2016 Poetry of Place Poetry

2016 Poetry of Place Poets

2016 Poetry of Place Selected Poets with Matt Mason and Twyla Hansen

(Photos by Krista Cox)


Sarah Lange, Grade 3, Raymond Central Public School, Ceresco
Ella Ningen, grade 5, Creek Valley Middle School, Lodgepole


Charis Erickson, grade 6, Pound Middle School, Lincoln
Elle Miles, grade 6, Brownell-Talbot, Omaha
Alecsis Moguilner, grade 7, LaVista Middle School, LaVista
Candace C., grade 8, McCook Junior High, McCook
Kori Uerling, grade 8, McCook Junior High, McCook


Maggie Brahmer, grade 9, Pierce Junior/Senior High
Madison Cervera,
grade 10, Alma Public Schools, Alma
Jackson Henery, grade 11, Brownell-Talbot, Omaha
Anna House, grade 12, Papillion-LaVista High School, Papillion
Cienna Friesen, grade 11, Thayer Central High School, Hebron

Sarah Lange, Raymond Central      NEBRASKA PRAIRIE

by Sarah Lange

Out in the beautiful sunny day
In the prairie that’s our hay
Coyotes howling in the starry night
They hardly have enough light
It’s beautiful out there all alone
Prairie dogs that’s their home
Where the cows roam
Our beautiful prairie of grasses
Our state, our home
Nebraska Nebraska
Is who we are

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by Ella Ningen

The wind whips my hair
Out of my dust covered face
A tear rolls down my cheek
And I feel invincible

It rolls the little rocks
Over my scratched feet
It pushes me backward,
But I resist

Then I finally release all my grief

And topple down the hill
I lie down, turn my head,
And see a single dewdrop slide
Down the blade of emerald green

Fighting back, overcoming my fear,
I climb back up the mound of earth,
Blanketed with an ocean of grass
I sprint to the edge with my chin lifting high,
And throw out my arms to the wind

And now I am brave

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Charis Erickson

by Charis Erickson

golden man
frozen forever
on a golden
staring off
into space
proud of his country
walking around
carved into
Indiana limestone

historical figures
and their
look at the city
through windows
as if in a trance

oxen pulling
over open doorways
and inscriptions
like old friends
come back to
say hello

sights I see whirl
in my head
giving me inspiration
look around
golden man
frozen forever
sowing ideas
on the pedestal
of your mind

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by Elle Miles

The rolling brown hills,
pass the car window.
How many cows will we pass?
Their glistening black coats,
blue in the sun.
How many fields of corn?
The long yellow-green stalks,
waving in the wind.
How many of those telephone poles
just sitting there, but they are flying by.
The cows’ ears twitch
The ears of corn sway
The telephone poles bring familiar ears together
To listen to each other’s tiny voices.
And my ears are listening
to the wind rushing.
My ears are doing their job well:
Picking up the sweet caws
of the birds in the spring.
Or the serene swishing of grass
on the prairie, staring at the stars.
Or the drums drumming on my eardrums
the baseline of my favorite song.
Or the snorts of horses and moos of cows
grazing in the meadows.
Or the laughing of my loved ones
surrounding me forever in their affection.
The slurpy sweet kisses from my furry golden Labrador.
Soft nuzzles from my sleek, speckled horse.
But the most wonderful is the family at home
in Nebraska. My ears are open...

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Alecsis Moguilner

--by Alecsis Moguilner

The golden setting sun paints the bright blue sky,
And the rushing splashing river,
The spiraling, singing, swooshing birds they fly,
A tinge of teal, a touch of turquoise, each just a sliver.
I stand in awe,
The untamed beauty is a curse,
I listen in on the bird’s caw,
I cannot move I shall not leave it’s getting worse.
The song of the forest,
Echo’s long and clear,
Each animal has a part even the smallest,
So divine sounding from worm to deer.
The rustling of the trees,
The bustling of the bees,
The whistling of the wind,
And the rocks, and branches hum.
The hooting of the owls,
The sun rays racing to touch the ground,
The first steps of a foal,
And the falling leaves and trees all make a sound.
But with a sigh,
I turn away,
To say goodbye,
For the sun must be on its way.

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Candace C

by Candace C.

My place in Nebraska is only known by few
some people may think this is slightly askew.
I am but fourteen years old with a long life to live
and I hope to make a mark and have a lot to give.
But all of these dreams must start somewhere
for me it is a place that I am very aware.
A place with dancing grasslands seen for miles,
where fields of golden wheat and fresh corn only bring smiles
to the faces of children like me,
who hope for nothing but to be
more than anything they've ever dreamed,
in a simple place that for their whole lives has seemed
like a place where they could freely roam,
a comforting place that I call home.

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Kori Uerling

by Kori Uerling

My place in Nebraska is one you might question,
But before I begin I have one confession.
I want you to know my place is not normal,
City folk might say it’s a tad informal.
I find myself out of my comfort zone,
Away from the screen of my telephone.
Knee deep in new things and also some mud,
When life hits me with a ground breaking thud.
Life begins outside of your box,
Starting when you rip of the locks.
When you find a city girl in boots,
Or farm boys in town with formal suits.
Home is a place where you fully live life,
A place where your laughs are always at rife.
For me it was muddy pens and cows,
This realization caused me to browse.
I found a hobby, one more thing to love.
There’s no other place that I can think of.,
Not one that I would rather be,
Than working in pen six, feeling free.

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Maggie Brahmer

by Maggie Brahmer

Immense cottonwood trees
surround me.
The leaves clapping their hands together.
Billions at a time.
Some are distant and some are near.
I can almost hear a faint playful holler.
The bounce of a ball.
The swish of the net
and the huffing and puffing of dripping kids.

