This year marked WCCOA's 14th Annual Poetry Contest. Twenty-five poems on the theme of "Persistence" were submitted by Wood County residents 50 years of age and older. In this blog post, you will find the announcement and picture of this year's winner, a note from the judge about the winning poem, and all of the poems that were submitted. Thank you to all who submitted poems this year. We enjoyed reading everyone's work and we hope you will, too!
Congratulations to our 14th Annual Poetry Contest Winner, Carol Kinsey!
A note from our judge, a BGSU Professor in the Writing Department, on the winning poem:
"This poem reads as a calm, steady, compassionate voice for challenging times. The author demonstrates, with sophistication and grace, the tenderness and courage needed to persist in the face of a terrible truth each of us must encounter as we age: we – as well as those we hold most dear – are simultaneously living and dying. The poet recognizes that illness may deplete the bodies of our loved ones and time can dull the brilliance of treasured memories. And yet, simultaneously, the speaker remains in the present, choosing to celebrate and savor the moments they are fortunate to enjoy but not promised indefinitely. Through the quiet incantatory lines of this poem, we observe the author transform the everyday practice of joining one’s partner in bed into the embodied act of prayer in time of uncertainty and fear, of sowing a seed in the mind so there may be sustenance in seasons to come."
Cancer Time Love
By: Carol Kinsey
I came to bed the other night
you were already sleeping
making little deeply-asleep noises.
I usually crawl under the covers
turning away from you
but tonight, this night
I turn toward you
put my arm quietly across your chest
not wanting to wake you.
Wanting to be near
but not wake you.
I may not always remember this exact moment
but I will know there were times
I quietly slipped into bed along side you
touched you softly
without you knowing
but felt by both or us.
Other nights will come
taking us closer and closer to a time
when there will be no more nights to come.
A Christmas Morn Walk
By: Larry E. Slaughterbeck
No matter how fast our lives are moving;
Sometimes it is good to feel life plainly,
As on a Christmas morning walk.
A wintry wind moved gently among the branches,
The trees now asleep as I walked
On one of the shortest days of the year.
The quiet morning air was filled with snowflakes;
The sounds of the holiday season,
From a distant church’s bell tower.
A blue jay flew among the low lying bushes,
High in the sky, three skeins of honking geese
Flew at an angle.
A brisk north wind encouraged me to
Pull down my stocking cap.
Persistence Until the Bitter End
By: Mary Gambill
People's Choice Award
Her struggles were real,
So she tried to stay strong,
So her body would heal,
But the battle raged on.
Her pain it prevailed,
She got very frail,
She walked with a cain,
To help with the pain.
The Kemo was rough,
She tried to stay tough,
All she could say,
Is enough is enough.
The pain got so bad,
She could no longer fight,
Her body was broken,
Words were left unspoken.
She lost a tough battle,
The journey was long,
She pushed very hard,
To try to live on.
Now she soars like an Eagle,
High up in the sky,
Looking down on her family,
Saying please do not cry.
The Hope of Bowling Green
By: Rev. Larry Swaisgood
This poem is built on facts gleaned from a book in the Wood County Library entitled "Images of America: Bowling Green", By Fredrick N. Honneffer, Arcadia Publishing
Long ago glass factories came to Bowling Green.
Beautiful bottles and jars could be seen.
On a hot day in August it was lost in a fire.
Eighteen businesses burned and it looked quite dire.
With resilience, the folks who took quite a beating
trusted that BG would still keep on eating.
Twas 1914 when Heinz Catsup was starting.
People were eating and people were farting.
Twas the largest catsup factory in all the world.
The smell of tomatoes, in the wind was hurled.
In nineteen three-six came a family named Cain.
Their potato chips were loved past Maumee and Wayne.
When Cain’s factory shut down from the second world war
The residence of BG settled the score.
Their stomachs empowered their brains with a dream.
They rescued their city by eating ice cream.
Our city was practically bathing in milk.
Both Miller’s and Harmon’s ice cream was silk.
The University Dairy Barn - on old Ridge Street
Sent college students walking to taste a great treat.
