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Cholla Division First Prize        Maurine Haltiner, Salt Lake City, Utah

Stick Figure
life-sized wood sculpture with screws by Ruth Menlove on exhibit at poetry workshop

Head down, you nibble grass,
bridle the energy of sunlight as it searches
your hollow frame, climbs tendons, fans
over flank and rump, stutters
through a swish of tail.  Dapple-gray shadows
startle in the absence of life.

I close my eyes.  Moonlight resurrects the timber
of your bones.  Head swings up.
nostrils sniff the Milky Way.  Lips curl
to capture the scent of Venus.

Hearing your whinny, I mount.
Joints click and clatter
like limber willows
in March wind.  You scale the sky,
round the moon, warp beyond the heart
of Pegasus.  Feeding on dark energy, you gallop
over folds of space, past unfolding
stars and planets, to a galaxy
with grazing rights.

When I dismount
and open my eyes, you stand weary, silent,
floor-bound.  Your nature is
cut and dried.  One hoof set to upset
the ground, you snub
stabbing consonants, ignore
the brush of airy vowels over
your furrowed mane.
You have no hunger
for this poem dangling in the air
like a ripe apple.

My words satisfy
nothing.  You are Old Sticks,
a bundle of firewood
waiting (still) to be

Cholla Division Second Prize   John Calvin Rezmerski, Mankato, Minnesota

Ode to the Overturned Boat
homage to Pablo Neruda

Tied by the deck or upside down on a dry beach,
water should encounter first the skin of your hull.
Upside-down because it is not your proper task
to gather rainwater, but to wash your planks
in water stretched between ports of call
from St. Paul to the Gulf,
to the Dry Tortugas to the Canaries,
wind filling sails around the Cape or Horn
like air sucked through sailors’ bared teeth,
the music of bouncing keel drumming
party invitations to passing whales, as though
your four thwarts could hold crew enough
to sail a ship of the line.  But here on shore,
flipped over like a dead half of a clam,
your colors dulled by dry melancholy,
your rudder like the torn cap of an old captain
cast aside, capsized by time, not obligated
to any paymaster, unowned, unknown
except to your own dangerous memory,
you wait for someone to turn you over
as if identifying a derelict drunk in a waterfront alley.
Someone should set you upright and load you
with strange cargo and casks of fresh water,
straighten your tattered topcoat,
feed you fresh dreams and send you off
looking for new Ceylons and ancient Byzantiums.
You carry us all downwind of government
where we can pretend we live in a pirate’s paradise.
Serving no master, no flag, no aspiration
you should be afloat bobbing on swells
of love and indolence, searching for
new delights to bring home and release
to those seduced by your perfume
of world-spanning license.  Belly-over,
open to the sand but refusing to be scuttled,
you remind us how we will all come to need
someday to seek refuge resting upside-down,
contemplating our final voyages.

Cholla Division Third Prize      Stephen Mauerer, Ivins, Utah

Last Days

A rusty pick-up camper slows,
backs into the next space.
An older man unbends from the cab,
sparse grey hair filtering the sun.
We nod. He eyes the nearest restrooms,
measuring the distance
between need and satisfaction.
A gust of wind staggers him.
His shirt flaps like a crossbow-kite.

He sits and sips a mug,
stacks a few dead branches.
As dusk settles, he invites me over.
“Name’s Jim,” he offers.
The campfire prods,
flickers on our life’s adventures.
“Ain’t much time left.  Wife’s gone now, but
I got me some nice grandkids,” he summarizes.

Early morning, a motor-home
dwarfs his truck.  His campsite alive,
he and his grandchildren rig fishing poles,
laughing over mistakes.  The parents
herd their kids to the lake and their cruiser,
leaving him to himself.

The evening sounds are fresh with childish wit.
Grandpa retires with the children.
I invite the well-lubricated parents over.
His son slurs the big picture.
“The old bugger clings to life, for what?
He’s no good to anyone,
sits on a pile of money he’ll never use.
The longer he lasts the less we get.”
I plead fatigue, leave them to themselves.

Next day they’re gone.
Evening frost in the air, I’m leaving, too.
I see the old fellow sitting alone on the lake-shore,
twilight waters rippled by the stir of a faint breeze.


Chaqueta Division First Prize      Eileen McCabe, West Jordan, Utah


A nibble of frost
reminds me that this is
fine tomato soup weather:
time to save sunshine away
on dark, orderly shelves,
to ponder that blanket
tidy over the footboard,
to take stock and chop
what the garden has surrendered
each in its season.
Shadows lean north
and fall long upon the pumpkins.
Glare of desert summer dims
as blue sky deepens,
rabbit brush bursts,
scrub oaks blush.

Chaqueta Division Second Place       Kolette Montague, Centerville, Utah

Desert Longings

I now have time for the desert.
It invades me slowly as a mirage,
saffron tinting my blue eyes green.
I no longer deny lizard longings
for burnished dunes,
nor the sidewinder self
that rasps for vermillion cliffs
and sage vistas.
Desert seeps into me easily
as sand sifts between toes,
lingers in gullies once deluged
by quick emotion.
Shifts like dust devils stirring
the distance, then blowing out.
I embrace this land
of mesquite and creosote,
flat-sun sky,
and night stars
so close they kiss my hair.
I have learned
God took His time
when He created deserts.

