A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who participated in GMC’s first poetry contest. We had 70 submissions from more than 30 authors! Your submissions support our work by inspiring others to enjoy the outdoors. We use them in the Long Trail News, in our calendar, and in our online channels, including social media.
We’re also thankful to award-winning poet Sean Prentiss, who judged our inaugural contest. Check out Sean’s winning picks below, and hear him read them aloud at the 39-minute mark in the below recording.
Grand Prize Winner
by Claire Chomentowski
it couldn’t have been less than fatal
the collision involving my windshield
and a butterfly,
an event i’d never have guessed at,
except for when the sun smacks the glass
and then i am awestruck,
hardly seeing the road before me,
my eye drawn instead to that
smudge of incandescence —
stuck in my line of vision —
thin and gauzy, like a skin graft
from a rainbow,
trailed by a streak of
they say comets are nothing
more than a patchwork of dirt and debris
gleaned as they streak past the stars
and so i contemplate
the symbiotic relationship
that beauty bears
Second Place Winner
7:15 a.m., third floor, making copies
by Mitchell Nobis
I stand in the company of
waiting for a machine
to warm up,
waiting for my head
to clear the dense weight
of slow morning.
I watch a panicked moth flittering
at the window.
It bumps the glass
over and again,
trying to get out.
The endless tangle
of electrical wires
& phone lines. The mass of treetops
so many miles
off in the distance.
Leaving You at the Start of the Long Trail
by Elizabeth Macalaster
You were just on your way
as the branches
haloed around your head,
like the canopy fanned behind,
your flesh and blood
for sun and shadow—
so that when I turned to look
one last time,
you were gone.
Summer of ’13
By Jack Markoski
The smell of fresh cut fir
is the quickest way back
to those slopes:
pulling saws and swinging tools
above our heads. Stomachs
never quite full
in the early morning light
that carried our shadows,
tall and frail.
I wonder if my hands
were ever fully cleaned
of all that pitch
that helped me hold the axe
and the illusion that I had finally
become a man.
– it’s not all that different,
you know? That place
from this one.
I’m sure it’s the same sun –
but perhaps a new
kind of dawn.
By Sonia Scherr
The entryway of that motel was dim
Despite the naked fixtures overhead.
It smelled like ash and bottled pine scent. Dead
Hydrangeas drooped in glass beside the grim-
Faced clerk, who grasped our cash and shook her slim,
Dry Red Bull can. I felt a twinge of dread
Because we’d argued over what I’d said,
Unthinkingly, about your dad and him.
Outside, we walked in silence to our room
Until you stopped and, pointing, whispered, Look.
A luna moth at rest on concrete: Plume
Of emerald, gold-veined, tail a double hook,
And painted eyes on wings that did illume
The night and lift to guide the breath we took.
About the Authors
Claire Chomentowski has lived in Roxbury, VT for 45 years. Nature has been her fondest passion since childhood. She retired from her work with nursing home residents and developmentally disabled adults, and now runs the Roxbury Food Shelf and is an Air BNB host.
Mitchell Nobis is a writer and public K-12 school teacher in Metro Detroit where he lives with his wife, kids, and dog. He grew up on a dairy farm, and life in the suburbs still makes him a little itchy. Find him at @MitchNobis or mitchnobis.com.
Elizabeth Macalaster and her husband Dan Sayner lived in Vermont for many years where they enjoyed the state’s beautiful trails. Dan hiked the Long Trail in parts over the course of a few years. They now live on the coast of Maine.
Camper Dan says
Great poetry! I completed the Pacific Crest Trail in 5 months. Later I would attempt the Long Trail thinking that, hiking 260 miles vs hiking 2600 miles, completing the LT would be an easy 10-day stroll. Nope, it took me several years to complete the LT in sections. So, if you are considering thru-hiking the PCT, CDT, or AT consider hiking the LT first. If you can complete the LT you will have no problems completing any of the other three trails, Extra credit, hike the LT north to south!