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:
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.
“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
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.
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
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.