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Weekly Alibi Verses From the Heart

FEBRUARY 16, 1998: 

Weekly Alibi's Love Poetry Contest Winners!

If you ask us, Valentine's Day is second only to Christmas as the one day of the year that brings the most mingled emotions. That's why when we came up with the Weekly Alibi Love Poetry Contest, we knew that love would not be enough. Our latest writing competition offered a list of categories covering the topics that (we felt) relationships were really made of--love, sex, obsessive crushes, breaking up and, for those who do not count themselves lovers at all, why love just sucks. In response to this open call, several hundred of you took the opportunity to sound off, and we thank every one of you for sharing your love, anger, arousal and frustration with us. Meanwhile, our panel of judges--Alibi staffers who are all uniquely experienced in the triumphs and the tragedies of love--sifted through the piles of entries to select the ones that they thought were the very best. And to each winner, Weekly Alibi is pleased to present dinner and a movie, on us. The top prize-taker in each category wins a $20 gift certificate to Assets Grille and two passes to the Guild Theatre, so you can take your loved one on a very special date. And to show just how much we dig free love, everyone who entered our Love Poetry Contest is invited to read their work at the Love Poetry Open Mic, to be held on Valentine's Day at Nob Hill Books and Music. Readers, listeners and lovers of all kinds are welcome to attend this lovefest, beginning at 6 p.m. So we'll see you there, and until then, enjoy these verses from the heart.


Love poetry has a bad rep. Some lovers pine pitifully and despairingly. Others lay it on as thick as sickeningly sweet, gloppy wedding-cake frosting. Love is a lot like that: like the tickle in your throat as the slimy frosting slides to the pit of your stomach, an irritating, pleasing tickle that you'd just love to reach deep down inside yourself and scratch. It's the kind of feeling, sometimes, like that ball of sugar Crisco sitting in your stomach, making you hate yourself for ever having eaten it (but that's another category). As one who spent my entire adolescence writing bad love poetry, I made the most fitting staff judge for this orphaned category. Most of the 47 poets who entered the love poetry category penned poems as pure of love as a boy who's first been kissed: the electricity of brushing the girl you want, slow-dancing in an innocent euphoria or meeting a soul mate. Daniel Callis' "Small Blue Poem #4" conveyed that pang of tickling excitement when one first feels twitterpated: sweet, lusty, striking. Congratulations also to the honorable mentions who were able to condense an emotion, a force as nebulous and indefinite as love. --Jessica English


Small Blue Poem #4

returned from the drugstore today--
Come see!
My angel,
Italian with a moustache and passion enough
for two--for ten! The whole town!
Her hand on my leg, my hand
on hers, then; Pink Baltic Hand
meet Brown Adriatic Hand--shake.
Here, she sits at a picnic table
and eats--a piece
of her chocolate birthday cake.
"Is it my chocolate birthday, then?"
how she holds the white plastic
fork poised
before her mouth.
how her breasts push against
her green silk blouse.
how her legs are
lost in shadow cast
by her flowered skirt.

--Daniel Callis

Honorable Mention


I am out among the stars
in the thick space
between everything.
I hear my own echoes.
My throat is a beam
of red blood
with a heart.
This morning
Crow came into my room
and took out my heart.
He ate the heart I had
and gave me a clear one;
an odd shape, the heart.
This clear one is rose-tinted
and fits me perfectly.
He spread his wings over my chest.
The veins from my new heart
spread outward
like lightening.

--Lisa Minacci

Global Warming

years and years
by ice
created a life
ludus, storage, mania
I think words
of love
should be

--Ramsey Rose

The Breath of You

Lingering sacrifices surround me
A needle brings ferocious peace
and poison secrets pierce my heart
as I devour the breath of you ...

--Lizabeth Kaplan


Henry Miller had this to say about erotic writing: "Compared to the atom bomb, it is full of life-giving qualities." Damnably faint praise, maybe, but it was really meant as a dig against those who claim to hate the erotic, those who think that sex is somehow unessential to human existence. It was in that spirit that we invited Alibi readers to write about sex in whatever context you felt fit--whether you crave it, dislike it or are simply terrified by it. And in truth, your responses ran a pretty long gamut, ranging from the arousing to the not-so, with many titillating little registers in-between. For her particularly quick and effective wordplay, Sherisse Noelle took the prize this year, along with our gratitude and a long, exhausted puff from a cigarette. --Blake de Pastino


its wet velvet
we pull apart
our skins come away
like a zipper

--Sherisse Noelle

Honorable Mention

The Sun

pants down around my legs,
shirt unbuttoned--
the stink of my sweat--
i walk with small steps,
shoes untied.
the sun is coming up.

