CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CONTEST WINNERS 2012
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHOLLA DIVISION
Cholla Division First Prize Kolette Montague, Centerville, UT
Nocturne for Rails and Full Moon
The 3:47 whistles a
vagabond’s song and
the luminous moon
catches the melody
humming down the
into hope. Every poet
in every whistle-stop
pens sorrow lyrics
for whistles that wail
while the moon’s
wan reflection skims
rails. Scalawags and
rides, memorize the
longer call, “All
aboard,” nor wave a
full moon’s echo in
and open – mouthed
moon travel parallel
tracks of shattered
with darkness above
So looong, so
looong, they moan.
Cholla Division Second Prize Merrijane Rice, Kaysville, Utah
she wants to die in her sleep
not of starvation—
days to wring out life in bitter trickles
endless knot-fisted hours of regretting
that she didn’t say yes
not in a plane crash–
fifteen hovering minutes
to reconsider the road more traveled
before smacking the ocean’s face
not even by tripping
into an open elevator shaft–
mere seconds to reflect
on graceful free-fall flight
she wants to doze in and out
play peek-a-boo with eternity
until she wakes and stretches
wide-eyed behind the curtain
Cholla Division Third Prize Nancy Roberts, St. George, Utah
Our Father’s Ashes
Maybe he’ll come back as a salmon.
Sherman Alexie, Smoke Signals
Would that be a good thing—
a life with nothing to drink but brine
laced with filaments of kelp, stinging tangles
of jellyfish, the smoky whispers of squid?
Perhaps the invisible hands of our first mother
will lift him like a purse of beads,
as if the sun could measure
the worth of him: each facet of scale,
each opal-glint of fire,
the baffles inside, as dense and guarded
as those stacks of white man’s
currency. No matter what he’s done,
she’ll rock him, rock him,
slung in the wide cradle-board of the sea.
This would be a good thing
If it weren’t for what comes next:
an agony of lust rage in the brain
will carry him away from her, from us,
all over again
as if he thinks he has to give
back his fire to the sun.
It’s so crazy,
this leaving home, so much bravado,
again and again, the dreadful gauntlet:
jaws of bears, talons of eagles,
rocks like the hooves of wild horses,
and, finally, the soft pools at the mouth,
jasper eggs gauzed with swirls of sperm,
everywhere bodies spent
in the act of love,
the complex layers shred
off bone, to flake, to ash.
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHAQUETA DIVISION
Chaqueta Division First Prize Lulyne Streeter, Kingwood, Texas
Out here in the desert where I live,
The arroyos of our bodies are
Dry river beds that no longer catch
The overflow of our desire.
Beneath blistering scrutiny,
One hurt lasts a thousand years,
Wind-whipped words shrivel
Thighs and souls.
But shifting sands cover old wounds and
Recall that once there were succulents,
Creamy, rare blooms, scented
Nights and lover’s breath.
When summer storms brought healing rain,
Solitary hawks rode the wind, and
Mated for life, sharing
Thoughts and secret eyries.
Out here in the desert,
I am waiting . . . .
Can you smell the rain
As it fills my dry river bed?
Chaqueta Division Second Place Julie Morris Paul, Manchester, Connecticut
Capitan, New Mexico
The outhouse has no door
and there may be spiders
and certainly stinkbugs.
In the morning the field
is wet with dew but the sun
rises over Capitan Mountain
and its big yellow face doesn’t
turn away as I pull down my jeans
and settle on the warped seat.
Junipers wave negligee arms.
Poplars stretch among
the squatting desert shrubs.
Rock walls meander across
the property. Stone pillars stand
like ghosts waiting for their stories
to be told, stories like the one
shared around the campfire last night,
each one of us adding a twist to the tale
while smoke from burning cedar
wrapped us in its gauzy shawl.
The lone cloud in the sky, bunched
like a white washcloth in a blue bowl,
is pierced by the windmill.
Metal blades rattle as they spin.
Water, pulled from earth’s belly,
spills from the garden hose.
I wash my hands in the arcing glitter.
Chaqueta Division Third Place Julie Morris Paul, Kingwood, Texas
After the Party at the Stone Yard
Santa Fe, NM
Tonight we danced at the stone yard
while the band played
and dust swirled and eddied.
Stone pillars hovered
like shy dancing partners
and the men rocked back
on the heels of their boots,
smoking cigarettes, missing nothing
though their eyes were always lowered.
As if I’m still draining
the last drops of beer from a bottle,
my head tips back
against the seat of the pick-up
on the long ride up the mountain road.
I wake to see the moon
mouthing a kiss through parting clouds.
I remember then that I’m in the high desert
closer to the sky than I’ve ever been,
where the stars glitter at night
like the sequins on our ruffled skirts.
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHAPAREJOS DIVISION
Chaparejos Division First Prize N. Colwell Snell, Salt Lake City, Utah
During her sleep, the nurses check her room.
