2018 Merit Award
By Leslie Wharton

Avoiding whirling eddies
recirculating worries
torrents of to-dos
swirling self-doubt
Poem swims.

She rests in calm water
next to fast current
watches for a word
flash of muse
enticing nymph
anything to nibble on.

Hidden in shadows
She maneuvers
beyond logjams
past traumas
political debris.

Poem rises
hardly edited
never spoken
barely noticed.
Concentric circles
ripple outwards.

. . . . .
Leslie Wharton is a caregiver for extraordinary elders, currently a retired philosophy professor. You can find her writing in Phoenix Rising: Stories of Remarkable Women, in the upcoming 2018 Red Wheelbarrow Writers anthology, and chapbooks around Bellingham. She is proud of organizing poets and speakers for Bellingham Women’s Marches.

Leslie caught the poem, Fish Is Plural for Fish, while fishing on the Wynoochee River. Despite the poem’s claims, it was heavily edited with help from a friend, Ann Morris.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Leslie Wharton. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

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Winners and awards!

May 6, 2018

Bellingham Cruise TerminalCongratulations to the 2018 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poets! A total of 224 Whatcom County residents participated in the 13th annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, which was judged this year by Richard Widerkehr and Jane Wong. The judges selected the 25 winning poems through a blind process.

The 10 Walk Award winners are six adults — Marie Eaton, Felicia Clemmons, Alandra Barker, Donald Antenen, Tanner Abernathy, and Nancy Canyon — and four students — Madeleine Joyce Patterson, Mason Cash, Izetria Grace-Lind, and Emma McCoy.

The 15 Merit Award winners are eight adults — KJ Vande Bossche, Elizabeth Vignali, Bonnita Lynne, Roger William Gilman, Leslie Wharton, Nora Whitley Abelite, Stephen Palmer, and Barbara L Weed — and seven students — Meagan Gillikin, Jackie Lomas, Jacob Murphy, Ellie Osterloh, Grace Moore, Allie Haugen, and EmmaThario.

The public is invited to honor the winners and to hear the poets read their winning entries at the contest’s awards ceremony, 7:00pm, Thursday, May 17, 2018, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Aveue in Fairhaven. The event and parking are free. Bellingham poet 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 at the ceremony.

Copies of each poem — on placards designed by Angela Boyle, Megan Carroll, Christian Anne Smith, and Kim Wulfestieg — will be displayed for a year inside Whatcom Transportation Authority buses circulating throughout the county. Also, Walk Award poems will be displayed for a year on engraved plaques on the Poetry Walk in front of the downtown Bellingham Public Library — one of a growing number of permanent poetry installations in the United States.

The winning poems and their placards will be posted on this page each Sunday, beginning after the awards ceremony, and linked to the Winners page.

Since You Ghosted*

November 12, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Darian Karuza

The sun is a mosquito zapper
sizzling on the veranda,
calving Earth’s shadow
over a lawn of dewy comets.
I am the chrysalis duskywing
ascending latticework to its warmth.

I passed your cross
on the shoulder of the parkway
the other day. It sent crushed ice
sliding down my spine. Who
was Caroline? I can barely remember.

Maybe, what we call a phantom
is just someone’s fiery iron
mass now cast
as a cool brown dwarf,
a shade of human heat,
calfprints in memory
foam,
                    gravity wells
of a supergone black hole,
an unthawable head cold.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Darian Karuza. Broadside illustrated by Mat Hudson.

Sudden Thoughts*

November 5, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Aysha Burney, 11th Grade

She was like a Sour Patch Kid
Sour without sleep, then sweet
So innocent, and loving
Shaped like a plumb who
Sat in the chair from
Sunday to Monday
Sadness appeared when
She left my life
Soaring in the sad grey sky
Say goodbye to the love of my life
                         Rest in peace, Grandma

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Aysha Burney. Broadside illustrated by Mat Hudson.

Dear Rain*

October 22, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Sterling C.H. Bemment, 3rd Grade

Dear Rain,
You probably
don’t
remember me
The vast
Ocean
of sand
that is scorching hot
I would trade
all the animals
and all the plants
just for you
to visit me
And quench my thirst
And stop me longing for you
From, the Desert

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Sterling C.H. Bemment. Broadside illustrated by Mat Hudson.

Let them be Cars*

October 15, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Mason Mills, 9th Grade

Let them be cars,
Always fueled, fixed, loved,
But harnessed to the road.

I’d rather be submarine,
Cruising underwater like a shark,
Exploring the deepest depths of the ocean.

To have shattered theories,
To dive and search,
To be carried among the waves,
Currents moving me all around the world.

I’d rather be unseen,
Unknown by all,
Than to be a shiny new car,
Made in a factory,
Praised by all,
And driven by greedy hands.

If I could be alone, strong and free,
I’d rather be a submarine.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Mason Mills. Broadside illustrated by Mat Hudson.


2017 Merit Award
By Sheila Nickerson

Yes, they come masked,
she admitted, but she was lonely.
She didn’t smoke or drink.
Why not spend money on raccoons —
that one big bag a week?
All her dogs had died, and her cats.
She could name them, one by one.
She was born in Nazi Germany,
remembered the Gestapo
breaking down her family’s door,
tearing up her childhood things —
there was a music box —
while searching for evidence
that never was.
Her family is gone, now.
There was no one left to call or visit.
When no one came to her door
at Halloween, she fed the candy
to the raccoons. They make her happy,
she said, and every night they’re back.

. . . . .
Sheila Nickerson is an American poet and writer. She served as Poet Laureate of Alaska and was twice awarded the Pushcart Prize. Much of her writing focuses on Alaska, nature, and arctic exploration.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Sheila Nickerson. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

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