2014 Poetry Contest Entries

1st Place
The Mushroom Burial Suit
by Jennifer L. Knox
Screwed onto a silky stem with one arm
Buried to the elbow in a skirt of breathy gills,
A smooth hill of snow caps trace the nose
(Once sneezing), shoulders (once shuddering)
And paunch (once hanging over a waist band).
Busy bees, spores fly below the eye’s radar
To lay and lay down their carpet—soon, seamless
As a fondant, they’ll break down the splitting
Skin, blood, bones, and acorns sprouting in the now
Vacant mouth, down through a life of frets
And flurry to the ground thriving under.
2nd Place
by Amber Veverka

The Anishinaabeg once called it puhpowee, that force
which stirs in secret, lifting leaf mold,
surprising even the serious oaks,
who wake to find at their feet
these new beings, peopling their forest.
All in the damp dark, they come reaching,
with a power so particular, it earns its own name.

3rd Place
No Title
by Whitney Richardson

I field my walks at night

Spores cool my mind
Crawling hills beside me)))
(((Below a wet earth
A soft glow enlivens
My reflection sings a lasso
I drop to my knees)))
Underground rotting wood murky plank
Carries you honey mushroom to my island
I will take you wherever you'd like to go

Honorable Mention
by Jared Urchek

Illicit beings upon
My small creations

by Kelly McGuire



sponge me sweet water swell
splash spitting spore splitting splendor!

racemes reach and render
Rub roots, rocks and rise

then what, some glint of light
some gust of gas some ghostly
soul surprise

I breathe! I burst
by beams and subatomic bonds baptized

stoop stumble stretch
stand on stipe

but bowed first, bent
a blushing bride
a vestal virgin
then ripped

life/death in ripe
valleyed rows of rippled gills
beneath my broad cap consume myself
squeeze forth sperm seed spore egg

tide of tension
bursting bubble!

west wind will scatter specks
I pool, puddle
pass without pity

My children fly to Florida
France to Frankfurt to Cancun
on millennial whispers
They fly to the moon

Ode To a Toadstool
by Kelly McGuire
Praise to the lowly fungus be,
The armpit of biology.
I think it’s time to take a stand
For Mom and Flag and Mushroom Grand!

Some see a pile of pulp necrotic;
I see chanterelles exotic.
A quivering slithering quagmire of slime?
Or a gourmet celestial feast most sublime?

A plate of perfection or a gob of goo?
It all depends on your point of view.
So many fungi are more than edible;
They’re stout! They’re refined! They are just incredible!

So while some folks talk all high and haughty
And tell you tales naïve and naughty,
I’m here to tell the real story:
In praise of fungi gustatory!

So let’s start with the great porcini.
Loved in soups or fettuccini
From peasants to the upper crust,
Its flavor is hearty, hale, robust.

And of course, no need to tell
The flavor of the famed morel.
The Lion’s Mane sweet taste belies
The ferocity its name implies.

A spicy lepiota frittata -
Cannelloni duxelle with ricotta!
 A sauce, a salad, bake a pie!
You’ll never know until you try.

Shaggy mane and tricholoma,
Lobster mushrooms, entoloma,
Serve with pheasant, serve with spuds
With champagne, milk, or a mug of suds.

With trout or salmon, pizza, crab
Don’t be scared, just take a stab!
Try meadow mushroom chicken stew
Puffball parmesan is easy, too.

Graylings, bluings, black trumpets too
Orange-milk latex – make a stew!
And purple laccaria – the rainbow’s complete
A visual, palatal, sensory treat!

But always remember there’s science to this art,
So never be foolish, you gotta be smart.
For the savvy hunter who knows his prey
Will live to dine another day.

So -  if now on some forest floor
The fungus spied is something more
Than just a stool for a toad,
I’ll know that you have found this ode

Ac – cepe - table!

