This year’s Moving Words Competition 2022 winning poems were selected from 211 poems by this year’s judge, Arlington poet Courtney LeBlanc, who also has a poem on display. View the poems below and on Arlington’s ART buses from February through September 2022.
Hannah Grieco, Tara Campbell, Michael Berecz, Thu Nguyen, Donald Illich, Rebecca Leet, Mars Santi, Zeina Azzam, Suzanna Zweizig
By Hannah Grieco
Little magpie, collector of stones
and small, half-sucked hard candies
you find in the street.
Hide them from me, the meanest
who swipes them back to the ground,
who washes your hands too roughly.
Who can’t see how they look like jewels,
how they shine, how they reflect the sunlight.
How if you hold them up just right
you can see through them to the sky above.
By Tara Campbell
There’s always something greening,
rooting, dying, burrowing, reaching,
something silent, holding more
than you think you can bear.
But you plant, you water, you watch
until effort dissolves to inevitable:
the sprout breaks through to the sun,
and even then, sometimes it withers,
and still you have to try again
because sometimes it blooms.
By Michael Berecz
When my kids complain about the early morning
Birds, warbling from their nests in the ivy on our house,
Waking us, what they think, too early,
I remind them that we are the morning
These new dinosaurs are waiting for. They are trying to warn us
Of the future they saw in their dreams; they are trying
To remind us - this is a world of beautiful, broken little things
And often we can’t tell which, or why,
Aside from the cries we choose to mistake for music.
We Were Made This Way
By Thu Nguyen
None of us can sleep in:
once we are up, we are all wild and working,
and you can’t catch us. We were made this way.
It seems unfair now that this is when
we are finally ourselves, sun-ripened
like the fruit we spend all summer picking.
And still, some fruit falls before we can catch them,
they bruise and rot. We are sorry.
We aren’t sure how to go on;
we just keep running towards the warmth.
By Donald Illich
The deer have lost their wildness.
They approach our front door
as if they were friendly visitors
that want in, to eat our vegetables,
gnaw house plants in the living room.
We shoo them, clapping. They flee
to the back where they rest by bamboo.
If only we were that persistent:
to find somewhere we needed to be,
regardless of whether we were wanted.
What We Hold Onto
By Rebecca Leet
weathered by winter
tattered by time
on the closet shelf
like a sad memory –
that what was rent
may be restored.
By Mars Santi
They ask "do you know Spanish?" as a courtesy
what they really want to say is
“how did you wipe your tongue clean of the colonizer?”
and the truth is
I’ve only swapped one for the other
Seen and Unseen
By Zeina Azzam
I step on an ant,
a bird crashes into a window,
a moth tangles in the spider’s web.
Lives end as we walk or sleep
or survey the stars for love.
Sometimes a rainbow appears
among water crystals
and everything makes sense.
Other times, eyes strain to see the colors
on a wounded butterfly.
By Suzanne Zweizig
As we talk we hold the dark
(me curled on this side
of midnight, you with the dawn
on your back) between us.
I Have Always Known
By Courtney LeBlanc
Most of us discover we are the antagonist
long after the epilogue. But I have always
known the truth: I am disaster. I am wild
fire. I am squall that swallows sailors
and mermaids alike. I am untamed
bronco refusing to be broken.
I am devastation. I am desire.
I am the very thing you crave.