2017 Laureates’ Choice – Group One


Milkweed Trail

Do I have time for one more dream?
The early morning clock is pushed aside
I’m planting tiger lilies near a stream
and dawn paints waves upon my shuttered eyes.
Our sleeping dog has not yet come around.
Sweet Monarch butterflies can play and feed
in sunny milkweed fields without a sound.
That kind of free is what I need
because when happy dreams are put away
the somber beating drum of time begins
to say I have so much to do today.
But first I seek to know some space within
to roam the spacious meadows of my mind
and find again belief in humankind.

Candace Armstrong
Murphysboro, IL


New Year’s Measurement Against the Tree

When I set out to write my little song
Of life, I looked to see what mark I’d made,
And saw instead the fir tree that so long
Has stood as silent witness as I grayed,

Has suffered the same seasons’ heat and cold,
This New Year’s morning green bedecked with snow,
But shows no sign of wear or being old,
Accepts with grace the morning’s sunlit glow.

This tree that rooted long before my birth,
Stood as I married, watched my children play,
Was there to capture tears and hear our mirth,
And without moving offer quiet shelter.

How do I measure then against this tree?
The silence, stillness, shade it gave to me?

Don Brunnquell
Saint Paul, MN


Desdemona Senses Her Murder

   Ave Maria
   Act III, Otello

Saints above, I must accept defeat.
Can you see my fear, my shaking hand
before you? Iago schemes to brand
me whore—pray you know I didn’t cheat
with Cassio. Never did we meet
with intent—nothing said or planned.
I wait as the candle on the stand
flickers. It’s done. No hiding. No retreat.
I’m haunted by my old memory
of my mother’s death. Tomorrow—
I will see her, not hear the morning bird.
Holy Virgin, cover me with mercy.
Verdi, you filled your score with my sorrow.
For me, Addio is my last word.

Patricia Callan
Newton, MA


I did not know you for so many years

I did not know you for so many years.
I was lost, afraid and full of fury.
Even now the thought of it brings me to tears,
Although you always say not to worry.
After I met you I never ever
Believed I would let go and let you guide,
But Oh, Lord, thankfully you are clever.
You knew what I’d believe because you died:
To save me from myself so that I’d live
To let me know that love means sacrifice
To let me know that God loves and forgives
To assure me that your love will suffice.
  I’ve learned to love you and my fellow man,
  It’s not difficult to follow your plan.

Jessica Cummins
Denham Springs, LA


In the Woods

It can happen when you walk in the woods —
not always, sometimes, and once is enough:
you see the invisible forest, the stuff
between. Sometimes the trees are buried, shouldering
last night’s snow, everywhere is silent,
still. Then a soft rumble as a pine
drops its burden all at once, and a fine
white cloud thumps heavily down, and meanwhile
nothing is perturbed, silence is restored.
Again, the stillness. Or in summer, when
the woods throb and the light of the sun drives
the season’s teeming madness, and the more
you look, the more you see it, unspoken,
shimmering around everything alive.

Michael Fleming
Brattleboro, VT

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