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Cholla Division First Prize        Candy Lish Fowler, St. George, Utah

Tasting Oranges

In burnished sunset, I taste oranges;
bright, succulent slices release
memories of falling in love.
                 You lean over, lift my chin,
                 our lips touch in a long,
                 amber moment—
                 drinking slowly, deeply,
                 the golden wine of our first kiss.

Sundown.  Mandarin skies blend
into burled umber shadows.
Wind stirs a cusp of clouds into swirling white
like steam rising from deep, hot coffee.
Thoughts drift to a February night . . .
kindling love.
                 Pirate-eyed charm sweeps me
                 into the crush of your arms,
                 sinking, smoldering . . . winter fire.

Cocoa clouds sift across sunset
repeating a long ago evening
of chocolate-orange skies.
                 A piece of card-board tucked
                 into the sole of your worn Weejuns;
                 no hat, no gloves . . .
                 your hand protects mine
                 against a sudden snowstorm.

                 We seek refuge in an empty dance studio
                 on campus and fill the space
                 with a tender improvised pas de duex.
                 “When I fall in love” kisses scatter
                 like the sweet sprinkle of white crystals
                 on a salty daiquiri.

You are my taste of orange.

Cholla Division Second Prize   Juanita Watts, Layton, Utah


Cold, stiff fingers don’t hold clothes pins well.
Mine fumble and drop them back in the basket.
Sheets finally hang on rigid lines.

At dusk, unbending linens and clothes are taken down,
brought in, most of their moisture whipped away
as they froze into caricatures of themselves.

Relationships freeze dry—out in the cold—
left alone—conversations cease, overtures ignored.
Kids climb on the bus for school,

shouting, laughing, stomping wet boots.
Some sit alone staring out the window,
unseen energy frozen inside.

I wish pain came on little cat feet
and could disappear silently like fog
or water drops from clothes on the line.

Cholla Division Third Prize      Candy Lish Fowler, St. George, Utah

I Picture Chopin Composing

nocturnes, as he listens to shadows of twilight.
His right hand plays melodies of wind

in wheat sheaves; trills like fluttering leaves,
grace notes as falling stars.  The voice

of his left hand strikes the broken chord
of silver sage.  As night sifts in, he plays

a long legato of golden light sustained
over meadow and stream.  He composes

in tempo with the breath of wind, the breath
he never had . . . inhaling, exhaling,

needing trees.  Passion’s fingers play across
the ivory hollow of black and white bark.

Eyes closed, Chopin hears wind weaving through woods;
leaves and branches move in concert to his music:

bend, sway, shimmer in sunset  It is the same music,
the life force painted by Van Gogh

in Wheatfields and Crows, the energy Rodin
sculpted in marble homage to Victor Hugo,

the quickening Martha Graham translated into dance,
. . . ’tis the gift to be free, her blessed unrest.

It is the song of deer running at dusk,
of nighthawks capturing dark and not letting go,

of deep hush before a storm, of campfire glow,
and lighthouse arc across angry seas.

It is the song of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Waters
and a thousand miles of plains.

Prairie and sunflower are the plenty
and Chopin, the vase waiting to be filled.


Chaqueta Division First Prize      Candy Lish Fowler, St. George, Utah

Solitary Cedar

They discovered a directional system of 
petroglyphs in Utah.  The treasure at the end
of the trail isn’t gold.  It’s water.  These “water
glyphs” pointed directly toward a single tree,
to a nearby water source.
—Maurice Evans, Wilderness Utah

An ancient trail snakes across
sandstone and shattered shale
where a solitary cedar breaks the stark horizon.
Twisted roots reach deep to drink.

        how did you know you could grow here?
        Surrounded by cactus, sand, tumble weeds
        and rocks, you grabbed hold and pushed 
        your way to the sun.
        How did you know you could grow here?

The vast desert emptiness rings.
Sage whispers carry the wind, lifting
raven and butterfly to new heights,
waiting for an issue of rain.

