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Moving Words 2018 Poems

This year's Moving Words Adult Competition 2018 theme "Ripped from the Headlines" asked poets to respond to what they see, or don't see, in today's headlines.  Six winning poems and three honorable mentions were selected from more than 230 poems by this year's judge Teri Cross Davis. View the six winning poems below and on Arlington's ART buses from April through September 2018. Also join us for the Winner's Reading at New District Brewing on April 8, 2018.


Lara Payne, Maggie Rosen, Eric Frosbergh, DL Mattila, Dorothy Bendel, JoAnne Growney

Poet Laureate Poem

Katherine E. Young

Honorable Mentions

Luther Jett, Henry Crawford, Susan Scheid

Winning Poems

Corn Stand, 10 ears for 2 dollars

This is hidden work,
the constancy of counting, measuring
who needs to be fed and how.
We women, we strangers, gather early:
the shopping, the planning, the preparing.
Tomorrow, heavy platters
weigh arms young and old, brown
and pale, approach tables
where faces
open to the newly sweet
warm breeze, as summer ripens.

- Lara Payne

Designers Reveal Concerning Fact About Iconic Dress

"By the end, Diana understood she didn't even have to say anything: her clothes spoke for her." - from article on, Nov 9, 2017

Measurements persisted, not unlike scrutiny.
Each time Diana's waist was smaller: from 29 inches to 23.5 by wedding day.
We had to account for human flaws;
our bravado grew as hers receded.
Our silk posed, postured, our flowers vomited,
our train ran like a river out of a compressed spring.
We knew time and measuring tape limit all.
Ultimately, they sewed her in: lace as a chain, veil as iron bars.

- Maggie Rosen

#MeToo - A Father Responds

Some hands grab for dirty work, up close.
So my daughter's pit bull runs with her at dawn.
My wind-worn wings can't span the sky.
For her sake, I want to be what's strange and terrible.
Osiris' black jackal would intercede. His job?
To drag the corpse of lust's assumptions underground.
To weigh its shriveled heart.
But could I recognize deceit seeping from the pores?
Maybe not. Pit bulls possess a better sense of smell.

- Eric Frosbergh


we don't speak
of the deeper issues
skimming stones

- dl mattila

Whale in the Hudson

I read about a whale in the Hudson today, as
rare as a ghost or shadow come to life in
the city shallows, and I wanted it to mean something,
this forty tons of blubber and bone and maroon blood pulsing, traveling
alone amongst man-made towers of industry teeming
with lives in their own rivers of clocks and news and
push buttons whooshing in waves of
empire states. I needed this vessel
to come up for air and make itself real, to push through clouded waters, to
make this again a place of safe harbor.

- Dorothy Bendel

The Other Place

Scientists find another star system
with eight planets just like ours.
- Washington Post headline, 12/17/17
Does that new-found system have an Earth
from which came life that now destructs:
oceans rising, people warring - each refusing
to see another's view? On that distant planet,
do they have mountains? Do they have courage?
Do they have honey bees? Do they have words?

- JoAnne Growney

Poet Laureate Poem


Be he Defender of the Faith,
Father of Liberty,
Cinematic Auteur cum Comedic Genius,
Teacher, Coach, Olympic Physician-
be he Cousin, Uncle, Brother, Father -
makes no difference
to the fourteen-year-old
whose eyes widen
when fingers linger
as he's tickling her thigh.

- Katherine E. Young
Arlington County Poet Laureate

Honorable Mention Poems


There is darkness and there
is light. Somewhere
dawn opens the sky even
while here night closes her fist.
No eye is shut so tight
a star's kiss won't pierce it.

- Luther Jett


First to go were the [vulnerable] with little voice
and no [entitlement] to fairness. Next up
[diversity] was whited out in one clean stroke
along with [evidenced-based] as in "provable",
or "true". Words that made people feel uncomfortable
like [fetus] or threatened the powerful
like [science-based] had to be deleted. Without words
you can even make a people disappear
so on a plain gray desk, a blunt red pen crossed out[transgender] and they were gone.

- Henry Crawford

Praise song for ants (excerpt)

Praise the tiny black ants.
Praise their resilience
to be knocked down, drowned out,
killed, trampled, worn to nothing
and then to bloom again.
Praise their multitudes, their pathways,
their ant mounds, their single-mindedness.
Praise their force of nature for showing
me time and again how little
of this world belongs to me.

- Susan Schneid