A Picture Worth 500 Words

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First Prize: Poetry


Mary Hamrick

My friend Billy used to slip in and out of Cajun country swamps with the scent of gunpowder on his fingers and the sound of gospel on his tongue. He would stumble through our town with balletic motion, captivating the widow-women with his Louisiana manners and the wild-land physical beauty of a Southern gentleman. In his heaven, women were split apart by the wizardry of his deliberate verbal charms and the genius of his fingers as he painted their likeness onto a sheet of canvas. As if drawn into a vampire's kiss, the ladies would curl up to Billy and sigh sheepishly. As whispers flowed between their thighs, he'd fool with the ladies this-a-way and that-a-way, here and there. His mark — a creeping thing — slipped its fingers through straw-yellow hair and his brushwork of golden-hued women were forever-fixed onto plain, pale cloth. In the morning, like a raven passing by riddled with trickery, Billy would grab his clothes and a mug of black coffee — then scoot out with a vengeance.

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more;
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore . . .

          Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

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