Poet’s Playground – June winners

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Age 8 and younger

First Place
Outside My Window
Asher Milsap, Mountain EC

From my window on a rainy Tennessee day
No sunshine for outdoor play
Rain falls gently and slowly
And hits the ground lightly
Lots of dark, rainy clouds are in the sky
Grayish clouds cause me to sigh
Water is dripping from the blades of grass
The grass is hanging down with sadness
The ugly clouds hang their head over the dogwood tree
White flowers on the dogwood are ready to be free
Apple trees are in full bloom, dreaming of apples
With limbs and leaves trying to grapple
All of nature outside my window.

Second Place
Summer Time
Corinne Crowder, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Go to the water park and play
Go to the park and have fun all day
Run away from Ruby Falls if it overflows!

Third Place
The Song of the Stars
Beckett Smith, Sequachie Valley Electric Cooperative

The stars twinkle in the night.
They blink, so bright.
I listen to their song they show me,
They’re something beautiful to see.

The song of the stars is quite a thing,
They make me want to sing.
I see thousands of them,
Each one looks like a gem.

I look out my window and see a white star,
They’re actually big, but not from afar.
God made them on the fourth day,
And they still bow down to Him today.


Age 9–13

First Place
Little Sparks of Success
Disha Javagal, Middle Tennessee EMC

The lightning
making Nashville’s sky radiate
like strands of confetti
and music of thunder.
We still see the fog
only that there is less and less of it every day
and that no mountain will be intrepid enough
to show their dull carcass.
Ocean eyes are the only ones that don’t know what happens
what happens up above their home
like a frog in a well
only familiar with its surroundings.
Maybe the frog will come out one day
and look up into the universe
of vibrant pellets in the sky
and see the little sparks of success.

Second Place
Watching the Rain
Alysianna Smith, Sequachie Valley Electric Cooperative

Looking at it drip,
Looking at it drop,
Watching every trickle,
Land with a plop.

It fills up the pond,
To the very brim,
It keeps going and going,
Until it flows over the rim.

Watching the rain is a peaceful time,
Still looking as it drips off a trees,
Sitting staring out my window,
All of this I can see.

I thank God for the rain,
Because it gives me time to think,
About all that He has done,
When suddenly I hear a “tink”

The rain is very important to everything,
Plus every drop is special to me.


Age 14–18

First Place
Morning in the Smoky Mountains
Chloe Little, Tennessee Valley EC

When you’re in the midst of the mist
Looking down the slope into the valley
At the distant forms,
Pinprick people
Scurrying frantically
To and from their precious jobs and errands
In and out of their little homes
You realize just how trivial
All of the things we do really are
When they’re observed from above
’Cause they only matter
For a smatter of years.

Second Place
The Owl of Minerva Spreads her Wings too Late
Hamsa Javagal, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

The plague came in the black of night
No forewarning only hindsight
We thought that it would come and go
Like a passing breeze in a meadow

Far from this is what had come
We had to fight but then succumbed
The ones we dined with yesterday
Were now buried inside their grave

Sequestered places for the sick
Populations declining super quick
One-third of Europe down already
Everyone praying to God almighty

We stuck together through tough times
Dreaming of clemency quite sometime
The black death kept us vigilant and scared
But we won the game – fair and square.


Age 19–22

First Place
Memories Soft, Memories Harsh, Memories Sweet
Rachel Blackwell, Middle Tennessee EMC

Memories soft and sacred like faded,
dried flowers, wild daisies and purple
pansies, pressed between the hallowed
scritta paper pages of an old Bible, a
time capsule of summers past.
Memories harsh and caustic like the
first fall from your bicycle in the gravel
alley behind your house, the aftermath
of dirt mixed with blood, boysenberry-
hued bruises, and broken handlebars.
Memories sweet and savored like a
September night at the Tennessee State
Fair, the jovial atmosphere engulfed in
a haze of greasy funnel-cake air, the
dizzy, starry-eyed laughter, the Ferris
wheel whirling in a vertigo blur of
neon, psychedelic lights.

Second Place
Oral Tradition
Rebecca Case, Pickwick Electric Cooperative

“Eight of us.
Eight of us were born
right there in that
living room.”
The ardent flame
of remembrance ignites
in Granny’s eyes
as her finger guides my gaze
to the window of a humble dwelling

Mom comments from behind the wheel
laughing,
“Once at Mammy Deam’s,
a lizard ran across my foot
and I screamed,
‘It’s an alligator!’”

I see the phantom
of her childhood self
hopping over tree roots
just down the road from
the tree roots at Good Hope
that guard my grandfather,
laid to rest in the heart of
so much life

Third Place
A Soldier’s Request
Lauren Kate Burns, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Dedicated to the memory of all Tennesseans, who fell in the Civil War.

