Lights Near Adler Planetarium

by Dale Patterson
The Waters
Second Place, July 2015
Judged by C. Wade Bentley


The afternoon, warm
like Jack Daniels, dips
to near freezing
by evening.

A smelter pulls fingerless
gloves from his war
surplus parka.

On the edge of an iron-
clad seawall he guides
shafts of light
that mine the deep water
for flashes of silver.

Ice breath clings
to his face. He sieves
with a long handled net
through dark constellations
for glimmering stars,

a galvanized bucket
swirls with his treasure.

Farther away,
where the lake becomes sky,
two double-hulled lakers,
quiet as warrior canoes,
bring Manistique ore
to Calumet harbor.


The poet creates an amazing sense of place, here. The understated title nicely undersells the poem. As often happens, once a writer observes a thing closely enough, it becomes more than it was before being observed. The historical parallel in the final stanza—“double-hulled lakers” and “warrior canoes”—is especially fine. --C. Wade Bentley

  • May2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Burying My Brother
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Second Place

      The Asian man who walks past the balcony
      by Daniel J. Flore III
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Five Hundred Yards from Home
      by Richard Moorhead
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • April 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      In the next life we were married
      by Ken Brownlow
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To a Wayward Son
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Separation
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block