The California State Poetry Society supports poetry and poets by organizing Monthly Poetry Contests
on a rotating series of topics, open to all poets, not just CSPS members. All poems must be the original work of the poet, in English and, except for the December contest, previously unpublished.There is no limit to the number of poems one can submit, but each poem must be less than 80 lines (two pages).
Contest rules, submission information and full list of topics are posted on our official website:
The CSPS Vice President for Communications, Richard Modiano selected the following winners of contests for the months March through July 2019.
March 2019: Open Topic.
First Place Winner: Greg Gregory for "Mojave"
April 2019: Travel, History, Mythology, Other Cultures (other times, places, alternate worlds)
First Place Winner: David Anderson for "Returning to Ruins"
May 2019: Portraits, Persons, Characters (with portraits of animals, objects, places with character)
First Place Winner: Jane Stuart for "Italian Memories"
June 2019: Open Topic.
First Place Winner: Hanh Chau for "Refugee"
July 2019: Childhood, Memoir, Lessons of the Past.
First Place Winner: Tanya Whitney for "Pages of Life"
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS!
The sun is sinking over this expanse of undulating desert.
We pull into a familiar motel near Barstow for the night,
driving to visit my wife's sister & brother in Arizona.
We have done it for years, before her parents died.
The sun stretches our clay-colored building
into shadows on empty sand as it finally sets,
then erases them as well. We are here, but invisible.
Death Valley waits just to the north of us.
I once visited there, stunned by my first sign
of the dunes as the sun lowered. They crept diaphanous
in the fading light, in sage-laden breezes, intricately
winding into each other into the twilight.
The bedside alarm clock ticks.
A little fine sand sifts in from the window's edges.
It forms small dunes on the sill. I brush them away
and crack open the window to let in the cool night air.
The alarm clock glows and I drift off. The dunes
drift back, beautiful. They persist, tangible souls
still wandering the desert. They travel, ephemeral
winding into each other.
she folds her arm around me.
A scent of sage drifts in from the open window.
By Greg Gregory (March 2019 Contest Winner)
RETURNING TO THE RUINS
A contrapuntal poem for two voices
includes phrases found in Caelinn Hogan's "Life Among the Ruins,"
National Geographic Magazine, 2018 Mar: 233(3): 60-67.
tall buildings fallen, toilets and kitchens buried inside
the bride lays her hands on the groom's shoulders
a grenade launcher sits on a casing-strewn schoolroom floor
his arms on her waist, he dances in the folds of her floor length dress
laundry hangs from a few apartment balconies
their dance is slow, the music a love song in Arabic
in not-quite ruined buildings, store fronts wield fresh paint
her bridesmaids circle them, aglow in petticoat netting
one light in one room's broken chandelier works an hour a day
the strobe light spreads colors across their faces and the floor
first thing mornings, children stand to sing in new classrooms
every day Citadel Square fills with chatter from sellers and barterers
the sky fills and lightens with broken clouds
children return from school on streets between collapsed and still-standing buildings
in the outskirts, returnees shelter in warehouses
daily, people in twos and threes fill all the benches in the public park
and come night, with no water or electricity
mosques are being rebuilt in neighborhoods of rubble and debris
they clamber in their dreams over the tourist attraction
and surveyors from Damascus traverse the city with maps to chart a future
the giant letters that spell out I 💛 ALEPPO.
By David Anderson (April 2019 Contest Winner)
ITALIAN MEMORIES (SAN LEO)
The wind blows through time
sticking under chilly rocks
where the ginestra bloom
Wooden fortress walls,
painted windows, heavy doors
golden winter light
Frozen mountains soar,
splintered ice slides over trees -
the moon closes her eye
Shortly after dawn
starlit shadows cross the sky...
A fiery red sun
rises over yesterday
...tomorrow brings new dreams
By Jane Stuart (May 2019 Contest Winner)
When is asked what is your name?
I reply it is refugee.
And oh why is that? The reason is I am a man that lost his homeland to war
To escape away from a thousand miles
To find a secure place with a sense of belongingness and acceptance
Even in the cold stormy weather, sickness, vomiting and hunger I endured
My strong-willed and determination pursue me to carry on to hope for a
brighter future and promises
You see I came across to the land of Great America . . . that it embraced me with
humility to open a new door with a greater opportunity to rebuild a prosperity life
in which I called my second home
Only to know that I must start from a scratch with a bare hand and feet
That was my goal and inspiration to witness for my children to live
It has given me the voice to speak, the freedom to express, opportunity to look
How can I not be grateful, indeed I am
So when you see other refugee out there
DO NOT JUDGE ME as I plead
I have learned to be on my thick skin
to stand high and seize with every second chance
never to take anything for granted
When life is tough and knock me down
I carry myself back up and stand tall and be tougher than life itself
I am humble to call myself an American
to learn the true value of freedom and its meaning
In a place that filled with a melting-pot and multi-cultural diversity
For that I salute to you
the Great America you are,
in all we stand together
By Hanh Chau (June 2019 Contest Winner)
PAGES OF LIFE
As a child I traveled alone
To faraway places and times
From the heaven of my bedroom.
The descriptive words drew pictures
Of the many lands and oceans
Detailed in their written pages.
I was immersed in the stories,
Becoming anyone I wished
To be in my lonely childhood.
I rode once with crusading knights,
Sat in King Arthur's knightly court
With those gallant and noble men.
I piloted an aero plane
Over the Pharaoh's pyramids
Awestruck by the Egyptian tombs.
The wonders of Rome and Athens
Ancient temples of marble stones
Built in my imagination.
I served Alexander the Great
Stood on the deck of the Pinta
And fought with valor in the war.
I was an Indian princess
Helping settlers in the New World
And searched for clues with Nancy Drew.
On safari in Africa
Hunting for lions and tigers or
Looking for Doctor Livingstone
My reading adventures took me
Whitewater rafting down rivers,
Passing steamboats on a log raft.
By Tanya Whitney (July 2019 Contest Winner)
Photos of Yucca in Big Tujunga Wash by Maja Trochimczyk