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Earth Day Poetry Contest

WVC holds an annual poetry contest every April in recognition of Earth Day and Poetry Month.

2023 Contest Winners

I Met an Owl Once

By Isaac Day


Youth told me wander,

seek life’s old clay,

land of stories ages told,

land spoke of in hushed tones.


Land of night never end,

where trees hum melodies

with wind.

That is where I met him.


Feathers ash gray,

hooked beak, coal black,

sat on lowest branch

of dead wood's oak.


He heard my steps,

and turned to look,

in a cold voice he spoke.

Flame’s child, he called me,

words tinged with smoke, days old.


I laughed with new name,

naive, assuming some joke,

but the owl did not laugh.


With eyes born of night’s wisdom

and grave’s gray voice,

he told me how man came,

how the others all burned away.


When the story was told

I saw him too come ablaze,

ash, cinder, and smoke,

the golden eyes of a ghost.


Judge's Commendation: "I Met an Owl Once" stands out as a poem accomplishing quite a bit of work with just a few stanzas. It tells the story of youth's exploration and a coming-of-age realization of humankind's ability to destroy. The poem holds itself tonally to the end, involving thoughtful use of assonance and a suggested rhyme scheme that exists without overwhelming the reader. The diction, too, is consistent, allowing the mix of details and abstraction to carry the reader through the allegory of the poem, along with phrasing and suggestions of the gothic, something that contributes to the mood of the piece, the dark, timeless, smoky wisdom that comes when we wander and focus. " — Andrew Gottlieb, author of "Tales of a Distance"


the fly.

By Leo Perry

i’ve never really paid any attention to flies, but if i were any animal, i would be a fly.

i don’t want to admit my resemblance to flies, they’re annoying and i get overwhelmed easily by the monotonous buzz that their tiny bodies emit.

it’s too close, too loud, and too much.

but i’ve never noticed that they rub their hands together when stationary.

what i’ve seen are flies with their fuzzy bodies and little wings.

what i didn’t see, is that their wings are painted with intricate designs, ones that i can only compare to fine line art.

i didn’t know that their fuzz looks like miniature tufts of soft cat fur. like the fur of an affectionate maine coon, the ones that rub their head against your hand any moment they're visible.

flies are complex, and have “a surprising mental capacity and emotional intelligence.”

i wouldn’t be a fly because of the movie starring Jeff Goldblum. the only media about flies is grotesque body horror, by the way. which the point of, is that it violates the most fundamental piece of human existence, the body.

i would be a fly because there is an unsettling relatability to them. i, too, am annoying and have a body that some view as disturbing.

my likeness is also villainized like the fly is, just *usually* by different people. flies aren't typically the focus of harmful lawmakers and bigoted people. flies don’t worry about violent hate crimes or deep-rooted insecurities. they don’t have suffocating depressive episodes or unstable relationships.

though, they might worry about their colonies. they might try to protect their young and their little fly-friends.

they’re smart, that's for sure. flies can process more than triple what the average human can. even though they're nuisances, their existence is vital for ecosystems and can be used for biomedical research.

i would, undoubtedly, be a fly.


2022 Contest Winner

Breathing Grasses

by Eva Christine

Tall grass breathes peaceful
prayer sings in the clouded sky
Dusk falls in silence

Swinging back and forth
Daises and weeds between toes
Belonging lives here

Lemonade taste sweet
Upon her tongue and sizzles
Down her throat, she sings

With gazing eyes, love
Dawn became more clear today
Gentleness lies here


2021 Contest Winner

The System They Can't Resist

by Kaylee Nielson

i have a dream of a world,
where we all live in peace
helping each other, healing one another,
no war torn refugees
for this dream i'm ostracized

a radical to my peers
proving once again
this dream i have
is squandered by their fears

i dream of nature
life reclaiming land
but all they do is laugh
selling out the earth for a profit
with their cement paver path

they have the power to fix it
but until it suits their interest
the life of the earth will burn
in the system they can't resist


2020 Contest Winners

Cuba on the Earth Map

by Rosa Rajadel

You can go there, to that beach

where the wind sings its lullaby

and the waves burst against rocky shores

but the children don’t dream. Esa playa


You can go there, to that mountain.

Wield your machete or mocha, in silence.

Bleed on el marabu and la cana

and let the sun dry your wounds. La sangre


You can go there, to that river that dies in the sea

singing and crying, crying and fading

while washing tired black feet,

forgetting stories of freedom and Palenque. Libertad


You can go there, to that bay - white-blue deep grave-

where we la escoria embrace the sea.

No names, no hopes, no breath.

Say you're not alive or dead. Balsero


You can go there, but come back to me

with a big slice of island to quench my hunger,

to put in my mouth and spit out

millions of birds like fire fathoms. And forgive

(No quiero olvidar)


Notes for the Non-Spanish Speaker and Non-Cuban Reader:

Esa playa: that beach

Mocha: an instrument that looks like a machete but shorter

Marabu: parasite plant

Cana: (cana de azucar) plant from which sugar is obtained in Cuba

La sangre: the blood

Palenque: small hidden villages built by escaped slaves in the 1800s (they no longer exist)

Libertad: Freedom

La escoria: the rejected people (because they don’t agree with Cuba’s policies, so that’s the name the government gives them)

Balsero: person who ventures into the sea in a handmade boat (or anything that floats) with the aim of fleeing Cuba.

No quiero olvidar: I don’t want to forget.


Flowers and Stars

by Karlee Norton


Wherever I go,

a forest,

the waterfront,

a school,

or my home,

I catch myself

pulling soft frail petals off flowers,

ripping the veiny leaves off trees,

throwing smooth rocks,

like a child,

I don’t know any better.

I fiddle with these pieces of nature through the lines of my palms

and leave a path of ruined beauty behind me.

Whether it be popcorn on the seats after a movie,

water on the bathroom floor from our showers,

or buildings so bright we steal the stars,

time still goes by

with an unwanted trace of us.

But sometimes we leave something wonderful

like sweet watermelon seeds on a summer day.