Thursday, June 17

Poet’s Playground – November winners

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Age 8 and younger

First Place
My Tennessee Girl
Olivia Beasley, Middle Tennessee EMC

My little sister is queen of the cute
And she always gets her way
7 months doesn’t mean you are
too little for nosin’ around.

She doesn’t even notice how sassy she is
I hope when she grows up her favorite song is
Rocky Top Tennessee

It is obvious her passies are just right for her
But I don’t need those anymore.

You will never get to know how precious
She is until she grows.

Her name is Everly Monroe.



Age 9 to 13

First Place
Tennessee Autumn
Olivia Phillips, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

A rusty truck drives down a dirt road
Emerald grass rolls from a sweet chilly breeze
In Autumn has tiptoed
And Summer’s intense sun flees

The Tennessean sky so vast and blue
Mirrors on the wide, twisting river
Dwindling leaves have a reddish hue
As a fall wind makes them shiver

Hills from the countryside fall low
While rocky mountains tower high
The sunset shines a golden glow
And All Hallows Eve is nigh

Rose red to indigo, sapphire blue to black
Stars suddenly appear
And as the last light of day starts to fall back
I dream of yesteryear


Second Place
What Makes Nashville
Aurora Matthews, Southwest Tennessee EMC

What makes Nashville what it is?
Is it the streetlamp lights?
Is it the colorful sights?
The bustling, noisy nights?

Is it the Batman Building (which looks like its name?)
Is it the Nashville Hall of Fame?
The builders who never keep things quite the same?

Is it the crunch of concrete under your feet?
Is it the people shouting across the street?
Is it the stores with neon signs
selling meats and pickles to people in lines?

Is it the sparkling river aflow?

What makes Nashville…
Maybe I know!

It’s not just lights aglow…
It’s all this listed here, you know!


Third Place
It Was Worth the Wait
Emma Laymon, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

A ringing noise
Vibrates the air
And I open my eyes
To a dark morning

No one is awake
Other than my dad
And I prepare my supplies
For the trip

I look out the window of dad’s
Silverado, seeing the same signs
And trees and roads
Until we reach our destination

I say goodbye to my father
And mingle with my friends
Laughing at the smoke
That emerges from our mouths

We board the bus and we
Reach the aquarium.
The Chattanooga Aquarium.
We can’t wait!

The perfect field trip was worth
The wait!



Age 14 to 18

First Place
Southern Chronicle
Anna Stewart

A living emerald face
Wild, unsettled, free
A sprinkle of beige freckles
The first brave men
Who sought to tame this land.
Soft ivory powder on the cheeks
Speckled with ebony
King cotton at his height
His glory marred
By cruelest toil
Crimson tears
The blood of battles
Of myriad lives
Cut short too soon
Shadows in gray
Highlights in gold
A land rebuilt
Old mingled with the new
A warm enfolding smile
Rich hospitality.
Glowing, measureless eyes
Wells of lessons past
Treasuring the hope of
A bright and thriving future.


Second Place
Autumn Finesse
Sophia Ferri, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Patchwork quilt of colors
Fading fast to grey
Sunset to the Summer
Fire to end the day
Soon I’ll say goodbye

One last rosy kiss
Harried fast to freeze
Warmer days dismissed
With every rising breeze
I should say goodbye

Murmurs now grows quiet
Silence fills crisp air
Shadows conquer light
That once had lingered there
And now I say goodbye


Third Place
Sound Sculpture
Elaina Russo, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

The hills roll on into nothingness
Nothingness turning into cities
People travel the cracks of our land shaped by music
This is my home
Forged by music from those rolling hills
A mixing pot of many cultures
Surely I’ll be a resident of this
Sound sculpture



Age 19 to 22

First Place
Green to Green
Ella Cosette, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Soft, in the light of a new home
Trail behind your mother
Feel for her affection as your feet you lift and
Topple over under
Fall upon a patch of green so green that Irish men
Could feel at home

In the light
On the green

As you grow to call this place
Your home
Step softly
And with love
In this new, bright world where
Everything that could not be ours,
Sweet one,
Is yours.


Second Place
Trees of Home
Wendi Morrison, Sequachie Valley Electric Cooperative

Roots grounded in copper soil,
Branches whistling in the breeze,
From Oak to Maple and Sweet Gum too,
The feel of home is in the trees.

Growing tall and standing firm,
Protecting our souls from grayness,
They tower and sway to show us all,
The beauty of Tennessee’s greatness.


