12th Annual Bugle poetry contestants and their poems  

The following is a list of contestants and their poems for the Bugle’s 12th  annual poetry competition:

  1. Susan Warde -Second place finisher  

          All Things Come

She arrived on schedule, mid-May,

all whiz and zip, and sampled the syrup

I’d just put out the day before. 

Sip, pause, sip, pause. 

Sip sip sip.  She perched

on a branch and preened her fluff

with a rapier beak before she zig-

zagged off, etching a quick

uneven line

in the empty air. 

She came back to tipple

throughout the day,

and the next,

and the next.

And then she didn’t.

Around the still-full feeder

wasps hover hopefully.

I wait for her return.

It’s what we do, wait. 

We lie low, sit tight, hold the phone.

We wait for the dawn throughout

a troubled night.  We wait

for a letter to come, and the other shoe to drop,

for Godot, for the light to change and the water to boil,

for the test results and better weather,

for Christmases and the baby’s first steps,

for the dreaded and the desired,

the inevitable and the impossible, even

for a three-gram tuft of feathers.

2. Shelley Steingraeber

A meander is a walk

with or without a stop

to gaze, to wander

to gather thoughts

that refresh and inspire

or remind us to reach higher

it is remembering to dream

that this wanderer has sought 

3. John Louis Smith


Endless blue obscures

my eyes as clouds dance

below me, the world I sit

upon a land of ticks, for whom my peak is a dream.

If I shake or shout, they would all die.

Good for them I don’t feel like it.

The cutters chip, chip, chip

bits of me roll away

in barrows, trucks, trains,

leaving toes, ankles, thighs.

Maybe I’ll walk in a thousand years.

4.     Marilynne Walton

                   “Christmas Through the Storm Door Glass”

The littlest ones miss their old Grandmother.

But, Oh, they can’t set foot in her house!

A dingy wolf named Covid slinks up

and down the city streets.

Sometimes disguised as a sheep.

The danger will be a part of their history,

to repeat when all grown up.

We do not want Covid entering

the little red house with it’s manger scene,

and touchable tchotchkes tastefully scattered about;

canopy bed to jump into like a plump snow drift.

So, the children in summer plummet

on the backyard green slope.

They are like baby brown rabbits

born for generations, cozy

beneath the rickety garden shed.

And then, gleeful, the grandchildren picnic

on picked-up fast food treats.

When we have a group hug,

we cover ourselves from head to toe in

Grandma’s old white cotton sheets.

And shout “I’m Casper the Ghost!”

When Christmas came,

little mittened hands

passed red and green tissue papered gifts

through the glass storm door, opened a bit.

The air puffed white with our breath.

Blew frosted blue kisses.

Our saddened hearts lifted

like a benediction from

the holy Child birthed Ages ago.

Our lives and thoughts freed,

somersaulting with childlike mirth.

As we beamed from inside


outside through the

Storm door glass.

Christmas came to a peaceable pass.

5.        Joanna Lees  

                               A Dreaded Diagnosis

Life for me now is a small boat on a great river

I have never seen or known before;

every bend, every bank, every current seems to deliver

an unnerving world to explore,

some full of hope, even beauty, but many terrifying,

and all beyond my control.

My boat is lonely and tiny, and I am always trying

to reach the shore with my soul….

my body stuck in solitude in this little floating shell:

but my spirit is increasingly full

of images and words from you who wish me well,

and I am constantly learning.

When I began this journey more than two months  past,

I hit the falls without warning;

I thought that my boat might be doomed not to last

 beyond the rapids I saw below,

and I fell almost weightless, from a world that I knew

to this constantly changing flow

that appears calm just before new rapids appear

and reverses its way without a sign.

Many who have watched my journey have felt joy or fear

unmatched by what is happening;

since only the river knows when it will grow wild, or turn

back on itself, I use great care

in what I hope and dread. Thus it comforts me to learn

so many are concerned how I fare.

