Winning Landscape Poems FA22 Contest

Thank you so much to everyone who entered our annual poetry contest. This year Dana Yost judged the landscape category, and Lee Ann Roripaugh judged the portrait category. Please enjoy this year’s winning poems 🙂

First Place

Sudden Weather 

By Todd Williams

Maybe we were never closer
than when buried in the basement
beneath mounds of musty blankets
as sirens pierced alien skies
turning orange,
then red,
then black.
From wind-rattled windows we searched 
roiling heavens as sirens wailed 
and the transistor radio  
sang along in pitched squeals and howls,
these sonic storms filling tight quarters
and our imaginations fully.
Together, we'd close our eyes
as hailstones began tapping and
then crashing to Earth all around,
leaving cracked glass and bent metal
behind in the damp afterglow.
And sometimes, in the small space
between sleep and being awake,
I still feel your soft and firm hand 
reach to my shoulder, quiet calm 
tenor of your voice at my ear, 
and the perfume of your coffee 
and cigarette-stained breath saying,
"Don't worry; it will be all right,"
the threat of sudden weather not
enough to break the strength of family, 
even after all these years in your absence. 

Second Place

Du Fu Proclaims his Love for East River 
   	                                                                   Stars hang 
   	                                                                  all across the vast plain;
                                                                       	the moon bobs 
                                                                        in the flow of the great river. 

                                                     Thoughts Written While Traveling at Night by Du Fu

By Eric Schulte

I don’t know about you, but 
I think Du Fu would have 
loved East River. 

If Du Fu lived here
he would say the sky
is all that matters, 
painted in watercolor blue 
and showing a pathway 
to heaven. 

He’d say 
the first day of August 
is too early to declare
summer over. 
He’d say get outside 
and enjoy the tangerine sunrise 
or bright moon 
lighting up the prairie.

His advice would be
to pack all the colors and sounds 
you can for the coming 
cold winter. 

He’d say 
this is not “Flyover Country”
and any exile  
near a field 
of sunflowers 
would be just fine. 

He’d say baseball in summer
or football on a glorious 
Friday night in autumn 
creates community.

He’d say a glass of wine 
is best enjoyed 
at a bar on Phillips Avenue, 
or in a cabin at Lake Kampeska, 
or anywhere good friends meet.

He’d say a cup of coffee
at the Red Rooster in Aberdeen
is the perfect way 
to start your day. 

He’d say the pasque flower  
is a mirror to the soul, and every bit 
as beautiful as the peach blossom. 

I like to think 
he would be at peace 
living here.

I like to think 
he would call it home. 


Third Place

Rules for Flight

By Kathy Bjornestad

On a windy day
a flock of winter geese 
break and seam together,
battle windy chaos as they
fight to hold form.
Rules for flight dissolve
upon that January day.
The wind’s hand opens, tosses
like confetti—feathered bodies,
stitched in drunken patterns,
scrambled etchings in the sky. 

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