Monday, January 24, 2022

Winners of 2021 Annual Poetry Contest - Robert Spich, Bruce Gallie and David Anderson

The 34th Annual Poetry Contest of the California State Poetry Society was managed by Joyce Snyder and adjudicated by Georgia Jones Davis. The contest results are as follows and the prize-winning poems are posted below. Congratulations to all winners! And thank you for the gift of your words.

1st Prize: “Three Men in a Boat” by Robert S. Spich, Los Angeles 
2nd Prize: “Snow” by Bruce Gallie, Rancho Cucamonga, California
3rd Prize: “Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Three Men in a Tub” by David Anderson, Lincoln, California

o “Winged Sandals”  by Claire Scott, Oakland, CA 
o “A Snake in Pajamas”  by Louise Moises, Richmond, CA
o “I Don’t Know Why” by Livingston Rossmoor, Modesto, CA
o “Wish” by Susanne Wiley, Hot Springs, AR  


FIRST PRIZE: “THREE MEN IN A BOAT” – a dream, a memory/a sighting? The poet takes us right into the scene with the clarity of reportage- three men sitting in what one imagines is a rotting, old rowboat – in the middle of the grassy Kansas prairie… The sail the grassy, waterless sea, the prairie, that is their world. Observing this brash kind of insanity, the poet reveals how we all navigate the strange oceans that are our lives. Are these landbound sailors tacking toward some harbor of religion, mythology, the ancient stories that offer solace or meaning in the area of no answers? No, the poet sees how they seem fine acting out this crazy thing, singing badly, tossing beer cans, waving meaning shreds of cloths like flags, celebrating in a macho, primitive way the endlessness of sky, of waterless prairie, of life in its largess offering no simple answers.

SECOND PRIZE: “SNOW” (a tanka) – a missed moment, a haunted sense of loss and the beautiful blindness of a snowy world – the dimness of a figure we encounter – her beauty like a ghost in the white world – the narrator’s small yet huge moment of regret, of fear – captured in such grace in this tanka. Lovely. 
THIRD PRIZE: “RUB-A-DUB-DUB, THREE MEN IN A TUB” – three men-hahha—again! This time something mysterious and Welsh? – a rough ride at sea and rhymed language rising in our stomachs like waves in this splendid, musical, storm-ridden wild ride of a poem – sea spray, damp roar and soar of water, the churning in our ears and guts – it is all in these nine wildly alive lines. I’m reminded of Dylan Thomas – loving the bell-ringing, soaking, salty ride of this very unique poem. Well done.



   Three men in a boat on a hot Saturday
   In an open field in Kansas, near Freeway 117.
   Their presence suggests a strange hope floats in their grassy harbor,
   Hope that perhaps some new anxious sea will rise to save them,
   Help them to escape from the immensity of this endless dry land!
   Maybe a return of the Great Flood to this cloudless, blue sky place,
   And they, rescued in that strange old boat, chosen to reseed lost humanity! 

    But probably not…see all those shiny beer cans scattered about?
    Hear the whistles and yells at the passing cars,
    Listen to the shouting laughter and hugely bad singing!
    And those flaunted flags waving of no nations anyone knows!
    This is not an Armageddon Moment to fear!
    Not that Final Judgment to fear!
    Not that Final Judgment that seeks to separate, condemn and punish!

    No, just three men in a boat in a field on a hot Saturday afternoon,
    In the middle of endless Kansas, drinking beer and raising no particular hell!
   Why should we expect anything else? After all this is Dorothy’s country!

                                            Robert S. Spich                                                                                                                          Los Angeles, California


Robert submitted his first poem to his college magazine in 1966. It was turned down with a nice note from the head of the English Department at Lafayette College where Rob was an International Relations major. Apart from sharing poems with like -minded poetic souls over the years, submissions have been here and there over the next 50 years!  But that did not stop the writing of poetry which takes place still about 3-4 X a week between the hours of 4-6 a.m. when the night is still sleeping,the morning is still dreaming and his head is buzzing with ideas. Thus a whole shelf of dawn inspired notebooks has been accumulating in his “poets corner” over the years.

As a reader of other poets, a whole bookcase of poetry books demonstrates an eclectic interest in many writers, including the newbies, supporting new people by buying their books!  A perusal of those books will show perhaps a sacrilegious disregard for the printed page as many of his poems are actually written in the borders and blank pages of those books. He has favorites of course. Of the modern classics he reads Frost, Larkin, Milosz, Dylan T, Jeffries, Roethke and more. Of the contemporaries he reads  Gluck, C. Dennis, Kooser,  K.Ryan, Hoagland, Bishop and Seamus. There is so much to read and write and so little time!