Champignon de vie, champignon passion
by Isabelle Gilbert
Champignon, au toi organisme originel
Mes papilles valsent en se frottant à toi
Tes formes et couleurs me fascinent
Mes yeux s'illumine en te voyant
Lorsque je te cherche dans la forêt,
je fais une chasse aux trésors,
mon regard devient un radar
mon instinct s'allume
le temps n'existe plus
l'idée de te faire pousser me procure une joie quotidienne.

Merci les champi de nous émerveiller, nous nourrir et nous guérir.
Fungus Of Life, Mushroom’s Passion

Fungus my love
My taste buds waltz rubbing to you
Your shapes and colors fascinate me
My eyes lit seeing you
When I look for you in the forest,
I am a treasure hunter
My gaze becomes a radar
My instinct lights
Time no longer exists
Seeing you growing gives me joy every day.

Thank you mushrooms to amaze us, nourish and heal us.

by Anthony Alde
Worthy of our love grown in a garden of love so rare sharing love

No Title
by Carla Parvin
Logs in the Shade
Sung to the tune of “Home on the Range”

Logs, logs in the shade
That’s how mushrooms are made.
And when they are grown,
Grilled and sliced on a bun
That marvelous flavor won’t fade!

Mark in the Park
by Carla Parvin
There once was fellow named Mark
Who gathered mushrooms in the park.
He knew they weren’t right
But he still took a bite
Now he glows green in the dark.

Raven Straw
by Carla Parvin
While seeking a Raven, a young man saw
A sylvan fairy, spreading straw.
He asked what the straw was for-
Quoth the Raven, “Mushroom spore”.

"Fungi So Shy"
by Nicolette Matt
Inside dark, silent chambers
A web of white spreads unchecked.
Despite impression of fear and strangeness
Subtle work grinds away unseen
Dead material reborn fertile
Forest floors regain soil
Resplendent fungi hides, so shy.
The fruiting structure critters enjoy.
The mushroom is the celebration
Of vibrant earth, repaired life.
Decay does not warrant sadness,
But happy fungi food supply.

Why I Go to the Woods, A Forager’s Tale
by Stephen Galbreth
I followed the logging trail a while, letting the September sun warm my bones,
until I came to the side of a mountain stream, with it’s bank of weathered stones.
And as several frightened brook trout retreated to a shaded cove,
my eyes were drawn slightly further yet, to a distant hemlock grove.

Inexplicably, I was drawn to those trees, as I had been so many years before,
perhaps I could sense the mushrooms there, or perhaps it was something more.
But in the shadows of those great and ancient trees, in thick carpets of mossy green,
grew black trumpets in such numbers, as I had never seen.

Every year I came to this place, when the first hint of fall kissed the summer air,
alone. This was my spot, this was our spot, they were waiting for me there.
Elegantly defying gravity, setting spores upon the breeze,
treasure waiting to be picked, guarded only by the trees.

And as I picked along contently, in the filtered fading light,
a great weight was lifted from me, into the cool of the coming night.
I then emerged into a clearing, and sat to clear my mind,
weary from the journey, thinking of mushrooms left behind.

It was then I set my gaze, to the trees on the other side,
thinking as a forager, of what mushrooms they could hide.
I had never come this far before, surely no one had,
Next year I’d come back if I was able, and bring another bag.

It was then a feeling came to me, as the first night stars began to glow,
I could only have it for a moment, it was lost so long ago.
It was the carefree feeling of a child, we wish to somehow store,
In the midst of an endless summer, with a fresh new world to explore.

And though I reached out to grab it, it drifted away upon the breeze,
So I turned for home, again alone, and headed back into the trees.

Lil’ Miss Molly McKenzie Mae
by Paula Herion

Lil’ Miss Molly McKenzie Mae
Went to the farmer’s market one day.
She saw an old woman with fresh apple pies on a tray.
She heard a studious young man say,
“For health, surely fresh garlic was the way.”
She tasted some fudge made from nanny goats fed only on hay.
She must buy radishes, cucumbers, and arugula all the farmers did try to sway.
She thought to herself, “Umm, nay,”
And casually she started to walk away,
But then she spied an old man quite humbled by gray,
His broad smile let her know that clearly he knew the purpose of play.
So she directed her feet to tread on over his way.
“Mushrooms,” was all that his banner did say,
But she thought that they were only for decay.
He handed her a little golden oyster the color of bright hay.
He put one to his own lips to let her know that it was okay.
That taste made her mouth quite happy and gay.
Then in her sweetest little voice
Lil’ Miss Molly McKenzie Mae
Let out a shockingly loud bray,
“Poppop, come pay!”

