Tails and Tales Writing Contest Winner

red haired woman in green sweater with a black and white dog
Marcia Hurlow
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Oct 13, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Marcia Hurlow has won our open category writing contest on the theme of Tails and Tales with her piece "Olfaction." 

Marcia L. Hurlow's first full-length collection of poetry, Anomie, won the Edges Prize. She also has five chapbooks. More than 400 of her individual poems have appeared in literary magazines, including Poetry, Chicago Review, River Styx, Poetry East, Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, Stand, Cold Mountain, Zone 3 and The Journal, among others. She is co-editor of Kansas City Voices.


I walk behind Lucky as he leaps
through this Kansas field of timothy,
ragweed, purple thistle, Queen Anne’s Lace,
kicking up grasshoppers and pollen
as clear in this thick air as his black spots.

The musty smell of hay takes me back
to Ohio, where I stood in tree shade
and called “hey boss” to the Jerseys grazing
in stark sun. I waved a small branch
of maple leaves over the barbed wire fence

and Junie, the one with the white star
between her eyes, ambled over
and curled her grey tongue around the limb,
tugged it out of my hand and turned her back.

At eight I couldn’t reach more branches
and my grandparents wouldn’t let me
climb steps without holding the rail,
let alone climb a tree, so I watched

her tail swat flies as she swayed back
to her cluster of sisters, angling
into the center as if they were her
constellation, awaiting her return.

Now Lucky gallops toward me, his eyes
sparking, his tongue trailing from his mouth
like a bright red scarf. I want to think
he is showing me his joy in this

July morning. He runs past me an acre,
stops, lies down and rolls his broad shoulders
in something he wants to remember,
stands to shake off the dew and runs again.


Reviewed by Helen H.
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