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

  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block