I still do not know when or where or how I will be free

to join you on the now green shore,

which was brown with winter when the river took me

on this harrowing adventure.

6. Claudia Hampston Daly

                                    STEVE OF THE STREET

 June 2, 2015

Its strange to think that I may never see him again, to finally know his name but to realize that I was speaking it to him for the first and last time. I gave Steve lots of one dollar bills over the course of my years of coming to the Farmers Market in St. Paul and his years of conducting his panhandling business on a nearby corner. Those days are now in the past. A new ball field has taken over his corner. Steve has gone out of business.

He used to park himself under the overhang

Near the doors to the old warehouse building

A good spot for catching shoppers coming and going

From the Farmers Market

In bad weather –– most Minnesota weather –– he had shelter

When people came by, he could just step out

Wearing his red winter parka

Didn’t have to say anything

Looking mournful did the trick

They gave him money

Not much money, mind you

A couple of quarters or a buck mostly

Occasionally someone who’d just left a car

In the lot across the street

Would nod, “Catch you later”

Sometimes it happened, sometimes not

The women felt bad breaking a promise

When they came back, juggling big bags labeled Trader Joe’s

Or Health Partners, bags overflowing with fresh food,

They were ready for him with a couple of singles

Or maybe a five spot

He’d never been to Trader Joe’s and hadn’t seen the inside

Of a Health Partners clinic for fifteen years

But at the end of the Market on a Saturday or Sunday

When he had a little jingle in his jeans

He’d wander over, hungry

Once in a while a couple of the vendors gave him food

Little plastic bags with a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese

And if the meat guy had grilled that day

Brats, two or three of them

He tried to make himself wait but he ate them right away

Like they were his last meal

Some days, they could have been

Then the neighborhood changed

A ball park was going in

Trucks, graders, front-end loaders

Mountains of rubble, piles of earth

Architects, engineers, construction guys

Semis full of steel and wood and

Sacks of concrete

So much activity

He felt cold, even in October or April

His parka was old, kind of thin

With no building to protect him

He had nowhere to stand

But last week, Steve had good news

Life was looking up

Got a place in a government high-rise

Social security disability finally came through

He was quitting the street

He said with a crooked smile

Fondling a ten dollar bill

Stuffing it into the worn jacket pocket

“Yep, I’m quitting the street, getting off the corner

The neighborhood has changed

And I’m changing, too,” soft spoken, a little mournful

His best tricks: the red parka and the mournful look

I wished him well

I gave him money

7. Betty Lotterman

            Just in Spring Betty

Just in Spring the pale green shoots spring
out of the ground,
Unfurling themselves to reveal
Tiny, fragrant white bells hanging
from a delicate arch.
What hymn are they singing?

Just in Spring a pointed nose springs
out of its small round hole in the ground.
Is it a mouse? Or a vole? Or a chipmunk?

Just in Spring the kite springs
from my outstretched arms
as the gusts whirl
the unspooling string in my hand.
Will the string be strong enough?

And I, Just in Spring, I spring
down the sidewalk
in my new tennis
on the first day I leave my heavy, clunking boots behind.
Will you skip down the sidewalk with me?

8.   MaryBeth Luing 

    Farewell in the Space Set Between Us

Mississippi River Introspect

Dances with Dignity

Jazzman Testifies


Welcome, Little One

Blue Lady 

We Danced

You Are the Bad Cool


The Dress is NOT White

Dancing with my Baby (Girl)

Festival of Champions

Finished, typed, secured 

in a digital doc

Stored by Goog in their remarkable digital Cloud,

Set in basic Times New Roman, devoid of the curve of my 

hand script, imaging my mindset in the slant and space of the words writ cursive;

In a file labeled 

MB Poems—

These poems remain with me, faring well,

In a digital space.

Not lost, tucked into a travel portfolio porting my raw 

word play– 

Sounds, indents, punctuations all a mess, living quietly as immature Working Poems.

