Moving Words Adult Competition 2024

Moving Words

Moving Words makes poetry a part of daily life for commuters riding Arlington Transit (ART) by replacing advertising placards inside public buses with poems by local poets. Moving Words was launched in 1999 during National Poetry Month and is sponsored by Arlington Transit and the Cultural Affairs Division of Arlington Economic Development.

2024 Moving Words Winning Poems and Honorable Mentions

This year’s Moving Words Competition 2024 winning poems were selected from around 300 poems by this year’s judge, Arlington Poet Laureate Courtney LeBlanc, who also has a poem on display. View the poems below and on Arlington’s ART buses from April through September 2024.

Ife Al-Din, Sidnitra Bates, Angie Blake-Moore, Jessica Browne-White, Marc Drexler, Michaela Godding, Jennifer Koiter, Rebecca Leet, Susan Russo

Honorable Mentions
Serena Agusto-Cox, michele baron, Jennifer Blanck, Gina Gil, BV Lawson, Sunayna Pal, Melanie Weldon-Soiset, Jane Shapiro

Poet Laureate Poem

A Month After My Dad Died, I Dream of Him
By Courtney LeBlanc
Poet Laureate of Arlington, Virginia

He looks just like he did in the pictures we thumbed
during his last week—trim and impossibly young,
his face unlined and his coal black hair still thick.
We are at a party, standing close and talking. We are
somehow the same age, in that magical way of dreams,
though he is still my father and I am still his daughter.
When he reaches out to touch me, I wake, the promise
of his embrace sliding off my skin in the cool morning air.

Winning Poems

Appreciation Uninterrupted
By Ife Al-Din
Washington, DC

Flowers bloom, seeking sun
Standing tall
Summer comes, dogs pant
Rain stalls
Cool down, leaves change
Autumn calls
Precipitation forms, molecules transform
Snow falls
I celebrate each season and its reason
I love it all

AM Chorus
By Sidnitra Bates
District Heights, Maryland

awaken, morning
a harmonious sonnet
the robins agree

Do Me a Favor
By Angie Blake-Moore
Alexandria, Virginia

Can you try and remember
for you, for me, for all of us—

how the stars stream overhead each
and every night, a river of white
pebbles, or smaller, like sand
or silt whether we can see them

or not? They laugh at light
pollution. The twinkling goes on,

regardless, much like that tree
that falls in the lonely forest.

Ordinary Miracles
By Jessica Browne-White
Arlington, Virginia

Go outside, if you can,
And feel the wind on your face

Praise the sun
And the earth beneath your feet

Praise your heartbeat
And the wind of your breath's
Coming and going

The ordinary miracles
Of living

By Marc Drexler
Gaithersburg, Maryland

My daughter is in love for the first time, follows
the same path, I am assured, her mother did,

that so many girls trot down at ten.
I watch her pull her cute new boots on,

shine an apple with her shirt, toss her pony tail
and me a smile as she saunters out the door.

His name is Rex. He has brown eyes—"deep," she sighs,
and is "the tallest, most beautiful one."

We've yet to meet. Today she is just taking him
the apple. Her second riding lesson is tomorrow.

I pray often
By Michaela Godding
Arlington, Virginia

not because
I believe
in god,
but to reiterate
that hope
is a choice.

A Beginner’s Guide to Tasting Antidepressants
By Jennifer Koiter
Washington, DC

Lithium is salty on the tongue.
Benzos are bitter. Tricyclics taste like soap.
You’ll notice, though, when you first start each one,
the same sweet aftertaste. That taste is hope.

Songs Unsung
By Rebecca Leet
Arlington, Virginia

Muted by ninety years,
my great-grandmother
sat on the rusty glider
and braided rags into rugs,
spinning stories
she could not share.

By Susan Russo
Arlington, Virginia

Sink full of dishes
mind full of people I miss
soap 'n thought bubbles

The older I get
the more near-sighted I am
holding each thing close

Honorable Mentions

Subway Shuffle
By Serena Agusto-Cox
Gaithersburg, Maryland

It's a dance you master
because the consequences of stumbling
are dark blue.

Your feet slide and shift,
screeching brakes and rail strain.

Slow, solo dance in a cold cafeteria.

By michele baron
Falls Church, Virginia

cloudy with a chance of crowding
bus bound for the everyday
work or shopping
sometimes tourists
sometimes students 
texting   …   texting   …
and you
my favorite unknown traveler
gets on one stop after
gets off one stop before…

[Ekphrastic haiku inspired by The Starry Night]
By Jennifer Blanck
Arlington, Virginia

light melts into night
dreams howl and growl on the wind
stars shatter the sky

By Gina Gil
Arlington, Virginia

a stillness emerges
crisp air skims the blank slate
most still in cozy slumber
no footprints or dirt beneath
revealed by shovels or sleds
the cover of snow
guards a momentary peace

“And We Bloom”
By BV Lawson
Arlington, Virginia

Forgotten seedling
pokes its head through sidewalk crack
invited by the sun.

Please don't walk on the grass
By Sunayna Pal
Rockville, Maryland

but lie down and stretch out.
Let it caress your soles.

Lay your obligations
gently on the plaid blanket.

Toss your burdens in the stream
for they bear no fruit.

Immerse yourself
in the warm embrace of sunshine.

Stay there
till the butterfly catches you.

By Melanie Weldon-Soiset
Washington, DC

Wispy clouds blanket the sky—
no stargazing tonight.
Spin yarn instead.

Two poems
Jane Shapiro
Annandale, VA

Enough with Victor Frankl

and his search for meaning.
Can’t we acknowledge survival
and also concede that sometimes
horror is as mystifying as beauty.
When we are standing on a ledge,
leaning over a canyon rim,
enveloped in immensity,
so overwhelmed we almost succumb--
we don’t ask why
we keep our footing.

"Enough with Viktor Frankl" was first published in Innisfree Poetry Journal.

Sometimes in the morning

before opening my eyes,
I dream of my tent,
that tiny green dome.
From behind its walls
thin as skin, I hear birds,
leaves, a brush of wind.
I yearn for that waking,
that once tethered dawn when
unzipping the door
I leaned into the world.

"Sometimes in the morning" appears in Let The Wind Push Us Across.

View the Moving Words Winning Poems Archive.

Call for Submissions 

From November 10th to January 17th, we are looking for poems of 10 lines or less that will be displayed inside ART buses between March and September 2024. This year's competition will be judged by Arlington Poet Laureate Courtney LeBlanc!

Nine poems will be selected to be printed on colorful placards and displayed prominently on area buses, enlivening the ride for thousands of commuters. Each winner will also receive a $250 honorarium. Winning poems will be posted on and will be archived on the Arlington County website.

Poets who live within the D.C. Metro transit area (the Northern Virginia counties Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun, and the cities Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church; the District of Columbia; and the Maryland counties Montgomery and Prince George's) and are over 18 years old are eligible to enter. There is no fee to enter.

About the Judge

Courtney LeBlanc is author of the full-length collections Her Whole Bright Life, winner of the Jack McCarthy Book Prize, Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart, and Beautiful & Full of Monsters. She is the Arlington Poet Laureate, a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellow, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning.

Submission Form

Submissions are no longer being accepted. The submission form was available through January 17, 2024.


Winners will be announced in March 2024.