The annual Luschei Family Poetry awards celebration at the Lynda Fairly Carpinteria Arts Center was held virtually this year on May 16. In the child poetry category, Orly Espinoza was honored; Noah Manzarek was the winner of the teen poetry division; and Christina Gessler won the adult poetry competition. The judges this year included poets Giti White, Gaby Edwards and Anna Fortner. The contest is sponsored by poet Glenna Berry Horton Luschei.
Child Poetry Winner
By Orly Espinoza, age 8
Orange and beautiful
standing open to the sun.
Their petals dance in the light.
At the end of the day
they close their petals
and say good night.
Teen Poetry Winner
Noah Manzarek, age 17
There is a place of naught
In the dry valley
Where the air smells of rot;
Where the lepers flee.
Father told me that
It’s no place for me
But I look down there at
That old leper-tree.
There’s a pulpy amber drum,
That seems to glare at us from
The leper trail’s end.
It sloughs from the
Old and scaly bark,
And when it stares back at me
I see countless darkened hearts.
Adult Poetry Winner
What Falls Away
By Christina Gessler
Don’t ask me to explain Passover or Easter or Ramadan;
or how George Floyd’s family will ever forgive anyone.
Don’t ask me how broken bones knit back together; or why a caterpillar melts into a goopy soup then emerges from the cocoon a butterfly;
or what is holy.
Give these questions to the scientists and scholars and those with vast vocabularies and faith.
Give me, instead, a course in ordinary miracles:
A flock of birds in the neighbor’s tree to awake the morning darkness with wordless hymns of dawn;
And breath after breath filling and leaving my lungs, effortlessly.
Then let me witness the moment the butterfly’s wings finish drying, before they stretch full length and attempt flying.
After I learn to trust in these small things,
Let me sleep through a dreamless night;
Let me praise ordinary mysteries—pens with ink; the simple spelling of j-o-y and l-o-v-e;
Let me start at the beginning, again, with hands open and able to carry these wishes and hopes without worry for what slips though my fingers like sand.
I’ll leave them where they fall
because this is the only miracle I know:
You do not have to carry it all.