2024 Poetry Contest Adult and Teen Winners!


Congratulations to our 2024 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 2025 contest!  This year’s Teen contest was judged by Noel Kalenian, Librarian and published poet; the Adult contest was judged by Dr. Randy Phillis, professor of English at CMU, and author of the poetry collections: A Man Explains His Posture; Kismet, Colorado; and Plots We Can’t Keep Up With.

Winners received gift cards to Downtown Grand Junction, thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Mesa County Libraries.

Friends of the Mesa County Libraries

Adult Winners

1st Place: Larraine Pallas for “What Remains”

Pickling spice, Chinese five spice, rich yellow turmeric
Burnt-red cinnamon, orangey mace, rainbow-colored sugar crystals…
I shook them out, watched them fly on a mild breeze over the still-green lawn.
Then poured out small burbles of imitation anise and rum flavorings
Red and green food colorings, pure lemon extract…
This letting go felt like spreading her ashes…
These remnants of intriguing possibilities she’d bought (on sale, of course).

They’d long been nestled in tins and little brown glass bottles
On the narrow, built-in shelves of her kitchen spice rack,
Waiting for the baker’s loving hand
Behind a small, see-through door with a tiny oval handle
That she could turn and, reaching in,
Select something wonderful, a reminder of the larger world out there
That now is shrunk to moments of memory
And disappearing achingly fast.

2nd Place: Ashley Lawrence for “ghosts now”

white vapor
reflects spaces
between the pines
sap frozen in
midnight passings
migrations south
live for another
moon of Jupiter
the coyote wind
holds tight

3rd Place: Katelyn Pierce for “Golden”

The dried desert grass glistens a soft glow.
A soft, warm gold.
As if it was silk draping the rugged rocks.
Stirring in the wind as one being.
I watch as the timeless dance continues, thinking of your soft hair in the wind.
How it shines the same warm gold.
It is then I thank the Earth.
We come from generations of prairie hardened people.
It is only natural that we also shine in its gold.

Teen Winners

1st Place: Chloe Mayer for “Playlist for My Dead Sister”

1. “Bleed the Freak” by Alice in Chains from Facelift © 1990
Listen sparingly. This is only meant for sour days
when time is scarce and no one texts back. The vocals still
rot in my ears—it’s a strange sensation, and you may hate
it at first. Threats are hardly charming and this one is heavy
when it squats on your shoulders. Oh, console yourself—you
are sturdy, and I have put this faithfully in your care.

2. “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses from G N’ R Lies © 1987
There is no need to fall in love if you take care
of this one. Hold it to your chest on snowy days
and shut your eyes unless the sun is setting outside. You
needn’t coddle it, but be sure your mind is still
so you don’t disturb its peace with those heavy
worries of yours, the ones you so violently hate.

3. “The Day I Tried to Live” by Soundgarden from Superunknown © 1994
Melancholy suits you well, and I know you hate
that, but you are both so alike in your care-
fulness and droopy eyes. This is a low, heavy
tune you’ll warm up to—it’s best on slow days
with the useless threat of a storm still
wailing overhead. I like to think it already knows you.

4. “Shoot to Thrill” by AC/DC from Back in Black © 1980
This one will not intimidate you
so much as the others, since you could never hate
such a melody. It’s electric, insistent, and still
clinging to my torn nails. Please keep it from the rain and care
for it with gloves so your fingers stay unbitten, on days
when the sun is bright and the air is no longer heavy.

5. “Alive” by Pearl Jam from Ten © 1991
When the world is ceaseless and sits heavy
on your bony shoulders, I hope you
listen to this. It’s steadfast, meant for days
when lonelier shadows than you or I dance in that hate-
ful mirror of yours, when you ache to be care-
less with the swollen heart that refuses to still.

6. “Panama” by Van Halen from 1984 © 1984
This one has never been good at sitting still,
so find a rope and something very heavy
to tie to its ankles. It will require less care
than those younger, woeful tunes I have given you,
but be wary of raw edges anyway. I know you will hate
the gasoline-and-sex smell, but focus instead on the sunny desert day.

7. “Bend in the Road” by Chris Cornell from Higher Truth © 2015
This is my very favorite, reserved for evenings and dusky days
when my throat is raw with swallowed hate-
red and I think most often of you.

2nd Place: Tristan Murray for “The Heart Pulls On Its Thick Dark Coat”

We speak to one another all night,
The Future and I.
Though no one knows how to

Sweep aside the rubble of memory.
Is remembering really such a comfort?

The heart pulls on its thick dark coat,
Grasped tightly by the frozen past.
Warmly woven wool
Pulled over the eyes.

It constricts with its familiarity.
Shrunken in size
Over the years.

If we could only unravel it
And leave behind the immensity
And fear

But perhaps, dear Future,
We are only an incomprehensible
Scribble on each other’s walls?
Red spray paint
In a collapsed subway tunnel.

I wonder if some night
When the world has been pinched
Like dust between some collector’s fingers,
What will pull the heart?

3rd Place: Felix Glauner for “Lonely Robot”

An empty desolate world full of art.
No one to even cry at the sad films,
except a robot who wanted no part.
Who would he cry with. The robot felt ill.
The loneliness began to feel alive,
a brutal monster hunting the last creative mind.
The robot found a factory for refuge. He went inside.
A million paintings pumped out a second, what a find.
But even now something felt off,
there was no love or care for the paintings,
might as well have been rocks.
His worry grew when it began raining.
With nothing left to live for,
the robot walked out the door.

Posted in Library News.

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