The Nebraska Writers Guild sponsored its second annual Fur Trade Days Poetry Contest this year, presenting the awards Saturday at the Chadron Public Library.
Pam Vap’s “Items on the Nebraska Homestead, 1889,” won first place. Vapp was able to attend Saturday’s poetry reading and performed her winning piece.
Second place went to Mary Rowin with “Una Mujer Illegal,” and third prize went to Kara Gall’s “The Cynosure of All Observers.” Neither Rowin or Gall were able to attend, but their prize-winning poems were read. All three pieces will be published in the 2018 edition of Voices from the Plains in December.
The poems are also reprinted here:
Items on the Nebraska Homestead, 1889
1. a white lily
with sails of petals
above the pink blush on the weak stem
2. the small wooden trunk lugged
out just this morning
3. the dusty, square box of a farmhouse
leaning precariously and looking
out of place on 160 acres
4. an uncaring, wide horizon
fading to powdery blue
and stretching to who knows where
5. an occasional meadowlark’s whistle breaking
into the July drone of insects
6. the German couple
without their Schätzchen
7. the young woman’s empty hand
8. the trunk lid covering
9. the baby
Una Mujer Illegal
Her mother mails a package from Mexico.
White cloth is covered in satin-stitched
flowers - red hibiscus, gold copa de oro
orange lantana, carnations and roses.
Framed and hung on a bright yellow wall
near the Virgin of Guadalupe, the colors
of Oaxaca blaze above a kitchen table
in a city in the cold north of the USA.
Citizen children, jobs, a mortgage
all a palimpsest of permanence.
When caught, she will smash the glass,
wrap Mary in flowers. Then, she’ll run.
The Cynosure of All Observers
1845, oil on canvas:
young bride, brown skin
white buckskin dress.
She clutches beads
in one hand
reaches the other
down to a white man’s
2013, pixels on screen:
me, a bride, white skin
red silk dress.
I bunch pleats
in one hand
fold the other
into a brown
When I tell you