2020 Regional Winners

Perfect Snow

Wisps drift across an alabaster sheet,
obscure the farmer’s work, the stubbled field.
My Nordic planks and poles I’m forced to yield
so not to mar with lines and dents replete
this perfect snow—this cold yet glowing guise
beneath soft curls of cirrus clouds that sweep
pale shapes between blue sky and long, deep sleep
late February fills with shifts and sighs
of winter specters passing through this place.
Like ocean waves lured inland, then sucked down
by thirsty August sands of sunbaked brown,
this frozen landscape swells and undulates
till crests of cloud recede to blinding white—
a billion fallen stars. A field of light.

Susan McMillan
Rochester, Minnesota

Going Viral: Two

Holy Week, life on hold, my hold on life
unsure, I make my break from solitaire
to stroll alone down April days that wear
the mask of March, the trees devoid of leaf,
the breeze devoid of heat, a friend aloof
who waves devoid of words, of vernal air
that I serenely breathe without despair—
better than the jitters is a caustic laugh.
Meanwhile half-a-continent away
the trees are leaved, the breeze has warmed, its source
the sea. There’s no need to ask, “Can I play
on through?” because the player owns the course.
A cavalcade of golf carts makes the turn
at nine: the President putts, fevers burn.

Jim Togeas
Morris, Minnesota

The Kiss

The way her neck swims forward ... the way
the small of her intends toward you. The simplest
movement ended at a touch—put away
that moment to consume a writhing contest,

complete endeavor never named so poorly,
never so poorly prepared. Where will it stop
if neither one can say what invited surely—
a measured plan with some place where it ought?

Was there an uplift of her chin? A breath
too small to know, perhaps a mistaken cough?
A brushing finger held just short of caress?
Conversation flowing to a pause?

An incident remembered near its start
but thoroughly lost in all of its other parts.

Steven Vogel
Rochester, Minnesota