Winners of the Women's Contest

2022 Winners
Rebecca Brock
Women’s Poetry Contest
First Place $500.00
“Raising Glaciers”

Raising Glaciers

If you look you can trace
the path of us. Measure snow pack
with your eyes: before and before and now
streams weep down mountain waterfalls,
the face of stone scarred and pocked
and jagged—no change goes smoothly.
I have been trying to show my sons
how to name—loss—and is it betrayal
to give them such language
in a world shifting
toward flashpoint
and heat?
What else is it to be human—
I run out of words
to answer their gaze,
drive them to mountains,
give them landscape, offer
this disappearing world
as if it is one long gasp
of oh and awe, and see—do you see?
I am raising glaciers—
lost causes, boys
with too soft hearts who know not to take
stones or approach wildlife, who know
how to name what is here, what is lost
if we can’t name it.
Maybe the earth knows
the sun is too much—
and, anyway, catches
all the light it can.
What a gorgeous poem! Those last four lines! I love this poem’s insistence on hope in the face of environmental loss. My own “too soft heart” needed this poem and the reminder
 to catch “all the light it can.”
—Judge Katie Manning

Nikki Ummel
Women’s Poetry Contest
Second Place $100.00
“Walking My Niece Home”

Walking My Niece Home

 We veer off the path,
                   head for the trees,       
             knee-deep in pine straw.
My niece launches herself        
                                                from the Radio Flyer,
her feet crunching pine-needles.
She sinks her hands into sharp pinecones.
             They become missiles,
                                    bomb the thick straw for enemy ships.
Look! I cry,
            pointing to the looming trees:       the pinecones
                                                                 have come so far.
She jumps, flaps her hands open and closed.
We have to put them back,
                        she says. Their mommy will miss them.
Clutching pine cones in her too-small palms,
           she hugs them to her body:
                                    A child, far from home. Mother, unreachable.
                                               Sharp     distance.        My sister,
                                   sheathed in stiff sheets & soft lights,
                                              pink nails painted by hospice nurses.
My niece is two.                                          The world is still kind.
             I tell her,          some things can’t
                                                                 come home.
     She takes a pinecone, shoves it             
in my pocket, deep.
She says,
             We will make a home for them.
This poem does a beautiful job of conveying care in the face of incomprehensible parental loss. I especially love the way this poem makes use of white space: for heading off the path, for things left unsaid, for gaps in understanding. This poem feels like an invitation to slow down, think, and feel. 
—Judge Katie Manning

Kristen Holt-Browning
Women’s Poetry Contest
Honorable Mention
“Window Seat”

Window Seat
It’s raining again and I am furious for snow, staring out windows, longing to witness poor animals in the woods beyond the yard, and imagine myself paw-cold and snout-lost. The fact is it troubles me, although I joke about it, how quickly I would end out there: a starving, unwashed day or two, and I’d already be too tired to shelter myself, never mind dig a proper hole to lie in. In here, where windows lock firmly, the risk is that weather becomes an aesthetic accessory, a charming backdrop to a cup of tea. But there’s the half-eaten mole the cat brought home. He has a relationship to place that makes my guts lurch when he slinks toward the forest in his lion bones. Also, the shaggy deer—I know I make them nauseous, the human smell of me repulsive in their noses. I may be silk-robed at the window, lavendered and saged, but I don’t forget the scars I wear, the borders where I tore to blood, exposing bone and babies. Not to imply that I’m wounded. I live in a fresh house unburdened by history. I have enough meat to survive. No blood. Only candlelight, which does a poor job of illuminating the forest, the hungry animals in the dark.
This prose poem uses such vivid language. The rich imagery made me feel like I was in the window seat with the speaker, imagining being “paw-cold and snout-lost” outside. Excellent work! 
—Judge Katie Manning

Lori A. Howe
Women’s Poetry Contest
Honorable Mention
“A New Law of Liquids in Flight”
A New Law of Liquids in Flight
                                  –for Patrick
At the deep kitchen sink, I blow a handful of iridescent foam
across morning’s uncharted kitchen to watch it sail
like a lit cloud through sunlight, to see it pillow
golden as raclette dripping garlicky and fine from seeded rye
toasted caramel over open flame, to watch it wisp linen-white
and clean as an egret through cool air at sunrise, 
to willow gently as a dancer’s tulle in the first lemony quiet of day. 
Oh, we have missed this, I think—missed knowing
that liquids can be anything, anything, while in flight; 
missed knowing that desire is solid, liquid, and gas
all at once, shifting from amber to nectarine and back to oxygen.
Oh, my love, the heart is not a scientist, but a container
meant to leak a little, a jar of honey on its side, a slow streaming out; 
once freed from the glass ribs of logic, its contrails spooning us this
fleeting, sticky mouthful of sweetness where we lie together
in the fragrant shade of wild pinyons and clementines.
This poem delights me with its delicious diction and imagery! I could smell and taste so many details. I especially loved the lines, “Oh, my love, the heart is not a scientist, but a container / meant to leak a little, a jar of honey on its side ...” Yes!
—Judge Katie Manning

2021 Winners
Kathleen Dale
Women’s Poetry Contest
First Place
“At Seventy”
Sue Budin
Women’s Poetry Contest
Second Place
“Delicate Things”
Peggy Landsman
Women’s Poetry Contest
Honorable Mention
“Still Life with Onions”