Joy of the Pen 2022

The Verdi L. Tripp Fiction Award: Jim Mentink for The Seminar
Fiction Honorable Mention: Lorelei Greenwood-Jones for Candy House
Margaret F. Tripp Poetry Award: David Sloan for Solo
Poetry Honorable Mention: Cynthia Larson for Perhaps to Dream
Richard F. Snow Nonfiction Award: Nancy Browne for Ricky Rivers
Nonfiction Honorable Mention: John Reinhart for Traveling by Platypus
TPL Teen Fiction Award: Charlotte Schatz for To Lend a Hand
TPL Kids Poetry Award: Luisa Feliciano for Crow
The Crowbait Short Play Award: Greg Simpson for 3 Hail Mary’s
The Crowbait Short Play Honorable Mention: Fred Cheney for Danced to the Fiddle

Verdi L. Tripp Fiction Award

The Seminar by Jim Mentink

From our seats in the 15th row of the Madsen auditorium, the speaker’s eyes looked beady, his hair was stiff and meticulously styled like someone had put a doll wig on him. His voice was gentle and soothing.

“This is a social experiment,” he said. “This next part.”

 A few people chuckled.

“Most of you had no idea this was coming,” he said, smiling. “I know, I know. I’m being unpredictable.” More laughter. The program was called ‘Unpredictable! Building Your Brain To A Better You’. And the purveyor of this knowledge was the dulcet-toned, tiny-eyed man on stage, Carlson Franks. He kept his hands behind his ears. “Do I hear a collective groan?” he asked, wrinkling his nose to more laughter.

We didn’t, she and I, know each other yet, but we exchanged a glance, smiling because we were supposed to. Carlson Franks had been a baker before leaving the—to hear him tell it—lucrative field of muffin making, donut designing, and pastry presentations to help people better their own brains by being unpredictable.

Carlson removed his suit coat and laid across the small table he had on stage that didn’t seem to serve a purpose until that exact moment. “And this is what we’re going to do. This auditorium you’ll notice contains seats in most of its sections that are an even number. That is to say, sets of seats in each section are an even number. Our outer sections each contains six seats. The center section has ten.”

We knew this, those of us that ordered online and reviewed the seat layout.

Thirty rows. There were four rows which were roped off and unavailable for seating to enable this experiment.  I needed more unpredictability in my life. I needed a better brain. But I was getting a little tense at the time as I wasn’t liking his version of unpredictability.

“It might have struck some of you as a little weird, I think,” Carlson said, holding his hands palm up; the poor sucker look, “that you couldn’t select seats with those you were already attending with.”

A dull hum of approval. Some of us hadn’t come with anyone.

“What I want you to do is this. Each seat has a letter. You might be in 14A or 14B or 20G and so on.” He paused for dramatic effect, raised a finger toward the ceiling. “I want every A to turn to the B, C to the D, E to the F, and on it goes. Twenty-two seats across, 11 sets of attendees in the rows.”

I glanced at her briefly, forced a courtesy smile. I had seen her when she sat down and thought she was pretty in a casual kind of way. I pictured her on the board of an art museum or playing a cello in a string band.

“In a moment,” Carlson went on, “I’m going to give you a prompt.  In a moment, the first step of changing your life forever. Can you say forever?” Much of the audience said forever. “In a moment when I say ‘Begin!’, I want you to face that person the best you can in a forward-facing seat, and I want you to look at them. Really look at them for one minute. No words, no looking away. Only eye contact.”

There was nervous laughter, and I found myself smoothing my pant legs; an anxious habit.

Carlson went on. “I’ll give you the second step after that minute passes. This will be uncomfortable for some of you.”  Even as he spoke, one or two people left their seats and Unpredictable team members gently replaced them by shifting people. I wondered what would happen if they had just used the restroom and returned.

“I invite you to try this anyway. This whole event is just one night of your lives. A couple hours. You can endure a few minutes of discomfort; you can.” His voice was so quiet it was nearly a whisper. “And I know it will change your life. For many of you it will.” He smiled and folded his hands. “So, in a moment I will say ‘Begin!’ and you’ll turn one minute, friends. I want no sound—total silence—for one minute. Nothing but maybe nervous chuckling, but even that should end quickly. We good? We ready to get unpredictable?”

I felt my heart in my chest. My last experience looking at a woman without speaking, my ex-wife in court, hadn’t gone well.


 I turned to face her.

The first thing I think is a minute isn’t that long. The first thing I noticed: how beautiful, deep, and soul-filled her brown eyes are. The second thing I think is a minute isn’t long enough.

Because we’ve never met, there is a moment of tension where we both smiled nervously. And blink a couple of times. I find myself wanting to look away in shame. In the past, someone as fetching as she was would be out of my league.

But then we can look into each other’s eyes. It is an unusual thing to sit inches from someone at a theater, sharing an armrest—who invented that anyway—and looking into their eyes as a stranger; one realizes it’s entirely different than the less intimate moment of looking away.

Had we talked prior to the session about the weather or traffic, one of us may have looked at our shoes or the stage or the lighting. This forced eye contact made the person more the goal and the thing you have to say are your surroundings. I noticed her eyes receive me. Her pupils dilate slightly, and her expression softens. I wonder if my face does the same.

There are nearly indiscernible freckles across the bridge of her nose that rain onto her cheeks. Her eyebrows are symmetrical. There’s a slight imperfection, a raised bump of some kind above her left eyebrow. It is skin tone. It doesn’t distract me from our assignment.

In the time we stare at one another I feel I am making up stories about her, guessing her name and occupation.  It’s amazing how fast the thoughts move. Her nose is small, but not button like. Her lips gently coated in a tinted gloss of some kind. I feel like I want to kiss her if we stare much longer though.

I am annoyingly slow when it comes to romantic gestures.

Carlson says, “Stop. Look away. Give me your attention.”

We look forward; he says thank you. “Now we move to our second step.”

He takes a drink from a bottle of water. “This next part may be awkward again.  For some of you tough guys paired with another tough guy, the eye test was probably hard. This might be worse.  I promise you, those married, I will not ask you to do anything to fracture the integrity of your marital bond.” Scattered laughter

“This time, one minute, you’re going to look at the same person’s eyes again. But this time, we’re going to add a hand.  I want you to, when I say ‘Begin!’, take the hand of that neighbor. It can be however you silently negotiate the hand hold.  You can hold hands like a handshake, or both palms up where your hand rests on the other or lock fingers.  Up to you.  Be respectful but be creative.  For one minute.” He pauses dramatically, puts his hands in his pockets.


