Northeast Texas poetry contest winners announced
Entries could be any style or length, but were asked to focus on some aspect of life in Northeast Texas. Contest judges were Professors Chuck Hamilton, Anna Ingram, and Jim Swann. Cash prizes were provided by Friends of NTCC Honors. The winners were as follows:
Adult Category (non-student or student with more than 50 hours of college credit)
First Place: Karen Sadar Watt of Pittsburg
Second Place: Lauren Shortnacy of Mount Pleasant
First Place: Alisha Richardson of Avinger
Second Place: Zachary Davis of Pittsburg
Third Place: Sephanie Peek of Omaha
Fourth Place: Noah Griffin of Pittsburg
The winning poems are included below:
1st Place Adult Winner
Stopped Behind a Chicken Truck on a Humid Evening
(With apologies to Robert Frost)
By: Karen S. Watt
Whose truck this is, I think I know
He’s sold his share in the company, though.
He will not see my car stopped here
As feathers drift around like snow.
My little car’s close to the rear.
I don’t know why I stopped so near
To a Pilgrim’s truck in traffic stalled
Bound for the plant this time of year.
My little Mazda gives a shake
This route might be a big mistake!
The only other sound’s the screech
Of other cars applying breaks.
The truck’s cages are piled up in a heap,
But I have a dinner date to keep,
And fried chicken to eat before I sleep -
And fried chicken to eat before I sleep.
2nd Place Adult Winner
By Lauren Shortnacy
There once was a girl who couldn’t wait to leave the countryside.
To leave the life she knew and go beyond the boundaries
of Northeast Texas.
She dreamed of big towns and city lights
Instead of little creeks and fireflies.
The busyness of the day instead of the slowness of the breeze
and back wood adventures.
She wanted extravagant dinners instead of momma’s cooking
High society parties instead of friends sitting on a tailgate.
She was seeking the nightlife of a celebrity and luxury of a royal,
Not enduring journeys along the back roads.
She wanted the love she adored on the television screen
And not the feeling of finding love along the lakes
within the summer’s breeze.
Although the girl had no regrets with the life she had,
There had to be more glamour than county fairs and rodeos.
So she left.
Left behind all she had known to find comfort in the city life.
She left her bare feet along the gravel roads for high heels
on the dance floor.
Left the long lost secrets of the railroads for the track of a subway.
The skies filled with wishing stars that helped her find her way
when she was afraid of the dark,
Were pushed to the back of her mind and replaced with empty skies and tall buildings.
Her new life was exciting and different but it wasn’t the same.
She couldn’t understand that the feelings and memories of her home
Were all she could think about.
She wanted to feel the sweet dewy grass along her bare feet again.
Embrace the fresh smell of rain and the spring flowers
in her mother’s garden.
To talk amongst the birds chirping in the early morning’s light,
And to sing along with the crickets in the late night hours.
She wanted to go back to everything she had remembered
about her little town,
Everything that had made her the woman she was
in that very moment.
So without reason, and without question,
she set out on another adventure.
An adventure toward the place she had tried so hard to run away from.
While she rode down the long winding road before her, she thought to herself.
Why was it so hard to let go of her hometown?
It wasn’t just because it was where she was born and raised,
But the feeling it gave to anyone and everyone.
It was a small utopia that always welcomed strangers who came upon it.
She liked being a part of a small town without judgment
And how it offered warmth to anyone’s soul.
Through the woods and trees, along the pastures and railroads,
Among the lakes and the creeks,
A soft voice was known to whisper out listening to listening ears…
“You are welcomed here my friend, stay forever
And always remember me.”
1st Place Student Winner
A Fairy-Tale Land in Northeast Texas
By: Alisha Richardson
When I walked around the spring path that circled the pond, I had seen,
a parade of beautifully random wild flowers marching.
The trees were vibrant, arrayed in cloaks of a thousand shades of green.
And the woods, livened by the light of the sun, were singing.
The placid waters of the pond reflected the trees like a looking glass,
their curled and knotted arms reaching out across the smooth surface.
Whatever those arms sought, it seemed to be forever out of their grasp.
But, from her fingertips, mimosa laid blossoms around the pond like a necklace.
The vibrant greens of the leaves died away when autumn arrived.
And the leaves turned wispy, as their softness also died.
No longer the gentle cloaks the trees relished, the leaves were discarded well,
and they flickered goldenly in the sun’s light as, to the pond, they fell.
The golden leaves, with light feet, touched the water and stood, floating.
Then, Wind turned toward the pond and blew his breath upon her, gloating.
For Wind hated calm things like the placid pond, whose name was Water.
He hated Water for he, always blowing, could never rest like her.
Wind’s breath tickled Water’s face and because of it, she stirred and turned.
And the leaves began to spin in circles, as Water’s every movement, they learned.
Even rudely roused, Water’s motion was slow and graceful – Wind’s eternal opposite.
And because of Water, the leaves became lithe fairies dancing with fiery spirit.
The golden fairies danced, following the graceful lead of the water maid,
and Wind fumed, frustrated that his attempt to disturb her had failed.
Then, Wind turned toward the pond and blew his breath upon her, sadly laden.
