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The hip-and-happening Lighthouse Studio Dinner committee (Laurie Wagner, Betsy Sweeney, Julie Cordova, Marie Kaufman, Christy Clothier, Laura Hinken, and Ann Williamson) came up with the idea of holding a Seven Deadly Sins writing contest in conjunction with Mary Karr’s visit to Lighthouse. They received millions of entries (or at least hundreds) and the seven winners got to attend a free dinner with Mary Karr, who also signed the posters made of their work. We’re posting the winners here so they live on scandalously in perpetuity. (Full text below, or view formatted text by clicking the sin by each writer’s name.)
Wrath by Abigail Templeton
Sloth by Brynn Downing
Gluttony by Ilona Fried
Pride by J. Diego Frey
Lust by Madden Swan
Envy by Stephen Herbert
Greed by Therese Wenham
To the Denver City and County Inspector Who Fined Me $500 Even Though
the Weeds in the Front Lawn Were Well Under the 6″ Regulation Height
| by Abigail Templeton
May your own lawn
grow a hundred beanstalks
May God post a notice
on the back of your eyelids
and leave a phone number
to which no human voice
will ever answer.
May you trim the earth with your teeth.
May the roots we pull connect
on the other end to your silky cuticles
and each time we tug
at dandelion weed
may it rip at your tender fingernail beds.
May the rains come early
and a flood of tumble weeds
roll across your chest while you sleep.
May the water for your golf course
dry up like the abyss of your crusted
and rusty heart.
May you be forced to replant the seeds
of the Sioux and Ojibwe, forced
to bear prayer to Russian Sage
and Native Sedum Lanceolatum.
May the ghosts of thick vines haunt you,
wrap themselves around
your white sleeved wrists,
tie you to your desk chair.
May a rose bush, 6″ tall, grow
from your nostrils,
so in the future
there will be no mistakes.
| by Brynn Downing (there’s really cool formatting for this that unfortunately won’t “save” via WordPress, so please click on Brynn’s name, above)
Slow hipped, swollen lip’d,
we lie together. A child’s hand game
for more covers, coffee–
we’ll play again, later.
We are bears sleeping off the fat,
gorging ourselves on the solitude
of each other,
me stretching into you,
a slow yawn that leads
to more yawns,
too content to sleep, whatever’s within arm’s reach
It’s not that I’m tired,
but the snuff of your breath
thrum of your blood
circling your chest is better
than the ocean,
or one of those tapes
they sell late at night. I can’t be
Watch the light change
across our skin,
hardening with time
lust to us,
and to the bed.
We’ll order in.
Dim Sum, Sin Some
| by Ilona Fried
Sam edged closer to Susan. He had insisted on sitting next to her while deciphering the dim sum menu. They had ordered, checking boxes with a stubby pencil, but he hadn’t moved across the table. Odd, she thought. It was their second date and she glanced at his shaved head, smooth cheeks, and the line of his jaw that tapered into a goatee. His turquoise sweater brushed her right forearm. She didn’t pull away.
The food came fast. Glistening Chinese broccoli spears with satiny leaves, fleshy crepes that quivered when the plate slapped the table, golden crispy shrimp balls and dumplings nestled in a basket. Susan lifted the lid, releasing a spurt of steam.
With her left hand she reached with her chopsticks for a crepe. It nearly slithered away but she quickly guided it onto her dish. She dipped the pancake in a puddle of soy sauce and placed it between her lips. Silky on her tongue, it went down easily. Within seconds, she polished it off.
“Don’t eat too much,” a friend cautioned her, “if you think you might sleep with him.”
Choosing between the pleasures of the kitchen and the bedroom was a heartbreaking dilemma. The former were practically guaranteed. Yet an overstuffed belly inhibited the latter. She again looked at Sam. A broccoli stalk jutted from his mouth as he tried bisecting it with his teeth. He could wait. Rolling up her sleeves, the chopsticks now pincers, she piled her plate and kept eating.
Journey to the Center of JDiego: A Thanksgiving
| by J. Diego Frey
Leave the turduckens to the to the drunken fat gluttons!
Mash radishes onto the gnashers and mashers.
Stuff the greed monkeys with an envy for junkies
and let the rest of them fester in bed on their asses.
