Spirit First

Spirit First announces 2018 Poetry Contest Winners

We are pleased to announce the winning entries for our ninth annual Spirit First Meditation Poetry Contest. We received nearly 2,000 poems from 49 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 46 foreign nations. International entries arrived from Argentina, Algeria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, Wales, and Zimbabwe - and some poems arrived without location indicated. We are thrilled to have the participation of meditation and mindfulness from all over the world, and we are honored by your presence, from home and abroad. This poetry event is such a great joy for us.

Thank you to all of the many beautiful poets who participated - please know that we deeply appreciate every poem, every word. Your writing on the themes of meditation and mindfulness is important to the world, and what a great work it was to select winners from so many beautiful and meaningful poems (difficult work).

We are delighted that this year our Haiku/Micro Poem Special Category twice the number received in 2017. Most of the entries were haiku, but we received a few tanka and other micro poetry forms. Please know, though, that every poem is included in the full contest - but if no micro poem places in the final list of winners, we also award a Haiku/Micro Poem Special Category award.

Special Category Award - Haiku/ Micro Poems: Balloons: a haiku by David Monteith

David Monteith

David Monteith stole a library book once in his life (but only once), a collection of poetry by Robert Graves. He hopes you'll forgive him. In his defense, it was pre-Internet, and he was desperate for poetry. In addition to Robert Graves, some of David's other heroes include Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Brian Andreas, Rumi, and the classical haiku master, Issa. He drawson hisexperiences as a middle- and high-school teacher for inspiration and is currently working on his first children's book. When he's not writing, he loves taking care of other people's dogs, making earrings from comic book word bubbles, and doing Iyengar yoga.

Balloons: a haiku
by David Monteith

Like children holding
balloons on strings, we cling to
thoughts better set free

First-Place Winner: Meditation at the Waterfall of the Gods by G.G. Silverman

G.G. Silverman

G.G. Silverman practices walking meditation in wild or natural settings as frequently as she can. Her favorite place to experience nature's raw power is the Pacific Northwest coast. G.G.'s writing was most recently nominated for the Best Small Fictions anthology, among other honors, and has appeared in Corvid Queen, So to Speak feminism + language + art, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, The Iron Horse Literary Review, The Seventh Wave, Iconoclast, Ellipsis Literature & Art, and more. She is currently at work on a short story collection as well as her third novel. She is also a visual artist and practices improvisational theater, which she believes is another form of connecting more deeply to one's inner truth. To learn more, please go to www.ggsilverman.com.

Meditation at the Waterfall of the Gods
by G.G. Silverman

We wondered how it would change us,
the roar of an ancient river
as it hurled from a cliff's edge
and raged into the mist.
We stood there for mere
moments, snapped a
photo we'll forget later,
because eternity
cannot be captured.

We cannot fathom
how this precipice was
graven by aeons, how
this river's cold bed
cradled its
child for
seven thousand years,
what motes we
are under the sky.

Gods were once brought here
to drown, and so we
brought our sorrows,
made paper boats
of grocery lists and death
notices and overdue
bills, then
set them free on the river.

The waters hummed
the secret
to everything,


Second-Place Winner: A Long Journey By Sea by Levi Noe

Levi Noe

Levi Andrew Noe was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. He is a writer, wanderer, yogi, entrepreneur, and amateur oneironaut. His flash fiction collection Rain Check was published in August 2016 from Truth Serum Press. His flash fiction, short stories, creative non- fiction and poetry can be found in Connotation Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, and Literary Orphans, among many others. Levi is the editor in chief and founder of the podcast Rocky Mountain Revival Audio Art Journal. Twitter - @LeviAndrewNoe, @RockyMtnRevival, and his website is http://leviandrewnoe.com.

