Gulf Coast Poets Chapter
Poetry Competitions
2007 Winners

Page updated 1/3/2009

2007 Winners




Month/Year:  December 2007
Contest:  On the Bus
Contest Sponsor:  Mary Margaret Carlisle
Winner:  Ivy Kaminsky, Houston, Texas

Traveling Blues

I spent countless hours on the bus riding to and from school
in a place where “bussing” was never an issue
in a county where there were no blacks
no, Jews, and few Hispanics
from one part of Waspville to another
I always sat in the same place
in fear
dreading the ride
afraid to be noticed
It was on the bus that the bullies blossomed
The smallest passengers were the tastiest targets
I tried to remain motionless
lest the lions should pounce and grasp my inner rabbit
by its furry throat and shake it into oblivion
One of the greatest days of my life was the one
when my brother and I finally were allowed to
take the family car to school by ourselves

The funny thing is
as an adult I love riding the bus
I sit in the same seat
I warmed as a child
Close to the front on the right side
and I keep my eyes on the eyes of the bus driver
in the rear-view mirror
Maybe I thought those eyes would rescue me
way back when

© 2007 Ivy Kaminsky



Month/Year:  November 2007
Contest:  The Last Leaf on the Tree
Contest Sponsor:  None

Winner: William Turner, Houston, Texas

It was a Good Year

I watch winter move up the reach.
The wind is pushing the trees
And water toward the North.
The leaves fly
From the end of this chapter.
I wonder if it is a good tale.

The late October poetry
Sung in multi-colors,
Yesterday a hushed voice,
Today a raspy rattling in the wind.

Surely the brilliance
Displays the colored epitaphs
Through middle age fading
With this last burst of song.
The closing of this story.

The tenacity of these pages
Resist the letting go until
Finally, the last leaf on the tree
Will flutter down, foxed,
To rest on a blanket of snow.

© 2007 William Turner



Month/Year:  October 2007
Contest:  River Dogs
Contest Sponsor:  Mary Margaret Carlisle

Winner: William Turner, Houston, Texas


Power Trips

The dogs are quiet again
The river, too; its Monday.
Through the week they’ll not be seen
Or heard.  They sleep.
Friday night wakes them up.
There will be music and dancing,
Their owners have come from town.

When the sun is high again
Over the river valley wall,
The dogs begin to growl.  They race
Up and down the river
Roaring, barking and snapping
Chasing each other, threatening
Swimmers and slower craft.

They smear their oily excrement
And roll the river water muddy
Against the shallows until sundown
When the owners go back to town
The river dogs go back to sleep.

© 2007 William Turner



Month/Year:  October 2007
Contest:  River Dogs (Members-Only Section)
Contest Sponsor:  None

Winner: Rebecca Hatcher Travis, Friendswood, Texas.

Family Life

they come from the woodlands
we invite them when they are small
tempt them with bits of meat
something raw
build a trust between us

they like living near the water
beside our homes
on this high bluff
where we can see
up and down the river

no one dares
enter our village
in the dark of night
our river dogs are always alert
for we are all one family now

© 2007 Rebecca Hatcher Travis



Month/Year:  September 2007
Contest:  Writer's Block
Contest Sponsor:  Mary Margaret Carlisle

Winner:  K.B. Eckhardt, Houston, Texas


Today, my tea leaves
are as damp and forbidding
as my writing and
my life is the life
of one who lies
saying this line or that line
writing this lie or that lie.

Impossible really to see
a person’s life in the tea leaves
or coo soothing sayings
I think will satisfy the seekers
each discrete yet not so discreet
that it is clear
if they will hear
lies from tea leaves
the readers will believe
book leaves.

Let your belief system and skepticism fade
and allow me to crochet
a tale or whatever
I the seer say
that we may clear
your way of all debris.
I will tell you no lies.

Love will embrace you.
Indescribable fortune will drench you.
Excellent health will enfold you.

© 2007 K. B. Eckhardt



Month/Year:  August 2007
Contest:  Beneath the Poet Lauretate's Bed
Contest Sponsor:  None
Winner:  Sandi Stromberg, Houston, Texas

Poetry Matters

She rummages through the box
beneath her bed, desperate
for a poem to prove she deserves
the laurel wreath hanging in her kitchen.
         Among Aprils and coffee mugs,
         she finds remnants of the wasteland,
         vatic phrases that now sound vapid,
         loved lines, what did I know
         of love’s austere and lonely offices? and
         Your golden hair Margarete.

In this cardboard square that once held baby cards,
diaper pins and drawings of stick figures
under curlicues of smoke, she hordes
         zip-locked clichés,
         mixed metaphors and their conceits,
         tropes with exotic names — anaphora,
         synesthesia, syllepsis,
         an overabundance of iambic pentameters
         marching their predictable beat,
         failed sonnets about rain and
         painful tremblings of villanelles.
         Life rarely reveals what it will do with us,
         Pasternak wrote.

Words clutter like crumbs, whimsy and backdraft,
scattered among cicatrix and undertow.
         All possibilities for charting her own
         cartographies. And somewhere
         she must have mislaid
         an ars poetica, her belief in the Muse.

If only she can find them before her children
sort her possessions and use the bay leaves
to flavor a delicate soup.