As he said it, I realized my neck is still burning from the last exercise, my heart still pounding. But I dutifully turn toward this woman who wore her soul in her eyes.

We looked at each other. As I put my hand out palm up. She averts her eyes to my hand for only a second as she places her palm down on mine. Like a handshake, but we grasp gently.

For the moment our hands are suspended but I feel her apply pressure downwards and she raises her elbow and nods slightly. She wants us to rest our arms. And so, I let her lower our arms to the top of my left thigh. It feels warm, her hand, and whether it’s my pulse or hers, the palpitations of a heartbeat are felt.  We continue to look at each other; her gaze has softened even more, and I wonder if she has grown to like me.

I imagine she’ll tell her friend she had to hold hands with such a nice guy at the seminar and what a sweet guy he was. That’s usually how the stories about me sound.  I always thought I should kill something with a stone just to eliminate myself as a nice guy. But I am too nice to kill anything.

For the first time I realized I can smell her. It was a scent I don’t know, but not a bodily one. She’s wearing something. It isn’t coconut, but a food; vanilla. I wonder for the moment but decide I may ask before this meeting ends.

I wonder what she is thinking. As our eyes are locked, I see her press her lips together almost like a woman might do when she knows you’re about to kiss her. For some reason that, along with the eye contact and hand on my leg puts a lead covered stone in my belly when thankfully Carson says, “Look up.”

We look up, all of us, the whole audience in unison, and I wonder how many people are eager for this social experiment to end.

I’m in a troubling crossroads at this time, as I feared the next steps but also coveted the time I’m spending with this stranger.

“You’re doing well, friends,” Carlson Franks says. He has rolled up his sleeves. “I’m looking and I’m so happy you’re all making it this far. Thank you but we aren’t done yet.” He smiles and for the first time I wonder if this woman is a plant. Maybe each pair has a plant, and they are studying us. This makes me very paranoid, but I push it aside as Carlson continues. “The third step might be fun. When I say ‘Begin’ this next time, I want you to again lock eyes, take a hand and I will give you maybe a minute or so to do the following. Each of you will say one negative thing about the other then each will say a positive thing.” Nervous chuckles sounded in the rows.

“Don’t be mean,” Carlson said quickly. “Don’t insult your neighbor. Just something of a critique. This is based solely on what you know, what you’ve learned in the two minutes you’ve really paid attention to them. One goes, then the other. That’s the critique. Then one goes and the other for the uplifting words. No other words exchanged, no questions. When I say ‘Begin, lock eyes and take hands.”

It is then I realized she and I are still holding hands. She seems to realize it too as we both glance at our hands.


And our eyes meet.

When Carlson Franks first told us to say something kind, I had in mind to mention her eyes. But when she spoke first, I thought her voice was just as attractive.

“Your beard is too straight,” she said as the hum of voices filled the room, but she smiled warmly. “That’s all I have and it’s a nice beard at that.”

Her voice was beautiful and earthy feminine. Yet with a subtle suggestion she doesn’t use it much.

“Mine is,” I say and shake my head. “You’re flawless. That’s my critique.” I feel embarrassed saying it out loud. 

She chuckled briefly. “My positive thing,” she said, but I thought the ‘nice beard at that’ was the compliment and I was eager to hear more. “You exude an air of courtesy.”

I nod. “And your eyes have captured me.”

Since we have finished our prompt and are forbidden for more questions or exchanges, we only look at each other again. I feel her hand in mind and I realized her thumb strokes the side of my palm.  I feel my face form into a smile. I gently squeeze her hand for a moment.

I didn’t expect this. I had heard some good—no great—reviews of Carlson. That led me to the seminar with the idea maybe I would do something great for my brain. But here I sat falling in love.

“Eyes forward,” Carlson said calmly, nice. “With a show of hands, how many of you are ready to move on?” Most everyone raised their hand. Maybe it was everyone. It’s not easy to know in a full theater. “So, we’ve looked at one another and we touched hands in some way,” Carlson said. He was extending a finger with each step. The third finger appeared as he said, “And now you said something positive and something critical. Anybody with hurt feelings?  Show of hands.”

I saw a couple of hands go up from my peripheral. Carlson said, “Well, a few of you. I am genuinely sorry about that. This next part is a bit different. I call it ping pong confessions.” I felt that clenching in my bowels. “How it works is like this. When I say ‘Begin’, one of you will confess something to your neighbor. When you finish, they confess something. Back and forth. Give and take until I tell you to stop.” He put both hands up, palms out as if to stop something. “This is not the time to admit you killed someone. As for all intents and purposes, I’m making you all mandatory reporters.”

Chuckles. The woman next to me still held my hand. I didn’t mind but I also didn’t know why. And she tapped my hand with one finger. I looked at her and she pointed at me. I figured it out. You go first.

Carlson said, “Try to go as rapid fire as you can with the understanding it’s not a contest. The idea is to be unpredictable, right? And also spontaneous. Go with your gut. Okay, maintain eye contact.” He walked to the edge of the stage. “Begin.”

I looked at the woman. I said, “I never had a bike growing up. My first one was at age nineteen.”

“I ate my mother’s lipstick as a toddler,” she said.

“When I was fourteen, I threw eggs at the mayor’s house at Halloween.”

“I’m allergic to leather.”

“I’ve had the same car for eleven years.”

“I found my father’s hanged body when I was ten.”

“You found your what?”

She was shaking her head. She wanted me to keep it going. God, that was heavy. I thought I needed to raise my stakes.

“I had testicular cancer.”

“My ex-husband cheated on me with his eye doctor.”

I had to go for it. “I’m in love with you,” I said.

“I wear diapers.”

Carlson said, “Look up.”

She touched my arm. “Just kidding about the last one.”

I chuckled.

“How are we doing?” Carlson said. “Now who are you talking to? Do you really know? We haven’t given our names yet. However, you may feel like you know this person. Yes?”

The dull hum of people saying yes resounded through the room.

Carlson Franks said, “Now we’re almost done with this experiment. Just a couple more steps. This time when I say…what do I say?”

“Begin!” the young man from near the front shouted first, with a chorus of ‘Begin’ falling immediately after.

“That’s right. This time you will give your name and ask a follow up question to one—just one and only one—of the confessions. And they must answer it. Okay? Easy one.”

We were still holding hands.


“My name is Daniel,” I said. “And I want to ask about your father’s hanged body.”

