Poetry Society of Vermont
founded in 1947

2020 Summer Contest Winners

Mary Margaret Audette Memorial Award for light or humorous verse:

WINNER: Ann E. Cooper for “Retribution.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Sam Hewitt for “Hideaway.”

Judge – Judith Yarnall


J. Richard Barry Memorial Award for a poem with a Vermont or country theme:

WINNER: Marta Finch for “Driving Home from Church.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Michael Farrand for “Lazy Man’s Guide to Sugarin’.”

Judge – Sarah Audsley


Marian Gleason Memorial Award for a poem of 20 lines or fewer:

WINNER: Elizabeth McCarthy for “Winter Voices.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Sandra Gartner for “To Quote Margaret Atwood.”

Judge – Jack T. Hitchner


Goldstein Memorial Award:

WINNER: P.H. Coleman for “87 (on a bench at Walmart).”

HONORABLE MENTION: Carol Milkuhn for “To the Women who Embroidered the Bayeux Tapestry.”

Judge – Carl Mabbs-Zeno


Laura J. Spooner Award for a love poem:

WINNER: P.H. Coleman for “Hartland Vermont.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Marshall Witten for “Parson’s Bench.”

Judge – Kyle Potvin


Chris White Memorial Award for a poem relating to science, science fiction, or math:

WINNER: Marshall Witten for “Zero.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Lorna Cheriton for “Albert Einstein Boldly Dared.”

Judge – David Mook


Ann Day

Philip Coleman Contest Co-chairs


Past Winners' Poems 



My cousin found you lying there

on top of some old rafters where

she put you when her mother died.


Remembering that she had said

to give me you when she was dead

-her wishes could not be denied-


And so you ended up with me,

reminder of my auntie’s glee

at having such distinguished kin


to gaze upon us from the wall

as we pulled boots off in the hall

so we weren’t muddy coming in.


Your frame is something to behold,

ornately carved and washed in gold,

but oh, my goodness what a scowl.


It clearly was the custom then

to photograph successful men

as if they could smell something foul.


My puckish aunt did surely know

I shared her sense of humor though,

so I’d provide a welcome place.


While others see you hanging here

with your expression so severe,

I only see her smiling face.


Sam Hewitt



My grandfather was a man of few words...

a true Vermonter who hunted deer with my Dad

in the Green Mountain woods,

until his bowed arthritic legs gave out.

One year, they hung a white tailed doe in our garage,

skinned and headless and suspended from the rafters.

I was ten years old and ran crying to my mother when I saw it,

frightened and confused at its human form.

She smelled of Salem cigarettes, peppermint gum

and Avon lotion as she patted my back

and that was the last time a deer ever appeared in our garage.

My Papa lived in a small house by the airport

with a fly speckled yellow bulb hanging on the porch,

swaying over stacked cardboard boxes and mother-in-law tongue plants.

When he was a boy, my grandfather traveled to the Dakotas

to be with his absent father,

riding horseback through the plains and living in a sod house,

beneath a million stars.

He would tell the story that he reached up from his saddle to touch

a large white object, his hands cupping a smooth knuckle.

It was protruding from the clay overpass and years later,

dinosaur bones were discovered in the Badlands.

My Papa taught me to use my imagination as we discovered

whales and rearing stallions in the clouds above us.

Winged dragons flew across the darkening sky

as I laid on the grass, with hands behind my tomboy head.

He sat quietly in the webbed lawn chair

with the sound of crickets in our ears.

and only the glow of the pipe in his mouth,

lighting that cool summer evening.


Deb Chadwick



she told me, eyes bright, she was ready to see what could venture forth 
from scorched earth she’d trusted all her life
watered by the firemen she’d taught in school
she told me the dog tried to herd the ghosts of cows again last week 
all I know is since Wallace Farm, I’ve ended sentences

with commas
and written letters to old friends
and wondered if beyond “Dead End” signs
lies, simply, more road

Caleigh Cross


He brushed off the electric fence like a fly
and proceeded through the pasture toward the flock. 
Tomba, a Maremma-Abruzze, bred
to guard sheep, came out to meet him. They faced off
about half pistol dueling distance apart,
defender and predator. Bear took three deliberate 
steps forward. Dog took three slow steps back. Pause.
Then, dog advanced three measured steps, and bear
gave way three steps, reprising this pas de deux
strict pattern several times, as both kept their
eyes firmly fixed on the other. Finally
the bear reared up on his hind toes, extended
front legs over his head, making him
appear his maximum size. The dog responded
by standing on his rear feet, to look equally
as menacing as possible. During this exchange, 
neither uttered a single sound. At last
the bear deflated down on all fours, hesitated,
turned, and closely watched, ambled away.

