Announcing winners of the Fifth Annual Yule Love it Lavender Farm Poetry Contest

I penciled my first poem as a child homesick for my Appalachian Mountains and McCoy cousins. Every summer, I consoled myself upon my family’s return to the flatlands of Warren, Michigan, by remembering my favorite place and people in the entire world. Then I mailed the poems to my cousin Kathy in Kentucky.
            Not one childhood poem survives. Yet, the love of poetry rooted into my heart. The practice granted me a strong sense of purpose and commitment to honoring the places and people who loved me.
            I’ve since traveled the world and published poetry and stories about my adventures. However, it is Appalachia, my birthplace, where the purest and truest sixth sense of summer resides.
            Dear Reader, this is why I sponsor the Annual Yule Love it Lavender Farm Poetry Contest.
            With great pleasure, I share three poems rich with the pure and true sixth sense of summer.

My Monday night writing group under the pergola several summers ago

First Place: Liza Young, Sterling Heights, Michigan

A Consequence of Warmth

I am leaning into the melon,
ready to wedge the red fruit
for lunch, the voices of my grown
children laughing at memories
formed in this sanctuary, contorted
in time and I ease into a smile.
A summer breeze whisks the wind
chimes edging the deck, the tune ethereal
and pleading, leaves of the sugar
maple barter an answer, and I smile
at the mystery of language. The pop
crunch of an apple skin, the rip tear
of celery, the suck slurp
of watermelon, the symphony
of food, manna passed hand
to hand like a last supper. The last sputter
of the pot brewing coffee, its nutty
roasted aroma wafting
the room, the sullen saxophone
of a Dexter Gordon CD and I lean
into my husband’s shoulder. We share
a smile watching the quiet camaraderie
of our children, a benediction
at day’s end. And later, slipped
between his chest and arm, soaking
in words he has whispered
Again and again like a covenant,
I breathe to the beat of my husband’s heart
and wonder at the fading cadence of this hosanna.

Second Place: Jack D. Ferguson, Auburn Hills, Michigan


Brunch is best
with family, friends
and winged pollinator,
Papilio glaucus.

Eggs over grits, asparagus
coffee and melon;
a common meal deemed ceremonial
by a butterfly
ruffling marigold petals.

Sunlight coaxes nectar.
Pollen pistils scrubbed clean
until, in dappled shade,
beneath leaves lent
by a gingko,
we rest, restore, recreate
in quiet Sabbath repast.

Third Place: Joyce Harlukowicz, Rochester Hills


I drift down the front porch polished wood steps,
settle on the bottom tread
a choice seat in the evening’s amphitheater.
The sun’s candle fades in the west.
The leverets emerge from safe harbor in the wetlands weeds,
lap and gnaw the lawn’s new grasses, under the doe’s
sly watchful gaze. So much beauty, so much love.
Overhead, the gulls soar in onshore breezes, kites without strings,
celestial buoys, eastward to open water
and safety for the night. The slow song of another kingdom.
Mare’s Tails soften the receding light, brush strokes
of devotion in the descending coolness.
Shorebirds rattle and call, lay claim
to secret places on the beachfront. So much given,
so few who know. The black rags of loneliness
Cleanse the temple.

Do not hurry. The calendar has nothing to do with it.
We are here, in this place, at this moment, the quick wings of twilight,
 near the satin water’s edge, like a hundred
or a thousand other places this evening. I stand to stretch.
It is time when time itself stops to visit and say,
linger, tarry, sit down, I have something
plenary for you. How long is there room for love
in your heart? Does it settle under
a watchful eye? Does it seek safety on
the shoreline of hope?

Robins will still sing down the eventide.

Diane DeCillis’ poetry collection Strings Attached (Wayne State Univ. Press) was honored as a Michigan Notable Book for 2015, won the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award, and was a finalist for the Forward Indie Fab Book. Her stories, poetry and essays have appeared in CALYX, Columbia Review, Minnesota Review, Nimrod International Journal, Connecticut Review, the North American Review, and numerous other journals. She teaches poetry for Springfed Arts and hosts a monthly literary reading series, “Mondays at the Maple” at the Maple Theater in Bloomfield.