46th Annual Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition Results



Title Poet
Gas Station Alex Cersosimo
The Evening Stroll Rachel Mueller
What If Mothers Kept Children In Lockets? Rachel Mueller
The Penguin That Flew - Honorable Mention Evelyn Widmaier

High School Undergraduates

Title Poet
The Wavering of Childhood in the Gaze of the Moon Kat Neis
Christmas Eve Michelle Plumstead
Ten Ways of Looking at a Forest Anne Nesbitt
Call of the Wild - Honorable Mention Michelle Plumstead

Graduate Students Adults

Title Poet
Grand River Chris Galford
January Robin Kristin Brace
Cousin Scott Jill Marcusse
Just Visiting - Honorable Mention Kristin Brace

Gas Station

By Alex Cersosimo

It's metal door won't stop clashing with the wall.  It just sits there in the middle of an empty  parking lot that has cement cracks like dry skin in dry weather. The owner doesn't bother putting up new roofing. He just throws a metal sheet on top. The road in front stretches into the burning ball of flame that is in the sky. The broken down beast has a tumbleweed that waltzes across the front by drifting on pockets of air. Birds take refuge in a pile of metal, cobwebs and the tumble weeds. The gates that have been trespassed so many times have just been tossed to the sidelines of the ghost building. The wind eats away at the paint and makes the metal scraps shed its skin. It has been used as a refugee camp countless times with cigarettes and cans all over the floor.  The old Frappe machine is unplugged and is now a house of mice. If you look at the floorboards they are cracking, snapping, and popping just like rice crispy cereal. These are the ingredients to make a deserted gas station.  At night it transforms into the silhouette of a monster trudging through darkness, as the wind picks up.

The Evening Stroll

By Rachel Mueller

The Evening Stroll The old couple on the sidewalk Arm in arm, small steps shuffling forward. Each dressed in their Sunday best. He in a wool striped sweater, She in a sleeveless, long, black, dress. Hair, his white, hers black, carefully parted. The old couple on the sidewalk, Offering little “Hello theres” to passers-by, Unfazed by an insistent dog, Who yips continually until his owner intervenes. They could be someone’s grandparents. The elderly woman, offering shy smiles at children playing, The old man, white-haired and gruff, As his set mouth implies. But kind, in seeing how his wife is, Glancing over, leading her around branches. I want to stop and talk to them, Get to know and care for them, But I can’t bring myself to interrupt Their short evening walks.

What If Mothers Kept Children In Lockets

By Rachel Mueller

What if mothers kept children in lockets? Would that become common practice, or would only certain people do it? Would they keep them in hearts to remind children of their love, or a circle to show commitment? I know mothers will only do what they deem right, even "locking" children up for safe-keeping? Would mothers keep children from growing up? From high school dances, and baseball? I can just hear an old woman, at 180, saying, "I was kept in that locket a hundred years!"

The Penguin That Flew

By Evelyn Widmaier

The Penguin That Flew Penguins can’t fly, and that is that. It’s common knowledge, it’s a point of fact.

But there was one penguin, who did what others couldn’t do, the first of her kind, the penguin that flew.

She couldn’t do it they said, it just wasn’t right. You can’t be that bird, you can’t take flight.

How do you know? You’ve never tried! To see what it’s like, to soar and glide.

The places we’d go! The things we’d see! The other birds do it, so why shouldn’t we? I know I can do it! I know I can fly! So she stepped to the edge, and decided to try.

She took one last look back at her home, the only place that she knew. And then she jumped, and she flew.

The Wavering of Childhood in the Gaze of the Moon

By Kat Neis

i. My father is here now, so I leave, his presence reflected in the face

of a cardinal moon, arching as my feet step, sure in the tide. Collect those

catclaw shells before he slips beneath a bed of white roses, these shells his shrine.

