2013 Poetry of Place Winning Poets
(Photo by Jeff Grinvalds)
Merrill Mitchell, grade 7, Fremont Middle School: Teacher, Laura Enos
Pierse Coen, grade 7, Fremont Middle School
Ruby Hoffman, grade 7, Irving Middle School, Lincoln
Bailey Johnson, grade 7, Saint Agnes Academy, Alliance
Kurstin Barrett, grade 9, Gering Freshman Academy
Lissa Deonarain, grade 11, Westside High School, Omaha
Ally Washka, grade 11, Brownell-Talbot: Teacher, Omaha
Sarah Harrison, grade 11, Brownell-Talbot: Teacher, Omaha
Alfred Bracciano, grade 12, Papillion-LaVista High School
At Seward on the Fourth of July
by Tyler Emons
Red, white, and blue
Are the colors we see
People from all over
Together around for
Candy from the parade
Tall people, short people
From any town around Seward
Horses clopping on the
Tractors saying, “bub, bub,
After the parade
Food is to be had
Smell the aroma
Of sweet funnel cakes
Spicy hot dogs
Seen around the square
Laying on a soft
Watching the sky
We will see
Shooting into the night
A dark red spider
In the night sky
Will fade away
The Nebraska Country
by Grace Canady
A farm to my left
A beautiful red barn to my right
With an ocean of hills
Prairie grasses all around me
Wherever I look
Magnificently wonderful trees
With the colors of fall
Leaves looking at you in curiosity and wonder
Little ground hogs popping up and out of holes
Teasing you to catch them
Though you know you will never catch the little ones
The light smell of goldenrod hits your nose softly
And the stench of manure teases your senses
The smell of fresh rain and dew is in the air
Like a little wind blowing across the meadows
The feel of the breeze gently taps on your shoulder
As if you can just run off one of the rolling hills, jump and fly!
You feel as free as a bird
As free as you’ll ever be in your lifetime
In the distance, cows are mooing in a nearby field
And the wind whistling a song of fall
As the crisp, clear day ends and night begins
The stars above are speaking to you during the night
Dry grass crunches under your feet,
And the birds sing a lullaby
To lure nature
by Pierse Coen
The fading light
Envelopes me in a receding warmth
The trees stand like soldiers
Protecting those who enter
And sharing their stories of hardship
The darkness of the Earth itself
Sings a sweet lullaby
As the shadows of the night washes over us-
My soldiers and I-
Like the tide on the shore
I realize in a rising melancholy,
that I must go.
I say a special, silent goodbye
To my family of a different kind
And as I exit the opening
I promise to return
So that the trees may tell their stories
Forest Behind The Cabin
by Merrill Mitchell
I escape out the back door
Slip down the sand slope
and grin at my surroundings.
This place has brought me so much joy, bringing out the peace in my crowded mind.
Behind the small Cabin in this place
lays the most majestic and breathtaking
scenery my heart has
come to know.
Canopies of leaves rustle above me, blocking out
the clear blue sky. Rays of pure sunlight
cast through the cape of greenery,
making the forest glow.
Tangles of branches
Like a beautiful woven basket stretching throughout the woods.
The strong scent
Of pine and dirt,
radiates in the air as the breeze flows through,
My blonde hair raising and flowing in the wind like a cape.
They decorate the trees, softly trickling on my skin.
The sound of the rushing wind is always present,
enchanting me with its whispering tune.
The woodpeckers join the melodious whispers,
coming together to create a harmonious
choir of nature.
I pluck one of the twigs off a long branch gently,
and break it in half. I close my eyes,
And let the smell of fresh pine wood fill my senses.
This is my escape.
That I feel free.
“A Nebraska Evening”
by Ruby Hoffmann
My fingers are embedded with dirt
An echo of a flung clod
I begin to shiver
The cold permeates my shirt
An oversight made in the rush to nature’s grasp
A dash to the trees replenishes the warmth
Lost in a reminiscence
Of Fall’s glory at the “Park for All Seasons”
A jog down crude steps of the bur oak’s roots
Calls for caution
A struggle uphill hollers for relief
The crisp air searing my throat
As I gasp
The golden leaves reflect the setting sun’s gleam
A reminder that time is a force
Our permanent foe
Barbed wire bares its teeth suddenly
A scratch echoes in my mind
Causing my halt
Screeching rail brakes interrupt my thoughts
Their source stops before me obstructing my view of the shallow Platte
The train is massive
Its strength far too great for man alone to stop
It creaks, groans, and squeals to a standstill
An empty train that I lack the courage to touch
So I settle for throwing dirt
I scrape at the ground
Dry from drought
Too thirsty to clump
I scramble down five feet of the steep hill before me
Muddy with perfect consistency
A hardening grasp
A hopeful throw
My creation shatters in the car
I give a hoot of celebration in reply to the resounding reverberation
Then sit on the damp ground
Pondering for a few minutes
I wander back to the dull-brown secluded cabin
I notice carvings in a bench and consider using my pocketknife
Deciding to engrave my initials
Nine strokes later
I deliberate the letters: RKH
A simple expression for the future
That means so little to some
Sit down, look around.