Miles of forest green grass
surround me.
It’s as if someone laid a massive green tarp out in front of me.
Sidewalk chalk.
Pale dust covers my face, hands, butt.
Trying to pat it away only makes it spread.
Farther in the distance is an abandoned dog house.
Brown, white and black.
Floppy ears and whiskers.

Lavender bushes, buzzing with bees
surround me.
The sweet syrupy aroma flutters through the summer breeze.
Like a butterfly.
Round yellow citrus fruits make a sharp, tart and crisp drink.
It conquers thirst on any blistering day.
Nectarous to the nose.
Savory to the taste.

Hugs and kisses
surround me.
Grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles.
Cousins and friends.
All gathered together
and shoulder to shoulder.
Cheeks squeezed and the classic “You’re growing to fast!”
Or “Do I need to put a brick on your head?”
Roaring laughs and great memories hang in the air.
But soon it’s all over
and what once was troublesome.
Is now longed for.

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Madison Cervera

By Madison Cervera

My home is a place of a humbling game,
Just as soon as you think you have it figured out,
It changes in a million different ways.

I stand to see the seats fill up, and watch as
An aged man roughly cracks open his peanuts with the teeth he has left.
The tan children suck on popsicles and fan their bright red faces with the printed programs.
A woman cheers on her daughter but is held back by her heels and oversized jewelry.

The opposing team pours from the bus
Thankful to have finished the long drive to the middle of no where,
Looking at our home with their upturned noses, unloading their equipment,
But then the game begins, and where we are no longer matters.

My place is a softball field,
Loved and cared for by each member of the team.
To most, it is nothing but a bad field in Stamford, Nebraska,
But I see what they do not.

Hours are spent here.
Cars drive by questioning our sanity,
And other teams wonder how we play on such a field;

But these days and nights spent on that dirt
Are days and nights I have learned to cherish.
It is not just a field made up of careless designs in the dirt
But a place we grow up.

You can sit in the stands and watch.
But first, take one step deeper into our home,
And overlook the basics of the game.

Step into the cheers and high fives,
and find a lasting celebration and happiness.

Examine the girls huddled at the pitcher’s mound,
and find a determination stronger than most.

Watch closely as the girl slides into home plate for the winning run
and find a group more alive than anything.

But most of all,
Look hard into home,
Because you might find the reason
Why I love it so much.

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Jackson Henery

by Jackson Henery

Clouds flow and glide across the happy plains
Like so many white ships above an ocean of green and yellow
Occasionally stopping to unload their cargo of rain and lightning
Trees like islands dot the dry and vast sea
They are lone sentinels to that unseen place

The cargo of the white fleet morphs to that of snow and ice
The fresh fallen winter wraps the plain in a frozen blanket
Only the colors have changed as the tiny creatures flit to and fro
Through the pure and untouched snow of the wild

The time of growth arrives and as quickly as the snow came it leaves
Flooding the plains with life and green grass and trees
The flowers poke out of the vanishing snow like so many colorful prairie dogs
Plowing and planting dominate the fields
Birth after death the seasons of life persist
As they have for eons upon eons

The sun plays upon the blank canvas of the prairie
Heating and swelling the growing grain and corn
Yellow breaks out and brightens the fertile fields
The harvest time comes and returns to the fall
Death and life will come again as the white ships sail overhead.

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Anna House

by Anna House

“Yeah, it’ll be really bad next year when the seniors
And the Noordas and the Orcutts leave… Our team will suck
You’ll still be here, right?”

“PCSing*, actually.”
“Great, we’re screwed. Know where to?”

“I actually love Nebraska.
I lived there when I was small --

“Yeah, it was like
Living in a movie, everything was

“No, really, it’s amazing. The best
place to have a childhood. You ever

“Well, there you go. It’ll be nice
to have all four seasons again. England is only

“There’s this magical ice cream place
Downtown… Lincoln. Or Omaha. Ted and…

“That ice cream has haunted
my dreams since we left. It’s frozen

“Well, I guess you probably don’t
care. But it is exciting to leave here and go to
“...Good luck with the team.
Maybe next PCS season will bring some people
“We’d better hope so.
See you tomorrow.”
“Poor kid, going to Nebraska.”

*PCS - Permanent Change of Station, military speak for 
              getting transferred to a new base

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Cienna Friesen

by Cienna Friesen

The woods
Grandparents’ house
My backyard

Truthfully, I say
my place

is scattered pockets of the world
where I feel at home

is where, when I arrive
good memories play before my eyes
and I smile

And is sometimes best
if I’ve only been there a couple times
like the diner we stop by once a summer
on our way home from camp

only ate there two or three times, but
it’s always sunset, and those hamburgers
they taste like home

Or the gravel roads I run only
in Cross Country season
where wind rushing in the trees is silenced by
a truck roaring too-fast
going past
and then is unheard again
and I let my mind stretch from its cramped position
man-made prison
to sprawl, run and roam
going for miles
because there is no human there but me

But, of course
nothing beats a place
You’ve been to a thousand times
And still leave feeling happier than you came

Like piano lessons
in the house on the edge of country
backed by trees and a river
with the porch view of an open field
where tunes old and new
are sung out on the keys of a century-old baby grand
Like camp in the Rockies
where snow happens in mid-July
and us ‘flatlanders’ question why
we are hiking up a mountain
and looking down a three-hundred foot drop

The view
that’s why, we later find out
when we look out and see
miles and miles of rising rock
and the shadows of clouds rolling

Wherever good things grow inside
that’s where you’ll find me
if you’re wondering

The woods
Grandparents’ house
My backyard

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