2008 Poetry of Place Winning Poets


 

 So this is Papillion
-by Paige Hawk

The cool, silky breeze of a

Midsummer's night

Catches my hair and tangles it in knots.

The hues of vibrant pink and purple

Caught my eye

Oh so many years ago.

Laughter.

Basketballs bouncing against the pavement.

A mother's constant reminder

All remind me of the resistance of a young child

To go inside

And get ready for bed.

The honking of car horns

Occupied by rebellious teenagers

Has long since faded.

The buzzing of 84th Street

Now lay quiet and sparse.

The red and green traffic lights

Have become tired.

I look once more at the horizon,

The warm glow of the summer sun

Is now gone.

Only fragments of color remain.

As I stand up and turn,

Beginning my steady journey home

I smile and think,

This is why I love Papillion.

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I'll Have My Memories
-by Lindsey Hofer

The stars have come out

To remind me

Of my race against time,

And curfew

But maybe I'll lie here just a little longer

Here in the arms of the one I love

Maybe all the fights and worries

Will disappear

Maybe you finally got me to believe

That forever yours will be the only heart I hear

Maybe what I've done to you

Won't matter any more

And maybe the world can learn to love each other

Like we do one another

But I know

That when the stars fade

Everything I left at Dusk

Will return with the sun

And all I'll have left

Is my memories


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 Leaving me

-by Lindsey Hofer

My heart breaks

As you break me the news

But I'll paint on a smile just for you

Unable to believe you're another I have to lose

You're just one more person

Who has chosen to flee

One more person

Leaving me to be free

Free from those that brought us down

Free from those that would decree

Free from the disappointing looks

Free from...me?

Set in denial

Reassured that you'll never go

That you'll stay forever

Time, passing at anything but slow

A simple hug

A wave good bye

The standard promise to write

And never to cry

'I love you', a single tear

And you're already gone

I'll miss you forever

But forever without you seems so wrong.

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My Nebraska

by Lindsey Hofer

Don't call my Nebraska a desert

Don't call my Nebraska flat

Don't call my Nebraska a waste land

I'll show you a Nebraska that's anything but that

A friendly wave and a smile

Is expected from a man you've never met

As you roll along with the hills

Into an always more beautiful sunset

We are more then just rural conservatives

We have more then just cows and corn rows

We are more then just farmers and hicks

We have heart the never slows

Heart for our friends and family

Heart for our Cornhusker red

Heart for our land and history

Heart that once started as a homestead

Summer days can do us no wrong

A few rain drops will keep us smiling for a week

The constant wind fills or hearts

With snowstorms better then even at the highest peak

So don't call my Nebraska a desert

Don't call my Nebraska flat

Don't call my Nebraska a waste land

I'll show you a Nebraska that's anything but that


Remember

by Lindsey Hofer

Remember growing up together

Moving on

And moving up

Remember me when I'm gone

Remember the nights

Where we stayed up till dawn

And the ambers we watched fade to ash

Remember me when I'm gone

Remember the dumb ideas

The colorful pictures we have drawn

And all the games we never stopped playing

Remember me when I'm gone

Remember the love we felt

The relationships where our hearts were stolen

And why they meant so much to us

Remember me when I'm gone

Remember the carefree summer days

The snowball fighters we would take on

And the leaves we piled together just to ruin

Remember me when I'm gone

Remember the small town

The home we've loved for so long

And all the memories impossible without it

Remember me when I'm gone

Remember the victories

The teammates we came upon

And all the fans that never let us down

Remember me when I'm gone

Remember our dreams

The things we set our hearts on

And the hope we never would let die

Remember me when I'm gone

But most of all

Remember the laughter and the lessons

The people that kept you hanging on

And the good times with good friends

Remember me when I'm gone

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I Remember
by Garrett Janzen

I remember the grassy field

Across the street from my front yard

Where I netted garden spiders and toads in the summer.

I remember the white chalky path

That led from the road's dead end

Past the dragon flies' puddle into the cool frost's shade.

I remember the old oak bridge

Over the small winding crick

Finding its way through the mud with the help of my hands.

I remember the high mud walls

Carved by a once great torrent

Roots and rocks jutting from the sides into open air.

I remember the scent of wet grass

The stench of the swampy pone

The dust and the pollen making me sneeze.

I remember glowing pixies at dusk

Floating fireflies in the failing light

No streetlights or headlights, but brilliant moon and stars.

I remember the slime of a leopard frog's back

The burning of peroxide on scraped knees

The feel of pond scum squeezed through your fingers.