Those other half dozen aren’t worth as much ink
as what I should devote to the worth of myself.
The scope and the grandeur, the orange and oranger.
The vistas I’ve offered, the wisdom, the wealth.
We’d better be grateful for what we’ve been given:
(Were I to not have writ this, twould it be twice as worse?)
God save up me and declare me the winner!
God grant me up all success I expect!
And God keep a look down on those other poor sinners.
Show them the way with the light I reflect.
Those brawlers and buggers, those hoggers and hams,
those slow-moving green-grassing silverdick huggers–
their praise be to me, best of the seven, I think.
And how little, I should add, that my bowel leavings stink.
October 1, 2011
| by Madden Swann
The girl thought he would want to come home with her, moving his hands along the stucco walls in the hallway as they walked up the stairs to her room wet from lawn sprinklers they had run through outside, sprinklers that poured thick arches of water into the sky, pausing for a moment, as if they were the tails of comets, letting gravity pull down bits of their wet dust for the two of them to run through, and they did run through them, leaping so high not even an antelope could reach them, wet mud sinking between the girl’s toes, mortar holding together days that gathered across their skin like dew, and she thought to herself many years later that it was just as Bernard of Clairvaux said of his God, “let me kiss you with the kiss of my mouth,” let me kiss you, she thought, let me, and as she closed her eyes she could again see the wet pools of the boy’s eyes, droplets forming across his hair, and when she told the boy to come to her, she thought he would stay, but instead he wavered in the white frame of her doorway, water pooling around his feet, and as she looked back on the arches surrounding them, she could feel them crumble through the outline of her memory, this shaky outline of a house that she had built, for the two of them, out of water.
Do you accept the charges?
| by Stephen Herbert
Tuesdays are reserved for Sweet Cheeks. Wednesdays have always been Kitty Kat. I could go on but I don’t want to get upset. I don’t want to think about those groupies. It makes me ill to hear the love they receive. The love they think they deserve. The love I deserve.
I took this job, working the phone lines at the Iowa State Correctional facility, because it was the best job I could get after the divorce. Apparently I wasn’t on par with the girl from the 23rd floor. Apparently that’s the love slimgenics promises but doesn’t deliver.
But Ted, Ted knows how to talk to a woman. He melts hearts over the phone with his southern drawl and charm. Those who truly don’t understand him are the people who put him here. This isn’t his fault. He offered that girl a ride. She threw herself at him. She wanted him like I do. How she fell on that knife, twenty different times, no one really knows. Least of all Ted.
He knows I am listening. He signed that little piece of paper saying he understood we were listening, that I would be listening. He hears my voice every time I connect him to those girls. He hears my voice asking those stupid little girls if they will accept him.
What doesn’t he understand? Why hasn’t he asked me? Of course I will accept him. I already have.
I’ll be here Ted. Listening. Waiting. Accepting you.
Sestina of the Seven Sins
| by Theresé Wenham
Who hasn’t been consumed by lust,
been driven beyond anger to wrath
or strutted with a peacock’s pride?
More often, we succumb to envy,
sloth, a mass consumer’s greed
or, forsaking want’s denial, gluttony.
We may face ourselves after gluttony
has sickened us, after the lust
leads to regret, after our greed.
We may disregard our own wrath
and deny a well-concealed envy,
still a victim of our pride.
Perhaps we no longer take pride
(empty bottles to define our gluttony)
but act like someone to envy:
powerful, glamorous, an object of lust.
We’d want submission to our wrath
and approval for unspoken greed.
And if, in the extreme, greed
won’t allow us to move beyond pride,
when questioned, we unleash our wrath
with violence on the poor glutton
for punishment. Even acting on lust
leaves an empty pit of envy.
There is always something to envy
in what is unknown. Even greed,
that ubiquitous fear, and enduring lust,
can be a source of pride,
just as need fuels the gluttony,
and self-hatred is its own wrath.
Sometimes we crave the beguiling wrath
of love, and the persuasive envy
that makes us human: pure gluttony
of emotion and the implied greed
rooted in a sense of pride.
We may love consumption of lust.
Feed the glutton cherries, until greed
subsides – no more envy – no wrath –
and lust submits to humble pride.