    Little wings,
        how did you know this tree would be here?
        How did you know outstretched, smooth,
       cattle-rubbed branches would reach for you,
       offering shelter and rest in this lonely place?
       How did you know you could grow here?

On a rock panel above an aimless weaving of wheat grass,
the Ancient Ones engraved images of a split circle,
leaving their voice in a chiseled code,
a secret water glyph guide
pointing the way

to a solitary cedar.

Chaqueta Division Second Place       Candy Lish Fowler, St. George, Utah

Georgia Voices

“I found I could say things with color
and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—
things I had no words for.”
—Georgia O’Keefe

When I first saw her artwork,
I imagined her voice
round, ripe
as the deep red and purple plums 
she painted resting in a bowl
of lavender shadowed linen.

When I saw the vapor gray paper
used in her black and white sketches
of a distant charcoal train,
just left of center,
her voice rolled smoky,
like an oncoming storm.

When I saw the white ivory eyes
of Cow’s Skull with Calico Rose,
the many empty eyes she repeatedly painted
in portraits of bleached skulls,
her voice whispered raspy,
brittle as old bones.

When I saw her campfire ponderosa,
that tall, tall trunk of The Lawrence Tree
with curling branches holding stars,
balancing blue night,
her voice brightened
into constellations.

When I saw her flowers, those pure, rich dimensions,
those divining worlds of color, I thought
of her solitary life, her chosen isolation
at Ghost Ranch, and wondered,
    whose voice called to her?
    Whose voice did Georgia paint?

Chaqueta Division Third Place     Kolette Montague, Centerville, Utah

Desert Waters

Ancient Navajo elders knew
where to find pockets of water,
pathways to rock-seeps,
the moment to call the rain dance.

Our generation of desert-born people
understands drought, coaxes seeds,
embraces wilted sprouts,
lingers over failed crops.
Old-timers speak with dry humor,
implore new-dwellers
to sprinkle lawns at dawn,
xeriscape, conserve—even tears.
They consider the phrase Possible showers today
a rainbow promise,
know cumulus is the arc of the covenant,
irrigation its key.

In this high desert, we do not invoke
the gods frivolously
but temper our requests, fervently believing
vital favors may be granted.
Amid winter’s drought prayers become
Please, Lord, let it snow.
Let it snow.


Chaparejos Division First Prize                 Candy Lish Fowler, St. George, Utah


I cannot stay
migrating wings crossing the moon.
I cannot stay
the summer sun.  It slips away
as Autumn dark drips long, cold, down.
Frost rots pumpkins on raven ground.
I cannot stay.

Chaparejos Division Second Prize      Kolette Montague, Centerville, Utah

Old Flames, New Flames

I burned your letters yesterday—
words made of clay—
but still the match
managed to catch
the corners, then spread through the ink.
I didn’t blink
or shed a tear.
I felt the sear
like years ago when I first read
what now is dead.
The flame was grand.
I warmed my hands.

Chaparejos Division Third Prize         Joyce Kohler, Midway, Utah

Clap Hands and Sing

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
From every tatter in its mortal dress.
—“Sailing to Byzantium” 
by William Butler Yeats

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
asleep and sagging in his morning chair.
To look at him no one would ever know
how broad his shoulders were, how gold his hair.
Today he stutters, stumbles, moving slow.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,

a tattered coat upon a stick, unless
one looks at him with open, knowing eyes
and understands that nothing’s as it seems;
a hero’s deeds his shaking hand belies.
What life is left he spends in long gone dreams,
a tattered coat upon a stick, unless

soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
a warrior’s song to still the rising wail,
a father’s lullaby to hush his grief,
the tune he used to whistle through the gale,
remembered hymn he tones for sweet relief.
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

from every tatter in its mortal dress.
Life’s battering has left its share of scars
upon the man.  Perhaps God only knows
this soul defaced, with all its worldly mars,
and yet it seems a hidden power flows
from every tatter in its mortal dress.


