Honorable Mention

This weekend was the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets spring conference, and I received an Honorable Mention for the Muse Prize, an annual prize open to all Wisconsin poets.  It was also my first WFOP Conference, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was like many conferences I’ve been to.  It was held in a hotel with hotel food and tables in a big room, unreliable microphones and lots of networking among members. 

In addition, there were speakers and Roll Call Poems, where everyone in attendence rose, introduced themselves and read a poem.  The poems were funny, poignant, sad, inciteful…everything you could want from a group of poets.  I learned that there are 529 members and there is a ratio of 2.6 women to men. 

There was also “Survivor:  Poetry Island.”  Members listed three words on a piece of paper.  A list was selected at random and a panel of four poets each wrote a poem using those three words.  They had five minutes.  The results were obviously spontaneous and very funny.  The idea was to vote one poet off the panel after each round.

About 125 people submitted poems for the Muse Prize.  There were three Honorable Mentions and a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner.   So I feel very honored to receive recognition from this group.  The judge was Sheila Packa, the Duluth, Minnesota Poet Laureate.   I wrote the poem after reading about the Law of Conservation of Mass, which states that no energy or matter can leave or enter a closed system.  

Carol’s Dog

I couldn’t remember what the dog was called.

It followed me through the State Street crowd.

The boy came next, his pace matching mine.

His accent was foreign; Roman, he said.

“In a closed system, like the sun and earth,

matter cannot be created or destroyed.

The Law of Conservation promises…

in effect, it’s a promise of eternity.”

At Marquette, we talked to some priests

who tried to explain their experience of Belief,

and I remembered:  the dog belonged to Carol.

Its following me was an act of faith.

The boy, whose name was Luke, said,

“Things cannot be born from nothing,”

which meant Carol’s dog was

an other matter altogether.

The day was transforming into night.

I told the priests I wanted to return

to talk about science:  this system

in which energy can only convert itself;

and when we die,

the heat of my body

and the boy and the dog

will simply change hands.


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