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Poetry Competition Runner-Up: “Shelter in Place”

Julian B. Gewirtz

“Alias,” I said to him. “Alias…”
—Jack Spicer

I pull down the book of perfect beauties,

its heavy slug of dead rabbit, pollen
smeared on the nose, cracking as I open
each sheet’s stale air and it musts up

touching that tight-woven yellow
smoothest of all the underbelly colors
kept close to the ground when the thing is alive,

and what now. There’s a man on the loose,
we shutter my green window. And my red
window. That tree outside doesn’t stop the wind

from shaking the three or four rocks in its sack
as if it actually wants me to open up,
I know better. I think he’s nowhere

near here now, though he might have passed through,
he’s no Billy the Kid, not so fine for eyes
to riddle, these hills to fold open for, and elsewhere

that still-life hangs with its gamey russets,

lamed faces nailed—I love just one

lost boy wandering the mansion of my name.
Julian B. Gewirtz was joint runner-up in the Oxonian Review Poetry Competition 2014. He will be reading for a DPhil in History at Merton College, Oxford, in the autumn.