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• 2013 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry •

Winners & Finalists 2013

Winners & Finalists for 2013 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry

First Place: “No Sad Songs in the House of the Sun” by Shauna Osborn
Second Place: “Influences of Light” by Charles P. Ries
Third Place: “Another Birthday” by Sean Brendan-Brown
Fourth Place: “Waiting Tables in Reno” by Doug Draime
Fifth Place: “Still Victory” by Denis Sheehan
Sixth Place: “Estimated Losses” by Aleathia Drehmer
Seventh Place: “We Watch the Horse Fly Home” by Jane Stuart
Eighth Place: “Stp. Gran. Dad.” by Frankie Metro
Ninth Place: “Ten Thousand Shields & Spears” by Sean Brendan-Brown
Tenth Place: “Redhead” by Charles P. Ries
Eleventh Place: “Sometimes” by Doug Draime
Twelfth Place: “Land of Stinkin' (New Salem, IL)” by CEE

2013 Luminaire Award Poetry Judges

John Berbrich is Editor of the journal, Dwarf Planet; Co-Editor of the journal, Barbaric Yawp; Co-Publisher at BoneWorld Publishing and MuscleHead Press; and the author of the books, The Big Whole Thing, Mullet, Balancing Act, A History of Post-Contemporary Poetry, and The Shade Returneth.

Aleathia Drehmer lives in Painted Post, New York, and is the former editor of the flash-fiction website, In Between Altered States, and the art editor for the online journal, Regardless of Authority. In a previous life, she produced a print zine called Durable Goods and edited for Full of Crow Press and Zygote in My Coffee. Her work has been published extensively in the small press, both online and in print. Her most recent poetry collection, You Find Me Everywhere, is available from Alternating Current. Aleathia’s future is pointed toward the deep country where she hopes to see the world for what it is and put it down in words. Find her at her website.

J. Lewis Fleming is the former editor and publisher of the journals, Nibble, Cranial Tempest, and CannedPhlegm; and the author of the books, The Bones of Saints Under Glass, Shades of Green, Why Is My Lemon Tea Red, Beneath a Willow, and Delirious and Purple.

Brian Fugett is Editor of the journal Zygote in My Coffee; publisher at Tainted Coffee Press; organizer and host of poetry readings and festivals ranging geographically from Toledo, Ohio, to Oakland, California, and everywhere in between; host of the BlogTalkRadio show, Nothing to Lose, presented by Project U Radio Network; and occasional camera operator and special effects assistant on TV and film projects for The Disney Channel and HBO.

Michele McDannold is founder of The Literary Underground, including the successful Project U Radio Network; editor of Citizens for Decent Literature; co-organizer of the touring poetry festivals Zygote in My Fez and Zyfez (a collaboration of the outfits behind Zygote in My Coffee and Red Fez; former editor at Red Fez Publications, The Guild of Outsider Writers, Rural Messengers Press, and of the publications Red Fez, Red Reader, Lit Circus, and Side of Grits; former member of The Guild of Outsider Writers and APA Centauri; former judge for the Jack Micheline Memorial Poetry Contest; and author of the books, Slow but Steady and Private Vacancy.

2013 First Place Winner: “No Sad Songs in the House of the Sun” by Shauna Osborn

No Sad Songs in the House of the Sun


A father taught his five-year old
to memorize where they were
in relation to the air force base
no matter where they went:
the grocery store
her cousins’ house.

He said it was important
in case anything bad happens:
coordinated air attacks—
& when it happened,
whatever it was,
she had to run toward the base
as fast as she could,
tearing the clothes
off her body
if she saw a sky full of smoke.

He said this would be a better,
hopefully instant death,
rather than the excruciating
slow death that would happen
if she were too far away.


The daughter found pictures of explosions,
bombs, & air attacks
the next time they went to the library.

The books were thick,
so heavy the father had to help get them
from shelf to the table for her.
Books so old, so dusty,
housing lots of dark type
on bible-thin paper
with gray & black pictures
just like the old encyclopedias
her uncle had at home.

The destruction pictures
she found were funny—
like huge clouds
landed on the ground,
too tired & fat to float.


A kindergarten teacher
had her class draw their families
for show & tell one day.
So the daughter drew herself, her sister,
& her dead brother—stick arms joined,
rushing toward the spot
their longer-legged parents
had just abandoned on the page.
All moving closer
to the crayoned iridescent gold,
burnt orange, & dandelion waves
coming from where the air base had once been—
waxy bright waves of doom
she thought were gorgeous,
like sunset hitting clean river water.

