Monday, January 18

Poet’s Playground – January Winners

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Age 9–13

First Place
My True Dream State
Samantha Olsen, Middle Tennessee EMC

I came from Utah,
A dry, concrete, state,
Though all our family was there, we moved.
Next was Oklahoma,
A windy, perfect state,
Though we loved that state, we moved.
Lastly Tennessee,
A green, wonky weathered state,
Now we have been here for 5 years.
The winter, cold and little snow,
The spring, bringing back the lush trees,
The summer, deadly and always a pool day,
And fall, its weather makes up for the
humid summers,
Leaves changing colors and falling,
The air turning brisk,
Perfect nights for windows open,
Deer and turkey season.
Tennessee,
My true dream state.

Second Place
Birds of Tennessee
Aaron Few, Duck River Electric Membership Corporation

Blue bunting, blue bunting in a tree,
You are the most beautiful bird I see.

Yellow finch, yellow finch on the window sill,
With your pretty yellow chest and little brown bill.

Woodpecker, woodpecker what a red head,
Inside a tree is where you make your bed.

Mockingbird, mockingbird protecting your nest,
As far as Tennessee is concerned, you are the best.

Third Place
Soar/Fly
Anna Lasher, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

The Water:
Empowering
Deadly
Independent

Through the Water
Glide if you want,
I’ll Soar.

I was given something different.
The power of forgiveness.
It never stops,
Unlike your watch,
And enables me to
Fly.

When I Soar,
The waters part
Like the beating of
An eagle’s heart.

On their wings I
Fly
Though weary am I,
And I might
Stumble,

Strength –
Is what it gives me.
Courage –
I’ll do what’s right.

But first,
You’ll watch me
Fly
In the Water.

Age 14–18

First Place
The Moonlit Tennessee
Winni Zhao, Upper Cumberland EMC

The moon shines oh so brightly
Like a lantern in the evening sky
Perching behind the wispy clouds
As the wind blows with a deep sigh
The humble hymns of river streams
Echo through the soundless night
Gifting the skies a bright shiny mirror
That reflects with a shimmery light
The rosy hues of early sunrise
Can be seen far across horizons
Wrapped around like a bandana
Cresting the summits of smoky
mountains
Oh such beauties for proud, proud eyes
Graceful majesties, such humble
delights
This is the fruitful land I call home
Tennessee, where the moon shines so
bright.

Second Place
Each Age Forgets
Luke Barnard, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation

Young Spring, the heedless heathen that he is,
Will cast no thought on Fall. His mind is gay.
His green-full eye has not the time for gray
Just as the worm has none for chrysalis.

Fall fast forgets the beauty of his youth
Caught up in his gray liturgy of Death.
His sackcloth vestments stir in final breath,
No longer laughing, but a sigh for “truth”.

How could bright Spring claim ignorance of pain?
He danced upon the graves of last year’s frost.
How could the mourning Fall mock beauty most?
His autumn coat was as a Lion’s mane.

Third Place
Throughout the Winter Forever Green
Samuel Moss, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation

Although the snow lay over the ground
As a memory of October’s cotton.
There stands one thing that refuses to die
And abides through the winter evergreen.
He’s picturesque with his limbs covered with ice
And the birds of the air resting in his branches.
The snow lays over his buried feet
But always he is forever green.
And someday the snow will melt away
And his needles will droop and fall to the earth.
He loses his place as the only green tree
And surrenders his place as king of the hill.

Age 19–22

First Place
The Pattern
Cheyenne Lackey, Cumberland EMC

Chewed my nails down to the
nub
Stomach bloated overflowing
Bellyaches and nerves
The crowd has never been so loud
Stuck in a pattern
Heart in my throat
A knife scraping across the pavement
Baking soda to clean the day.
Toes curled, I’m overwhelmed.
Gritty, unclean teeth.
I am the pattern.
Pieces of nail
Stuck in my teeth.
Breathing doesn’t come easy.
Choppy hair
Thin patience.
I am the pattern.
No more words
No more inspiration.
The patterns may never break.
But if I am the pattern
Then that thought
Must not be true.
Sometimes
Silence
Is the best answer.

Second Place
The Battle of Franklin
Abigail Kopp, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

It was like a locomotive,
rumbling in my bones.
A trembling from deep beneath,
foundation made of stones.