 She looked at me sadly for a moment. “It was awful. My mother was in the car. It was running so she didn’t want to get out. And I was going into the garage to get something. All this time I’ve forgotten what it was, but it was for an extracurricular thing. I went in the garage and my father was there, dangling from a rafter on the end of a rope. I screamed.”

“No, of course. That sounds traumatizing.”

She nodded. “He was a great dad. To this day, I don’t understand it. The why. You know?”

I nodded.

“Okay, my turn,” she said I braced myself. I had said I was in love with her, and I prepared an answer in my head. That seemed the obvious choice—that or possibly testicular cancer.

“My name is Nadia. I want to know if you got in trouble throwing eggs at the mayor’s house. “Well, no, I didn’t. They never found out it was me.” I felt a strange sense of rejection with that. I did take some solace in the fact we still held hands. To remind her of that, I put my other hand on top of her hand.

“This is nice, I said. She smiled warmly.

“It’s comforting me.”

That I liked to hear.

“Look up.” Carlson smiled and spread his arms wide. “You see, you’re getting to know each other—truly connecting out there. I hear your voices. Now our little game here is ending soon. I have one more step for you. In our last piece of the puzzle here now: let’s recap. We looked in each other’s eyes. We’ve held hands. We said something negative and positive. We’ve confessed some things and we shared names and asked one follow-up to a confession statement. You can’t all see everything like I can from up here. I’ve seen grown men hugging. I’ve seen tears. I think one new couple have started to the left here, a little kissing.”

There’s laughter and I realized I didn’t know that could be a thing. I looked at Nadia to see if she gives me a signal, but she is watching Carlson.

“So as if the whole little experiment wasn’t unpredictable enough, this last little bit will surely be the capstone. I want you to invite the person you’re getting to know to do something they might not want to do, but you do or maybe they will after all. It’s about unpredictability.”

Scattered laughter echoed in the auditorium.

He went on. “Now let’s be clear. I’m not trying to play matchmaker or create friendships. We’re assuming the person you’re talking to would ever want to see you again. But hey, that’s what makes it unpredictable. Okay, let’s get going. Begin.”

When he says it that time, he thrust his fist into the air under the spotlight. I turned to Nadia. “Why don’t you go first?” I say.

For the first time she glances away for a moment before responding to the prompt. I already know what I was going to say. I had every intent to invite her to a dinner theater performance. I already had tickets to do it and it was connected to a beautiful hotel, which I would reserve a room in should this unpredictable magic carry that far.

I was horrible at making a move like that normally, but Carlson Franks had empowered me by giving permission to push myself out of my box into something frighteningly unpredictable.

“I’d like to invite you to my house, she said. My heart skipped a beat. We still held hands. “And I would want you to meet my husband and daughter.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize you…” I felt the familiar sting of my hope crashing. “You mentioned an ex-husband. I assumed you were single.”

“Oh, is that why you…?” she said. “Oh no. I’m sorry to lead you on if I did.”

“And we’re holding hands,” I said. Painful to admit, but I felt like I was about to cry.

She looked at her hands. “It comforts me,” she said quietly. “It’s hard for me to do things like this: come to seminars and crowded buildings.” She looked at me warmly. “You’re just so gentle. I feel safe with you.”

“I am safe,” I said.

“Well, what’s your invite?” Nadia said.

“I have to think of a new one. God dammit.”


“Why do you have to be married?”

“I’m not sure what to say,” Nadia said.

I shook my head. “Sorry. No, really. Sorry.”

But now she had pulled her hand free and was staring straight ahead at the stage. Eyes wide. Just like that I had evicted her from her safe place. I felt like an ass. Who was I to be angry that she was married? What character defect did I possess that made me angry at her for making that choice in life. Who was I to be lead on?

Carlson Franks was talking but I didn’t hear him. I was staring at the floor feeling ashamed and angry and deeply deflated. At some point I refocus my attention and notice Nadia had left her seat. Carlson was talking about how our brains benefit when we do things we don’t ordinarily do. But what of our hearts, I thought. Do they change also? They do break, we know that. Even before Carlson Franks ended his lecture, I slipped from my seat and exited quietly gazing at the rapt faces staring in the half light of the auditorium.

Franks’ voice was crisp as it emanated from their state-of-the-art sound system. On the other side of the doors in the lobby, his voice became muted. My ears responded favorably but where would I go? I had made a decent paid a decent sum for the ticket. Then on my way to the restrooms, I saw Nadia exiting the women’s and she saw me and said, “Jesus.”

“I’m not…I promise I’m not following you.” I was ready to go.

“What?” she said.  “Oh no…no, I wasn’t thinking that.” She walked toward the main doors. It was raining outside. She folded her arms and stood by the glass, looking out waiting for the rain to let up.

I said, “Do you have a ride coming?”

“Yes,” Nadia said. “My husband.”

I moved a little closer. The carpet spelled new. “I’m sorry if I made you upset.”

She shook her head. “You’re making a bigger deal than need be. Unpredictable, right? Roll with it.” She kept looking outside, arms folded. I moved closer. 

“Do you have a jacket? It wasn’t raining earlier.”

“I’m fine.”

“It’s dark.”

“I have a ride.” I reached out and touched her shoulder, felt my midsection drop in my crotch. “Nadia, I can give you a ride” I could tell she was bluffing. Or it seemed so until a car pulled into the drop off and pickup spot in the front of the doorway.

“My ride,” she said. “Take care.”

She hurried out the door and into the night. I walked back to the restroom and relieved myself. After exiting, I walked toward the door and saw Nadia standing inside, her hair and clothes drenched. I admit to finding her strangely erotic, the soaked garments conformed to her skin.

“I’m not married,” Nadia said. “That wasn’t my ride.”

The lobby was empty except for us and one employee at the opposite end, disinterested and preoccupied with a cell phone. I moved closer to her but kept what I felt was a safe buffer. “We all lie sometimes,” I said.

“I didn’t eat my mother’s lipstick and my father is alive and teaching philosophy in Maryland.

“Oh, so your confessions were all lies.” I suddenly felt stupid mentioning my testicular cancer. She shivered. “The leather allergy is real, and my husband didn’t cheat with an eye doctor. No. A husband cheated with an eye doctor. Me.”

“You’re an eye doctor.”

She smiled. “A good one, but not so good outside the office. Not with people.”

 I only nodded.

“Did you mean what you said about being in love?”

My hurt felt larger suddenly. “Yes.” My voice sounded timid which frustrated me.

