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Saint Simone

Second Place – 2021 Poetry Contest

She starved herself
thinking about grace.
How difficult it was

to be nothing
but flesh: prickly, contrarious,
pretending to get by

on cigarettes and headaches.
As a student, she witnessed
the heedless velocity

of factories; of campaigns
preparing to turn people
into things. She called this

force. Like any woman
who has loved a man,
she understood

God’s absence—
the harrowing way
loss can intensify

passion. Denying herself
the comforts of church
or sect, she believed only

in challenge: staring
into the black waves
 of oblivion

until they shimmered.


David Southward is the second-place winner of the 2021 Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry Contest. He teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His publications include Bachelor’s Buttons (Kelsay Books 2020) and Apocrypha, a sonnet sequence based on the Gospels (Wipf & Stock 2018).

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1922 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53726
Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery 
3rd Floor, Overture Center for the Arts
201 State Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.733.6633 x25