Poetry Contest

Announcing the Winners!

The Fourth Annual Yule Love It Lavender Farm Poetry Contest

Theme: My relationship with nature in my own backyard. 


Mary Jo Firth Gillett's poetry collection, Soluble Fish, won the Crab Orchard Series First Book Award (Southern Illinois University Press). She's also published four award-winning chapbooks, most recently Dance Like a Flame (Hill-Stead Sunken Garden Poetry Award). Her poems have appeared in The Southern Review, New Ohio Review, Harvard Review, Salamander, Michigan Quarterly Review, Green Mountains Review, Third Coast, and other journals as well as the Verse Daily and Poetry Daily websites. She's won the N.Y. Open Voice Poetry Award and a Kresge Artist Fellowship in the Literary Arts.
Her MFA is from Vermont College.

First Place:

Aline Soules, Danville, CA

A hot, humid night perfect for fireflies. I give my son 
a two-quart mason jar with a mesh lid that lets air 
flow freely.  He and his friends zig-zag around the lawn, 
swooping to catch the beetles mid-air.

Even crowded in a jar, these tiny insects punctuate 
the night with luciferin shine, seeking a mate as if 
they were still in the air, in the grass, flitting 
through the trees.

When it’s time to come into the house, my son 
stuffs lettuce in the jar, but I explain they want 
plant pollen and nectar.  Before I can stop him, 
he throws in granulated sugar. 

I ask him to let the fireflies go, but he insists 
on putting the jar on his bedside table in that age-old 
desire to capture joy through possession.  When he sleeps, 
I take the jar, not wanting the fireflies to die, not here, 
not now.  They have only a couple of months.

Soft steady rain falls as I step outside.  This late, 
the boys and fireflies have gone.  I unscrew the lid.  
The beetles rise, twinkle round my head 
until I walk into the wet grass where they scatter, 

Second Place:

 Vicki Wilke, Clarkston, MI


My aging deck creaks, 
cradles me through births, deaths,
below nests in the greenery- 
hopeful crooks. Sun. Shade.

Today I think of my hair,
once thick, wavy, free, 
tucked beside me in a paper sack 
against its will.  

Birds call in tender song, kindly 
like they know what will come
when softness is gathered
in my hand, lifted to the breeze.

I close my eyes, imagine
pale shells, nestlings 
warmed in abundance.  Sparrows
or perhaps a mourning dove.

Third Place:

Mary Merlo, Troy, MI

Flowers, Trees and Honeybees Awaken

Random bouquets of golden daffodils trumpet
emergence of season.  Tulips sing spring, purple
and cream crocus cover ground.  Dogwoods explode
with buds promising petals of red-stained crosses.   
Rioting growth contrasts fall’s rust-colored blanket
spread beneath bare trees about to sprout tiny
leaves.  Lacy veils shroud landscape to hide robin, 
oriole and blue jay nests ensconced in woodlands.   

A rosy-breasted bird streaks like a fleeting image
in slumber’s dream, darts across a wooden deck
where empty terra cotta pots stand ready to welcome
geraniums and spikes.  Squirrels dig for stashed acorns.
Light glints off iridescent blue wings of dragonfly
hovering near gardener dozing in chair beneath noonday
sun.  Honeybee buzzes near his ear, awakens him. 
Refreshed, he resumes tasks to arouse sleeping beauties.