“It’s sweet,” Nadia said. “Yeah, that’s real nice. Thank you.”

“Would you like this? Skip the rest of the seminar and grab a coffee?”

“No, thank you.” She turned and walked out the door. It set me back a moment. But soon I moved to the door and watched her walking along the sidewalk in the rain. Her arms outstretched, her body moving as if laughing or crying uncontrollably.

I could hear Carlson Frank’s muted voice again. Now that my attention was free whatever he was saying must have been interesting, because there was a cacophony of applause. I looked out the door again. And saw Nadia, if that was her real name, getting smaller as she moved further away.

Disappearing very predictably.

Jim Mentink’s publication history includes short fiction with Bending Genres, Pangyrus Literary Magazine, Mono, New World Writing, The Woolf and Bright Flash Literary Review. He is a current member of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.


Fiction Honorable Mention

Candy House by Lorelei Greenwood-Jones

When the skinny girl and blobby boy burst out of the forest into the village road bellowing like crazed calves, they were scarce to be believed. The townsfolk, I among them, had stood with mouths agape, trying to take in the wild story that came in dregs and tumbles from the children’s wobbling mouths. And although the magistrate, once he was roused from his second lunch and came waddling imperiously to the square, sent several armed men to acquire said witch, he only did it to ease the tensions of the horrified parents of other youngsters who also liked to play in the woods. Naturally they returned unsuccessful.

My doubts, warring with far too much curiosity, made themselves known to me so I set out my own self, with incomplete and likely incorrect directions, to find this house of iniquity and cavity-causing foodstuffs. After a few false trails (easily traversed once you found the way), I came upon a clearing.

My first impression of the house was one of marginal disbelief. That such a thing could exist at all was fantastical. But there it was in all its gingerbread glory, standing before me like a parent’s nightmare and a dentist’s dream. Shingles of chocolate bars, windows of isomalt sugar, dormers of doughnuts, and spread all about like the work of a drugged mason was frosting filagree and icing idiocy. Gods, it gave me a toothache just to look upon it. Silly house, that.

It was said that a witch lived there, a canny old hag that enticed young folk with caloric delights only to bind them in candyfloss misery in cages of peppermint sticks and grapevine. No one knew what she fed the children she kept, only that it must have been more than just sweets (as we all know, too much sugar spoils the meat). She apparently had kept a few chickens, though the one mangy nannygoat found wandering about looked far too haggard to give any good milk. There was no vegetable garden (would you expect one really?) but a few herbs straggled here and there about the grounds. Mints, mostly. No real surprise.

With a sigh I approached the front door. Gumdrop knob. I rolled my eyes. Grasping the gritty confection, I pushed open the cookie portal and peered within. Golden afternoon light filtered through the isomalt panes and shined brightly on pots, pans, cutlery, and kettles. Oh, and cages, two or three, hanging from the rafters (made of pretzel rods, I noted. Could this get any more cliche?).  A small bed with a patchwork quilt stood in a far corner and a slew of rushes lay flattened nearby. The girl had said something about sleeping on the floor in her captivity. Looking more closely at the candycane cages, I had to wonder at the sheer amount of magic that would be needed to keep such a contraption, little say the rest of the dwelling, in action and hardiness. What a waste.

Sensing movement behind me, I turned and, as I expected, there was Enid Flossbottom in the doorway, looking for all the world like she had fallen off her broom. And indeed, in the hand not pointing the dagger at me was a raggedy besom, still sparking from her hasty descent.

“What are ye doing in my house, Gilda Goosefeather?” she demanded.

“Trying to decide whether to laugh first or tap you upside the head. Honestly, Enid, what have you wrought here?”

Her wrinkled lips parted and a cackle (oh dear, a true cackle) passed over her three remaining teeth. “Living large in my old age, Gil, living large. Read a tale of old Samanthy Sprickle trying candy magic and ain’t it fun! What are you, some sort of vegetableterrium?”

“I’m hardly a vegetarian, Enid. Have you really been caging and eating children? You know it goes against the code.”

She snorted. “Code schmode. I makes my own rules now. The Guild can’t stop me cuz they can’t prove I’ve done wrong. Those chilrun got away and no harm to ’em. Not even a nibble.” And a barely-audible mutter, “Hardly a lick.”

“But the drain you’re putting on the vortex… don’t you know you’re leaving some of the outlying regions with barely a trickle of power? If that’s not doing wrong, then I don’t know what is. Keeping this candy hut standing takes a vast amount of continual magic.” I was keeping my eye on that dagger. Enid was a prehistoric peahen but still likely sprightly enough to nick me if I wasn’t cautious.

Then all of a sudden, she deflated like an arrow-shot waterskin. Her shoulders sagged and, to my relief, the dagger dropped from her gnarled fingers. She shook her head slowly.

“Ye’ve taken all the fun out of it, Gilda. Here I am in my eightieth year and really, how many more delights can I expect? But who am I kidding? I can’t lift the axe, and even if I could, I couldn’t rassle that blob of a boy into the oven without my sacroiliac giving me the gimp. I just wanted one more fling before hanging up my hat, is all.” She gave a brief snerk and cracked a grin. “But it was fun watchin that boy stuff hisself and fartin like to blow a hole in the wall.”

I schooled my face into stern features. Mostly.

“You’re going to have to go before the magistrate, you know, and explain your actions. Those children couldn’t keep the story straight at all.” My countenance wriggled a bit as I recalled that the boy had indeed been a bit… gusty.

Enid picked up the dagger and placed it in its sheath on her leather belt. “Feh, I saw him born, and he warn’t no thinner than he is now. I’m not afraid of his bluster and blow.” She looked about the sticky interior of her storybook shack. “I’m supposin you’ll want me to take this all down.”

I only had to look at her.

Enid flapped her hands at me to move me out of doors, and then followed. She blew a raspberry in defeated defiance and began speaking the words of the reversal spell. The ridiculous house didn’t so much vanish as melt, the filigree and icing washing down the sides and flowing into nothingness as they touched the ground. Soon before us stood a regular woods hut, stone chimney, log sides, and a definite lack of gumdrop doorknob. A confused squirrel chirruped at us from the top of the chimney. I bet he chipped a tooth.

We walked the paths back to the village, chatting and squabbling like two old witches will, neither of us particularly concerned about the magistrate. Sweets would shut him up soon enough, and Enid had learned the magic. I bet she could turn some of his for-looks-only lawbooks into pies.

