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Cholla Division First Prize         N. Colwell Snell, Salt Lake City, Utah


I won’t make it to Duluth this year,
I say regrettably because
I had blocked out the third week in June
with burnt-orange marker,
scribbled flight no., departure, arrival,
stark and permanent on that sunset.

I have been overwhelmed by trivia:
how the meadowlark repeats its melody
to the sparse attention of early morning hours;
how the rose, losing its mid-summer blush,
still grasps at each falling petal;
how my granddaughter, just turned four,
thinks I will hang on her hand forever.

Cholla Division Second Prize        N. Colwell Snell, Salt Lake City, Utah

Blood Bubbles

They dismantled the blood-stained cross,
broke it down for kindling and fuel,
hawked it
for a few pieces of silver.

Imagine their astonishment
when they brought the fragments home
and placed them on the fire . . .
how the heat permeated the house,
how the fire inside them
burned deeper,
hotter even
than the blood bubbles
licking the blue-bleak logs.

Cholla Division Third Prize        Nad Richard Brown, Springville, Utah

Arnol Rode Soft in the Saddle

In his youth he would gallop full-tilt down the lane,
standing tall on Mooney’s back, arms outstretched
as if he were a sail plane trying to such in enough wind
to become airborne or, clinging to his mane,
vault over the saddle from side to side
while teenage girls, leaning against the pole fence,
ooh’d and aah’d.

For years after Papa’s early death,
I recalled his life mostly as a gifted horseman—
never thought much about other dimensions
of fortitude and fault that time reveals in every man.
Over the years I accepted my shortsightedness,
since young boys see only half the world.

Flashbacks strike like summer lightning each time
I pass the spot where, on that distant summer day,
he let me off Ole Sweetheart while he tried to wrangle
that defiant one-eyed Hereford back into the herd.
He almost disappeared riding into the rangy rabbit brush
One-Eye used as a fortress. Horrified, I watched

as he nearly turned her, when horse and rider vanished.
When I reached the tangled mess, they were so intertwined
I couldn’t tell who was on top. I always blamed the gopher
that made the hole where Sweetheart stumbled.
I never condemned One-Eye for her belligerence.
One-eyed Herefords, like nine year-old boys,
see only half the world.


Chaqueta Division First Prize        Markay Brown, Springville, Utah

View from the Floor of the Temple of Sinawava*

I am a pebble with legs,
slowly turning full circle,
absorbing by degree the majesty
of thousand-foot walls
painted vermillion, shaded to ruby,
to magenta, to fire-orange
by nature’s talent and torrent.

I kneel in the sanctity of stone,
seek the rock floor
to steady my shaking.

From towering ledges,
snow-melt cascades
holy water down the walls,
deepening rainbow colors
with desert varnish.
To the south,
the Great White Throne presides,
a monolith in pearl-grey robes.

The same cliffs that bend my knees,
a postulant,
lift me
to my highest self.

Now . . . tears for mountains
equal to their names
assigned long before
the flimsy reign
of political correctness.

Ah, lay me down on Zion’s pillow
when my spirit begs for angels,
for evidence of lofty grace
and God.

Chaqueta Division Second Place         Rachel Robins, St. George, Utah

Ready to Love

He felt no love for her when they met, saw no beauty in her sandy red hills and endless
warmth. Fiery kisses scorched his skin and her plants pricked his fingers.

He scorned her overtures, spent time indoors and
sulked the seasons away until he left.

Traveling to lands swallowed in milky-white drifts,
lands of gray crashing waves and gray canopied skies,
lands where sprawling cities sucked away all color,
he began dreaming of windswept mesas and
listened to her lonely love songs in the breeze.

He returned to her desert valley ready to love.
She wooed him with spectacular sunsets oozing colors of ruptured rainbows,
offered warm summer kisses that melted on his cheeks, and
blinded him with brilliant carpets of purples, reds and yellows sprung in spring.
She promised peace in the stillness of the starry sky.

He knew then that their love would last. When his spirit
soars back to the one who sculpted them both, the part of him left
will belong only to her. Her red, sandy arms will reach for him,
cradling him in safe embrace, enfolding him deeper and
deeper until they become one.

Chaqueta Division Third Place        Marilyn Ball, St George, Utah


Back walking in Zion
with the wintering ghosts
from last year’s walk.
Light from the sun’s arc
hosts the celestial Watchman
you photographed high against the sky.

