of a Lady with a Fan (Dutch, 1647)
The National Gallery, London
Note also her pearl necklace.
One thing I enjoyed about the submissions for the December Poetry Challenge—a new year’s poem—is the great diversity of approaches taken by the poets.
Linda Wallin, former President of Poets & Patrons of Chicago, served as the judge. She commented on the difficulty of deciding which poems to select because there was a number of excellent submissions. As first place winner, she settled on a rondel fill of images and metaphors:
The String of Auld Pearls
The pearl pressed
from this first and final night
is hope I'll swim the rapids all next year.
In glitter, raising glasses full we cheer
on market peaks and our tribe's cloud of right.
But I've dodged tear
gas snarls and felt war's bite
while hurricanes, mad kings, and plagues premiere.
The jewel I cut this first and final night
is hope I'll dance the rapids all next year.
I thank my flesh, with
hearing and clear sight
and pain enjoyed drug free, that holds me here.
I've lived so wild, I've nothing left to fear.
The truth time’s tumble be dance, not a fight,
embraces me this first and final night.
~ Tyson West
The judge’s comments: “This poem shows the invaluable treasure of the year's journey and the hope we have for the coming year. The poet draws from the many crazy events of the past year and sees life as a dance, all without missing a beat or a rhyme.”
The second place poem also worked with metaphor and images:
Into the New Year
We are a band of stars
in a sky orchestrated with grief.
Each tuned to a different loss.
We improvise in the key of sadness.
For who can truly compose
the melody of longing
for someone else’s heart?
Say hold this note of desire
for this duration of time?
Place dynamics over tears?
We each have our measures of missing…
A baby was born today.
That second before midnight
is the conductor that will lead
us into a new year.
Another child will be born.
Yet another, and another, and…
when they are caressed
by the light of this world,
they will fill this large earth
with their small cries.
In celebration, loving hands
will hold them, cease their tears.
What if we open our hands,
release into the deep darkness
beautiful memories of the ones
we hold in our hearts?
What if we made those memories
our planets, stars, clouds of jubilation
held together by the gravity of love?
Together, even as light streaks our tears,
maybe, even for a moment, we can create
a small galaxy of joy.
On the clear staff of morning,
the sky will compose a new song.
~ Loretta Diane Walker
“Into the New Year” was first published in Walker’s collection Ode to My Mother’s Voice, Lamar University Literary Press, 2019 (https://www.lamar.edu/literary-press/poetry/ode-to-my-mothers-voice.html).
Wallin said, “The poet expresses beautifully the immense loss we feel when a family member dies, and evokes hope for a beautiful new world we can make out of our grief.”
The third place poem invites us to watch and learn from a dolphin:
Dolphin at Dawn -
New Year's Day
From the porch
I looked out onto
a gray sea
extending to a gray sky
populated with just a few
As a bit of sun
tried to slip up
through the horizon,
a black dolphin
bobbed up out
of the water.
He slipped through
rocking up then
As I watched,
he moved ever
outward from the shore
to meet that spot
of orange on the horizon.
Slow, steady, never
minding the surrounding
hopeless gray of sea and sky.
gives me courage
~ Joan Leotta
Previously published in Snapdragon in 2018, then as a part of my origami poems free chapbook, Morning by Morning, published in 2020.
This poem has a sense of hope. The judge especially like the contrasting of gray with the dawn.
The judge also awarded an Honorable Mention to CŸNTHIA Lozier for her poem, “Repurposed Resolutions.”
Joan Leotta loves to watch dawn, one the beach, in the mountains, in her own backyard. Her work has been widely published in US, UK, Australia, and elsewhere. She has two free mini-chapbooks of poems available through Origami Poems at https://www.origamipoems.com/poets/257-joan-leotta and her book, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon is out from Finishing Line Press. She tells tales of food, family, travel, dawn, and strong women on page and stage.
Loretta Diane Walker, a multiple Pushcart Nominee, and Best of the Net Nominee, won the 2016 Phyllis Wheatley Book Award for poetry, for her collection, In This House (Bluelight Press). Loretta is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters. Her work has appeared in various literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. She has published five collections of poetry. Her manuscript Word Ghetto won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award. Loretta received a BME from Texas Tech University and earned a MA from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. She teaches elementary music at Reagan Magnet School, Odessa, Texas. Naomi Shihab Nye states, “Loretta Diane Walker writes with compassionate wisdom and insight—her poems restore humanity.”
Linda Wallin is a retired teacher and professor who discovered poetry in middle age. She loves family, needlework, technology, and, of course, poetry. Several of her poems have been published online and in collections. You can read a few on her web site (www.dwna.net) or her blog “Wallin’s Wave” (https://wallinswave.blogspot.com/).
Tyson West has published speculative fiction and poetry in free verse, form verse and haiku distilled from his mystical relationship with noxious weeds and magpies in Eastern Washington. He has no plans to quit his day job in real estate. His poetry collection, Home-Canned Forbidden Fruit, is available from Gribble Press.
Poets retain copyright on their own poems.
Watch for the January Poetry Challenge!
© Wilda Morris