2004 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award

Winner: “Long Gone Lonesome Blues"
by A.E. Stallings

Long Gone Lonesome Blues

Death was something that hadn't happened yet.
I was driving in my father's pickup truck
At some late hour, the hour of broken luck.
It seeped up through the dashboard's oubliette,
Clear voice through the murk — the radio was set
Halfway between two stations and got stuck.
But the words sobbed through, and I was suddenly struck
Like a gut string in the key of flat regret.

The voice came from beyond the muddy river —
You know the one, the one that's cold as ice.
Even then, it traveled like a shiver
Through my tributary veins — but twice
As melancholy to me now, because
I'm older than Hank Williams ever was.

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