Congratulations to our 2022 poetry contest winners! As usual, we had lots of great submissions this year. If you missed entering this year, keep an eye out for our 2023 contest!
Adult Category: 1st Place
“The Sun and the Moon” by Melody Jones
and bares the gunmetal gray invading thinned hair
once luscious with auburn life and loose curls, now jaded and stale
Then night returns, soothing her tattered soul as
sparks a halo of silver fire softening a drawn face full of years, and smoothing the age snaking ‘cross her skin,
lifting weary thoughts to scatter through stars
gives stark evidence of the lines and crevices cracking her eyes, and making their way ‘round a crinkled lip that
whispers history words,
HER history of a black-haired boy who walked her in
and declared her the most bewitching girl he’d ever seen, kissing love onto rounded cheeks and youthful lips,
while moonbeams shone into the nearby pond, reflecting magic and twinkles and the dance of cattail fairies that
because the sun glares and bares stagnant water, where dead branches pierce the surface and crunched cups
from the fast-food joint (now crushing the old country church beneath) tangle in the reeds and the choking black
When finally, twilight ushers in the shadow of night, and,
opaque the pond, veil her to the sun and reclaim her seeking mind. The young girl dreams by the water’s edge
while moonlight flirts with breezy ripples, and fairies rejoice in weeping willow sorcery.
gentle lies unmask her heart, and she remembers
She is beauty.
Adult Category: 2nd Place
“There Are Not Songs Enough” by Rian Carey
There are not songs enough
for the mist in the morning
or the way the telephone poles rise
like masts lining a harbor
so crows become seabirds
for an hour or two before dawn.
There are ballads to sunshine and starlight,
glittering like gemstones and gold.
But give me fog.
The way it rolls in from midnight,
falls from the sky like soot and snow and all the wishes
that couldn’t make it out in the world
on their own.
There are melodies for the clouds,
full of giants and castles and palatable ephemeral witchcraft.
But give me the mist in the morning.
The way it settles on the earth
like a wounded animal, wet and chill.
There are ditties for the weather,
for twisters and thunderstorms brewing like dark roast over the plains
and at the feet of mountains.
But give me the fog.
And the way it is quiet and soft and frightening
as a blank page.
Give me the fog
and how it engulfs you.
So you count on the road,
hope it takes you to Walmart or Conoco or Starbucks or
the good Tacobell by the airport,
but know you may find yourself on the edge of an ocean
waves lapping at your feet as the sand sucks you down, down, down
and your gaze cuts across the water.
There are shanties to the sea,
and odes to the world,
and the sharp staccato beat of skipping rhymes for heaven and hell.
But give me songs for the mist in the morning
and its visceral ice cube magic.
Or the way it burns off in the rising sun
Adult Category: 3rd Place
“THE EVER-BURNING FIRE OF YOUTH” by Rhiannon Bergman
To think you treasure the memory
as I do and keep it in your pocket
to finger whenever our childhood fades
off. Like a pebble, I placed mine
in the window sill. I am fond
of how the sun waltzes across its
surface in bright flashes, tugging me
back to last summer on the lake.
I had taken you on my paddleboard
for the first time, sweeping you away
from camp to the opposite shore where,
in our dreams, bears slumped towards the grass.
We took turns jumping into the water,
then glad for its cool womb. The sky
was so blue, like tin shot with those
arrows of white beams, that even here on
dim Christmas as you hand me the framed
picture the warmth of it burns your hand
over mine so that we must look up at
each other, eyes glinting like the surface
of the lake at high noon.
Teen Category: 1st Place
“Eloquence” by Cynthia Gilmore
I often say I am not eloquent:
My thoughts rock and trip like ox pulled wagons.
I find my power is very quickly spent,
Harnessing a beast that runs with fiery passion.
Oh tongue! Oh lips! You are my daily vice:
Do not assume each thought worthy of breath,
You’re reckless, shooting past all the red lights
Some days I’m only waiting for your death
My love is better spent in silent gush
I have suppressed the need to fill with noise
A few wise words not said in such a rush
Perhaps will bring the patron finer joys
It’s hard to turn a rat into a jay
Yet I’ll keep trying, every drowsy day
Teen Category: 2nd Place
“Sky-deer” by Tyler Rich
Loping high the meadows to their face,
hoof-tips dance the sky in every grace.
gold and blue the hillside, early dawn,
came the deer a-running with each fawn.
sunset paints red-crimson to their eye,
wispy clouds trot, loping, through the sky.
Teen Category: 3rd Place
“Plants” by Boaz Daggy
Apples grow on trees
and on the vines grow tomatoes;
In the ground all safe and sound
grow brown and round potatoes.
Bananas grow on rhizomes
and in the bushes berries;
In the tree growing free
are red and tasty cherries.
Image by rawpixel.com
The 2nd place and 3rd place Teen poems
are the best, by far, of the six poems presented.
The major flaw in the three adult poems
is their wordiness, what poetry instructors
warn against: verbosity.
The remarkable feature of the two Teen poems
is their sensory inventiveness, and a willingness
to exercise compression of imagery so that the images
echo off each other, like billiard-balls colliding,
Poetry needs compression–as a good method
to defeating verbosity–and a relief from words
that are at best entries from folks’ journal-pages.
When utilizing too many words to write a poem
the danger is you lose the reader’s attention to
the MAIN THING you are trying to say. The reader
becomes your *first critic* in that s/he begins to
question WHY a certain word or phrase is used,
or becomes distracted by extraneous details
that have not been compressed into imagery,
and remain quite care-worn descriptions in
what can only amount to a journal entry or
“Eloquence” is the poem that stays with us. The young poet finds an effective way to express herself through writing. It is a poem of struggle to regain dignity where sound is awkward. It is personal and deep at these difficult times when we know teenagers are struggling in too many ways. Maybe many of us can see ourselves in there. Thank you for having shared your poem. I believe the library chose well. Thank you!
Sun and Moon, melody jones. I dont care much for poetry because I dont understand its often dreamy nature. But, o how this poem touched my heart. I felt every word as I read it. And saw myself. Thank you for your beautiful gift.