2016 Laureates’ Choice - Group Three

The Last Father’s Day

Spring, and the White Oaks fell, with too much rain
In towering branches.  Once majestic, proud
One hundred feet high, ‘til just one remained.
We went up to pay homage, and were cowed
To find the open wound that time had plowed,
A hidden rot, and now a living space
For groundhogs, coons, whatever forest crowd.
The arborist sliced that tree off earth’s face.
June, and for the last time, you stood up, placed
Your arms up, wobbling as if in a game,
Like that man who tightroped Towers now erased
And you smiled, as you’re smiling now, (but framed)
“See?” Your eyes say, “I’ve stood, and like your tree,
No one can see that Death’s devouring me.”

Laurie Holding
Gibsonia, PA

The Chosen Range

Wild winter grasses lift in endless forms,
curled feathers, tassels, rods, towered tops of trees
like tulip poplar, fir, repeating shapes
to splay the sun, or catch seed scattering breeze.

Bronze, dry and shining, some still hold their down
as pearl as any iridescence known
or barren pods of snow stars line a stem
soft, hollowed crystals with cold heavens sown.

Amidst this vibrant death, I see your life
intense partaking through creation's change,
complexity's pure beauty as the fruit,
and worlds' inclusion as the chosen range.

My passion is love's violence of thought
together through death's silence what is sought.

Joan M. Howard
Hiawassee, MN

The Spark in the Dark

Our time is short so let’s begin our dance
Once hands have found each other in the dark;
The goddess Nox has given us this chance,
Together, on the night we’ll make our mark.
If wished then shall be done, adventure calls;
Exploring fallen fortresses of old
Or swaying close in massive opera halls,
Your hand in mine, I never feel the cold.
We slip through silver streams of time and space,
Remember everything you feel and see
For in the morning there remains no trace
But what you’ve tucked away in memory.
Nocturnal rendezvous will be our game
Until the waking world brings me your name.

Molly Jones
Winter Garden, FL

No Solace

They celebrated sixty-seven years
together, then she left him as they slept.
This was the greatest of his many fears.
For weeks he could not speak, could not accept
whatever time was left to him, alone,
alone he was to bear it. Where is she?
To what far country, wingless, has she flown,
and can he, somehow, find a way to flee
this airless box that once was home, but now
is nothing but a yearning and a weight?
He has to find her, rest with her, but how?
He cannot pray, endure, accept this fate.
He washes breakfast dishes, makes the bed.
Whose eyes are those that then behold the dead?

Lynda La Rocca
Twin Lakes, CO

The North of Skyros

“At the northern edge of the bay a fortified prehistoric settlement is found, dated between 2800 and 1700 B.C…. Archaeological surveys have shown that a well-organized skillful society occupied the site, producing and trading goods.”
—Pavlopoulos, K., et al in Quaternary International (2009)

The stones of Palamari call the moon
to give them special light when it is full,
inviting ghosts of children down the dune
into the shallow bay where warm waves pull.
Before the island had the name we know,
before red sandstone curved away from sea,
a people thrived here where metalmi blow
and made a vibrant strong community.
Discovered, walls and doorways show the way
resilient human spirit shaped this earth
with love and work that filled each night and day
and moved through centuries of death and birth.
The children still remember what was praised,
smooth round white pebbles in their palms upraised.

Katharyn Machan
Ithaca, NY