Lorelei has been writing since she was quite young and has found joy and release in both free verse poetry and rhyming, short stories, plays, and music and lyric compositions. She has self-published a few books on earth-centered spirituality and one of her poetry in 2021.


Margaret F. Tripp Poetry Award

Solo by David Sloan

After “Returning from the Spring”
                                  by Winslow Homer

A moment before, trudging back from the spring—
another languid, late summer morning—
she had fumed, bemoaned the weight of water,
pitch of the path, cursed her older brother
who had once again managed to time his trip
to the general store. He’d slipped
away, leaving her with the waiting bucket
and the half-mile trek. Sometimes she walked it
with her eyes closed part way, imagining
herself a helpless Nipmuc captive, clinging
to a hope of escape, but fear of a twang
and shiver of feathers kept her from a headlong
dash to. . .where? Even her reveries faded
before she could find the nerve she needed.

The way uphill is always toilsome. Head bent,
she keeps changing hands to blunt the handle’s bite.
Now, halfway back, as a gull’s screech trails away,
she hears a whisper, indistinct but weighty,
amid rasping meadow grass. She pauses,
uncertain, less alarmed than perturbed because
she’s passed this way hundreds of times and never
heard a voice not her own, besides her mother’s
bray, scolding her for dawdling. Stranger still,
it carries no hint of menace, no shrill
rebuke; more a soothing solo that wafts
above the choir, in a language that lifts
and puzzles her. Later, she will feel an ache,
the price exacted when burning bushes speak.

A graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Poetry Program, David Sloan’s debut poetry collection—The Irresistible In-Between—was published by Deerbrook Editions in 2013.  A second book, A Rising and Other Poems, (Deerbrook), launched in the spring of 2020.  A recipient of the Betsy Sholl Award, two Maine Literary awards and the inaugural Maine Poetry Society’s prize, he is also a past winner of the Joy of the Pen’s Margaret F. Tripp Poetry Award. After teaching for nearly 50 years, most recently at Maine Coast Waldorf High School in Freeport, he is now semi-retired, content to focus on the joys of grandparenting (especially promising young poet/granddaughters), gardening, cycling and more regular writing.


Poetry Honorable Mention

Perhaps to Dream by Cynthia Larson

Slow night, when sleep eludes me. I keep the room unlit
to stare into a dark yard fringed by a forest I cannot see.
I miss the few fireflies, quick light from months past,
so few I feared they’d disappear from earth. My father,
when I was young, claimed he read by firefly light. He caught
fireflies in a jar, our faces faintly lit in their focused glow.
I thought he’d trapped lightning ’til their light pulsed out,
an ordinary bug, stripped for the moment of magic.

The world needs more light, I think, turning on a lamp,
startled by my face reflected back to me in the window’s pane.
How hard, the way loss replaces a thing with less—or with nothing
—sometimes so stealthily we miss its leaving ’til its gone. I turn
to try sleep again, perhaps to dream of fireflies unjarred,
released to air, rising higher ’til they confound the stars.

Unusually claiming nonfiction as her genre of choice, Cynthia Larson started experimenting with poetry a few years ago. She earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Southern New Hampshire University and is a current member of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance as well as Maine Poets Society.


Richard F. Snow Nonfiction Award

Ricky Rivers by Nancy Browne

            Young Ricky Rivers shouldn’t be walking this earth today. No, by golly, he shouldn’t even be alive. Now if Sam Clement was telling this here story, he would have said it was a miracle; or if Fred Strove had been telling it, he would have said it was damn lucky. Boris Rawlings said it was a crazy fluke of a thing. However, Oscar Reeling’s telling the story, and that’s me, with the complete details, cause it’s a story that ain’t quite believable. Hell, even I wouldn’t have believed it if I’d hadn’t been there to see with my own two eyes.

            We all met down at Elsie Rivers place. We were all friends of Elsie Rivers; we worked with him down at the grain mill; we drank with him at Pike’s bar; and in the winter we’d all go moose hunting together. So it would come as no surprise that we were all helping Elsie take the beans off the field that day. It was eight in the morning when we got there and Daisy, Elsie lovely wife, set down coffee and home made banana bread. We made small talk as we ate and within fifteen minutes we were out in the field.

            It happened shortly before noon that morning. Elsie was returning to the field with the tractor, and he had no wagons attached so we all figured right then, he was coming out to bring us some lunch. This was how things worked on a field day, there was no time to stop and eat, so you gobbled something down while you worked. I saw he had his son Ricky with him, the boy was sitting on the hub near the fender. Elsie was trying to make this eight-year-old son of his a farmer already.

            Elsie, not wanting to crush the beans tried to maneuver the tractor along side the field next to a large ditch. He was driving dangerously close to the ditch. From about twenty feet away I saw the tractor started to lean sideways. I felt my heart pump as I watched him trying to straighten it out. At the last moment he jumped clear, just as the tractor tipped completely sideways and fell freely into the ditch. Within spit seconds, Elsie rose from the ground and realized that Ricky had fallen in the ditch and must be under the tractor. Sam and Fred apparently saw the tractor fall into the ditch and they were making their way over towards the accident. Boris and I were the closest and got there within seconds. However before we could reach Elsie, he (apparently without thinking) and with much adrenaline proceeded to lift the tractor. Had I not seen this with my both eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. When we did reach the edge of the ditch Boris and I were stunned. With strength beyond human endurance he lifted one side of the tractor up about two feet. We saw little Ricky miraculously climb out from underneath the tractor. It all happened so fast, Boris and I just looked at each other, and then down at Elsie who was stooped down by the tractor. Little Ricky was climbing up the ditch bank on his hands and knees. It was totally amazing, for he didn’t seem to be hurt when he crawled out. As though in shock he began to slowly walk back to the house.

It was apparent that when the tractor tipped over, Ricky had fallen off the wheel fender and landed in the ditch. However when the tractor toppled on top of him, Ricky’s small body had wrapped itself around the inside of the gigantic wheel.

Elsie was sitting down in the ditch, wiping the perspiration off his brow. All four of us fellows were standing there in awe. None of us could believe what we had just witnessed. We kept asking Elsie if he was ok, and Sam ran after Ricky, putting his arm around the boy to help him back to the house. Within minutes we were all in the house trying to explain to Daisy just what happened.

“You fellows been drinking, or you been out in the sun too long,” was Daisy’s remark. Daisy had her arm wrapped around Ricky, and when she went to hug him, he winced in pain.

