Poet’s Playground September

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Age 8 and younger

First Place
Fall Begins
Olivia Lang, Cumberland EMC

Faded flowers,
Their shadows captured in the sunlight.
Night falls faster.
The wind catches a chill.
School begins.
Every afternoon now,
You can hear the bus wheels screech.
As children climb off the school bus,
Happy to be going home.
Leaves fall.
Piles are made.
Kids jump into the leaves.
Laughing.
Fall is here.

Second Place
Tennessee Sports
Emma Umerlik

He shoots he scores.
He hits it, it soars.
Hockey and baseball my favorite sports.
Tennessee has great teams as you can see.
The Predators and the Sounds now that is a package for me.
I like them so much my love for them is as big as the sea.
If there are tickets on sale, the last thing I would do is flee.
I’ve gone to several games several times and I had a good time.


Age 9-13

First Place
A Sonnet on Lonely Bovines
Luke Barnard, Gibson EMC

The behemoth of the pasture kneels,
Knobbly forelegs nestled in tufted ground
Pensive he sits, calm, rested, his posture feels
Eased, with garlanded flies he is crowned.
He briskly swats, the flies disperse,
A humming halo, fit for the humblest saint.
He nests deep in the soft blades, immersed.
Alone in the field without complaint.
Lifting his doleful head, he sees
The boisterous herd communing by the stream.
For this cow, that life does not appease
But lightly tempting to him, it would seem.
The introvert buries his chin in the grass
Waiting for the allure and feeling to pass.

Second Place
Nana’s Stories
Eliza Smith, Holston Electric Cooperative

Nana tells me the stories
Of days gone by,
Painting pictures with words
As clear as the sky.

From her own young self
To Tennessee lore,
To the division of families
In the great Civil War,

She fills me with knowledge
Of this place that is home
As she gently strokes my hair with
An antique comb.

I learn of a soldier
Who would have lost his life
If not for the quick-witted love
Of one devoted wife.

These words are a gift,
I shall keep close
But ‘tis the orator’s love
That is the more precious rose.

Third Place
The Hymn of Tennessee
Saksham Singh

From the rivers that flow
The falls that cascade.
The rolling hills glowing red at fall
To the lake ever so peaceful.

From the caverns deep underground
The stalicite hanging
The moist cave walls
To the stream trickling beneath.

To the country music playing
The downtown ever so bright
With skyscrapers reaching high
To the busy square .

This can only be one place
The place with the rivers
The place with the caves
The place filled with country music

This is Tennessee!


Age 14-18

First Place
The Dandelion
Hannah Hubin, Middle Tennessee EMC

And see: this small, near-secret, splendid thing:
Unsundered seeds on Tennessee hills high and held.
The silvered sphere unshattered: still it stands, a fling
Of strands sewn slight and strong. As silent bells
Wait, it waits: for wind wisps will soon ring,
Shake, sever, sift to soil slow the summer snow.
The orb will bend, will burst, break and blow;
But peace. It breaks not now, not so.
The blessed bounty bears like prayers to bring
This minute-miracle mercy: a moment’s more.
And see: this small, near-secret, splendid thing:
Unsundered life of yours.

Second Place
The Raccoon
Cheyenne Lackey, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Breathe in the taste
Of trees
And dust
Maybe a little
Blood too
It might be
From the dryness
Of your throat
Dehydrated from
Overbearing heat
Or bitten
Nail clippings
Nervous
Raccoons lingering
Near the edge of the trees
Scavenging
Your own kind
Doesn’t dare to be as free
Family blurring
The lines
Exposed to human eyes
Uncertainty pressed
Into their paws
And claws
Gripping the earth’s soil
Watching
It seeps through
Like sand
Unable to control
Their hands
Like you
Impenetrable masks
Often deceptive
To the eye
You and the raccoon
Stare
Before
Slinking back
Into an unknown
Reality

Third Place
Summer to School
Abbigaell Day, Appalachian Electric Cooperative

Fog relays to clouds
A.K.A the mothership:
“Beam me up, Scotty!”

Suburbia looks
As a ball is thrown only
For a lab to fetch.

I compare summer
To a water slide that ends
Too quickly in ice.

Pool water sounds like
A fish’s splash underneath
A wrung-tie-dye sky.

I wish I could surf
The wave of change like a champ
Instead of drowning.