© 2007 Sandi Stromberg


Month/Year:  July 2007

Contest:  What Price Freedom?
Contest Sponsor:  Mary Margaret Carlisle

Winner:  Joel Ontiberoz, Houston, Texas 

A Marine’s Battle

Eye lids shaped
a razor’s edge

Black curly hair
matches pupil’s

Quiet complexion
of his manner

Contrary to the M16
across his shoulder

Allowing himself
to be exposed

Sent into foreign countries
Iraq     Cambodia
our evils

Two buddies taken home
in plastic

Money and politics
washed in the
same bucket

Protecting a country
he chose
to protect him

Being shamed
by a vile enemy

He stands silent
in the darkness

Back against the wall
wanting his M16
once more

His metals of bravery
don’t matter now

Sparkling symbols
of  our country
shine no more

One more corner
he’ll be safe

Ridicule from the

Pounds deep in his

Home in the USA
and persecuted

Chinese American

His price to pay
for freedom

© 2007 Joel Ontiberoz


Month/Year:  June 2007
Contest:  A Sack of Red Apples
Contest Sponsor:  None
Winner:  Margo Davis, Houston, Texas

Making Sense

I might not see red rocks in a sack
of apples if I misplace my glasses.
Sometimes, when I glance down, my specs
part my hair as they fly—until I catch them
in mid-air.

I have great reflexes.

If someone handed me that sack,
saying, juggle these rocks, my sense
of smell would alert me to both
sweet and tart.  I would juggle
apples and red rocks so deftly that
a Northern Spy would not note
the difference.

Apple skin feels like no other.

I bet without looking I could separate
Mcintosh from Empire, Gala from
JonaGold.  I could balance red rocks
against a crisp and juicy Paula Red
any old day.

So put me to the test.

Winner keeps the Red Delicious.

© 2007 Margo Davis


Month/Year:  May 2007
Contest:  Roses After Winter
Contest Sponsor:  Sol Magazine and Margaret Carlisle
Winner:  Deseree Marie Probasco, Conroe, Texas

When it Pours

She climbs
out of the car
the sidewalk rising
to meet her feet in glistening waves.

She pulls,
my daughter,
at my too-slow progress through
the field of red and blue sedans.

She shrieks,
a gossamer thread above the din,
as she catches her first glimpse
of the newly-opened city water garden.

Out of her sundress,
out of her shoes,
she wriggles into the sunlight
like a rose after winter.

Petal pint cheeks
flush brighter over the gleam
of the water, stretching her hands
 like sunflowers toward a giant blue bucket.

It fills,
swinging, precarious
on its metal pin, ready to drop
a quenching rain on the garden below.

Out of the sky,
out of the blue bucket, it pours
and we are showered
in brilliant drops, exhilarated by the storm.

She nestles,
content under my earth brown
towel, pale head resting on my leg
a seed of contentment planted on a new spring day.

© 2007 Deseree Marie Probasco



Month/Year:  April 2007
Contest:  It's Poetry
Contest Sponsor:  Sol Magazine and Leo F. Waltz
Winner:  Margo Davis, Houston, Texas

          for Columbo Bob

I ride the cadence of words
strung together like huff then puff
up the hill and along a tree line
he rubs against.  He is bobcat
pacing the fence.

He chose that field,
then built that fence to rail against.
He insists, if asked, that fate
thrust wind at his back.

He traces
the origin of the long-plank deck beneath
our feet—the foundation of a fallen church—
a religion he calls caring about
one's neighbor.

Each phrase a wind
chime in breeze.  I get caught up by
the wind, swing, chime in.

His need
to be heard proves stronger than the story
he struggles to tell.  The spaces between
his words frighten him.

© 2007 Margo Davis


Month/Year:  March 2007
Contest:  Cowboy Boots and High Heels
Contest Sponsor:  Sol Magazine and Cindy Tebo
Winner:  Erica Lehrer, Houston, Texas

When the Party Ends

O, how I ache when you and I dance,
knowing relief is at hand;
in my closet, 'midst blouses and pants,
there my cowboy boots stand.
Your dagger heels rise four inches in height;
my humble metatarsals can't bear
the strain as we rhumba and tango tonight.
Fashion be damned: I won't wear
stylish shoes that pinch so I wince,
stilettos that steal my smile.
Even Jimmy Choos cannot convince
me that such searing pain is worthwhile.
When the party ends and guests disperse,
I'll grab my boots, Texas two-step and curse.

© 2007 Erica Lehrer



Month/Year:  February 2007
Contest:  Love or Chocolate
Contest Sponsor:  Mary Margaret Carlisle and Cindy Tebo
Winner:  Carol Dee Meeks, Artesia, New Mexico

Summer's Life (a Kyrielle)

You are the steps that pace my spring:
my joy, my triumph, coups, all things.
You are the leaves that groom my trees,
the roses with scent that taunts the bees.

You are the sun each summer day
as infant life matures our way
like mighty Oaks whose roots stretch out
and stars at night that flash about.

You are the rock of earth's mined ore
that purifies our solstice door
and winter days we say adieu,
as season's springtime binds us two.

Retirement years for us are blest.
Our offspring leaves an empty nest.
With forty years of summer bliss
this era life, seals passion's kiss.

© 2007 Carol Dee Meeks