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2019 Sheila-Na-Gig Editions Poetry Manuscript Contest Winner: Barbara Sabol


Barbara Sabol is the author of the poetry collection, Solitary Spin, and two chapbooks. Her work has appeared widely in journals and anthologies. Barbara’s awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She reviews poetry books for the blog, Poetry Matters. Barbara is a speech therapist who lives in Akron, OH with her husband and wonder dogs. Look for her new collection, Imagine a Town, from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions this spring.

People Like That

Only when her brute dogs would escape
through the broken windows would we see her―
new age Medusa, turning our hearts to stone.

Voice at full-throttle, gut hung over the wrought
iron rail, she’d curse her hounds in lingo
that made mothers pull their children in from play.

She packed her van and vanished, leaving the place
to the vagaries of suburban nature. Scum around our block,
a snub to civility, we said, yet were drawn

by the ammonia reek, the debris strewn
across raw floorboards. We cupped our hands
and peered in through spiked-out coronas

of glass in the half-moonlight, pressing
from every angle as if for a glimpse
of The Bearded Lady or Alligator Girl.

One sticky summer night we raided her riotous garden―
perennials swarmed the cement stoop, insinuated
their tendrils beneath the eaves.

Rhododendrons flamed the cedar shakes
and snap dragons whispered their blooming.

First one neighbor, balanced by two scrappy buckets;
soon others trickled down the walk, growing brazen
with wheelbarrows and shovels.

We uprooted fiddlehead ferns, white violets,
the tea rose bush. Whole shrubs.

Only the Japanese maple remained inviolate;
it held and released handfuls of thin light as we grunted
and dug on our knees in the dirt

marveling, above the trowels’ chafe, at what becomes
of people like that.


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