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

  • January 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      How the Wind Works
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Sleep Walker
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells

      Third Place

      The Woman Who Grew up in My House Finds Me on Facebook and Comes to Take a Look Around
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Tires
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Scouring Pots While the World Ends
      by Elizabeth Koopman
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Poetry in the Cultural Revolution
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters