January 29, 2023

2022 Walk Award
By Alina Tsakhniv

Snow falls outside
A blue house stands,
the streetlamp shining
Inside in a dark room
in front of a large window
I stand with my dad
He is holding an accordion
his father passed down to him,
Playing a soft song
Six generations deep
As my younger sister sleeps
I softy sing the song my grandmother taught me,
“Коли Дух Господній наповняє мене”
The snow falls faster
as I look out the window,
wondering about war.

*Copyright © 2022 by Alina Tsakhniv. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s note:
The line in Ukrainian translates as When the Spirit of the Lord fills me.

words from a cloud*

January 22, 2023

2022 Walk Award
By Matthew Stuckey

“…all the flowers are forms of water.
the sun reminds them through a white cloud…”
W.S. Merwin

you think my body is light
as air but I am
the weight of water
heavy as stones
above your head

I am water that
moves in oceans above you
I am a form of river and
ancient glacier shining

the pink cherry blossoms are
also forms of water
the egret in the light
an old tortoise hiding

and in the night
your words of despair as well

*Copyright © 2022 by Matthew Stuckey. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
Matthew Stuckey lives with his wonderful wife in Bellingham, Washington, where he practices acupuncture and wanders around in the mountains. This is his first published poem and will hopefully not be his last. The cloudy PNW and W.S. Merwin’s poem “Rain Light” inspired the poem “words from a cloud.”

NOTE: a chapbook of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems, including this one, is available at Village Books in Bellingham. All sales profits benefit the annual contest.

Give me your hand*

January 15, 2023

2022 Walk Award
By Amanda Norenberg

I am a bridge
Between you, child, and those who you feel
but will never meet in the flesh.

I am not made of taut cables and steel, or wood
and bolts and cross-beams, or even tight ropes
woven together. I am not hard or immobile.

I am made of a glance, a giggle, a sigh, a wrinkle,
a skin spot, a black eyelash, a squinty grin.

I am made of rigatoni noodles steaming out of
the pot coated in butter, given to you in a small
bowl with a wink before dinner.

I am lasagna oozing mozzarella and red grease,
I am endive coated in sour vinegar and olive oil,
I am stories repeated around the table.

How can you be a bridge AND be all these
other things? you ask.

Babe, the bridge IS all these things,
and the bridge is your hand in my hand in
all their hands, all at once.

*Copyright © 2022 by Amanda Norenberg. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
Amanda Norenberg grew up in Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior for 23 years, and has now lived in Washington the exact same amount of time. With a background in language (English, French, Chinese) and art, she’s had articles, poems, and photos published, art shows exhibited, and is now focusing these passions into a self-owned copywriting and photography business called Facet Copy. Amanda’s close relationship with her 11-year-old daughter is an inspiration for this poem. “Remembering the generation of grandparents I grew up with, I was mourning the fact that Opal will never meet them. But I realized that through me and the traditions we keep as a family, they can still feel alive in her heart.”

2022 Walk Award
By Marley Lotts
Based on “Where I am From” by George Ella Lyon

I am from the forget-me-nots that bloom in our yard
in colors of pink, blue, and purple
I am from our curly willow tree
(Not yet large enough for me to climb)
that matches my hair

I am from soaking in hot springs, the Shinkansen,
safaris, the pyramids, and places beyond
I am from taco salad and toasted O’s
from laughter, jokes and helping hands
I am from clearing storm drains with sticks

I am from loyal Zoe, with long whiskers and short ears
from Sadie, black and purring
and playful Mocha, wagging a fuzzy, curly tail

I am from books, surrounded by piles,
I am from owls, history, and fantasy
breathing in words, exhaling thoughts
I am from music, from fingers on metal strings,
and the peaceful, soothing melody

I am from swimming pools and soccer fields
from a broken tibia caused by a frog’s school day
and palm calluses from swinging on a little red trapeze

*Copyright © 2022 by Marley Lotts. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Marley Lotts is a 6th grader who homeschools with the Bellingham Family Partnership Program (BFPP). Marley is an avid reader who devours books of all genres, especially historical fiction. When he is not reading, he enjoys playing soccer with the Whatcom FC Rangers or practicing his viola. “I Am from Taco Salad and Toasted O’s” was inspired by George Ella Lyon’s “Where I Am From.” It originally was started in his writing class. This is Marley’s first published piece of writing.

Let Yourself Be Weary*

January 1, 2023

2022 Walk Award
By Maureen Kane

Let your body crumble to the ground
and lie on the wet forest floor.
Right here, in the middle of your path.

Let your skin and bones slide off your soul
surrendering dreams and hopes, and to do lists
into the decaying leaves and rich soil.

Give yourself to roots and mushrooms.

Let yourself become nurse log
molting snake
earthworm, digesting dirt.
Join the ants in their underground labyrinths.
Sleep cozily with rabbit and fox beneath the earth.

