Monday, June 22, 2020

Winners of CSPS Monthly Contests, November 2019 to May 2020

Alice Pero, the new Chair of Monthly Contests has selected the following poems for recognition as winners of the California State Poetry Society's Contests in the past six months.

November 2019
1. Jane Stuart - "October’s Wind Brings War"
2. Jane Stuart - "When All Was Mystery"
3. David Anderson - "The Moving Spray Rig"

December 2019
1. David Anderson - "Windstruck"
2. Kathy Lundy Derengowski - "A Marriage of Poets"
3. David Anderson - "When Cezanne Painted Mont Sainte Victoire"

January 2020
1. Jane Stuart - "Our Winter Garden"
2. Jane Stuart - "Early on a Winter Morning"
3. David Anderson - "The Apple Spy"

February 2020
1. Pamela Shea - "Rosebuds and Lovers"
2. Jane Stuart - "Dancing Into Love Again"

March 2020
1. Dorothy Skies - "The Coyote’s Howl"

April 2020
No Winners

May 2020
1. Marlene Hitt - "Enlightenment"

Congratulations to all the winners! Well done! 

The First Prize Poems are reproduced below.

November 2019 Winner:
Jane Stuart's "October's Wind Brings War"

October's Wind Brings War

Autumn's sun is hot, as red as a persimmon leaf on a dying tree. It warms the sand
but cools the sea and hard rain blows away our treasures, all the dreams and pretty
things we left behind-but life is cold. The street is mud, your eyes are blistered
diamonds and every book we read .. blew away. Who are we then? If not tired rocks
and broken branches, summer's end rekindled for an hour and then gone-gone
away to sleep like children in a fern patch on a hidden hill. You remind me of an
aging Venus stepping from her shell and I am Vergil dancing star-to-star,
climbing higher, farther from the fire that lingers in Vesuvius's hole.

A swag of evergreen
tied to every door
a sign that signals
the moon sighs
and lonely houses weep

When everything
is gone, gone
and lightning strikes
another cold fire
but the Phoenix sleeps

leaves nothing
time is fatal--
your jeans are torn

my dress is old

December 2019 Winner:
David Anderson's "Windstruck"


In the spring winds, you carried the freshly washed clothes
out to hang dry on clotheslines. You hung shirts by their tails
and let the sleeves dangle. You hung pants upside down,
shook the fabric, pulled the pockets out and let any coins fall free

for us to find. Sheets you hung by center-lines and the folds
swung open and closed in the flapping breeze. One by one,
out of the basket, you hung towels, corner after corner,
a varicolored string of rectangles, and shorts, handkerchiefs, socks—

You walked one line to the end and returned on the next, measuring
out briefs and lingerie against the breeze, still cold from winter.

We ran between the sheets and towels and let the yet wet
cloth slap our faces and the sunstruck sheets blind us.

How could we not praise the winds that sucked our laundry dry
and left behind sheets and clothing stiff with sky?

"Windstruck." Originally published in Time of Singing. 2015 Spring; 41(1). First Place, July 2014 CSPS Contest. It also appears on Anderson's personal website and was emailed in his Poetry Letter, no.2, June 2015 and no.8, Dec 2015.

January 2020 Winner:
Jane Stuart's "In a Winter Garden"

Our Winter Garden 

Our winter garden greens under dark snow
that fell upon the terrace in our sleep--
the moon's shadows glisten and glow,
the wind makes footprints that are deep
beside the garden wall that is so tall
it almost reaches the winter sky--
and now, the lightest morning snowflakes fall
from greyest clouds stuck to the sky.
Snow falls where flowers bloomed and young trees grew
up, up, to blossom on a summer day.
The garden was a green place where birds flew
 in flocks to find their nests; time blew away
 these months then winter raindrops fell with snow
over dark earth under the full moon's glow.

February 2020 Winner:
Pamela Shea's "Rosebuds and Lovers"

Rosebuds and Lovers

The bud of a rose,
Layer on layer of petals,
Held tightly, perfectly,
Unfolding when the time has come,
Bursts open and a flower is born,
Releasing sweet perfume.

The heart of a lover,
Layer on layer of emotions,
Trembling, hidden, waiting,
When touched by the beloved,
Bursts open and a poem is born;
Sweet music fills the air.

March 2020 Winner: 
Dorothy Skiles's "The Coyote's Howl"

The Coyote’s Howl

January’s draught
portent of a scorching
summer to come…

The San Gabriel Mountains
and Verdugo Woodland’s
are but a tinder box-
terrain covered with
chaparral, a dry dense
stubborn thicket -
fuel for wildfires.
On summer nights beneath
the full moon’s light, coyote’s
coat the color of nickel.
Her features gaunt, gait less
confident, yet her sense
of smell remains keen.

From dusk to dawn
she traverses the ridges,
the low-lying hillsides
hunting rodents and rabbits.
She often treks into
neighborhoods, climbing
fences as swift as a thief.
The coyote is not too proud
 to forage for plums,
berries or pears.

This fall as the Santa Ana
winds rage, I’ll listen
for the coyote’s howl,
wondering if she’ll
make it through
the threat of famine,
the peril of wildfires,

sure, to come!

May 2020 Winner:
Marlene Hitt's "Enlightenment"

A dust devil blew in
from my childhood.
Dead leaves whirled up
from summer’s hot soil
while a jay feather flew birdless
swirling into midsummer sky
up to the puffs of white cloud
as on the day when I was ten,
when I ran into the vortex
trying to find a secret
in the center of the whirlwind
only to rush away
with sand in my eye.
Why does that thrill return
as the wind whirls in?
And why, now, do I run away?

Alice Pero, the judge of the Monthly Poetry Contests, joined the CSPS Board as a Director at Large  in May 2019. She has published poetry in many magazines and anthologies, including Nimrod, National Poetry Review, River Oak Review, Poet Lore, The Alembic, North Dakota Quarterly, The Distillery, Fox Cry Review, The Griffin, and G.W. Review, and others. Her book of poetry, Thawed Stars, was praised by Kenneth Koch as having “clarity and surprises.” She also published a chapbook Sunland Park Poems, written as a dialogue with Elsa Frausto.

Pero teaches poetry and is a member of California Poets in the Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering students to express their uniqueness through writing, performing and publishing their own poetry. She is also the founder of Moonday, a reading series that has been on-going in the Los Angeles area for upwards of sixteen years. Ms Pero has created dialogue poems with more than twenty poets. She also created the performing group, Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble and performs with them as a flutist.

Nature photos from Big Tujunga Wash and Southern California gardens
by Maja Trochimczyk

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