“You best bring the lad to the doctor,” Fred said. Get him checked out, might have some bruises we can’t see. Elsie and Daisy took Ricky into town to see Dr. Andrews.

 It was soon discovered that he was indeed hurt.  He had only a few bruises and a sore side but sat holding his side in pain as he waited to see the doctor. When the doctor examined him he discovered that the tractor had crushed and pushed the organs under his armpit on the left side. His heart and ribs had been pushed clear under his left arm. He was sent immediately by ambulance to the hospital.

They operated on little Ricky, but found that they could not move his heart back to its original position. They attached a steal plate to his chest in order to protect his organs. His heart seemed fine, and no ribs were broken, and other than the fact that those organs weren’t in their rightful place, everything seemed to be working well. He spent two weeks in the hospital and was restricted from ever playing any sports or participating in any roughhousing, but to this day he has not suffered any other ill effects.

Four strong men tried, days after this horrendous accident, to lift that tractor from the ditch and they could not budge it; it took a larger tractor, a couple of large chains and all four men to pull it out of the ditch. The incident was the talk of the town for years to come. There are still plenty of people that don’t believe the story, but Sam, Fred, Boris and I swear to God’ it’s the truth, we were there, we saw Elsie and his incredible strength lift that tractor, though we still cannot phantom how a ordinary person could have administered such strength, It was an extraordinary circumstance, that today leaves us all just shaking our heads. Call it a miracle, or luck, or some fluke, but little Ricky Rivers shouldn’t be here today. Was it Elsie’s incredible strength that saved that boy, or was it Elsie’s incredible love for his son that gave him that incredible strength? Either way it doesn’t matter, I, Oscar Reeling saw what I saw, and had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would have never believed it.

Nancy Browne a writer of poetry, short stories and is in the process of writing a novel.


Nonfiction Honorable Mention

Traveling By Platypus by John Reinhart

Bagel-Grease flattened himself in the trench, worming his way toward the bunker serving as the Mouse Army headquarters. Miss Muppet had warned him over the radio about Edwin’s forces heading their way, but no one had counted on their assault being so thorough.

Adjusting the strap of his helmet, Bagel-Grease reached the steel door, pulled the handle, and entered a humming center of computers, radios, and satellite imagery as shiny and clean as the trenches were muddy and smelly…


Improbable but true.

How children from landlocked Colorado became fascinated with platypuses, I’ll never know.

For anyone in need of a refresher, a platypus is an egg-laying mammal specific to Australia. Its appearance is so unique – a duck-like bill, beaver-like tail, otter-like webbed feet – early European scientists assumed it was Australia’s version of the jackalope. Male platypuses have a venomous spur on their feet, and, like the echidna and the dolphin, platypuses sense their prey through electrolocation, a prime ingredient for superherohood.

As far as I know, the Reinhart children did not have a grasp of any of these facts, except for a general understanding of the platypus’s unusual appearance. Maybe the name felt good rolling around their cheeks.

Sometimes the imagination only needs a foothold.

“There’s something new on the radar,” Squiggles called. “Looks like one of Edwin’s jets coming back for another round of bombing.”

As Bagel-Grease radioed for all the troops to take cover, Squiggles squeaked in surprise.

“It’s changed course. Now it’s attacking Edwin’s troops.”

Over the radio, through a thick jumble of static, the Bagel-Banders could just make out – “Thought I’d drop in… see how you’re all… chaps” – the unmistakable voice of Snowy, followed by a triumphant whoop.


The trip from home to school was about 10 miles across the grid so often gridlocked, a sea of cars in a dusty city. We could easily spend and hour-and-a-half to two hours in the car each day. At least when we traveled by bus and light rail, I could give my full attention to the children.

We moved from Colorado to Maine when the children were 8, 6, and 5, driving 2,000 miles in a van and a moving truck, with two dogs and a cat. The trip was mostly smooth, except for arriving in Des Moines alongside the International Pork Expo, whose attendees took up every hotel room in the city. The cat suffered the most from the night sleeping at the rest stop, but we could hardly hear him over the roar of the “quiet ride” moving truck.

The children had already become accustomed to long road trips. We’d made the roundtrip to New Hampshire two years earlier and to Nova Scotia the year before. While commuting through the hot, congested city to and from school led to constant fighting, the children settled into a rhythm going long distance. They listened to stories, colored, played games.

Somewhere along the way, they invented platypuses. “Invented” because their platypuses were formed by their hands, fingers in specific formations. There were proper platypuses, feetapuses, jumping feetapuses, flying feetapuses, baby platypuses, a pogopus, and the list grew as their worlds expanded into societies where platypuses formed musical ensembles, managed stores, fought battles against mysterious enemy forces, or just made jokes.

There was Porty and Potty. Little Dude eventually became Biddle Bude because he was a baby and that’s how he pronounced his own name. Uno, Null, Popo, Tschuss, Pierre, Crackerjacks, Cheerios, and Yo-yo Muey represented a smattering of our broader cultural experiences, while Baby Tree Stop, Swabberchops, Speedy, Georgia, Rex, Eggburt, and Scrambled Eggburt came from the impossible minds of unfathomed youth.

Each platypus had a unique personality, developed and adapted by each child. There were tired times in the car, when tempers frayed, and Pierre struck up raucous songs that made everyone laugh. Porty and Potty performed commercials for all manner of products sold in their one-stop shop.

Before the move, Grandma knit some mice for the children to play with when they came over to visit. There were some white mice and some brown mice. They were virtually indistinguishable from one another.

Unless you saw the inner character of each mouse, only visible with a child’s eye.

My children quickly developed names, personalities, and a story for the mice. They were the Mouse Army, with President Tom at the head.

After we moved, the mice (and a couple of non-mouse trusty compatriots) “flew” to meet us in a wonderfully illustrated box reminiscent of an airplane, with a mouse sitting at each drawn window on the side. President Tom, Snowy, Flakes, Icey, Crumbs, Henry, Flappy (the dog),  and Draggy (the dragon), joined our cross-country adventures.

The children quickly noticed that Bagel-Grease was absent. Grandma had simply missed one of the many mice, but Bagel-Grease was integral to the Mouse Army operations, or so we all learned. The mice carried on without him, morale low, hoping against hope for his triumphant return.

Who ever heard of bagel grease?

(He would be joined later by the more understandably named Donut Frosting. And the Mouse Army continues to expand, with even the children knitting mice and other creatures to its ranks.)

