My sister, who entered applesauce, apricot jam, and peach-raspberry jam, received blue ribbons for all of her canned goods. I agree with this assignation of rate, because she is a first-rate sister, and I really feel the work involved in canning definitely merits blue ribbons all around.
But back to the red ribbons. I must admit that my poem really was second rate. It was very vague, asking dumb, repetitive questions at the end. Yuck. There is a type of poetry I really like where the poet is talking about one thing, but using a very different thing as the vessel to describe it. That is what I wanted this poem to be, but it wasn't when I entered it. I had panicked and changed it just before I entered it. It turned out horrible--worse than the dreadful doggerel of 19th century American newspapers I read in American Lit in college. Naturally, the day after I entered the poem in the fair, I had a glittering ray of inspiration shine through my clouds of self-doubt, and I edited the poem closer to my satisfaction. It's still not there, but it's closer. The poem is about a powwow I attended while at the BYU, and the experience really struck a chord with me, so here it is. . .
The native voices of our land cry, haunting hollow hearts,
Resonating the unearthly echoes of those long gone.
Brightly dyed feathers vibrate up and down—
blood red, sunshine yellow, and river blue.
My heart skips a strum to sing with the drums.
Hammered copper bells jangle, clanging.
Tightly braided black strands,
And black and white beads beat time.
My soul is a string on a guitar,
resonating the ancient ancestral cry.