Congratulations to the winning poets of the annual contest! This year Lee Ann Roripaugh judged the portrait category. She said there were so many wonderful poems she really enjoyed reading them all. Thank you to everyone who entered, and enjoy reading these poems.
First Place: “Morning Dew on Stone”
by Erika Saunders
The killdeer didn’t return this spring to the rock bed where they’ve nested for several years, with speckled eggs hiding in plain sight. Self-conscious of the charade, they would try to distract us with their broken-winged display. The killdeer didn’t return this spring to chest puff and warning call to every walked dog that walked by. For several years, with speckled eggs successfully hatching, the neighbors would congregate discussing the merits of such a high trafficked nesting site. The killdeer didn’t return this spring when the rock bed thawed, and the neighbors were all busy holding their breath. Attempting to keep out the virus that hides in plain sight like morning dew on stone. I barely noticed that the killdeer didn’t return this spring to drop their speckled eggs in the rock bed, like mottled tombstones, busy as I was perfecting my own broken-winged display. Bio: Erika Saunders is the author of Limes and Compromise (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her poetry has been included in Cholla Needles, Watershed, The Red Wheelbarrow, Noble Gas Quarterly, Pasque Petals, Prairie Winds and Oakwood Literary Magazine which awarded her the 2017 Anita Bahr Award for Outstanding Contributor. She lives in South Dakota with her husband and three children.
Second Place: “Lakota”
by Annette Gagliardi
Who knew the school auditorium would be (the place) where I found my hair in braids, where the rhythmic beat of the drums burned into my heart, where I found my soul in the jingling of the bells on the healing dresses, bouncing in the circle to the rhythm of the beat. The beaded work depicted scenes I had dreamed. I wondered why I never knew my heritage back at Red Iron Lake, back on the reservation— teepees and fire rings, venison and pheasant, fishing in Clear Lake under the glowing moon. The Black Hills forests, so full of pine trees were hidden within the stretched and tanned hide of the drum, waiting to tell the tale of my life to me, to reveal my heritage in a heartbeat. Bio: Annette has poetry published or forthcoming in the Gideon Poetry Review, OWS Ink LLC, Dreamers Creative Writing Online, Down in the Dirt Online Magazine, the Moccasin, vol. LXXXI, the Poetic Bond VIII, ASPS Sandpiper, Dreamers Creative Writing Year 1 Anthology and Upon Waking: 58 Voices Speaking Out From The Shadow of Abuse. She teaches poetry at a nearby elementary school as a volunteer. She has won two national and four state awards for her poetry.
Third Place: “To the Pioneer Ancestors”
by Cindy Forsburg
Maybe it didn’t look like love. When the wind sliced through the gaps in the boards and joined the murky darkness, the unknown outside the windows teasing your fear howling, why? Why? When the sun scorched the year’s promise, a cruel mirage shimmering in the fields, sweltering your bright hopes and mocking, how? How? In a place too vast for the mind to comprehend, in a life too close for the heart to remain unguarded, you kept your head down and learned to stop asking those questions. But still you braved the wild sky, forging the tall grasses, to create the future on the vast prairie. Babies were soothed, and gardens planted; schools built and church bells chimed, and the seeds of the present were planted. The will to stay alive is hope and as long as there is life, that hope cultivates the tiny shoots of vision for a better life, sheltering the roots of love. Listen... the meadowlark sings again this spring, and this morning from the far horizon a train calls into today, sounding yes. Yes. Bio: Cindy Forsburg has lived in South Dakota all her life and feels connected to the sky and the prairie. She lives in Sioux Falls with her husband.