winner of the 2010 46er Prize

I've come with my straight razor, done
with this town, done with the old brown

microphones, the cattails. I'll cut them down
at last and be forgiven.  My dad has sold

the house in which I was saddened.  Sold away
the brace of raspberries, the peeling sheds,

the deep thorny trees, all my hiding places.
Even the basement—he sold that too,

so quickly, though the air there is still sharp
with the nights I crept below to smoke cry

smoke. I've come back not to cry
but to cut down.  First in wide swaths,

then tenderly, delicately, as I will when my dad
is very old, and I hold a basin under his chin

to scrape away whiskers in whiteness.  He
has sold this house, and we will not return.

So I am done with this town, no more to say
to the surround of fields, ditches, ponds,

except forgive me.  Forgive me.  Forgive me
all my sharpness, all my sadness here.

RACHEL CONTRENI FLYNN was born in Paris in 1969 and raised in a small farming town in Indiana. Her second full-length collection of poetry, Tongue, won the Benjamin Saltman Award and was published in 2010 by Red Hen Press. Her chapbook, Haywire, was published by Bright Hill Press in 2009, and her first book, Ice, Mouth, Song, was published in 2005 by Tupelo Press, after winning the Dorset Prize. She was awarded a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007. Her work has often been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, and she received two literature grants from the Illinois Arts Council. She teaches poetry at Northwestern University and is on the editorial board of the Beloit Poetry Journal. Rachel is a graduate of Indiana University and the Warren Wilson College MFA Program. She lives north of Chicago with her husband and their two children. You can visit Rachel at