Age 19-22

First Place
Summer in Tennessee, a Kodak Moment
Rachel Blackwell, Middle Tennessee EMC

Glistening beads of condensation drip down the sides of a mason jar brimming with freshly brewed sweet tea.
The summer air is sultry and sticky with humidity, but all the more sweet with the fragrance of hydrangea blossoms blushing with delicate beauty.
A chipper mockingbird perched upon a gently swaying limb of an oak tree chirps a freedom song, as distant backporch windchimes impart a charming and elegant background melody.
Miles away, a bonfire blazes into the night, as the thick musky aroma drifts and saturates the atmosphere. Summer in Tennessee is like a Kodak moment, matchless, nothing can compare.

Second Place
Sunset Song
Cordelia Moss, Gibson Electric Membership Corporation

I don’t know every word
To the song that wells up
In my heart when a sunset is spread
Over snowy-white cotton fields and acres of hay
Or upside-down in the pond by the shed.

For my Lover painted that sunset
And put it there knowing I’d see
And soak in the bountiful kindness
Of One whose beauty cascades over me.

I am loved by a Lover
Whose love can’t be checked
By the headache and heartache I face.
Can you tell me the words to the song in my heart?
The first word
and the last word
is GRACE.

Third Place
Cups
Justin Luis, Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

coffee to write
and tea when I read

leaves of cream and white
once too a planted seed

some thoughts absurd
some worth pursuing

my shot’s a laden word
my mind’s a’brewing


Age 23-64

First Place
Retro Speak
Linda Hughlett, Southwest Tennessee EMC

As master craftsmen practice their skills
shaping and molding people to their will.
occurrencies, portentuous, manipulate
the lives of lesser beings’ fates
the direction a life will take
is not determined by self
but controlled by hate.
surrounding those they can overpower
with money, strength and in the wee hours.
chances, few to grow in grace
to prosper beyond the confines of race.
as children, trusting we consume those ideals
which bloom in idealists all over the world
binding us to devise the tools to change
what master craftsmen use.

Second Place
First Light
Frank Larkin

Pink and violet stretch the sky
into the blue and gray
of the remaining night.

The water is still and mirrored,
a glass table in first light,
lest the faint ripple of an insect,
floating slowly with the current.

Two deer drink at the river’s edge,
mornings lamp exposing them.
Soon they will leave, ready to
rest in their trusted wood.

A passing car
bends a blade of grass,
leaves a settling hush
in its unseen wake.

The slow turn of time,
finally finishing its job,
another mid-state dawn
finds a momentary close.

Third Place
I Pause
Emily Wright, Forked Deer Electric Cooperative

to taste the sunset,
bright orange and pink
with a cascade of purple.
Day is fading,
cicadas singing songs
in the distance:
“the sound of summer,”
I always call it.
Humidity sticks to
my body, sweat
trickling down my neck.

Still I pause.
And listen.


Age 65 and older

First Place
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak Stops for a Visit
Melanie Harless

He arrives in mid-April
at our home in Tennessee
with a red ascot tucked into
his crisp white shirt.
Stripes displayed on his wings
are well-deserved
after his long journey from the south.
His black eyes are barely visible
in his dark head,
but even his Jimmy Durante beak
does not distract from handsomeness.
We keep him well-supplied
with seeds and suet,
hope each morning
he will still be around
to brighten our day,
but we know
his journey is not over.
We awake one morning
and he is gone,
headed north
for cooler climes and a mate.

Second Place
Tennesseans At Heart
Richard Lyles

Three stars on the great state banner
Tell wonderful stories of our colorful history–
Three Grand Divisions, yet, faithfully united.
Look closely to discover, not really a mystery.

From The Great Smokies veiled by whispering mists
Westward over rolling hills and gracious streams,
Where pioneers explored, country singers live their dreams.
Follow the setting sun to rich, dark loam and the friendly manner
Of home-grown folk along Old Man River.

Our stars merge as one to join 49 others
On Old Glory, locked together just like brothers
And sisters. Volunteers all — sharing
Teaching, leading, building, honoring — caring.

Third Place
Bushoggin’
James French, Duck River Electric Cooperative

A man’s job is to do according to Isaiah 32:2.
There is another job for many a man that is for you,
Bushhoggin’
Tennessee men know it is the way to go; few ladies I know dream of
Bushhoggin’
Wimpy mowers just might not satisfy.
Oh, to drive through stuff 3 inches thick
Grind it to pieces and make it look slick.
Bushhoggin’
Your heart is a spiritual bushhog mow-chine.
From briars and thorns your heart’s job is to clean.
The parable of the sower (Mark 4) tells you so.
Bushhog your heart and good fruit will grow.
Bushhoggin’

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