Merits*

April 25, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By J. L. Wright

Each day as a teacher, I touch a life.
I hope that it may be softly,
carefully, compassionately;
so, the fruit is not bruised.

The pear in my lunch box has brown spots
but it is still worth eating.

Filled with the warm stink of seventh grade boys,
the classroom emits possibility.

Behind clumsy arms and gangly legs,
each plot how he will
take over the world.

*Copyright 2020 by J. L. Wright. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

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NOTE: This is the last Sunday posting of 2020 contest winners. Find links to winning poems from all contest years on the Winners page, and stay tuned to hear about 2021 winners.


2020 Merit Award
By Richard Widerkehr

written the week of the Douglas High School shootings; a bump stock lets a shooter fire dozens of rounds in seconds

Under this streetlight, a possum
lopes by brick houses, its gray-white muzzle
and needle nose low to the street.

Take action, said our rabbi.

Standing by my car,
I wonder who needs a bump stock
for self-defense.

Not right or wrong, needing no carry permit,
the possum skitters into an alley.

The empty street, the streetlight.

An alertness sends out tendrils,
almost part of the dark.

*Copyright 2020 by Richard Widerkehr. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Spring Walk*

April 11, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By Giorgiana Vignali, Grade 6

The morning sun is out
Walking with friends to school
Birds tucked in trees sing
Flowers sprout from sidewalk cracks
Tomatoes and carrots and peas grow
From the yards of old ladies

dogs tied up
bark
bark
bark
as we pass
a little boy waves as we walk by
his face pressed up against the cold glass

the grass glistens with dew
making our shoes and socks wet
up ahead is the school
kids, some yelling and others half asleep
wait at the doors for the bell to ring
another day awaits

*Copyright 2020 by Giorgiana Vignali. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Cats, cats*

April 4, 2021


2020 Walk Award
By Hayley Van Ness, Kindergarten

Cats, cats
I love cats
Cats are mine
I love cats
Cats are stripey.

*Copyright 2020 by Hayley Van Ness. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

Ocean waves*

March 28, 2021


2020 Walk Award
By Katen Van Harmelen, Grade 6

I am standing on the beach of the ocean,
The cool water reaching out
Just barely washing my toes.
The hot sun is warming my back,
The damp sand is cooling my feet,
I feel remarkably calm.
The sparkling waves are calling to me,
But I don’t go.
The water is dancing at my feet,
Daring me to chase them
As they retreat back to the ocean.
Finally,
I can’t help it any longer,
As the waves wash up to taunt me again,
I splash into them.
I chase them all the way until I am knee deep,
And then they start building up,
I run back to shore,
And turn around just as the wave crashes,
And becomes a ripple,
Washing over my feet once more.

*Copyright 2020 by Katen Van Harmelen. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

I Stop In The Woods*

March 21, 2021


2020 Walk Award
By Betty Scott

To watch a parade of mallards
Paddle and quack in circles
Splashing ripples across the surface
Of their home, a muddy pond,

As sunlit Evergreens…beyond…
Stand guard, reflecting themselves
Beneath the pond of brown,
Crowns of pines, topside down,

Reaching deep into the mud below.
I see this with my third eye as guide
To the rift and ride of souls: bonds…
Of love intertwined with joy.

*Copyright 2020 by Betty Scott. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.


2020 Walk Award
By Kate Miller

I hold the dresser scarf you embroidered
with hands that once embraced me even
as they surrendered me. Roses, stained
blood on crisp white linen, green threads
vining around each flower, such delicate
beauty, this artifact of your life outliving
you even now, as do I, holding on to this
fabric, proof of your existence. I in your
womb once, you in my hands now, the
thorny connection of us pierced through.
First mother, you carry me back, I carry
you forward, faces wet with wanting,
this moment as close as we will ever get.

*Copyright 2020 by Kate Miller. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

My Body Parts*

March 7, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By Fjola Martinez, Grade 1

I have a head
I have a body
On my legs I have some paws to walk
I have a tail on my butt
I have a pair of wings to fly
I am a sphinx-snake!

*Copyright 2020 by Fjola Martinez. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

Underwater*

February 28, 2021


2020 Walk Award
By Qwill Madrone, Grade 6

Alone.
The middle of the ocean.
Wide and scary.
The calm blue surrounds me.
My iridescent tail flashes and circles underwater.
I have nothing to worry about.
I dive under
The silence presses in on me.
I fill my lungs with the salty water of the sea.
Breath in, breath out.
The water evaporates in me
Leaving me with air.
A school of fish dart around me
Little silver bullets.
I use my tail to propel myself
Forward into the water.
I hold my hand out
The silky water flowing around my arm.
A bale of turtles glide under me
Their fins send water towards me
A small underwater current.
The ocean is alive.
And deep.
And blue.

*Copyright 2020 by Qwill Madrone. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Leftover*

February 21, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By Alexandra M. Lucas

Left over
Fruit left off the vine too long without being eaten
Left instead to decay
In the back of a crate
In some cheery farmer’s market
With no air conditioning

Almost all sold
We did well
Good enough!

Now I must do the proper thing —
Collapse into myself
On the bruises and patches of skin
That have lost their softness

Fade from view
So the ones approaching ripeness
Won’t be afraid

A cautionary tale

Look away, now
Look away

*Copyright 2020 by Alexandra M. Lucas. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

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