The Flapper Press Poetry Café: Poetry Contest Winners!




"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

— Anatole France


It was our first poetry contest here at the Flapper Press Poetry Café, and we were thrilled with the results. All the submissions touched our poetic hearts, and we thank everyone who participated by sharing their work.


Our panel of judges spent quite some time making their decisions based on each submission's poetic technique, effectiveness, style, creativity, and response to the poetry prompt: If I Could Talk to My Pet.


We are happy to share the work our our winners is in this article. We'll share all the wonderful submissions in another article tomorrow.



First Prize: Jennifer Jowett


From Ripley

Listen to the love that was my boy to share, the thwump, thwump echoes of a tail,

our noses pressed together,

a hand upon my ear, a finger across my heart.

Your heart was mine.

Listen to the joy that was my boy to share,

laughter wagging in a tail,

mud-mucked spring puddles,

snow-bound unschool days,

sleeping atop the dunes, a bear and his cub.

Your heart was mine.

Listen to the dream that was my boy to share,

a tale stilled,

a final walk, hear my being, let it fly away.

Your heart was mine.


We rescued Ripley at age 7. He had several health conditions, and we didn’t expect him to live beyond a year, but we fell in love with his kind spirit and happy personality. He managed to make it almost to nearly the age of 14 before he passed away a couple of weeks ago. My son was incredibly close to him, and I felt the best way to honor this relationship was in a poem from Ripley to my son.



Jennifer Guyor Jowett has taught English and Literature for thirty years to 7th- and 8th-grade students in the mitten state. She is a frequent Ethical ELA 5-Day Open writing participant and host, a contributor to the BlinkYA blog, and a member of #booksojourn.



Second prize: Loren Polans


For My Good Boy Comet

Comet

You were wandering the streets downtown I was in my new home, childless, Neither of us knew we were lost. A local saint of orphaned animals introduced us;

I walked you, bought you an ice cream I took you home. Neither of us knew for sure what would happen,

The difference it would make, To fill up a space in each other’s hearts

I wish I knew then that I was your last chance,

That you were adopted and returned twice; I would have shown more patience When you kept soiling the bedroom carpet,

When you kept chewing up my shoes.


You're my child now, We'll care for each other forever; I'll always melt when you tilt your head side to side, when you carry a ball in your mouth and look up at me, waiting;

I'll always scratch behind your ears, rub your belly; I'm your Daddy now, through the joy and grief to come,

Forever.

My dog, Comet, was a foundling, running around the streets of downtown Tucson. My friend Lizzie who saved him researched his background with the local animal shelter. (Lizzie has placed countless dogs and cats with new homes). She discovered he was previously adopted and returned, then adopted by someone else. He escaped the second adopter by pushing furniture together and using them to climb over the backyard wall. That person didn’t want him back. Comet was a very difficult dog in the beginning of our adoption. He created much household destruction and had frequent diarrhea indoors (due to a then-undiagnosed parasite). We hung in there with him, and over time, he became a lovable goofball who stole our hearts.

Loren Polans

Loren Polans (nickname Darklyng) is a native New Yorker transplanted to Tucson and a survivor of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He enjoys sculpting, constructing costumes, science fiction, and making his wife laugh.





Third Prize: Helen Hokanson


The Lingering

Jake

When he stopped eating,

I knew it wouldn’t be long.

But he lingered.

For two days, I coaxed him with boiled chicken. When he stopped, I knew it wouldn’t be long.

But he lingered.

More than a week since he’d eaten,

and I knew it wouldn’t be long.

Scrambled eggs did the trick. He immediately threw up, and I knew it wouldn’t be long.

After the injection, I knew it wouldn’t be long. The vet said, “His heart is strong.”

And he lingered.

I changed my mind. And his heart stopped beating.

I believe this is the first poem I've written outside of grade-school assignments. It started as an essayish thing in response to a prompt given by Abigail Thomas at a conference in about 2016. I suspect there was lots of telling, and it felt very flat; it bored even me. The following year, another writer provided the same prompt; write two pages about something you had to stop doing. Another writer responded with poetry, and I decided to mimic her in identifying what I felt and focusing on that.


Helen Hokanson

Helen Hokanson is a Reference Librarian living and working in Overland Park, Kansas. Her focus area is Local Writers, and she finds inspiration directly from her work. Her menagerie includes a dog, two cats, a fish, and a snail.