Shauna Osborn is a Comanche/German mestiza who works as an instructor, wordsmith, and community organizer in Albuquerque. She received her Master of Fine Arts from New Mexico State University in 2005. Shauna has won various awards for her academic research, photography, and poetry. Recently, she received a National Poetry Award from the New York Public Library. Find her at her website.

2013 Second Place Winner: “Influences of Light” by Charles P. Ries

Influences of Light

It happens each early summer.
She backs off her anti-depressants,
thinking more UV rays can substitute
for her drugs. She comes out swinging,
determined to reclaim what is
rightfully hers.

For a day or a week, she’s a warrior
but quickly fades into a humble,
tumble, pile of bewilderment. (It’s
hard to sustain determination on
just sunlight. Warmth alone isn’t
enough to help you think straight.)

Following her short freedom flight,
she becomes earthbound, a cloud
that hovers low against a county trunk
road—a vaporous curtain that flattens
and abducts you.

But you drive on, and eventually pass
through it, through her. And bring her to
a small hill where you ask her to look
a great distance and remember tomorrow
or yesterday or her true nature with the ease
of her winter-fresh mind.

Charles P. Ries’ narrative poems, short stories, interviews, and poetry reviews have appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing and is the author of six books of poetry. He was awarded the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association Jade Ring Award for humorous poetry and is the former poetry editor of Word Riot and ESC!. Ries is also the author of The Fathers We Find, a somewhat-fictionalized memoir of his growing up on a mink farm in Southeastern Wisconsin. His work is archived in the Charles P. Ries Collection at Marquette University. A citizen philosopher, he lived in London and North Africa after college, where he studied the mystical teachings of Islam known as Sufism. In 1989, he worked with the Dalai Lama on a program that brought American religious- and psycho-therapists together for a weeklong dialogue. He has done extensive work with men’s groups and worked with a Jungian psychotherapist for over five years, during which time he learned to find meanings in small things. He is also a founding member of the Lake Shore Surf Club, the oldest freshwater surfing club on the Great Lakes.

2013 Third Place Winner: “Another Birthday” by Sean Brendan-Brown

Another Birthday

through the Wichita Falls Coyotes high
school yearbook: there’s what’s-her-name,
the girl you swore you’d love 4-ever;
there’s Johnny “da Bull” Burke—
so big, so tough,
who punched nose-blood
all over your KISS Army T-shirt.

how you flew home from Pendleton
after Marine boot to square the past,
bumped Johnny at Kroger: he
didn’t recognize you. Followed him
to the parking lot where da Bull (balding,
still pimpled, fat, thick glasses sunk
into the pug nose, pregnant wife cursing
the heat) stumbled, ding-ding bounced
a can of chili. And their car—battered ’77
Ford Maverick—where’s Johnny’s ’69 Z28?

beat he looked, how pathetic the
dangling Playboy air-freshener. He
drove away, stealth-drinking Miller,
wife cursing, pulling Ritz from a box.

Sean Brendan-Brown is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently resides in Olympia, Washington. A medically-retired Marine, he is the author of three poetry chapbooks (Everything Repeated Many Times, King of Wounds, West Is a Golden Paradise), a poetry collection (No Stopping Any Time), a fiction chapbook (Monarch of Hatred), and a short story collection (Brother Dionysus). He has published with The Notre Dame Review, Wisconsin Review, Indiana Review, Texas Review, Poetry East, Southampton Review, Common Ground Review, and The University of Iowa Press anthologies American Diaspora and Like Thunder. He is the recipient of a 1997 NEA Poetry Fellowship and a 2010 NEA Fiction Fellowship.

Luminaire Award Medallion Designers

Special thanks and acknowledgment to Devin Byrnes and SuA Kang of Hardly Square, for their creativity in designing our annual medallion imprint. Hardly Square is a strategy-, branding-, and design-based boutique located in Baltimore, Maryland, that specializes in graphic design, web design, and eLearning courses. Their invaluable design expertise has made our annual awards come to life. Learn more about our medallion designers.

Transparency for 2013 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry

Judging spreadsheets and final reports will be updated here shortly.

It is important to note that during this year’s judging, Alternating Current staff selected the Top Twelve Finalists themselves, and the judges only read and ranked the Top Five Choices, thus Aleathia Drehmer did not judge her own piece, even though it was a staff-selected finalist, ranked at number six.