Asher Brown Durand
Forest in the Morning Light, c. 1855
National Gallery of Art, D.C.
There were more excellent poems submitted than can be recognized. Here are the two winning poems, each with an emotional punch.
I Wish for Just One Word
I always sensed my father was carrying something
all those unspoken words had worked their way down
to his flat feet that leaned in towards each other
inside his socks full of holes
where perhaps words leaked out, could be heard
if you had your head to the ground.
Every once in a while I’d glimpse that ever so slight shake
of his head while the rest of us rambled on.
All that heaviness is now buried deep in the
with more heaviness shoveled on, silencing him over again
so I don’t visit his grave.
I listen for him instead in the wren, the rustle
of the leaves
the crickets, the patter of rain, even the silence
for just one word, sweet, assuring.
~ Angela Hoffman
This poem is very moving. It reflects on the inability of many men to express their feelings, and on the relationship of the narrator with her father. Now that he his gone, the narrator wishes she knew more of what her father was thinking and feeling. And though he is gone, he is somehow still with her, so she listens for his voice—not at the cemetery—but in nature.
I will unfold and smooth out
every crumpled scrap of luck
ever offered to me.
Set out traps
baited sweet with distraction
to catch stray unnoticed minutes.
Fling a net skyward,
to gather every wish ever wished
for your happiness.
I will shrink myself smaller
than your lymphocytes,
sneak into a pore,
bargain with the tiny gods
running the body
that houses your soul
until your test results transform
into the language angels speak.
I hear them now.
By phone or text
or MyChart message
this holy word:
~ Laura Grace Weldon
“Your Test Results” was published in Weldon’s book, Blackbird (Grayson Books, 2019).
This poem is another one that touches the heart. The title for Hoffman's poem would have worked for this one, too. The poem doesn’t tell us whose test results are involved, only that it is someone dear to the narrator. The poem is full of metaphor and with imagination (and desperation) so strong that the narrator could enter the other person’s body through a pore to “bargain with the tiny gods / running the body” in order to transform the test results.
The winning poets retain copyright on their own poems.
“December Comes Again” by Joanne Gram (well-expressed “Norman Rockwell wishes” for family harmony at the holiday season)
“Go Wish” by Chris Hasara (a wonderful extended metaphor)
“My Wish” by Peggy Trojan (a wish for peace, expressed with a historical reference)
“Having a Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Here” by Charles Rammelkamp (best humorous poem submitted)
Joanne Gram lives and writes in Lansing, Michigan. With an MPA from Western Michigan University, she previously wrote and presented academic papers at international conferences. More recently her poetry has appeared in Peninsula Poets Contest Edition Fall 2022, Northern Islander/Beaver Islander, and Writing In A Woman's Voice.
Chris Hasara studied creative writing at Western Kentucky University and has applied that education to a successful career as a truck driver and farmer in Northern Indiana. His printed words have appeared in From the Edge of the Prairie, The Last Stanza Poetry Journal, and Ink to Paper volume 6. He can be heard reading his own work on an episode of The Storyworks Podcast.
Angela Hoffman’s poetry collections include Resurrection Lily (Kelsay Books, 2022) and Olly Olly Oxen Free (forthcoming, Kelsay Books, 2023). She placed third in the WFOP Kay Saunders Memorial Emerging Poet, 2022. Her poetry has appeared in Solitary Plover, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletter and Calendar, Agape Review, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, Moss Piglet, Amethyst Review, Orchards Poetry Journal, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Whispers and Echoes, and Wilda Morris’s Poetry Challenge. She has written a poem a day since the start of the pandemic. Angela lives in Wisconsin.
Charles Rammelkamp’s latest poetry collection is The Field of Happiness, published by Kelsay Books. Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books. He contributes a monthly book review to North of Oxford and is a frequent reviewer for The Lake, London Grip and The Compulsive Reader. A Magician Among the Spirits, a collection of poems about Harry Houdini, is a Blue Light Press Poetry winner and has just been published. A collection of flash fiction, Presto!, will be published in 2023 by Bamboo Dart Press. Another poetry collection entitled Transcendence has been accepted by BlazeVOX Books.
Peggy Trojan's new release, a collection about her father, titled PA, won second in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook contest in 2022. It won Honorable Mention for the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for 2022. Her previous release, River, won second in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook contest in 2021. It also won an award of Outstanding Achievement from the Wisconsin Library Association. She is the author of two full collections and five chapbooks. Her books are available on Amazon.
Laura Grace Weldon lives on a small ramshackle farm where she works as a book editor, teaches writing workshops, and maxes out her library card each week. Laura served as Ohio’s 2019 Poet of the Year and is the author of four books.
© Wilda Morris