For writers, poets, and the lovelorn ... A Valentine's Day Contest February, 2000

A special thanks to everyone who sat down and penned a sonnet for our St. Valentine's Day Sonnet Contest. In just six days we received over 2500 poems from all over the country and from all sorts of people...plumbers, painters, truck drivers, retirees, students, and college professors.

The eight poems selected by Garrison as the winners are printed below. Each of the winners receives a dinner for two at a local restaurant of their choice, courtesy of A Prairie Home Companion.

Thanks again to all who entered our contest...and happy Valentine's Day.


...............................................................

Sunshine In The Winter

Though winterís breathing on my hair,
Its frozen fingers chill my spine,
It cannot touch this heart of mine
because, old darling, you are there,
so warm, still telling me you care.
As much as at age eight or nine
you sent me that first valentine,
you knew weíd make a perfect pair.

I know when all is said and done
and snow is drifted cold and deep
youíll always be the only one
Iíll dream of when I go to sleep.

Now here beside me, warm and near,
you are my winter sun, old dear.

Phyllis Donnelly
Vineland, New Jersey
...............................................................

Sonnet for Becky

How heavy do we journey on our way,
The cranberry minivan crammed and tight,
Our daughters equipped for the weekend away,
Theyíve pictures to draw, poems and stories to write.
And you beside me, sifting through the mail,
Quick notes announcing news of every kind;
While you recite your distant cousinís tale
I fight to leave the workweekís cares behind.
Did we create this intricate world?
A shy love had begun simply enough.
How could we have imagined these girls,
This inexhaustible supply of love?
That summerís flat on Emerson AvenueÖ
We talked, loved, wondered; but never knew.

Paul Kilgore
Duluth, Minnesota
...............................................................

Fixing the Washing Machine

After all these years, I think not about my first sight
of you, but of you now, your head bent to this tedious job,
how your intensity tonight makes me know I can trust
tomorrow and the next, and the day after that.
Funny, I always thought that love was about the cosmic things,
that it was charged 24-7, like the lips of Monty Clift and Liz
Taylor when they kissed in Elephant Walk. I wanted it
to be elegant, but now I know itís the ordinary part,
that counts for more, the pocket for my hand at the flare
of your hip that I would know blind, your 50-storey laugh,
your willingness year in, year out, to rub the tiredness from my feet,
and now, setting the tub of that washer so that it will spin true,
you smile up at me, and my heart surges, and I feel the heat
rising in me, rising to meet you.

Dorothy Coffin Sussman
Alanta, Georgia
...............................................................

Love

I came because I could not stay away
From all the warmth you offer open hand
And eyes and mind and heart. And there you stand
I came because I could not stay away.
And here you stand, warming this winterís day,
Sunlight and snow, a sparkle in the air,
A crystal wind, a lightness everywhere
And here you stand, warming this winterís day.
A lightness everywhere reflects my smile
And in your honest eyes, a smile as well.
The moment casts a warm and subtle spell.
A lightness everywhere reflects my smile.
But this is all I really had to say:
I came because I could not stay away.

Kathryn Morski
Escanaba, Michigan
...............................................................

We've Been Married For A While

I cannot buy you lingerie, my dear.
I tried to once, and we both know it failed.
You just are not the kind of gal to wear
those skimpy things that burst when you exhale.

You liked the shovel that I bought last year,
and rubber boots will always be in style.
I canít go wrong with Leinenkugelís beer
but driving to the Midwest takes a while.
Is ours a love so staid, so old, that I
can honestly consider pots and pans?
Does our romance now mean Iíd deign to buy
some brand new jumper cables for the van?

But then again, I know itís not champagne
youíre hiding in the trunk. I think itís chains.

Jefferson Ranck
Portland, Oregon
...............................................................

Sonnet for Mark

To capture all the reasons I love you
Is harder than to catalog the stars.
Ten and four brief lines are far too few
For all the daily moments that are ours.

I love your sleeping body in the night.
It warms me even when youíre unaware.
When I get up I donít turn on the light
I wonder how Iíd live if you werenít there.

You bring the comics with my shredded wheat.
You read aloud a story while I cook.
We watch the birds together as we eat,
Their feeders near the window of our nook.

Our kitchen has become a loversí shrine.
Now and forever, be my Valentine.

Jane Heald
Pleasant Hill, Tennessee
...............................................................

Fountain Sonnet

By my window is a garden with a
fountain, where children play and lift their eyes
toward the sun. At the end of the day
I think of you most, when the old house sighs
with ghosts of unfulfilled dreams. I see your
golden looks, remembering how your hair
smelled like summer rain and that dress you wore.
Your voice sings my name again and the sound
of it is like wine poured out on my heart.
Drunk with the thought of you, the pleasure found
with you; Iím undone; lost before I start.

I hear the fountain bubbling still and think of you,
lifting you to my lips to drink.

Bruce Blackmon
Laurel Hill, North Carolina
...............................................................

The Mountain Road For Cary

That Sunday in the spring of a distant year,
We drove the mountain road together, touching hands.
At the gate, you put the old truck in lower gear,
the climb was steep, green spring across the lands
below us stretched as far as we could see.
Another spring, with our firstborn we walked
The mountain road and rested where one pear tree
From an old orchard stood. The child slept as we talked.
These days we choose to take the mountain way.
Our lastbornís cheeks redden in the late winter wind.
We walk hand and hand, he points the way
To where the road turns steep and makes a bend.
From there, he sees the world below, which waits
For spring, for joy, for him, outside old gates.

Pam Horn
Goodwater, Alabama

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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