Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Jacqueline Jules is awarded first place for her poem “To Be A Gold Droplet Floating.” Jacqueline Jules is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum, published by Finishing Line Press, and Stronger Than Cleopatra, forthcoming from ELJ Publications. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Christian Science Monitor, Soundings Review, America, St. Anthony Messenger, Inkwell, Third Wednesday, Little Patuxent Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Potomac Review,  Imitation Fruit, Calyx, Connecticut River Review, and Pirene's Fountain. She is also the author of two dozen books for young readers including the Zapato Power series, No English, Sarah Laughs, and Never Say a Mean Word Again. Visit her online at www.jacquelinejules.com.

To Be A Gold Droplet Floating
                   by Jacqueline Jules

While sometimes
prayer dissolves me
like sugar in water...
to become a sweeter substance,
I am just as satisfied
with suspension
in this oil and vinegar world—
to be a gold droplet floating
in a dark, mysterious sea
I can withstand
a hard shaking
and not be absorbed
by bitter circumstances.


Second-place honors go to Jennifer L. Freed for her poem “This Strawberry This.”

Jennifer L Freed’s poetry chapbook, These Hands Still Holding, was a finalist in the 2013 New Women’s Voices chapbook competition, and has just been published by Finishing Line Press (April 2014).  Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry East, Cloudbank, The Worcester Review, Common Ground Review, and other publications. To read some of her other work or to learn more, please visit her website:  jfreed.weebly.com. 

This Strawberry This
        by Jennifer L. Freed

A hundred years ago in Hong Kong, I stood strangely
in a cluttered shop on a cluttered corner, gazing
at unexpected American candy bars
that had crossed the Pacific to land there
on those shadowed shelves. Names from such a distant
place – Mars, Milky Way, 5th
Avenue. I stood and stared
for such a while that the clerk asked if I was ill. No.
I had been away: six months
in the Chinese mainland, where there were no
such luxuries of once-familiar food.
The candy was extravagantly dear, foreign
import price, and I was barely
out of college, was in Hong Kong only long
enough for booster shots (encephalitis, hepatitis, malaria).
What little money I had
had to last me another six months
back in the People’s Republic, and then
still fly me home. So the choice
of which chocolate to buy, the choice of whether
to buy at all
seemed a matter of slow and grave consideration.
And so I stood, and gazed, and weighed with care the options
of nut and caramel, of nougat and crunch, or of none
of these, and I knew that what I bought, if
I bought, would not be casually
chewed, but allowed to soak
on my tongue, to last, for it would be the last
time I would have a chance
to taste my home for yet another half a year. And maybe that’s why
now, worlds later, in this other
life, the one with children’s schoolwork spread across the kitchen
table, and flowered backpacks piled up by the door – in this
life, when I come home late one evening, stomach panging
for my missed dinner, and I grab
a handful of this and a clutch of that, quickly
chewing without even a plate because the harried day has not yet left
my bones, I am suddenly stilled
by a bite of summer strawberry.
A strawberry.
Chilled from the ‘fridge.
Taste this, a part of me says. Pay attention.
is breath-
takingly good. This
is the only this
I’ll ever


Third-place honors go to John Mizelle for “The Birth of Stars.” John Mizelle is a prize-winning poet and fiction writer, a singer, a songwriter, a recording artist with three published CDs of original music, and a psychotherapist and teacher of spiritual psychology. His passion is direct experience of Self beyond the conditioned mind. He draws inspiration from the natural world, from the mystic poets of all times and places, from music, and from people. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California with his wife and a family of animals. He can be contacted at jbmizelle@cruzio.com, or his website, www.johnmizelle.com.

The Birth of Stars
         by John Mizelle

There’s a place of deepest quiet,
where every sound is a clear voice.
There’s a place of deepest darkness,
where softly burning stars rejoice.
There’s a place of deepest stillness,
from which the dancing worlds arise.
To rest there, breathing softly,
is the first, the last, the only prize.

The greatest life, the longest line,
leaves no more mark than morning dew.
The king who builds a mighty throne
succumbs to something small and new
that rises from the emptiness
to feast on body’s heady wine.
No end to the blessed kingdom,
no end to this dance divine.

This body is a sacrament,
each cell a flaming drop of God;
this mind a complex instrument
whose simple purpose is to laud
this wonder giving shape to life,
as universes rise and fall;
each self a speck in emptiness,
yet inside each self resides all.

The redwood asks not how to live,
but rises, graceful, toward the sun.
It hosts whole worlds in its brief life
and feeds still more when it is done.
The task that is offered us
is to discover what we are.
Rest now—your heart teems with light;
by nature, it gives birth to star.


Editor's Choice Award goes to Gabriella Brand for “River, stream, brook, mind.” Gabriella Brand's poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in Room Magazine, Cordite, Christian Science Monitor, The Citron Review, 3Elements Review, and other publications. Her work is part of the "Connected" anthology put out by WisingUp Press. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Now and then, she undertakes solo spiritual pilgrimages, including walking from France to Spain on the Camino de Santiago, as well as the more challenging 88 Temples of Shikoku, Japan. Gabriella Brand is a lay preacher in the Unitarian tradition, frequently addressing groups in Quebec, New England, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Contact: moulinparoles@gmail.com https://sites.google.com/site/gatherthespirit and https://sites.google.com/site/gabriellabrandwordsmith.

River, stream, brook, mind
            by Gabriella Brand
Meditation, it’s like getting in a canoe.
So wobbly, at first.
No idea how to navigate,
no idea how to survive a meeting with an iceberg,
a tumble over Niagara Falls,
the free-fall of the mind,
the winding river, the unpredictable waves.

Breathe, says the master. Don’t hold your breath.

But I find myself tightening my life-vest,
and clinging to the sides.

Take it all as it comes, says the master,
the twists, the turns,
the scraping of the hull,
the long portage,
the doldrums and the rapids.

But I keep hitting rocks, I say.

Get rid of the paddle, says the master.

And when I finally do, I float,
buoyant as a plover,
high above the little creek I used to call my head.