2012 Poetry of Place Poetry

2012 Poetry of Place Representative Student Poetry

Student Poets with Twyla Hansen and Matt Mason in the NE State Capitol Rotunda
-photos by Carol Mertl, Diana Weis, Ellen Schoenmaker

Grades 1-5

Olivia Peshek, (grade 5, Morton Elementary, Hastings)
Sadie Lyon, (grade 5, Morton Elementary, Hastings)
Hannah Smith, (grade 5, Cather Elementary, Omaha)

Grades 6-8

Cortney Trumble, (grade 7, Fremont Middle School, Fremont)
Bridget McKeon, (grade 8, St. Patrick's Junior High, North Platte)
Nicole Ludden, (grade 7, LaVista Junior High School, La Vista)
Catherine Atkinson, (grade 8, Brownell Talbot, Omaha)

Grades 9-12

Denise Dantzler, (grade 11, Brownell Talbot, Omaha)
Ryan Segur, (grade 11, Brownell Talbot, Omaha)
Chrisi Vech, (grade 11, Wahoo High School, Wahoo)
Marrissa Nutter, (grade 11, Fillmore Central High School, Geneva)
Alli Gotch, (grade 12, Papillion-LaVista High School, Papillion)

Olivia Peshek

Nebraska Day to Night
by Olivia Peshek

Cattle running through meadows
Trying to resist the mighty wind.
The sun is a bright yellow diamond
In the sky.
The deer prance and play
To their hearts' content
Just wishing the day never ends
Until it does.

The animals snug
Next to their mothers.
The crickets and toads
Dance to the new gem
In the night sky.
The corn stalks sway
To the lullaby
Of the howling wind.
The cars drive by
And see the sign that reads
"Welcome to Nebraska"

Nebraska, Nebraska,
My home sweet home.


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Sadie Lyon

Where I Belong
by Sadie Lyon

Where I belong
Is not the beach with its glistening ocean,
Not the mountains with their earth's view
Or the big city with all the bright lights and traffic.

Where I belong
Is not always sunny,
Not always cloudy,
Not always wet
Or always dry.

I belong in Nebraska
With its sunny skies
With a few clouds of cotton
Flying over us
Dotting the sky perfectly.

Greenery sparkling around,
Flashing off of the sun.
Cornfields lace around every city you drive by.

The scent of fresh cut grass and wheat fields
Being plowed is invigorating.

Nebraska is home to many
And it's where I belong.

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Hannah Smith

by Hannah Smith

The stars shine brightly in the dark night sky.

A storm nearby moves quickly in the night.

Big flare of lightening in the clouds up high.

The children see the fade of the star light.

The wind picks up as fast as it can be.

The children freeze and shake in the dark night fright.

Look out the window and what do you see?

They watch as the barn goes into high flight.

A twister, a twister on the dark ground.

The barn debris is flying everywhere.

The noise sounds like trains running, chugging loud.

The twister flys high and high in the air.

The dark grey and black clouds roll quickly by.

Now the stars shine brightly in the night sky.

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Cortney Trumble

Silence in My Apartment
by Cortney Trumble

When I get home
after school,
The silence is
All you hear is the
gentle lapping of water,
as my guinea pig gets a drink.
The soft, "Tweet, Tweet,"
of our parakeets,
when they sing themselves to sleep.
The quiet, "Whoosh" as our
electric fireplace turns on.
My apartment is home.
Of course.
But, to me,
it's more than a home.
It's a rollercoaster of emotions.
A small, but affordable place to dream.
My apartment may be small.
but we have great neighbors.
Not to mention the crazy, old grandmother
MY grandmother
who lives above us.
(She has the most annoying dog.)
After a few minutes,
the silence is disturbed by
It's the first slam,
that small slam,
that cancels the quiet,
disturbs the peace,
and brings me out of
my relaxed state.

