Congratulations to the winning poets of the annual contest! This year Darla Biel judged the landscape category. She said it was tough to pick winners because she was so impressed with the work that was submitted. Thank you to everyone who entered, and enjoy reading these poems.
“Eight South Dakota Riffs on Rilke’s ‘Herbsttag’ (Autumn Day)”
by Sharon Chmielarz
Eight South Dakota Riffs on Rilke’s “Herbsttag”(Autumn Day) “Herr, es ist Zeit, der Sommer war sehr gross, ...” 1. You up there! Time-turner! It’s time. Open your hands, loosen the winds, clear the skies. Make sure, make sure there’s more heart than anger in your long shadows, that the sundial’s style shows it’s time to sweeten dark red melancholic wines. Let field machine headlights scour rows of corn like prowling bot-suns in the night. Entrust our hands– the drivers, the rakers, the washers and fillers of jars and bottles. And the harvest’s bins. 2. A day begins. Shadows– the furrow’s, the combine’s, the farmer’s, and mornings’ on elongated legs– bob toward the fields. 3. It’s time, dew has vanished from the field. Midmorning, dry wheat stands up nice and straight before the combine’s header, the cutter, the gatherer, feeding the combine. And from this beginning, a yellow arc of grain– a spray of gold–shoots out into the grain cart. Commodity on the grain exchange. Maybe 50, 70 bushels an acre. To finish all a farmer needs is a steady south wind bringing in a few more sunny days. 4. Following time the sundial’s style moves by shadow, pointing to the hour, each one an ending or beginning. Whatever the wind. Whatever the weather. 5. O moon-y heaviness in the word autumnal, its drum beat sound au tum nal. O time of the tree frogs’ chirping rings around evening. Au tum nal. 6. A small house. An easy chair, so comfy to collapse into in the living room, in sunlight, in faint November sunlight Whoever hasn’t a house now ... Wer jetzt kein Haus hat ... longed for by those without. 7. Out walking fall evenings a man or woman learns a lane’s moves, slopes, shadows. Aimlessness for those who have no field, no work, no stoop to sweep, nothing grown by the bushel. Ahead, accumulation of time. Who am I but an arrogant hiker, a rogue soul, too smart for faith but still admiring the magic in fallen, smoldering leaves. This is my right. Like the right of sun to burn its hot sure threat– Hurry Hurry – to the field’s ingredients for bread. 8. After an autumn rain, the sky ’s a fast-moving clock of ever-changing clouds. Cottonwoods turn wet streets golden with their fallen leaves. East of town, husks blown from a cornfield’s rows of blond-gray stocks fly across your windshield. Like singles from flocks of pale- feathered birds they swirl about as if they were on their way up, up into air’s atrium. Bio: I was born and raised in Mobridge. Attended Sioux Falls College (before it was a university) and graduated from the University of Minnesota. I taught German and then German and English in public school. I've had three picture books and twelve books of poetry published. I visit my hometown whenever roads or time permit. My maiden name is Grenz.
Second Place: “Wingsprings”
by Ruth Harper
For Craig Howe and Charles Woodard finding ourselves perched in an ancestral landscape pages of rolling hills unfurl into forever punctuated only by the butte marking home we pause to say good morning hi hanni waste the enormous innocent sky holds meadowlark mornings in its open palm and later evening’s embers spill from its loosening grasp into the silent chasm of darkness murmuring tall-grass prairie alive with dull wood ticks and bejeweled dragonflies knows coyote songs curious cattle and more than a few intrepid humans each person brings a rock to the cairn at the gate each stone a story and a promise: I will see you again later Toksa ake wacinyankinkte ye Bio: Ruth Harper is Professor Emerita of Counseling and Human Development at South Dakota State University, where she taught from 1994 – 2016. She is the co-author of four books and many articles within her profession. She now writes poetry and loves being “Nana” to two young grandsons.
Third Place: “Late Summer, Open Field”
by Ruth Harper
Kneeling in the meadow I observe the beetle’s boudoir rich golden grasses damp with tears of dew a garden of silk beneath my booted foot. The scarlet robin strides with bravery or indifference toward my little burrow of flesh and stone. Nearby bees breathe in a dense well of anthers inhale the fruity musk of many-breasted roses a year of scent in each narrow heart. High in cottonwoods birds with dark beaks crouch over streaked eggs the solitary woodpecker a maestro of potent nods. I move among dynasties in the open green field tasting death in the disconsolate rain as winter encroaches in its dark frock coat. Note: This is a response to a writing prompt to use as many words as possible from Sylvia Plath’s poem “The Beekeeper’s Daughter” in an original poem