Thank you to everyone who participated! This was a great effort for a meaningful purpose: the recent burning down of the Chateau Boswell winery in Napa Valley. Congratulations to the winners. Bravo! ---Evan Mantyk, judge. First Place ($100 Prize) Ode to Chateau Boswell by Susan Jarvis Bryant You loom in sooty gloom and tombstone grief, In dusty shades of faded yesterdays. One withered witness whispers of a thief Who snatched tomorrow’s purpose and its praise: A portent torched the sultry evening skies--- ‘Twas Sirius who scorched then stole your soul. The blaze of mad dog days razed grape and vine, Left sylvan sprawl as dark as raven coal. One parched and brittle rose blooms in the eyes Of ghosts who sing of merriment and wine. They sing of ripest flesh and plumpest fruit, Of sun-dipped sips and crystal-clinking toasts: The aria of ambrosia in a flute That floats on claret clouds as twilight coasts Beyond the pyre and mourning’s sear and sting, Where dreams of Dionysus deign to dance. I taste the spill of harvest’s luscious splash. I feel the thrill of summer’s giddy glance. I see your bonhomie in feathered wing--- A phoenix breathes beneath your shroud of ash. Note: Sirius is the brightest star in “Canis Major,” a dog-shaped constellation that is at its height in summer. Second Place Though Charred and Wilted as a Rose by James A. Tweedie The Silverado Trail on fire; The Chateau Boswell in its grasp, Stretched out as on a funeral pyre As flames inhale its final gasp. Though charred and wilted as a rose— Its beauty scarred and etched with pain— Within the stem, a new bud grows That, phoenix-like, will rise again. Third Place Mourning Tintern Abbey by Brian Yapko The flash of flame, the searing of the soul The wrath of Nature mocking what men build; The bricks, the rose, the dreams devoured whole… O, who can measure grief for what was killed? I think of Tintern Abbey lost to time. The ocean floor that is Titanic’s home; The dreams destroyed, the works of art sublime Entombed beneath Jerusalem and Rome. As dies the rose so must we face our fate: Our days of living are so very brief; The winds of change come hard and seldom straight— Singeing beauty, singing us to grief. To tame the world comes at a dire cost— Tears of ash which baptize what we’ve lost. Honorable Mentions Reminiscence by Sally Cook Cowled shadow-shapes in dim doorways, prescient, Observe burnt roses, ochre stalks, all bent Yet still recall how ordered living was. Sharp odors from the burning, and the buzz Of hungry bees, who search and fail, then sigh Along the grapevine, now all charred and dry, Where graceful gladioli climbed to Heaven, Like medieval ladies, in jeweled hennin; When bells chimed over shattered glass, poems rhymed. Chateau Boswell---Napa Valley (2020) by Paul A. Freeman The trees become complicit once the flames with tinder and the swirling wind are fed; an ash-and-smoke enveloped skyline frames the mountains and the hills which men have fled. The vineyards are a battleground unused to Nature’s rage, for newly in the fight they fall before a fire that’s amused how feebly we can douse its orange light. A bastion to Bacchus is no match for blazing, seething heat that cracks its stones, that chars its rose beds, burning plants like thatch, or acid stripping melted flesh from bones. Such scorched earth conflagrations are a test to see Mankind’s resilience at its best. A Relic of 2020 by Lucia Fisher I stopped to smell the roses in This double-twenty year When men thought Mars and flying cars Would finally be near But since I found no blossoms nigh I wandered off to search (And though I scrutinized the skies No hoverboards emerged) At length I caught a spot of red Like blood or new-poured wine As I drew near, the sight grew queer Then dismal in design A single rose with head bowed low Abandoned on its stem As if a plague of flow’ry ague Had seized the rest of them Or maybe some strange insects like A murder hornet swarm Attacked the blooms and sealed their dooms In angry protest storms My fanciful conjectures were Arrested by a scent And then I took a closer look At petals black and bent I stopped to smell the roses in The twenty-twenty gloom But smoke and spark have made their mark And masked the bud’s perfume Flamma: A Rhupunt by Ryan Watch A raging fire Brimming with ire Why set this pyre On the Château? Witness the clash Of smoke and ash. Behold the flash Of flames aglow. A lone rose dies; There are no cries. Under red skies Burns the Château Nothing remains But barren plains. Yet from such pains, New life will grow. What's Lost in Flames by Talbot Hook Human ardor, human dreams— And all around us Nature teems— Reified in stock and stone, What’s lost in flames shall be regrown.