BAPC's 37th Annual Poetry Contest Winners
Category #1 (5 line limit) Judge: Malintha Perera
1st Prize: Bandit by Juan Sequeira, Pleasant Hill CA
2nd Prize: Heron by Eileen Malone *, Broadmoor Village CA
3rd Prize: At the Laundromat by Lisa Small *, Dublin CA
1st HM: Yosemite, May 15 by Mary McCarthy *, Oakland CA
2nd HM: tanka by Neal Whitman *, Pacific Grove CA
3rd HM: Sometimes circles close ... by Jerry Bolick *, Brisbane CA
Category #2 (15 line limit) Judge: Catfish McDaris
1st Prize: River of Delight by Dave Holt *, Concord CA
2nd Prize: The Snow Woman by Claire J. Baker *, Pinole CA
3rd Prize: Forgetting by Lisa Small *, Dublin CA
1st HM: Settling for the Earth by Catherine Moran *, Little Rock AR
2nd HM: Berkeley by Barbara Saunders *, Berkeley CA
3rd HM: Among the Five Senses by Britt Peter *, Richmond CA
Category #3 (25 line limit) Judge: Madeleine Corson
1st Prize: Make a Living as a Poet by Anita Odena Cruz, Hayward CA
2nd Prize: In the Cool of the Barn by Eileen Malone *, Broadmoor Village CA
3rd Prize: Moving Out, Moving On by Neal Whitman *, Pacific Grove CA
1st HM: Traces of Memory by Catherine Moran *, Little Rock AR
2nd HM: Sanctuary by Dave Holt *, Concord CA
3rd HM: The Cliché by Donald A. Hagelberg *, Berkeley CA
Category #4 (40 line limit) Judge: Jared Smith
1st Prize: Edith by Anita Odena Cruz, Hayward CA
2nd Prize: Observances by Dave Holt *, Concord CA
3rd Prize: Summer Eve by Catherine Moran *, Little Rock AR
1st HM: Portrait of the Machinist as a Young Man by Al Averbach *, San Francisco CA
2nd HM: Tarantula by Lori Lynne Armstrong *, Pleasant Hill CA
3rd HM: Arse Poetica (In the Flow) by Al Averbach *, San Francisco CA
* indicates BAPC Member
Special THANKS to Jan Dederick, Contest 37 Chair
Contest 37 WINNERS CELEBRATION was held in conjunction with BAPC’s monthly open reading on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at Strawberry Creek Lodge, Berkeley. Here's a group photo of the winners who were in attendance that afternoon:
Dave Holt, Barbara Saunders, Mary McCarthy, Anita Odena Cruz,
Lisa Small, Juan Sequeira, Lori Lynne Armstrong,
Britt Peter, Al Averbach
BAPC CONTEST 37 WINNING POEMS
Poems will be posted here February - April 2017
Poets retain all rights.
When I was a child in the hungry evenings
wandered the neon streets and dreamed of climbing
a pyramid staircase to the rainforest heaven
to steal a papaya star from harvest of the night
Juan R. Sequeira
As light between the shady haunches
of shallow fields of lavender decants
and a blue-gray shadow of a great blue heron
offers itself up to evaporation
—again, I think of you.
At the Laundromat
Late-night souls pause peering into dryers, half-raised from molded plastic chairs.
Drops on the fogged-up window cease tracking and sit gleaming.
Fluorescents hesitate mid-flicker.
Even his heart stops,
Yosemite, May 15
Surprised by flurries of snow, we slowly
descend Half Dome, leave no boot prints.
I recall morning sun in the valley:
glimpses of white and pink dogwood,
mother bear with cubs on the river trail.
Inspired by Henri Rousseau and Garcia Lorca
a woman and mandolin
under the moon
rumors of a warm daybreak
Gypsy music in a dream
Sometimes circles close, sometimes
incense curls the chanting voice
that calls the wish that carries the pulse
that sometimes only speaks silence.
River of Delight
One early morning, we saw Coyote
in the dry wash, hunting in Pine Creek,
as my daughter and I drove to school.
Her eyes lit up,
seeing a wild animal in the middle of town
by this last remnant of rustic road.
The day, which threatened the prospect
of another dull task, of sitting in a classroom,
To discover the River of Delight,
in a child's eyes,
to watch as Joy comes barefoot
to splash in the waters of Innocence
on its journey to Ocean beyond,
is to recover one's natural state of wonder.
The Snow Woman
She keeps on walking by
silently through the snow,
her weathered face
pale as typing paper,
footsteps heavy and slow.
How far has she been walking?
I saw her long ago.
She must have gotten lost.
Young then, I just waved
and skirted quickly past.