Third Place
Denise Hill, Sequachie Valley Electric Cooperative

When you’re small, your voice is rarely heard.
When you’e small those who are big think they can rule you.
The problem with being small, isn’t being small.
The problem with being small, is being underestimated.
When you’re small in body and voice, it’s hard to be taken seriously.
When the only thing big in your body is your heart, you’re laughed at.
Even though we’re small, we can do big things.
Make changes, travel, do our own thing, it doesn’t matter your size.
Show them what you’re made of.



Ages 23 to 64

First Place
Smoky Mountaintop
Ramona Nahomy, Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative

I know you watch from behind the haze.
Distant, silent, vigilant.
Does our relentless efforts to rule
the landscape amuse you?
Man slices the soil with plow,
plants crop in regimented rows,
rearranges stones to hem fields
or secure some edifice—
house, barn, school, church—to the earth.
Under your patient gaze
buildings lean, crumble,
leaving stony pox marks–
scars of man’s frivolous dreams.
Dreams doomed to overgrown blackberry and ivy.
Today, your impassive, granite eye rests upon me.
I, too, will crumble while you stand steadfast.
Your towering visage hidden by clinging mist.
A covert observer of the centuries.



Second Place
Amen Tennessee
Maura Ammenheuser, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation

Rolling clouds, rolling hills
Guitars, barns and blues
One foot in the Smokies, the other in Manifest Destiny
On farms and under skylines
Fueled by apps, dams and gumption
We’re fired up to belt out songs
Slow cook some pork, slow age some whiskey
Slow things just enough
To watch the clouds, walk the hills
Here, old and new
crashing together
Sounds like bluegrass
Or Les Pauls
A beat and three
Amen, Tennessee.


Third Place
Anti-Epitome of Self
Hunter Keough, Pickwick Electric Cooperative

At evening, Earth comes under new control.
The darkness makes breathless lake water look so good.

Fireflies crack silence between cigarettes. Our
cottonmouths: pure adolescence of my fears.

Moths skitter wings
between our fragile fingers :: stars molt
old light.

A viridian-crowned mallard contorts
feathers into water.
There’s not a single globe that can show you
all of Earth.

I remember. At the time, you felt like a world.
I reminisce about the future,
what awaits me in my past.



Ages 65 and older

First Place
January in the Smokies
Wesley Sims

Gone is the fog-scumbled green cover
of summer mornings and the kaleidoscope
of October color in the Smokies.
January snow has saddled limbs of hickory
and maple and fir, assaulted with bullets of ice,
chased the sun into its solar house above the atmosphere.

Early twilight paints the scenery black and white.
The moon, a pale gold ghost, peers out
at midnight through its gray parka of clouds.
Bunches of underbrush become interlinked igloos,
making eskimos of sheltering birds and rabbits.
Shivering deciduous trees raise their frozen fingers
heavenward, praying in unison for winter’s end.


Second Place
Memphis Memories of Lost Days
Millie Ungren, Pickwick Electric Cooperative

The old forrest, windswept trees
Tossing golden leaves
like moths
spinning past street lights
carpeting sidewalks
A timelessness in Memphis

Front Street, Old Cotton Row
Bales of white gold
Waiting to be loaded
Ghost of steamboat captains
Ringing silent steamboat bells
Walking along stone wharvesand cobblestones
in Jack Tucker Alley

Old Crump Stadium, game day
Southside Scrappers vs. Messick Panthers
Fans A’ Roar,
Memories of Boss Crump
Attending every game

Playground monkey bars
Hooded, pumpkin-faced children
Climbing skyward, laughing

Our national anthem
Standing tall and proud
Like syscrapers
Higher than the bluff
The very heart of Memphis


Third Place
Through the Trees
Nancy Bell, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative

I walk home alone down the road
Through a yellow sea of beech
Waved along by red flags of dogwood.

I peruse between the lines
Of the dark, upright oaks
That spell out the coming winter.

I pause while passing tall ash
Molested by emerald insects
That bored beneath their bark
And exposed their white tissue.

Yet I think all is not lost
As I take in the last illumination of the day:
The sight of the mountain clothed in gold,
A daily story growing ever shorter,
Meaning so much to all who would
Slow and notice.


Editor’s Note

These last two poems lovingly explore the beauty of our Smoky Mountains and were received weeks before fires devastated acres of land and countless homes and businesses. Poetry helps us express our feelings about beauty and now can also help us reminisce and heal. Our thoughts go to the victims of the fires.


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