Poet’s Playground – April winners

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Age 8 and younger

First Place
The Bird Feeders
Asher Milsap, Mountain EC

My backyard welcomes birds
Birdwatching is not just for nerds
The birds sometimes fight
Sudden movement causes the birds to take flight
Big birds often run off the smaller birds
You can watch the birds come and go
A few may be slow
Sometimes I see a red-headed woodpecker
Doves and starlings also come to my feeders
No feathered friends need cheerleaders
Bluebirds and bluejays are regular visitors
Feeders provide food for the birds in winter
Feeders keep squirrels from eating the food
Different birds eat different bird feed
All birds have a bit of greed.

Second Place
A Little Seedling
Beckett Smith, Sequachie Valley Electric Cooperative

A seed may take some time to sprout,
It may go on a windy route.
First they grow roots to suck up water,
Is it a son or is it a daughter?

They come up slow like a snail,
They will keep going and never fail.
When they grow strong they will not fall,
And they will grow so very tall.

When they’re finished birds make a nest,
And when that happens the trees can rest,
But don’t forget they still need food,
That’s why the sun gives them a good mood.

Third Place
The Bald Eagle
Gracie Christian, Holston Electric Cooperative

A bald eagle is so high in the sky-
It can’t be seen sometimes with an eye-
It’s wings can dart from left to right-
It flies in the light-
Very mighty-
It flies so lightly-
A bird of prey-
It finds it’s way-
Found by a lake –
Trying to find a snake-
It’s snowy feathers-
They can last the weather-
With eyes that see sharper than a needle-These are bald eagles.


Age 9–13

First Place
The Story of the Sky
Emma Daugherty, Upper Cumberland EMC

Drip drip drip
Against my windowsill
Rain and rain and rain.
The sky is weeping.
The clouds are heavy and dark.
They might be tired,
After all, they’ve traveled far.
Drip drip drip
I open the window
The rain is alive.
It has a story,
A past.
I wonder where it’s been,
Has my rain traveled far?
Drip drip drip
A droplet on my nose
I pause
Listen to the rain.
And then I sit down to write.
My rain has given me a story to tell.
Drip drip drop

Second Place
The Lone Squirrel
Samuel Moss, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation

The king of all the treetops
Looks down from his lofty nest,
Watching young squirrels beneath him,
Chattering, frolicking, and eating.
Listening to the feathered birds
Singing through the branches.
A mockingbird teases him to leap
But the loner refuses to budge.
The lord of all the forest watches,
Watches, watches the world drift by.
Slowly, gradually, all goes on.
The forest seasons change lazily.
Old birds die to make more space,
New birds fly through the forest.
Old rodents die and leave their nests.
New squirrels play in the trees
But the monarch remains,
Watching the forest pass on.

Third Place
Hope
Alysianna Smith, Sequachie Valley Electric Cooperative

What I teach you is surreal,
What I tell you is true,
So don’t ever give up hope,
No matter what you do.

Wherever you are,
And whatever you’re doing,
I know it seems dark,
Even in the viewing.

But just stay positive,
And give it a bit,
Then it all looks bright,
It looks very lit.

Hope is essential,
An important thing to know,
If you give it a try,
You’ll have everything you need to grow.


Age 14–18

First Place
Winter Breathing
Rachel Gant, Middle Tennessee EMC

Air in pockets, Chewing, biting
An abyssal inward breath, A deep hollowing
Greys and silvers, clean and silent.
The air so light you can hardly grasp it
Falling upwards into the eternal white sky.
Marrow of trees ripple and snap,
A bubble bursts,
Wind rolls its shoulders sighs once again,
Warm breath floods the land,
Color shocks in bursts, warmth flickers
Warm sound fills the ears.
An ocean of promised spring.
But as the air takes another breath in,
The ocean of warmth must leave again.
Pouring down drains,
Running away with streams,
Until the world is quiet once more.

Second Place
Of Dragons and Downpours
Morgan Daugherty, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Raucous roars of dread dragons in the distance
Follow flashes and flickers of fighting flame

Flame like stolen shots of sunshine
Streaking in stark slashes across the sky

Winds stirred by their whipping wings above
Tear at the trees and churn the creeks

Here down below the rivers overflow
We’re drowned and drenched in desolation

The riotous rivulets of rain–
The belligerent beasts’ blood, sweat, and tears–

Soak the last memories of sunshine from our skulls
Replace birdsong and light with bleak gray twilight

Who called the dragons?
Who summoned the storms?

Third Place
Tennessee Treasures the Art of Poetry
Hamsa Javagal, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Honest statements of pure,
Natural truths.
Brilliantly evoking
The passions we yearn to explore.

Profound wisdom
Amalgamated with
The arts of portraying.