No one speaks of footprints,
sounds of treading that last.
Still, I see the stranger
walking through swirling snow.
She comes for me. I know.
Claire J. Baker
The sky was latticed with branches,
or maybe it was blocked
by leafy green and it was spring,
blanket at our backs
as we sprawled, spent.
The sun dappled your face, or maybe
it was slanting in sideways,
sparking on your beard,
on strands of my hair, loose
across flushed skin.
I'm forgetting the particulars on purpose,
evicting them from memory
in a hurry, shoving them out
under the crack of the door
just slammed shut.
Settling for the Earth
He offered steps along the edge of space
where planets circled in the quiet night
and comets left their trails. We could erase
the mundane room, ascending to the height
of Saturn's rings and then begin to drink
the moon from crystal goblets in the skies.
My gallant lover held us both in sync
with cosmic tales and more galactic lies.
On naked sheets we loved, and brushed away
the city's noise. His measured touch was strong
with every earthly passion he could say.
We lay in soft embrace so very long.
At dawn we kissed, but as he left, he turned
to see if starlight in my eyes still burned.
On Essex Street, you strip
and soak at 112 degrees — with strangers
Who sigh to draw your gaze to their bodies,
Posing like statues come alive —
As if being that would be more remarkable
You pause before joining the spectacle
Feel the breeze brush your hair.
The resident cat winds her body around your legs,
Weaves her loose hairs into yours
Native plants shroud the yard
They hide you better than you hide from yourself.
Among the Five Senses
The loving eye
Ultimately means acceptance
Whitman in the noisy street
The panorama, a wide acceptance
Tarn, the bay, the grass in our yard
Apricots in the high branches
The loving eye sans desire and wanting
The beauty of small hands
The aura of a nuanced voice
Make a Living as a Poet
I do not know how to make this a livelihood
as I cannot even silence the muse.
I touched the tree frogs that sing to me, making
calls: mating calls as sunlight calls.
After I buried my father, I found a nest of
eggs hidden in the old house where he
used to swing from the hammock and
whistle his old song from the last war,
whose lyrics are about a boy waiting for his
mother lost in the jungle. The fireflies
came to him to shine the light in the
footpath. The crickets gave him directions.
The howls gave encouragement and
the lizards clear the path. I followed
the tune to the bush with thorns and
and I dipped my fingers on a chili plant.
I burned my eyes after I touch them with
my red fingers. My father said: Hush..
You have a lyric to give and bless me with
moonlight - coconut milk across my eyes.
I found eggs cracked open and birds sat
under the sun. I do not know how to make
this is a livelihood. Am I dying after the muse
touched me with the tree frog's luring calls?
Anita Odena Cruz
In the Cool of the Barn
I step out of the afternoon heat
into the dark cool of the barn
a drowsy summer air swirls
manure vapors, hay, sweet urine
orphaned mice creep cobwebby
to nibble a grain sack corner
from the loft baby owl mouths
open wide, quietly ask for food
a foxtail burrows into the ear
of a sleeping calico kitten
a rustle of straw makes a claim
a hoof bangs a board, a soft neigh
how elegantly integrated these creatures
how complex, how simple, how exact
orchestrating in the cool of the barn
all the deftly dignified things they do.
Moving out, Moving on
No one was home.
I was grateful for the packed bag
and map left on the porch.
I took leave without a word -
next day reported to duty.
Two words -
Fear and Courage
These are the two ends
of one linked chain.
It is no light matter.
I wrote letters.
But, what did I want to say?
A rough sort of content -
I did not have it in me
to attempt cheerful dispatches.
Back in the real world
I struggled to get up and go on -
to five with circumstances.
That is the least I can do.
And, the most.
A turkey vulture ascends -
the current bears him away
Odysseus had it right.
It takes ten years
to return home from war.
Traces of Memory
I rearranged furniture.
Four imprints of the cabinet moved weeks ago
are still visible
in a blue carpet square by the wall.
All the finger-smoothing and cajoling
cannot totally revive those smashed fibers.
They are injured forever.
The carpet never forgets.
I plastered a hole in the kitchen wall
with the imagined artistry
of Frank Lloyd Wright
to blend the patchwork with sheetrock.
White on white
should leave no trace of imperfection.
I can still see the faint traces of a line.
Walls will not forget.
Sharp words and critical comments
from a loved one
leave their own marks on my space.
I smooth those invisible lines
so no one else will notice or remember.
But I am forever a fiber of the carpet
and a splinter of the wall.
The imprints remain.
So many years
like nomads in a desert,
wandering with no place
to lay our heads,
until we arrived in this
Night in the meadow,
quarter moon adrift,
tangled in the pines
like sighs and dreams,
I'm sifting clues.