--Daniel Callis

Be Mine, Espresso Man

Stir up
that java love
with French-roasted lips
sucking carnal daydreams
through hot cappuccino
You drink me
and the rush
of Arabica, flavored
erotica burns
your tongue so
Swallow me, latte
of your desire
Drunk on steaming
cafe au lait
with me now
as we lust
into another

--Martha Beltramo

Obsessive Crushes

The obsessive crushes category in our little contest most lent itself to what I like to call Teen Death Poetry, that self-absorbed tripe most often penned by black-clad teenage vampires. Although no limericks--the finest form of poetry ever--were submitted, it was not hard to choose the "least sucky" obsessive crush poems. Ultimately, Catherine Carr's untitled poem won top honors for succinctly capturing the quick dips into insanity we experience when in the throes of a hardcore crush. --Noah Masterson


I would like to know you a bit more
I would like to climb inside your skin
I would like to feel the way your hands touch the world
The way you see
The way I taste to you
I would pick and devour you from the inside out
Rubbing then piercing your organs with my tongue
Your stringy muscles grinding in my teeth
My saliva in your blood
Your heart inside mine
I would absorb you like my unborn twin
But instead I will settle for just knowing you a bit more

--Catherine Carr

Honorable Mention

Almost Transparent

I see you everywhere
with him
his embroidered shirt
French cuffs
and his Southern accent
covered arm
around you
Dammit, he looks
Is he
some goddamn
or some over
zealous Republican
I just want
to know
does he realize
that I bought you
your panties
and that
even from this
I can sense
pink silk
beneath your dress.

--Roy Ricci

Breakin' Up

Neil Sedaka, of all people, once crooned something about breaking up being hard to do. What a crock of shit! Breaking up, if done correctly or embraced from the right perspective, can be one of life's most enriching, rewarding and therapeutic experiences. A colonic for the heart and soul. That's not to say it can't be painful--it'll destroy your life if you let it. The key is not to let it.

That's why the poems in this category that impressed me most were the really bitter, angry ones. Everyone dumps and gets dumped--it's as natural a human function as, well, taking a dump. So why waste your time crying about it, begging for sympathy and annoying your friends and relatives when you can scrawl furiously on a blank page the words and feelings you were too blown over with melodrama to express in the heat of the (wondrous) moment? Breaking up is good to do. Here now, the winner and runners-up in this most fantastic of categories. --Michael Henningsen


Finding Patrick's Letters on Valentine's Day

For lovers, this day among gray-laden skies; I
ruffle files, search untended years, and jum-
bled life (my past in scraps), my quest the wry
unburden--last year's tax return--the sum
less than my parts, when envelopes, faded
and tender from memory, provoke pause,
kneel. Here, the green tiles of my far
away kitchen, of my far away
singular condition--chosen to
comfort, to fend off our dubious
pairing: "I love you
this much," scrawled
beneath open-
armed doodle: you in
retrospect, then trash.

--San Juanita de Garza

Honorable Mention


trying to get her out of my mind
I only found the corner
of Broadway and Avenida Cesar Chavez
I leaned on a wall and wept
a wall with a mural of earth and life
or some artist's twisted dream or vision
until I stumbled further
to the countless used auto parts stores or junk yards
advertising "precios bajos"
more enticing than being loved
I continued my quest for the ever-elusive
front grille of my 1972 Chevrolet
pulling deals
making bargains come to life
to avoid
thinking about her

--Adán V. Baca


Our love is a surgery,
i, the amputee
and you, doctor, diagnosing
a fatal disease, where
each week another afflicted part
must come off.
In succumbing to this
i have become dependent,
i anticipate
the shot that precedes each
inevitable loss.
Not only am i losing It, but
i've paid in most personal coin--
poems, flowers, amulets
now smug with these, you
perform the latest incision,
last month spontaneity was severed,
only last week sex
removed as malignant
and today hope hangs on a frayed nerve.
Just finish the job, already--
i'm bankrupt.

--Maureen Berry Kober


air fares went up Friday.
round trip to Paris was
a real good deal.
cheap, tempting and now,
sounds like someone else
I know.

--Ramsey Rose

What I Don't Want

I guess in order to keep you
I'm not supposed to love you.
In order for you to feel comfortable
sleeping next to me
I'm supposed to act like I don't care.
Like now.
I write this because I don't care.
I don't want to sleep next to you
with my naked back exposed.
And I don't want to feel your hand holding mine,
or look fondly at your expressions.
And I certainly don't long for your kiss.
I guess I don't want anything ...
except, maybe, you.

--Rebecca Woehrle

Why Love Sucks

Most of our submissions seemed a little too intent on explaining how love sucks rather than why. More than one poet moaned, Lewinsky-like, "Why won't you call? You said you'd call." Sorry, those didn't make the cut. Of course, the why and the how of love sucking are intimately connected. Our winner, Daniel Callis, combined both to create a depressing summation of amore's suckiness. --Angie Drobnic


For Lucille, Whose Name Means Light

do something to me. tell me
how happy you are to
see me. see me
looking at you looking
around the room to see
whoever else you may know
who may be here.
smile. do something to me. tell me
how well you've been doing--
it's been a long time.
you look
great (your hair is cute). your hair
is so much longer now; straighter,
too. it looks like silk.
you look ten years younger.
i'd forgotten
how beautiful you are. (i like
your hair like that).
do something to me. now
walk away.
i'll walk the other way.

--Daniel Callis

Honorable Mention

candy boy (for claudia)

i want a quiet man
made of
i want to lick his
peppermint candy
i want to crunch his
i want to suck his
soft red licorice
language is like
some days

--Maude Adams


You mock me because I love you
Hey baby take a walk inside my head.
You mock me because I want to love you.
Now I see you there kissing another
looking so sexy
so near so close.
So cool we are
ignoring each other as we stare past each other.
I look away--as though I could care less.
Hey baby take a walk inside my head.
If you could see me making love to you in my thoughts
in my thoughts in my thoughts
but for now we're cool
ignoring each other as we stare past each other.


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