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Bridget McKeon

Neville Nerves
by Bridget McKeon

I am nervous
I have butterflies in my stomach
I try to calm down but it is too hot to concentrate
My makeup is sticky and the microphone tape is pinching my skin
My costume is so tight I can hardly breathe
I leave the hot make-up room and push my way through the crowed green room
I think hard
I step out into the cold room
I try to remember my lines but I can't think straight
The only thing that comes to mind is the place I'm in
So I think of the old dressing rooms that are upstairs above the stage
I remember the old cracked mirrors and the rugged brown carpet
I think of the costumes, which hang on their hangers or pile on the floor
I think of the balcony at the back of the theater
I remember the seats that have had the serious and playful conversations
I think of the gargoyles and decorations you can see from the balcony seats
I think of the sound and light booth above those seats in the back of the balcony
I remember the hole through the wall and the big spot lights
Then I think of the Patty Birge audition room
I remember the games we played and when we got too riled up Alison would tell us old stories of the Neville
I also think of the old pictures of past plays on the walls of that room
I remember my mom being in "The Music Man"
I think of the kitchen where my friends and I stole sugar cubes and laughed so hard when I fell down at lunch
Finally I think of the stage
The stage is so familiar I can almost smell the wood
I can remember the smooth cool touch of the dark wood on my bare feet
I also know the way the curtain flows when you run behind it
But this time it will be different
With the hot lights, the audience, and the microphones
Nothing will be the same
I'm so nervous but so excited at the same time
When I think of all these places, I calm down
I can breathe
They call me to the green room
"Let's do this," I say

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Nicole Ludden

Niobrara River
by Nicole Ludden

It curves and twists elegantly through Nebraska.
Passing indecisive trees
That can't seem to decide what color to be

It passes a farm, a very intriguing one
Because I wonder what it's like
To wake up to such a perfect river.

It holds families of ducks and flocks of geese
And this muted blue color.
The darkest and lightest blue on an artist's palette simultaneously.

It feels overwhelming to be here.
Syrup thick humidity crowds my lungs
But it doesn't matter, it's so beautiful.

Its forests are like a middle school hallway:
Some trees short, some tall, some colorful
And some not.

It turns rapidly this way, then rapidly that.
And I long for the capability
To change my mind so many times.

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by Catherine Atkinson

The Chevy raced down
the old dirt road trailing beside 76,
its tires abraded the sod beneath it
blosing dust into the clear skies behind.

It was on that sod that
the stampedes had galloped,
the wagons had rattled,
and the cattle had grazed.

It was on that sod that
agriculture was developed and
magicians made corn, Maize
and soy arise.

It was on that sod that
the towns were terrorized
with the forces of water, wind
and arsenal.

It was on that sod where
"The West Began", where equality
was before law, and a cool aid
was invented.

It was on that sod where
blood was wasted and lives ended
for their inability to conform.

It was on that sod where
Cody learned the show
Buffet learned the business,
And Payne learned to shot.

And it was on that sod where
the land became the legacy.

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Denise Danzler

Nebraska Playground
by Denise Dantzler

On the Playground.
We were perfect.
We were untouchable.
Our innocence stretched as far as our imaginations.
Infinite and blissful.
Imaginary friends ran loyally by our sides.
Voices so delicate, they tickled our senses.
Causing laughter
Who slid down slides, ran like wind,
So subtle, so simple.
Just like us.
Defining us.

On the Playground.
Rusted swings pendulated through lost breezes.
They were stuck.
Just like me.
I knew I was different.
I aspired to be accepted, perfect, untouchable.
I couldn't.
MY skin didn't match theirs.
The innocence that surrounded us took us hostage,
Exploited our naive minds.
The same naivety, the same innocence that called us children,
Imprinted a distorted image of how life shouldn't be,
Instantly, made it how it now should be.

On the Playground.
I wasn't perfect.
I was touchable.
I was so, so much different.
But, I escaped.
I rose above.
As far as my imagination could stretch.
The taste of freedom made life,
So subtle, so simple.
Just like me.
Defining me.

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A Hilltop Reflection
by Ryan Segur

I stood at the top of the bluff behind my house

The long grasses waving indifferently against my body

The same warm breeze that gave these grasses life

Caressed my skin and tousled my hair like a loving mother

The buildings of the city crouched in the distance

A horde of dark beings jutting out against the sky

I could see their smoky tendrils spreading out

Permeating the soft, innocent countryside

They brought unfeeling machines and structures

That imposed on the earth with their unnatural movements

They stabbed and tore with sharp objects

Stealing their livelihood from a loving mother who has plenty to give.