A Long Journey By Sea
by Levi Noe

From the helm
of this pitching ship
I cry to Poseidon and
Yahweh, Jesus,
Buddha, Krishna, Kali,
Allah, Vishnu, Anu, Gaia,
anyone! who's listening
How far
have I to go?
How much
have I to give?
Until You
will let me in.
I have all the charts,
I followed the stars, I've read
all the Words about the journey.
I should be There by now,
but still the Undying Land eludes me.
Could You send me a sign?
A dove,
like You did for Noah.
A dream,
like You gave Gilgamesh.
It seems all You've given me
are these questions.
Is it learning or
that will stop the storm?
Is it praying ceaselessly
or pure silence
that will bring peace
to these waves?
I assumed the deathless
was my destiny, but
I haven't received an invitation.
Supplies are nearly dry.
A storm is coming and I'm still waiting.
I am the only voice I hear.
I've tried everything
apart from drowning.
Is that how this separation ends?
By breathing the ocean in.

Third-Place Winner (Tied): Only This by Mike Joachin

Mike Joachin

Mike Joachin currently resides in Miami, Florida, with his wife and two young children. Poetry has always been the natural way Mike expresses himself and tells stories. He is of Caribbean descent, where the art of storytelling is deep-rooted in the culture - this, perhaps, has a lot to do with his passion for poetry. Spirit First is honored to be the first major publication of Mike Joachin's poetry.

Only This
by Mike Joachin

Live the actual moment.
Only this actual moment is life.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh

Only this actual moment
is warm air on the hairs
of our neck, swaying
each like grass in a
summer breeze.

Only this actual moment
tugs at skin like a hungry
child, craving nothing more
than acknowledgement.

The chance to walk hand
and hand with our thoughts,
follow the map of the
heartbeat, breathe in what
we breathe.

What else deserves to
swallow us whole?

Other than what wakes
the senses. Gives life.
Is life. This actual

Third-Place Winner (Tied):Walking Meditation by Jeanie Greensfelder

Mike Joachin

Jeanie Greensfelder feels honored to have won Spirit First third place this year and in 2015. Her work has been published at American Life in Poetry, and Writers' Almanac; in anthologies: Paris, Etc., Pushing the Envelope: Epistolary Poems, and Corners of the Mouth; and in journals: Miramar, Thema, Askew, Kaleidoscope, Persimmon Tree, Solo Novo, If&When, and others. She is the author of Biting the Apple, Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith, and I Got What I Came For. Jeanie serves as the San Luis Obispo County Poet Laureate, 2017/2018. A psychologist, she seeks to understand herself and others on this shared journey, filled, as Joseph Campbell wrote, with sorrowful joys and joyful sorrows. She lives on the central coast of California with her husband Andy. More poems can be seen at jeaniegreensfelder.com.

Walking Meditation
by Jeanie Greensfelder

I leave the world and my worries,
walk the wood-mulch trail that shifts
to sand. Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh

said we're just one step from the
kingdom of heaven. I say his mantra:
Oui, Oui, Oui, Merci, Merci, Merci.

Yes to going slow, feeling the breeze.
Thanks to eucalyptus trees
where migrant monarchs hang

one from another like beads on a string.
A kingfisher calls and circles her pond.
At the bridge I inhale rain-fresh air

and note mallards, heads tucked.
A snowy egret lands, fans her wings,
and steps into the pond. Perfect stillness.

Time stretches. My mind quiets.
The egret ignores her ruffled feathers.
Focused, she waits for food to near.

Her pointed beak strikes, catches a fish.
And me?
I got what I came for.

Editor's Choice Award: If We Are Doomed by Matt Nagin

Matt Nagin

Matt Nagin has been writing poetry since age sixteen - where poetry became a bit of a spiritual practice. Matt has always enjoyed the non-linear nature of poetry and believes in what Rimbaud called "a derangement of the senses" to obtain the unknown. In recent years, Matt's poetry has been published in Antigonish Review, Dash Literary Journal, The Charles Carter, and Grain Magazine, among other markets. His first poetry book, Butterflies Lost Within The Crooked Moonlight, was released in 2017 to very strong critical and reader reviews. Matt is also an award-winning filmmaker, comedian, and actor. More info at jmattnagin.com.

If We Are Doomed
by Matt Nagin

if we are doomed
i say embrace it
marry it
let it carry you
into verandas of

if we are doomed
fall into it
this gentle blanket
array of fireworks
the hot night soaking
your shirt.

if this is the end
i say sing to it
let the bullets cascade
and the bombs echo
but embrace it with
what you have
left to give.

Mindfulness Meditation - Spirit First

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