Skip to Main Content

Moving Words 2016 Poems

The Moving Words Competition for adults returned in 2016 after a hiatus. Six winning poems and six honorable mentions were selected from more than 400 poems by judge and local poet Francisco Aragón.  View the six winning poems on Arlington’s ART buses from April through September 2016.

2016 Moving Words Poetry winners: Susan Bucci Mockler, D. Gilson, Steve Herring, J. Howard, Camisha L. Jones, and Ellen Sazzman.  Honorable mentions went to Elizabeth Acevedo, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Patricia Davis, Ann Rayburn, Nancy Tyler, and Joyce Winslow.


My Mother’s Rolling Pin

I’ve had her wooden rolling pin for 20 years
but hardly ever use it. The handles are loose,
it’s worn smooth, and it makes a thumping sound
when I roll out and push the dough, hoping,
in the soothing repetition, for lightness, flakiness,
the right combination of flour and water, gentle force
of rolling pin to dough.  It’s been wrapped and forgotten,
but some days I’m glad I kept something I can touch.
Some days, I need to pull it out from the back of the drawer,
unwrap it and wake my heart up again.

-Susan Bucci Mockler


Sewing Lesson

Above me, my mother sews a blue dress
for Brad, the only drag queen in our town.
She’s bent before her work as I caress

the yards of silk charmeuse gathered round
her feet. The ceiling fan whirs, and sequins —
silver, chartreuse — fly about us, flutter down,

stick in my curly hair. Mother tousles them
free, and quick, begins to sew again.

-D. Gilson


Between Bridges

When I pulled the chord I got Dizzy
I be-bopped down the aisle
A passenger passed me a smile
Mother Hubbard was bending phrases
I started to rumba back to my seat
Higher than the stratosphere, upbeat
Blowing life into Little Sunflowers
Not Van Gogh’s but blee-blop blues
Grooves that ventured hard bop
But, oh man, I missed my stop

-Steve Herring



This poem is so very tired
Of guns. Of snuffed lives. Enough,
Says this poem. Enough. Enough.

-J. Howard



my hair is a horizon     uprising
tall like tree tops reaching high
towards the nourishing sun
a salutation honoring what is above and beneath

my hair is a horizon
a land once stripped of its natural resources
that now stands        unapologetically rich
a beckoning place   
spiraling itself into its own quiet revolution

-Camisha L. Jones


Baseball Evening Reliever

August swelters.  Nats fans slick 
with the sweat
of triumph pack the train.
From their seats a boy and girl rise
offer their place to an elderly couple holding on
to seasons long past.
With thanks bowed bodies accept the gesture
as the game’s last double play.

-Ellen Sazzman


2016 Honorable Mention Poems


Family Bed

Her first tumult, roundhouse, flip
little spark of flutter, little slip
when the universe tumbled through me
I plodded, heavy with importance, our
path forward. Now she curls to me
beckons--when have I not heeded her call?
This love radiates, burns brighter with each
diminished night, I cannot relinquish her need.
How tiring and lovely it is to fill.

From "Haint" Copyright (c) 2016 by Teri Ellen Cross Davis. Reprinted by permission of Gival Press.



blooms inside the fruit—
which, more than fruit, is
      a wound, purpling,
seed inseparable from meat, pulp
      livid with flowers
no one ever sees.

-Patricia Davis



In the angled safety of my father’s arms, I listened to the tale
of Ferdinand, the sturdy bull who did not want to fight, preferred
the scent of meadow roses to whiffs of mad-bull hormones.
My father, in a l930’s stiff brown suit, home from grown-up business talk.
In the bull ring, querencia signifies the place a bull retreats to rest,
to regain strength. Today I walked a trail deep with crunchy gravel,
deep with grass, in a lingering Indian summer. Every pore absorbed
the woodsy calm, inhaled messages that whispered, Rest your spirits here.
Just as I’d inhaled my father’s weary spirit, his longing for querencia.

-Ann Rayburn


The Ballston Tango

I lean into the rhythm
of a far away song –
swaying, sashaying
in a shadowed living room.
       Twenty-five years ago
       Twenty-three years old
Hand upon hand,
trusting your lead,
we step and pivot as one –
perfected in memory.

-Nancy Tyler


Choose Your Companions Wisely

For example, don’t take a clown deep sea diving.
His floppy shoes catch on reef.
That big red nose    
Like the bubbles he blows,
Buoy up with no comic relief.   
When a clown isn’t funny under water
His sense of humor drowns.
A starfish out-stars
And a porpoise out-pranks
A wet and grumpy clown.

-Joyce Winslow