Close your eyes.
Let the sounds be a surprise.
Open your ears, what do you hear?
The horse’s soft snort;
Living with buffalo at the fort.
A silent deer grazing near,
A rock falling from the buttes so sheer.
Cool breeze rustling grass,
Crying for a storm to pass.
Take a breath, scent the smells.
A pine tree that once fell,
Fresh dew along the trail,
Each scent has tale.
Sweet flowers thrive on life,
Protected from human hands and the knife.
Smell the fresh saddle leather,
and new coming weather.
A fresh breeze hints the night,
losing time and burning daylight.
Open your eyes, look at the sky.
Flames devour and eat the clouds,
Boasting red, orange, and yellow so proud.
The shadows slowly fall,
Wild coyotes let out a call,
The night is coming, ready to rule,
Casting the moon’s light in big pools.
To many it’s a home where buffalo roam.
But this is my heart, my favorite place,
Where I’m From
by Kurstin Barrett
I’m from expectations and very simple rules.
I’m from yelling to solve problems and hugging twenty minutes later.
I’m from rock n’ roll music and screamo.
I’m from random things and off the wall requests.
I’m from singing and dancing even when I know I can’t.
I’m from going up and swinging as hard as I can.
I’m from looking up at my Grandma and watching her cheer.
I’m from where the grass is never green.
I’m from a place where rain refuses, and wheat is the only survivor.
I’m from standing in the field as the breeze makes golden waves.
I’m from hard work and long days.
I’m from being expected to be the bigger person.
I’m from huge family get-togethers and jokes and food.
I’m from a book of fantasy and fiction.
I’m from a place where I can bring words to life.
I’m from a place where my mind runs free and my imagination thrives.
by Lissa Deonarain
For years I've dreamed about how one day I will break free.
All of these wonders lying just outside of my cage,
taunting me, whispering in my ear, calling out my name.
but as much as I hoped I never would,
could it be I truly love this place?
I've danced my way across the world
but my satisfaction still remains half empty.
I've rubbed the Forbidden Palace's doors for good luck
and painstakingly climbed up The Great Wall.
I dove off a cliff into the Adriatic Sea
and let the crashing waves swallow me whole.
I've waltzed through flourishing gardens and castles in Austria
and passed through where Mozart lived.
I've celebrated a festival in Venice,
the fireworks gleaming in the waterways.
I've contemplated colleges in New York, Boston, Maine--
But the one desire snuggled behind my whirling thoughts
is that I'm so attached to my only home
I think it's where I want to stay.
From the uneven, bright red, bricks downtown
that are loved and worn from years of shuffling feet
to the outskirts of the city with acres of rolling hills
where I grew into the wind-whipped flower I am today.
The memories clinging to me like ivy on a brick house.
Life is full of unexpected changes
and may pull us far from where we come
and as much as I shy away from the thought
Landmarks for Nebraskan Souls
by Ally Washka
Wind whispers across the tops of tree branches
Little hands wave, submerged
In a sea of green leaves
Dipping their fingertips in pools of shadows—
Flashes of flames in a fiery pit
Ashes billow as smoke erupts
Licks away at the horizon—
Distorted scenes plagued by heat:
Gravel grinds into the ground
Compacted and trodden
Dust clouds kick up in a puff of gray-white
Roads mimicking snow
Only melting with muck and mud
Rushing river sweeps away everything
Channels with circular ripples and
Fishing lines form links within nature
Fish to human, human to cattails—
by Sarah Harrison
A smeared canvas of watercolors becomes the sky above me
Melding together, deep orange and red
A gentle warmth is cast upon the land
The setting sun peeks through rows of trees
Its rays trace across the Missouri
Tall grass sways rhythmically in the fields
As cranes settle in the shallows of the Platte
The silhouette of telephone lines runs endlessly
Down open country roads
The air that feels weighted when inhaled
Fills my body and leaves my mind vacant
Still is the land, as night approaches
The sound of a distant cicada breaks the silence in steady intervals
The constant hum of summer can be felt for miles
I hear the voices of children fade into the evening
No more lightning bugs left to catch
My bare feet touch the cooling earth
As my head turns upward
And my eyes meet the horizon
I watch as the sun sinks lower with each passing second
It is not long before all is left in darkness
Yet the thick air of summer remains
by Alfred Bracciano
A field of words,
images cultivated in the mind.
City sprawling, tripping
into the delicate fields of golden wheat,
pure as the sun.
storms, rain, hail, lightning, a
daily occurrence, a roll of the dice.
People, corn, football—stereotypes
of a world not all subscribe to.
Friendly neighbors, culture hiding
behind the shadowy skyscrapers not built yet.
A city not quite a city,
yearning to expand. Held back
by roots of crops, the authors,
builders, architects, masterminds of the land.
A happy medium
somewhere between farm and Chicago,
a gem in its own right.
A buried treasure, for some,
a temporary stop, a stepping
stone paved into the street of the Old Market.
From field to city and back again,
purgatory or paradise?