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Poetry Contest 2021: Honorable Mentions

Winners and honorable mentions for the Grace Doherty Library's free verse poetry contest!

"Black Coffee" by Ella Treinen

Encapsulating woman with honey for skin and embers in your temper,
It’s okay to be hard on the eyes, a challenge to the mind and a threat to the heart.
Black coffee may burn our throats on the way down, but the adrenaline rush is undeniable.
Emphasize your beautiful brain so that the external layers fall away before they can be claimed by someone that isn’t your bedroom mirror.

Remember your roots.

You were born as a being of strength out of a woman who drips in it,
From the moment you saw the world with eyes fresh out of a new roll of quarters not yet tarnished, you were in the toughest of hands. They cradled you until you could bask in your own autonomy.

Immediately, you experienced that pain is inevitable and necessary in obtaining the lovely things.
Because you, lovely thing, are a gift to be earned.
Thank god for mothers.

Even the men whose efforts to defend their superiority scream “all hail the patriarchy” were born because a woman’s body was not only a beautiful temple where life is created, but because a woman decided to use it to give the world a gift of semi-permanence.

If you walk with the knowledge that you were born out of the strength of a woman, you walk with the duty to uphold the expectation that women are a species to be defended, to be respected, to be unconditionally equal.


"the space in between" by Julia Long

will you walk the deepest scars on earth?
do you think of the earth as scarred?
I think she is.
you will go where forgotten oceans have pressed
impressions of bone in rock and
the trees and people who are hearty enough to survive are
crusty and tough like rounds of flatbread you’ll roll
shaggy between your palms.
you’ll wake at the call of a snow leopard and
slip out of your frost-covered sleeping bag
into a night like a spider’s web after a storm.
you will fill your lungs with thin air, press
your heels to the roots of the world.
will you feel her heartbeat?

you will sample smoke and chase it with a shot of cloud,
watch fire and burning rock shoot skyward until
the echoes of light smolder on your eyelids in your dreams
and sharp-sweet-bitter chocolate
ash coats the back of your tongue.
your bones will be at home with the way the world shakes;
it pulses in time with the blood in your blisters; this rhythm
of eruption – is this her heartbeat?
in a basin of charcoal and stone, ghosts and bone-turned-to-ash,
you will hold frozen lava in your palm, still hot
enough to singe your skin and
it will be hard not to think that
the nature of nature is to
burn; destroy; scar; storm; die.

you’ll remember:
the weathered trees who hold tight enough to a
planet-old supply of shattered stone to
withstand avalanches of wind, who thrive
where air is so thin a flight
of stairs will leave you retching;
the new plants around the rim of the burnt basin
whose leaves are spiky and
stubborn, the brightest green
you’ll ever see, whose roots dig into
memory and porous stone.

because there can’t be fossils without bones or
germination without burns; no autumn
without fallen leaves; no snow leopard
without dead marmots and
at some point you will realize
the nature of nature is a comma, not a full stop.
how can there be a heartbeat
without a pause in between?

"Twelve" by Benjamin Link

God help the day when innate love is called a base distraction
And God help the day when Pacifists
Are charged with inaction
And God Help The Day
When Common People throng
To Gnashing, Slashing Factions
That day is feared by observant men
Unless they’re unco hopeful
Dopeful or Popeful
Unless wise men are unco hopeful
They expect that day with fear

And dread the day when working men
Are thrashed like working horses
And dread the day when peasants bow
To cruel and crooked forces
And dread the day
when crunching streets are paved
With Compressed Beggars’ Corpses
Nearly now; Sinew lines the city
Oh, Pity. I bid ye
On death don’t ever build a city
Or else that dreadful day draws near

Sad’s the day when haughty brats
Do shun their poor old mothers
And sad’s the day that curious thought
With violent haste is smothered
And sad’s the day
When everything that lives
Is hated by someone or other
And so, fine fellows, I hope to reach you
Preach to & teach to
To heed the Hypocrites advice
And shun the hate-filled, violent throng
With humble heart now, “I beseech you
In the Bowels of Christ
Consider that you may be wrong.”