Prime Number Magazine
is a publication of 
Press 53
PO Box 30314,
Winston-Salem NC 27130
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Issue 101, Oct – Dec 2016
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130

Emily Rose Cole
Honorable Mention in the 2016 Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry

Judged by Kelly Cherry, former Poet Laureate of Virginia and author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems (LSU Press)

Followed by author bio and Q&A
10 Years Later, the Cowardly Lion Surveys His Territory 

We burned the poppy fields, choked the sky with poison
plumes, a whirl of purple ash, thrum of monkey wings.

The woodsman and I filled the naked grove with apricot trees,
just for the hell of it. Afterwards, he melted down the head  

of his axe to make a locket for his lover, a pewter-
nosed kettledrum of a woman. I haven’t seen them in years. 

Out west, my best friend wastes like a week-old deer corpse. 
The crows grow plump, bawl laughter from the cornstalks. 

I keep telling him he’s too smart to pine over some jewel-toed
bombshell, but his eyes are pinned up, waiting for wind to whip 

her house into a chariot again. Meanwhile, I’ve grown lean, 
gained muscle. Birds hush when I slink below the mossed

branches. Voles flee, rabbits quiver. Even the bears
keep to their caves. Harmony reigns. But I know 

somewhere, a witch spirals a clawed hand over an orb.
A con man flashes his canines. A family loses their home. 

Emily Rose Cole is a poet and lyricist from central Pennsylvania. She has received awards from Jabberwock Review, Ruminate Magazine, Philadelphia Stories, and the Academy of American Poets, and her work appears most recently in Sycamore Review, Yemassee, and BOAAT Journal, among others. She is a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati, and can be found at

This piece was the first I wrote in the persona-based Wizard of Oz series I’m working on. It was a delight to reimagine the landscape of Oz years and years after Dorothy’s departure, so I continued the series in the voices of other characters who interested me (especially the witches), to see what their takes would be. So far, it’s my only poem in the voice of the Cowardly Lion, but I hope it won’t be my last, since the confidence and authority in his voice is one that my own natural poetic voice generally lacks. 

Questions from the Editor:

What was your favorite childhood toy? 
I had a green dragon puppet that I loved and had keep watch over my bed every night, like some sort of fairy-tale version of a dreamcatcher. However, that goal may have been slightly undermined by the fact that I named him Friendly, so as not to scare my other toys. 

What is the farthest you have traveled from home? 
I’ve probably traveled farther than Toulouse, France, but that’s my answer, since I lived there for nine months during my study abroad semester in college. It’s a lovely city, and I highly recommend visiting (the weather is way better than in Paris!) 

A walk in the rain or snow, and why? 
Snow. Especially the first real snow of winter, the kind that both weights and softens the air, the kind you can smell coming.