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Cholla Division First Prize        Bob Rippy - St. George, Utah

The Death of a Distant Cousin, Thirty-nine Months

Sneaking around
the back of the car
toward his father
pumping gas,
he aimed his toy
cap pistol, no doubt
made some sound
with his mouth, and fired
the air he and his father
then lived in.

That was a month ago,
and in the hospital some
of his parchment skin
was changed for skin
of thigh and buttocks.
And maybe he dreamt less
and less of the air
blazing around him.
Then he surprised us all again
by dying.

Today his great aunts and
grandmother’s friends
will do as always
they’ve done for grief
and bring salads
and casseroles and hardly speak.
but in a tight cold circle
in that empty house
they’ll know something
new of death
the folds of their faces
could never say.

Cholla Division Second Prize   Cathy Miller - Oklahoma City, OK

Grief Song


his old woman
sang grief to cold fields

her longing held in flannel
and dirt   cow dung and seed dust
nearly split her as she waited
for a sign  one dream
from bones weeks wrapped in frost


his old woman heard
goat bells   ting  ting
a chime of chords
nebulous and silky
as light from old stars

she reached out the window
pulling them in before
they purled  braided together
over dark high pines
lacing the folded wool of their mountain
it seemed to her 
the soul of the farm rose 
in nocturne that night
for the barn  the land
and the tiller

Cholla Division Third Prize      Barbara J. Funke - St. George, Utah

Memorial to an Absence

My great grandparents sit for a photograph to celebrate 
Great Grandpa's return from the War of the Great Rebellion.  
Great Grandmother implores the camera to be kind,
understands the import of this venture
if, in fact, that black box does not.

Great Grandpa surrenders his objections, submits
to the family portrait.  He has already left
his right leg in Atlanta, his beard at the barber's,
and the seed of my grandfather
under Great Grandmother's skirt.  
His shirt is freshly starched,
his neck is neatly noosed.

After the photographer lights the powder,
Great Grandpa will explode,
fumble with his cane and storm out of frame.  
His regiment has lit plenty of powder,
potent powder, fire powder,
like powder that will fire
and burn and stink in the studio
where behind Great Grandmother's shoulder
vague cow eyes gaze from the backdrop idyll,
gaze off at the slaughter that steels
Great Grandpa's stolen focus.

Between them and stricken with fear,
their oldest son Abner stares slightly aside
at the photographer himself, the historian of record
who captures in those young eyes
the frenzied battles of family kitchen.  
On this front, however,
Abner's collar and his mother's hair demonstrate 
the careful domesticity of bows.   


Chaqueta Division First Prize      Dr. Emory D. Jones - Iuka, Mississippi

Divine Sculpture

He sculpts the earth with water, wind and fire,
Sends the roiling stream, cutting soil
With force of rushing flowing water
Sends sand to sculpt the sandstone with the wind.

Through this sculpture garden glides the wind
As sun beats down on desert, hot as fire
That spreads like a shallow river across the earth
And like molten silver beneath the water.

Up in the mountain over rocks, the water,
Rippled by the fingertips of wind,
Resists the glowing warmth of orange fire
To cool the surface of the waiting earth.

The rocks in pinnacles arise from warming earth
As now the flowing river gives its water
To natural bridges, carved by rushing wind,
That arch and leap as if they were on fire.

He blesses earth, refreshes it with water
And on the wind renews eternal fire.

Chaqueta Division Second Place       Jenny Doughty - Portland, Maine


Cities rise on fault-lines in a treeless desert.
Though ancestors whisper from the blindness of death,
we thirst, where is the water, who listens to them?

The click and flicker of neon blots out stars,
ancient plants slake the thirst of cars.  In empty caverns
of the aquifer only echoes.  Lakes desiccate.

Aeons long rivers carve canyons; mayflies rise
on ripples near fishermen, sink, clasp and copulate,
lay myriad eggs, die unfed, digesting only air,

robust nymphs, tossing aside long liquid lives
for this change of being, temporary
beauty of veined wing and light.

Chaqueta Division Third Place     Reuben Wadsworth - Hurricane, Utah

Leisurely-paced Zion

There was a time
When Zion was sublime
Not much of a crowd
It wasn’t too loud

Today’s not the same
The only thing to blame
Is the park’s big draw
Now turned to a flaw

So many people, too much fuss
Difficult to find some solace
An experience somewhat grand
But akin to Disneyland

Waiting in long lines
Earning parking fines
Listening to the chatter
Thinking “What’s the matter?”

A wilderness foray
Comes with some dismay
Wilderness it is not
Urban struggles are the lot

To avoid the commotion
One gets the notion
The need to break away
To have a delightful day

Changing transportation
From the favorite of the nation
To something a little slow
“Oh, the places you’ll go”

Up the canyon on a bike
Is a journey you will like
Solitude can be found
With hardly anyone around

And at your leisurely pace
You’ll appreciate the place
More than seeing it fast
Through windows, quickly passed

Your next time in Zion park
Let your contrast be more stark
Take Edward Abbey’s advice
Ride a bike, it’s twice as nice


Chaparejos Division First Prize                 Lorraine Jeffery - Orem, Utah

Night Gypsy

Day is gone, the sun sinks over the hill,
the house doors close, the daytime sounds are still.

