Shower 2:33 a.m.

By Abigail Giroir

It fills the cracks,
trickling through the empty spaces,
off the tips of each leaf and
jutting branch.
Down my tree bark spine,
slipping against the soft green flesh
and onto buried roots.

It fills the cracks,
seeps through sand and pebbles,
erodes the surface,
pulling at the excess
like wind off crashing waves
until there’s nothing but truths,
frigid and invigorating.

It fills the cracks,
linking each thought, word, life
blooming flowers touching
toes beneath the weathered surface,
petals bending under
the same breeze,
calming storms between synapses.

It fills the cracks
that human feet leave
on a well-traveled earth,
completes the cycle,
replenishes, rebuilds, renews,
recycles the fallen, useless pieces,
creates something whole.

Tabula Rasa

By Zavier Davis

Under the many rocks and boulders,
tainted with years
of blue and purple elemental abuse,
there I lay with a clean slate
resting as my torso.
Open to metal nails and hammers, ready for the cuneiform
depicting my fate
of nocturnal nights,
addictions to footnotes,
words and the other.
Puncturing in the purple scars
adorned on my body that
swell from creamy pus.
My thoughts ready to pop
from its secured interior,
destined to inhabit
the many halls of memory.
Stand me up against the Old Testaments.
I become sacred word,
repeated into the air,
living among gods and clouds,
becoming immortal through
Titles and By: lines.
Share me with the world,
for I am the tablet hidden in your basement,
choking on black dust
but growing as the myth
that will carry on
for lifetimes.

Sight Brandy Sanamo
Sight
Brandy Sanamo
Sight Brady Sanamo
Sight
Brady Sanamo

The Reptile Room

By Julia Franks

I step lightly through the reptile room,
feeling the shards of glass under my sneakers.
The python smiles at me,
lizards surround me,
dragons sing my death song.
Black Mamba and King Cobra
stand at full attention
and read my crimes.
I’m not guilty,
but I accept my fate.
Toothy grins and long necks
bob and weave in and out of each other.
Rattles and hisses, bites and bruises.
Glass littered all around as I think to myself…
What a wonderful world

UnSung

By Brookes Washington
Honorable Mention for the David Middleton Poetry Award

Spent cane to meet a new world, but I ain’t got there yet

So questions rolled off the tongue like dew on morning grass untouched by weary footprints and lost only a simple soul could know

Unkempt, Delaying the Inevitable

Deceived and Convinced closed doors, stained with victory and grace, ain’t gonna open for a sinner like

Me

Warm hearted kindness and breathless hope, what we call faith, in this crypt of a town where the coffins are homes to mindless skeletons in day old thoughts and hypocritical defeat

Where I’m from, there are no thanks you’s or hello’s, just cold shoulders and stale eyes from soulless shadows thickened by the Oak not blood

Tryin’ to keep the taste of deferred dreams out a caged bird’s position, hoping…praying maybe I too can dream and the world will witness this

Passion tried by selfishness and jealously but guided in the light of the hopelessness for the weakened and beaten on their last

So we ran with that, Do I ran with that

Mama prayed and Daddy spoke, so I wrote…giving life to something I never knew but loved so fearfully

Somewhere between life and conclusion, not sure, just knowing that if I could just push harder, fight longer, breathe shorter. You’re almost there, kid…

Blood tinged dirt paved the backyard escape and when the devil stroked his claw on his love’s face, my tears provided that rain

So we ran with that, So I ran with that

All the white color settled into my veins, while the veins settled into the ways

A lifeless river comforting their inabilities and mistakes, ya know it makes things easier to criticize when yo’ shame not on display

But I, like so many before me

Could never shape those ashes allowing man to know me, so we became the subjects of all their enjoyed misfortune

So I left wishes to men who would not spare a breath for my name and decided

Prayer would lead this way, Faith is no idle thing to be discarded or fooled

Cause’ truly, there’s no time for lost on a battlefield of one against a thousand

Cause’ truly, only deaf ears can hear apologizes and blind eyes can see the colors of hurt’s burdens

Sometimes we fall into a trance of wandering and wondering

Of whether

“The Good Enoughs” and “What Ifs” will weather this storm of unpredictability and destined discrepancies

Afraid to fail cause’ even my worst enemy will show sorrow and pity for my dismayed circumstance

So what do I do? Dear God, what do we do?

Persist in the unwillingness of our own defeat?

What if we shouldn’t find the strength to rise, where humility has been confused into shame that weakens the bones and strengthens the very soul who hates me?

Where no one dare lay their head at night, no Father, where do we go from here?

