Poetry: First Place

From Out of the Clear Blue Western Sky Comes              

by Jo Middlebrooks
I listened on the radio in 1954.
The soft, mellow tone of his voice soothed my fears.
My twelve-year-old mind conjured up pictures
More vivid than those on TV of Penny and her Uncle Sky
His plane (the Songbird), and the dastardly crooks
He caught but never shot.

Who would think, in 2010,
I would hear that sound from way back then?
Here he comes again, off to save some troubled soul.
Mama's words instruct deep within my memory.
"Sky King is on. Wash your feet when you come in.
Leave that jar of lightning bugs on the back step."

From out of the clear blue western sky, he buzzes my patio.
The hum of the Songbird's engines tells me all is well.
Sky is on the way to save the day.

Well, actually, from out of the clear blue western sky,
Above the short runway (whose glide path crosses my yard)                                        
Comes some old guy doing a touch and go
In his Cessna 310 every Thursday afternoon.
He flies into sight and banks to the left.
The smooth hum of his Songbird growls down with the turn.

I feel safe on Thursday afternoons
To work in my garden or rest in the shade.
SKY-Y-Y KING-G-G flies just overhead.
He will see if I fall or faint in the heat.
Or, as I am prone to do these days,
Disappear, drifting back to another time.

Short Stories: First Place

Devil's Night
By Barbara Brockway
The last person I expected to see being marched into the Summerville, Georgia jailhouse in a bunny costume was my old babysitter, Genevieve.

            Not the Bugs or Harvey type of bunny, but the cleavage plunging, thigh flashing, high heel strutting Playboy kind, her curvy bottom barely covered by the plush pink fabric. One ear cocked suggestively, a wink at half-mast over her auburn curls. The bunny of many a male fantasy, my own included.

            She locked eyes with me.

            “Trick or treat,” she said, a wicked smile curved the corners of her lips upwards.

            “Jefferson,” she breathed boozily, in that Genevieve way that made my toes curl inside my steel-toed boots.  

            I was instantly transported back fifteen years to that October when I was thirteen, and the two-years-older Genevieve was enlisted by my mother to keep my younger brother and me from giving each other black eyes and knots on our skulls while she and her friend Wendy went dancing.

            “I’m too old for a babysitter,” I had protested, watching my mom apply lipstick in the foyer mirror.

Authors do a lot of thinking, as it pertains to their stories, the shopping around for agents and publishers. Certainly, I’m no exception to this fact.

I’ve had my works published in various venues over the years, and have had two independent publishing companies choose two of my manuscripts to publish.  Due to a set of unfortunate circumstances, the first of these publishers went out of business awhile back, the latter is due to close its doors by the end of 2016 due to crushing debt. Unfortunately, for every publisher you’ve heard of, there are literally hundreds of lesser known publishers out there, each vying for a piece of the pie.

After tremendous deliberation, I’ve finally decided to start my own publishing company; “Hang In There Books:” the name being sort of a play on my latest work in which the central character was hanged. It also reflects the dogged determination of an artist (yes, writing IS an art) in the pursuit of his or her dreams.

Right now, there is one word going through your mind: “why?”  Because us authors refuse to be defeated—and we refuse to coddle to the “pay us megabucks and we’ll make a movie out of your book” subsidy publisher who, after getting your money allows your work to languish in a closet, or worse, sends your precious work to the shredder.

However, I can’t do this alone--I'd appreciate your thoughts.