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Moving Words 2017 Poems

Six winning poems and six honorable mentions were selected from more than 250 poems by Arlington’s Poet Laureate Katherine E. Young. View the six winning poems below and on Arlington’s ART buses from April through September 2017.

The 2017 Moving Words Poetry winners were Patricia Gray, Claire Kinnane, Hiram Larew, Gregory Luce, Laura Martin, and Naomi Thiers.  Honorable mentions went to Margaret Biser, Melanie Joyce Johnson, Sarah Lilius, Rachel Michaud, Madelyn Rosenberg, and Kathi Wolfe.  In addition, the Poet Laureate has contributed one poem for display on the buses.

2017 Moving Words Poems


Moon smudge,
lacy fragment
through the trees,
I sew you into
my camisole,
raspy light,

- Patricia Gray


After "London, Houses of Parliament" 1904 by Claude Monet

Parliament is a ghost. A muddy blue, muted blur. There is neither window, nor door. No clocks. No breath. The spires on the tower vibrate in quick brushstrokes. The sun is a smeared slow burn whispering fire to deaf blue gray. To be the violet bloom of nothing that floats above the river. To be boneless. Swept up, yellow blending to rose. Rose tossed in blue-green. To be water unbroken by oars, time unshaken by bells. To have just enough light to be certain you are somewhere.

- Claire Kinnane


What a rivery tree money is
What a stringed balloon.
Loose change could care less in your pockets
Silver just drives away
And figures with zeroes act exactly like they smell.
If confidence results at all
It only results from something like a steamy pie that’s slatted.
What a noontime smoke money is.
What a splotty peach.

- Hiram Larew

April Haiku

Last day of April:
Cold rain falls from the night sky.
A small moth floats up.

Cold spring night: The creek
whispers over its shallow bed;
sibilance of tires.

- Gregory Luce

Wild Angels

Wild angels are my favorite kind.
They have no idea where they left their haloes,
And they let their robes run through fresh mud.
They show up and change tires on highways,
Sit down and have a beer and listen,
They come to hospital rooms to tell bad jokes,
To food pantries when it’s the end of the month
And the money has run out.
They believe in revelation unfolding,
In the sacred scripture we write between each other.

- Laura Martin

At 75

I am frightened,
wily, and I
have survived    legions.
I am neither
rich nor bitter. Rare
is the day
I do not kill
a spectre.

- Naomi Thiers

Stars with Blazing Hair

I’ve watched them there, flaming over the earth,
circling and whirling on orbits still uncertain,
arcing, wheeling, scattering sparks that blaze
and crackle all night, forging constellations
we’ve never seen, we who dwell beneath….
Even those who flicker, flame out, leave
trails of ash that linger in the sky,
stinging to tears our rapt, upturned eyes.

- Katherine E. Young, Arlington County Poet Laureate

2017 Honorable Mention Poems

The Archivist

Ten feet underneath the Smithsonian by
the industrial fan (all summer in sweaters) surrounded
as he was by fourteen cabinets each
containing three to four hundred drawers
he counted out
three hundred thousand
slides of African royalty
and placed them
in 500 rows
in order.

- Margaret Biser

I Lost My Feet

i turned off the bed…and rolled out of the alarm clock…
i tripped over my balance…and lost my feet…
i gave God my knees…and fell to my prayer…
i brushed my breakfast…and ate my teeth…
i lit a shower…and jumped in the candle…
i combed my shirt…and buttoned my hair…
i fed my pants… and zipped up the cat…
clightly sonfused…cut i bon’t dare
i looked up at the earth…and laid on the sky…on cloud 9
after leaving you

- Melanie Joyce Johnson

Ode to Fairlington

Brick beside brick, we keep it together.

Hoses turn on like tiny mouths.
Roads wind about seamless.
Dog walkers up early as blue jays.

Trees speak like quiet women.
We whisper in cotton blends.

The children are sleeping.

- Sarah Lilius

Flowers (excerpt)

I love the woman
who brings lilacs to the office,
the city woman
who gives storebought roses
vodka when she gets home
because she heard they like it.
I love the woman
who wears a flower-patterned skirt
the first warm day.

- Rachel Michaud


Build a poem
around turkey bone.
Add bay leaf and thyme
for flavor and rhyme
and the last of the carrots,
though they’ve hidden in the earth
long enough to grow hermit’s whiskers.
Shave them, then, with a straight-edged knife
And drop them, slice by slice
Into the stock.

- Madelyn Rosenberg

The Planet of the Blind

You really can hear a pin drop,
mirrors are for aliens,
the sun tastes like red velvet cake,
your lover’s voice is a cashmere cape,
a clown’s smile smells of orange blossom
and ashes.  You are your own shadow.

- Kathi Wolfe

"The Planet of the Blind" was originally published in "The Uppity Blind Girl Poems,” by BrickHouse Books in 2015.