Chaqueta Division Third Place     Tagen T. Baker, Salt Lake City, Utah

Fredonia, AZ

Hundreds of white skeletons,
trees, bleached
thin ghosts
comb a landscape
of impressionist hues.

The perfume of fresh sap,
billowing scarf unfolds–
bleached linens on the line,
linseed oil,
compounding pigments.

Gaining depth,
refracting light.

A polished brush
renders this canvas.


Chaparejos Division First Prize                 David Simms, Berryville, Virginia

There Have Been Times

There have been times the struggle to engage
the muse is such that poetry won’t start,
or if it starts, the lines unfurl apart,
ill-formed and unfocused on the page,
intentions wane obscure, ebb out of range,
and murky marks the meaning of the heart.
It’s at those times the practice of the art
I’ve thought diminished by the artist’s age.

Or not.  Trying to write of you, I find
otherwise:  I find even poetry
is not enough to climb where I’m inclined
to breach our distance, you and I aligned,
to meet your unmet breath, your bonhomie,
the bonjour and bonsoir of you in kind.

Chaparejos Division Second Prize      Yvonne Nunn, Hermleigh, Texas

Stage Last

I now reside in winter days
where colors fade to pastel hues
and I’m aware of life’s last phase;
forget how easily I bruise
when I arise at dawn’s first light
and rue a night of restless quiet.

Invading dark grows darker still
when blankets cannot stop the cold.
My morning coffee tends to spill;
I catch a glimpse of one grown old.
When left alone, my heart runs wild.
I have become an orphaned child.

I need to hold my mother’s hand
for I am sinking, going fast,
but she went home to glory land.
Before she went, her pearls she cast
in footprints hollowed out for me
till death rides in to set me free.

The dimmest lights are almost gone
and I’m alone.  Yet up ahead
I see a star to which I’m drawn.
So long you earthlings, see me yawn.

Chaparejos Division Third Prize         Merrijane Rice, Kaysville, Utah


The sunset splashes honey colors wide
and floods the valley floor with golden light.
It laps the mountains on the other side
before it circles down the drain of night.

Upon the dark blue dusk, the moon floats high,
adrift within the last of twilight’s glow.
Too early for the stars to fleck the sky,
the city lights take up the task below.

I’m one such light, now flowing through a stream
of weekday traffic like a shooting star.
By merest chance, I caught this evening’s dream
because I had to navigate my car

from basketball to piano for my son.
Thank heaven for the errands I must run.


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

Aunt Maud

Because Aunt Maud had saggy, wrinkled cheeks,
three face-lifts were performed within two weeks.
Just so, she ended up with skin so tight
she smothers it with aloe every night.

Her closest friends are baffled by the change
and marvel how someone could rearrange
so obvious a portrait as her face
and lose twelve years thereby without a trace.

Amid the rumored whisperings and fuss,
another trait seems serendipitous:
amazing as it sounds (the legend grows),
she lifts her eyebrows to pull up her hose.

Chimera Division Second Place             Emery L. Campbell, Lawrenceville, Georgia

Crabby Wife

A man whose wife had disappeared the day
before while boating in Alaska was
at home when several troopers came to say,
“We’re sorry, Mister Wilkinson, because

we’ve news about your wife.”  “Oh!  Did you find
her?” cried the man.  The troopers dropped their gaze,
and then one said, “Our news is quite unkind.
But still, we do not wish to fully raze

your hopes.  There’s pleasant news as well, and some
that’s really great.  I’d like to know the news
that you prefer to find out first.”  Now numb,
the husband said, “But how am I to choose?

I guess you’d better start off with the worst.”
The trooper said, “All right, I fear that I
must say we’ve found your wife’s remains immersed
in water deep in Katmak Bay nearby.”

“My God!” exclaimed the man who swallowed hard.
“Then what’s the better news you spoke about?”
“Well, when we’d raised her body yard by yard
we were astounded when we had her out.

King crabs, a dozen, each of twenty pounds
as well as many Dungenesses were
clamped fast to her.  Detached, they lie in mounds.
The sight of all those crabs caused quite a stir.”

Her husband, Wilkinson, was clearly dazed.
“If that’s the pleasant news, what happens when
it’s really great?”  “Well, we were so amazed,
come dawn we’re going to pull her up again.”

Chimera Division Third Place             Sara Gipson, Scott, Arkansas


Bets placed, sly and slimy gamblers
with binoculars posture proud
near the post, mixing with amblers,
when winners stun the crowd.

“Beware the horse jockey, my son!
Those willing to brake, take a fall!
Beware the race forecasts, and shun
the side bets above all!”

He took a racing form in hand:
long time the great long shot he sought—
with calculations his command,
he stood awhile and thought.

And as in crafty thought he stood,
a wily horse jockey, in silks
came whispering a truth too good
of bamboozles and bilks!

You’re under arrest!  And through
the jailhouse door went clicker-smack!
Left to face trial, the sting withdrew,
he went back to the track.

“Have you caught the cheat horse jockey?
Come have the reward you earned, boy!
Lucky day!  Bet on the derby!
And the long shot bought joy.

Bets placed, sly and slimy gamblers
with binoculars posture proud
near the post, mixing with amblers,
when winners stun the crowd.

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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