I remember the thrill of discovery

A beaver-hewn stick, a possum's jaw

A slug at the water's edge, snails clinging to the rocks.

I remember what it means to find one's home

Among the rocks and trees and living things

To find solace in the sound of rustling leaves high above

To discover someplace as changing and unknowable as yourself

To have a place become a part of your soul

That stays with you long after you have stepped back out into the sunlight.

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Origins

by Garrett Janzen

I'm from red dirt roads

Red brick fireplace

Red with anger when my brother broke my toy.

I'm from praying mantises and horned caterpillars

Neighbor's garden fertilized with turkey manure

Crazy neighbor boy burning G.I. Joes

The crows nest in the tree I used for spying

Now just a stump.

I'm from the bend in the crick

Bend in the elm tree

Bend in bark where I tried to carve my name

The open air and clear skies

Exploring the woods and making them my own

Climbing the dirt walls and bridging the two banks

Possum's jaw bone on the sandbar.

I'm from spaghetti and imitation crab

Chilled chocolate pudding in a frosted glass

I don't know how mom made those cookies so good.

My older brother's a genius,

Big, solid and quiet

My younger brother's social,

Thin, blond and free

And I'm from in between.

I'm from my first bass at the cabin

Caught it with a jig,

From our pet rabbit Hoppy

Dad caught it with his hat in the cornfield,

From my first time down a slope on skis

Wipeout at the bottom, first time off the diving board

Stinging, burning pinpricks on my red stomach.

I'm from a magnifying glass and a newspaper

And a black backyard,

From the orange soda stain on the carpet

Hidden under a pillow,

From corn fights with my brothers

Got a kernel down my ear.

I'm' from the garden spider in the window well and the toad who ate him.

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The Memories I'm Made Of

by Peyton Kauffman

I am from a pile of farm magazines

Sitting next to the Marlboro-scented recliner.

I'm from made up songs sang in made up keys,

Often about the magnificence of boxed potatoes.

I am from weekends planned by the radar.

From praising the rain but cursing the storm.

I'm from Motown Mornings,

From the perfume dance and the hair-curling song,

This Little Piggy and 10 Little Indians.

I'm from trips to the grocery store and a

Stop in the toy aisle.

From green beans and canning prayers,

Corn-on-the-cob and homemade pies.

I'm from the boy with the tabooed middle name,

And the other boy who thought he was Dad.

I am from the sheet-made palace under the stairs,

Where John made threats of Mable Able's ghost.

I'm from nights ling under the Christmas tree

With the Nerf war masters,

From "leftover days" and

Stay out of Mom's Hair.

I am from Beavy Chicky Woman and Dorkster Porkster,

Old Spice hugs and "Oh boy!"

I'm from ping-pong and shuffleboard

And the enormous freezing storage room.

I am from awkward holiday dinners

And matching cow print dresses.

I am from Spesh Presh Profesh and

Finally I have a sister.

From the grown-up five-year-old

And the girl who slapped every boy on the playground.

I'm from recesses filled with games of "house,"

When I always had to be the mom.

I'm from the blessed moments when we're all together

And the memories pour from the back of our minds.

Those memories are of the precious people and places

Which defined me, molded me, made me

Who I am today.

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 The Pool
by Morgan Mallory

Walking past the gate on June first.

The sizzling sun on my back weighing me down.

A breeze of sunscreen catches my nose.

Laughter and yelling all around.

I lay that old faded towel of the chair.

Slipping off my worn flip-flops, I set my brown sunglasses down.

Walking...

Running...

Tweet!

"No running!" says the burnt auburn lifeguard.

I steadily dip the edge of my tow into the oh-so-lovely ripples.

Holding my breath,

Take one leap and while I'm in the air,

I think one last thought.

Before you know it,

I've plunged into the H20 of a life time.

 

Movie Theatre
by Morgan Mallory

The room where tears are shed and laughter is heard.

The home of a screen fifteen feet tall.

Where a cola is left, to be spilled on the floor.

Lined with those creaky, lumpy seats.

The buzz of the projector fills the room.

I am a place where yonly your dad could fall asleep.

I always overhear every shcush, and kernel pop.

In the fron of the room, there is a case filled with caramel candies and taffy galore.

I am the eeir darkness until all is over, or as some peole would say,

The end

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A Journey through Nebraska
by Kelsey Maris

 Start your journey in the west and just what might you find?

Hills of sand and prairies dotted with cows from time to time.