Today, it’s the Dairy Queen and pizza galore.
The city is famous for it’s eating folklore.
So when trouble creeps in … you can bet very soon
BG’s solution is the fork and the spoon!
Just Manage the Challenge
Just Manage the Challenge
By: Marty Hogle
To persevere is such a challenge
When daily tasks are hard to manage
From dawn to dusk we must aspire
To reach our goal and climb still higher
To reach each goal and surpass the prior
Much perseverance it will require
To set our goals low is one way out
But to achieve our best is what life is about
To leave this world better, a legacy to all
With perseverance we can then walk tall
Through the good times and even the rough
We will show everyone we are really quite tough
In crucial times we gainfully learn
And reach higher goals for which we yearn
So always set goals and then persevere
You will win the race and expel all fear
To achieve the best you must first take the test
You can surpass your limits and pass the rest
If you persevere you are sure to win it
For your energy will have no limit
There is a time to enter and a time to win
Just persevere and you will end with a grin
When you accept each challenge and give it your best
You will gain satisfaction and perhaps beat the rest
Persevere always to experience the feeling of job well done
Your race in life you will have won
Round N’ Round
By: Marilyn Fearnside
Meant to be read clockwise
Dizzying to look up
Dizzying to look down Who cares? The lens blinks
Who cares? I must explore What’s that?
The end is near How? Where Shadows flicker
How? Where? Laughing, singing Who’s there?
Laughing, singing Hanging Up-side-down Hesitant, hiding
Hanging up-side down Holding each breath
Follow me Come, carry me
Emulate? Why not?
Fall in line Catch me – Ha!
Imitate? Who needs you anyhow?
Disillusioned, pensive Defiant, strong
Letting go Head held high
Climbing, clawing Scraping, fighting
Is this success? Sez who?
Deadlines, pressure Studying…my
Too much stress? Why should I?
Slipping, sliding Anger, yearning
Holding on Emotions swirling
Limbs intertwined The creation
Vows that bind When? How
A need to know Relationships
Forevermore? What now?
Experimenting, fondling Confusion, uncertainty
Searching for more Questioning all
The Ups and Downs of the Wood County Fair
By: Rev. Larry Swaisgood
This poem is built on facts gleaned from a book in the Wood County Library entitled "Images of America: Bowling Green" By Fredrick N. Honneffer, Arcadia Publishing
A county fair started in 1851
With the simple agenda of just having fun
But not all went well for this state wide attraction.
With each joyous addition – came a cloudy subtraction.
In ’81 the fair was on Conneaut and Fairview.
There was so much excitement and fun things to do
But while children on rides were joyously screaming
Mary Bach’s blood … on the floor was streaming.
Her husband, named Carl, used a dull corn cutter
to murder poor Mary … without even a stutter.
Twas two years later with the fair in full scope
On the courthouse yard, that Carl hung from a rope.
In 1927, the fair moved to Poe.
Thousands of people were drawn there to go.
The smells of what animals dropped in a pile
Was ignored for the chance to be eating in style.
French fries just cooked and dripping with oil
Were eaten by farmers after hours of toil.
Politicians and tractors made lots of noise.
They ruined our sleep with devious ploys.
The Wood County Fair continues each year
As strange tattooed men haul in their gear
The rides are all tested and promises given
But grandmas have doubts how the kiddies are livin.
As each year passes, more enter the gate
They’re all undeterred by the thought of their fate.
As Ferris Wheels lift them … up to the sky
they always come down from the joy – and deny
that this fun brings a danger that is ever so scary.
When you enter those gates, don’t forget Mary.
Is Perseverance A Must Or Bust
By: Marty Hogle
A time to win and a time to lose
A time to accept and a time to choose
A time of remorse and a time of glee
A time to persevere and a time to flee.
Do you know when you are given that choice
Will you continue on when you should quiet your voice?
Will you persevere when it is wise to stop?
Will you recognize when you have reached the top?
Will you persevere when it will hurt another?
Or to have the last word is that your druther?
