Music Writing Contest Winner

Michael Harty
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jun 22, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Michael Harty has won the poetry category of our writing contest on the theme of MUSIC with "Ralna's Song".

Harty has been practicing psychology and psychoanalysis in the Kansas City area for a long time, and publishing poetry for a fairly small percentage of that time. So far he's had poems in Kansas City Voices, I-70 Review, New Letters, Coal City Review, and other magazines, and he's published a chapbook, The Statue Game.

Ralna’s Song

Nobody on the Lawrence Welk show
knew her the way I knew her,
all those years before: the tribal island
mothers made of the country club ballroom,
the night in May when we were cast
as safe escorts for their daughters --
and there she was, fronting
the four-piece high school band
years before she got herself discovered.

The top forty was their playlist, the rude anthems
our primers in passion, and she sang it all,
she our dream made flesh, as close
as we’d come to those chocolate-smooth
doo-wop quartets out of Chicago or Queens,
that ripe lippy sax between verses
of the Five Satins, that indigo croon
of a Sam Cooke, a Johnny Mathis.

Hours wrapped in her sweet contralto,
and just at twelve, for the last number
she stood gauzed in blue spotlight,
palms cupping the microphone
like a lover’s face,
Please Eddie,
don’t make me wait too long,
and all us Eddies in our white
sport coats were holding closer
young cheeks, young breasts, the warm
vortex with her at its eye
drawing us away from the sleepy
benedictions of chaperones ringing the floor,
gladly into the surging mysterious
ecstatic secret quickening in the midst of us, fertile
with everything we were about to know.

So when she flounced her petticoats
in the accordion duet on TV, I could still
picture it, and maybe this time
she’d forget the script, forget
the dancers and the old man beside her,
and sing once more for me,
only me: Good night, sweetheart, good night...

Reviewed by Helen H.
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