged but

been too afraid to say

 

I do not exist for you.

 

Audrey was also selected as the runner-up with her poem, When I Was 12:

When I Was 12

my mother got cancer

and so did Laura,

my godmother and

my mother’s best friend,

my mother’s only friend

I held Laura’s hand

watched her scream in agony

and die

her fingers falling limp between mine

My mother never forgave herself for surviving

and that year she buried her best friend

and her father

For my 13th birthday, she planned a trip to Disney

She thought it’d make us happy

She was so depressed, and so was I

even though she told me

“kids don’t have real problems”

The airport lost our luggage

and every night, she sat outside

chain-smoking and crying

while I laid in bed,

wanting to hold her

but I never did

We never knew how to comfort each other

and we probably never will

Our last night there, she got drunk

and told me

“God doesn’t like ugly,

and you’re ugly on the inside.”

She stripped naked outside the bathrooms

and changed in the open,

screaming her hatred toward me

while people passed by

The security guard told her

she couldn’t smoke in the airport

My mother called her a bitch

and threw her cigarette on the floor

of an art gallery

When she wasn’t looking,

I picked it up

and threw it away

even though I have never

been more afraid of anyone

than I was of her that night

We never knew how to comfort each other

and we probably never will

 

Hats off to you, Audrey – amazing work!

A huge thank you goes out to Leslie Heywood for being the final judge for the contest, and to all the wonderful poets who submitted their work for consideration! Stay tuned for the next one! Until then: write, write, write.

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