Midwinter Music2015 String Poet First Prize

The hawthorn branches’ lightning lines
are paralleled by seams of white
as snowfall mantles them, each jagged
angle traced,
each pronged and ragged
fork embalmed, perhaps embraced

Around the fields, old stunted pines
grow flocculent with flakes. Despite
the fires within, the farms are wooled
with snow, their sills
and gutters ruled
and cushioned with small corniced hills.

The drystone dikes have scalloped crests.
On open moors, the windward sides
of standing stones blockade the blow,
black and upright,
till driving snow
feathers them into background white.

The moaning wind stravaigs and quests
but one communal call abides
as flurries hover, glide, and fall
among the drifts—
inside a hall
a cellist’s hand position-shifts.


With joy, this handmade violin
I give to you. Through thick and thin
we’ve held each other, skin to skin,
in adoration,
knowing together we would win,
and share, elation.

Enjoy. You gave me such elation
that I commissioned this violin—
a token of what it meant to win
your love; a thin
label inscribes the adoration
inked under my skin.

The spruce-wood draws a flawless skin
across its back, reflects elation
to the high air. In adoration
this violin
will serenade, when light grows thin,
the night to win.

But when in time we cannot win,
when varnish cracks upon our skin
and hair upon our bows grows thin,
that raw elation,
revived, will sing from this violin—
our adoration.

We’ll always have this adoration
for one another. I would win
you, life lived over. Violin
notes silk my skin,
scrolling out the bow’s elation,
unction thin.

The finest times of life are thin
moments when waves of adoration
sweep us on to seek elation—
to vie and win
the thrill that dances down our skin
to a violin.

This air is thin. You gasp—I win
the gift of adoration. Our skin
strokes elation’s violin.

Request for a Dance

Step with me, float with me, over the floor;
weave with me, waltz with me, out through the door;
slide to the deck where the crowdedness clears;
glide through the garden and tear off your fears.

Step with me, sneak with me, down to the lake,
onto its waters; the mirror won’t break;
lilt in a ball-gown of luminous mist;
twirl till you’re breathless and need to be kissed.

Step with me, skim with me, let yourself go,
dazzling and dizzy then flowingly slow;
whirl till our swirls make a maelstrom of night;
pass through the portal from here to delight.

Step with me, sway with me, feel yourself swing,
hammocked on rhythms of hearts on the wing;
move to the measures of seasons and years;
sweep to that island where time disappears.

Step with me, slip with me, up to its crypt,
quaff a last laugh from the pleasures we’ve sipped;
curtsey and smile at a parting of hands
joined by the music of two wedding bands.