Bugle announces poetry contest winners

In the 12th year of our annual poetry contest during National Poetry Month, the Bugle received entries from 12 literary-minded readers.

This year, contestants were asked to write poems that drew their inspiration from the words “resilience, flexibility and perseverance.”

Dave Healy, former Park Bugle editor and a resident poet in St. Anthony Park, served as our contest judge. All of the poetry entries were passed on to Dave with no knowledge of their authors in order to preserve judging objectivity.

First place winner and the recipient of $50 is Andrea Blain for her poem titled
“Willow.” Second place finisher and the recipient of $30 is Susan Warde for her poem “All Things Come.” Third place finisher and the recipient of $20 is Matt Dahl for his poem “Metamorphosis.”

Thanks to all our contest participants. A full list of the competing poets and poems will be posted on the Bugle’s website at parkbugle.org. What follows are the three winning poems and Dave’s comments on each one:

First place
by Andrea Blain

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.

Dave Healy: This lovely poem is framed by alliterative elements that emphasize the heartbreaking transience of living things, the “fond forever thing” giving way to the “fallen friend.” In between are evocative personifications: “greening arms” and “frothy fingers” that touch the ground. Those images will stay with me whenever I see a willow tree.

Second place

“All Things Come”

by Susan Warde

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.

Dave Healy: Do all things come to those who wait? Despite its title, this poem makes no such promise. But it does remind us how much of life is spent waiting and also how an all-too-brief encounter with one of Nature’s smallest birds can work its way into one’s soul.

Third place


by Matt Dahl

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

Dave Healy: The transformation of an insect from larva to pupa to fully formed adult is at once commonplace — because most of us have observed it in a grade school classroom — and miraculous. This poem describes the final stage, emergence from the chrysalis, in a way that catches us up, along with that rising butterfly. 

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