Not pilfered during a car intrusion by a 

pack of petty thieves,

Not discarded into a dumpster, as worthless thrash, 

Not carted away to a landfill by a belching  trash hauler on an early inner urban route—

Riding away tossed together with chewed on chicken wing waste,

half eaten C-store hotdogs, broken window fans, 

old shoddy shoes with torn toes, a designer handbag–

lookin’ fine,  

perhaps also stolen by 

recreational vandals.


sodden with spilled 

amber beer, 


smashed up with unflushable, soiled, odorous feminine sanitary products,

and faintly aromatic ginger citrus tea bags, 

aged, acrid coffee grounds, pest control bedbug traps (futile), wadded up condoms silently spilling spent passion.


faded away from 

this poet’s 


unable to reclaim




from more than 

24 poems, 

in a journal labeled

In Progress.

Worked on for over 3 years; that’s156 weeks of

many late nights, 

In my space.

1963 ½ Blue Ford Mustang—


I don’t recall

Dresses Well for Being    


53 Faces of Lost Lives

Do the Math—‘We the People’ can’t pay No Mo’ 

Rock-a-Bye Babies 

(the best of them).

In my beloved journal, 

In vitro.

In a protected space.

These poems were gaining 

their power to BE,

Some just begun, 

most in states of revision

with courageous 


of fine words and labored-over lines—loved, left behind, edited, set aside, reclaimed, removed…

One was nearly finished. 

It had begun to find a melody!

Was it a song, a star, 

being born? Maybe… 

…just a bit of polishing to do, then it was ready to be typed 

into the Goog file, 

MB Poems—

Where ‘keepers’ remain cradled safely 


sent out to find 

their Readers, 

In their spaces.

These poems were snatched away by a 6-pack of malcontents

with too much boredom,  

too little respect, 

and deep experience in a smash an’ grab MO.

They likely saw no value in a poetry journal, 

as they casually pilfered through my most intimate 

mind spaces—

It was just writing on paper, and nice black ink pens in a handsome portfolio case 

with an artsy vibe;

‘My main sweet will think the designer case is dope’, say’d the lead bling-hat,

In his space.

Fare well, my poems, fare well, 

May peace abide 

In the space 

set between 

9. Matt DahlThird place


No metallic gold, no button of silk,

No cremastral hook to anchor you,

Insecure from the chilling winds

Yet inside the chrysalis a light stirring,

Yes in you there’s a subtle growing—


The day you—

—Sitting on your empty shell

Expand wings,

Looking up now,

Let the updrafts

Carry you toward the sun

10 . Judith Monson


It’s good I waited

Until I was 80

And dying

To knock out

The west wall

Of the back porch

Build a small 

Cedar deck

Open up the backyard

To shadows

And paint the house

Pink with lilac trim

Looking west 

This is 

As good as it gets

11.     Andrea Blain-First place  


A tree will seem a fond forever thing,

her bond to earth a promise.  Fickle change

treads lightly within leaves that drop, or snow that rests

a moment before the buds of spring reclaim

her greening arms, as birds reclaim their nests.

Her grace was much beyond the branching heft

of other trees; their creeping shade no match

for the dappled light her quiet tendrils left…

Her trunk embraced a mossy windward lean

in time, her frothy fingers touched the ground

And on a brittle, snow-blue winter day

she whispered free and fell without a sound.

Splintered but steadfast –

and gentle to the end,

the sky has changed forever, fallen friend.

12. Elizabeth (Libby) Baur

When winter is over…

we’ll pull our weary bodies into a lilac world. 

We’ll string lights in the lime green canopy,

and lay watching them sway from the 

perfumed pink carpet below. 

Inside the gray rooms we leave behind, 

the breeze will ripple the curtains, airing out 

the longest, loneliest season. 

When our color returns, 

we’ll exchange our blues for juicy reds – and we won’t think of returning

until after the sunflowers find rest for their heavy heads. 

Leave a Reply