Poetry Winning Entries


1st Place


      Whittling Away at History

by Gordon Smith


Seems my plum tree (I don’t know why)

Grows whatever way it pleases.

Its branches wild fill up the sky

Despite my hints and teases.

My family tree is much the same,

Its limbs are spread from birth;

I search for all who bear my name –

They come from all the earth

And bear with them so clearly seen

Our lineage of mixed reports

Of doctors, lawyers, horse thieves, queens,

And captains of industry of sorts.

If my plum tree with contrariness

Sends twigs and leaves askew

A saw and ax restore loveliness –

The old form is made new.

But my family roll’s not easy to fix.

How can one change the past?

Perhaps I’ll lop off five or six

Or maybe more, till at last

I’ve whittled down that kinfolks tree

And pared to where it’s lush.

In the end I may come to see

I have no tree, but a bush!


   2nd Place


by Jeri Hardesty


We are cotton candy sweet,

Running around

Like horses escaped

From the merry-go-round.

We are flying swings,

Tilting and whirling

In a scramble of skipping feet.

We are snow cone cool

When passing the boys,

Rollercoaster emotions

Held tight at the tops of hills.

Perhaps that Ferris wheel

Will come around soon,

But for now, tonight,

Just us girls.

We are coping with

The fun house mirrors

Of Adolescence these days,

Always unexpected bumper cars

In our way, but today,

the fair is in town,

And we are all simply



   3rd Place

by Dennis B. Ledden

Death crept in
While we slept

And brought his Blackness
Inside the hut

And choked our bodies,
Our tight breathing—

I picked you up,
Carried you out,

Set you on the ground—
Me, new to death,

Kneeling on the wet surface,
Unaware of the heavy downpour,

I could not comprehend
You could die so easily.


    Honorable Mention



by Nick Sweet


I'm stuck at a bad intersection, longest red light in town

I absently turn the radio up and roll the window down


On the curb, not six feet away, I try to process who I saw

Can't help thinking "Wizard of Oz," Scarecrow minus the straw


I know who he is without looking, flash back to our Little League days

When he was a slick-fielding shortstop, while I played a smooth second base


He'd chosen high-stakes poker as his highway to high-roller dreams

Sadly he lost the ranch and his soul with debts he could never redeem


A diamond flush beat his two pair, triggered his steady decline

His bleak abstract: drugs and despair, "Will work for food," says his sign


Relieved he did not recognize me, I stare straight ahead and relax

But quickly recall how he intervened in a frightening schoolyard attack


He halted a battle I would have lost, allowed me to save face and skin

Jame Taylor plays on the radio, reminding me "You've got a friend"


I hastily reach for my wallet, selecting my highest bill,

Extending my hand, averting my eyes, he takes it but stands very still


Finally he says, "Thank you, Larry," I reply, "You're welcome, Fred"

As I wave, raise my window, hit the gas and run the red


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