Our judges chose the following winners for the 16th annual Anne Dittrick Sonnet Writing Contest:

ADULT SONNET WINNER
Ink
By Neil Brothers

Some sonneteers imbibe as they compose,
Without they murder meter, torture rhyme.
A few of them display a bulbous nose—
Still, red and veiny isn't yet a crime.

Their pages sometimes blush with crimson spots,
With ever more as evening turns to night.
That's not surprising—counting emptied pots,
Amazing that the poets stay upright.

A sonnet's measured by the words contained,
The sum of which should far exceed the parts.
The yardstick isn't glasses never drained,
But do the words engage our minds and hearts.

It doesn't matter much what poets drink,
For truth's not found in bottles but in ink.



HIGH SCHOOL SONNET WINNER
The Tempest
By Mason Wright, Elkhorn South High School

The clouds form into darkened masses and
The sun is blocked out from the still black sky.
The boughs and branches of the trees are fanned
By gusts of wind that whoosh and wail and cry.

A funnel forms as clouds drop down below
The wall of imminent destructive force.
And now the mighty winds begin to blow
As nature’s wrath proceeds to take its course.

The lightning strikes and thunder starts to boom.
Descending rain soaks everything in sight.
Tornados form and seal the fate of doom
And every creature feels the tempest’s might.

The storm clears up and all that’s left to feel
Is eerie calm from damage that’s surreal.

ADULT HONORABLE MENTION
One Smitten
By Bradford Lussier

The sighing, swelling sea sings winter songs
While whitecaps on the waves wash into shore.
Foul winds fast chase away the wingèd throngs
Till naught hear I save wind and ocean’s roar.

Within warm visions waft mid reverie
And welcome, Siren songs thrill I to hear:
The first, your portrait in my memory,
The next, the rush your voice brings to my ear.

As seabirds helpless ’gainst the winter gale
And ragged dunes ’gainst waves that ne’er relent,
No mast, no rope so strong that shall not fail
Against the strength of love’s abandonment.

While Sirens wrought sweet songs men to entice,
One smitten knows your whisper to suffice.



HIGH SCHOOL HONORABLE MENTION
I: Prélude

By Timothy Rayner, La Jolla High School

Complexity of rhythm, somber notes
So ripe with raw emotion, pain and joy
Humanity, arranged with mastered strokes
The artist, feeling hurt—distraught, but coy.

Eyes closed, he opens doors that ere were shut
And brings to mind a time and place once dead
The movement of the bow across the gut
Vibrations through the grain assault my head

Mere human, coaxing screams from ancient wood
Makes steel weep, its deep voice cracks with grief
Performing mastered runs as best one could
He tells a story, beautiful, but brief.

What’s left of me is visions of his pain
Yet inspiration courses through my veins.

ADULT HONORABLE MENTION
Sonnet Four

By Arthur Cohen

I counted stars within the darkest skies,
I counted tears each time my eyes would weep,
I counted on some people who told lies,
And counted sheep until I fell to sleep.

One hundred million billion dollar bills,
Much more than any sum I'd seen before,
Came tumbling, pouring down the mountain hills,
While rumbling, roaring, falling to the shore.

And never could I count on such high hope
To free me from the depths of misery,
But now I could not comprehend the scope
Of how my life would change its history.

Yet things are seldom that which they may seem,
And waking up, I sheared apart my dreams.



HIGH SCHOOL HONORABLE MENTION
Endless Winter
By Drew Dee, Elkhorn South High

The cold winds bite the frigid air around
The only sound that’s heard is frosty winds
It is a truly sad and mournful sound
It is a land where winter never ends

No life grows here in this resourceless land
No animals do graze in barren fields
And no man will extend a helping hand
In hopes that this forgotten land will heal

Not everything is lost in this cold place
For hidden beauty is within the ice
The ice welcomes the sun’s toasty embrace
And does escape the endless winter’s vice

But even though the winds of winter bite
Its beauty can be found beneath the light