The third annual Morro Bay Estuary Poetry Contest asked people to celebrate native wildlife in poems of any form, and to capture the essence of the Morro Bay National Estuary in haiku. 72 poets from across the county and beyond sent in 96 poems for consideration.
Guest judges Marguerite Costigan, Jerry Douglas Smith, and Patty Sullivan were very impressed with the entries.
Guest Judge and current San Luis Obispo Poet Laureate, Marguerite Costigan.
Guest judge Jerry Douglas Smith.
Guest judge Patti Sullivan.
The judges have spoken, and the winners are in. Please read their poems below, and join the Estuary Program and guest judges for a celebratory reading at Coalesce Bookstore next Friday, May 20, at 7 p.m.
Estuary & Watershed Wildlife Category
For the Estuary & Watershed Wildlife category, writers composed poems in any form that focused on animals native to the estuary and the land that drains into it. using the estuary as a theme.
Adult Winner: Dawn Wood
Love in an Estuary
I am drawn by the soft outline of the shore,
beds of sand dunes, edges to sleep on.
The coming and goings, wet footprints
throughout the day.
Always amusing me, pulling back and forth,
the tide exposes bubbles, homes
for sand dabs and tiny crabs.
There is so much life.
A sea otter hugs an oyster shell looking up,
to the silhouetted curve of a great
white egret’s neck, as it collapses into
a eucalyptus nest releasing sustenance.
A great blue heron on a private piece of shore
is statuesque, still, and silent.
Moving on foot until the sharp beak
falls like a guillotine and spears a wayward smelt.
Salty boats tightly moored dance with a daily rhythm.
Compelled by the water’s soft hand, the bows
first float gracefully from north until all is reversed
and for a moment each reaches out for
the southern lip of the sea.
As sky darkens, I watch a blood red orange
spill over Morro Rock.
There is so much life that lives and dies.
An estuary breeds an afterglow,
a process that never ends.
Let me not just visit and forget,
but remember all I have loved.
Let this estuary continue to bless
those who come to know its quiet kiss.
Adult Runner-up: Lani Steele
Local Fauna, Morro Bay Estuary
This April day is
gray and blue – the skies, the jays –
with a dash of whitecaps and greenery.
Khaki deer flick an ear
in their hiding places,
crows chase jays, and jays chase swallows;
hawk watches quail in the chaparral
but the quail sentry guards his family.
Heron stalks frog, egret stalks small live
things in the muck,
coots bounce on wavelets as mallards glide
the streams of Sweet Springs and
pond turtles bask on their log.
People paddle the Bay,
run trails on its rim,
drive by or stop to watch.
We live here, we are sentient
though busy. We live here
because we love these waters,
these birds, these wild creatures.
Youth Winner: Fiona Reams
The faint bark of a sea lion.
Birds gathered in groups,
searching for food.
Boats out on the water.
A bright blue sky.
No clouds for a mile.
The water shimmering
under the golden sun.
A blue heron soars
at its most
Youth Runner-up: Luke Mellom
The Elfin Forest
No Sounds are made as wind
blows through the trees.
Trees grow at the touch of rain,
Moss dangles down from the branches.
Tiny creatures remain hidden.
Humans use the boardwalk
To admire the forest’s beauty.
At the end of the day,
The forest remains untouched.
Haiku—three-line poems consisting of 17 syllables in a 5/7/5 pattern—traditionally focus on nature.
Adult Winner: Richard Immel
Low tide at Back Bay
Swirling clouds of sandpipers
Feast in the fresh mud
Tie for Adult Runner-up: Richard Immel and Ted Schade
Cormorant, heron, egret
Misty safe haven
—by Richard Immel
Like an aimless mob
Picking at morsels unseen
Willets with wet feet
—by Ted Schade
Youth Winner: Dylan King
The Way Morro Lives
A calm, salty wind
Birds call everywhere with you
Thick mud, crawling crabs.
Youth Haiku Runner-up: Vienna Laughlin
Yellow rays shine down
Upon the snow white egret
Salt and fresh unite