April 2017

What’s New · Poetry Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our Annual Poetry in the Garden Contest! The winners will read at the Main Library’s Poetry in the Garden series on April 4 at 7 p.m.

The Winners

An Introvert on Facebook by Karen Ulm Rettig

How can you hang your laundry in so visible a place,
displaying private items, edged in sentiment and lace?
That shirt whose wear betokens an illustrious career –
that handkerchief whose dampness is a distillate of tears –
the quilt that kept your parents warm, now faded and threadbare –
the blanket that has wrapped a joy too personal to share.
Those trousers have a smiling patch that hides a ragged hole;
too fragile is the fabric of that dainty camisole.

How can you sort and shake it, wring it out so casually?
You grasp each piece and pin it up for all the world to see!
Such open, public scrutiny I never could abide,
so I hang joys and woes and other intimates inside.

Sunfish by Jason Martin

As if hummingbirds fell into the lake,
grew gills, mutated fins from wings.
Their songs splash in the murky waters
and their colors radiate through algae.
A rainbow, stretched across the sky,
broke into pieces and became sunfish.

I dip in my hand, schools of sunfish
race to hidden recesses inside the lake,
their winged counterparts span the sky,
their flocks swim in a wider sphere, wings
with more space to flutter, no nasty algae
lingering and stagnant in these bluer waters.

This morning, grandpa and I sit by the waters
and toss out bait-less lines for the sunfish.
I help him skim away the film of algae
with a broom, uncovering the muddy lake.
I notice small brown feathers of bird wings
floating on the water’s edge, as if the sky

kissed the lake last night. Birds in the sky
secretly mating with fish in the waters.
Grandpa says they used to snip pigeon wings
and use the feathers for pens. I lament sunfish
that hook their lips on grandpa’s line, the lake
losing brilliant colors, replaced by more algae.

Grandpa says when he was a boy he drank algae
soup for his fevers. I grin and stare into the sky,
as the sun lulls the tiny current on the lake.
The grand imaginations of a little boy: the water
and the sky like pieces of bread, birds and sunfish
like bits of rye, all the middle stuff with wings –

or legs, in mine and grandpa’s case. If birds sans wings
have indeed mated with fish having no fins, the algae
would be like small green islands for the hybrid sunfish.
Grandpa died today while he napped beside the water-sky.
I pulled his line to shore for him, and, as if these waters
felt the sky’s adrenaline, I lifted a rainbow from the lake,

pieces of colored wings flapping up into the sky
told me that grandpa’s waters, through harboring algae,
held a world full of sunfish in our own imaginary lake.

To Be Continued by Andrew R. Boettcher

It rested on a stump
in the woods;
a dark and dull pellet of waste.
A tight compaction
of bone and tooth,
of fur and antenna;
all the tiny pieces of taken lives
the owl could not digest.
I thought of my own
small and gristled life;
how the universe and the mystery
would one day
take that, too.
I imagined the release.
The release from my useless
and difficult parts.
The release from my own
undigestible hardness.
That moment,
I believed in the release
of any goodness in me;
ready to be continued,
ready to nourish.

The Crocus and Her Sisters by Stephanie Pyle

We don’t recall inviting the crocus,
yet here she peeps at the edge of the lane.
She is alone, and her sister will be here soon.
The crocus does not care what you think of her timing,
she arrives when she should.
*
The crocus craves company, and so she coaxes sisters
from her body’s buried corm,
and when a lonely year has passed they join her,
their heads bowed and bobbing in windblown conversation.
*
Crocus clusters in a field are called audacities.
If you drop a coin near one, the flowers
say a prayer to make your mother’s dreams peaceful.
If you tell a lie, the crocus’ color fades to straw.
*
The crocus spends the seasons sleeping
underground, her little body wrapped in onion papers.
Some sleep beside cicada eggs, whispering lullabies through the soil.
Inside their shells the nymphs begin to hum along.
This is how cicadas learn to sing.
*
Crocus flowers raised in planter troughs do not survive.
Born helpless on a window sill, a crocus sticks her sleepy head up
through the soil but finds no chill, no chittering winter birds,
and so she breathes a softly moaning sigh
and pulls her head back down to sleep a hundred years.
We call these strangled potted flowers clods, or voids.
Boiled in cheesecloth they are a poultice against romantic intimidation.
*
The crocus and her sisters live for spring, though it will soon destroy them.
They press their petals high in prayer, diving upward
through a floor of frost sugar-hard
and stand brightly colored and exposed.
After cold months underground, it takes time for petals to soften,
for the flower to finally thrust her saffron stamen at the sky.
A squirrel will not eat her except when there has been an argument.
*
A crocus in the breeze will not bend.
A crocus in your hand snaps off her own head before she will obey.
If you stick your finger inside the purple flute,
she will bite your knuckle if you do not move quickly.

The Judges

The poetry entries were judged by a committee of professional poets. Judging was anonymous and the judges’ decisions are final.