Tuesday, October 19

Poet’s Playground – July winners

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Age 8 and younger

First Place
Austin Bradford, Middle Tennessee EMC

Flowers, flowers, flowers
Bloom in the summer and die in the winter
but today is mommy’s birthday, and she’s our flower
and our flower is always blooming, and we always love it.


Second Place
Lilli Edwards, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

When I’m sad,
I think of Tennessee.
I think of love,
And it’s where I’m meant to be.
It’s sunny and fun, so
Just turn that frown upside down.


Third Place
Tennessee Favorites
Macy Sanders, Duck River Electric Membership Corporation

Going to Dollywood and riding a bunch of rides.
Listening to the Grand Ole Opry.
Watching fireworks in Nashville on the Fourth of July.
Catching trout at the Elk River.
Hiking at Fall Creek Falls.
Going on a tour at Jack Daniels.
Climbing up the Smokey Mountains.
Going to the Chattanooga Aquarium.
Watching a UT game at Neyland Stadium.
Going to the Walking Horse Celebration.

Age 9-13

First Place
The Smoky Mountains
Emma Laymon, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Smoke blows in hazy gusts
It lingers around you
And swirls to create mystery
And suspense

There are miles and miles
Of beautiful wildlife
It spreads and
Multiplies like dandelions

The roaring, rushing waters
Flow through the tall, thick
Trees and create curves in
The deep, dark soil

Families come to gather around
The blazing campfire and roast
Marshmallows. They sleep next to
Trees that cast eerie shadows

Folks lie down in the soft grass
And watch the bright, brilliant
Sunrise that ascends and
Blankets the mountains


Second Place
Tennessee Summer
Elizabeth Edwards, Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

The sky is blue,
Every hill is green.
Nature is wonderful and true.
Now everything seems to beam.
Every sound that you hear,
Seems lovely and sweet,
Something is always near.
Exciting things can happen, so take a seat.
Enjoy a Tennessee summer.


Third Place
Nashville the Great
Elly Colman, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

was the year it all began.
The city of Nashville was founded,
and the U.S was proud again.

The state capital position was permanent,
in 1826.
Nashville was the face of Tennessee,
and today it still is.

Nashville is the place to be,
with the Parthenon and music galore.
And don’t forget the Belle Meade plantation.
There are so many landmarks to explore.

Age 14-18

First Place
The Wind Blows
Aayush Mathur, Middle Tennessee EMC

The wind rises
Under the stars’ wakeful eyes

It blows forward
Through air rung with sound
Singing and dancing
Of the beauty it found

Dipping and swirling
Through notes and chords
Weaving a tale
Of the hope love rewards

As the music fades
The wind continues on
Finding comfort
In the innocence of mockingbird song

The wind climbs higher
Over man’s shrinking towns
Eventually blowing through
Blue-tinted clouds

The clouds tell a story
Filled with magic and caves
A story within
The Smoky Mounts upon which they lie


Second Place
Tennessee Plum Tree
Anna Stuart

In the lazy heat of summer
After a thunderstorm
I haul out the creaky ladder
And climb into
The old plum tree.
Stretching upward
Leaves slap my face
Branches scrape my arms
Wet bark and raindrops
Cling to my skin.
I press on
For the fat, ripe fruit
To pop in my mouth
All around me
The vast, sprawling city rushes by
On ever-rolling wheels.
Life carries on
At a dizzying pace
But the old plum tree
Neither knows nor cares.
So I lose myself awhile
Picking sweet, juicy fruit
In the lazy heat of summer.


Third Place
Not Another
Grace Young, Caney Fork Electric Cooperative

Oh, beautiful spacious skies,
Bewildering mountain great,
What stories do you hold?

Oh shimmering lakes, raging rivers, and lively graceful streams,
How could you have been here all along?
What treasures could therein flow?

Oh wondrous valleys low,
With the greenest grass and rolling hills,
Beautiful and peaceful,
Of you, there is only one,

Only one place, with skies as vibrant blue,
Only one place on earth can be here,
Not another, but you,

Tennessee- America at its best,
Willing to give everything, for a place called home,
Giving it all, for a place our own,
Not another, but you

Age 19-22

First Place
Tennessee Wind
Lauren Sutherland, Cumberland EMC

Billows in harsh gusts
Delicate rustles
Or busy puffs

With it summer comes
Loud sunshine, blistering heat
Suddenly replaced by brittle autumn
Tranquil, teeming with
intuitionThen carries in winter

Then carries in winter
With its twisted, bitter fingers
Unforgiving howls
Bite knuckles, slap cheeks

And spring melts
In turn
Air dripping with florals
Fresh as a rainstorm

The same gale
That sweeps the Chattanooga mountains
Caresses the gilded sphere of Knoxville
That carries a tune down Broadway in Nashville
Dusts the Jazz blacktop of Memphis


Second Place
Celestial Frogs
Hunter Keough, Pickwick Electric Cooperative

Stars went jumping in
feral ponds & mountains once:
legs replaced with selves.

