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.


February 28, 2021

2020 Walk Award
By Qwill Madrone, Grade 6

The middle of the ocean.
Wide and scary.
The calm blue surrounds me.
My iridescent tail flashes and circles underwater.
I have nothing to worry about.
I dive under
The silence presses in on me.
I fill my lungs with the salty water of the sea.
Breath in, breath out.
The water evaporates in me
Leaving me with air.
A school of fish dart around me
Little silver bullets.
I use my tail to propel myself
Forward into the water.
I hold my hand out
The silky water flowing around my arm.
A bale of turtles glide under me
Their fins send water towards me
A small underwater current.
The ocean is alive.
And deep.
And blue.

*Copyright 2020 by Qwill Madrone. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Lake Louise Spring*

November 29, 2020

2020 Merit Award
By Judy Bishop

Cold rivulets run down over rocks,
through woods, finally flow into the lake.
Hillside alders beaten by winter’s wrath,
limbs bent, broken into submission.
The well-worn path, wet and muddy,
crisscrossed by rabbits and squirrels.
Robins — hearty spring harbingers — hop, stop,
cock their heads. Red-winged Blackbirds cling
to cattails, cry, divert attention from nests.
Nervous geese, eager to mate, squawk
and take flight at slightest sounds.

Pink Salmonberry blossoms beckon Rufous
Hummingbirds. Western Skunk Cabbage cups
curled leaves in prayer.

Sunshine and the stay-at-home order welcome
trail walkers. We dance our six foot distance,
warmly greeting neighbors never met before.

The south wind forms honey-comb patterns on
the lake. Below the surface, lilies in their dark
unseen secret world, not unlike the virus, begin
their epic journey toward the light. So do we.

*Copyright 2020 by Judy Bishop. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Water by Salmon*

August 18, 2019

2019 Merit Award
By Phelps McIlvaine
After Emily Dickinson’s “WATER IS TAUGHT BY THIRST”

As life is taught by death,
and the Sun by Space,
So, Clouds are taught by Land
and Rains by Place.

As Mountains are taught by Plains,
and Rivers by Lakes,
So, Trees are taught by Soils,
And Elements by their Weight.

As Deserts are taught by Shores,
and Ocean Waves by Wind,
So, Depth is taught by height,
and Tides by Celestial Spin.

As Sound is taught by Silence,
and Insight by Reason,
So, humans are taught by Water
and Water, by Salmon.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2019 by Phelps McIlvaine. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

2018 Walk Award
By Nancy Canyon

Wooden oars slosh     cutting lazy eddies
through narrow channel           low water
turns swampy              orange flicks and
flashes        sunfish circling murky shoal
fins  wag  to  cacophony  of  insect  buzz
green stalks curl and arch      chirp   plop
frog-kick      dive deep under    mirrored
surface reflects cirrus            streaks of
spilled milk above       rippling tea below
stems refract at water break     black lily
roots twist       gold marbled surface laps
red-winged blackbirds trill     dragonflies
flit past grandpa’s green rowboat.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Nancy Canyon. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.


August 23, 2015

RIPPLES by Chloe Rhodes
2015 Merit Award
By Chloe Rhodes (4th grade)


The creek flows
Through the ravine
Fish swim
Tails swishing
making the river move
As the cold water touches my hand
. . . . .
*Copyright 2015 by Chloe Rhodes. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

March 22

March 22, 2014

World Water Day

March 22 is World Water Day, held annually to focus attention on the importance of fresh water. This seems an auspicious poetry prompt, and toward that end we offer some additional inspiration:

Ben Schott’s wonderful Pluviocabulary from The New York Times, April 2, 2011.

A Water Words Glossary from the North American Lake Management Society.

A list of words that contain Water from Scrabblefinder.

Synonyms and antonyms for wet from Thesaurus.com.

More information on World Water Day 2014 from the United Nations.

Write a water poem! If you’re so inclined, share your (general-audience-friendly) poem in a comment or post it on your own blog and leave your name, the poem name and a link in a comment here. Happy World Water Day!


June 9, 2013

Andrew Shattuck McBride ~ Forgetfulness
2013 Merit Award
By Andrew Shattuck McBride

Morning fog swaddles like forgetfulness
as I walk through downtown streets toward
the water, always the water. From the top
of the bluff visibility is low; sailboats
at anchor are ghostly, half-remembered.
Noise from the graving dock and shipyard
thrums the stillness. The over-water walkway
arcs out through gauze of sea fog, is barely
visible at its north end. On the water two
goldeneyes push toward shore; their wakes
create a large W. Why is the statue Grace
gone? I’ve forgotten why I’m here—until
I see a great blue heron on a rib of sandstone
outcrop nearby. I put aside my discomfort
over losing something. There’s still time.

*Copyright 2013 by Andrew Shattuck McBride. Placard design by Egress Studio.

Deming Poetry NightIt’s Whatcom Water Week! Celebrations include Deming Poetry Night, Friday, September 23, 7-9pm, at the Deming Library, 5044 Mt. Baker Highway.

Mist, dew, deep rivers, sounds and textures of water come to life in words and images from local poets. Sponsored by the Deming Writers Group and Friends of the Deming Library. Local poets will read their original work and the work of other favorite poets. Readers include two-time Boynton Contest award winner Luther Allen, author of The View from Lummi Island.

A Day at the Lake*

July 10, 2011

2011 Walk Award
By Alysa Gallant, 6th grade

Alysa Gallant - A Day at the Lake - 2011 Walk Award

*Copyright 2011 by Alysa Gallant. Read the poem here: A Day at the Lake. Placard design by Egress Studio.

%d bloggers like this: