Laureat’s Choice (one of 10 winners)
John Chernega; Winona, Minn.
Where shrill cicadas hiss their Sunday hymns
And sanguine sumac dapples sedge and spruce
He drops the onyx berries from their stems
Into a bulging bag stained red with juice
Where pools of shadow grow along the vale
She strokes her belly, eyes the sinking sun
His long arms reach through patches on the trail
They pluck and eat the berries one by one
He murmurs they could venture further in
But she has cast her eyes back to the gate
She passes him a napkin for his chin
“Too late for that,” she says. “It’s much too late”
She shudders at a cold September wind
They leave the berries growing at trail’s end.
Winner: Best Winona Area Sonnet
Robert Libera; Winona, Minn.
If you’re of mind to sail the flowing Nile,
See fair Verona, ancient Roman square
Or fairyland or some enchanted isle
Let Shakespeare’s magic verses fly you there,
Where characters, born of his brain and heart,
May speak in gentle tones or shout in rage,
Where tyrant, lover, king so plays his part
As if to prove that ‘all the world’s a stage’
And where the author treats the audience
That’s come to view the acting of his play
To language, famous for its eloquence
To stunning lines that take your breath away.
‘Lend me your ears’ and come, come one and all
to the Great River Shakespeare Festival.
Finalist: Best Sonnet by a Teenager
Claire Lehnert; Eugene, OR
She lays her head down, eyelids flutter closed
Alluring shadows: Back and forth they creep
Her thoughts – her very consciousness – exposed
Her breathing slows and then she falls asleep.
Imagination sparks and come slight
Night’s depth sets in as dreams augment her mind
She’s soaring up to reach the highest height
She’s floating, flying, leaving earth behind
When vivid storm clouds send her crashing down
And darkness ravages her peaceful trance
And thunder threatens to sweep in and drown
Her in a dark and ghastly nighttime dance
She wakens to the sound of her own scream
And softly whispers, “It was just a dream”.