Let your weariness be the chrysalis holding
your bare beating heart and soul.

rest, and rest, and rest

And from here, let your life renew.
Breathe and wait
until you have some recognition
of who you have become.

*Copyright © 2022 by Maureen Kane. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poet’s bio:
Maureen lives in Bellingham, Washington, with her husband and hairless cat. She is a mental health therapist in private practice. Prior to being a therapist, her work focused on literacy, health care access, aging, homeless youth, and disability. She is the author of a book of poems called The Phoenix Requires Ashes, Poems for The Journey. Let Yourself Be Weary wrote itself while the poet was walking in the woods during a very challenging time.

Retirement Lullaby*

December 25, 2022

2022 Walk Award
By Bliss Goldstein

So it Begins.
This new phase of life calls for me. I strain to hear
my name. It was Worker. Before. Mom. Before. Daughter.
Before. Did I have a name before, before I was born?
Soul. Cactus. Elm. Dog. Red Rover, Red Rover send
Baby Boomer over. As my identity dies, I am living
without a funeral. No more work. No more children.
My posture is stooped. My hair is white. My voice is
hoarse. No matter how loud my cries shout from
inside this body I Am Here, the world is the one
that grows deaf. My ears attune to something old
approaching the earth’s core. It sings me to sleep
with its dirt-saturated lullaby.
The clouds are your cradle, the pine trees your spine,
the ocean to ladle your heart within mine,
with the time you have left you can finally see,
you are divine to your Mother and me
. If I am living
on sacred time, I pray that I will always hear the
selkie call of my own heart’s truest desire. I can find
her in air, water, earth. Without roots I can grow
new ones. Today I will slow. Breathe. Empty my mind
into the cool mountain streams. Today I will bend
towards the waving lavender lining the driveway.
Inhale. Paint my heart purple. Begin. Begin. Begin.
Begin the After.

*Copyright © 2022 by Bliss Goldstein. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Bliss Goldstein, MLA, has written for publications from The San Francisco Chronicle to Spider Magazine. She taught writing at Western Washington University and was Founding Editor of Tangents magazine at Stanford University. She and her husband ran a real estate company until recently, and she is now semi-retired. “I wrote Retirement Lullaby out of my surprise at how hard it was to actually go down the retirement path. In some ways it’s the Silent Transition; you have what many people dream of and yet no one tells you how much will have to die in the process of giving birth to this new life. I hope my poem helps others not to feel alone on their retirement journey, while kindling new hope for what lies ahead.”


December 18, 2022

2022 Walk Award
By Chloe Braunstein

deep down in your roots, there
is a voice, a song, deep down
in your roots, there is a start,
a beginning.

has a voice,
find yours.

*Copyright © 2022 by Chloe Braunstein. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s bio:
Chloe Braunstein loves to write poetry, create art, dance, and sing. She is 9 years old, attends Bellingham Family Partnership Program, and has a dog named Izzy. “I wrote this poem when my mom was making Peace Postcards. I saw the image of flowers and people on the back of a postcard — and this poem came to me. I want the reader to know how to find their voice, and see how other people find theirs.”

Spring in Bellingham*

December 11, 2022

2022 Walk Award
By Margaux Barber

A soft wind blows as I
trudge through the field
of Sunnyland Elementary
School. The first
flowers bloom like a
dragon taking flight,
their colors pushing through
the gray. I can feel the
breeze on my cheek like
a million butterflies taking flight.
This is spring in Bellingham.

*Copyright 2022 by Margaux Barber. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Margaux is in 3rd grade at Sunnyland Elementary. She’s obsessed with artichokes.

looking back, looking forward

December 10, 2022

As you may know, in addition to being an independent site focused on all-things-poetry in Cascadia, and sometimes beyond, The Poetry Department began, and continues to serve, as the public platform for the annual Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. That entails announcing events and deadlines, posting guidelines, and each year, posting the winning poems and the artful placards that display them.

The contest is exceedingly grateful to judges Victor Ortiz and Dayna Patterson, who selected the winning poems, and to the four artists who applied their considerable talents to illustrate the placards: Angela Boyle, Megan Carroll, Kimberly Wulfestieg, and Christian Anne Smith.

Tomorrow, Sunday, December 11, 2022, and each of the next 24 Sundays, the text of one of the winning poems will be displayed along with the placard and a brief bio of the poet. Each poem will be linked on the Winners page once it has appeared here.

The Sue Boynton Poetry Contest is a wonderful Whatcom County community project that is run entirely by volunteers. If you care about community poetry and have a few hours available to help, the contest committee is in need of an infusion of new volunteers for a variety of tasks. Please contact Joan Packer at torchlite AT or phone (360) 714-1306.


November 13, 2022

The Walk Award winning poems from the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest have now been installed on the Poetry Walk in front of the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Avenue, downtown. They will remain in place for about a year. Take a stroll on the Poetry Walk and stop in to see the beautifully remodeled library (now open Sundays).

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