2017 Regional Winners


Dun ground, an olive-colored sort of, kind of day.
Beneath the robin’s peck for wormy, rooty things,
Winter has buried its frozen, blasting ways.
Stomp the mud; shake the rugs: it’s spring!

Now I feel the hot blush of beginning love
In each blade of grass, the dazzle of sunlight.
Here come the paired-up mourning doves
Picking the brambles back to life.

A twiggy haze, outlining weft of dead limbs
The children resurrect and turn to magic wands,
Dirt diggers, walking sticks, or other playful whims.
Above the sun and mist wash the clouds to blond.

Half-way through a life, in my own dark wood,
Breathe, I say, keep my pace and walk along the good.

Jenny Benjamin
Milwaukee, WI

Mourning in Spring

The days of spring are not always so sweet
The skies of March are hard and full of rain
I guess it’s better than the summer’s heat
I guess it’s better than the winter’s pain
Before the rebirth, many things will die
Before the blossoms, colors all are gone
It is the in-between time for the eye
It is the untouched canvas to be drawn
The endings come, the endings can surprise
They shock our days and change the very air
And things that were familiar to our eyes
Are forever lost, however fair
We die in every season of the year
Nature sighs and decorates the bier

Jane Callahan
Rochester, MN

Location, Location

Some minor god with a backhoe left you
where no river birch would volunteer,

this south-baked slab of a hillside: here
rain slides from turf that it can't soak through.

You learned to speak a dystopian tongue,
roots clutching unpronounceable clay.

Watching your dance, I love its supple sway,
the gestures in your outstretched arms, the song

in your nervous leaves, the thin pretense
no pain's involved; your tattered bark the brittle

dancer's smile, its flash, its plucky mettle.
This too-warm wind rustles the violins

among your jewelry, while the asphalt street
has turned to cool, clear water at your feet.

Scott Lowery
Rollingstone, MN


In my apartment on the second floor
I stay up late behind a bolted door
and hold a book I’ve often meant to read.
To this, and night, I commonly concede.

Because the house is old and poorly made,
I hear sounds rise and falter, rise and fade—
sporadic noises coming from outdoors
or from the aging building’s walls and floors.

But now it’s fervent voices that I hear—
a passionate embrace, intense and clear,
long muffled moans that quicken as they grow,
and coupled laughter rising from below.

While downstairs lovers make this night their own,
I’m bound to sit and listen, all alone.

Richard Meyer
Mankato, MN