ART COUTURE, Third Place: “Skin” by Sheila Kelly



Inspired by: Expensive Taste, Becky Rosa


Sheila Kelly, “Skin”


Supple voluptuous sac I put my vitals in.
Consummate suit.
See me strip to a syncopated rhythm.
All hail, drool, salute.


Tuesday’s torture is Wednesday’s delight.
Make captive. Skin is elegant bait.
Moan spells pleasure/pain alike.


Hermes, Fendi: Fat me.
Shear then stretch me.
Dry me. Dye me. Pattern, cut me.
Stitch & praise me.


Better than some, my luxurious fate.
Swallow, wallow in. Spend till you sate.


In the words of Contest Judge Stephen Gibson, “Becky Rosa’s Expensive Taste gives us a woman in close up, actually not a woman but a mouth with its tongue licking a melting shopping-bag dripping like a scoop of ice cream atop a cone, the shopping-bag-ice-cream dripping over the slender, curled fingers and polished fingernails holding the cone. The poem “Skin,” a sonnet, is a terrific response to and exploration of that work. The “expensive taste,” of course, is not the dripping cone but the woman, the mouth, and so the sonnet gives voice to that mouth, to what it craves, and to tell us what we crave, wanting it;”


Sheila Kelly leads generative writing workshops in libraries, community centers, art galleries, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. A retired psychotherapist, she believes in the healing power of writing in a supportive group setting where writers can connect, experiment and develop their uninhibited voices. Kelly’s poems have been published in journals, anthologies and a book of craft; most recently in Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine and Diane Lockward’s The Practicing Poet.