Many of this month’s winning poems are written at the intersection of darkness and dawn. While the subject matter is often sad, there is a revelation in the discovery.
Each month the Cape Cod Times holds a poetry contest open to all Cape Codders and judged by a panel of published poets. The deadline for our next contest is July 1st. The rules of participation are below.
Meet the local poets:
Bernadette Waystack is above all a visual artist who occasionally paints images with words. She lives in Harwich Port where she maintains a studio at 204 Sisson Road in Harwich. Living by the ocean feeds his soul.
Inspiration: The inspiration for “Between Two Oceans” comes from time spent on both, at home on Nantucket Sound and in the US Virgin Islands.
Between two oceans
By Bernadette Waystack
I live between two oceans
In my mind
And sometimes in reality.
The cold overseas of the North Atlantic, my permanent place
Nantucket Sound softening to a warm gray-green in the summer,
liquid folds of sunny aquamarine that I observe with rapt attention but rarely enter.
No “ocean view” for me
but I can smell his brackish breath and hear his mumblings of anger
from my garden,
Grateful to respect this shore even though I fear what lies below.
Its dark depths signify home.
And still the tropical turquoise of the Caribbean calls like a siren’s song
And in winter’s icy grip, I yearn for its silky viridian frond.
“Starfishing” myself, I spread out, floating in the same scorching sun, spreading my fingers and toes
Absorb everything. Soak everything.
Save it till the next time I can bask in this salty belly
regardless of what else moves through the currents with me
A fantasy I can sometimes live in for a while
I live between two oceans
In my mind
And I am at peace.
Bruce Taub lives in Orléans and mainly writes legal briefs.
Inspiration: In this poem, I was inspired to portray in words and visual images the contrasts provided by the receding and advancing seasons and life and death on our shores.
when spring comes, the ice flows from the bay
By Bruce Taub
when spring comes
the ice comes out of the bay
but not the dead dolphin.
something gnaws at him,
parts of his tail have disappeared,
a creature with sharp claws
opened a gash in the soft belly of the dolphin
from which still fall red entrails
on the flattened marsh grass
and what was once beautifully poetic
the promise of resurrection eradicated
of what’s left,
and what remains
is what is never more,
when the ice is flowing.
Lisa McNeill lives in Yarmouth Port with her husband and rescue dog and writes with Dune Hollow Writers.
Inspiration/Motivation: This poem came after the mass shooting at Tops Market in Buffalo after so many shootings in our country. I wrote this before filming in Uvalde, Texas at Robb Elementary School, but I think we all had a clear feeling that there would be more mass shootings. It comes from a feeling of hopelessness. In the absence of gun control laws, what else is there?
Mercy in the absence of solutions
By Lisa McNeill
another loss another tragedy
take elemental innocence
and turning it over.
He was not an original author
nor the last bearer of sorrow and anger.
Bound to bring it back
to a new childhood
where field lines disappear
and the path that touches the darkness
only touch it
feel the shiver of damp wet locks
of deception before turning
understand the wink of lights
are there by grace.
May wide and infinite mercy
of this spectacular and beleaguered universe
be enough to hold both
the innocent and the guilty.
Arthur Eri Stewart lives in Chatham. He is a World War II veteran and author of five books.
Inspiration: “Facing 96” was written the day before my birthday as I was reflecting on that time in my life. I believe this answers a question we all need to answer as we age.
By Arthur Eri Stewart
I’m ninety-six and I’m really trying to make up my mind
Should I live in the past or watch the future unfold
You might think I don’t have much choice, but I do
There may still be stories I haven’t told yet.
Stories of choices I’ve made in my life, stories of people
Which I admired, and which I could not control.
My Mother, my Father, my Sister, my Brothers,
My aunts, my uncles, my cousins, I seem to be the last.
My wife, Elizabeth, who treated and saved lives in Korea
Who came home and married me for thirty-one years.
My friends, my children who are many years younger,
You see it’s their future that I want to make last longer.
Maybe I think too much, in my life I always looked
forward. So I have to finish the last pages of my book.
Well there you go, I can’t wait, so be okay
good cheer. It has been a full life and I have loved my children.
Add to that my six grandchildren whom I also love dearly.
So why shouldn’t I look ahead without fear?
It’s like building a house, we keep going until it’s finished and
when that’s done, your job seems done.
So join me with mom, two vets together and take
shelter our flag and keep it forever.
Orléans is the home of Ginia Pati. Her poetry has been featured in WCAI, WOMR, collections/anthologies and the Cape Cod Cultural Center.
Inspiration: Inspired by the eerie stillness of waking up to a black and white world of winter’s first heavy snowfall…every detail etched into a frozen abstraction, erasing a world of color.
By Ginia Pati
Rigid ebony lines stretch across frozen sets
dazzling ice reflections of arctic summer
the angles of the iceberg become motionless shadows
out of breath despite the incessant winds
everything is fixed, even the planetary rotation
stops to wait for the snow bunting or tern’s wing
The fiery orange of my jacket sleeve
insinuates the flame against the tinplate
patches of ice long stiffened by a harsh silence
faint wisps of damp breath can’t come out of their portals
the earth and all creatures remain hypnotized
until the spinning cosmos resumes.
A 10th grade student writes a poem
By Margaret Rice Moir
Peyton’s poem is not a child’s poem. He don’t dance off the page on light feet
It’s not exuberant (editor notes she’s in grade 10)….maybe 16.
But it is not a poem that contemplates a world of extravagant possibilities.
It is a gray poem. She writes how her tears gently fall on the wavy surface of the pond
where she watches her smooth face bend to the movement of the water.
She speaks of isolation, weariness and feeling unknown.
These are the thoughts of the elderly. Embittered people. Peyton is too young
to imagine the vaporous bottom of the lake. Too young to hold his breath for so long.
Too young to see what takes years to learn: that the adult world has betrayed her.
I think we stole his childhood. I’d switch places with her if I could,
give her my life, just to make sure she survives.
How to submit your poem
Here’s how to send us your work:
Submit one poem, single-spaced, 35 lines or less per month.
Poems cannot be previously published (in print or online).
The deadline for the next submission is July 1, 2022.
Submit by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Poems must be free of hate speech and swear words (profanity, vulgarity, obscenity).
IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL, send your contact details: name, address, telephone number and title of the poem; then, IN A WORD .DOC ATTACHMENT includes a poem without a name or any other personal information, so the poem can be judged anonymously.
Poets who have not previously been published in the Cape Cod Times are invited to submit a new poem each month; these poets previously published in The Times, three months after their publication.
Poets will only be notified if their poem is accepted.
Poems will be selected by a panel of Cape Town and Island readers who are published poets and editors.