by Mikaela Curry
Grief, a songbird in hidden heart
sorrow tempo, overture start
melody on exhalation
finding breath a new causation
acoustic anguish to impart
aching notes upon her chord chart
the beat your blood, your tune her art
distress, yet too love’s ovation
Grief, a songbird
each dawn comes chance for some restart
then comes the song, you cannot part
both cage and crowd, captivation
same reprise of realization
ringing rhythm of aching heart
Grief, a songbird
“Affannato” offers a surprising image of grief, with language that is smooth and lyrical.
Mikaela Curry is a published poet and community organizer living in eastern Kentucky, where she founded and manages a community poetry organization. She regularly performs spoken word poetry which reflects her passion for social justice and has performed alongside influential activists Angela Davis and Rev. Dr. William Barber II. Her work has been featured in exhibits and symposiums and has appeared or is forthcoming in Panoply, Eclectica, Balancing the Scales, and Meat for Tea.
by Charlotte Abernathy
While forests burn, I yearn for light,
air finally free of smoke’s choking blight.
Each day I wake with tentative fear,
draw night’s curtain from the lingering smear
still dimming my despairing sight.
I grieve for trees, for wild creatures’ plight,
pray for victims and brave souls who fight
against flames raging fast and near
while forests bum.
Nothing is untouched, nothing is right
when life is extinguished by fire’s swift might
blasting green to black ash each year.
I long for rain to rinse my world clear,
for faith to make my dread take flight
while forests burn.
“Still Burning,” in third place, considers a topic all of us in Oregon could lean into this summer, but does so with a deft touch, using the form to advance the poem.
Charlotte Abernathy began writing poetry after a successful 30-year career as a visual artist. The skills she developed as a painter (focus, attention, interpretation) have helped her poems earn many awards in local and regional competitions. She is active in the Rogue Valley chapter of OPA and in 2016 was Contest Chair for NFSPS (National Federation of State Poetry Societies). She participates regularly in readings and in two crit-groups, and has compiled several chapbooks of her work.
1st Honorable Mention: “Against Neighborhood Noise” by Cecelia Hagen, Eugene, OR
2nd Honorable Mention: “The Turning Year” by Linda Barnes, Medford, OR
3rd Honorable Mention: “Rondeau for the Millennial Whoop” by Jen Karetnick, Miami Shores, FL
Big cheers to all the OPA poets who wrote and submitted rondeaus. The catchy, musical form is not always easy to write, and with so many strong submissions, it was a tough category to judge. The winning poems both stuck to and bent the rondeau rules in different ways. I chose poems that surprised me, that used the repetition and refrain to enhance the story and musicality of the work. The finalists were all standouts, with lively images, a keen sense of sound, and an obvious joy in the form.