Poets explore love, Denver style, at the Denver County Fair

Poets explore love, Denver style, at the Denver County Fair

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This year's entries -- all unpublished and judged by a panel of literary pros -- explored love in the Mile High City from just about every angle.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.

See also: Pot pavilion ready for lift-off at Denver County Fair

Poets explore love, Denver style, at the Denver County Fair

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

Continued reading for more Denver County Fair poems.

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


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

Continued reading for more Denver County Fair poems.

New Love

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.


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


to her heart.

-- Raylene Kaufman

Continued reading for more Denver County Fair poems.

East Colfax

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

Continued reading for more Denver County Fair poems.

First Denver Poem

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.

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National Western Complex

I-70 and Brighton Blvd.
Denver, CO 80216


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