2018 Spring Contest Winner: 1st Place, Theme–Borders and Boundaries

Cross-Country Bus

by Charlotte Abernathy


Miles beyond midnight, beyond another state line,

past service station signs glaring from high pylons,

beyond remnants of a weary town, one last overhead

reading light clicks off. In the dark, drowsy voices

merge with the droning motor, the roaring tires.

Cold window glass rumbles hard against my forehead

as I watch moonlit hills rise and fall like ocean swells.

Distant farmhouses appear and disappear like small

boats afloat in a heaving sea. Fleeting images of shelter

comfort me all through the long unwinding night.




Judge’s comments

I was drawn to the category, Borders and Boundaries, because it is a subject that I ponder often and I often have lived in between places: countries, regions, cultures. These poems didn’t disappoint. The poets explored a lot of ground, figuratively and literally. And it was fun to explore with them. The poems that really stuck with me were those that took me someplace. The first-place poem reminded me of many Greyhound journeys: “Cross-Country Bus” captured the sounds, and the exhaustion, of those journeys as well as the simple beauty of “moonlit hills rise and fall like ocean swells.”

—M. E. Hope



Charlotte Abernathy began writing poetry after a successful 30-year career as a visual artist. Her poetry is enriched by the skills she developed as a painter—the ability to focus, pay attention, and interpret. She has earned dozens of poetry prizes, been published in several collections, and participated in readings and conferences around Oregon. She is active in the Oregon Poetry Association and Rogue Poetry Circle and has compiled six chapbooks.

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