The Winners

Here are the winners of our first poetry contest


Editor's note: While we thought we had a mathematical formula that would make a tie among our winners virtually impossible, the editors at the RN&R once again proved we're better at words than math, and Marilyn Melton and Eric Brooks did indeed tie for first place in our first-ever poetry contest. Congratulations to all our winners and runners up. Thanks also to the more than 300 people who entered.

FIRST place:Untitled By Eric Brooks

Eric weaves the tragic, natural and perverse into webs sometimes a little too recognizable. He also likes to look at pictures, and can be found wandering the streets of Reno doing just that.

it is tuesday.

morning has quietly passed on to afternoon, to evening, to night.

there is a crack of bright coming through the shaded window from the street below.

the cat moves in a slow motion stretch,


then quickly coils back to a dreamless sleep next to an ancient porcelain heater.

i touch her softness, feel life inside with invisible antennae.

together we wait.


last week,

a year ago we stepped over cracks while touching smiles and carrying sacks,


from the market down the road.

i want to dance while cooking.

rather than sound,

carrots and onions play an orchestra through scent and taste.

the knives need sharpened.

the garbage emptied,

but the dishes are clean and the cloth napkins stacked perfectly on top of the humming refrigerator.

FIRST place:The Passing of a Bridge Over Time By Marilyn R. Melton

Artist-writer Marilyn Royle Melton is a fourth-generation Nevadan whose interests are art, the humanities and history. As a life-long (80 years) resident of Reno, the city's future is one of her greatest concerns.

Purple hills and majestic mountains

Embraced the verdant valley

That trappers, gold miners and pioneers

Traversed on their way to the sea

The route brought wagons and cattle

To cross the meandering stream

That came to be named for the Paiute guide

Who led them west to their dream

A succession of spans carried traffic

Over the Truckee’s current

But smashed by heavy loads and snow-fed floods

Down river they were sent

Myron Lake built a hotel and bridge

And bought the surrounding land.

Lake’s Crossing became a lusty Wild West town

Under his command

But when the railroad from California came

In eighteen sixty-eight

The growing community officially became

A place to celebrate

The proud Silver State of Nevada

Welcomed the new city of Reno

Founded and christened for

A genuine Civil War hero

Businesses flourished, gamblers,

Rascals and scoundrels did too

Schools, banks, homes lavish and humble

Were erected as the town grew

A substantial world-class overpass was needed

To link the banks of the river

Imposing, attractive, and strong enough

To carry streetcar and flivver

On the site of the original pioneer trail

A fine concrete structure was erected

With electric lights and wrought iron rails

Reno was at last well respected

Completed and dedicated

One hundred and six years ago

Her life has been turbulent and wild

Both above and below

Horses, carriages, buses and trucks

Joined the strollers promenades

While celebrations, libations and festivities

Shared days with many parades

Now after decades of pounding

By flood-born debris

The thoroughfare’s charm and beauty

Will become history

Preservationists and citizens raise

Their voices to lament

The last days of Reno’s pulsing heart

No pleadings can prevent

In twenty-fourteen the Virginia Street bridge

In pieces she will fall

Another part of our history gone

With the purge of the wrecking ball

We say goodbye, farewell

Our treasure of memories intact—

Gone with the Mapes and other lost icons…

We loved them like friends, and that is a fact

Third place:Tuolumne By Sparky Allen

Sparky's favorite poet is D.H. Lawrence. She's a potter, a skier, and into drought-tolerant gardening with lots of boulders. Her personal hero is Bullwinkle J. Moose.

<c>Did you detest

this alien life:

your voice lost

in monotony of daily song?

Russet hawk

keening above you

in the blue;

between granite walls,

his beating wings

center the void,

and the pulse

of your sad blood.


are made small


at the caress

of a raptor’s breeze.<c>

Sonnet to Bacon By David Wohler

What porcine splendor doth on hearth becrisp?

From field and dale the haunch of heav’n afire,

What alchemy brings forth the fragrant wisp?

Ere twilight bids to still the day’s desire.

’Tis not the bread of heav’n nor its wine

But flesh of fauna wild in fields of green,

That’s rendered from the mortal into brine

Our taste of Zion ere we sing that final keen.

Feast now while dancers still ascend to flight

Till curfew steals the gleaming of the day,

Turn not nor meekly cower from the light

Yea, dine upon the bounty of the ley!

Give thanks for piquant strips so lean and fair

From noble shoat recumbent en plein air.

Gutenberg By Jim McCormick



low hall

in a dark reign

with monk,

bent low and squinting

over his high table.

a candle’s prancing radiance

illuminates quill dipping

in a black solution,

wet to dry,

letters decanted from words

pour into sentences,

indecipherable to every man

but he who holds to a cryptic vow.



the goldsmith

of Mainz on Rhine,

cuts loose letters

on the single sheet

and casts about

for different text.

He ladles each face

in a blue-gray element,

sets them single file,

a line that will issue

inky words

to any person

at any time.

Intention By Suzanne Swan

It’s so attractive to start over,

do it again and get it right this time.

Like a full box of crayons and blank report card,

the glimpse of pure love in that first kiss,

hopeful anticipation before the first stroke

when all eighteen holes can still be par.

Or life-changing resolutions on New Year’s Eve

to exercise more, work less,

build a nest egg, give to others,

be more loving, more decisive, more organized

or a thousand variations on a theme.

But crayons break,

love can be elusive,

the ball still curves out of bounds,

and resolutions fade into the shadow of ingrained habits.

