2014 Poetry of Place Reading

2014 Poetry of Place Reading

Representative Poets

(Photo by Diana Weis)

(Read event story)

Grades 1-5

Josie Coggins, grade 5, Prairie View, Ogallala
Anusha Deshpande, grade 5, Cather Elementary, Omaha
Kolby Ryan Johnson, grade 5, Madison Elementary School, Madison
Gillian Kohl, grade 5, Rousseau Elementary, Lincoln

Grades 6-8

Chloe Carlson, grade 7, Arapahoe Public School
Dayton Geddings, grade 7, La Vista Junior High
Casey Moyer, grade 8, St. Joan of Arc, Omaha
Branigan Schaben, grade 7, Arapahoe Public School

Grades 9-12

Emilee Brown, grade 9, Brady Public Schools
Cecilia Flott, grade 12, Papillion LaVista High School
Bridget N. Krings, grade 12, Boone Central High School
Sydney Annette van der Heijden, grade 12, Seward High School


Josie Coggins
My Pond in the Prairie
by Josie Coggins


Grazing cows, and horses
Perched, swimming birds
A blue glazing mirror
Symmetric circle by itself
With dark, creasing, leaves sitting on the surface
My Quiet Place to Rest

The dogs’ tails wagging
Leaves rustling above and crunching below
Wind parting the grass for my path
Peaceful, silent, lonely
My Quiet Place to Rest

To read, to play, to sleep
To gaze at the golden horizon
And to see that this pond is
My Quiet Place to Rest

Now when winter comes it can be the best
Catching snowflakes on my tongue
Or skating and sliding across the smooth, clear ice
My Quiet Place to Rest

But when the ice thins not able to hold one
I feel sad just watching the water
Trying to escape the cover that holds its freedom
My Quiet Place to Rest

Just sitting there
Being the target of the cold, cold wind
And thinking of
My Quiet Place to Rest

I just think of when I’m mad or sad
And I just want to be alone I know
The pond is all to me where I can go and be myself
My Quiet Place to Rest

Where nobody else can see or be
And where none of my friends can tell where I’m at
Cause nobody knows but me
My Quiet Place to Rest

If I went there when the sun went to sleep
Then I could see the water breathing
And the waves dancing
My Quiet Place to Rest

It’s hard to explain the way it makes me feel
But I know that I will never have trouble explaining
That my pond makes me happy and sad
And I know it will always be a part of me
My Quiet Place to Rest


Anusha Deshpande
Sandhill Cranes
by Anusha Deshpande

The sunset like a rainbow with colors that fill the world.

The plains a tan crispy color that holds the hills.

The creature a white stick with wings.

Way over to the west of Nebraska,

Many days we wait for this.

It comes during the season of nature.

The true beauty sleeps here.

Way over to the west of Nebraska.

Here is the heart and soul of Nebraska.

The shadows everywhere.

Way over to the west of Nebraska.

To Kearney,

Where the sandhill cranes rest.


Kolby Ryan Johnson
Great Old Nebraska
by Kolby Ryan Johnson

Sea of green cornfields before your eyes
Nice clean air around
Sandhills dominating in the far west
Crops sowed into the ground

Platte River running through the middle
Marking the way to all
The wildlife is amazing from the many fish
To hearing a Meadowlark's call

No big cities occupy most of our land
Most barns and grain bins
Along with the creeks and a few rivers
While listening to train hymns

Nebraska is the land of a peaceful place
A state that is the best
There is something special about Nebraska
For it must be blessed


Gillian Kohl
And I Must Too
by Gillian Kohl

The trees
Like an umbrella
In a storm of sunlight

Like spies
Sneaking through
The gaps in the canopy

 The common robin's simple song
Flows through the forest
Like a river through stones.
The creek splashes against the shore
Fwoosh, fwash, slish, slosh.

 The wind whistles a lively tune in my ear
And I walk to the beat
Of the forest’s song.
As it begins to fade
I know that the birds
And the river, the wind
And even the sun
Have gone home
And I must too.


Chloe Carlson
by Chloe Carlson

A palace of grassy canyons
With bursts of colorful flowers
Swiftly flowing into my mind

 The whisper of grass softly blowing
As if it is waving to me
Where the Indians once traveled.

 Sweet smells of the luscious wild flowers
That pop with colors of
Purple, pink, yellow, orange, and red

 Winter even feels warm and safe
When I see the deer and turkeys
Run across the now-white fields.

 It feels like home when my family
Goes sledding in the winter,
And so does farming in the fall.
This safe place to be.
My home on the prairie.


Dayton Geddings
Sweet Spring
by Dayton Geddings

Silken silt sustains many things,
Like tall green grass and golden dandelions,
or crunchy leaves and wiggly worms.

