Mapping the World*

August 21, 2016

Mapping the World - Joe Nolting
2016 Merit Award
By Joe Nolting

I held your newborn body, felt the sudden
tug of your tiny heart on mine. Questions took root
as your dark eyes probed the universe. I had no answers
for these silent queries but drew a map of the world
above your crib so that you might find your way, travel
unburdened, never be lost. I shaded the landscape of
family and friends gold. Drew love’s gentle contours —
shapes of a head and heart and hand.
Traced routes skirting the debris field of loss.
As you grew older my map became frayed,
landmarks faded, known places vanished like smoke.
Soon you drew your own map of the world.
The countries were shaped like monsters and bore
terrifying names. Safe passageways had been erased.
Every crossing harbored new hazards. You read your map
as a blind man and journeyed in the darkness through
newly drawn continents of fear. For years you stumbled
across this troubled land, dropped a breadcrumb trail,
unraveled an endless ball of twine, whispered inchoate
prayers to keep from getting lost. Slowly, step-by-step
you found all that you needed to build a compass —
one whose needle floated on a tiny sea of courage
and always pointed to your heart. You tore up your map.
Now you knew the way and all the place
names sounded like love.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Joe Nolting. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Lazy Train*

August 1, 2013

Marina Murphy - Lazy Train
2013 Merit Award
By Marina Murphy, 10th grade

I’m planted in the grass
next to the one that I call brother
Hot sun on our dusty feet
as we dig for worms and ants
My mother lounging in a lawn chair
fanning herself in the shade
A scream from a machine echoes in
the near-empty valley
and I stand up
and gaze at the train running by
The homeless wave at me from an empty car
while I give a half-hearted wave back
I keep my distance as I watch it go.

*Copyright 2013 by Marina Murphy. Placard design by Egress Studio. Illustration by Angela Boyle,

George Such ~ Snorkeling with My Daughter at Gili Aire

2012 Merit Award
By George Such

Snorkeling with My Daughter at Gili Aire

This moment, alive in the ocean’s mouth,
watch the world reveal itself:

emperor angel-fish chase their prey,
their blue-striped yellow bodies flash

behind black-sashed faces, Moorish idols,
chisel-tooth wrasses, their sides

like green comb filled with honey,
sweetlips, snappers, groupers, puffers,

butterflyfish with stripes that go straight through.
But you don’t need to know their names.

All you need to do is breathe and see:
eyes that swim close and wonder,

pink lips, silky fins, tails
that drive the ubiquitous body.

*Copyright 2012 by George Such. Placard design by Egress Studio.


May 23, 2011

Rachel Mehl reading her winning poem, Bellingham

2011 Walk Award
By Rachel Mehl


Today I’ll wake up late,
drink too much coffee,
eat leftover shepherd’s pie
with mustard and soy sauce.
I’ll monitor the sump pump
and keep an eye on the chickens
while the rain drowns
bugs and muddies our lawn
seeping through the basement floor,
ankle deep. Adding to the black
mud of last month’s snow melt.
At the top of the hill my ancestors
are buried across from the wrought iron
fence of the Jewish cemetery.
It’s been long enough their bones
have jelled and thickened the lake
my father swam in as a boy,
where we still get our drinking water.
After their wedding my parents
raced up that hill. My father eddied
around headstones past the grey-faced
angel and the woman with two broken arms
who still leans forward like a zombie,
The man I live with shoots zombies on the TV.
If I drink enough wine my liver will turn grey.

*Copyright 2011 by Rachel Mehl. Photo by Karee Wardrop.

I Remember*

April 8, 2011

You Tube logo Luke Reinschmidt reads his 2010 winning poem, I Remember, on YouTube. His poem can also be read here.
Thanks again to BTV10.

I Remember*

January 25, 2011

By Luke Reinschmidt, 6th grade
2010 Merit Award

Placard design by Egress Studio

*Copyright 2010 by Luke Reinschmidt. This poem, which can also be read here, appears in POETRY WALK: Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest – The First Five Years. Info: Book! Placard design by Egress Studio.

I Remember*

July 22, 2010

2010 Merit Award
I Remember
By Luke Reinschmidt, 6th grade

I remember sitting with my great grandma bear
   in P.F. Chang’s on her last birthday
   the aroma of salt and soy sauce in the air
I remember standing by the window as a little kid
   waving goodbye to my mom and saying I love you
   in sign language
   as she drove to work in the morning
I remember feeling the rush of the wind on my face
   as my dad gave me a push
   when I took my first pedals on a bike
   my hands gripping the handlebars so tightly
   my knuckles were turning white
I remember fishing in Africa with a boy named Gift
   we used a bamboo chute, string, and a hook to catch
   the silvery brown fish from the turquoise water
   neither of us speaking each other’s languages but
   communicating by a simple smile or nod of the head
I remember the excitement of facing
   a towering ocean wave as I dove through it
   hoping I would not get tossed or tumbled
   by the strong current
Puerto Rico was fun
   but that was yesterday.

*Copyright 2010 by Luke Reinschmidt. This poem appears in POETRY WALK: Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest – The First Five Years. Info: Book!