Twenty thousand pairs of shoes,
like thunder in the sky.
The ground it trembled as I knelt
by Mother, and I cried.

Outside the rattled windowpane,
they ran to face their death.
As I waited for the guns to crack,
I stared and held my breath.

Twenty-three-hundred pairs of shoes
were left in Carnton grounds.
I won’t forget those shoes no longer
make that thundering sound.

Third Place
New Normal
Anam Fatima, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Red maple leaves
and wet cedar trees.
Another autumn?
Here it is.
With empty streets
And crowded shopping sprees.
With Gifts for loved ones
And neighbors too.
long-awaited hellos
And warm reunions too.
One strange of a year,
But traditions continue.

Age 23–64

First Place
Mockingbird Villanelle
John Burgette, Chickasaw EC

Across the sky the mockingbird flies
Above Tennessee, afar.
What’s that song you improvise?
Above the Smokies, high
Over a river’s sandbar —
Across the sky the mockingbird flies
She imitates the bluejay’s cries
Will she harmonize with a guitar?
What’s that song you improvise?
Here with many a music surprise
Country, blues, bluegrass — far
Across the sky the mockingbird flies
Songs she sings from other birds’ guise
High in a tulip poplar
What’s that song you improvise?
Master musician — in this land she
resides
Through mountains and valleys — yonder
Across the sky the mockingbird flies
What’s that song you improvise?

Second Place
New Beginnings
Cindy Jackson, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

In a little country schoolhouse
Rural Tennessee
A teacher wiped the blackboard
Erasing everything
The past is gone
It’s truly clear
January is finally here
In a little country church
Rural Tennessee
A man walked to the altar
Bent down on his knees
Sorry for his sins
Wanting a new start
Humbled himself and prayed
Asking Jesus into his heart
In a little country café
Rural Tennessee
A teacher and a man chatted over tea
To her surprise with teary eyes
She quickly said I do
As on one knee
He asked her to be his bride
Two lives anew

Third Place
A Winter’s Hunt
Austin Caldwell, Duck River Electric Membership Corporation

The crisp air kisses my stung cheeks
As I walk o’er the land once trod by the mighty Pathkiller.
The creek is still lively betwixt it’s blanketed banks
And it’s whisper is joined by the song of a cardinal newly awakened.
I walk on with this welcome music in my ears until
At once a deer, unaware of my presence, leaps into vision.
And as the first light of the sun begins to top the sacred oak
I can feel the blood of my Cherokee fathers.

Age 65 and older

First Place
Surprise
Cheryl Cleek, Gibson EMC

It is a sly, little monster,
Coming at us
From all directions at once,
Like a rogue summertime tornado
Making our lives miserable
In oh, so many ways.
Flaunting its power
Exercising its stolen authority,
Vacuuming hope from our hearts
Like so many dust bunnies
Underneath Grandma’s bed,
Leaving us anxious and overwhelmed,
Covered by an ocean of tears.
But Covid-19,
the sneaky little virus,
Like so many before it,
Underestimated Tennesseans.
For we will rise as a
Phoenix from the ashes,
Stronger than before.
Hey, Covid-19,
You just don’t know
Who you are messing with!

Second Place
Cycles
Christine Isley-Farmer, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Sugar Maples’ leaves turn orange and gold in the soft, Tennessee autumn light.
Floating downwards, they free branches to slipstream through winter winds.
They lie like quilted rugs beneath bare branches; transformation awaits them.
Dried crackling leaves shiver as they receive snowflakes’ cold, wet kisses.
Underneath their white blankets, decaying leaves change into crumbly soil for roots.
Dormant trees, triggered by lengthening days of sunlight, sense a quickening.
New leaf buds, clothed in green attire, shoot forth like rockets from launching pads.
Pirouetting leaves dazzlingly dance in spring and summer breezes until frosts return.

Third Place
Winter
Sandra Fortune, Mountain Electric Cooperative

Cold wind, heavy frost, icy sleet and arctic snow
add a bone-chasing chill to the air.
No sun for endless days, but
short winter days are a background for
family fun, board games,
card games, popcorn and movies
A snow day can provide fresh,
yummy snow cream and fun time for
superb sledding with family and multiple
friends.
Winter season rings in the New Year
with the anticipation of Spring
and a new beginning
A winter celebration includes a salute
to short days
of daylight and joyous expectancy
of warm days, no snow, and longer
hours of sunlight.

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