CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM 2014 WINNING POEMS
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHOLLA DIVISION
Cholla Division First Prize Lynda La Rocca, Twin Lakes, Colorado
Judas at the Supper
You say I must betray you,
release your spirit from your flesh.
I understand your words.
It is your heart I cannot fathom
and your God I cannot comprehend or see.
You, my friend, my teacher
dip the bread in salt and bid me
sit beside you, bid me eat.
In dreams, the others draw their swords,
pursue me, and they stone me.
You say I will be lifted up
for my strange part in your strange plan.
Not here on Earth,
here, forgive me when I tell you,
I will only be despised,
my name forbidden to be put
on others of my kind,
those silver pieces turned into
the sign of treachery.
Yet I will do your will,
I will hand you over
though one swift kiss will plunge me
past this light to certain shadow
because you ask me to,
because I love you.
Cholla Division Second Prize Lorraine Jeffery, Orem, Utah
I once stood small
on water-numbed feet,
facing the crashing waves,
straining for a glimpse of Japan
or whatever was on the other side.
the cold wind-damp of the ocean
blows my hair
and I smell the salt and kelp.
Hungry for smoked salmon,
cold crab and warm clam chowder,
I am home again
after fifty years in the ocher colors of the desert,
years of red rocks
and prayers for mountain snow packs.
Yes, that is home, too,
but a clear-eyed home,
color washed with experience,
I stare at the gray horizon,
now knowing that I will not see Japan.
I look for foreign freighters
and the spout of a whale,
knowing the thundering breakers
will quench the thirst of my
Cholla Division Third Prize Candy Lish Fowler, St. George, Utah
I saw the man kick his bed-wetting son
then grind his face into the covers
while I sat at the kitchen table, doing my homework.
He kicked him the same way I’d seen him kick a dog
and rub his nose in his business.
When the lead on my #2 yellow pencil broke,
I got a new one from the box and continued my letters.
He wouldn’t stop going after his boy,
grabbing him, swatting his head with the paw of his hand.
When I tore my paper, I pulled out another sheet
and tried to stay in the lines.
He grabbed his son by the arm,
jerked it like the rope on a lawn mower,
yanked him, and pinned him to the air,
a perfect bulls-eye for the point of his boot.
He kicked and swung his boy
back and forth in unison
with the wet sheets drying in the wind.
My pencil snapped in half.
When I reached into the box, it was empty.
I finished my homework
with the broken yellow stub.
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHAQUETA DIVISION
Chaqueta Division First Prize Yvonne Nunn, Hermleigh, Texas
A Southwest Drought
The fields are dry from lack of rains,
no thunder clouds, nor daybreak dew.
Today a famine stalks the plains
where barn-bins gape from lack of grains.
The sandstorms block the sun from view
and rows are void where wheat once grew.
For years the sprouted seedpods grew
when fields ran wet with winter rains
as crops of wheat enhanced the view
and crystal drops of morning dew
forecast a drop of Durham grains
’fore famine scoured the rolling plains.
How desolate the desert plains
where folks recall what droughts once grew
when years ago cooks looked for grains
to make their bread. They prayed for rains.
“Please, father, send us streams of dew
as our bleak future comes in view.”
Breadbasket is a desert’s view.
The famine grows across the plains
in search of early dawn’s wet dew
like on the vines where pumpkins grew
when hurricanes last fall brought rains;
but now the wheat heads have no grains.
The maize plant’s short, no brick red grains,
the grass is brown in Southwest’s view.
Without a boost from spring time rains,
the crops are gone across the plains
where tasseled corn once thrived and grew.
There is no aid from dripping dew.
Come soon, quick soothing daylight dew.
Encourage planting seeds of grains
where last year’s fertile bean patch grew.
Oh goddess of the harvest view,
this famine will destroy the plains
unless the clouds fill up with rains.
The seed once grew when grass held dew;
where are the grains, the welcomed rains,
when all we view are wasted plains?
Chaqueta Division Second Place Candy Lish Fowler, St. George, Utah
an eye witness account
the largest in twenty years:
A low silhouette slips through eerie light,
coyote . . . only a lean twenty feet away.
Prince of midnight, you stalk, silent as star-fall,
a phantom of fields, a flesh and bone haunting,
hunting my meadow.
Clever, elusive creature,
fabulous moon, phenomenal night.
Full moon casts the world in blue glow,
bright as twilight smoothing malevolent into alabaster.
I saw you kill.
The pack went for the doe’s flank
while you went for her neck,
her throat, her deep pooled, dark, startled eyes.
You hunched over the carcass, muscles contracted,
coiled tight, focused on tearing life,
devouring meat, sinew, and hair.
Blood ran warm from the fresh kill.
Your head, buried in the body, raised up
when you heard me. Your muzzle dripped
thick red ooze . . . teeth bared. You turned,
ran off, knowing there would still be meat
after I left.
Pearlescent luna . . .
predator, shade of wraith howling at the hungry moon.
You took her eyes.
Chaqueta Division Third Place Karla Linn Merrifield, North Fort Myers, Florida
Okay, Kokopelli, I give in, you can be
the decorative mind-object
of my site reading for a stony poem.
But I’m going to put you first on your petroglyph
back, kicking up dusty heels at replacement gods.
Vanquished? Turned lazy? Your rock-etched flute tuneless?