Make sure that it is good your perseverance will gain
Don’t persevere an argument, it will end in vain
Perseverance when the goal is personal acclaim
Will never bring humbleness, honor, or fame
Persevere in all things positive and just
If you persevere in malice you will lose trust
May you persevere with deeds both kind and good
Never utter words of prejudice or commit acts that would
Persevere to make our environment a better place
Where everyone can live in peace and grace
You see perseverance can bring both results bad and good
We must only persevere in things that we should
Goals to achieve our good for all
A medical breakthrough or a safety recall
We may then persevere in things large and small.
A must or a bust, we hold the ball; it is our call.
By: Marilyn Fearnside
I have no Dreamkeeper to lead the way.
Once the mountains echoed with our voices,
Now there is barely a whimper on the wind.
Once each new family shared the stories of the past,
The victories and defeats, the laughter and pain.
Keeping the ancestors alive with the telling.
The story tellers are no more,
Memories fade and twist with time,
And we are left with only bits and pieces of our past.
The spirits are taking me on a journey through this wasteland.
The faded pictures and yellowed papers are my roadmaps,
Helping me find the shadows from the past.
My Great Uncle’s poem, my Grandmother’s postcards,
Family letters, all add shape and form to the shadows.
Yet they are only hints at the lives lived before
So, I continue my search, hoping to learn more.
Some say it’s foolish, the past is gone
With no relevance to now.
But I know that wisdom is passed down through the ages
If only we take the time to listen and have the heart to hear.
Great deeds and hidden skeletons are welcomed alike,
For each have their lessons to impart
I know that long before my birth,
Events shaped who I would become
I am formed from those shadows and
Each left their indelible print on my DNA.
I search my meager papers and try to understand.
What led them to follow their chosen paths?
What brought them to their designated place?
Who are these elusive shadows that haunt my thoughts?
For it is in this search that my answers lie,
As to exactly who am I.
Don’t Give Up
By: Willis Beck
Don’t give up, it’s not your style.
Things may look bad, but for only a while.
Keep on keeping on, you will get there
To the place you’ve always wanted, if only you dare!
The name of the game is called resistance,
The way it’s played is with persistence.
The path ahead may look full of dread,
Keep a clear mind and push ahead.
You’ve been here before, you’ve seen this same game.
You’ve seen this same scheme with a different name.
You know how to steer with your hands on the wheel
Eyes straight ahead, this is no big deal.
Within a short while you will hear them call
You are the one with control of the ball.
They tried to stop you along the way
But your cool head pushed through the play.
You’ll want to smile, you’ll want to gloat
Display all the flags upon your boat.
Keep your face steady, your body keep straight,
You’ve earned this victory now approach the gate.
There will be temptations along the way,
You may want to give up for maybe a day.
Don’t you do it, choose a plan that is quick.
You’ll find out later it was only a trick.
As long as good health will continue,
Keep on keeping on, with all that is in you.
Keep yourself fit, praise God, study history.
You’ll reach the promised land, that’s no mystery!
Chautauqua on the Bay
By: Larry E. Slaughterbeck
The landscape we grow up in,
Will it always be part of who we are…?
And in our travels, particularly those into
Beauty, bring us clarity?
Will Little Traverse Bay share
The beauty of a perfect summer day?
Will the breezes from the bay carry
An operatic singer arias?
Will the hue of the sky and water
Be captured by an artist on canvas?
Will it be a day that inspired
A young Hemingway
To return a century earlier?
By: Patti Brown
I can run but I can’t hide.
Words have the power to confuse my trusting mind.
Lies, corruption, chaos talk loud and clear.
Faces frozen with fear and uncertainty.
Interrupted sleep shrink my power.
My faith has been shaken.
I will search for the light consumed by darkness.
Time will move quickly.
Change is coming, the truth will be revealed.
I will embrace the light determined to survive and thrive.
My purpose will be known.
The Discipline of Coping
By: Rev. Larry Swaisgood
Wood County has much of the world’s finest dirt
but because of spring rain, some may lose their shirt.
It seems part of God’s master design
that life doesn’t improve just cause we whine.
All our nation is fighting over bad politics.