When Bagel-Grease appeared, he was somewhat worse for the wear, having suffered a battle wound from his encounter with a foster puppy. Under Grandma’s careful nursing, he recovered. Then, under Grandma’s watchful eye, he constructed a knit airplane. There was glory and fanfare, cheering and tears, when Bagel-Grease’s airplane skidded to our doorstep.

(This led to the creation of “Bagel-Grease to the Rescue,” a board game in which three families traveling cross country meet unusual challenges and Bagel-Grease flies to their aid.)

Hours. The children can disappear for hours, constructing vehicles, weapons, clothes, imagining the myriad adventures of this versatile yarn and stuffing troop. A mouse takes an afternoon to make. For Christmas last year, Grandma received a signed photo of the entire Mouse Army, a sure sign of appreciation.

The platypuses helped us bridge the unimaginable journey from Colorado to Maine. The Mouse Army, born in Colorado, lives firmly in the years immediately after our move. Even as the children move on and into the world, become fascinated by baseball players and statistics, read epic adventure books, and discover complicated board games, ask them about one of the mice or remind them of a particular platypus, and they will happily regale you with stories so full of detail, you will know they really happened.

John Reinhart lights students on fire at the Maine Coast Waldorf High School. A member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, his latest collections are Horrific Punctuation and Arson, both available at the Topsham Public Library.


TPL Teen Fiction Award

To Lend a Hand by Charlotte Schatz

The snow was gone at Pleasant Pig Farm. It had melted and flowed into the brook, which had now doubled in size. The fields were covered in sprouting bulbs, popping their heads out of the newly thawed ground. Ducks wandered around the big yellow farmhouse, nine ducklings following after their mother. The pigs had just had their babies. Ten piglets looked around the pigpen, curious about the world. Trees were covered in buckets, metal pails dotting the maples; syrup season was coming to an end. A tire swing swung under the big oak, years since anyone had used it.

Maggie and Earl Brown were eating their breakfast: eggs from their chickens, sausage from the pigs, and orange juice from some place in Florida. After the kids left, they made the decision to eat breakfast together every day. They usually ate in silence, Earl thinking about that day’s chores and Maggie just thinking. Occasionally she broke the silence, exclaiming, “Earl, did you see the sun rise this morning?” Or, “Earl, did you see the daffodils are coming up?” Earl would mumble his reply. Then the silence would resume. But Maggie was feeling talkative this particular morning.

“Earl,” she said, “what are we going to do with these new piglets?”

“How am I supposed to know?” he murmured. “They were always Albert’s responsibility.”

“I know, but we can’t keep them. Then we’ll have fifteen pigs! We can’t handle that.

You’re almost seventy-five.” Then she added, “Lord, I wish Albert were still here.”

This took Earl by surprise. He didn’t like to think about the past. Some people like to reminisce about Christmastimes passed, or egg hunts in the fresh spring grass, but he didn’t. He didn’t really like to think about the future either. All he liked to think about was what had to get done that day.

“Maggie, I’ll figure it out,” he growled.

His tone surprised her and she returned to her plate. Earl noticed but didn’t say anything.

They continued to eat in silence until Earl said he was done and left.

Earl’s chore was getting the garden ready. He hated going to the grocery store, which was hours away and near the city. He was determined to get the garden ready and seeds in the ground in the next few days so he could stop going to the grocery store. He had been complaining about some missing tools, so his day was to be spent looking for replacements to ensure that the garden could be finished when he had planned.

He hadn’t liked the conversation at breakfast. He didn’t like it when Maggie felt the need to talk. Wasn’t silence enough? They had been married fifty-five years. They hadn’t done much talking at the beginning of their relationship, why did they need to now? Sometimes he didn’t understand his wife. He loved her, but he didn’t understand her.

Earl’s shed was small and neat. He liked it that way. His tools lined one wall: hammers, screwdrivers, drills, and other paraphernalia used for woodworking. He was proud of his collection. His hatchet had recently gone missing. He had probably misplaced it. Maggie was always reprimanding him for misplacing or losing things.

“Earl, how is it possible that you’ve lost the rake?” Or, “Earl, where are the ducks? Have you lost the ducks?”

He didn’t know how anyone could lose ducks, but that was Maggie. And he wasn’t trying to be careless. He was just getting older, this happened to old people.

“But Maggie is old and she doesn’t lose things,” he thought bitterly. He better find the hatchet. He didn’t want another scolding.

Maggie would never admit it to Earl, but Albert had always been her favorite and she missed him the most. Her after breakfast task was to check on the pigs. Pigs had been Albert’s favorite animal. He had been the one to feed them, breed them, and eventually sell them. That was before he had grown up. Maggie loved Albert’s husband and the grand babies, but she could barely think about his life in the city, so busy and sterile, so far away from the earth.

She made her way through the fields, watching her step so as not to flatten any daffodils. Otis, their twelve-year-old bloodhound, was sitting calmly under the big oak with the tire swing. Maggie thought he was waiting for Albert or Joe or Sam to throw him a stick. She knew he missed them. Albert was his favorite too. On closer inspection, it looked like Otis was chewing a bone. Maggie didn’t give this much thought. It was probably from a deer that he had come across in the woods. Otis was always chewing on something. He loved to go in the woods that surrounded the property, but as he got older, Maggie didn’t like him to be out of sight.

Maggie recalled that time that Albert and Joe had run into the kitchen crying. Maggie remembered this fondly because her boys had rarely cried when they were growing up. Earl was always telling them, “boys don’t cry.”

“Mama,” Joe had cried, “Otis is dead!”

Maggie hadn’t been able to really understand though all the sobs.

“What was that, Joe?” she asked.

Albert took over for Joe who was on the ground sobbing, “Otis is dead! He went into the woods and we haven’t seen him all day! And on the radio—on the radio the man said that there have been bears! Bears, Mama!”

Oh, Lord, thought Maggie, when had the boys gotten so dramatic?

Instead she said, “I’m sure Otis is fine. Daddy will look for him tonight, all right?” Joe and Albert nodded.

Otis had been all right. He had come back that evening with a big bone in his mouth and his tail wagging.

How her boys had loved Otis. That was the first Otis, all their dogs were named Otis.

They were now on the third. They had gotten him as a puppy, now he was twelve.

Maggie made her way to the pigpen. Earl was in his shed. She knew this because of all the cursing coming from the other side of the farmhouse. There was an echo, but Earl hadn’t figured that out in the fifty years they had lived on the farm. Earl had never been very observant. They had met at a dance and Maggie had liked how confident and smart he had seemed. Now he mostly kept to himself. They had been married so long, sometimes Maggie forgot why she loved him. She knew she did, deep down, but it was hard to remember why.

The pigs were all lying down. The piglets were napping next to their mothers, covered in mud. There were a few chickens in with the pigs, but they didn’t bother the pigs and the pigs didn’t bother them. They lived harmoniously together. Maggie had a big bucket of water in her hand which had been splashing her as she had made her way to the pigs.

She heard a shout and looked up. It seemed like Earl was coming towards her, he was swinging something.

He’s gone mad, she thought with a sigh.

But she knew that something was wrong. When you’ve been married to someone for fifty-five years, you can tell what they’re thinking from miles away.

But he was far away and she needed to feed and water the pigs. He would be there shortly. She opened the gate and walked into the pen. The pigs looked so peaceful, so happy. She started to pour the slops into the trough, but something caught her eye. Something grey and lifeless. She stooped down and started digging it out of the scraps. She pulled. She knew what it was immediately and suddenly felt very sick. She dropped it and screamed. Maggie never screamed, but she screamed now.

It was a hand.

A severed hand, shriveled and stiff, covered by egg shells and apple cores, lay in the trough. Maggie started to run. At seventy-two, this kind of cardio was too much for her bones and lungs, and she had to stop immediately. She collapsed in a heap of gasps and wheezes. At this point Earl had reached her. He looked concerned.

“Maggie, Maggie,” he cried urgently.

“Earl—“ Maggie started, but was instantly cut off by him.

“Maggie, be quiet for once!” he shouted, “I—I found something… I found my missing hatchet… But,” he took a deep breath and closed his eyes, as though preparing himself for what he had to say next, “But, it was covered in blood!”

He stood there, a crazed look in his eye, searching Maggie’s face for shock, his arms stretched open in case she fainted. She stood there, eyes to the ground, still shocked that Earl had told her to “be quiet.”

“Maggie? Did you hear me? Blood!” He looked puzzled, why wasn’t Maggie acting surprised?

“Maggie! God damn it, answer me!” He was becoming angry. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Maggie stood there and made eye-contact with Earl.

Staring directly at him she said, “What’s wrong with me is that I just found a severed hand in the pig trough.”

“What?” Earl stumbled back.

“A severed hand in the pig trough. It’s probably still there, unless the pigs ate it.” “Maggie, what in God’s name are you talking about?”

“Why don’t you just go over there and see.”

Earl made his way to the pigpen. He yelled as though he’d touched the electric wire surrounding the pigpen. One of the pigs had the hand in its mouth.

Lunch that afternoon was quiet, like usual. But the silence was different this time: instead of not knowing what to say, there was too much to say. Both of them were overwhelmed by the number of things that needed to be discussed, but neither one of them wanted to start.

Maggie had changed. Somewhere in the last few hours she had become different. Not because she was scared, but because she was the opposite. Nothing had been happening for so long; the kids were gone, she and Earl didn’t go anywhere, and all her friends were somewhere in Florida. Now there was a murder. And a secret fire, the one that only showed itself to Maggie occasionally, was lit. She knew deep down she wanted to solve this, she wanted to become one of those old ladies who solved crime, like the ones she saw on the tv.

Earl didn’t have this fire, and he didn’t know about Maggie’s either. But after interacting with death, it had him thinking about life and what was in his.

“Maggie, what are we going to do about this?” he asked quietly. “Solve it,” she said.

“Wouldn’t it be better to call the police?” “Earl, I think I want to solve this.” “Okay,” he whispered.

Earl Brown didn’t know anything about murder. He didn’t know how to solve crime. But he did know one thing: he loved Maggie. Sometimes he forgot why, it had been so long since they had gotten married. But seeing her try to do something, it reminded him of all the reasons he loved her; she was smart, determined, and persistent. That’s why he had married her.

Maggie Brown had only seen shows and read books about solving murder. She didn’t know what she was doing, but she liked it. She wanted to do something, so she was.

Instead of calling the police, Maggie got out a notebook, her glasses, a pair of rubber gloves, and a cup of tea. Earl sat quietly. On a table in Earl’s shed, Maggie arranged the evidence: the bloody axe, what remained of the hand, and the bone Otis had been gnawing, which suddenly seemed to be more than just a dog’s chew. Maggie looked at it all, took a sip of tea, and got to work.

Time had gone by at Pleasant Pig Farm since the murder. They never found out who was murdered, or who the murderer was—it turned out that Maggie wasn’t a very good sleuth. They never involved the police. First there was the excitement, and then Maggie was worried that she had done something wrong. At some point they just forgot to.

They sold the pigs, but didn’t rename the farm. Albert wouldn’t let them. They hadn’t told him about the hand and the reason they were selling his pigs. They didn’t know how to tell him, and then they just forgot. It was almost like it had never happened.

A few months later, Albert brought home his children and partner, to help out for a little while. Albert was concerned for his parents: they lived so far away and there was always so much work on the farm that they hadn’t seemed very content. But when they arrived, he found that Maggie and Earl were happier.

The severed hand had reminded them why they loved each other. It was their secret. They still ate breakfast together each morning, but now there were seven places at the table. The pigs were gone, but the ducks still wandered around the yellow farmhouse, occasionally chased by Albert’s children. And the tire swing under the oak was used every day.

Charlotte is a junior at the Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport. She lives on a small family run goat farm in Gray. She love writing, reading, and storytelling and lives by Cicero’s maxim: “if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” (but she would add a pot of tea).  


TPL Kids Poetry Award

Crow by Luisa Feliciano

Sitting on a branch

With beady eyes

A crow looks at us

Then, with one flap of his wings

He is off,

Making us look at what had been there before.

Luisa Feliciano is a fourth grader at Maine Coast Waldorf School. When not in school, she enjoys ballet classes, playing soccer and practicing the violin. This was her first poetry contest. 


The Crowbait Short Play Award

3 Hail Mary’s by Greg Simpson

You can read it here: 3 Hail Mary’s (pdf to preserve original format)

Greg started his acting and writing career when he retired 8 years ago and now has about a dozen shows to his writing credit and has performed in over 100 shows. He loves this phase of his life!


The Crowbait Short Play Honorable Mention

Danced to the Fiddle by Fred Cheney

You can read it here: Danced to the Fiddle (pdf to preserve original format)

Fred Cheney lives in Bowdoinham on the property where he grew up.  He has been to Silverton, and talked with Bill Staines.