Robert’s international experience, especially his Peace Corps venture and teaching in South America (Chile mainly) improved his 4 years of college Spanish to a degree that he also writes poems in Spanish, a language that facilitates rhythm and rhyming in poems. In closing we should note that Robert is now a retired professor from UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management where he taught courses in international management and ran a grant program.

                           (a tanka)

                           Recall my cold feet
                           in a foot of snow, walking
                           by her that time, not
                           saying "Hi", heart skipped a beat
                           then my sadness, my cold feet.

                                       Bruce Gallie
                                       Rancho Cucamonga, California


Bruce Gallie is a retired electrician, having worked for the City of Hope Hospital, SP Railroad and for 30 years for Rio Hondo college. He started writing poetry in the early 60's, right after he graduated from La Puente High School. Mr. Gallie served in the Army for 3 years in the mess hall in Germany in the late 60's. He has been married since '72 with 3 adult children and two grandchildren. Over the years he has had several hiatuses from writing, especially 80's, 90's, plus, but he has always returned. The poem "Snow" was actually written as a Haiku in the mid 60's. He recently dug it out of an old box and rewrote it for a poetry group of seniors that he participates in. His poetry has often been published in the California Quarterly and, recently, in the CSPS Poetry Letter.


A cyrch a chwta (pronounced kirch a chootah)

                      Every tenth wave swells and lifts
                      them high, drops them deeper, sifts
                      their guts, dizzies their brains, shifts
                      speed, empties the guts of the biffed, 
                      rocks sightlines, horizons, gifts
                      those emptied stomachs with sniffs
                      of food for the crew, and drifts
                      the skiff toward shore, to tumble
                      the seasick off, humbled, stiffed.

                                                                  David Anderson
                                                                  Lincoln, California


David Anderson was raised on Rocky Dell, a fruit orchard in the Loomis Basin of Placer County, California. Beginning in the 1870s and until the Great Depression, orchardists in the Loomis Basin shipped plums, pears, and peaches across the nation. That heritage, a sense of the divine, and an appreciation of the arts inspired many of the poems in his forthcoming book, What Was Within.
He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and obtained bachelor degrees in liberal arts and librarianship. When he retired from the Loren D. Carlson Health Sciences Library, University of California, Davis, a librarian emeritus, he was self-publishing Humans & Other Species, a bibliographic journal compiled for scholars and practitioners of human-animal interactions. After he sold that journal and moved from his rural childhood home to town, he began writing poetry in earnest. 
He self-published the chapbook, Not Made by Hand: Selected Poems, now out of print. A poetic paraphrase of selections from the Odes of Solomon, a first-century Christian songbook, titled The Odes: from Solomon’s Songbook, is available from him. He emails a poem a month in David Anderson’s Poetry Letter. He presently hosts the Zoom successor to the Lincoln Poets Club monthly open mic. 


A Cento for D.H. Lawrence, The Snake

A snake in pyjamas came down the steps
down from the earth-wall
trailed soft-bellied over stone
his straight mouth
mused a moment, gold venomous voice,
I like him
drunken god, length curving round
the broken bank
snake easing, withdrawing
into a clumsy log
like lightning, gone into a fissure
At noon, I stared, 
regretted human education
wished he would come back
king of the underworld in diamond-back pyjamas.

                                                                                Louise Moises
San Francisco, California


Louise Moises was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she still resides. She has been published by High Shelf Press, California Poetry Society, Wingless Dreamer, the Ina Coolbrith Circle, Unlimited Literature, Pinole Writers among others. Reading her poetry on Zoom events has become an important part of her poetry experience. Additionally, Louise enjoys traveling the country in her motor home with her cat, where she absorbs the magnificence of the landscape to inspire her poetry.

I Don’t Know Why

I don’t know why it came in search of me.

I don’t know when or how it came.

It came in the light or dark, I couldn’t see.

Dust in the wind, breezes rustle in the tree.

A speck in the universe, it has no name.

I don’t know why it came in search of me.

It sails in a canoe on the wild sea,

in and out of waves, don’t know where to aim.

It came in the light or dark, I couldn’t see.

I know it is there, still coming, it seems.

Nothing to latch on, nothing to claim.

I don’t know why it came in search of me.

A small bird, a nest, it’s real, not a dream.

It’s neither words nor voices, it is calm.

