2019 Spring Contest Winner: 3rd Place, Members Only

Roadtrip, Interstate 65

by Sallie Ehrman

On the cusp of forty, I’m dating a man who starts

his day with a cigarette and coffee. Outside the laundry room,

Motel 6, Louisville, Kentucky, I can hear him laugh out loud

watching Cheers. How many Pete’s Summer Ales

will he drink tonight? It’s hot and he’s been driving all day.

 

We’ve only been together five months. My daughter,

six years old, calls him Da-Da. He lets her change channels

and buys her orange soda. I don’t stop him. Here comes

my girl wrapped in a thick towel after swimming. We listen

to traffic and washing machines.

 

With chalk from my backpack I draw a miniature USA.

I tell her where to stand, Louisville. Our city, Bisbee,

Arizona, is where she stretches to, almost falling over.

When I suggest that we walk home or hitch a ride, she giggles.

But I know how drunk he can get.

 

Poet bio

One of Sallie Ehrman’s favorite activities as a poet is to teach poetry. Currently, she teaches two different 4th grade classes once a month. Her grandson is in one of the classes, which brings her special joy. She also teaches her cut-up poetry method in adult education classes.

2019 Spring Contest, Members Only: Honorable Mentions and Judge’s Comments

Honorable mentions:

1st Honorable Mention: “Jill Reaches Maturity” by Ann Magill, Ashland, OR

2nd Honorable Mention: “Once” by Sherri Levine, Portland, OR

3rd Honorable Mention: “Killjoy” by Lucy Cotter, Portland, OR

Judge’s comments

One of the things I continue to admire about the Oregon poetry community is its range in personal narratives, technique, and style. In this year’s “Members Only” category, family narratives were shuffled in with lyrically challenging poems, haiku with prose poems, and so on. This bounty of styles speaks to the health and expansiveness of Oregon poetry. In my selections, I found myself narrowing down based on what brought me closer to the page, whether that be a personal lyric rendered in such a way as to paint a clear image of a love relationship, to poems whose recasting of fictional characters in one case and whose singular take on form in another had me learning something about structure as well as joy. These poems as a whole represent gifts of voice. I am honored to have spent time with them.

José Angel Araguz

2019 Spring Contest Winner: 1st Place, Poet’s Choice

Maps

by Jennifer Dorner

Halfway across the bridge,

       where cranes punctuate the air,

 

I regard the skyline

       I’ve been taught to believe in.

 

I’m holding on

       to the smell of the rain; I mean

 

I left the city

       and keep leaving, apologizing

 

for what I’ve done,

       ghosting into some small town

 

to bury my wishes

       in boxes and count the raindrops,

 

five—tiny nothingness

       against the glass. Pinpricks

 

like the metal tacks

       on a restaurant wall dotting color

 

across a printed map

       where I trace the old street names,

 

east of the freeways,

       and pin my familiar square corner

 

of blue.

 

Judge’s comments

“Maps”, which won me over immediately, dressed its clean, simple bones with deceptively complex and highly metaphorical images. “I’m holding on / to the smell of rain.” Such a humble line. Such a profoundly emotional sentiment. “I left the city / and keep leaving, apologizing / for what I’ve done.” What the narrator has done isn’t stated. It isn’t important. We’ve all done things we should be sorry for. “Maps” radiates uncertainty and love, guilt and forgiveness, internal and external landscapes. It blisters, scorches, and heals in 21 short lines, each word carrying its own weight and the weight of the entire poem.

—John Sibley Williams

Poet bio

Jennifer Dorner’s poetry has appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Cloudbank, Sugar House Review, Timberline Review, The Inflectionist Review, Verseweavers, and VoiceCatcher. She was a finalist in the 2016 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2018 Hedgebrook Writers in Residence Program. She is an MFA student at Pacific University.