Sensitivity and Consciousness,
Brought to life by just
The few simple words
That can create a wondrous fantasy.

Lines that bring the past to life-
Exposing the future,
Before it had a chance
To expose itself.

Bring your talents to life
And be not afraid of the critiques
That might hold you back,
But the thoughts of not revealing your
Innermost sentiments
When they are crying to come out.


Age 19–22

First Place
fenceless
Justin Luis

to be gentle and kind,
but know when to be firm.
to be governed by truths,
yet allow them to learn.
to see beyond the senses
to think with more than the mind
this is to live a life without borders, nor fences.
at the brink of this misshapen world,
and of the new one you will find.

Second Place
Olivia
Lane Scoggins, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Olivia, Olivia
Sweep the hair from
your thighs and off
your cheeks, we
have places to be.

Olivia, Olivia,
Pick your little Tennessee
feet off the floor when
you walk. No one wants
to hear them drag
along behind you.

Olivia, Olivia
I can’t help but
wonder, will Nightmare’s
(the dog) bark make
your young hands tremble?

Here, have another cup of coffee.


Age 23–64

First Place
Moonlight Tricks at Harrison Bay
Luke Harvey

As if inviting me
to take a step and trust
that it will hold,
the blushing October moon
casts out her yellow bridge across the lake
and beckons me to walk across
into her waiting arms.
The reflection makes
a dancing pathway as a gust
of chilling evening breeze
disarms all appearance of stability
atop the cold
surface of the dark waters,
and soon
I laugh that I had almost
fallen for her watery trick.
No, October moon,
I’ve been let down a time or two before
by tantalizing promises like yours,
by empty words that build a bridge
to draw me close,
but only then to return
me drowning and cold;
No, October moon,
I’ve learned
I will not trust a moonlight bridge.

Second Place
Hackberry in Winter
Adam Callis, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Hackberry tree
with shattered limb left lying
upon the grass
where I in childhood strode,
I never knew
nor cared to know your namesake
and now you lie
half-dead—and I, half-grown

Across from you
still stands a Sugar Maple
on sacred ground
I hallowed in my youth
There I reclined
and gazed into the future
beyond the trees
too close for me to see

Now, time is spent
and days of old have faded
I’ll never gaze
at you with youthful eyes
Behind me stands
a child with finite vision
What I would give
to be that child again

Third Place
Turning the Page
Terry Weaver, Duck River Electric Cooperative

The fencerow is still there,
Though barely visible,
Ceding ever more to forsythia,
Tulip poplar saplings and
Blackberry brambles.

The humble avenue of limestone gravel
And red clay
Now a maze of gullies.
Driveways to farmhouses long vanished
Barely visible themselves.

Peaceful, hushed echoes remain,
Ushered in by whispered breezes
Through ancient trees.
Clear, but quickly dissolving,
Leaving sepia, sacred scenes in wake.

The buttercups recognize us,
Pushing through verdant, ungrazed pastures,
Their brilliance melting the melancholy.

Pages yellow and curl,
Yet still turn,
Reminding us through budding blossums
And the avian symphony of spring
Of new chapters yet unwritten.


Age 65 and older

First Place
Spring Dream
Jeannine Lauer, Middle Tennessee EMC

Curled around the trunk of the elm
a vine of orange trumpets-
Listen to the fanfare
this April morning.
The music lifts me
carries me through the yard
to watch the band of ants
play jazz on hills of fresh dirt.
The mockingbird band leader
entices me to fly.
Three new sopranos
tune up in the bluejay nest,
cabbage moths dance to the tune of a
cricket waltz.
Ladybugs play to
a packed house.
I am sprawled in thick
fragrant grass
shouting, “Encore, Encore!”

Second Place
April in Tennessee
Doris Sutton, Pickwick Electric Cooperative

April is a young girl
willful, headstrong, stormy tempered
and yet in the night
there is a gentle sweetness.
April dresses in pastel pinks, blues and
the very palest greens
and yet persists in wearing
that drab brown coat.
April is tender, lovely in her ways
and yet has wild onions
on her breath.

Third Place
From a balcony at Fall Creek Falls Lake
Wilmoth Foreman, Duck River Electric Cooperative

Last night the moon, barely beyond sliver stage,
let its reflection dance jigs on the lake’s rippling surface.
Mesmerized by movement, the mirror image shimmered and shimmied,
as innocent and involved as kittens at play.

Wavelets broke the reflection into giddy tethered fish
that dipped and dived, pulled apart to rejoin in accordion promenades.
Tirelessly the slender moon danced,
embracing the music of motion.

Tonight, wrapped in a shawl of droplets flung off when it shook itself dry,
that same moon is larger, more sedate.
But at its post in the all-seeing sky, the moon remembers.
And so do I.

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