Chill air rolls in,
from a faraway sea;
fog-damp on the anise weed
awakens sweet fragrance.
Foxes return to their dens.
Owl to its roost,
But the cratered moon
puts on a hard face;
denies us sanctuary,
marches out of our sky.
Acknowledge the cliché
which is said everyday.
Unwind what it says. Then twist up
the flowered words in such a way
so that they smell like a new bouquet,
never known by any nose before.
Something which you don't dare
to write, to speak, to pray.
Then walk away! Walk away!
Come to re-type on that
write-day which mirrors today:
the day on which you laid
down upon nude pages
the wisdom of the new sage.
Don’t delay! Don’t delay!
The life of value lives so that nothing
goes unseen, hence no one becomes
a sentence repeated in litany
known as the un-thought-of cliché.
Donald A. Hagelberg
I remember the warning not to get off the last train car—
— railroad sign scolding me from the last train station.
I counted the minutes with cold silences- that night
— the train entered the yawning mouth of a river
which— colonized my dreams with dead eyes of the fish.
The last time, I visited you said you trapped the fireflies
in your room— which filtered the air with fishermen's nets
—and gave me enough electricity to soothe the heat.—
"—Don't be afraid of grandma Noning" . I see Uncle Liberate
whose future is not disguised in his sleep. — I will be a doctor
he said where the school has a tower with a nest of eggs.
--A place where men speak a language of tiny bag brown birds
—the hands of women pulling the sticky purple cakes before
eating them. —the dance where I scrape my sides againstthe
trunks of tamarind trees. I cannot still see you in thedarkthe
warning not to get off from the last car to a yawning
mouth of a river-or hang myself from the railroad tracks.
The railroad sign scolding me from the last railroad mile as
I counted the minutes with cold silences — it is not over.
Before the sun rises— moonlight on the trees, I cannot
shimmy up the gnarled chico trees for the brown fruit-.
I still cannot touch - the fireflies soothe you from the long
summer heat before the moon dies—sunlight on branches—I can
climb as a lizard to feel the heat- energy like railroad tracks-
I can hear the crickets singing another the long pampas
Anita Odena Cruz
From the muggings and thuggery,
life within the big picture,
I learned hard-earned humility.
Myself, I think of as forward trending,
gently bending. Body blows taught me
our perceptions cannot be depended on
as true ... necessarily.
I've boxed with God's shadow,
lived in his light, attempted retreat,
predisposed to contemplations,
punctilious clicking, one bead against another,
mulling over a myriad of truisms
I recited like careful rosaries,
repeating things that earn
blessings and approval,
unsure of their right fit
for the moment I'm in.
I don't know if my prayer ascends.
I shade burning eyes
from the flash of sky..
Try not to misread the horizon.
Found out I must in some measure
still trust. Must rely
on insights I personally own;
can't take him at his divine word.
Time to act, use the passion
that lives in our bones;
rehearse the instincts.
Speak from authentic knowledge.
Put away the scattered yarrow stalks,
Chinese coins, the thrown dice. Move
through the open door before it closes,
turn the sticking wheel,
give it to your Spirit Guide,
a guardian, an ally, someone who can steer.
Put pedal to the metal. Drive on towards dawn.
August night stretches to the end of black
with only a few starpoints
flickering like left-handed pieces of glass.
Dark pastes my skin
to yards of tangled sheets.
The spicy smell of persimmons
pushes back the curtains with warm fingers
beckoning me outside.
I pause at the windowsill,
but can't resist pursuing the fragrance
wafting through the languor of the evening.
So I slip out alone.
Only the tree bark notices my bare feet
starting out across the rolling yard
crushing rows of clover.
The night garden sits unprotected
on the lower rim of the field
listening to my approach with a furtive stare.
I am on the path to forbidden fruit.
The ripe persimmon tree is silhouetted
as if from ancient times on the edge of knowledge.
Dark leaves drape down over orbs of gold
poised at the end of every bowed branch.
Perfume radiates in curved swirls
drawing any wanderer into the pleasure.
I curve a branch just outlining the moon
and bite the rounded side of one perfect fruit.
Rich juices trickle along my skin,
dripping through waiting fingers
like forgotten grace.
Evening darkness whispers beginning verses
heard centuries ago of good and evil
in every bite,
but this time I won't share.
