on view: 2021 plaques

May 23, 2022

The planter beds in front of the Bellingham Public Library (210 Central Avenue) are decked in their spring finery, thanks to the Birchwood Garden Club. This is a great time to take a short poetry stroll and view the ten Walk Award plaques for the 2021 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. And while you’re there, stop in and see the recently remodeled library! (The 2022 plaques will probably be put in place sometime this summer.)

. . . . .
top: poem by Ty Colson
bottom: poem by Peyton Eberhardt

Spring Melody*

April 9, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by J.L. Wright

Renewal upon the calendar, days in months
unused, value yet unknown: unripened

unpicked fruits seeds split by yellow-green life
emoting from the ground.

Nowhere in particular
this year, this then, that is now.

And above, fresh grass sweet sod on which to grow.
Tangible truths — seeds rooted as the water comes.

I remember time’s measure,
cheerfully, for when spring

spreads out at last, settling into warmth
and stays — how life changes, shifting

from one poignant vision to another, forever
in these eternal fields.

*Copyright © 2021 by J. L. Wright. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

*inspired by “Fall Song” by Mary Oliver

Jacob*

April 5, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Genevieve Whelan, 6th grade

I look up at my brother who is tall.
I love him in the morning, noon, and night.
He sometimes answers the phone when I call.
He loves his little sis; he will not fight.
My heart leaps because of my big brother.
All I want is my brother to come home.
My big brother loves me and my mother.
I will wait outside for him with my comb.
I wipe my tears when I think of my love.
I loved playing soccer with him and friends.
He opens his arms like wings of a dove.
If he would just come home, it just depends.
Please, Jacob, come home because I love you.
Please come home because I am feeling blue.

*Copyright © 2021 by Genevieve Whelan. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Osteo*

April 1, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Kami Westhoff

On nights the sky is a tantrum of texture and tone
I carry your ashes to the bridge. I ocean the hush
of traffic, cliff the scaffolding of buildings built
for collapse, force clouds into shapes of impossible
creatures. I think this is how you’d like to forever.

So often the skeleton gets forgotten, eclipsed
by organs that bleed or burst, quiver or collapse.
A needle in the retina to suspend blindness,
a scribble of gristle carved from tissue. I’m guilty
of this forgetting, so desperate to tether myself
to the trench of your memory, I missed the cathedral
of your bones.

There’s no way of knowing, but sometimes I wonder
what part of you I carry. The fissured section of a once-
fractured jaw, the clavicular cradle of morning-after
nightmares, or something more sacral, a bone so holy
even fire can’t ash it.

*Copyright © 2021 by Kami Westhoff. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s bio:
Kami Westhoff is a writer, poet, and teacher from Bellingham, Washington. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks and a collection of short stories forthcoming in 2022. “Osteo” was inspired by a stunning and complicated April sunset days after retrieving her mother’s ashes. Much of her work explores nature’s ability to provide respite from suffering and insight into healing.

And from another planet*

March 28, 2022


2021 Merit Award
by Robert Stern

the aliens took along one
of their youngsters
landing on earth in a remote
mountain area
stars sprayed across the sky
suddenly a train
came winding around a steep curve
whistle blowing again and again
the kid was astonished
look look can we make one
no! this is ancient stuff
but i want to drive one
Zona, what have we gotten
ourselves into here
Ogan, these people are primitives
and know nothing about nothing
oh, the tracks are gleaming
are the green and red lights alive?
I’ve never wished for anything more

*Copyright © 2021 by Robert Stern. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poet’s bio:
“I have been writing poetry for over 50 years. In 1978 I had a book called Spirit Hand published by Konglomerati Press and illustrated by Kit Hirshberg. I write poetry every week under the inspiration that it is a ‘touch of the marvelous.'”

The Leaf*

March 24, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Noa Shelsta, 3rd grade

It is spring
I poke my head out of my branch
And yawn

And now it is summer
I fold my arms out of my cozy bed
I spread my arms to tickle the wind
And then I yawn and fold my arms
Back down again

And then before I know it
It is fall
I stretch my arms
That have turned into wings
And lift into the air
And flutter to the ground

Then it is cold winter
I huddle in the earth with the other leaves
Until next spring

*Copyright © 2021 by Noa Shelsta. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Low Down in the Blues*

March 20, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Janette Lyn Rosebrook

A humpback breaches,
exposes the long pale accordion of its belly,
and splashes down.

A companion follows,
barnacle-starred flukes fan and slap
across the surface.