Chimera Division First Prize               Candy Lish Fowler, St. George, Utah

After Perusing Countless Black and White Photos
of Great Poets, Facing Half Turned Away
from the Camera, While Reflectively Staring Back
at the Lens, Framed by Covered Walls 
or Stacks of Books.  Resting Their Forehead, Cheek,
or Chin Pensively on a Hand, Posed, Seldom Smiling,
Leaning against Trees or Brick Buildings as if They
Were Holding Up Walls, as if They Were Stopping 
the World from Falling, I Realize I Am A

meager writer pictured
in a wallet sized glossy, barely

equal to a wee field mouse caught
by a coyote in an Indian ricegrass meadow,

tiny as a minnow swimming in a stream lined
with golden-grained sand,

fine as filmy snail eggs laid in slippery moss hanging
between river rocks,

small as the nib of a nail hammered into leaning weathered
barns still standing after Dorothy’s great tornado,

miniscule as a nagging splinter painfully buried
deep in a wood whittling thumb,

minute as a filament in the wing of a fly snagged
on a spider web,

microscopic as DNA spiraling
upon staircase threads of poetic scientific letters, a


Chimera Division Second Place             Kolette Montague, Centerville, Utah

We Pirate Gypsies

after a day of flying high seas,
lounge in our velvets and silks
picking our teeth with daggers
and chatting about black spots
and spots marked with X,
gold doubloons, pieces of eight,
and high winds we have known
while Dragon settles her wings,
sputters smoke
rhyming treasure with orange.
Neither of us corrects her 
because her eye patch is slipping,
and we like the way she fiddles 
in the evenings.  So, you stir the stew
and I fetch plates of our last plunders—
silver for you, pewter for me, pearl for Dragon,
and one gold in case of company.
We guzzle grog right from the cask,
use linen napkins to wipe our mouths
before retying them around our heads.
Dragon plays a rousing rhythm then,
tapping along with her tail 
as we gypsy pirates whirl to the melody.
We take turns tending the fire, sing chanteys,
tell stories (some of dark and stormy nights)
and know we’d wish for home if it weren’t
so fun to be flying fancy-free.  Tomorrow
we’ll go into the village, perform our juggling act
at the marketplace, tell a few fortunes,
maybe find a pocket or two,
then roam to the hilltop where we’ll watch
Dragon soaring while we decide
if our next adventure is by land or sea,
we being pirate gypsies.

Chimera Division Third Place             Maurine Haltiner, Salt Lake City, Utah

Sprinkler Cliff

Day overflows with green.  Sunshine stumbles
over comfortable clouds.  Pen set for easy
verbs, I am jarred by the doorbell’s ring.  I’m Cliff, here

for your sprinkler checkup.  Backyard, I say, I’ll meet you
 I fold my thoughts like origami cranes, leave
them on the table to roost until my return.

Outside, Sprinkler Cliff kneels on the lawn 
in a halo of light.  I shade my eyes, pause
at the sound of his voice, I love

my work.  He leans forward, wrenches hands
around the ends of two variations on PVC and
sexes them together, slick, quick.  A lick of glue

follows.  He screws a new pop-up to the line.
His muscles speak words he doesn’t know
I hear.  That should hold for a season, he says.  Perhaps

not, I hope.  Nothing else to fix? I ask.
No harm in wanting Sprinkler Cliff
to linger at April’s end—his buzz cut gold
as young summer wheat, his neck a stallion’s
chestnut tan.  He rises in an upswell of manhood,
pants rightly tight, white T-shirt cuffed over biceps.

Nope, he says.  I got another customer to please thirty minutes
away.  Company will bill you.
 His smile hitches up
a pencil mustache paired with forked goatee.  He squints,

turns away whistling as sunlight dodges early leaves.
Back in the house I find my cranes lounging
in the southwest pocket of a plumber’s True Religion Jeans.

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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