Used To Be*

August 13, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Gary Wade

Used to be
there in that field
a barn half ruined
but still it stood in beauty.

It’s gone now,
shadows of its foundation
erased by plows.

Vacant now, that field,
from it only
a ragged cloud of
blackbirds wheeling, rising.

. . . . .
Gary Wade has been a Bellinghamster since 2005. He is fascinated by farm barns and has photographed many of them. His poem “Used To Be” was inspired by a barn he drove past for many years, then one recent autumn it was gone. There was nothing there but blackbirds gleaning a cornfield.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Gary Wade. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg .

Possession*

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.

Reverie*

July 16, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Marie Marchand

Poems come to me in the dark
when my eyes are healed
when I do not distinguish
my body from the air.
          In a dream the poems come.

When I awake the words fall
from my skin and I forget
the misty-eyed soliloquies
I’d composed like Keats
          though I remember him.

I always remember John Keats
who led me through the forest
to the Emerald inside the rock
our true love carved in stone.
Holding his hand I traipsed in the wake
of his tousled amber hair.
          He wrote odes among the trees for me.

When you believe in reincarnation
anything is possible.
Love can be written
          centuries apart.

. . . . .
Marie Marchand has been a poet full of passion for 30 years. Her love for John Keats, which she imagines to be reciprocal, is what inspired her winning poem “Reverie.” She tries to make the world a better place by doing small things like stopping the resumption of below-ground testing at the Nevada Desert Test Site. She is the board chair of the local affiliate of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and works for the Bellingham City Council. She has a Masters Degree from The Iliff School of Theology. Her poetry often explores and intersects with faith. She and her 16-year-old son have lived in Bellingham for 12 years. Her poetry blog is MarieMarchandPoet.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Marie Marchand. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

What Salmon Know*

July 9, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Judy Bishop

In autumn, fierce salmon know it is time
to leave the vast, deep oceans and begin the upward
journey through narrow, shallow rivers
back to the spawning beds of their birth.

In winter, fearless women knew it was time
to leave the safety of home and begin the upward
journey through prejudice and bigotry
back to the warm womb of human rights.

Facing predators and log jams
over rushing dams and fisher nets,
red-skinned salmon with torn flesh
battle for graveled streams.

Facing discrimination and fear,
over years of rising up and speaking out,
ubiquitous seas of woven pink hats
marched for peace and love.

“What more will it take?” the women cried.
The ancient, fierce, and wise salmon know.
“Nothing less than everything you have.”

. . . . .
Although Judy Bishop taught English and Creative Writing for years, she is newly published, having won a Merit Award for the Sue C. Boynton Contest for the past two years. She has a Doctorate degree in Education Administration from the University of Washington. In her retirement, she enjoys hiking and gardening. Judy is an active member of the Whatcom Art Guild and sells her photographs and beaded jewelry at the Art Market in Fairhaven.

“My inspiration for ‘What Salmon Know’ came from my participation in the Women’s March this past January. I was so impressed by the energy of the myriad women, men, and children standing up for women’s and human rights. Much of my poetry is inspired by Nature, so the comparison between the march and migrating salmon seemed natural. It occurred to me that we can learn much from the natural world if we take the time to observe and listen.”

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Judy Bishop. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

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.

Awards ceremony!

May 11, 2017

Bellingham Cruise TerminalMark your calendar and please plan to join the 2017 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poets and their fans for the annual awards ceremony. Held at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal at 7:00pm next Thursday, May 18, 2017, this once again promises to be a heart-warming, celebratory event. Admission is free. Kevin Murphy will emcee. The winning poets will read their poems, a chapbook of the 2017 winning poems will be available for purchase and all of this year’s submitted poems will be on display along with samples of the beautiful poetry placards that will be placed in Whatcom Transportation Authority buses later this summer.

See the list of winners and watch for the winning poems in this space each Sunday over the coming months.

Whatcom get ready…

February 26, 2017

countdownIt’s almost time for Whatcom County poets to submit their one, best, original, previously-unpublished poem to the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. Submissions will be accepted March 1 – 31 only, and all submissions must follow the guidelines regarding line and character count. See the complete guidelines on the 2017 Contest page and read about this year’s judges, Jacob Hartsoch and Laura Laffrado.

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