Local Poetry Finalists

We held a contest amongst local poets to decide the poem for the billboards. The rules were that the poem had to be about or include some aspect of Utah culture, landscape or history.  We received many, many entries and spent a long time choosing the perfect poem for the billboards.  We wanted to share some of the other wonderful work we received.  At some point we’d like to make a page with all of the entries and a place for people to upload and share their own work. (also, the format of this site wouldn’t let me keep the original formatting of a couple of the poems, but I tried my best to keep everything the same.)


Here is the winning poem by Derek Henderson:

Derek Henderson is the author of Thus & (If P Then Q Press) and co-author, with Derek Pollard, of Inconsequentia (BlazeVox Books). He recently completed his PhD in Poetry at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.


Small Prayer

All secrets, all smiles

invisible in my house.

There is a bird in the woods whose song stops you

in a field full of tulips.

Whatever you say

if you wake up sometime—on the steps of the

roads that are not roads, as

night swells seaweed—

amend, thank-you, amen.



Here are the ten finalists:




Sunset enacts the fire of the stars,

and your shadow makes you

fifty feet tall.  Walk a dirt road

down the lap of the valley

through fields turned golden

as the velvet folds of a mother’s dress.

The mountains above you, a father’s

craggy arms, snag water from the belly

of the clouds.  Bend over the river

they send and drink deeply of home.

Susan Howe 





An Angel Might Be An Owl

They do seem to be intercessors,

calling out across the empty spaces,

their gold eyes filling up zeroes,

their wings like a bridge, something reaching

from up to down, lower to higher,

at least for a while.

I miss my owl’s company.

I wish it had stayed all summer.

But maybe, like angels, they belong to no one.

Maybe wildness is an answer from the sky.

-Rob Carney






We disturb the leisure of nowhere

with our naming. A mountain lake needs

no name to cuddle cutthroat trout. The cutthroat

know the names of nothing when they leap

and plunge into the bull’s-eye of ripples. We wait

with lines out, hope we’ve found White Pine,

hear only the click of lodgepoles, slender

in the breeze. We long for certainty, as if snow

should care where it shivers. Or you and I where

we first tackled night under billions of stars.

-Maurine Haltiner



Spilling Over

From our canyons and gullies it draws and flows,

These rivers, these creeks gurgle and swell

Headlong across the valley

Like a collective idea rising, brimming.

We all desire some rich new soil of understanding

Ready for seed, ready for sun, ready to grow.

I will meet and course with the river,

Rush along the stream of opportunity to a place

Fallow with need, gather, gather my strengths,

Then leap.

-Larry Menlove



Let the Mountains Unhinge You

Let the mountains unhinge you!

Let the valleys and lakes draw you in

To knowing:

We are more than the buildings

We build—more than the tools

We fashion from the earth.


The skies are starting to divulge in whispers

The myriad mysteries and histories

Nestled in our landscape.

-Sarah Duffy



Passage From Home Waters


Before they can be apprehended, the internal workings of water’s motions pass into the eye of the imagination.  Standing in the middle of a river’s moving current, the world seems to be an embrace, a song, maybe a dream, full of changing forms and colors that pass before the yes, continually dying and being reborn…. The same substance, the same sensual reassurance of your belonging in the world. and with each immersion, the same mounting conviction of life’s blessedness…. Entering the same waters over and over again, it is finally the fact that I am a breathing and dying body that strikes me as the most strange.  This wonderment at my own biology is the gift of the river, a fire of transmutation, repentance maybe, but never stasis.  Home waters.”


-George Handley







Sun leaps over a threshold of mountains

into the valley, barefoot and restless. Unrolling

her light—a canvas from west to east—she begins

her daily work, strokes in any color at hand:

pine, sage, copper, clay, autumn-aspen, the russet of hawks.

At the first shiver of night, knowing she cannot stay,

she will roll up her canvas (east to west), rinse her brush,

then pour out her waterglass across the sky—

the clouds will catch fire.

-Phillip Brown



Tree-Told Secrets On Provo River Trail

We cheerfully bid farewell to spring,

its white and blushing blossoms

and cast no backward glance in changing

our summer robes for party clothes.

In shades of cinnamon, copper, plum,

we’ll dance in wild time to October winds

until November seduces us again

and we shrug off our coverings and wait

for winter’s breath to cover us,

inch by inch, in diamonds.

-Heather Holland Duncan







after Henry Vaughan


you are, not were nor will be—

as cataracts & creeks, as river brown as trout,

as kidney and as skin.

Water you are, not were

nor will be

rolling ocean green or


without wind enough to twirl the one red leaf.

What channel does my soul seek?


snow melting from trees like rain, a clean rinsing,

a quickness the sun has kissed—

and this—salt desert water swollen with birds feasting

on brine flies feasting on algae—

and this—siphoned through sulfurous rock, glacier

old as amaranth.

I stray and roam.

To be useful, to be clear—

-Natasha Saje



Deer Psalm 

They make the dreamer catch her breath –

Her heart pounds with their leaps –

They startle constellation bears

While Timpanogos sleeps.

You need not fear their forwardness –

They haven’t got a chance –

But just before they slip away –

You catch their furtive glance.

-Cynthia Hallen



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