It came in the light or dark, I couldn’t see.

It is not a summons, it carries no theme.

It was cold, I can feel it now, it is warm.

I don’t know why it came in search of me.

It came in the light or dark, I couldn't see.

                                                           Livingston Rossmoor



Livingston Rossmoor has written and published 17 volumes of poetry. He is an Associate Member of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the California State Poetry Society. Livingston currently lives in California with his dear wife of 49 years. He has 3 children and 8 grandchildren.


He played tennis, soccer, softball
sailing on the back of an easy wind
a Hermes in winged sandals

until that Sunday when he was seventeen
and the sharp edge of luck tossed him
twenty feet, and he hard hit on
the asphalt of Fuller Street

his dreams defaced by a distracted driver 
running late or texting her boss
or putting on pale pink lipstick 
future plans wobbling on spindly legs

hobbling, listing, stumbling, lurching
dystonia said the doctor no cure
and she looked away

now only in hope’s distorting light
do I see him running down the field
scoring goal after goal, a great grin on his face

I want to fly back on winged sandals 
touch him on the shoulder and say
leave home a little later today

I know there is a wider world
where some slow shuffle, some curl over
walkers or canes, some settle in wheel chairs
pushed by attendants from the Philippines
Diwa, Althea, Mahalia

sometimes I get a glimpse of this world where 
not everyone needs winged sandals to soar
then my son scuffs into the room, wincing,
his left foot dragging

                                                           Claire Scott
                                                           Oakland, California


Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and The Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and  Until I Couldn’t. 


I zip up my favorite jacket - the one with the frayed cuffs
grab a scarf and Hannah’s leash, and we slip into the dark night -
like voyeurs in someone’s deepest dream
Her white tail dances before me as we navigate
thru night sprinklers and fallen branches to our favorite hill
Constellations scribbled on a backboard sky sparkle like 
tiny flashlights held by travelers on their way 
to the other side of midnight

I worship Orion and his god-like stance
as if his stars were my own private cluster of magic
He grows weary of my constant adoration
We sit in our own velvet silence and watch for falling stars
Hannah and I - shoulder to shoulder - keeping each other warm
She lays her nose against my cheek, and I weave my fingers thru her fur
like fat worms burrowing themselves in the warm dirt

I lean in and whisper in her ear 
“Lets pick the brightest star and make a wish”
My wish is always that she will be with me
for as long as I live

The nights grow shorter and the path harder to navigate
and when the sun has scorched our grassy hill
we take our last walk

I look to Orion to reach out his sword
and stay this moment with his magic
But he slips away  beyond the horizon 
to a greener hill  - and Hannah follows

I think back to that night of falling stars
and I believe Hannah’s last wish was 
that I would be with her for as long as she lived.

Lucky girl 
She got her wish

Susanne Wiley
Hot Springs, Arkansas 



Susanne Wiley is a retired film and theater teacher who escaped the flat plains of Texas for the tall pines of Arkansas, where she loves hiking the mountain trails with her beloved Husky, Sky. The move to Hot Springs has given her the time and inspiration to rekindle her creative interests in writing and painting. She prefers to write in the mornings with a coffee and croissant and paints in her new art studio in the afternoon. She has been the guest artist for poetry groups in Arkansas and is currently working on an illustrated journal of her work. 


Joyce Snyder, after retiring from a career as a nurse clinical specialist in mental health, now has more time to pursue her interest in poetry—taking an adult education class, joining a weekly poetry salon and attending workshops with Ellen Bass in Santa Cruz. She’s a docent at Tor House in Carmel, the home of Robinson Jeffers. She likes nature hikes and watching her grandchildren grow. She enjoys reading the California Quarterly and appreciates their publication of a few of her poems. Joyce joined the CQ Editorial Board and began serving as the CSPS Annual Contest Chair in 2016. The 2021 Contest was the last one she decided to work on. The CSPS is grateful for her years of selfless service.

Georgia Jones-Davis grew up in Northern New Mexico and Southern California. A former free-lance journalist and Los Angeles Times Assistant Book editor, her poetry has appeared in anthologies and journals including “West Wind,” “the California Quarterly,” “Brevities,” “The Bicycle Review,” “Nebo,” “Eclipse,” “poetic diversity,” “Ascent Aspirations,” and “South Bank Poetry, London.”  She is the author of two chapbooks, “Blue Poodle” (2011) and “Night School” (2015) both published by the Finishing Line Press. Georgia lives and writes in New Mexico.

Photos of California skies by Maja Trochimczyk

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