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judges have waded through five shopping bags full of love poems from
all over, and now on the Day of Decision we are mulling over 25 poems
that made it through our sieves and traps, hoping to announce the
winners tomorrow so they can get shined up for the big reading on
Sunday at Macalester. (1:30, in the Chapel). Everyone is invited.

few poets wrote about lost love, ex-lovers, betrayal, the death of
lovers, but almost all of the entrants addressed love in the present
tense, including an ode to cheese (“Swiss, Swiss, it’s you I
miss,/Oh my Cheddar, you’re even better”), an ode to old hymns
(“Tears come. I can’t join in with the congregation./It’s my
mother, long ago, humming,/”Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide
myself in thee.”), to a soldier’s helmet known as a K-pot
(“Fragile shell that’s spun from Kevlar thread,/you have one
purpose: save my pounding head”), an erotic ode to gardening
(“Weeks of dirty foreplay---/fingers deep in you,/the ripe stench
of your earthly perfumes/mounting as I keep you wet/and pluck at your
musky weeds----climax in produce”). Ode to a Mercedes 240D (“Even
though financed to the extreme/you fulfilled my every vehicular
dream”), a poem with the lovely title “My Husband Has Been Away
on a Business Trip Too Long, a farm love poem (“You proposed to and
married me in the cornfield./We’ve had 30 years of thriving
yield.”), a number of love poems to cats (“When I opened a
cardboard box/you jumped out/cracked open my heart/and planted a
flower there”) and also some to dogs (“There is nothing about you
I don’t love,/your small barrel chest, your raised ears,/your dark
eyes lined in black”). There was a hymn to the sun (“Sol, I know
that no matter how my love overflows for you now you are destined to
burn me”), and one to Facebook (sort of) (“Sometimes I click/on
my page/just so I can see/where it says/you’re Married to Me/and
then I click/on your page/because it says/I’m Married to You.”
And a poem (“I feel your lusciousness/As the sun caresses your
bright, taut skin”) which is about a tomato. And an ode to
solitude. Odes to fishing. A love poem to an architect whom the poet
has loved from afar for the past year and now she dreams of “dovetail
joints for never quarreling/A bridge for holding hands throughout the
night./Our base, a poured foundation of respect.” A poem by a
woman who was single until she heard on the news about a town in
Minnesota full of single men and she placed a personals ad in the
town paper and heard from a lonely farmer and met him and married
him. All that in one poem.

poems were fascinating but we rejected them anyway. Probably we were
wrong. The ode to Faulkner (“With hearts as pure as the Catholic
Pope’s is,/That’s our people---they call us the Snopeses….With
pride buried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa,/I couldn’t leave the county
of Yoknapatawpha.”) and the ode to a quantum particle (“My
universe would lack completion/if you were not a part of the
colloidal whole”) and a poem about Gil Shaham whose violin makes
the thin air golden, and the lady in Houston who wrote “The train
of fame has missed me/But Billy Collins kissed me”. And there was a
touching poem to a friend diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A rousing
love poem to the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. A poem to a
computer. An ode to books. A poem entitled “Home” (“Winter’s
heavy snowfall/cradles the pine log cabin/tucked into the North
Woods/a world away from home/Two windows a room apart/face a secluded
frozen lake/I gaze toward one vista/my lover sits before the other”).
A poem, “Love After 50” that begins “At this age, we’re all
secondhand”. A poem, “Reading Keats to My Daughter” (“The
sonnet Bright Star was her favorite…./she understood as she
sat next to me,/that some who love, love ever out of reach.”)

other words, there was a lot to admire everywhere we looked, and in
the end we settled on the 25 finalists out of the 1100 entries.

Melissa Anderson, Minneapolis

Poem, Late in Life, Chet Corey, Bloomington

Kathleen Donkin, Lubec MAINE

Julie Excell, Denver CO

Patricia Kelly Hall, Roseville

Will Appear Lovely In Your Eyes, Jennifer Halling, Leavenworth

Ann Harrington, St. Paul

Iowa Song, Marsha Hayles, Pittsford NY

Michael Hill, Austin TX

Avenue, 1960, Holly Iglesias, Greenville SC

Way You Move, Brett Jenkins, St. Paul

Maureen Cassidy Jenkins, Carnegie PA

Ken Katzen Columbia MD

year love, Kristal Leebrick, St. Paul

Louie Arco’s, Kathleen Novak, Minneapolis

Nancy-Jean Pement, Thousand Oaks, CA

Jessica Lind Peterson, Brooklyn Park

(for K B), John Richard, Minneapolis

Good Thing, Edwin Romond, Wind Gap PA

Moon, Almost, Susan Solomon, St. Paul

Lives, Donna Spector, Warwick NY

for My Grandmother, Marjorie Thomsen, Cambridge MA

for a sister who was once my best friend, Francine Marie Tolf,

Carla, Cary Utterberg, Golden Valley

Morning, Mark R. Warren, Phoenix AZ

will come to a decision and let you know as soon as possible.