Listen for nocturne and solos,
some so low down in the blues
you cannot hear them.

A silvery calf
arches and spirals around its mother
like a dervish.

With whirling songs
the humpback trio turns and fades
into the depths.

The divers surface,
into the silent coda that follows
the passing of friends.

*Copyright © 2021 by Janette Lyn Rosebrook. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
Janette Rosebrook is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, where she spent long childhood days in the woods, eating salmonberries and redcaps, and muddying up her good shoes in search of frogs. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in 2019 and currently works at Western Washington University. Her work has appeared in Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim, Washington 129, and Solstice: Light and Dark of the Salish Sea.

“I started writing ‘Low Down in the Blues’ during the 2020 Poetry Marathon, an annual event founded by former Bellingham residents, Caitlin and Jacob Jans. I was inspired to finish the poem after good friends shared their incredible underwater photographs of a humpback whale family they encountered during a sailing trip. I was honored to read the poem at a memorial service for one of those friends. It was written in remembrance of my dear friend Bruce.”

Virus mourning*

March 16, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Timothy Pilgrim

I resolved to cease grieving
once every trace of her was gone.

I donated hats, scarves, skirts, coats,
stowed her perfume, rings, Kindle,

phone. All spring, gathered strands
of hair from sofa, afghan,

chairs, placed each beside her urn.
My plan — heal during summer,

bury everything deep beneath aster,
cosmos, rose. Watch their blossoms

sway final farewell in wind —
until fall, when frost took hold.

But as the winter dark set in,
I stumbled upon her cache.

Vinyl gloves, goggles, masks
breathed my grief to light again.

*Copyright © 2021 by Timothy Pilgrim. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
Timothy Pilgrim’s life-story booklet in sixth grade included his first poem, and since then, over 500 others poems have been accepted by more than 100 different publications. A native of Montana and resident of the Pacific Northwest for all but two years of his life, he loves to garden, hike and snowshoe with his wife, the novelist and former WWU professor, Carolyn Dale. He taught journalism at WWU from 1992 until he retired in 2013 and has published two books of poetry (the latest, Seduced by metaphor: Timothy Pilgrim collected published poems, published in 2021).

“Virus mourning” emerged from a shower of grief — including a long bout over suffering and death of so many during this Covid plague and then the death of his 93-year-old mother-in-law in mid-March. “I’d held it in, and months passed without us being able to visit until shortly before she died a few weeks ago. Then the grieving piqued, and my imagination served up this poetic manifestation.”

Ode to Dodge Durango*

March 12, 2022


2021 Walk Award
by Maddie Patterson, 7th grade

You are not that car you see
on all the glamorous adds snuck between the Superbowl
You are not that car
worshipped by the ones with the earth in their eyes
You, piece of grimy mountain man’s metal
Are the car we’d ride wild — trout and trails
You, muddy wheeled trail chugger
Highland gravel path climber
With all your smoke and smog — you
No sleek, sexy white car could be as worshipped
— your cracks filled with green moss
Heavy with pine needles and ripped black leather
You carried our canoe — to the sunset and beyond
You carried our laughing bodies,
across the borders to Utah
You held us like we were your daughters,
as we sat sprawled on your roof
Every hot summer day

No, we want you, tender beast
We want your warm dirt on our feet
Your lights to guide us down the highway at night
Your trunk to carry our tangled fishing poles
Your engine humming against my cheek

*Copyright © 2021 by Maddie Patterson. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Sunset Sea*

March 8, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Isabella Nelson, 7th grade

The sand so white, like a painting in my palm
Trees blowing in the crisp salty air
Sounds of waves overlapping each other
A ball of yellow light falling beneath the ocean waves
Glowing in hues of orange and pink
Shading into blues and blacks
Looking out you forget
Every trouble, and every worry
Smelling the salty air
And feeling the white sand beneath your toes
Hearing the mesmerizing sound of a riptide
So dangerous but yet, so peaceful
Seeing the lights fade in the background
You get up to leave, and you don’t care
That the sand is stuck to your toes
That the smell of salt has soaked into your hair
You don’t care about anything else in the world
When you walked onto that beach
You left behind every worry or care in the world
When you step off that beach
They start coming back
Like a flu you never quite got over
But you are tired, and you are in peace
And that peace covers up those worries like a blanket
Soothing them into no more then faint memories
For now, you sleep in peace

*Copyright © 2021 by Isabella Nelson. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

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