Those ridges cut and ridge the
neutrality of my heart, find
a new beat without the pulse of death.
Some sadness loosens by
walking in your last year’s tracks.
I am moving alone in renewal with the
winds of spring . . . yet I hear your last
year’s steps softly on the air, like the
haunting music of the ancients’ flute.


Chaparejos Division First Prize         N. Colwell Snell, Salt Lake City, Utah

Libby’s Monument

I sit here, all the monuments are red.
The grass is bleeding and the sycamores
wave frantically at where the sky has fed
old griefs to me. The gutter coughs and pours
black rain down Ashton Street not far from where
my Libby’s monument stands stark as bone,

and I feel Libby’s presence everywhere,
through trees and grass, through wind and rain and stone.
I’ve come here every day now for a week
without a friend or book, with little food,
and I am done with laughing. I don’t speak,
but sit at Libby’s monument and brood.
The covenants we once pledged each to each
lie just beyond the next hill out of reach.

Chaparejos Division Second Prize          Sara Gipson, Scott, Arkansas

Snowy Day

A winter afternoon I sit
inside and knit
in cozy chair
and stare out where,

as white my
Granny hair, the snow,
a scenic show.
I’m glad I’m in
my humble den,
a cup of steaming tea at hand
to help withstand
the bracing cold.
I feel this old.

Chaparejos Division Third Prize          Lynda LaRocca, Twin Lakes, Colorado


My friend is gone; how can I face the night
that closes round without a single star?
Where do you travel now, and why so far?—
with no farewell, a falcon taken flight
into a sun that blinds, but is not bright.

Why can’t I follow you, find where you are,
and touch your hand across that unknown bar,
and turn back time, rekindling your light?

My eyes, my thoughts, my flesh, all fixed on Earth,
are suddenly raised up to search the sky.
A feather floats, a golden gift, to me,
recalling that sweet promise of rebirth.
What seems to leave us, disappear, and die,
goes on in this unfolding mystery.


Chimera Division First Prize         Sara Gipson, Scott, Arkansas


A quite persnickety Siamese cat
pounced on a rickety shack and sat.
He waited,
and fretted.

Lickety-split, a rat
scuttled from some rubble to a mat,
shuttled back a hundred, flat,
and waited,
befuddled about the Siamese cat.
Never had he seen something like that—
clever, yet clean except when it spat.
He waited,
his endeavor to hope it would scat.

Chimera Division Second Place      Barbara J. Funke, St. George, Utah

Hostage Situation

Don’t move.
Hot, damp breath invades my space.
Weakling leaves of a book cringe.
Hair hangs limp, gripped by ugly waves futile to resist.
My hands are tied, gestures fluid but foolish.
In 97% humidity, motion feels surreal,
heavy trudge through loose Jello.
A 90-degree pool forces lying wilted, supine,
no lapping, cool escape not in the cards (also flaccid).

Fantasy water lifts languorously in one tropical mask,
a turquoise rectangle in the great quilt of oceans.
But that’s too romantic, a mere illusion.

Water is cramped in two-thirds of Earth’s surface,
and malcontent molecules have made a break for it,
first hanging around in creeping suspense,
now holding us hostage for weeks. It’s criminal!
Just pay the ransom and get me out of here.
Our dispositions are reckless.
My patience
is shot.

Chimera Division Third Place        N. Colwell Snell, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Critique

In a poem with so many lines

it is remarkable to find
only fifteen or twenty mistakes.
It makes
my job easier when I comprehend
that there is very little to defend,
or praise, for that matter.
Oh, here and there a spatter
of something thought through,
comic as it is. You
raise a hair above the mediocre
whether you be shaman or joker
nobody knows. I know least of all.
That predictable rhyme you hurled like a ball
at my seer-stone glass
assuming it might pass my sanctimony.

I might concur but for
that obvious mixed metaphor,
but for the pounding iambic like a drum
predicting every senseless rhyme to come,
but for each moronic adjective
that you’ve half-hidden up your sleeve,
and I’m still having trouble
with that useless double-
entendre that sets the poem back
a thousand years. Hack
away at the whole messy glob,
but don’t quit your day job.

Redrock Writers depends on the voluntary efforts of Southern Utah writers who participate in our collective learning, write and read their poetry, and help organize and lead our regular activities. We deeply appreciate the contributions of members of UTSPS Dixie Chapter, the Utah State Poetry Society, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, the Heritage Writers Guild and The League of Utah Writers. We also express appreciation to outstanding poets from across America who participate in blind judging our yearly contest.

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