Marshall Witten


Leaves always fall in the Fall 
Gravity never sleeps
When the echo of the eternal voice 
Calls us to bed beneath our stone

Gravity never sleeps
A relentless and forever pull 
 Calls us to bed beneath our stone
 Covered by earth and flowers

A relentless and forever pull

To a deep and endless sleep 

Covered by earth and flowers

While the world goes on alone

To a deep and endless sleep
An escape from the hurry-scurry 
 While the world goes on alone 
 Finally leaving us in peace

An escape from the hurry-scurry

Covered by earth and flowers

Finally leaving us in peace 

Watching leaves fall in the Fall.

S. J. Cahill


propelling ourselves and the planet toward the end times
reaping what we’ve sown.
Uprooting every slab of sod

floods rolling downcovering the land, no sign of the dove or the olive branch,the fires raging

on the mountaintops
the Ten Commandments shattered.

No tranquil valley unscathed no unlogged forest
even still waters

where would Jesus
find his wilderness ?
Who would listen to him now?

Our garden of Eden
even biting the apple, has not brought

the recognition
that could save us from ourselves,
no angry God required.

Marcia Angermann


Kitty-corner was my father’s gas station
seventy or more years ago. Now, sitting
in this corner restaurant and pondering my life — 
recalling to myself its grave name —
I remembered those brief years,
and felt I’d found in this small venue
a trace of that youth-driven life.

I asked myself: 

What is there here that

I should understand, what
heart feelings have I bidden to embrace 
those many stories experienced in this town,

to bring them now 

down to this stead, to this one home,

this one small plot of space and time — 

these four corners — 

to where I believe now I can set forth

a gray memorial stone and express some words 
to mark in its stony trace the contraction
and resolution of that life here?

I answer:

Nothing! There is nothing . . .

maybe, just enough 

in the pub’s Hebraic sounding name

to let me touch those stories again, 

and then . . .

let them go.

 Richard Lyders


On Norwegian stone slabs, 
near the scenic fjord,
a wooden stave building rises 
like a large, inverted ship made 
using honed construction skills from a 
former seafaring age.

Dragons once on the bows of boats,
evil harbingers on foreign shores,
are now sentinels on a church roof and 
along with holy water and scented smoke 
keep all regional depravity at bay.

Saint Andrew crosses share the inside space
with stylized, elongated creatures from an ancient time. 
Intertwined throughout the knotted, ribbon-like design, 
they provide the hand-carved trim around a door;
and look, a bas-relief of the god, Thor.

Wilma Ann Johnson



The pond ice cracked and echoed across the field

when we were young and skating, as usual,


scratching eights, long into dark.

We both heard the crash as a patch under me


gave way. Quick-thinking you spied a birch pole.

“Hold on,” you said. I held as grasses


slapped the gray sheet between us.




A fog hangs over the pond now, my first time

back since your heart stopped, chamber by chamber,


days past chance of transplant or stainless steel.

Faithful brother, the same pair of Canada


geese you saved from the weasel

watch over their nest                    


in the cattails and reeds.


Judith Janoo      


       “how you have leaped times out of mind.” Yeats


The stream shivers silver,

            glimmering moonbeams

                        from beneath a restless surface,


muscling miles

            against elevation, against current

                        to get this far, and not yet home.


Cast upstream, grapple back,

                        I tell my son our desire must match

                                    theirs, set the hook


against sheer propulsion,

            against salmon will, hunger

                        to mate, to spawn on natal ground.


But on first cast he snags a modified one.

            Little resistance, no fierce grace,

                        no hunter prey. I don’t say,


too easy. To him this is wild,

            infertile Nephthys escaping the fish farm.

                        Scales, dull wafers of light,


serrated teeth, saw-pit jaw, ocean pout genes

            for winter gorging. He raises the fish by caudal fin

                        in triumph. I caught it!


I stand knee-deep, guard to the wonder

            of this fitful stream,

                        alive with silver blue leapers.


Judith Janoo