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.
soddo ethiopia 1
by Brad Canfield
the sun disintegrates in a ditch a pile of clothes that are no longer any real color the sound of wind in metal wash tubs the sound of the sun on yellow jugs lined up at the well the sound of painted soccer balls swinging in a net from the coffee shop porch the sound of red termites flitting over piles of bananas in wooden carts the sound of river water washing the small blue taxis the sound of diesel fumes that shimmer through the sunlight disintegrating in the ditch and then rise to you on your seat of colors
I love this first-place poem—the accumulation of details, the surprise, the wonderful ending. How can this be a new poet?
Brad Canfield lives in Philomath, at the foot Mary’s Peak, and has been writing poetry for 18 years. He recently spent two years living in southern Ethiopia with his wife, their two sons and the family dog, at the foot of Mount Demota. His experience in Africa deeply impacted his approach to poetry and has pushed him to write poems focused on the metaphysical aspects of living in Oregon as compared to living in Ethiopia.