This year I’m replacing resolutions

with intention and belief,

the intention to have a healthy happy beautiful life

and the belief that I deserve to attain it.

So when I start to feel anxious, unsettled, angry, or frustrated

I will gently remind myself of that intention

And just observe what happens.

Like a sculptor working with stone

I believe I will remove the unnecessary,

and chip by chip,

reveal the beauty that life can be.

Every moment is a new beginning.

Shards of Obsidian/ Edge of Black Rock Desert/ 1972 By Alex Angelo

We come upon them in morning light, after a long night of shooting stars. Shattered but purposeful, fragments of eternity, sheltered in Earth. Unknown time gaps human purpose.

The curvature of the Earth (only visible here) sets limits to our wonder. Ancestors passed this way over a century ago.

One perfect arrowhead floats up between them; polished craft of survival. Nothing in these broken forms knows more than we do, or less. Voyaging through the arc of time, they arrive in our visionary questions, telling garbled, dusty truths to our lost remembrance.

Another day in the sunlight, glinting up to the mute mysteries posed to our descendants.

This is the Last Day of the First of Your Life By Timothy Michael Rhodes

There is no end, there is no beginning

toaster waffles bury the city of angles

missionaries assume the position

fork you, fork me

they wield their steely blades

we defend with plastic spoons

we are the beating heart of the beast

the hands, the feet

and if we fail, break down,

who needs necromancy

replacements are plentiful

and cheap

“Out of my way”

the Great White Sale has begun

from the hills of Afghanistan

where blood red poppies soothe our souls

through the rest of the world

who cares how much blood is spilled

as long as black ink

continues to flow

to the bottom line?


New Madrid & San Andreas

cry out “It’s not my fault”

no, not theirs but ours,

yours, mine, we are the king makers

who look the other way

wrapped up in the latest from

the evil empirewhat hungry children you have

the better to cloud your vision with

what stupid children you have

the better for cannon fodder

we’ll leave no child behind

what a large military/ industrial complex you have

the better to crush you all to dust

dust to throw into our eyes

dust that must be cleaned up

by underpaid imported wage-slaves

eating frozen waffles

and preaching the gospel of capitalism

demonic voices in the city of angles where

there is no beginning, there is no end

My Rattlesnake By Matt Sherer

National Geos and sixth grade science revealed

a little biology: reproductive parts, triangular

heads, brunette blotches, and sit and wait

predation. Others found you. Me, I met impostors—

relatives, I suppose. But their forked tongues kindled

no threat, just curiosity, and to them, I gave little

warmth. After years, some coming of age, I saw you

twice on the same day, roused by the pulses

of my passes.

Now, I need to know why it worked this way,

if you too prefer the solitude of mornings, what charms you,

and where you sleep at night. I grapple amid impulse

and instinct, envision reactions if you were to emerge

from shadows of boot or foot of bed, or coil in the breast

of my den, this crib, and if I’d strike first, or if I’d settle.

An Ode to my daughter By Frances Beckett

Bikini clad bodies lying side by side

Laughing, sharing, so much to confide

Childhood memories memories temporarily at rest

Today, the present, is this now the best?

Oh daughter mine, I love you so

You’re grown up now, the years come, they go

You make my life joyful, oh don’t let it end

Cause once I was your mother

Now, magically, we’re friends

Johnny's Dead By Jeff Opfer

Death he came a-callin’; he said, “My boy it’s time to go.”

I looked up from my bong hit and said, “Wait a minute, bro.

This weed I have is sticky green and stony as can be.

How about you cop a squat and smoke a bowl with me?”

Death he scratched his bony scalp and set aside his scythe.

“I suppose I could take a couple rips before I take your life.”

Now I was scared but played it cool and packed old Death a bowl.

“So,” I asked, “where am I going when you cut loose my soul?”

Death he grinned and flicked my Bic and took a deep breath in

And pointed through the floorboards, down at the place of sin.

“Fuck it,” said I, and we finished that bag, both stoned to the core,

Then Death pulled back his hood and asked, “What’d I come here for?”

I patted my roommate on the head, who’d passed out from drinking beer.

“I believe you said when you came in, you wanted Johnny here.”

Black Holes By Vonda Lea Novelly

I’m oh so tired of Quasars & Pulsars,

And all that gobbledygook.

Like big black holes that binary systems

Are always revealing

In their endlessly circling loops.

There’s Nebulae of glowing gas.

That once were stars they say.

And galaxies that spiral,

Like Andromeda and our Milky Way

That are set to collide one day.

But don’t you worry, they’re not in a hurry

And won’t happen for a zillion or more.

But I keep coming back

To those things in the skies,

The hungry black holes without any eyes.

It is a fact they’re here and there, and big and little, too,

And go about their merry way

to eat the light when due.

Until one day, there’ll come a time,

When they have gobbled ’all,’

And then will be the final crush of even time and space.

Then something will be nothing, and

Nothing’s what’s left of something,

So something could never have been.

It tis the end of all I fear,

Things upside down and backward.

But, wait a minute, can this be?

Because nothing is nothing with no beginning,

and nothing beginning could ever be ending.

There’s no upside down nor right side up,

Nor backward nor forward they say.

And it’s now that I hear of parallel places

That have no black holes.

They’re universes, not traces,

So they do not suffer the end of all days.

So don’t you worry ’cuz things will change

At a place where physics is in refute

And quantum mechanics the one to compute.

And the parallels, universes with means,

Reside in an ever-present now it seems.

So what about those scary black holes?

Are they the doors to parallel places?

Existing to ferret out all of our final traces?