|Photo by Wilda Morris, taken at The Clearing, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin||.|
This month, I asked both William Marr and Alan Harris, authors of example poems posted with the challenge, to judge the submissions separately. Each picked a different first place poem. Here are the two winners:
One afternoon in early spring
we walked this road as shadows
deepened in surrounding woods.
Mourning Doves in the distance
called out their tender message,
robins had returned.
Bird song accompanied our steps
as they constructed their nests.
A cloud passed over
and there was a moment of silence
as you pulled out loose tufts
of your thick, dark hair,
tucked them under the rough bark
of your favorite oak tree.
This was before the chemo failed,
before you called out
as breath left your body,
before missing you began.
You were the friend
I wanted to grow old with,
on days like this.
As I walk this road today,
again, I hear mourning doves,
a madrigal of robins,
I pass your favorite tree
and think of how the nests
are made stronger with your hair.
William Marr commented, “The vivid memory of a long-ago early spring afternoon reinforces the poetic feeling of emptiness and sadness when "you" are missing from the scene of this spring day, except for some loose tufts of hair.”
Here is the poem that tied for first place:
From Kites and Spring, Memories Rise
Two or three parts assembled easily,
mostly light, mostly right.
That's enough to stoke
a memory for me,
this one-- of kites in Spring:
balsa wood spines
strung with diamond masts,
twined knots thin
enough to snare a fish
around small hands.
There two or three of us,
kids in weekend clothes.
season of unbuttoned jackets, which
might spin into wings.
It would be a while before any of
us would fly, and so we flew kites.
Outside, where spring's indifferent
skies were unfolded canvases for
an art that couldn't stand still.
We'd watch each other,
every launch a prelude before
the risky climb, the power lines,
then the slow waltz into the rooftops'
empty spaces, kingdoms where chimneys
and nighthawks ruled. Always,
we felt twine notch wrinkle thin
ribbons in our palms. Always we
kept control panels in hand,
let our kites dance with
whatever defied the ground.
Until suddenly they were downed.
Spun into scraps,
divvyed up by wind among
Spring's prong-like trees,
bushes bereft of blossoms,
or onto fire escape landing shelves.
We were left with scraps, and it's
the scraps that are in each of us
memory bits that you
must assemble yourself.
~ Sheila Elliott
Alan Harris said, “The poem “From Kites and Spring, Memories Rise” is alive with original and vivid imagery.” As examples, he mentioned, “We felt twine notch wrinkle thin/ribbons in our palms,” and "kingdoms where chimneys and nighthawks ruled.”
Second place goes to a haiku (as is traditional, this haiku has no title):
stark naked branches
reach out, waiting to be clothed
in flecks of spring green
~ Marjorie Pagel
Third place winner is another free verse poem:
Assurances of Spring
When March appears on the calendar,
I check the feeder on my pine tree
for signs of returning robins.
Ibis descend on our greening lawn
their long, curved bills aerating
the packed ground
in search of emerging insects.
Crocus, azalea, iris, forsythia
pop up along lawn’s fringes
punctuating gray, rainy
April days with flashes of fuchsia
purple, yellow, white.
But it’s only when I can put asparagus,
tender peas, greens, ramps,
and strawberries on our dinner
table that I am assured spring
is truly here.
For I have eaten of its glory.
~ Joan Leotta
This month, due to having two judges, we also have a fourth place Poem:
In the heart of the nation
so I carve time to indulge
in the widest blue I know:
in the woods,
only for a short time
since branches above
show tiny yellow-green
which in this overdue
warmth will enlarge quickly
masking sunlight feeding
this sea of blue,
stealing my ocean,
leaving me once again
on dry land.
~ Marilyn Peretti
Spring Blue was posted on LinkedIn.com, April, 2018.
Congratulations to each of the winning poets! The winning poets retain copyright on their own poems.
Doris Bezio is a poet/experimental artist, who has a lifelong love affair with books and learning. She has attended writers’ conferences at Wheaton College, Illinois Wesleyan as well as classes at UW-Fox Valley UW-Oshkosh with Ellen Kort, Laurel Mills and others and her poetry has been featured in calendars and other publications.
Sheila Elliott is a poet, writer and active participant in many Chicago area literary organizations including Poets and Patrons.
Alan Harris retired from a 22-year career with Commonwealth Edison, in which he had served as a computer programmer, systems analyst, computer trainer, and Web developer. Between 1982 and 1995 he privately print-published ten books of poems and aphorisms for friends and family. These books and all subsequent poetry collections are now on the Web at Noon Out of Nowhere - Collected Poems. His books in PDF format are downloadable at PDF Books. Alan is a past president of the Illinois State Poetry Society and currently maintains the ISPS Web site while residing in Tucson, Arizona.
Joan Leotta is a writer, journalist, author, essayist, and story performer whose stories and poems often deal with food. You can download a mini-chapbook of her poems at
https://www.origamipoems.com/files/Books%20/2016/Joan_Leotta_-_Dancing_Under_The_Moon_2016R.pdf and learn more about her work at
www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973.
William Marr has published 23 volumes of poetry (two in English and the rest in his native Chinese language), 3 books of essays, and several books of translations. Chicago Serenade is a trilingual (Chinese/English/French) anthology of his poems published in Paris in 2015. Some of his poems are used in high school and college textbooks in Taiwan, China, England, and Germany.
Marjorie Pagel has been impatiently waiting for spring to arrive in Franklin, Wisconsin. She is the author of The Romance of Anna Smith and Other Stories, available on Amazon.
Marilyn Peretti, of Chicago suburbs, grew up in Indianapolis, and loved the woods of Brown County where her father was born. Now she immerses herself in woods of Morton Arboretum, seeking varied fungus on logs, focusing on them for watercolors. She exhibits at Morton with the Nature Artists Guild. Recipient of a Pushcart nomination, she is published in Kyoto Journal, Grey Sparrow, Journal of Modern Poetry, Talking River, New Verse News, California Quarterly, Snowy Egret, and others.
© Wilda Morris