Poet’s Playground – July winners

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Age 8 and younger

First Place
Trees and Bees
Ethan Wiles, Caney Fork EC

Once I went for a walk in the forest.
There were as many trees as drops of water in the sea.
I heard birds chirping and twigs snapping loudly.
I saw a climbing tree.
“Yay!” I said with glee.

I started to climb up the tree but heard buzzing.
Ouch! I got poked on my hand that was bare!
I climbed down as fast as a monkey.
I looked up to see what was there.

I saw a cloud of bees buzzing
Around a beehive yellow as the sun.
I didn’t want to get stung again,
So I left the forest at a run!

Second Place
Cool in Summer
Elena Hall, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Spring is going
Summer is coming
School’s out
Pool’s open
The lake sparkles as the sun shines on it
Get your goggles
Jump in the water
A cool feeling comes over you
Afterwards a nice, juicy Popsicle


Age 9–13

First Place
The Big Dipper and Orion
Gabriel Wiles, Caney Fork EC

A long time ago, far, far, away,
Seven year stars went out to play.
But, on that very day,
A hunter came that way.
To keep themselves from certain doom,
They made themselves into a spoon.
After the hunter went away,
The stars found they liked themselves that way.
So they stayed in the spoon for all their days.
And helped guide the sailors out from the bay.

Second Place
Future
Paisley Brooks, Holston Electric Cooperative

I wonder what the future will be like
While I gaze in the moonlight
Will houses soar like birds
Flying through the night
Will humans not talk
Will objects start to walk
Will snow be hot
And sun be cold
Will day be night
And night be day
Will students teach
And teachers learn
Well goodnight my world
But I still wonder
What will the future be like

Third Place
The American Flag
Hannah Hughes, Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Oh, wonderful flag
That flies in the sky
I love you dear flag,
Flapping and snapping.
You gave us great joy
To see you still there,
In your great glory,
Flapping and snapping.
The British stormed us,
The Americans won
My beautiful flag,
Flapping and snapping.

In the dawning light
We saw you shimmering
Across the sea,
Flapping and snapping.
My magnificent flag
High in the air
I look at you,
Flapping and snapping.
The fifty stars
The thirteen stripes
My flag I love you,
Flapping and snapping.


Age 14–18

First Place
Tennessee Raised
Molly Wahlfeld, Middle Tennessee EMC

I was raised by Cottonwood rivers and magnolia shade
I was raised by sweet tea, sweetheart, and sweet apple pie freshly baked
I was raised by daisy chains stretching miles and miles
I was raised by swimming pools and blue-lipped popsicle smiles
I was raised by die-hard fans of blue, red,
White and gray
I was raised by half an inch of snow and sledding anyway
I was raised on mockingbird song
An inside kind of pretty
I was raised not just in a city of music but by the music of the city

Second Place
Iris
Alexis Ford, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Iris still blooms
During darkest of dooms
Her petals requesting no audience

She remembers their marvel
Back when she first startled
And thinks not how they haven’t been pausing since

But once and again
A head turns on a pin
And will see her so modestly there

What do they remember?
To a trance they do enter
When for a moment at Iris they stare.

Third Place
Thoughts
Canaan Chavis, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

I sit and swing
As I think about you and me

While dragonflies and fireflies wisp in the air
The memories flood back with all the care

The care you had for me
Yet, it was all gone when you got on the bus

The day you left was the most dreadful of all
I couldn’t handle it, I ignored all your calls

I was awful to you

Nevertheless, you came back to the state of three

You came back to me
walked in your boots
Sat on the swing
Gave me sun tea
Looked
And smiled.


Age 19–22

First Place
Land of the South
Christian Sexton, Plateau EC

Blue hazed mountains are my bones.
Running rivers are my veins.
Trees stretch high into my thoughts.
Lone coyotes howl my pain.

Wind tousles my grassy hair.
Cattle march to my heart’s beat.
A star-filled night blankets my eyes.
Whippoorwills sing my melody.

Under the mountain sits my house.
Here I find rest; here is my home.
Here, in this land of the South,
I write the songs of my soul.

Second Place
A Southern Table
Cordelia Moss, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation

Come join us at the table.
Tuck a napkin in your shirt.
Load your plate with meat and casseroles,
But save some room for the dessert.

Pass the onions and potatoes
And those tomatoes grown with pride.
Don’t forget a dollop of butter
For any dish that isn’t fried.

Now it’s time for homemade ice cream
Melting over blackberry pie.
Sip a final glass of sweet tea
While the candles start to die.

Let’s laugh about old memories shared
And plan for future days
When we’ll come back to this table
After traveling separate ways.