Deep Places
by Carla Parvin

In deep places in the forest, things are quiet but not at rest.

Under leaves upon the floor,
Mycelium runs, runs, runs.
To complete the cycle of life and death, life and death to life again
Mycelium runs, runs, runs.

And when that mycelium has run enough,
Bursts of wonder pop from below -
Delightfully tasty and colorful they grow
And release the spores to make some more, then -
Mycelium takes off running, running, running.

In deep places in the forest, things are quiet but not at rest.

No Title
by Noreen Thomas

I can always make a little more room,
For growing interesting kinds of mushrooms.
Hoping for oysters and Lion's Mane,
I hope the humidity I can tame.
For tasty morsels of flavor,
I just can't wait anymore time till I can savor!

The Mushroom
by Paula Herion

I know not from where it came.
It was just growing there as I walked across the yard.
I thought how lovely must be its fame.
For surely to see it, the fairies would not find it hard.
But if as a non-believer, you have shame,
And you cannot envision the fairies under it sharing a beautiful card,
Perhaps you could imagine a home for a hoppy toad so tame,
He himself grows a garden with cabbage, kale and chard.
How sad your science must be if you find such stories lame,
And your imagination is surely made of lard.

No Title
by Paula Herion

Growing Mushrooms is Easy
Choose the species,
Wait for the season,
Flag the trees,
Order the spawn,
Cut the trees,
Wait for the trees to cure,
Build the inoculating table,
Wait for the weather,
Drill the holes,
Inoculate the logs,
Wax the holes,
Tag the logs,
Build the cribs,
Wait some more,
Read new recipes,
And sell.
Growing mushrooms is easy can’t you tell.

by Don Huffman

In the beginning ancestral mushroom were but primiitive cells,
Like all cells, protofungal cells evolved in myriad ways.
Genomic evolution proliferated fugal cell of varied sorts,
Accompanied by diverse related prototypes of cellular taxonomic Kingdoms.
Some evolved as microbial, some as ancestral plants and animals, and others fungal,
Unicellular, multicellular with superb recombinant subtlety.
Associated with and accompanied by profuse cellular and multicellular entities,
Mycophyta evolved saprobes, parasites, epiphytes and symbionts
With countless sexual and asexual propagation and dispersal mechanisms.
Fleshy textured multicellular Mycophyta were termed mushrooms, which
With diversification, evolved, migrated and adapted tol Earth's habitats, aquatic and terrestrial.
Resplendent in color, varieties, toxicity and morphology, mycologists study them;
Caps, gills, spores and stipes, context, mycorrhizal and saprobic,
We devour them, cultivate them, often exploit them, and destroy natural habitats,
Even ecosystems, lacking sufficient knowledge of significance to Earth's integrity.
Mycorrhizals, saprobic nutrient recyclers, symbionts, edibles and inedibles in dizzying array,
to which we owe so much and understand so minimally, but continue to pursue
As the debt we owe to mushrooms.

The Log in the Garden
by Paula Herion

By the garden fence, lay a lone old log,
Occasionally visited by a fat healthy frog.
One yellow mushroom grew upon it.
Nearby, Mr. Farmer worked like a dog.

The mushroom inquired, “What are you growing in those rows?”
Mr. Farmer thought aloud to himself, “Beans, corn, cabbage and potatoes,
Good healthy fruits and vegetables,
And for marketing, perhaps some tommy toes.”

The mushroom said, “Mushrooms grow nicely and sell well, too.”
When two butterflies landed, the mushroom yelled, “Shoo!”
One butterfly sassed, “Shoo you! We’re planning where to raise our caterpillars.”
“And you, little mushroom, what good do you do?”

