Poetry Contest Winners

By Nadine F. Neat


Equally Yoked

1982 Poetry Contest 1st Place Winner
You voiced it once, a teasing game,
How that I could have had a better name
By choosing differently to wed,
Who knows, I might have been much better fed.
I said I liked the skinny life.
How could I be another husband’s wife?
Laughter, yet our silence spoke of
Needs beyond our language; not bread, not love.
I could have been another’s wife,
You teased, and walked in glory all my life.
No humor made you feel you must
Speak so, but shaded, tiptoed plea for trust.
You think I could turn out the light
Of vision? Love, it was, but also sight,
In choosing you I stood to gain.
No one expects a birth that’s free of pain.
I have no hunger but to be
So yoked. Our mortal straining makes us free
To seek immortal judgment’s face
As two who loved in trust, believed in grace.

Khirbet Qumran:

(Place of the Dead Sea Scolls)
1982 Poetry Contest 2nd Place Winner
1. Warm sandal clouds scuff
The border around Qumran.
Here, where old scrolls, holding lost summers,
Have climbed from jars
Like painted trilliums on a trellas,
I sit among the cliffs and watch
The crumbled walls form castle stones,
Echoing a forgotten generation, a place
Where modern men have invaded
The muffled stillness. Each rock reveals
Skilled hands and the diagnostic eye
Of its creator.
My eyes hunger to see the beginning,
The quick heart-thrust of each saint
Before time shut their sky.
Here, wrapped in leather, lies the reflection
Of many hearts, sparkling in the imagination
Like old coins in a fountain.
2. Out there where moonbeams creep,
Men searched for doors that could be pried open
Into lost desert sands where prophets trudged
As by some holy design
Wearing words within their soul
That would become soft, haunting trumpets
Unknown, unheard,
Echoing in the stillness
Until a boy unearthed their ancient sound.
3. I touch the book that has become
Wild mint in my mind,
Holding the records of Qumran.
Did they love the gospel too?
As the ample journey of these souls progressed,
Did they know the sweetness of service?
Did they know the Lord?
They wear no clarifying signatures,
And yet they spread a taste of sweetness
That will always dissolve familiar
On our lips
A honeycomb of bright joy.

New Pioneer

1982 Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest 1st Place Winner
I don’t till the earth
sweating under a new sun
crying from blisters just begun
all day
six days
because I was cast out of the Garden.
I don’t flee my home
sweating in an icy night
fearful, thankful for my life
all night
one dreadful night
because my neighbors drove me out.
I don’t walk prairie miles
sweating under desert sun
choking dust behind wagons
all day
six days
because my home is somewhere ahead.
I don’t kneel, rocking my baby
afraid, hoping he won’t die
praying he will stay strong, alive
all day
seven days
because he could die, like my last two did.
I fight in Satan’s last battle
for the spirit of each child
holding hands with God
all day
every day.
Our victory is Eternal.

Jochebed and the Nile

1982 Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest 2nd Place Winner
She stood beside the river twice:
At first her understanding of the plan
could look toward the future
as at those times, when looking south,
she thought of waters of an endless clarity,
as at those times her fingers,
through the pitch, could clearly feel
the pattern of papyrus for her son,
child and ark the raw materials of the Pentateuch.
The second time, while Moses
toddled to delight the Pharaoh’s child,
there was no design except the water
in its flood when, brown and red,
it took the land like sorrow,
flushing fields and rows and plains,
its future gifts awash
in the streaming of the moment.