Catch the gold in my mother’s gaze as I walk up the dune, the sawgrass gnawing

at the fragile phyllo-dough of my ankles. The gray-blue of the lake fills in the gaps

of flesh between my toes with transparency. A hike over the sand ripples threads

through rows of dune grass, sage misty at the edges, treads under thorn bushes,

curves past blueberry fields, bushes burnt orange, fingertips stained the color of a purple

thundercloud, its rain trapped between flesh and nail. My father never picked blueberries

with us. He never felt the blend of sun and berries, the vibrato of a Japanese beetle disturbed,

emerald sheath iridescent. We disrupted a beehive then. Now, I reach a house tucked

between fir trees and blueberry bushes and I step around its grayed cedar planks,

avoiding the messy stickiness of honeycomb and memory, lingering, then washed away.

ii. My sister is running now, her coltish legs blurred in a mix of sand-dust and motion.

While she’s gone, he’s slicing melon with the serrated-edge bread knife. It’s jagged

like the sand rolls on the dune from a heavy wind. When she slams the door, we’re trapped —

he’s still slicing melon, edges rusted, and I wish I could crack open the air

that seems to fill the crooked spaces between our shaky breaths.

iii. Some nights, I follow him like some people follow stray dogs — fawn-like, fingers loose in his hands —

but I cannot capture him like he captured seashells. He is too translucent. Even now, the blood-orange

of a sunset seems to slide through his flesh and wraps me in a light I no longer feel.

iv. I’m torn between blueberries and raspberries, between fir trees and cerulean waters, between

what’s ahead and what’s behind, but still as scared as the seagulls’ calls above. I step into shallows,

my feet scraping knife-like rocks. I am bleeding berry juice. I’m afraid I’ll shrivel in the bottom

of a blueberry pail from the heat of the sun. My mother is the vein of cotton at the water’s edge, illuminated

by a nickel moon above. She says she only remembers him with her toes in the sand, pointillism studded in flesh.

So I run down to the lake, touch my toes back in time. The water shines with feathered whitecaps. The gulls fly faster

than I can recollect, swifter than I can piece together broken sand-dollar halves to make the wholes I never find.

A wave slides over my feet, filling freshwater in the cracks of my memory fading and my indecision wavering.

Christmas Eve

By Michelle Plumstead

On Christmas Eve at dusk as the snow fell in slow, heavy clumps, we buzzed by a barcode of poplars, and I bent my body into a book, we hit a deer.

Two thumps and it was done, and before I could separate the source of the jarring from the New England town on my page, they were all outside. My father kicked the cracked bumper once, yelled Merry Fucking Christmas, bent down and in one fluid motion ripped off the dragging plastic parts. As he jammed the broken pieces in the trunk, my eyes found the tufts of tan fur yanked and tucked like lining in cracks, found them through a mask of my own breath condensing and I began to know what had happened. But my brother he already knew, had known from the moment, had already made his way fifty feet down the road.

My nineteen year old brother, who was coming off a summer of spitting venom and a night in jail, found the place where drops of blood pooled in inch deep impressions of hooves. He stood there frozen to its death bellow in the shadows of the snow.

When we finally pried him from the spot, the place where acid burnt into purple twilight— my father dragging him by the arm— all he could manage was stuttered blinking.

But, after my father slammed the door and as we drove away, Daniel was silent, bent his freckled neck and glued his blue eyes to the shadows passing and I swear I could hear the glass inside him somewhere breaking.

Ten Ways of Looking at a Forest

Anne Nesbitt

I Blissful like a child who climbed a tree.

II Golden, rubicund, emerald leaves huddled against the cold at the base of an oak.

III The willow tree sways its branches and leaves in the mid summer breeze.

IV A great owl dives daringly, claws digging into the bottom of a branch, as it hunts moles making their midnight homes around and under the roots of a tree.

V Strokes of Impressionist’s brush make mighty oak forests, simply.

VI Life is lived deep in the dirt away from the soot that the fronds filter from the atmosphere.

VII Red wood stretching its fingers to reach clouds. Ancients crying out to a god above to save their souls, sun. Green wood just learning to lift its arms to reach the canopy. Infant reaching for its mother, sky.

VIII Blue jays dive bombing cardinals and chickadees in a snow laden bare birch.

IX Seeds like blades and colored leaves cherry, coffee, olive, butter, drop down on the fire we built together in the hardwood ash, birch, maple, sycamore, forest.