Long-stemmed roses wither in their vases,
while Get Well cards now stand erect and mum,
as she has set aside her reading glasses
along with several magazines about
the history of music and the crop
of new releases. She has tried to eat
another morsel, drink another drop
of liquid, but the tantalizing strain
of blended voices from the intercom
begin to rise and sink and rise again.
Then comes the aria from La Boheme,
and in that moment, she begins to float
away from her spent body note by note.
Chaparejos Division Second Prize Aaron Holst, Sheridan, Wyoming
Ode to a Molar
Unlike incisor, so pretty and thin,
whose tasks—so trivial—nip, nibble, and grin,
O, Noble Molar, pillar of power,
you gnash, chew, mash by the hour.
You grind away strife in midst of night,
toil in dark, ne’er see day’s light.
Your royalty gained, rooted in loss,
among the fallen, cracked, unflossed.
For you must die to assume your crown,
wear gold in death, no ermine gown.
So, trust we these sound praxes each day:
to brush and floss, keep rot at bay.
O, Noble Molar, in your last while,
our fervent hope, your unfeigned smile.
Chaparejos Division Third Prize Catherine Moran, Little Rock, Arkansas
Thoughts on being picked up in the bar
My vodka tonic sits as close as jazz
Tonight, and I am filled with both of them.
The lounge reflects a purpled world that has
its shadows in control. I glance at him
to start the scene, and he responds in kind
with those familiar moves that circle round
like flirting birds deciding where to find
a landing place. I listen to the sound
of casual words, and all of them I’ve heard.
I wish he’d speak of haunted shores and hills
he’d climb barefoot because in him they stirred
a long lost dream that only touching fills.
He’s caught in angled plans of yesterday.
I reach to worlds a dragonfly away.
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHIMERA DIVISION
Chimera Division First Prize Julie Morris Paul, Manchester, Connecticut
If You Came across a Stone
Toss it into the sky. The hole it punches
will be miniscule relative to the vast
blue canvas. Somewhere on earth,
heaven will slowly leak through.
Sit on it. Choose a good-sized one, of course.
Refuse to budge until your demands are met.
If they include ending war or saving redwoods,
make sure the rock’s not on private property
or you’ll be arrested.
Cut it in half. Discover an unknown indigenous tribe
of microscopic peoples who inhabit the quartz
geode inside. Learn its language, its secrets.
Familiarize yourself with its sins. Write a book.
Become famous. The stone-cutting frenzy
that follows your success can’t be helped.
Stare at it for a long, long time. Become one
with the stone. See yourself through the eyes
of the stone. You are big, move a lot, need to eat,
breathe, wash, think, and talk.
You love, You suffer. This is a mystery to the rock.
Touch it all over. Rub your thumbs along its surface.
Close your eyes. Imagine you are a sculptor.
Would you change its form? Would you crush it
with a big machine until it turned to rubble?
Would you curse its wings when it became
a swirl of dust in your eye? Or would you leave it
perfect as it is, alone and useless?
Chimera Division Second Place Barbara J. Funke, St. George, Utah
Ode to the Spork
Clever, clever spork,
we celebrate your parentage in utility.
Ah, mother spoon,
collector of broths, gravies, and puddings,
thank you for the roundness of your belly
and the fullness thereof. And father fork,
master of crumb, morsel, and chunk,
thank you for the bite of your teeth
and the fruits thereof.
Yet, hermaphroditic melding of fork with spoon,
of plastic with flatware, homely offspring
having full grace or endurance of neither parent,
we pity your brittle inadequacies,
your comic, baby-toothed grin,
your goofy appellation.
At supper, humble spork, we laud your best,
cradle you between thumb and index finger,
appreciate your middling service.
Why wash and restore two costly utensils?
You know your worth, begrudge us not
casual advantage-taking of your dispensability,
periodic mocking of your name.
Occasional life saver,
you offer yourself readily for our best ease.
To you we raise a sporkful, say thank you
Chimera Division Third Place Barbara Blanks, Garland, Texas
Lost and Mounds
with a squeeze to Ogden Nash
My loving cups were fully packed,
astounding D-cups, filled-to=-the-brim cups,
pert and firm and parabolical, horizontal
while I was vertical, but when I lay down
on my back . . . . Ack! What happened to my rack?
Even dromedaries have one mound,
but my front’s been deserted.
My mutinous bounty’s left me barren,
nothin’s left for fun or sharin’.
I’m dumbfounded by their absence.
Are they playing hide and seek?
Those glorious globes aren’t plumped
against my back; I’m lying flat—so to speak.
How I wonder where they are
. I didn’t leave them in the car—and I’ll venture
they’re not soaking in a glass on the sink like dentures.
They could have called when they arrived
at their new destination—or better yet–
invited me to join them in their spontaneous vacation,
But did they? Nyet!
How could they imposition me?
Perhaps by standing up again they’ll pop up
prettily and pertly, and tell me where they’ve been.
Oh! There you are, my perky pair—
hanging out on either side,
nestled in my armpit hair.