There were still large areas of land

Stark and beautiful in their mellow tones

But these lands were cut and mutilated

By the charcoal grey snakes of industry

Not all of nature had been changed

By the rough unforgiving touch of the city

The sky still showed its brilliant, golden hues

Though it was somewhat smothered by smog.

I was saddened though

Because I couldn't help but think of how the plains used to be

How grasses of red and gold waved in the wind in unison

Fulfilling a sacred dance as far as the eye could see

How one could lay hidden in the grass

And look at a sky that was the pure blue not captured by pigments

How those who lived on the plain lived with it

And not upon it

How beauty was something seen everywhere

And not just in galleries or gardens

I sat there reflecting on how things were

Looking at the squares of green and brown pasture

And the roads that separated them

And wondered if there would be much natural beauty in our future.

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Chrisi Vech

The Land Beyond
by Chrisi Vech

Go beyond the city.
Where corn stalks are skyscrapers,
And the roads are coated with dirt.
Where in a hushed moment,
One can almost year the corn stalks stretching
Seeking a kiss from the sun.

Go beyond the piercing noises
The obnoxious fumes.
Go where the trees whisper a harmonic tune
As the sky releases a refreshing, crisp breath.

Go beyond the feuds between gangs,
Where families are torn,
Brothers against brothers
In a century-long fight.
A fight that had no meaning and no remembered cause.

Go beyond the desire of success
And the feeling of greed.
Where the rolling waves of green hold the dreams
And the fate of their creator.
Where the low murmur of a metal shark is music to the soul.

Go beyond the crowds
The busy streets and sidewalks
Where a "Dobry den!" rings throught this Czech county.
Where my ancestors gathered so long ago
With their people
To build a single modest village
Which later flourished into towns.

Go beyond the concrete walls
The booming, thunderous sounds.
The hectic, demainding life of white-collar living.
Drive west past the little red barn,
Standing alone in the midst of the beautiful, plentiful harvest,
That welcomes you to a commonly overlooked place known simply as
The land beyond.

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Marrissa Nutter

by Marrissa Nutter

Shaded dwarf cabbage smile in the shadow of a brawny oak
Lofting over rows and patches of foliage, lush and uneven,
Green dotted with splotches of amber and vermillion.
Auspiciously waiting for hunched, creaking shadows to turn their murky heads
Banded green melon, swollen, leviathan to blossoming neighbors, doze contented
Obscuring a white smear, once plain, now verdant,
That through a curtain of curious vegetation
Reads "Miller Seed Corn" in chipped red characters.
A sly, cracked auburn hose snakes through a row of budding green peppers.
Minute buzzing pests flit aimlessly,
Chomping on swaying beige beans.
Leaching weeds strangle recalcitrant kohlrabi and crimson tomatoes
While a slender garter, cunning like a raccoon, slinks under a leaning fence
Sliding home to an invisible hole,
Hidden by twisting vines of butternut squash.
With the changing breeze, stealthy haricots creep up cracked climbing arches
Welcoming the basking radiance of the sun, beaming back.


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Alli Gotch

Life on the Farm
by Alli Gotch

It is a stunning sight as you watch
the Combine eat through the corn.
This giant,
with its twelve teeth
will eat any stalk in sight.

The old man sits in the seat,
his calloused hands stiff from work.
His arms are freckly and tan,
with scars the barbed wire
has given him.
But he wears a smile,
because to him,
the threshing sound surrounding him
is blissful music to his ears.

This year was nothing like '86,
where all he could grow then
was a grain of dust.
He was not like the others though,
working day in and day out
to keep his farm alive.
Work is what kept him
going over the years,
his diligence and drive.

And so now he sits in his Combine,
admiring his fields of gold.
This will not be his last
he reminds himself,
wishing he could never retire.
Nebraska is the place he loves,
and farming will always
be his heart.

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