For Wind, always blowing, loved his eternal opposite: the water maiden.
Leaving Water and Wind to their ways, I came to a grove of pines.
The trees were tall and thick, and some enveloped by thorny vines.
Here, Earth wore a fragrant blanket of pine needles and slept beneath the trees.
And through the peaceful woods came Fire, striding with careless ease.
Fire then sneezed and, catching a great pine ablaze, hastened to put it out.
But the tree fell and woke Earth, and finding it, she gave an angry shout.
As Fire could not douse his own flames, the tree had burned until it fell, wilting.
And Fire, knowing it was not the tree’s time, scratched his head, guilty.
But Earth scooped up a handful of soil and doused the tree, as it was still ablaze,
and Fire, who could only start mores fires, watched her douse one, amazed.
The flames slowly and softly died out beneath Earth’s gentle hand,
and then, on Fire’s own flaming head, Earth rubbed the soil of the land.
Earth smiled playfully, showing him forgiveness for the burned–down tree,
but, Fire only looked away and frowned, crossing his arms indignantly.
Then he realized her hands were still in his flaming hair, seemingly unburned,
and he grabbed them to see if they were hurt, finding himself concerned.
Earth laughed, her voice like leaves in the wind, and pulled her hands free.
“Now, Fire, promise me you will not burn, untimely, even one more tree.”
An intense red came to Fire’s yellow cheeks, as he did not mean to burn the pine,
But he did not defend himself, as he could not always speak to one so divine.
Earth then left him in her pine tree grove, and Fire wordlessly watched her go,
thinking to himself, how long will I love her and how long will she not know?
Leaving Fire and Earth to their ways, I at last returned home, filled with wonder.
This fairy tale land in Northeast Texas, a place I often escape to throughout the year.
2nd Place Student Winner
Sensations of the Sun
By: Zachary Davis
The sun has just recently capped the horizon
And the illuminated shadow of countless clouds dot the sky
They drift aimlessly as the world below them sleeps
Suddenly the silent land bursts to life
A myriad of birds wake, crying out to each other and the world
As if to say the day has begun
A lone buck stands in a field
verdant and sparkling from recent rain
He silently beckons for others to follow
Grasshoppers flee by the hundred
As hooves hit the ground
Small white flowers dot the landscape
sending off wafts of onion
The breeze is warm
As the mahaya sways
In tune with the rhythm of a land
Both changed and preserved by the generations
Who’ve witnessed its beauty
The sun stands at its full height
Beaming down as much heat as light
The humidity rises and shade is sought by most
On the shore of a pond a single frog is croaking
Lamenting the loss of its log to a smug cottonmouth
A great tree, ancient and gnarled
Has at long last lost its struggle with age
And now lays on the ground it once shaded
It’s brothers tall and ringed from the wire they’ve overtaken
Mourn their loss with the creaking groans of age
A single ant marches on; single-minded in its search
Soon the ground will be ablaze with the reds and blacks of its sisters
In a nearby thicket Cicadas can be heard
Their distinct call like humidity given a voice
The day has been long as the sun begins to set
A patchwork of color blankets the sky as dusk creeps in
The land slows and becomes dark
My home grows silent as I close my eyes
preparing myself for when the world once again bursts to life
3rd Place Student Winner
By: Stephanie Peek
Values and virtues and manners are taught,
and love for our neighbor is felt.
Where sermons are heard and churches abound,
in what’s known as the true bible belt.
Where summers are humid, and thick heavy air,
surrounds you as hot as can be,
and gossip is common in the small town cafe,
known for refreshing iced tea.
It’s the place where childhood memories,
are of fishing in still murky ponds,
and the smell of freshly cut grass
from the daily mowing of lawns.
Where we regard heroes as soldiers,
and the American flag is still flown,
with yellow ribbons on oak trees
until they all get home.
Not seeing many places,
or traveling very far,
knowing where you come from
helps make you who you are.
wherever life may take you or
wherever you may roam,
it’s the place you can always come back to,
and the porch light is always left on.
4th Place Student Winner
By: Noah Griffin
A stream of light, no, a flood
Crawling over the horizon with unyielding resolve
I sit and gaze at the startling beauty before me
I can’t help it, who could refuse such a masterpiece?
The tops of the Texas pines cannot withhold the suns’ majesty
As the celestial relic rises ever higher
The night’s leftover shadows retreat into shade
They slink back mysteriously like a Spider withdrawing into her tunnel of web
As the last of the darkness continues to slither away
My eyes are turned upward to the heavens
The clouds change color as the sun progresses
First blue, then a sudden explosion of red, yellow, and pink
I stare in amazement at the tapestry of color above my head
How can light and water accomplish such art?
It is as if each cloud were a sponge dipped in paint
And then Splattered across the eastern sky
The splendor is breathtaking, but it doesn’t last for long
As the hue of the firmament changes, so does the atmosphere
What started out as a cool and brisk morning has now turned into something else
The sun no longer embraces the horizon, for he hangs aloof in brilliant solace
The clouds no longer shine in color, for they have faded to white
The air has begun to sear and the ground has begun to bake
And so, just as the sun has risen, I too must rise in confidence and glory
So shall I rise