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.

The Following Monday*

October 9, 2016

The Following Monday by Roger William Gilman
2016 Merit Award
By Roger William Gilman

The Following Monday: a Grief Observed
For my mother, dead on Wednesday, buried on Saturday

I stop walking      and look down.

Beneath my boots
the black leaves and red needles
having lain long
in the ruts of the logging road
create a chicory tea
from a stream of sunlight
flowing through the late hemlocks and maples
in this small ditch
filling with seeping water,
steeping a puddle of feeling without meaning
beneath a broken gray and gilded sky,
a tea for one not newly come to love, one
whose memory does not easily fall away.

I stop dreaming      and look up
interrupted by a wedge of geese
flying back the other way — home.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Roger William Gilman. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

Semiahmoo*

September 18, 2016

Semiahmoo - Judy Bishop
2016 Merit Award
By Judy Bishop

Years ago, I visited a church in Independence, Mo.
The worshipers believed that one day, Jesus
would descend through the domed glass ceiling.
Today, I walk the crescent shore of Semiahmoo Bay,
sculpted by ancient ice. The tides rise and fall,
moon pulls, earth pushes; lovers in cosmic rhythm.
Salmon Woman and Raven, reef-netters, flood land
cranberries, porcelain shards from fish camps,
smudge fires of sockeye racks gone now. But this
refuge for clams, gulls, eagles, eelgrass remains.
The Coast Salish named this bay “Hole in the Sky.”
What more divine sanctuary for the Great Spirit
to appear?

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Judy Bishop. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

Rain*

September 11, 2016

Rain -  Rick Hermann
2016 Merit Award
By Rick Hermann

On the sidewalk outside the food coop, gray red-footed
pigeons dip their beaks, picking up crumbs from
gluten-free muffins with the speed and efficiency of
a good typist. Discarded cellophane wrappers
scratch along the sidewalk in the dry wind.
The pigeons stride to their next morsel, heads bobbing
back and forth on short necks, expressions dim, poker-

faced. They remind me of the barnyard hens I tended
for Grandpa, Mom’s dad, back in Minnesota. After we
moved west, near Seattle, Grandpa held on a few more
indifferent years, but my mom was reborn, re-spirited.
I remember how she used to feed wildlife outside
our home: raccoons, deer, feral cats, pintail ducks,
great blue herons, even eagles. A decade before her
death, she began to pray for rain during

long dry spells. “The animals suffer,” she would say.
Like St. Francis, she often carried a small bird
in her open palm. She prayed, waited, and rejoiced
when the deluge began. I miss her strength, her
loving ministrations to the earth, her belief
that was deeper than superstition. I miss her in this
moment as I hear distant waters gathering, see pigeons
eating crumbs on another warm, cloudless day.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Rick Hermann. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

Of the Sea*

September 4, 2016

Of the Sea - Jacob Hartsoch
2016 Merit Award
By Jacob Hartsoch

Say it in all caps.
That you were wet and walloped.

That before you spoke for your people
you pulled nets black at dusk,
salt and blood on your hands.

Somewhere it happened, the camas
still moist in the meadow. Sharp knives
and northern lights were not enough.

Coal seams ran, dirty and dark.

Old men stopped standing on towers,
went up river to empty cabins,
played dusty book charades.

We cannot outlast each other, you said.

And so they came. Six man boats
pulled hard down the strait, as birds
burst from silt then circled back,

one wing high to the wind.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Jacob Hartsoch. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

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