2017 Prairie Poetry Prize Winner Carla Gober

Carla Gober-Park, of Redlands, CA, is the winner of the 2017 Prairie Poetry Prize Prairie Sampler contest with her beautiful submission “Prairie Poetry- Prairie Grasses.” Congratulations! Carla works as a professor and administrator at Loma Linda University in Southern California. Much of her writing focuses on nature and health, whether health of the land, people, relationships, or societies. She teaches whole person care to medical students and speaks to audiences throughout the world on a variety of topics related to wholeness and health. She lives with her Scottish husband, Gordon, and Weimaraner dog Cypher, in Redlands, CA.


Prairie Poetry – Prairie Grasses


Indian Grass

Sorghastrum nutans


Imitation sorghum

Nodding and swaying

Dancing with the wind of the prairie

In tall rhythm and perfect rhyme,

Announcing its way into autumn with

Nuanced metallic yellow sheen.

Golden-brown spikelets and

Rifle-sight” ligule

At the base of the leaf.

So we too should imitate and





June Grass

Koeleria macrantha


Jaunting into spring,

Unabashed and green,

Narrow leaves

Erect small basal clusters.

Georg Ludwig Koeler saw them.

Reaching for the sky

Alicorn with mystical powers,

Silver gray

Spiked seedheads.



Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium


Listen for the Bobwhite
If there are wild ones left.
They will lead you
To the broom-like grass,

Long-rooted and resistant,
Except to human interference.
Blue green in infancy,
Little red grass” with beardlike heads,
Undulating in the wind,
Extending a sunset glow through
Stems of reddish-orange and copper after frost.

They were everywhere in the beginning,
Explorers saw nothing but this for miles.
Make us explorers again.



Prairie Cord Grass

Spartina pectinata


Powerful cord with comb-like cluster
A mule train driver’s nightmare
In soggy lowland.
Razor sharp leaves

Inflicting paper cut agony –
Excellent for sod houses and thatch roofs –
Chimerical attempts to understand the past.

Oblivious to hardship,
Roots reach to depths of height,
Dauntless eternity.
Prairie Dropseed

Sporobolus heterolepis


Prairie grass, most handsome,
Raconteur with wit and charm,
Airy plumes rising above Tina Turner hair,
Infinite hovering with fanlike grace.
Round seeds eager for tumble and fall –
Incense of coriander.
Expect to see within threadlike leaves
Delightful Skipper butterfly, and
Rodents, small and furry, bustling about,
Or curled up, napping.
Prairie grass, most handsome,
Sustain our attempts to repair your kind,
Efforts long awaited.
Efforts too long awaited.
Deliver us from destroying everything.



Sideoats Grama

Bouteloua Curtipendula



Sibylline grass whispers truth

In bleeding heart of the prairie
Dangling obedient-like, covertly insolent,
Enduring hardship,
Opposing odds,
Admitting no defeat,
Thriving in discomfort.
State grass of Texas,
Give us another chance.
Remind us that resilience and beauty
Are interdependent variables.
Magniloquence is cheap –
Abstract concept sans moxie and brass.




Panicum Virgatum


Sagacious millet wand –

Weaving orange, red and purple tints

In artistic fashion,

Touching the sky with midrib shafts.

Cytotypes reaching north and south,

Harboring creatures in the safety of your bunch.

Gallant bedding, food, and cover,

Roots as deep as conspicuous height.

And so we build on this bedrock.

Sacrosanct future of plastics,

Surrender in death, life for us all.