2013 Poetry of Place Poets

2013 Poetry of Place Student poets
photo by Jeff Grinvalds

Grades 1-5

Tyler Emons, grade 5 Morton Elementary School
Grace Canadys, grade 5 Morton Elementary School

Grades 6-8

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

Grades 9-12

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

Hot ground

Tractors saying, “bub, bub,

 bub, bub”

After the parade

Food is to be had

Smell the aroma

Of sweet funnel cakes

Juicy hamburgers,

Spicy hot dogs

Seen around the square

Laying on a soft

Cotton blanket,

Watching the sky

We will see

Cannon balls

Shooting into the night


A dark red spider

In the night sky

Will fade away

Before your eyes

(return to poet list)

Grace Canady
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

Into a deep, deep rest

 (return to poet list)

The Woods
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

And the Earth may sing once again.

  (return to poet list)

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.

The Forest.


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

              Weave together


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.


Small drips







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,

Inhale deeply,

And let the smell of fresh pine wood fill my senses.


This is my escape.

The place….

That I feel free.

  (return to poet list)

“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

But so much to others

 (return to poet list)

Bailey Johnson

Fort Robinson
Bailey Johnson

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,

Fort Robinson, part of Nebraska’s great face.

(return to poet list)

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.

I’m from a place of harsh support and dreams I want to come true.

(return to poet list)

Ponca Hills
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

this is the place I truly love.

  (return to poet list)

Ally Washka
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—

Holding sunshine

Flashes of flames in a fiery pit

Ashes billow as smoke erupts

Licks away at the horizon—

Distorted scenes plagued by heat:

Continuously rising

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—

Rustling with intent

  (return to poet list)

`Sarah Harrison
Prairie Summer
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

I breathe it in and find peace

  (return to poet list)

`Alfred Bracciano
Whose Midwest
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.

Then snow,

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?

  (return to poet list)