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Frank Osen - Winner, Able Muse Book Award, 2012

Frank Osen
Frank Osen


2012 Able Muse Book Award
for his poetry manuscript
Virtue, Big As Sin

Selected by final judge, Mary Jo Salter

Coming soon from Able Muse Press - Spring/Summer 2013

(the contest finalists and honorable mentions are listed here)


Frank Osen was born in Yokosuka, Japan, grew up in Southern California, and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Loyola Law School.  His work has appeared in numerous print and online journals. He has won the Best American Poetry series poem award, been a finalist for the Nemerov sonnet competition, the Morton Marr award, and the Writers Digest poetry competition. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart prize and frequently appears in The Spectator (UK). He lives in Pasadena, California and walks to work at the Huntington Library.


Sample poems from Frank Osen's A Virtue, Big As Sin


                  Distant Pipes

Inked from Hiroshige’s un-inked mist,
           rain-washed ridge
     and blank-imprinted bridge,
  sedge hat pulled down against a storm,
sleeves billowing beyond each outthrust fist,
      the figure bears its form.

Leaning, perhaps against divesting wind
           whose vanished track
     has stripped its staff and pack,
  the figure stands, as though resolved
to dare a thinning image further thinned,
      a floating world dissolved.

Mid-ground, and this might almost be some monk
           or Edo traveler,
     until—its own unraveler—
  it settles in a new arena:
as drainage pipes amid a drift of junk,
      roadside, in Pasadena.

It did this sleight-of-hand just once, then showed
           how any art
     might dazzle and impart
  its tricks (they brought me back to view
these conduits)—the conjured awe, the road
      we take to make them new.

    (previously published in Comstock Review)


Penelope’s Shield

Laughing Boy returns and the dog drops dead.
Odysseus, did you think I wouldn’t know?
Under this shroud
I’ve borne more absences than yours.
So what, if summer shared our golden bed?
Every winter wears the same disguise.

Growth and loss
loom larger with me, now—
urging weaves both ways,
casting my work in the sun’s or fire’s light—
knit with disciplined undoing.

    (previously published in POOL)


Pacific Drift

We’re on the brambled slope above your house
and I’m still gazing west to Catalina,
where the horizon’s shortly going to douse
an undulant, impossibly pink sun.
Sailboats are sifting north to the marina;
Laguna’s pastel patch beyond that palm
is like a master watercolor done
in an eponymous pacific calm.

Four years ago, it was a different story:
earthmovers shifted all this rise away,
and evenings, you were on the phone to me,
complaining that your place looked like a quarry.
The county called you, though, it was okay;
they’d shore, restore, and pay you for your trouble,
but still, it hurt you somewhere deep to see
a once-imposing height come down to rubble.

Support has never been my strongest suit.
I tend to bulldoze things, I’d scoff and say
your lot was not as stable as it seemed,
what good were vistas that could slip away?
No purchase you had here was absolute,
you knew unanchored places often slid,
you’d have replacements that you’d never dreamed.
And by degrees, within a year, you did.

You drifted downward; evening’s fretfulness
became upheavals of late afternoon
(I’d yet to learn the doctors’ term, sun-downing).
A home of quite another sort came soon,
erosion of more faculties and girth,
a sliding towards complete forgetfulness
from which you’d sometimes call, like someone drowning
without a footing in familiar earth.

At sunsets, not so long ago, you’d stand
out on that terrace, raise a toast and note
how man-made fine particulates enhance
these evening skies; so when I’ve drunk my fill,
in awkward mimicry, I raise my hand
and let the bagful of your ashes float
into the placid sky’s and land’s expanse.
It’s fit that you’ll become your newborn hill.

    (previously published in The Raintown Review)



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