For some, it seems there's nothing here but dirt and clear blue skies.

For others it's the greatest place, a home seen through their eyes.

Move to the east a little ways and the landscape starts to change.

More fields and houses you will see instead of open range.

On to the east a little more and the range is entirely gone.

You see cities on the horizon at the break of dawn.

Cities are a good sight too, if city life is the life for you.

In Nebraska, you decide just how you want to live.

Wherever you choose to go, you'll find Nebraska has a lot to give.

The choice is yours west, east or anywhere between the two.

Our motto: "The Good Life" will still be holding true.

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Clearing
by Ciara McCormack

The deer had been there,

Too close to the music for comfort

And left the grass bent

As though the fairies had danced there.

There, too, had been the drunkard

Who sat on the broken stump and dropped

the empty bottle as he staggered away,

a green teardrop frozen among the grass.

 

Discovery
by Ciara McCormack

When I watched the palm trees

morph

into low and gnarled shrubs,

I raised a shee glanket

from the inside

and looked

for inspiration.

I found it

in the red rock that covers the canyons

as though it guards

precious histories

bound within the structure.

I knew it

in the moon

that glowed like the sun

a silver shadow

in a clear black sky.

I felt it

within my voice, which discovered

words to justify distrust

which follows love

because it can.

And when I watched the palm trees

morph

into low and gnarled shrubs

I raised a sheer blanket

From the inside


 If you thought it was flat
by Ciara McCormack

Those who say Nebraska is flat

Must never have been here,

Or they have come from Colorado, straight

from the Rockies

with the notion that anything less majestic

is bluntly uninspiring.

But Nebraska isn't that place.

Nebraska isn't the bland expanse

of nothing for miles.

And perhaps it only come from living

in this last place on earth

that we begin to understand,

(and only after years)

to finally appreciate each curve in the road

each rise in the prairie grass,

each subtle glimmer from the ponds and streams

formed in the heavy rainfall

or hidden in the rows of cottonwoods

that trace their paths.

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The Secret Fishing Hole

by Samantha Menard

Grab your fishing pole

along with a bucket

of dirt-covered night crawlers.

 

Slip surreptitiously

past parents

recalling stories

of the good old days.

 

Run through the open field

of uncut blue grass.

Let the wind whirl

ast your face,

carrying the aroma

of burnt out campfires and barbeques.

 

Make your way around

the lake until you reach

a row of maple trees

guarding a treasure trove

unbeknownst to most.

 

Crawl under the biggest maple.

The last drop of this morning's dew

falls upon your nose.

Don't stop to brush it off.

 

Enter into a far off world.

Imagine you're a captain of a pirate ship

trying to catch a ticking crocodile.

A carp splashes water in your face.

 

Take it as a sign: relax, never grow up.

 


 

Abandonment

-by Samantha Menard

Twenty years

Since the last rain

The town deserted

Houses in shambles

Without doors or shutters

Rotten, termite infested

 

Cornfields that once flourished

Have now eroded and blown away

A broken-down tractor

Covered in a bittersweet rust

Sits abandoned and unnoticed

 

Underneath the lone tire

A blade of grass

Vibrant green

Shoots out, reaching

For the warmth of the sun

Its fate like the others

To shrivel and sink back into the ground

 

Dirt roads

Cracked and ragged

From years of impoverishment

Covering a soul

Emptied and lifeless

As soon as he walked out the door

Never to return

A shock surges acress the town

Brief but effective

Eradicating anything left over

 

The sun

A red disc fading away

Sets for the last time

As the lat husk of corn

Flutters across the land

In search of something

Just over the horizon

 

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Growing City

by Tyler Plugge

As the city grows

the cornfields and grassy plains

begin to be eaten up by big corporations and

Shopping malls. The heavy machinery rumbles and billows out heavy

black smoke choking out the suns rays.

 

Looking left and right

there are signs of big money.

The metal girders and cement spread like a disease

plaguing one field after another caring not what it covers.

 

The wind that once

cooled our faces now throws

dust into our eyes in disgust. The sun never sets

as the parking lot lights shine through the night standing straight,

mocking the trees that once stood there.

 

Now instead of grassy plains and creeks full of wildlife,

we are stuck with the seas on concrete and drainage tunnels with

cold metal shopping carts as its only inhabitants

 

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I know a Place
 

by Nathan Sousek

I know a place where the wild flowers still bloom,

And the pollen still floats, reddening the moistening your eyes.

