Thursday, June 17

Poet’s Playground – December winners

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Age 8 and younger

no entries received


Age 9–13

First Place
Jack Frost
Luke Barnard, Gibson EMC

Oh, he’s nipping at your nose
And snapping at your heels,
He doesn’t care how much it snows
Or just how cold it feels.

He paints the windows with his frost,
He loves his chilly art.
A masterpiece worth quite a cost,
He draws them from his heart

He works all night, till light of day,
His paintings left to melt.
By morning, it has gone away
To prove where Jack has dwelt.


Second Place
The Best Gift of the Season
Emma Laymon, Middle Tennessee EMC

As the days grow colder
The fire gets warmer
The windows carry frost
The air becomes gelid

Suddenly we open our eyes to a shock
The grass has disappeared!
It is gone
But what we do not know is that it is merely
Covered with a blanket of snow

The snow is spotless
It shames the rain
It becomes the guardian
Of the ground

This only comes around once a year
But truly it becomes the best gift of the season


Third Place
Tennessee Lights
DaNasha Lawson, II, Gibson EMC

I wake up in the middle of the night,
For I see Tennessee lights.
So bright, for it’s a sight before my eyes.
So wonderful, even a meteor would be ashamed.
Tennessee’s lights it would try to claim.
But even the meteor is smart enough to know it’s not
The same.
So look out your window at the lights, and see
What Tennessee has claimed.


Age 14–18

First Place
Hope is Not Lost
Alivia Dupree, Cumberland EMC

Every mountain gathered close
in the still Gatlinburg air
stood strong and towering over the
bustle of people
and gave a magnificent view to

Though the mountains gathered now
may seem to be wilting away,
this tragedy will not destroy the
and the assurance for better days.

So together we will lift these families
with any love, thought or prayers,
we will lift the spirits of the ones
who feel forgotten
and wipe each and every tear.


Second Place
Sarah Hopkins, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative

We bleed orange.
Because orange represents encouragement.
We bleed orange.
Because we know not a single obstacle is permanent.

We bleed orange.
Because orange represents determination.
We bleed orange.
Because no matter how long it takes, we will reach our destination.

We bleed orange.
Because orange represents success.
We bleed orange.
Because we always give our very best.

We bleed orange.
Because we are Volunteers.


Third Place
Rain At Carnton Plantation
Hannah Hubin, Middle Tennessee EMC

Rain is falling
to the plantation garden,
to the seeds planted
on the old battlefield soil –
soil that remembers a time
when what fell
to this ground
was not
tender or kind,
but hard and fierce;
yet the bullets fell
as this rain falls now,
that life in this land
might continue.


Age 19–22

First Place
Soul Food
Evan Mattingly

The taste of passion drips down a
Stroke after stroke with emotion in
each drop.
A story told without words,
Is one to be ravished.
Can you feel it?
The change of heart within each
Fighting between love and hate,
Deciphering the symbols against a stigma.
Do not question creativity.
Question what makes you creative,
Then chase it.


Second Place
Jocelyn Hawley, Fayettevill Public Utilities

Just when I think there is nothing
to be done, the morning
breaks open to the surprise
of sun. The finches are singing.
In the pasture, the spring
begins to run. The whole silent world
seems lifted in sound. And here
on a barren hillside,
the bright-mouthed flower
sings up out of
frozen ground.


Third Place
Appalachian Fall
Denise Hill, Appalachian EC

The air gets colder
the days get shorter,
Seeing the colors change
absolutely amazes me.
My first Appalachian fall
is entirely awe-inspiring,
I am very happy and grateful
to be living in a beautiful state.



Age 23–64

First Place
On the gold-faded side-panels of my house
Hunter Keough, Pickwick EC

the dirt dobbers’ music
rings soft with warm wings
as they build their nests
like church bells, organs
for worship. Mucus-y mud
condemns the nostrils, hardens
in summer to home-feed their young:
spiders are webbed in milk-
rooms claimed by small bee-wasps
or cyans
while the elders confer, instead
from flowers. A thousand hungers

chilled by fresh winter, I
the empty homes, wondering
where the future will take me.
When my nest blows blank air
and all eight-legs are gone,
will my two feet still
suspend me, somehow
still sing?


Second Place
Time to Relax
Carolyn Dailey-Mincy, Fort Loudoun EC

With fields plowed, cattle fed
And supper over
I go to my favorite shade tree
Ole Blue resting at my feet
I sit in Grandpa’s old straight-backed chair,
Bless his heart he left it to me,
Relaxing with a glass of cold sweet tea, I enjoy
The scent of fresh cut hay
Children laughing while they play
Lightning bugs flashing as
Evening sky turns to night
Stars take on a heavenly sight
Tennessee moon shining bright
Thankful, I’ll start again at morning light
Hard life, yes, it can be, but
Family country roots run deep
A tradition that I’ll keep.


Third Place
Rich Garcia, Middle Tennessee EMC

Long Hunter
I relish Tennessee winters in the sky.
Like rubies and diamonds are greater than you or I.
In the wooded forest. I’m happy no matter what life brings on.
I touch a moss swathed tulip poplar dormant and strong.
Seeing the imbedded armada of barked trees.
Swaying in tempo in the quiet frosted breeze.
In the rustling solitude, I am what I want to be.
When I leave the scarlet and copper canopy of God’s dormant lace.
Happy to know I can stand strong as a sycamore tree.
Always free to return, to my sanctuary, my shielded place.


Age 65 and older

First Place
Nancy Bell, Holston EC

I had just sacrificed a young cedar
To our celebration of Christmas
And passage through the shortest

Trudging back dragging the tree,
I stopped to eat a persimmon
Drummed down to the ground
By long-delayed rain.

Coming up the holler I looked up
The dome of the mountain loomed
Like a large brooding head
Winter tree-hair standing straight
As if dealt an electric shock
From a freak thunder storm.

I, too, am shocked at the weather,
And the strange changes
That do not bode well
For our green valleys
And suffering trees on the hills


Second Place
I-40 in Winter
Millie Ungren, Pickwick EC

From Memphis to Jackson
The hounds of winter
Pursue me
Spitting brown rain
Like the water between the wolf’s
Briar tangled banks
Drooling my windshield

Tail lights wink and taunt me
Testing my sanity
Grey hawks perch on power lines
Ever watching for the negligent hare
Escaping my speeding tires
The maestro wind
Directs a choir of leaves
Against my windows

From the primeval forest
The luckless hunter sighs
On his tree stand
The deer
Sheltered in piney groves
Safe, beside the hay bales

I drive into darkness
Wishing for the hounds of spring
Blue wood violets and ditch lilies


Third Place
Morning’s Musings
Kay Thompson, Appalachian EC

As I sit savoring
small quiet sights and sounds
that abound in morning’s cool
lifting summer’s
long sweaty pall,
My mind thinks nothing
much, at all.
No overwrought anxious
cares or concerns
or precipitous plans,
no detailed lists of minutiae
and piddling pursuits
mar my grateful meditation
on the completeness
of creation.
My soul is sustained
by gracious quiet
and soft stillness.
When this wonderous
interlude concludes
with a brusque beckoning
from worldly affairs,
I hope the memory
will remain of
simplicity’s subtle serenade.


About Author

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at

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