Do any elected - have any ethics?
Even our past-time of baseball is tainted
The winners are cheaters and we’ve all been baited.
Our churches are splitting o’er the marriage of gay
The power is shifting and the small children pay
What can we do … when all that we trust
and everything sacred becomes a big bust?
After a season of bitter remorse
we pray out to God to reset our course.
While the crazy take laws into their hands;
take guns into school or shout their demands
The Bible instructs us to wait on the Lord
After seasons of suffering comes our reward (Matthew 5:11-12 & Revelation 2:10)
Those who have faith … have a great way of coping
We trust and obey and cast off all mopeing.
By: Patti Brown
The baby ducks struggle to cross a busy intersection.
Witnessing this brought tears to my eyes.
I sometimes feel like a baby duck struggling to survive.
Aging is not for sissies.
Accepting reality can be challenging.
We all deserve our own love and affection before we run out of time.
Birthing the Future
By: Carol Kinsey
daughter of Carol
granddaughter of Betty and Dolly
More women before not known
each in our own time pulled by the
rich blood-red thread of mother spirit.
ancient talk of new life coming
retold this time with you as holy vessel.
Life floats in your peaceful water
awaiting that first glimpse.
Once again you will surrender to the most potent spell
and I, the one who birthed you, will bear down as you push
my body remembering and unable not to take part.
Fresh souls emerge – the child and the mother
both more than they ever were.
I see how this calling lives in you
leaves me breathless.
Take my love with you now
and into the time beyond my knowing.
Even then, we will meet in memories
Write A Poem On Persistence
By: Colleen Kim
The assignment was to write a poem
which turns out to be rather hard
but I’ll keep trying my best
and thinking of words
so I might win a fifty dollar gift card.
By: Mike Carr
Met a young man in a hurry.
He was standing in line
An elderly couple counting out their last dime.
He said “why are they so slow?,
I’ve got places to go.
They move like lead
I’d rather be dead!”
I said, “I know where you are,
but I’ve traveled far.
Is your journey a race to be won?
These lives are far from done!
Time teaches more than gold.
You won’t always be young,
and they weren’t always old.
He said, I really don’t care,
about those with gray hair.
They had their day,
Now get out of the way”
I said, “Celebrate the Journey!
your family and friends,
will always need you,
and you will always need them.
Do you foresee them here?
What is it that you hold dear?
Youth isn’t all that is sold!
We must start NOW to break the mold!
You won’t always be young
and they weren’t always old!”
CELEBRATE THE JOURNEY!
A life worth living
Our worth is in giving,
Live it, with every breath of your lungs!
And what is foretold
Harmony of the young and the old.
This is how the journey is won!
Remember, they weren’t always old
You won’t always be young.
There weren’t always old
you won’t always be young.
They weren’t always old…
And you won’t always be young!!
The young man looked at me and said, “I’m going to go call my grandparents”
-as he walked slowly away…
I looked towards a brilliant sunset.
By: Ted L. Scherff
I keep on trying
to no avail.
I keep on trying
and all I do is fail.
But I haven’t failed
if I keep on.
Persistence is the energy
until the attempts are done.
By: Colleen Kim
A lifetime struggling to fulfill my conditioning;
A lifetime of sadness, anger, and despair;
Coming into my own I find, relinquishing;
Now, a lifetime to declare freedom from conditioning.
Persistence in the Face of Life As Usual
By: Barbara Brunner
Sometimes Life as Usual gets so crazy it’s impossible to endure. Messy. Ugly. Painful. Annoying,
Hurtful. Aggravating. Harmful. Sad. Lonely. Intolerable.
There are as many ways to endure the problems as there are problems to endure.
Where to find the Persistence? Tenacity? Perseverance? Stamina? The Energy to go on?
What is the Antithesis? Peace. Love, Hope. Joy. Faith. Wisdom. Blessings. Truth. Power. Kindness.
Love wraps His arms around me when I can no longer handle what Life as Usual throws at me.
