Tag Archives: Spring Runoff 2012

WIZ’s 2012 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration comes to an end

RodneyLoughWaterfalls public domain

Last year, spring in the Four Corners region of the desert Southwest was comfortably cool; this year, mixed business temperature-wise, but brittle-boned, tinder dry.  When the summer rainmakers come, they’ll find plenty of fodder to feed their range fires.  So far, mosquitoes have been rare and the black gnats–“flying teeth,” as a friend once called them–pretty thinly spread, causing little trouble.  The hummingbirds and orioles that frequent our feeders drain the cups twice a day, which is pretty serious sugar water quaffing for May–especially with those thread-like tongues that the hummingbirds have to work with. So far this spring, I’ve removed one hummingbird and one fence swift from the house.  Because of dry weather, the globe mallow–O, ye of the lovely, sherbert-orange blossoms!–is blooming a bit closer to the ground than it has during previous springs.  The invasive alfalfa that over the last five years had built quite a stronghold in our yard is struggling everywhere except in my garden area where I water the peach trees (which, by the way, surrendered all hope of fruit to a week’s worth of chill o’ the night frosts … except for one tree, which put out two flowers two or three weeks after the rest).  The claret cup cacti is blooming out.  Engleman’s hedgehogs are beginning to flash pink frills.  Prickly pear buds have sprouted like toes on the wide green pads of those be-spined plants.  The creek in Crossfire Canyon has gone thin and muddy, then, in places, flaky or sandy and dry-stoned.  The snowmelt on the Abajos to the north seemed to have skipped its trip south to the San Juan River via Crossfire Canyon and cascaded straight up into the air.  The beavers remain the water barons in the canyon, gathering together the springs at their canyon bottom outlets with mud and vegetable dams to hold constant the water levels of their modest ponds.  The last time I entered the canyon, about 30 black Angus cows and calves were strung out along the beaverworks, which provides the only significant, native water for miles.

Unlike the melt-off from the Blues, WIZ’s Runoff has been pretty impressive.  But like all runoffs, it has tapered off. The last poems have posted and deliberations to choose which of the 31 eligible entries might win the Spring Poetry Runoff’s Most Popular Poem Award and the Admin Award are about to begin.  Voting for the Most Popular Poem will be conducted by public poll beginning Monday, May 28 or Tuesday, May 29.  Poets, please come back and vote, and invite your friends and family members to come vote, too.  Winners of both awards will be announced on or around .

Thank you so much, writers, for participating so well.  Poets, readers, and commenters who have already put so much time into the Runoff—prepare yourselves to vote, starting next week.  Each voter will be able to vote for his or her three favorite poems!  Please, participants–enter three choices for your favorite poems.  It’s more sporting than just voting for your single favorite poem, and it provides other poets feedback for their hard-wrought words.

Again, good work, participants, and thank you, readers, for sticking with us and reading all the entries.  There were many delightful surprises in this year’s offerings–a lot of poetry I’ve been proud WIZ hosted.  Remember: Choices for this year’s prizes are Fire in the Pasture, an anthology of contemporary Mormon poetry, edited by Peculiar Pages, and the novel The Scholar of Moab, by Steven L. Peck and published by Torrey House Press.  Which, by the way, opened up to accept submissions on April 25.

It’s been a vibrant spring so far, thanks to all your flowers of speech. (Does anybody besides me remember that phrase, “flowers of speech”?)

Let Rocks Speak by Mary Belardi Erickson

After “April is the cruelest month,” T.S. Eliot


Earth surrounds you, my rough-orange Chessie.
Earth retrieved you through its door.
Raccoons quarrel in the yard without your night patrol.
Covered with daisy rugs and a new red collar on,
your head rests on a corduroy purple pillow.
You are held deeply like a queen’s companion
in cool repose.

Forgetting, I think you waiting in cool May grass.
I see your shining eyes–expectantly bright.
That morning I closed them.
They had watched for me one last time.
By excavating, we had you laid six feet deep
where summer heat will bother you no more.
At first, I kept watered there marigolds and zinnias.
We planted orange tulips and peony bushes
to watch for each spring.

I picked from the field white, Continue reading Let Rocks Speak by Mary Belardi Erickson

April, I’ve Been Fooled Before by Michael Lee Johnson

I blink, the electricity is off.
The day has brought
night to an end on top of me.
Lamp oil and flashlights save me
from myself.
I walk in darkness.
In this darkness I don’t
see my shadow.
When the wind goes still
cold chills down my spine
don’t feel anymore.
I walk in darkness like this
but I’ve been fooled myself before
at Halloween, fears of April thunderstorms.
April thunderstorms have knocked
the lighting out of me;
pulled the electricity out of my sockets, pulled plugs from my condo.
I lie in bed with only this conversation to keep me company.
I feel like an ice cube insulated
around in my words, looking for images
in shadows, quiet corners.
I creep myself out alone.
Here I lie on my back in bed, think, then try sleep-with ghosts, witches, spiders, devils,
all kinds of nasty things.
Nothing brings Christ out of closed wilderness faster than darkness being alone.
I blink, and electricity is back on.
April, I’ve been fooled like this before.

