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Night & Flight: Winning Poems from the To the Stars Poetry Contest

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

I am thrilled to announce the winning poets in the third week of the To the Stars poetry contest: Judy Roitman won in the professional poet category, and Jan Strecker in the nonprofessional category for this theme of “Night and Flight.” Thanks to this week’s judge, Denise Low, past poet laureate of Kansas. Next week’s contest is the last one, entitled the Gardens of Your Life.

This contest is open to all Kansans, and winners receive a copy of To the Stars: The Ad Astra Poetry Project edited by Denise Low and with writing exercises by me, plus publication of their poems on this site at the the Kansas Arts Commission website.


I walk into my tub and the heron says: Stop! it’s night! you’re not supposed to be here!

* * *

Coming down in the plane the lights look so pretty, but it’s just L.A.

* * *

The actor playing the porn star spreads his wings in the publicity photo, I’m not kidding.

* * *

My husband can tell you what every star is, but he’s not a heron, so what does he know?

* * *

For years I’ve been walking the dog not knowing that herons were roosting in the trees right there.

* * *

When you see a heron in a grocery store, be sure to ask.

* * *

In dreams I don’t fly, I just walk inconspicuously a few feet above the ground.

* * *

I’m not a pelican, so don’t put words in my mouth.

* * *

As for moths, they’ll fly into the night light with the chickens, and that’s the end of it.

— Judith Roitman

Chance Encounter

Early morning, strolling along the winding path

hoping to beat the heat of a July day,

lost in my own troubled thoughts when

eyes sensed before actually seeing.

You, standing erect, preening by the water’s edge.

Me, cautious, moving toward you closing the gap

between us.

Each, studying the other’s intent,

your long neck cocking from side to side to find

the best position for observation.

As I neared, your tension mounted, a raised foot,

wings twitched, still you stayed.

As if connected, we honored each

other’s presence, shared a moment in time.

With a final look and a single flap of wings, you lifted

off the ground and elegantly glided away.

Mesmerized, I watched,

Oh, great blue heron,

my troubled thoughts flew away with you.

— Jan Strecker

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