For many an hour fair Day has sung her song,
Have you finished?  Must you take so long?

Fleet of foot, she always leads the way,
energetic, bright, beautiful Day.

Wish her gone?  She’s all I want to be,
but, Night Gypsy, you’re also a part of me.

My gypsy friend, as dark as she is light,
after her, you come quietly at night.

Gliding softly, you come to me with a smile.
Wearily I plead, Stay awhile.

Walking slowly, always by my side,
asking nothing, never do you chide.

Daily schedules tossed onto a chair.
Weekly goals?  You don’t seem to care.

I share with you, I want to be like Day.
Never angry, you smile at me and say,

She’s accomplished, fast and beautiful to see,
but in your soul you’re very much like me.

So when in weariness, you cannot escape the noisy din,
I’ll knock softly on your door, and you will let me in.

Chaparejos Division Second Prize      Lisa Toth Salinas - Spring, Texas


I gather words like some collect fine wines.
I stockpile stanzas, amass metaphors;
age to perfection fresh-pressed metered lines
that flood the page when inspiration pours.
I’ve trained my palate, learned how to refine
my taste in verse, to sniff out subtle threads
of flavor, spot the gift from each grapevine
of thought, distinguish fruity verbs from reds
that please assertive word enthusiasts.
I keep a cellar full of poetry:
a word reserve, ready to pour a glass
of fine ideas, serve creativity
whenever the occasion might arise.
I gather words like some collect fine wines.

Chaparejos Division Third Prize         Barbara Blanks - Garland, Texas

Rising Symphony             

As hope glides in on wings of meadowlark,
the sky begins to ring in crystal song,
harmonious and glorious and strong.
It fills the lonely emptiness with light
as notes rain down until they form an arc.
I reach to grasp the proffered sacred spark
and know it’s what I’ve wanted all along,
for once I lived with face turned to the night—
the tapestry of me had come undone.

I tremble as I rise and hold on tight
while lifting up my gaze to face the sun.
The sky begins to ring in crystal song.
I join the chorus, ready now to start,
and shout with joy that overfills my heart.



Chimera Division First Prize               Susan Maxwell Campbell - Mansfield, Texas

You gave me back

my book
        dog-eared here and there and there.  I guess
that means you looked at it.  I found your
cookie crumbs mashed between pages 92
and 93, so you  like it well enough 
not to stop reading for your snack.
The coffee cup ring on the back cover says
you carried it around to Starbucks—
        it wasn’t new when I lent it to you, let’s see,
how many months ago, and I only asked you
four times for it back, and I can tell
you did read it, and to judge from your underlining,
you even liked it.  Here’s the dry cleaner’s coupon
you jammed at page 80; it’s expired
some weeks ago.  Did it rain one day
at your house?  It seems pages 44
to 54 were soaked and dried, wrinkled and dimpled
and puckered.  You must have hurdled 
over chapter 17—that’s where the spine
broke as if you propped it open
to read, reread bending it back and
flat flattened.  I wonder if you understood
the author’s main points in the preface
because your marginalia seem misguided,
but thank you for returning it.  By the way,
the library branch near you is open late Tuesdays,
and it’s a friendly staff; I won’t warn them about you.

Chimera Division Second Place             Chuck Salmons - Pickerington, Ohio

The Commuter’s Contrition Sonata

Take these hydrangeas
as a sign of my regret
for having cut you off
before exiting the Interstate.

but you see we were late
getting our five-year-old
to his soccer game 
and we want him to learn
and important lesson
in commitment and punctuality.

Take these paperwhites
as alms and acknowledgment
of my not slowing down
as I passed you, stranded
on the shoulder, changing a tire,

But you see my broker was babbling 
over Bluetooth about the bear
market bottoming out
and my foot engaged the gas pedal
as deeply as my anxiety.

Take these thistles
as my apology for blaring
my heavy metal music
at the long traffic light,

but you see my wife left me
yesterday for another man
and I find thrashing guitars
and growling lyrics
a better salve than your smooth jazz.

Take these stems of wolfsbane
in recognition of my hesitation
to merge safely, moving at speed
from the on ramp
into rush-hour traffic,

but you see I took your flashing
headlights as warning, not a welcome,
and I see by your finger
you’re overdue for a manicure.

Chimera Division Third Place             Denis Feehan - Mesquite, Nevada

A Vary Mary Christmas

Wee woke up Christmas mourning
Before the brake of day
Hour parents cent us back to bed
But we stopped along the weigh

And saw the Christmas presence
All rapped and tied with beaus
Like magnets they were pulling us
Two the tree awn tippy toes

Now Mom had herd us giggling
And caught us gift inn hand
She called four Dad who told us that
This was knot what they had planned

But Santa Claws had landed
His flying slay that knight
And left sum toys for girls and boys
And wee couldn’t weight till light!

Wii poured out bulging stockings
And picked out candy canes
Wee un-rapped ribboned treasure chests
Witch had held hour gnu toy trains

A Vary Mary Christmas
Eye wish too awl of ewe
Just like the won we had that year
(And a happy knew year two!)

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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