By Ken Holland
Winner of the New Ohio Review Poetry Contest: selected by Kim Addonizio

Featured Art: Unresolved by Lucy Osborne

It’s not that the sane are sane
and we need talk no more about it . . .
it’s more the question of how insanity hasn’t run rampant.

Please, if I may be an example:

If I were given the choice to suffer in poverty,
or suffer fleeing that poverty,
I would simply say, No thank you.

Or this: if, as the animists believe, even stones have souls,
you’d be mad to think about chain gangs
and what they do with sledgehammers.

More so, if there’s just one god then someone
please explain the saints to me.

Here’s a longer thought: I cannot forget the bands of
feral dogs roaming the streets of Cairo—their
physical kinship, the tawny slope of their haunches,
the wasted musculature. And it seems to me
God was himself conceived in hunger.
But not his own.

Madness is the muzzle of a dog that’s been muzzled
and left with no way to eat.

But it’s not as if the animal can’t breathe.
Even I can smell what’s coming from the kitchen.
The mutterings of sanity are like gospel,
while the mutterings of insanity
bear the stigma of an invasive species;

though some believe the inverse to be true—

as if it were impurities that make water lucid,
that still sadness into the near-notes of a
nearly sung song.

This is perhaps the way dissonance
sometimes resolves into a minor chord.

This is perhaps the way insanity feels
when it is most composed.

Ken Holland has had work widely published in such literary journals as Tupelo Quarterly and California Quarterly. He was a finalist for the 2022 Lascaux Prize and has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. He spent his rent-paying years working for various NYC publishers, and he lives in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York. For more, visit:

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