73 entries
Finalist Judge: Lee Ann Russell,
author of How to Write Poetry—Ballad to Villanelle

1st Place -- $250

Stephen J. Wersan, Ph.D.
Ridgecrest, California

Stephen J. (“Steve”) Wersan, Ph.D. is a member of the East Sierra branch of California Writers Club. He was born in 1933 in New York City and educated in public and private schools in that city. He received an A.B. from Earlham College in 1954 with a double major in mathematics and physics (with departmental honors in both) and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the Technological Institute of Northwestern University in 1970. He became seriously interested in poetry after his father's death. He has had poems published in the Journal of Reform Judaism, Poet and other small publications. In October 2004, he self-published a collection of his poems entitled Smooth Stones on the Bottom. He resides in Ridgecrest, CA. Francine, his wife of 51 years passed away in 2011. They have six daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

(Contemplating my father’s cremation)
by Stephen J. Wersan

Once he slept, then he awoke
And climbed the wind on wings of smoke;
On wings of smoke he gained the air
And infiltrated everywhere.

A quiet man, immune to fame
Is borne aloft on wings of flame
Wherein his atoms ever seethe
And dwell in every breath I breathe.

Parts per billion lost in space,
Vagrant bonds your steps retrace,
Be once more the smile of him,
His lusty sinew, hardy limb.

There is one thing I surely know:
It is that I'll be next to go,
But by this fact I am set free
To be the man I ought to be.

Am I a chesspiece, gutless fool,
A simpering sentient molecule?
No, I must sing, my voice must shout
Before the breath of life gives out!

Parts per billion in the sky,
Turn on me your loving eye;
Gentle one ... look down on me.
See the specters that I see.