The little mushroom puffed out his cap,
“I’m a mushroom,” he said with a snap.
Proudly he proclaimed, “I’m a decomposer.”
“I keep nutrients out of a dead end trap.”

The butterflies flew away,
Kind of like mushrooms, not long do they stay.
The farmer rested on the log,
“Grow mushrooms,” the little mushroom tried once more to say.

Then as the farmer wiped his hot brow,
He suddenly proclaimed, “Holy cow!”
He surveyed his dark rich compost and said,
“I should grow mushrooms starting right now!”

Lonely Morel
by Whitney Richardson

only once i found a morel -
hours searching -
they were not there.

everyone in iowa is a mushroom hunter
i really did assume
we took that baby home with us
to dry out of its womb

No Title
by Robert Lindley

A tree in the woods once fell down,
Some say that this would make no sound,
But some mushroom spores came by
And they were such "fun guys"
The party was heard miles around!

rhizae, myco: warrior princess
by Maureen Carlson Allen

hidden underground the little baby,
safe and sound through winter,
grows quiet like a middle daughter might,
nestled in the knees of her lover, the great oak.
he tosses her leaves and acorns
that fall like notes above her head,
her giggles muffled and damp in the soil.
she sighs and stretches, arm after arm around his toes.

the mother hushes the children, sleep now,
your time is yet to come.
above ground the world of men, an illusion of rule
clamours about like a wounded beast.
below ground they whisper, touch fingers, rub noses,
millions of children, gathering strength.
the trees above stand sentinel.
not yet, they say. wait, she says.

mona reishi, maitake princess,
below ground, intertwined, her children wait.
hush now, she says.

one day the world of men will crumble
the concrete palace, stalled and empty.
the pings of acorns will echo in the halls
then our kingdom come, she knows.
for now all is quiet on the battle front.
close your eyes, sweet rhizome,
another spring is brewing.
mother nature: she perks her ears and waits

"Mycolithic Stream"
by Nicolette Matt 

Misty Cool
Forest Floor,
Hidden Silent
Web Vibration,
Secret Message
Strength, Rebirth,
Tensile Softness
Dynamic Growth,
Eruption Slipping
Earth Aside,
Gifting Light
Behold Rarity,
Opaline Oval
Tastiest Variety,
Loamy Offering,
Lucky Find.

"The Unveiling"
by Nicolette Matt

A filigree tendril expands,
Holding hands.
Underground devoid of light,
Ghostly white.
Gentle rain, a drop of sun,
Buttons form.
Reaching, stretching, expanding,
Ever dancing.
Umami Orb greets the day,
Mushrooms play!

"Consider the Mushroom"
by Nicolette Matt

Open Mind
Opening Eyes,
Fungal Folk
Where the fleet crow flies.
Ten feet around, one foot down
Scanning the duff
for mycelium fluff.

From decay
Life springs forth,
Loamy rebirth,
Regenerate earth.
Oyster, Lobster, fishy finds.
Hen and Chicken, fowl prize.
World's worries,
Health run dry
Have solutions in fungi.

Consider the mushroom
With it's quiet majesty.
Brackets, gills, the basidiomycetes
Beg to be found
On tree and on ground
To disperse spores for the woods to feed.

Unlike plants and more like us,
Oxygen gas sustains growth.
Mycophagia imbues Vitamin D,
Protein and redolent umami.
Awareness expands as we choose to see
A future fungal legacy.

Stinky PooPoo Mushroom Plant
by Suzanne Reed

An itching wind
Noses twitching
Stench settles and the patio clears
The itching wind blows
Outdoors empty
Indoors fill
Stinky PooPoo Mushroom plant
For miles
Lowering home values
Hampering family time
The stench
Seeps in from windows and cracks
Lines lay empty of wash
Stink PooPoo mushroom plant

A drive in fall
The rains almost forgotten
Golden bells
A multitude
Clean air
Crisp and fresh
Green, quiet, loam
So very far from
The Stinky PooPoo Mushroom Plant