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Moving Words 2021 Poems

This year’s Moving Words Adult Competition 2021

Six winning poems were selected from 211 poems by this year’s judge, Arlington’s 2nd Poet Laureate Holly Karapetkova, who also has a poem on display. View the poems below and on Arlington’s ART buses from February through September 2021.


By Holly Karapetkova
Poet Laureate of Arlington, Virginia

A wall is not needed;
a fence will keep nothing out.
Let the weeds run wild.
Let the chipmunks burrow under
and find their way around this open yard.
There will be wildflowers here
and small winged insects
who know how to keep themselves.
They do not need our help.

Ode to Post-Virus

By Jona Colson
Washington, DC

It will be here again.
The summer with its vow

of greens and ripening.
It will be here again—

the world we know.
Our short life in a long day

of light and touch.
It will be here again,

and we will find what we lost.


By W. Luther Jett
Washington Grove, MD

When a stone
is raised above another, who
shall be lifted and who
shall do the lifting?
Who is kept down
and who will be the keeper?

And when
did the tower become
a wall?

The American Dream

By May-Mei Lee
Alexandria, VA

In the distance, I see my mother
as she gathers kindle from the side of a road in Toisan while
my father kneads pizza dough in the Woodies’ basement Sbarro
where my two feet now stand in Gucci sneakers
worth wages formed by tired hands.

My Father’s Voice

By Michele Simms-Burton
Alexandria, VA

Sounds like thunder on a summer day
When the Great Lakes spit out their discontent.

His voice levies the scent of peace when
Ailing times slashed my dreams into fragments

That cautionary voice   words trapped in stutters
Syllables creeping from tongue to air

Yet I tasted each one    held them like
Pearls   hoping to find a way   a way.

Pearls from Paradise

By Rana Jaafar Yaseen
Arlington, VA

I invite certitude.
Stars come down to help.
Oceans unify.
As we leave our past stories to break away, we dress up.
Such a joy!!
I walk this path, onward, perpetuating this unstoppable resurrection.
I just walk…
A book is in my purse.
Light is within me.
I embrace one word: rise.
Suns, like beads, surround my ivory neck.

Second Born

By Lori Rottenberg
Arlington, VA

You are the day of short sleeves in March,
the bouquet held behind the back,
the giggling group waiting in the darkened room.
Named only for yourself, you carry
no weight, gliding in the glorious
center of your own moment.
With your sunburst face, you teach
that love is not a cup but a window:
hearts cannot overfill, instead they open
to the infinite we are willing to admit.