The Denver County Fair, now in its fourth year, was conceived as a big, fat blue-ribbon love letter to everything that's cool about Denver, from local artists and a healthy geek culture to, yes, legalized pot. So it's only fair that this year's poetry contest has an I Heart Denver theme.
This year's entries -- all unpublished and judged by a panel of literary pros -- explored love in the Mile High City from just about every angle. Following are the judges' five final picks; hear all of them read live at noon Sunday, August 3, on the fair's Arts Pavilion Stage, where the top three poets will also be awarded with prizes and ribbons.
Dark Sandi . . . (Sandi Calistro)
Dark haired Sandi buries ink under skin, pulsating steel dripping ink and ideas drives easy under a thin human layer dripping blood big eyes and batting lashes, long dresses and draping sashes our Dark Sandi buries ink under skin, big eyes and flowing locks that flirt and dance and grind up and down Denver city blocks. Ladies ride arms and legs give away wide eyed glances steal hearts on high lands streets Denver boys want girls in ink on girls on girls on girls.......
-- Dale Sawin
Portrait of a Poetry Class on 9th Street Park
Dedicated to Professor Jake Adam York
On a day when the wind blew through like a burp like an excuse me like a mint sprig tickled by bourbon flitting sheets of paper on the long worn table poems quivered in front of students - gifts, prayers - Michael, the boy beside me, not yet dead not yet having thrown himself off a roof, the dreamy-eyed girl across from me not yet married not yet divorced not yet broken by love and you -- alive -- professing the merits of blues albums the sound of poetry in the notes maybe my words should be more like the bass guitar thump thump thumping, baby let us feels those words, let us seek eternity.
-- Jamey Trotter
Take a girl by the hand, Picked up and out of mud. Wait until she dusts herself off. See what she's become. Hear Delta blues echo behind her and see what she's carried in her pockets from cotton fields to Mississippi swamped plates stacked with fish and corn pokes. She'll tell you About deep swimming gar biting at good-bye And big sunsets before meteor showers. But, See if she can tell you why the trip was worth the cost. Why from her bedroom window Each morning, she carries her song to high, rocky points Where snow still rests on mountain tops in July. Ask her what it means to own a city, To call each building hers. To lick giant ice cream scoops dished in homemade waffle cones Watch the fireworks from the highway Sit on top of an old car's hood and call this new city Her home. See if she'll describe Highlands filled with Trills and romantic accents Or music and poetry of 5-points Incense floating down Federal and Alameda Stars you can see over parks Filled with symphony music Or summer jazz And a once-in-a-lifetime love. Take her by the hand. I promise, she'll laugh at your old jokes Overheard in comedy clubs Or street performers on 16th Street. Go ahead and ask her. Ask what it is about a new place That moves itself closest to her heart.
-- Raylene Kaufman
Low riders riding on the hips of their mothers Shoulders bustling out of straps The borders of this town are squeezed between tattooed arms and dancing poles The streets are in bloom with neon lights like cheap fake flowers bedded down in crooked sidewalks advertising weekly rates for rooms with free adult movies and written on walls the spray painted language of the streets jagged letters written in a hurry to issue warnings of where you are and where you should not be if you are of another gang, another neighborhood. Rocks roll in women's hands as they stand on street corners The smoke moves up and down the street sweetly into lungs for mere pocket change This is the street of the destitute and the prostitute A strip of pavement that unravels through the night under any moon in any season where what you should not be looking for can be found Liquor stores hang out on each corner flickering beer lights in darkened windows People of all nations walk this street People of all nations live along its corridor carving out their culture in a collage of living The Bantu, the Ethiopian, the Middle Eastern, the Mexican, the Dominican And I too live off its strip the longest street in America, close to the beating heart of a city.
-- Taryn Browne
I the forsythia bloom love at the stoop of Elizabeth I the sugared parsnip of Newsome harp love, the all darjeeling, the immense light that sharps skipping a stone with a drunken rant in the street I mauvest lilac trip whetted in respiratory love Love I the infinitely starry halo Ever a leafy manifest erupts above the balcony, I realized Of life, the wormwood fairy; sailing green goes I Into that drooping hut With scruffy dogs of all ages (canine), the carriage beasts (breaths) snorting at the internal combustion Where the unselfconscious hit the ATM, and cash springs out
after Eleni Sikelianos
-- John Patsynski
Can't get enough Denver County Fair poetry? The fair will also feature a Poems-Write-Now on-demand poetry booth, where you can drop off a topic and a $5 poet's donation and come back fifteen minutes later for a finished work, hand-written and stamped with an "Official Denver County Fair Poem" seal. The Denver County Fair runs Friday, August 1 through Sunday, August 3 at the National Western Complex. Learn more about the fair online.
To keep up with the Froyd's eye view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!