I am but a flake of snow,
In a blizzard of humanity.
If, I perish in this storm,
Who will remember me?

As the golden leaves in autumn,
They fall ’round me everyday.
Mown before The Reaper’s scythe,
Like feilds of of summer hay.

I never know, when I might join them,
What another hour will bring.
I may sleep beneath the flowers,
Come the dawning of the Spring.

And if, you stand where I once fell,
In the future, strong and free.
There is but one thing that I would ask,
Please remember me.


Age 23–64

First Place
May Afternoon
Terry Weaver, Duck River EMC

May afternoon …
On the playground,
Time stands still.
Simple, exquisite rituals
Play out again.
Infielders chatter,
Outfielders pick honeysuckle,
Blow grassblade whistles,
And daydream.
Bees drone in harmony.
A ghost runner leads off second base.
Humble leather gloves,
Softened by pounding fists,
Stained with neatsfoot oil,
Tossed in exchange between innings.
The sun eases toward summer warmth.
Years pass like innings,
Twilight gathers …
Memories do likewise,
Whispering on the breeze
As perfect afternoon lingers
Into soft, gentle evening.
The backstop is still there,
The basepaths forever etched
In red clay …
And the phantom runner still stands on second.

Second Place
Coming Home on 67
Veronica Burniston, Mountain Electric Cooperative

A Tennessee mountain is a bold,
weathered thing. It is not burdened,
like its North Carolina neighbors,
by homes and businesses, snaking
roads full of impatient drivers.

A Tennessee mountain is proud,
a simmering pot of color in autumn.
It waits and watches as deer trails widen
into wagon trails, wagon trails lengthen
into paved roads, as homesteads grow
into towns, acorns into great oaks,
and as valleys flood into glistening mountain lakes.

A Tennessee mountain is untethered beauty;
it is an unspoken history;
it is an antiquity which will outlive us all.

Third Place
Spring Sights in Woods and Fields
Aaran McKinnon, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

White blanket, across the green
Blush of pink, quite unseen
From a distance

Heart shaped leaves, petals bright
Gracing woods and fields alike
Violet vale indeed

Silent bells of blue delight
Breathtaking upon first sight
Beneath the trees

Upright, creeping over rocks
Both kinds of pretty Phlox
Pinkish purple

Three large leaves, three petals too
Some are white, some maroon
Sweet aroma

Speckled leaves ‘neath the bower
Nodding yellow flower
Trout Lily

Fringy petals colored blue
Middle state, where they’re viewed
Miami Mist

Umbrella leaves hiding fruit
Only one, and it’s cute!
Tiny apple


Age 65 and older

First Place
Welcome Back, Wanderer
Kay Fields, Appalachian EC

Natives of the verdant hills, fertile valleys
of Tennessee may wander
far afield. They may
seek fortune, adventure, success, or just long
to abide near the sea, or inhabit windswept
prairies stretching endlessly toward a distant
horizon. Alluring cities with a siren call
of sophisticated glamor often entice
our native sons and daughters. Yet, nearly all return
to familiar ground and beloved faces.
Our Appalachian
ethos holds their hearts secure in a warm embrace.
Inevitably, they recall their heritage,
long for sanctuary
of family roots. On their welcome return,
home fires still burn steadfast.

Second Place
Bo’s Elegy
Stanley E Long

He came to Tennessee
In tuxedo coat, you see
A tiny guy, we wondered –
What would he be?
King of his domain

Birds and squirrels his fancy
Washing his toys, a delight
Retrieving paper wads
Bearing gifts, Magi-like.
We wrestled

Nose against palm
I scratched his chin
Entranced, he demurred
Then purred, paw
Restraining my arm.

Swirling a string
From his treasure trove
Wakened the hunter
Aggressive in play
Yet gentle in his way.

Then the unexpected –
Sedentary, body grown gaunt
Valiant to the end
Leaving memories, tears
Broken hearts to mend.

Third Place
Yummy Tennessee
Sue Hussey, Mountain Electric Cooperative

If you have a sweet tooth,
Tennessee is the place to be
Goo Goo Clusters of all kinds
Any nut that you want to see.

Made in Tennessee Moon Pies
Sizes both large and small
Have a cold glass of milk
And you can sample all.

Little Debbies run the gamut
With choices galore
Brownies and oatmeal cookies
And lots, lots more!

Willa’s Shortbread cookies and cheese biscuits
Brittle Brothers gourmet Peanut Brittle
Bang Candy Company marshmallows
Yummy Tennessee fits all…no matter how little.

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