Where the brome grass still rustles in the still free blowing winds

And the trees still bow to the continual rolling Bohemian Alps.

 

A place where the cows still graze on green grass pastures

And the hogs wallow in pure clay mud.

Where the birds still sing in the mornin'

And the deer still frolic with the least of cares

Where the bugs still buzz at your ears

And the field mice still chitter in the golden corn fields.

 

A place where ducks still wade on crystal ponds

And the fish still swim to your hook.

Where you can still place your feet in freezing streams

And have the tiny tadpoles nibble your toes.

 

Were there are clear starry night skies

And the still full moon and gleaming sun still take their shifts.

Where the seasons still change the land throughout the year

And the old cottonwoods still stand.

 

I know a place


It Still Rains

-by Nathan Sousek

 Whenever it falls from the sky

We still stop and listen to the softness of precipitation

We walk through it letting it soak us slowly to the bone

And moisten our faces forming tiny droplets of water,

As if we were crying after an old friend had passed.

 

It still trickles down the asphalt with a rhythmic flow

It sloshes down the gutters taking fallen brown leaves with it, boats

in despair.

Still it sends the little critters for cover;

The birds to their nests, the snakes to their holes, the field mice to a

tin can.

 

It gives the earth a shower, washing worries away,

Leaving a welcomed Springy freshness.

 

Whenever it falls from the sky,

We still stop and listen to the softness of precipitation

We walk through it letting it soak us slowly to the bone

And moisten our faces, mixing with the tears, totally being touched

from within...

 

It still rains in Prague, Nebraska.

 

 

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Nebraska Weather

by Sadie V.

Today it is snowing.

The flakes fly through the air

And land gently on the wet ground

That is wet from the rain the day before.

I turn to see

Out the front door

All you can see is sunshine

For miles on end

"How can this be?" I ask myself,

"One side is gloom and the other glee?"

As I think of a reasonable answer

I figure

It is just Nebraska weather

Unexpectable as can be

 


 

Small town Nebraska

-by Sadie V.

Tractors are not uncommon

Puttering down the main street.

Kids playing basketball at the park,

Or getting itchy after rolling down the hills.

Trucks stopping mid mile to talk about the weather,

And any other gossip the old men have raked up.

The women working on their gardens,

The corn rises above their heads.

A man sits on his porch whittling,

A humming bird out of a piece of pine.

There is a harvest moon.

This is a sign

That crops will be hauled into the town elevator soon.

This is small town Nebraska

Where everyone knows your name.

 


 

The Creek

by Sadie V.

The sun is shining

It is mid summer

Sitting on the bank

Reluctantly taking off our shoes

Rolling up our jeans

And gently slipping our feet

Into the crystal clear water

The cold runs up your spine

The slimy goo slides

Straight through your toes

As your legs submerge

You are almost frozen

The water is not so clear now

As we trudge up the stream

The minnows swim frightened

As you walk even farther

The trees growing straight up

Out of the banks

Roots reach the water

And beavers hide in their shelter

Sitting on a fallen tree you realize

That this is where you want to be

It is growing late

And the amount of sun you soak up is

One big sunburn

Then you realize that you have to make it home

The walk is long

The gravel stings

Trying to walk without stepping too hard

When you make it home

Mom tells me to hose off

So we end up having a water fight

Thus resulting in getting a warm shower to

Get back to body temperature

Mom sees our burn and tells us to get the aloe

This is stored in the fridge

She slathers pumps of it on our backs

These are the memories I have of the creek

 

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The Old House

by Olivia White

Sanctify the slanted house

How the grass is slowly taking over

Wildly whisping in the wind

Crunching under you feet

Tan, like the color of your skin

 

See the bare bean field

Empty and forgotten

Smells as dirty as harvest season

 

Sit on the old porch

Stare at the red oak leaves rustling in the wind

Feel the weathering wood

Rough, until you notice the sliver in your finger

 

Notice the house

How it leans like an old lady

Reminiscing the past

Of children and a family...

 


 

So This is Nebraska

by Olivia White

 Mile by mile, squared

Brown sparrows soar over the patchwork quilt

Fields of green corn, yellow goldenrod, Milo patches of red

Spread out lumpy like Grandpa's feather bed

 

On each side pivots square dancing

to the tune of motors humming in the distance

Z-man passing by in his rusty red pick-up

lifting one finger from the steering wheel to wave

 

Windmills harvesting the wind with their muscular arms

their legs reaching out from farmstead to farmstead

 

Nebraska...

 

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