I close my eyes and close myself to my surroundings and immediately find myself on my Abba Father’s lap. It is here that I find my God’s great Peace. Solace. Comfort. Quiet. Sanity. Acceptance. Love.
Then, after resting there for a while, my Joy. Relief. Strength. Purpose return, and I climb down and return to Life as Usual.
His Love and Touch have once again sustained me. This is where I receive the Fortitude to keep on keeping on. This Love Fills me. Fulfills me. Refreshes me. Heals me. Renews me. Restores me. It never ends. It never runs out. It is always readily available, to anyone who reaches out for it.
Life as Usual can be exhausting. Yet I have discovered the Solution. The Answer. The Source of all that is needed to Endure. To Persist. To Persevere. Available to all.
Life is Hard – guaranteed. Solutions are many and varied – optional. Drugs. Alcohol. Work. Sports.
Isolation. Depression. And God. We don’t get to choose what Life as Usual throws at us. We do get to choose how we endure what Life as Usual throws at us. I’ve made my choice, and it is good.
Keep on Keepin’ On
By: Vernagaye Sullivan
Putting one foot in front of the other
I pace the days looking for joy,
seeking a rainbow through storms of tears;
light to invade the heart of this mother;
asking what else I might employ.
“Just keep on, keepin’ on!” said she.
Strange words to soothe my grief.
Yet wisdom resides there.
For in living life yet to be,
deep pain may find blessed relief.
By: Carolee Isaacson
May this rose be a reminder As you do your daily tasks
Remember that your smiles and encouragement
Bring more healing than one could ask.
May this rose be a symbol Of the friendship that has grown
As you guided and coaxed me back to health
And taught me to care for myself on my own.
May this rose be a message
Conveying gratefulness that I cannot daily share.
Thank you for your kind and honest words
As well as your not-always-tender nudges but always gentle care.
By: Judy Kline
It was with much love
Jesus came to the earth
He came to us through a miraculous birth
Through pursuing love
He has power to forgive
If we will just ask Him and then for Him live
Through His steadfast love
He came to show the way
To live for Him now and each coming new day
With persistent love
Jesus loves you and me
If we fail Him He still loves so tenderly
With enduring love
To the cross He would go
To conquer for us our ever present foe
So with much great love
He died and took our place
He did it for us – the whole human race
He rose from the dead
With new life from above
It was all because of this much needed love
Do You Know My Friend Percy Vere
By: Marty Hogle
When I was just a young child, my mother said to me
You will have many friends and some you can not see
Your dearest friend you will only hear, his name is Percy Vere.
He will always be near and will help you conquer fear
Some things in your life may seem hard to reach
But these difficult challenges were meant to teach
When you enter a race and you feel defeat
Just call on Percy, he will push your feet
When it is time to take that difficult test
Just count on Percy he will help you do your best
When you want to gain but everyone else is ahead
Just rely on Percy and you will win instead
If you start to act the part of a “defeat glutton”
Find Percy nearby and press your “can do” button
When things seem impossible and far to hard
Just pull out Percy Vere’s “keep on” magic card
It is easier to meet each difficult challenge with a friend
And with Percy Vere you know he is there until the end
He will encourage you to reach for a star
To better yourself and raise your bar
No job will ever seem to great with Percy as your mate
With Percy Vere your achievements will mount.
By listening to him there will be too many to count
Listen always to Percy’s strong voice
He will always advise you to make the best choice
Everyone can have Percy Vere as a friend
He will push you through life from beginning to end
A Soldier’s Dream
By: George Leslie
Written in Japan, October 1953 for Jan
Jan & George were married for 60 years, 1956-2016
To you alone I send my love.
With thy help of him above.
When he becomes willing, for us some day,
To become as one, if hard we pray.
Then we’ll take the vows of holy matrimony.
It will be like our first love only.
To us that day may seem quite distant.
But rest assured he’ll be our assistant.
When that marriage license we take out.
It’ll seem as though this world has turned about.
Then up that isle we shall walk.
It makes no difference how people may talk.
Then over that threshold I’ll carry you.
I shall be extremely happy, as I do.
You see my darling, only you I adore
A thousand times more, than ever before.