After blood sweated tears, After nightless mornings and morningless nights, After curses of fire and brokenness…After bruised knees and an aching heart filled plea

Spending long hours among the lost, mourning countless skies, and sorrowful spills over a cup rimmed with the blood of the forgotten sweetened by the innocent

Fear could no longer smother a given salvation purposefully disguised as serpents in a garden of the free and of the brave

It took to undo the screws in this makeshift prison, where the mind becomes senseless in its awakening

There is no time or change to spare, just human beings pushing for something bigger than ourselves

Perhaps a voice that will drown us in the sweetness of moral capacity and heavenly righteousness

So divinely created that even sinners like us can stand and be mystified by this greater glory

I don’t know…but this is what I except from spent cane and sore feet, from an exhausted heart in search of peace

All I’m sayin’ is…it’s time to become

UnSung

Wood For Fire

By Brady Robinson
Third Place of the David Middleton Poetry Award

Trees stand for trees and roots drink for leaves, like the tired spouse who wrests pot and sponge from stand to stove to cook and clean for time yet spent. The child lives to dance, loss flitting in his core when Mom and Dad walk the bend. Red knows blood no more than blood knows the cut from which it bled. Gray knows black from white for it is not God to be gray, but sad to mix the sky, which drains the clouds and floods the ground, sad to mix with pale sun rays. Trees like a fire that spreads, dries, and cracks them, like worn skin on a cold day when food is scarce and the axe must swing. Wood rears and groans back at the blade.

Fashion Jenifer Richardson
Fashion
Jenifer Richardson

Silver Incantations

By Samantha Carpenter
Second Place of the David Middleton Poetry Award

The white-capped fists of the sea
pound the gritty white shore.
Hear the silver incantations sliver forth
creep up on the shore
twist slowly around your ankle
wrap around your knees…

Captains strangled by her silver-toned blade,
tucked away into
the beds of the sea—
yellowed marrowed pillows,
down of the purpling gray decreased—
away from lilac calls of the loved ones
buried beneath sandcastles
on that gritty white shore.

Seaweed twisted taut around your ankle,
and you wish her silver incantations would sliver
around your body and caress
the panic from your bones,

but instead the siren bows before you
then recedes into the sea.

Pencil

By Taylor Mitcham
First Place of the David Middleton Poetry Award

When you push me down
hard, I leave behind a trail of thick black smoke
on the straight one-way roads.
I’m a vehicle to dreams and you
think you are the driver, but
it’s me who makes the paper comes to life. Hazy
swirls dance and as you take a sharp turn, I
break.
Don’t worry. You
fix me right up with your surgical blades.
I’m sharp and new again,
becoming the source of all creation in a vast blank
sheet, filling the white spaces with creatures that make phonetic sounds when
cramped together.
Yet sometimes
you use me to create worlds without sound but full of
shades which move like a washer set on
high. Shaking the very earth with your
realm of ideas.
The things you use me for carry
weight.
Too heavy for the
page to contain.
Sometimes
quivering heartbeats carry the wide spaced leaf to accepting
strangers.
But other times
the creation becomes ripped to shreds and thrown in
the black abyss where everything you used me for
is gone.

The David Middleton Poetry Prize

Established. 2015

The David Middleton Poetry Prize is awarded to the writer of the most outstanding poem submitted to Mosaic in a publication year. The Prize honors long-time English professor, Poet-in-Residence, and Mosaic Advisor, Dr. David Middleton.

Dr. Middleton arrived at Nicholls in 1977. Soon thereafter, the young instructor of English became principal faculty advisor to Mosaic, a position he held for the next 11 years. During that time, he was instrumental in resurrecting the student literary magazine after over a decade of dormancy and setting it firmly on a path of sustainability, which, with this volume, it has enjoyed now for 37 years. During his service as the magazine’s advisor, as well as advisor to the English Society and Head of the Department of Languages and Literature, Dr. Middleton remained Mosaic’s strongest supporter, making it the second longest-running student literary magazine among Louisiana colleges and universities.

As a poet, Dr. Middleton is not only a consummate craftsman but also a selfless one. He has delivered readings across the country, and his poetry has published and anthologized worldwide. He is author of ten collections, including four titles published by LSU Press, the latest entitled The Fiddler of Driskill Hill: Poems of Louisiana North and South. On behalf of other poets, he has written many reviews, organized collaborative readings and collections, and has served as poetry editor for multiple journals. Most importantly, he has taught the experience of his high art to countless students in both classroom courses and independent study here at Nicholls, many of whom become poets in their own right.

A tireless advocate of the art, Dr. Middleton has made Nicholls a nationally recognized home of poetic outreach. Most notably, as Chairman of the Fletcher Lecture Series from 1994 to 2003, Dr. Middleton was responsible for bringing to Nicholls several renowned American poets to read to students, faculty, and the community. These poets included Lewis P. Simpson, Donald E. Stanford, Edgar Bowers, X.J. Kennedy, Fred Chappell, Timothy Steele, and the first U.S. Poet Laureate—Robert Penn Warren.

Thirty-seven years after arriving, Dr. Middleton is now Professor and Poet-in-Residence Emeritus at Nicholls. He can still be found in Peltier Hall, not too far from his first office, working on essays, reviews, editing, and, of course, his poetry. With the David Middleton Poetry Prize, Mosaic is proud to honor the legacy of its champion with an enduring reward to the next generation of outstanding student poets for whom on this campus he paved a clear and true path.