Portrait of the Machinist as a Young Man
(for Jannie Dresser)
flew his machines like swifts
Who came night shift
engine music in his hands
Geared his drills,
pirouetted his steel squares
lightly on loose oil
Foot-pressed them to shape and face,
punched perfect handle holes,
carved smooth open O's
for rolling out mimeos
Steady and precisionist:
cut, trim, drill, bunparades
of ribbon shred,
metal shimmied into curls
Hour after hour
side to side, stack to stack
at piece-work speed
and night differential
only for a cigarette
a half-hour lunch at 2
and only for the dawn
Gliding out of the lot,
metallurge, guiding his Impala
half-awake Chicago streets
Shifting up, syncing down,
I imagine racing lights,
wheel a compass in his hands
It was one of those modeling shows, where every week
one girl who fails to please is sent away.
For this week's photo shoot, each had to pose
with a live tarantula upon her face
because, of course, now who would want a woman
who can't look beautiful and hot like that?
One model nearly got sent home right then,
she was much more afraid than all the rest.
Coaxed into trying it, she persevered,
good girl they said, and when the judges ruled
her picture was admired and she stayed.
In the still shot, she lay there with bedroom eyes
One eye at least, the other one was covered
by the plump sectioned body of the spider
the jointed legs curved over her smooth cheek,
their spiky hairs like her mascaraed lashes
and she was lovely, no one could deny it
and nowhere could you see the pleading tears
or all her hyperventilating panic
or shoulders bowed with shame as she was lectured
or sneering glances of her competition
but the thing is, I remembered, so I knew
how she felt to have that on her face,
the desperate whispers in her mind, lie still
How much it took to lie there, so compliant.
It's ruined fashion shots for me, you know,
more than a library of women's studies,
because I just can't unsee that damn spider.
I can't not see it, though it isn't there
on the billboard or the glossy catalog
or even on the eager, made-up face
of someone out on yet another date.
I can't not hear the echo of lie still,
I can't not hear the echo of don't scream.
Lori Lynne Armstrong
Arse Poetica (In the Flow)
As I write
My shirt is shrinking
Up my back.
Plum with brandy-poems
Each to each.
I'm weeding the garden
With my mind
And deep-planting similes
To explode in reader light.
My reach, never longer
Nor more sure:
In fact right now
On Ocean Avenue,
Pen in tow.
To the tell,
To the next big bender,
To every after-thought
From every bar that's closed.
Start a sonnet.
ABOUT THE JUDGES
Malintha Perera is an established poet whose work is featured in numerous journals. She writes haiku, tanka, cherita, micropoetry as well as longer poems. Her first published haiku book, An Unswept Path (2015) is a collection of monastery haiku. She resides in Sri Lanka with her family.
Catfish McDaris' best readings were in Paris at the Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore and with Jimmy “the ghost of Hendrix” Spencer in NYC on 42nd St. He’s done over 20 chaps in the last 25 years. He’s been in the New York Quarterly, Slipstream, Pearl, Main St. Rag, Café Review, Chiron Review, Zen Tattoo, Wormwood Review, Great Weather For Media, Silver Birch Press, Mas Tequila Review, and Graffiti and been nominated for 15 Pushcarts, Best of Net in 2010 and 2013, he won the Uprising Award in 1999, and won the Flash Fiction Contest judged by the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2009. Also in The Louisiana Review, George Mason Univ. Press, and New Coin from Rhodes Univ. in South Africa. He’s recently been translated into Spanish, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Mandarin, Bengali, Yoruba, Tagalog, and Esperanto. His 25 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette Univ. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Madeleine Corson: Part anthropologist, agriculturist, and storyteller, creative director Madeleine Corson leads a design studio in San Francisco. Projects range from a five-inch piece of art that conveys the essential story behind a wine and its place of origin, to producing more than 35 books including a 300-page guideline for the preservation of Yosemite National Park, journals for Stanford University's Fine Art Museum, and a two-volume series for the American Institute of Wine, Food & the Arts. She is a co-founder of the West Marin Review, an awarded literary and arts journal that she and her team design and edit, with a small group of volunteer editors from Point Reyes Station. www.corsondesign.com
Jared Smith's 12th and 13th volumes of poetry will be released in 2017. He is Poetry Editor of Turtle Island Quarterly, and has served on a number of the country’s leading literary magazines, including The New York Quarterly, Home Planet News, The Pedestal Magazine, and Trail & Timberline, as well as serving on the boards of literary and arts non-profits in New York, Illinois, and Colorado. His work has appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies in this country, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and China. www.jaredsmith.info
A LOOK BACK AT LAST YEAR
Contest 36 Winners in attendance at the 2/6/16 celebration in Berkeley.
Pictured left to right:
Dave Holt, Jan Dederick (contest chair), Sherry Sheehan, Claire J. Baker (crouching),
Daniel Philip Brady, Mary McCarthy, Gary Turchin, Norma King Green, C.O. McCauley
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