Third Place
Serendipitous
Rachel Blackwell, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

The pale blue sky dappled with wisps of weightless cotton clouds.

The playful, gentle sunshine puncturing the cold atmosphere and leaving warm, honey-hued light upon the earth.

A flock of tiny black birds flutter onto the budding limbs of a Bradford Pear tree.

Elegant pale-pink cherry blossom petals dance like timeless ballerinas in the wind.

Remaining crisp leaves from an autumn long ago rustle and sway in the cool breeze.

The sweet scent of renewed life and serendipity lingers in the Tennessee morning air; spring has arrived in all of her glory.


Age 23–64

First Place
The Old Boys of Summer
Terry Weaver, Duck River EMC

Spring planting’s done,
Summer settles in.
Small groups gather again…

In seed caps and overalls
On cane bottomed chairs,
The feed mill dock an open forum.

Out front of the courthouse,
Cedar shavings multiply as
The world’s problems are solved.

Vets in VFW hats,
Lawn chairs perched behind the backstop,
Sultry evenings at the Babe Ruth field.

Tuesdays at the sale barn,
Pocketknives swapped among
Leathered hands.

Deals brokered in equipment sheds,
Waiting out afternoon thundershowers.

Sweet tea, okra, tomatoes…
And more sweet tea.
Hazy scenes replayed, handed down,
And replayed yet again.

Another summer rolls lazily, happily on.

Second Place
Dent de Lion (The Lion’s Tooth)
Kathryn Voigt, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

a whisp
a taunt
slow-motion activism at it’s best

you appropriate fields,
line earth shelves
with holiness

vast solution to infinitudes
of empty green
ghosting wildflowers

effervescent clumsiness, they

you, indifferent
to vicissitudes
mocking surefire brightness

with subtleties
web-like, opportunistic
seed heads, parachuting canopies

medicinal offerings
insidious influences
drunken raid, surrender horizon!

March is on

tender leaves gnawed by giants
you rage, a god head not to be trifled with
pouting those empty stalks to the sky

you shoot talons below
subterfuge, your angle
assimilation, your end game

propagated mark
sprung, you
‘til the child shouts

“Off with your heads!”

Third Place
Rearranged
Melissa Merritt, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative

Creek-bed contours
Rearranged after rains–
A new world every time–
And the shifty, shimmery
Rolling surge.
The bobwhites call
As dusk descends,
And bald eagle flight
Is bold with white.
Rosy lemon behind the trees,
And marbled sycamore serene.
We sit on fossils contained and still,
Each rock a varied shape and hue.
We listen–creepers, peepers come–
And flecks of stars that wander
Through trees and skies
And heart.


Age 65 and older

First Place
Musical Conversation
Carl Lowe, Middle Tennessee EMC

Kathy and I,
Two old musicians
Sitting on her porch
On a Nashville dead-end street.

I give her my memory-vision of Mr. Texas,
Decades ago
Backstage
Steadying himself
Readying himself
Song lyrics singing in his head.

She recites the afternoon
With the famed songwriterti
As he was drinking away
The hours
Like whiskey measured in teaspoons.

The late afternoon wanes.

The published photos, the recordings
Mingle with our fragments inseparably.
We pause.
Those bygone souls
Float off the porch into the thick air
Of a Tennessee summer dusk
Like guitar chords vanishing
In an empty auditorium.

Second Place
Come Swing on the Porch with Me and I’ll Kindle Your Heart
John C. Mannone

I am great
smoky mountain air
older than rocky
mountain stone. I am lifted-up
sandstone, soft
jazzy grasslands.

I am green-water
the sky shed as tears,
my lifeblood flowing
through the great valley
wandering to the Mississippi,
lapping at sycamores; I leave
you river pearls.

I am tulip poplar,
the mockingbird’s song
nesting in flowering
dogwood, and redbud
when spring does to me what
I want to do to you. I am wild
iris, your passion
flower, I am a tiger
lily for honeybees
and zebra swallowtails.

I am intoxicating moon
shine, delirious
in honeysuckle sun
calling your name.

Third Place
A Stormy Night
Jackie Houk, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

The sky got dark
The wind blew strong
A storm was coming
It wouldn’t be long

The thunder roared
Like a lion about to attack
Lightning lit up the sky
Taking the night of black

It seemed God was mad at the world
And making his presence known
Everywhere you looked
Signs were being shown

From the gates of hell
The thunder roared again
As a bolt of lightning
Let the rain ascend

Then suddenly
Everything calmed down
Lightning had disappeared
Thunder didn’t make a sound

Storm was over
It had gone away
Morning came
So did a new day

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