Poetry 99

Adult winners

Lloyd Conn

Lloyd Conn

Photo By jason cassidy

First Place

See Below

Some titles invite us to pass by
without alarm. They shed attention

like honest opinions of thoughtful people,
like identical icons lined up

for the week’s weather, summer continuing
unremarkably hot, like the gas station

we breeze by, favoring the next,
as if choosing, chocolate, vanilla,

or like the morning report of yesterday’s
bombing in a town in some desert country,

one Marine, the unnamed son of some family
we can’t possibly know, killed, also,

a sizable number of foreigners,
most of them said to be civilians.

Lloyd Conn

Lloyd’s winning Poetry 99 entry is the first poem he’s ever had published. The retired Butte County employee says he writes because he enjoys the process, and he said that he entered this poem because he felt might be the right fit. “[I thought] this is probably the kind of thing the News & Review would like to look at because it’s socio-political.” He was right!

Second Place

Two Lines Borrowed from Rumi

Joanne Allred

Photo By meredith j. cooper

You were once a swan singing
north, voice in a chorus, holding
your place like a high note
in wavering formation.
You gave yourself up
to the movement
of seasons, to magnetic force
pulling you elsewhere.
There was a destination
but it was no concern.
You were simply wingstroke and song.
The surge of spring—everything
growing again—was inside
you too, lifting.
The flock was of one mind
that dawn you wheeled from the lake
where you’d wintered: one
with the pale sky, the pearly haze
where only birdcall is distinct in the hush
before the rising sun.

Joanne Allred

While this is the first CN&R writing contest she’s entered, Joanne is no stranger to being published. The retired Chico State English professor’s poetry has appeared in several journals and garnered awards that include the Writers at Work Poetry Prize and the Breadloaf Scholarship. She also has two published books of Poetry—Whetstone and Particulate.

Dylan Orion Burge

photo courtesy of Dylan Orion burge

Third Place

My Old Town

This is the best,
This predawn rise
In my old, sad town.

To offer, too early rising,
With shivers and alarm clanking.
Today came too soon.

To give completely,
Pre-coffee, pre-tea,
While night insects sing.

No promise of dawn.
No hint of the rise.
Just my blank adulation.

This is always best,
To get on, head throbbing,
Before the light picks me out.

Dylan Orion Burge
Durham, N.C.

Dylan grew up in Butte Creek Canyon in an off-the-grid alternative-energy home his parents built, and this poem was written in August 2010 about those old stomping grounds. Dylan is now living in Durham, N.C., and will graduate from Duke University this spring with a Ph.D. in biology.

Honorable Mentions

‘All the World’s a Stage’

Shakespeare, as it turns out,
was only partly correct

when he wrote, “All the
world’s a stage,” for

how often do we find ourselves
on the curtain’s other side:

resting wide-eyed in the seats
and not costumed under

lights burning bright? As often
as we witness the unchoreographed

dance of the tumbling leaf, the
ringing solo of the winter bird,

the watchful doe shepherd
her young across the path.

Elliott A.S. Haught

Crow Flight - II

At first low horizon look
black motes freckle
the grey dawn sky.

Wingbeats hammer:
bursts of 3-4-5.

a short coasting moment,



the blur of black-veed wings
as sleek ebony bodies
lift and glide
in the warming morning air.

Tim Milhorn

Early Narcissus

At the small gathering in a country cemetery
where his daughter’s ashes are finally interred,
he says every day he fingers the husk

of her absence. Three years
since she took her young life: the door to her
room shut, her artifacts undisturbed.

It’s winter and cold, as it should be.
After others leave, he sits on frosted
grass until well after dusk, content

to let an owl be the voice of fog
swathing skeletal trees. Shrouds of moon
brighten the fog. Near the gate, leathery fins

of early Narcissus breach hard ground—
relentless life crushing up from oblivion.

Joanne Allred

Hanging Drywall, Part 2

Boards are measured (with T-squares), marked
(with carpentry pencils), sliced (with utility
knives), and hoisted (with our hands).

Screws make their methodical migration
from box to mouth to drill-bit to wall.

The cracked boards bleed gypsum powder,
covering my hands—a gymnast preparing for a routine.

The buzzing gun, once jarring, now hums.

Elliott A.S. Haught

Bend of Season

March gold in foot-slope,
The probe of sliding day.

