CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM 2020 WINNING POEMS
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHOLLA DIVISION
Cholla Division First Prize Bob Rippy - St. George, Utah
After the Garden
I. The Rise of Feminism
Adam’s wife, she of the famous purloined rib,
cannot, in truth, bear the blame alone. Indeed,
Eve, the last time Adam brought it up, told him off.
“Give me a break. Admit it. You and I were both
infinitely bored. And so different! You’re a pb&j
kind of guy and I’m a caviar girl. So I chose the apple. You’ll
make your own choice. If you’re so unhappy, see if you can
opt to get back in His good graces. Grovel. It’ll help.
Que sera, sera, I say. I’m happier right here. I swear,
should he forgive and I repent, I’d still be forever caught,
utterly, in my petty role in this great comic improv.
Whenever He carps about my sin and rues making a second sex,
you console Him, worship Him. Me, I’ve had it with all this jazz.”
II. Adam’s Dilemma
Adam lay befuddled and forlorn. Eve’s latest snub
cast him into a deep, dark place, alone in his lonely bed.
Ever since that apple thing—the snake and God and all that stuff—
Gentle Eve, Generous Eve changed from a butterfly to a moth.
“In the morning,” said he,” she’d bring me fruit, a glass of o.j.
Kindness was her other name. Her song echoed through the dell.”
Maybe, he thought, he could return, live in the garden on his own.
Or wander the earth. Staying here with her, he’d have to step
quietly when she’s in a mood. Yet he’d miss her. He loved her
smart observations, the way she could hide a poem in a fact:
“Under the crimson sky, I saw geese rise up and form a perfect V.”
Why consider going back? he asked himself. Forget Eden. Relax.
You could live life without her, but it’d be champagne without fizz
Cholla Division Second Prize Jane Randall, Centerville, Utah
To set sleeves in or sew ruffled skirts
onto fitted bodices, the dressmaker must run
a line of gathering threads—
long stitches that, when skillfully pulled,
bunch fabric into even corrugations.
Other threads have the honor of being
permanent, of holding things together,
of feeling forever worthwhile.
But gathering threads are needed only temporarily.
Once permanent stitches are properly positioned and
the garment can fill the full measure of its purpose,
gathering threads are plucked out and discarded:
raveled wisps in the wastebasket
although they are not wasted.
They are the Tailor’s ally, the Seamstress’s art, genesis
of the fine reality of well-made clothing.
I understand gathering thread, for I am a mother
whose children are grown.
Cholla Division Third Prize Susan Foster, Hurricane, Utah
for Nathaniel Alexander, July 11, 1977 – July 11, 1977
I named you
with all the names
would never let me give the others
I felt the silk of your dark curls
against my cheek
and remembered the smell
of newborn wetness
in the room
And in the amethyst glow
I held the soft blue blanket
covered with little moons and stars
then put it back
in the drawer
where it has always been
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHAQUETA DIVISION
Chaqueta Division First Prize Lorraine Jeffery, Orem, Utah
for Mahonri Young
This head-strong daughter,
rooted in Carolina green,
now praises red rocks,
crumbling dirt hogans,
and Navaho legends.
Just look at the colors in the cliffs, Mom.
That’s what she says, as I stare
at naked rocks, darting lizards
and feel the unending wind
from the bellows of hell.
She’ll be married in some ethnic
ceremony while I sit by his stoic mother
with her solemn stare.
I drive from
Santa Fe to Albuquerque,
air-conditioner cranked high. Ahead—
a dust covered jeep pulled off the side,
flapping canvas shading the easel,
a man leans forward, brush in hand.
On the empty road I slow, peer out the
window to the east, see only sagebrush,
spiny mesquite, stunted cacti, a few scarred
juniper trees, backdropped by barren mesas.
I brake near the gray-haired artist,
who is not Native American,
but has a chiseled, weathered face.
This is a blast furnace, I say, lowering a
He nods. I see underarm stains and the
beginning of his painting. What a lot of nothing!
I blurt. I don’t see anything beautiful to paint.
The artist’s clear blue eyes gaze at the scene
in front of him, then he turns slowly to face me,
and says softly, Don’t you wish you could?
Chaqueta Division Second Place Kolette Montague, Centerville, Utah
Pine Valley Lessons
I learned the desert sun in Pine Valley
predictably rises in silence,
accompanied by ravens’ greeting fanfare.
I’ve learned that cast-iron takes longer
than expected to warm, and comradery
comes as natural as the basking lizard.
I learned momentous thoughts
may take only a moment, but the desert
is a patient teacher. I learned it might
have been a mountain mahogany
Moses saw glowing in the sun.
And wind makes October aspens
sound like rain showers.
I’ve learned the little bird
who could hide in my closed hand
sings clear across the valley.
And if peace remains
it is because I bring it with me.
Chaqueta Division Third Place Kristal Sullivan, Hurricane, Utah
The Desert Is Alive
The desert is alive
the way a grandmother is alive
or a great grandmother is
still powerful the way patience is powerful
wise the way drought makes one wise
Nothing wrong with her
nothing to mourn:
the desert is exactly what she should be
Her wrinkles shift in the sand
memories obvious in stone
Youth may be fresh and soft
filled with song and calls and visitors
but it cannot be majestic
the way the desert is majestic
the way lightning and wind and heat
force one to know things
And me—I am as green as a city park
yet still I recognize her there
growing in all the vital ways
still and red and lonely
a realness I will not understand
until time and weather
bring me to her company
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHAPAREJOS DIVISION
Chaparejos Division First Prize Dr. Emory D. Jones, Iuka, Mississippi
The swollen hill is pregnant with the Spring.