Broken branches give signs that a storm passed.
I smell the moisture around me
And leisurely inhale the spring breeze.

Scratchy bark shelters the weathered oaks.
Sandpaper branches are home for many forest leaves.
A mucky caterpillar inches across the tree.

A bird nest perches atop one branch.
A fluffy squirrel hustles across another.
In the distance a deer lingers, scanning for food.

As I look into the light blue sky
I feel like I’m hovering through thin air.
The bright sun blasts me with heat.

I smell the fresh grass and rich soul.
A bird chirps a song near me.
Peace spreads like butter over the land.


Casey Moyer
Downtown Omaha
by Casey Moyer

My place is in the clash of past and present,
where leaves that blush red in the fall,
wither on the ground on top of the ones before them,
where old buildings are adored with vivid new colors,
or nestled in nooks and crannies,
skeletons of what they used to be on the outside,
a pulsing heartbeat pounding on the inside.
My place is soft flurries brushing my skin in winter,
while I take a stroll down the winding street,
where the past bleeds into the present,
where the moon hangs high in the void of the sky,
like the pointed chin of the determined.
My place is in the ghost of the past,
the evidence of time,
a dent in smoky metal,
a chip in cobblestones,
a crack in the pavement.
My place is in the crackling laughter of the past,
joining into sing with the choir of loud music from the present,
where old things remain strong though brushed with time,
and the future holds strong though tainted with unease,
because my mind tends to wander to far off places,
when left to itself when I gaze at what’s around me.
My place,
My very favorite place,
the place where time seems limited,
but possibility infinite,
is downtown Omaha.


Branigan Schaben
The Place Below the Dam
by Branigan Schaben

As I walk down the winding path,

The branches brush past my head and

I can hear the splashing of fish and chirp of crickets.

Like music to my ears.


When I reach the end of the path,

I can see the water, still like glass

With cattails poking through the rocks on the bank.


When I cast my line into the water,

It creates a small ripple that sends small waves

across the water, disturbing the carp at the surface,

Making them plunge deep into the murky water.


I sit down to relax and regain my energy.

I soon feel both calm and re-energized.

I feel like this is the place where I belong.

The place below the dam.


Emilee Brown
Infinite Day
by Emilee Brown

Waking up

To the sound of rain

Rivers flooding

Past years’ pain

Walking out

To the burning bright

Into the streaking

Fields of light

Burning somber

After the blistering rush

Turning to the silent

Crack of brush

Falling silently

In white tendrils

The Earth sleeps

Amongst rebirthing hills.


Cecilia Flott
by Cecilia Flott

One of the lasts of her kind
but she does not shrivel with fear
like the tramps who wear concrete
and pavement to hide themselves.

She stands proud against the wind
that works its way through her hair
of wheat and corn and soy,
slightly interrupted with highlights of gravel.

She’ll whisper and be gentle
and breathe sweet air into you.
But when it’s time to be strong
she will stand and she will conquer.

Her eyes are bright and warm your face,
unravished by pollution and gray.
A virgin of the hell of construction,
a version of heaven and peace.

Her skin is smooth as honey and unblemished.
I ask you to not harm her,
do not take her innocence away.
If she bleeds, she will bleed red.
If she dies, my hope will too.


Bridget Krings
by Bridget N. Krings

Cardinal song echoes
through morning air.
Mmmm fresh crisp crinkle
gravel, dirt, sand
beneath the feet of innocence.
Water coats the rocks
with a patter of hope
for a bountiful end
to these golden
days of simplicity.
Complexity arrives
when colored flowers age.
Turning leaves crunch
under worn feet,
as a friendly wave
emits a flow.
Slow bitter time
shows light with compassion.
Hills yell stories
while grass whispers meaning
To the buds and showers.
Enlightening, emerging
elegance displayed by the shoes
of roots.


Sydney Annete van der Heijden
by Sydney Annette van der Heijden

Shadows stretch long, bony fingers as the sun’s last rays kiss a now cold land.

Eyes gleam in the deepening darkness,

The fold of Night’s long and sleep-filled dress.


The rumble of a car speeds past, and trees shriek as stones crack against their branches.

The lights soon fade, though, and are forgotten.

Down this long stretch of gravel road, nothing exists but the stars and chill winds.


The silence is soon shattered again, this time by the mere snap of a twig.

Large, dark eyes watch the lights of a house going out one by one.

But they are met by another pair. One from within.


The deer evaporates, becoming shadow, and I watch the edge of the trees for another moment.

I turn back to my computer, the tap-tap-tap of keys filling the silence once more:


A house is a sanctuary, but I think of it as only a window.

A safeguard to look out upon the world of frightful things, yet know you are safe.


It is much more different here than in California. It’s colder. It’s hotter.

It has more stars.

But I don’t think of it being any worse. Instead...


I feel I am home.



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