July 30, 2017

2017 Merit Award
By Marlene Chasson

Tall, gaunt, sharp shouldered
She stood there on the porch.
Her face mirrored her years
And her hands made it plain
That those years had not been easy.
They gripped the porch railing
Once freshly painted
It was old and chipped
Like the house itself.
But it was her house now
And she would tend it like a child
There was plenty of time
With him gone.

. . . . .
At age 85, I am one of the oldest poets in the Sue Boynton Poetry Contest. As an amateur poet I have been writing poetry since I was in grade school. Over the years, a number of my poems have been published in a poetry anthologies, school and college newsletters, and a some contests. My husband and I moved to Bellingham four years ago from Raleigh, North Carolina. Before I retired I was a teacher and social worker and from 1989 until 2001 I served as the executive director of a state advocacy organization for older adults in long term care.

The poem “Possession” was written about my father’s stepmother. She raised my father and three of his brothers and was also the caretaker for his father when he became sick in his later years.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Marlene Chasson. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Early Hike with Dog*

June 18, 2017

2017 Merit Award
By David M. Laws

The day hides beneath the horizon
as we wind our way up an unkempt trail.
Possum pushes her taut terrier body ahead,
analyzing aromas of previous passers-by,
quick peek for most but full appraisal
of others. Birds brag of territorial control,
and proclaim to potential mates dual
dreams of domesticity and reproduction.
Errant branches pull at me, sometimes
a caress, sometimes a chastisement.
This is no longer a trail, they contend,
but the fragrance of freshly rain-drenched
forest infuses me with vigor, bringing
new life to my fatigued feet. Arise! Arise!
Move forward! the world seems to call.
One last fallen tree to negotiate, Possum
under, me over, and we burst out of forest
to the summit. Sun rises over Mount Baker,
sets it ablaze, painting frozen glaciers into
fiery lava, red-gold in the new morning.

. . . . .
David M. Laws is a gardener, musician, husband, father, writer, hiker and former musical instrument repair technician who practices all of the above in Bellingham. He graduated from Western Washington University in 2005, at age 58, with a degree in English — Creative Writing Emphasis.

“My poem ‘Early Hike with Dog’ was inspired by a number of hikes I’ve taken with Possum, the Glorious Little Girl Terrier who has lived with us for four years now. Her determination has pushed me through what seemed to be impassable obstacles on numerous forgotten trails, and occasionally rewarded me with something like what the poem describes — a scene of beauty and wonder.”

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by David M. Laws. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

29 February*

October 2, 2016

29 February - Tallie Jones
2016 Walk Award
By Tallie Jones

March first there were always daffodils on your table
Golden beacons on the lace cloth,
forthright, purposeful, and sure,
even when you could no longer drive to buy them.
In honor of St. David’s Day, you said,
Patron Saint of Wales
Okay, said I. We left it at that.

Today, clearing space around the bulbs and the lupine,
kids circling, phone delivering sharp voices,
I invoked your cardinal rules —
Pretty is as pretty does!
There are no ugly people, only ugly behaviors!
We don’t hate in this house!
Love is needed most when it’s hardest to love —
strong and sure, strangely confident, for me.

Later, lying quiet and unguarded in the dark,
I could feel you near my raw heart,
your memory and your lessons close.
In the morning I set daffodils on the table,
hugged the teapot in your honor and looked up St. David
Known as a great teacher and for his last words:
Gwnewch y pethau bychain
“Do the little things.”

. . . . .
**Copyright 2016 by Tallie Jones. Broadside illustration by Megan Carroll.

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.


July 24, 2016

Haiku - Corinne Foster
2016 Merit Award
By Corinne Foster (9th grade)

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense
Pancake on a stick

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Corinne Foster. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.


June 19, 2016

Breakfast - Rodolph Rowe
2016 Walk Award
By Rodolph Rowe

          Jesus said to them,
          “Come and have breakfast.”
          John 21:12

The first family union
is a beach picnic around a charcoal fire,
the fast for God broken
with this most ordinary of provisions,
fish on toast, embodying a miracle
almost too large to haul onto dry land.

Imagine Peter. Unsteadily standing
brushing at sand
offering a shy, formal inquiry
as to the whereabouts of a bit of fig jam,
hoping to sweeten this first
eighth-day morning with laughter.

What sumptuous grace
this is, the simplest of meals,
rising up through
cell and sinew,
spoiling plans the body
is always making for death.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Rodolph Rowe. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Bellingham Cruise TerminalThe winners of the 11th annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest have been selected by judges Luther Allen and Luci Shaw and will be recognized at a free, festive, public awards ceremony on Thursday, May 12, 2016, at 7:00, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Bellingham. Seven of the 25 winning poets are students.

The 2016 Walk Award winners are: Greg Beatty, Susan Chase-Foster, Marlene Chasson, Thiago Filogonio Costa, Winter Gariss, Sydney Glover, Tallie Jones, Timothy Pilgrim, Rodolph Rowe, and Sylvia Tag.

The 2016 Merit Award winners are: Judy Bishop, Jessica Bloom, Carla Conforto, Corinne Foster, Samantha Gablehouse, Roger William Gilman, Jacob Hartsoch, Rick Hermann, Jessica Lee, Joe Nolting, Lucas Nydam, Dayna Patterson, Logan Sitkin, Scott Sutherland, and Leslie Wharton.

The awards ceremony (and parking) are free. Poet and bard Kevin Murphy will emcee, and the judges will present award certificates. A chapbook of poems from this year’s contest will be available for purchase and all poems entered in this year’s contest will be on display.

Copies of the winning poems, on placards designed by Christian Smith, Mat Hudson, Megan Carroll, and Kim Wulfestieg will be displayed for a year inside Whatcom Transportation Authority buses circulating throughout the county. The Walk Award winning poems will be displayed for a year on engraved plaques on the Poetry Walk in front of the Bellingham Public Library.

Please come celebrate the winning words of Whatcom County at this always-fun event.

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