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Jendi Reiter

Second Prize 2007 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $700
Including Best Rhyming Poem prize of $200

Jendi Reiter's first book, A Talent for Sadness, was published in 2003 by Turning Point Books. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The New Criterion, Mudfish, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Alligator Juniper, MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry, Best American Poetry 1990 and many other publications. Awards include first prize for poetry in Alligator Juniper's 2006 National Writing Contest, a $2,500 third prize in the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg 2005 Poetry Prize contest, and two awards from the Poetry Society of America. She is the editor of Poetry Contest Insider, an online guide to over 750 poetry contests, published by www.winningwriters.com.

World's Fattest Cat Has World's Fattest Kittens
Tabloid headline

A man walks into a bar and that's
how I meet my father. Thirty years' prelude
to a first date, in the amber mood
of brass and cognac, philosophic chat
spins the barstool back and I could be my mother
making us something intimate and undefined,
making someone you would leave behind.
My job-interview smile like butter
over the Riviera snaps of your daughters,
an alternate normalcy unreeled
by their tan arms, nothing concealed
behind your soft, proud chest but beach and blue waters.
But my awkward sister, dark-eyed—can't you find
her moon-round face in yours, and yours in mine?

Tapas and wine, and God to take his turn
building the polite fortress of conversation;
two ex-Jews still wedded to disputation
and self-pity. The theatre crowd, as unconcerned
as you with tabloid reunions, disperses
into Manhattan's blue lure. I say Jesus ended
life for our trespasses, but you're offended
at this old, barbarous economy of verses.
You glow with gurus, out-of-body flight
and sinless man—convenient to believe
the soul can shed the seeds the body leaves.
And I, lacking the charity not to hate your
smooth life apart from us—who am I to spite
the last lawyer who has faith in human nature?

Dumb girl, ludicrous heredity
making me hang on your kisses like a teen,
then ask, like the boy-father to the child unseen,
who is this one, this virtual life, to me?
True father, tell me now, don't we both nurse
our entitlements like a spitting-image son,
me judging life's gift by how it was begun,
you grasping after apples with no curse?
Atonement's just about dousing a blaze
someone else started. Till then, the wheel and snare
of karmic alleles conspires down the years
to put our eyes in an accusing face.
Tabloids and Genesis agree on that:
fat kittens must have come from fatter cats.

Copyright ©2007 by Jendi Reiter