Poetry Society of Vermont
founded in 1947
photo by Linda Tyler

PSOV 2018 Summer Contest Winners




1st Place                      “Inheritance”                           Sam Hewitt

Honorable Mention     “Fall Bouquet”                        Wilma A. Johnson



1st Place                       “An Old Vermonter”              Deb Chadwick

2nd Place                      “Wallace Farm”                       Caleigh Cross

3rd Place                       “Ballet Russe”                         Marshall Witten

Honorable Mention     “The Call”                               Nancy Vandenburgh




1st Place                       “On the Interstate “                Ann Day

Honorable Mention     “The Last Pantoum”               Steven Cahill



1st Place                      "The Edge of the Gorge"        Judith Janoo   

2nd Place                    "A Biblical Prophecy"             Marcia Angermann

3rd Place                     "Thoughts at Dinner at Ebeneezer’s Pub in Minot, North Dakota"                                                                                                Richard Lyders

Honorable Mention     "Viking Conversion, 1200"     Wilma Johnson



1st Place                      “Mike”                                      Judith Janoo                           

Honorable Mention     “Anniversary Dinner”             Sarah Dickerson Snyder



1st Place                       “Salmo, GMA”                       Judith Janoo

Honorable Mention     “Miss Gertz”                           Janet Hayward Burnham





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

An Old Vermonter


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


On the Interstate


We drive in studied silence.


From the passenger window,

I watch a red-tailed hawk

soar above

the slow moving river.

September’s sunlight

patterns the blue and gold hills;

puffs of yellow poplars

dot the forest;

black and white cows

graze in squares of autumn green.

A heron lifts

from the river bank,

its wings beat with

the rhythm of my breathing.


Again your caustic words

slice into my reverie.


The hills become brown,

the river gray;

the hawk ominous.

Trees cast dark shadows.

The sun turns cold.


Ann Day  

The Edge of The Gorge


Canyons between us we can’t understand,

            tell me Stranger at this divide,

                        there’s more than nothing between us.


Talk could be soft as Lambs-ear, cashmere, fragrant as thyme,

            shared ground. Tell me what thresholds you failed

                        to cross, what you lost. How you’re standing—            


Freedom of thought, rationalists’ call,

            Spinoza, Voltaire somewhere between Love

                        & Hate, Atheist & Saint? Even Tolstoy wrote


first of war. Peace falls like spring rain, an eagle feather,

            Picasso’s Dove. Tell me Neighbor of thresholds

                        you’ve crossed, what you lost. Tell me at this edge


there’s more than nothing between us.          

            “Can you divide this apple into three halves,” your daughter asked

            feeding other hungry mouths as she opened hers,


division as portioning.

            Peace drops like a whisper between prairie warbler

                        and lark bunting, one feeder,


tern and gull, one shore, low tide and high,

            over mountains, plains, drop all our thoughts. Tell me Friend

                        what you’ve lost, how you’re standing—


tell me there’s more than nothing between us. I’m wary at the edge,

            watching the broad-winged hawk

                        circle the gorge, abandon, dive & rise.


What do you want more than anything

            else? What sticks to the roof of your mouth?

                        Let stones shake from the ground


up. I want to feel the lift

            of your breath

                        on my cheek

                                             as you speak.


 Judith Janoo



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      

Salmo, GMO

       “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