2019 Poetry

FIRST PRIZE

Too much, Not enough                             by Nancy Hoy Nott

     "Climate refugees have yet to be recognized officially

      by international law or included in the UN refugee convention."

The loon calls over the south end of 

the lake in mid-December.

She should have left sooner.

Too much warmth has kept her here

though her partner has left.

They walk the dry riverbed now

as their only path to hope. 

Cracks and dust where water flowed,

footprints of a family where fish should be.

The finch winters in the phoebe's nest,

fooled by warm December to stay and rest too long.

No insects to support his flight now,

no mate for this early spring.

Island nation first to see the start of each day

now becomes the first to disappear underwater.

Their small boats not adequate vessels 

to move tot he next island;

the next island a country not willing to take them in.

The turkey vulture used to be a summer guest here,

wintering in South America, gathering on the beaches.

Now, they ahve taken up residence here all year,

soaring and seeking food needed by hungry winter foragers.

They are number 5035 on a list at the border.

Maybe, on a good day, 40 will be let in.

"I can go a few days with our food," she says,

"but my children cannot."

THIRD PRIZE

I'd Rather Write about Butterflies          by Jill Marcusse

Inflatable rubber boats crowded with orange

life-jacketed refuges beach and are emptied.

Fleeing war, their homes gone, they seek

security but find security barbed-wire against them.

 

Secure the borders. This belongs to me. —

cry the governments of the Haves. Lacking a soul

they spew fear and hate. The Have-nots

are stranded. In derision called drifters, boat people,

 

they are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters

like you and I. They gathered their children, left all

behind to seek a place of safety, a place of opportunity

to begin again. They find closed borders.

 

The camps they are forced to stay in

have no schools, no future for their children.

The migration is accelerating. The water’s rising.

The life-jackets are being abandoned.

 

We clutch our serenity, our sunsets, our gardens fluttering with butterflies, while our government sells war,

detains and imprisons people asking for asylum from them

at our borders. Are we complicit? Caring?

 

The orange Painted Ladies migration from Mexico

north is epic this year, with pretty pictures, videos in slow

motion of the butterflies flying over poppy fields

orange, accented lavender in Super Bloom.

 

In actuality the Painted Ladies fly low and fast

Like bats out of Hell, one California witness wrote.

The climate is changing. The world is changing.

Let us open our hearts. Open our borders.

SECOND PRIZE

Borders are in Season                              by Kenneth Arthur

     "For everything there is a season, 

     and a time for every matter under heavan...

     a time to love, and a time to hate;

     a time for war, and a time for peace.    - Ecclesiastes 3

Creations swirls, shifts in endless motion

seeking balance in rhythms guided

by season.  Sandhills dance in devotion

blown in on warm spring winds.  I'm reminded

when autumn arrived my grandparents packed

their Airstream and fled south after first frost

as if nature betrayed them and attacked 

without mercy.  But no borders were crossed

in their sojourn and they, like cranes, would soon

return home, a privilege the outcast

Salvadoran and Syrian can't assume

until threat of violence and bomb's blast

have faded into history.  Borders

matter, mostly to my white elderly

grandparents to keep poor and brown horrors

from disturbing their childhood memory

of peaceful, pleasantly calm suburban

Streets.  Oh, to be a crane and take to wing

when grandpa is possessed by his bourbon

fueled harangues, to soar high above and sing

free from borders and the calamity

of fear - this is what forms a foundation

upon which loving community 

blooms, swirls and shifts in endless creation.

HONORABLE MENTION

Out of Ashes                             by Deborah Darling

We are returning north,

back to our wool sweaters and ten thousand lakes.

At a friend's farm we sip sweet tea, say our goodbyes,

until that voice on the phone,

                            the moving van is on fire.

Live oaks stretch into an unspeaking sky,

cascades of dull moss weeping.

...........

Under a July sun, burning onto bronze water,

mattresses lean against the fence, seared.

Sooty footprints lead into rooms that reek of smoke.

The say it is a bad time to have a baby.  Number five.

I sit on the screen porch wrapped in a damp towel, swollen,

wait for him to come to us with eyes the color of August water,

wait for him to bring our hearts home.

..........

...

When the cold comes it sneaks between pine boughs,

through window panes into our bones

so that we huddle at the stone fireplace

with cups of hot tea and quilts.

We dream of hospitality, Magnolias,

Calloway Gardens, Stone Mountain,

high rocky streams in the hills

while the lake turns black, the wind-ruffled blue,

and the geese come back, landing noisily on rough water.

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