See Michael’s other entry and bio here.

*Competition entry*

Rainbow in April by Michael Lee Johnson

April again,
the wind
falls in love with itself
skipping across asphalt
and concrete bare
with the breaking weather.
A rainbow
is half arched,
broken off deep
into the aorta
of the sky.
It hangs
from elastic
rubber bands
of mixed colors
dipped in God’s
by the fingertips
of Michelangelo.
April again,
the wind steps high.

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet, freelance writer and small business owner from Itasca, Illinois. He is heavily influenced by Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen, and Allen Ginsberg. He has recently published an illustrated poetry chapbook, From Which Place the Morning Rises, and a new photo version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom, both available here. He has written several other chapbooks, and has been published in over 25 countries. He is also the editor/publisher of five poetry sites, all open for submission.

*Competition entry*

Breakfast by Greg Gibby

Out the front window
I see
A robin
Scouring the grass for
A worm

With a precise lunge
Her beak drops to the earth
And returns with
A wiggling prize

Most of us will enjoy Spring
Those who remain uneaten

Greg is an actuary. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and three kids. Once, he wrote a bunch of Haiku about actuarial exams while proctoring one, which he has posted here.

*Competition entry*

Robin’s Hospice by Cynthia Hallen

Spring came Early – Winter stayed Late.
The Pumpkin Cat Savaged its Fate.
Now I See with the Robin’s Eye –
Now I Sing with the Robin’s Cry.

His Burial was in the Air.
His Body warm – I could not Bear –
Below the Soil to crush his Rest.
His Feathers breathe in last year’s Nest.

2 April 2008, Orem, Utah
This is Cynthia’s third entry in the 2012 Runoff. For more (and a bio), go here and here.

*Competition entry*

Natural Day of Prayer by Cynthia Hallen

Because it is May, and the sun
Yawns over the mountain –
The birds turn into accountants –
Grass dews under the Day

Because it is Thine, and the trees
Grow next to the hedges –
The way connects to the edges
Of sky – And life is mine

Because it is Spring, and the air
Dawns out of the canyon –
The east reviews golden banners –
Nature’s prayer bids us sing.

7 May 2009, Provo, Utah
Cynthia Hallen is a poet and professor living in Utah. Her full bio is available here.

*Competition entry*

Mallard Psalm by Cynthia Hallen

Mysterious March morning storm –
Not lonesome – desiccate, but warm.
A male duck lying in the leaves –
Not living – emerald, one grieves.
A branch serves as a sextant stave –
Piled stones on leaves appoint a grave –
Prompt hyacinths on higher hill
Could contemplate the silenced bill –

Nearby his counterpart – awake –
Who waits – not wallows – for his sake –
In curly willow’s winding shade –
Sits fallow on the spilling grade.
To shudder at the wounded wings –
To stutter from unuttered strings
Of empathy is requisite.
To murmur – spring is dedicate.

26 March 2012, BYU Botany Pond, Provo, Utah
Cynthia L. Hallen is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at BYU. Among other varied and impressive things, she is building an Emily Dickinson Lexicon, a comprehensive dictionary of words in ED’s poems, to help readers, scholars, and international translators better understand the works and words of Dickinson, who explored the realms of nature and religion with exceptional reverence, intelligence, honesty, and spirituality. In addition to scholarly research, Cynthia has a modest but consistent record of awards and publications in creative writing, mainly poems and essays.

*Competition entry*

Tease by Merrijane Rice

Black branches sag
beneath fresh snow as white
as blown cherry blossoms.

Sun-bright ice drips
from stiff tree limbs
like flowing sap.

Bluebottle sky strings out
cloud ribbons as clean
as line-dried sheets.

Brisk breezes scatter
powder like petals
over laughing children.

Winter mimics spring today.
I play along.

(Previously published in the Davis County Clipper on March 25, 2010, and the Utah State Poetry Society 2010 issue of Panorama)

Read Merrijane’s bio and second entry for Spring Runoff.

*Competition entry*

Invasion by Sarah Dunster

I watch April for the breath of life;
stirring roots threading secret ways
through soil. The thrill, when I wake and find
dug garden beds dusted in wild Irish green.
Her crop is more diverse, resilient, more
matched to this soil and these waters
than any I will bring. I turn the earth,
interring new life back into its birth
and fold the dirt around my cup-fed roots
like a swaddling blanket. I coax my seedlings
as they stretch languid limbs for me to
prop and shield from deserving predators.
But She will resurrect, and the natives have
always been tough to kill—wave after
brave green wave claims their land back.
They raise their furious heads and set
their necks against me. I turn the earth again
and again. With May I fall to my knees and
execute them one by one, in favor of my
still-ungrateful progeny, now jailed in cages,
and I hope for harvest worthy of my effort and
the death of a thousand aborigines.

Sarah Dunster is a loyal contributor to WIZ. For a recent bio and her other entry in Spring Runoff, go here.

*Competition entry*