You might as well be factory stamped in ink
on machine placemats and coaster, t-shirts, etc.,
made in China, nowhere near Nuevo Mexico.
In truth, Old Koko, like it or not,
you are primarily tourist icon, quite marketable.
And I am? Sold on an enduring muse, decorative or otherwise.
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHAPAREJOS DIVISION
Chaparejos Division First Prize Barbara Blanks, Garland, Texas
Walking through Woods on a Snowy Morning
When winter dropped across the country dell,
a sleepy silence stilled the feathered world.
Across the land the snowflakes knit and purled
a blanket soft as down and cold as hell.
No sleigh in sight, no sound of horse’s bell . . .
perhaps the poet watched as wind gusts swirled
outside his window, stayed at home, and curled
beneath an afghan, sipped his muscatel.
I shrug the shawl of gossamer white flakes
from off my shoulders, squinting through the glare
of dawn. My path and his do not compare—
We go divergent ways. While Robert shakes
his frosty head—perhaps just like his mare—
now I explore and make my own mistakes.
Chaparejos Division Second Prize Catherine M. Moran, Little Rock, Arkansas
The English teacher falls in love
His sharpened wit could slice a poem in two
or rip a sloppy sonnet at the seams.
Those clever jabs (sarcastic ones) we knew
concealed disdain for poets and their themes
full blown. We junior critics learned the trade.
But then we noticed softness in his tone
and wondered at the switch. Sometimes he stayed
on lines (of love) as if he were alone.
We watched those rarest poems of beauty fly
above our desks intact—the rumors soared.
His feelings even he could not deny,
and brilliant words revealed how they were stored.
To watch a change the force of love could wage
was lesson more than found on any page.
Chaparejos Division Third Prize Budd Powell Mahan, Dallas, Texas
In a Mirror
The chrome-like water’s sheen remains a sheet
as stealthily the egret moves to prey,
the surface never registering feet
that make no ripple in the silver-gray.
The afternoon awaits a plunge of beak,
as even bees grow silent in the field,
beneath the sword a frenzy of the sleek
and shiny scales that swim with fates now sealed.
This stalk of bird, perfection of design,
stirs neither air nor stream in its pursuit
and mimics sloth and movement saturnine
as plasma flows, its rate of speed minute.
The patient stealth of alabaster bird
is perseverance taught without a word.
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHIMERA DIVISION
Chimera Division First Prize Nad Richard Brown, St. George, Utah
Here Lies Senator Schwartz
Who Died in the Small Talk Epidemic of 2013
He looks peaceful, so like himself,
constituents volunteer in muted tones
as they file past the casket.
He fought a gallant fight.
Amazing he hung on this long, mourners hail.
I don’t know what I’ll do without him,
His somber, black-draped wife retorts,
squeezing the soiled handkerchief.
He was initially exposed back in ’88 when first elected.
His condition worsened steadily each campaign.
She pauses; a thousand memories flood her heart.
State dinners, teas, happy hours
and their attendant tedious chit chat
all took their toll on Harold.
He discovered small talk spoken through an interpreter
is smaller still, but to his credit, he could ask,
‘Do you have Coca Cola in your country?’
in five languages.
His condition continued to deteriorate.
Last November at a state reception
six people asked him if he owned a cat.
He will be remembered as the father of small talk charades.
When foreign dignitaries asked if he knew Michael Jordan,
he would nod his head, place his hands in the air,
as if gripping a basketball and thrust his hands upward,
much to the delight of all the guests.
We knew the end was near three weeks ago
when he rose up in bed and half asleep
recited thirteen recipes for black bean soup
partisans provided at a recent ‘know your candidate’ tea.
In his final breath, did he express his undying love
for you and the children?
an empathetic neighbor queries.
No, she responds between sobs,
he just mumbled something about
the origin of the paperclip.
Chimera Division Second Place Elizabeth Berkenbile, Warren, Maine
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking
mermaids are gliding, diving and hiding,
mirthfully chiding young men who spy them,
singing and smiling, tempting, beguiling.
Out of the mocking-bird’s throat they are flying,
riding warm breezes, queens of the air,
laughing, they murmur, musical shuttle,
radiant sirens. Young men, beware.
Out of the Ninth-month midnight they travel,
coursing dark waters, luminous glow.
Phosphorus foams on the hips of the ocean,
satin scales flash, pearly babies in tow.
Chimera Division Third Place Kolette Montague, Centerville, Utah
At the Night Track
I’ll tell ya, folks, it’s a nightmare here tonight.
As they enter the gates Charley horse rears back
stands hoofing the track like a lame old mare.
Ancient Knee Injury hasn’t recovered
from the last race. That fall
with the cartilage-ligament separation
may be just enough to end a career.
Heavy Hips refuses the posts, then
sags into position.
Yes folks, we can almost feel
that zinging and zapping as Circulation baulks
twisting the old chestnut into
One poor turn demands another.
I’ll tell ya folks, it’s brutal here tonight.
And they’re off!
Recalcitrant Bladder takes the lead
dashing like embarrassing childhood memories.
And around the turn, it’s—
Heartbreak neck and neck with Old Regrets,
hoofs pounding the turf into
They’ve entered the last stretch, folks.
It’s gonna be another close one.
But wait. Is that . . .? It looks like . . .
Yes! He-e-e-ere co-o-o-o-mes