A promise of a resurrection day,
a warm renewal, life in everything
is bursting forth like perfumed blooms of May,
and now it will be constant joy to pray
to smiling God and look to a pale blue sky
and dance and flutter like the butterfly.
The hill is streaked with yellow, brown, and green
and days burn out like charcoal on the grill.
And under glaring skies we’re caught between
the steamy afternoons that seem to fill
our souls with ennui and remembered thrill
of finding God who doesn’t seem to be
as near as when we were in harmony.
The forlorn naked hill is brown and bare
surrounded by the woods of deadly hue.
It is as if the world is dying there
with mound as grave and sobbing sky, dark blue
with boiling glowering clouds like witches’ brew.
For all the beauty in which the woods are clad
we have our gnawing doubts which leave us sad.
The hill is silent in its shroud of snow
while icy winds now shiver naked trees
that stand like frozen sentinels of woe.
And shredded clouds pursued by winter breeze
flee across the sky as our disease
of sin condemns us to a Godless state
of desperate pain we dare not contemplate.
The hill reflects the seasons as they pass
on days of luscious light or gloomy gray
but our fragile hearts, as weak as glass,
depend upon our nature’s constant play.
Yet gracious God is there. He may display
Himself in smiling sky or thunder cloud
and even in the hill with snowy shroud.
Chaparejos Division Second Prize Kolette Montague, Centerville, Utah
I’ve greeted dawn a thousand varied ways—
with starlings, robins, crows or mourning doves.
And through my sixty years of day-by-days
I’ve come to understand sunrise absolves,
gives healing hope, and promises new chance.
I do not have to bid sunlight to roll
across the shadowed valley nor enhance
my life. For morning mends my wingless soul.
And so I go about familiar tasks
and seek redemption in small common chores
aligned with light. For now the blessing asked
is that I might be here for one day more.
This dawn I greet the earth with simple needs
as sparrows bow to peck at morning seeds.
Chaparejos Division Third Prize Barbara Blanks - Garland, Texas
In the Backyard with My Granddaughter
She giggles. Caterpillar tippy-toes
a dance across her hand, a tickly touch
of wiggly fun. She offers it, bestows
her gift upon my palm. I have to clutch
my heart to keep it in my chest. She shines
with generosity. She finds a stone
with purple veins and one with crystal lines.
She gasps in awe. “We’re in a fairy zone,”
she whispers. Crouching down, she builds a dome
with dirt, some other sparkling rocks, and twigs.
She concentrates while building sprites a home,
then decorates with leaves and flower sprigs.
She laughs, as light as pixie dust, when done.
I’m captured in the web of love she’s spun.
CHAPARRAL POETRY FORUM CHIMERA DIVISION
Chimera Division First Prize Beth Staas, Oak Brook, Illinois
A Jabberwocky Update
(with apologies to Lewis Carroll)
These luminous kloves do slith on by
as gimbling wallow through the shabe,
their grinsly echoing sunlit sky
and their domies hailed inplabe.
Yet do not fear the Jabb, my girl—
the lips that sneer, the eyes that gleam.
Don’t shun the dark be-speckled whorl
as a brilliant Graphics scheme.
Embrace those thrusting cellphones high
creating highest vector’s mood
with rasters pixed, and tracks to ply
the structured elements brewed.
Though caught in consternation’s mire
retina codes have interfaced,
their blogs and hashtags made to fire
the contents ne’er de-based.
Alloy, allay! ’Twas Jabberwock,
himself a geek whose cursers strong
squanked hybrid apps to knicker-knock
the bugs who did them wrong.
He slew the worms and virus cold
in uTube, facebook, apps and tweets,
the fonts of Sans! The Gothics bold!
that mined our kerning sweets.
So luminous kloves still slith on by
their gimbling wallow through the shabe:
their grinsly echo sunlit sky
but their domies hail inplabe.
Chimera Division Second Place Barbara Ford, Poncha Springs, Colorado
Spell for Finding
Up the seer’s left sleeve hides your sealed request,
in the forest undressed leaves dervish unswept.
No chore without heft,
no weave without weft,
the first step of all quests
is half-choice, half guess.
Grief leads to theft of salt the muse wept,
dissolves into darkness under trees full of nests.
If bereaved is bereft
to adapt is adept,
what is apt is belief
in the context of yes.
Sleep plumbs the depths where cleave seeks out cleft,
moon eases east-west to illumine your rest.
Beyond the last dream
underneath the perchance
a seam opens up
to reveal the entranced.
Veiled in a drift of burning frankincense
lie the unmapped lands of your heart’s seventh sense.
Chimera Division Third Place Barbara Blanks, Garland, Texas
Agatha’s Other Detective
He hears the lightest click
of tiny toenails on a tiled floor.
Curious, he tracks the sound,
inhales the furtive scent of alien life.
Wide eyes contract to crescents
as they detect movement.
Except for the slight twitching
of his tail,
he is a statue,
pretends to be oblivious
to the cautious creeper
nibbling crumbs near the pantry door.
Tense muscles quiver.
pounces on the intruder.
A moment later,
drops the evidence at my feet.