No glance, not timid light.

Unbent, not moved by strength,
As the yield of fragile stone.

Swayed simply in orbit
By the bend of season.

Dylan Orion Burge

The Last Salmon

I launch my silver body
like a grenade
into the broken teeth of the old,
smoke-colored dam.

My slippery eye
locks on the horizon.

I used to nibble at edges,
linger in nets of doubt.

Now I thunder
the water drum.

Now I heave my shiny flesh,
skipping against the river
like a stone
thrown by a child dreaming.

You won’t feed me
to a fat kid
in Buffalo
or wash me down with sake.

Loud as sunshine,
I carry a wild fortune within,
rising to meet my ocean queen.

Elijah Manders

Spring musings in Chico

Welcome wind blowing cool air
Revealing bountiful spring

Flowers budding beckoning
Birds and bees to come in

Snowy cottonwood tufts flying
From riverbanks wild and free

Defenseless against
Man’s structures and greed

Trees swaying in the wind
Housing earth’s little creatures

Unaware of coming danger
From relentless cutting machines

Mountain snow melting fast
Flowing into peaceful creeks

Providing needed water at last
Powerless from water sellers

Oh Chico, where are you going?
Please stay as you are, please

Kay Hoffner

Dream Dancer

The dancer entered through his eyes,
And her calculated embrace
Rode his stiff clenched wallet
Until it ejaculated cash up her thigh.
It was an immaculate conception
On her part.
The illusion of love,
For the illusion of gain.

William Jackson



                On time, Showtime, about time.

Real-time, mealtime, bedtime,

                Springtime, summertime, wintertime.

Quality time, dreamtime, quiet time.

                Playtime, school time, short times.

Timecard, time work, longtime.

                Teatime, timesaver, sometimes.

Pastime, ragtime, downtime.

                Overtime, timeworn, hard times.

Wartime, time and again, waste of time.

                Old times, peacetimes, good times.

In time, in the meantime, no time.

                Timekeeper, timescale, timetable.

Out of time, time up, for you, for me,


Josephine O’Donoghue


we lay together
our naked backs in the soft grass
our faces bare to
the warm and deep
moonless night sky
it was the first time
I was still and focused
long enough to notice
the stars are always dancing
in the boundless ballroom of space
I turned and wondered aloud
if they danced for you
without a word you answered
your eyes sparkling
as you followed in the dark

Steven Elliott

To Le Sacre-Coeur

Bumpy cobblestone streets
wind through Montmartre.
They are worn by the feet
that have grooved their way up
to the top of your hill,
the crown point of Paris.

This is the place where You
invite us to sit, share a bottle
of Bordeaux, and appreciate
the view. Paris, sparkling,
golden Paris never looked
so perfect as from your steps.

White stone laces the walls
of your basilica body. It glows
golden and the city shines
in Your reflection. We break the
bread and drink, À votre santé,
to Your Sacred Heart.

Krissy Raymond

Phantom Love

My lover leaves me bleary eyed
my bedsheets damp and warm.
I rise to meet her, draw her near,
but can’t embrace her form.

She comes to meet me in the day
but then it’s time to work.
I stretch and yawn, but carry on.
My poor head nods and jerks.

Just as she comes incarnate,
just as I tongue her lips,
she rushes through my hopes and dreams
and passes from my grip.

Our meetings are sporadic
and rarely really deep.
How can we sleep together
when my phantom love is sleep?

Jim Dwyer

A Small Evil

The Compleat Witches’ Cookbook

Gossip Sauce
Gossip sauce is tasty, when
        drizzled over tongue, or
        stewed with spleen.
But it does tend to
        pickle heart.”

        eye of innuendo
        bone of contention
        paucity of mercy
        version of truth (any)
        blood of victim (to taste).”

“To cook:
        In a small cauldron
        over open flame,
        mix. …”

Jenna Shepard


And then it occurred to me
There was another time
When you were out at sea
Far away
From me
And yet so close
I could feel you turn
I could see you change
My belly into a wave
And yet we’d never met
We were connected by a rope
A cord of love and nourishment
And now these almost twenty years later
As you sail the world
Far away from me
We have a different sort of cord
That ties us
And will also keep you buoyant
Until you deliver yourself
Arms outstretched once again

Lynda Efros
El Cerrito