X The oaks she tore down now resemble cranes, turtles, lizards, and marlin. Mangrove roots were ripped from the waters too, by a girl named Katrina. We named those trees after her.

Call of the Wild

Michelle Plumstead

The summer I began drowning in air I worked at a museum of mounted animals The oldest Bill pulled them at flea markets, won them at the kind of auctions that sold dead things, pearls, and portraits of dead people. And sometimes, at midnight he’d take a shovel and scrape them off the sides of county roads, throw their carcasses and broken bones in a cooler and hit the gas. He let his legacy grow for forty years let it multiple like bacteria even after he died let it invade and creep into a collection of sixty glass cases, an wild elegy to frozen death, let it lead and grow and then stagnate into the summer the air conditioning broke, the summer I stood tearing tickets, punching tags, and folding shirts, heat pressing down on us like stones. quickening our own decay, sweltering in a stink. The summer I cooked and simmered and solidified behind that counter, let the lockbox lump in my throat steal my voice and smiled sweetly as tourists filed by with swollen bellies, bleached hair, and knockoff purses, took pictures of themselves with dead deer to file away in albums and boxes back home. That was the summer of the London Olympics and movie theater shootings, when I started losing clumps of hair in the shower, felling fistfuls each time I unwound my bun. I knew it was a moment of undoing when I turned out the lights and felt their glass eyes and balding bodies sink into me.

Grand River

Chris Galford

Today the rain stripped us to the spring of youth along the frothing Grand— baptism followed in the howl of the world, a thousand colorful children proclaiming anarchy in lieu of worlds—no inheritance, none, just a desire for the kiss of the Polish girl down the block who unfurled with the falling a womanhood of steel and fire none had known the grass singing bare foot songs to the sun over the gargle of factory stacks looming like judges over the procession. There is no melody, no tears, only lost souls twined in the sanctuary of depth no island or reprieve but panted blessings on a crude gray beach when we returned to Earth and lay burning on a pile of clothes, silently dressing for the days ahead.

January Robin

Kristin Brace

Birds wrap ribbons of song             through their feathers for warmth.       Rain drops quiver

on leafless boughs.       A train cuts through car murmur

turning the dark places of the body blue as iodine.

            I am here, second story, disappearing.                   Waiting

for the one true thing.

      Magnesium to the skin makes the cells sing summer. But I

have old woman bones. Even my dress is the color of moss.

                        The train

into Bologna: my head

      on your shoulder, sunlight,       a bag of meat and cheese and bread.

If you kept traveling east,       would you always be ahead of

time?             Ah,

      chartreuse: color of light turning new leaves to gold. Forget

the beetles swimming in frozen amber. I want

      to eat a color             that means life.

Jill Marcusse

Cousin Scott

Cousin Scott walks the same field

where, as a five year old farm boy sent to pull burdock, he’d fallen into nettles, thrashed crazed until his brothers wrestled him into the creek, the most delicious feeling of his life.

This fine September day, he crosses that creek walking to the far pasture to bring the sheep in. A clump in the grass, startling as a snake, he stumbles on a body decomposing.

He’d seen dead bodies before in Vietnam. Refused to leave many some said were as good as dead filling the helicopter way past what they said would lift off.

So later, when the green-faced sheriff asks him if he could check the pocket of the corpse for ID, he does.

He’d been asked to do worse.

Just Visiting

Kristin Brace

  If time sanctifies,     why do we not kneel in bashful       reverence before trees?

  And then, with knees still clean with       dirt, stand palm to palm, gaze     to gaze, and travel backward, sinking

  inward to the place our      baby animal spirits       met     (cloudy eyes, pink tongues).

  We have known each other          forever. Remember

  the yellow guest room, the damp sheets,     where you held me and wrenched        the jagged shard from my chest?   If time heals, why can't it just

hurry up?       (In the woods, a doe licks             her fawn's wound to

  stop its bleeding.)

  That evening, we played dominoes, paving     paths across the continent of the table. I wanted

  to stand them on end like slippery       tombstones, hold my breath, and tick     the first with my fingernail, infant       dictator's delight at the regimented   clatter.