2008 Poetry of Place Winners

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.
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.

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

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.

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


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

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.


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.

The Memories I'm Made Of

by Garrett Janzen

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.

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.
"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 only your dad could fall asleep.
I always overhear every shush, and kernel pop.
In the front of the room, there is a case filled with caramel candies and taffy galore.
I am the eerie darkness until all is over, or as some people would say,
The end

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.


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.


by Ciara McCormack

When I watched the palm trees
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
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.

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.


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