Sprawled across the bedspread
like overflowing ponds,
I erode, (burn) star-leapt.

Such is Southern life:
We raise our “selves” to sky, then
wish for blank waters.


Third Place
spirits speak
Tashina Atchley, Appalachian Electric Cooperative

There are many kinds of spirits here in Tennessee. Some that love, some that hate, some that feel better
once they’ve ate. The kind that run, the kind that walk, the kind that have nothing else better to do but talk.
Some spirits sing, some spirits mourn, some spirits that find peace while working in the corn. So many spirits
here in Tennessee. Praise God I’ve found my own spirit to be. I will serve, I will love, I’ll fly away beautifully
like a dove.

Age 23-64

First Place
Glory Mornings
Charlene Shaw, Middle Tennessee EMC

Morning glories, dripping purple tears on gnarly dew-kissed vines.

Daybreak, spilling over city fences and reigning purple and blue along country roadsides.

Bumblers and hummers flit and flee, barely having time to return for another drink before those majestic five-pointed stars close shop early.

Blooms spent by the Tennessee heat of summer, collapsing before the noise of the day, only to be resurrected again with the following sunrise.

Daylight’s promise.

More than abundant beauty in the simple form of a flower.


Second Place
Roxanna Lawdonski, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

The shaded winding road encircles the majestic mountain peak, like a snake, hugging it close. The brilliant,
pixelated waterfall carries the silt and sand and pebbles, down to the shimmering basin below. The persistent
sun peeks through the dark heavily wooded forest, as the warmed striped chipmunks, dig new found seeds,
in the sunlight. The large lemon sun rises quickly over the field, burning off the morning mist. While whitetailed
deer stand like statues in the field, as the broad-winged hawk circles above.


Third Place
A Songwriter’s Life
Rose Skags, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Drawn by a dream,
Held by hope,
Will someone sing my song

Many have dreamed,
Many have doubted
But the music doesn’t stop

Will I stand in the circle
On the Ryman Stage
Or just serenade the sky

These are the questions
I’m drawn to ponder
As I write another verse

Heroes seek glory
Actors seek fame
Artists are drawn to a hue

Maybe the answer
Is hidden for me
In the words of my Tennessee song

Age 65 and older

First Place
Sunset at Fooshee Pass Cove
Wesley Sims

Late day sky above the cove
has morphed from pale cerulean
into sapphire and shades of gray.
Ridges of hardwoods and pine
accent the mural with summer green.

Clouds coagulate around retreating sun.
The sun sector of sky blooms
yellowish-gold, then rose.
A massive swath of sky flames
into reddish-orange in a slow motion
slideshow, gleams like a giant gemstone.
The lake shimmers, then stills to a mirror
reflecting a big blanket of orange.

The cove yawns, its eyelids
slowly droop down on the sky.
The woods retreat inside their house
of darkness and close the door on day.


Second Place
Before the Franklin 4th Street Parking Garage
Nancy Fletcher-Blume, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

A half moon rising,
Beauty of some past Artisan,
Waits upstairs for death.
Under gray skies, we stand.

Respectfully we wait.
Sounds of shattered glass—
Yellow jaws take bite after bite
Crunching the brittle wood.

4th Street House moans,
Laboring under its last breath.
Pieces of history fall
Hitting concrete below.

We wipe away tears and leave,
Overhearing a young woman’s eulogy.
“Empty lot, fresh start
Thank goodness, the city saw it our way.”


Third Place
The Other Side of the Tracks
Peter McNally, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

He with boy scout troop from Oak Ridge
Went upon the trip to Knoxville
There they saw the railyard massive
Saw the tracks and trains in motion
Here there were the turnabout shacksIn the shack on left of train track

In the shack on left of train track
On the switchman’s desk of vinyl
Under a sheet of plexiglass
Was a photo lying naked
Of our Marilyn Monroe

Cross the track in shack just like it
Was the desktop plexiglass
Under it a painted picture
Of a man upon a cross


About Author

Ron Bell has been the designer of The Tennessee Magazine since December 1995. He also occasionally writes articles for the magazine and travels throughout the state, helping Tennessee’s electric cooperatives tell their story. He has designed logos for Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Mountain Electric Cooperative as well as T-shirts, posters, brochures and publications for TECA and co-ops throughout the state. Ron is also the creator and lead singer for his band, The Trailer Park Troubadours. Calling it “a hobby that got out of hand,” his musical pursuits have taken him across the U.S., to Canada and to Europe.

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