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2011 Northeast Texas Poetry Contest

First Place Student, $400: Amberly Alpha

Battle of Texas

The radiant Sun beats down with his infinite searing temper
He shows this place no mercy
The amount of abundant life that once danced on these lands is no more
Forced into solitary confinement
The earth and luxurious grasses have turned to brittle and broken replicas of their former selves
This is the place that drought calls home
The sky on the horizon begins to grow dim formulating its strong attack
Humid air emits its stoutest perfume of advancing precipitation
This is no subtle attack as the rival rumbles headfirst
Flashes illuminate the sky giving away the opponents position
The battle of the skies has arisen
Waterless cracked land is its battlefield in this place we call home
Foes meet midfield clashing and booming as they collide
The atmosphere is being torn between the two sides
Commotion echoes in the far distance as the enemies brawl for control
And then silence seizes the land
This land that Mother Nature calls home
Just as stillness envelopes the land the roar of a freight train begins
With it comes utter chaos
The rivals have created the most malice of them all, the twister
Thrashing and deafening the unrelenting twister claims its territory
Rampant winds engulf the land; this land drought no longer calls home
Through all of the commotion the land finally surfaces
Revealing the scars from the erratic visitors
The drought has come and vanished, conquered by the rain
The twister has cleared away all from the battlefield
A new life has arisen on this unstable land I call home


Second Place Student, $300: Rhea Siemsen

Northeast Texas
The twelve-hour drive
From Colorado to Northeast Texas
Was an excruciating stretch
For an impatient child
 But the tedious ride
Was worth the wait
When the familiar lands of mountain views and suburbs
Disappeared into the mysterious and exciting unknown of Texas
The summers spent at Grandpa’s
Nestled in the Northeast Texas country
Were the best summers
I had ever known
Quiet, early morning trips
Observing the careful movements
Of a majestic doe in the distance
Grazing in the fields
Humidity making me sweat
And sweltering summer heat
Baking my skin as I stood
Under the Texas summer sun

Trying to keep up with Grandpa’s strides
As we walk through fields of grass
Attempting to memorize
The various majestic types of trees
Learning how to fish
Persevering through the scorching day
Waiting for that fateful bite
Having to throw back my small first catch
Sitting at the dining room table
Competing for the win
Learning new games of cards
With country music playing in the background
Famished from long hot days
Enjoying the aroma of
The delicious surprise that
Grandma has preparing in the kitchen
Sitting in the Texas breeze
Sipping my grandma’s sweet iced tea
Watching squirrels run rampant
And hear the distant calls of coyotes
Hating to leave the majesty of Northeast Texas
And the wild animals and fervent heat
To return to sidewalks and suburbs
My summer trips always ended bittersweet

Third Place Student, $200: Isaac Griffin

The Simple Life  
A simple man
The industrious wife
A peaceful way
The simple life
Shining brightly
The sun is burning
While the simple man
His son is learning
To work, to live
To make his day
No complications
Their simple way
Working hard
And resting well,
The winter’s cold
And summer’s hell
A passing holler
Some kindly babble
Sincere concern
With idle prattle
A friendly greeting
And warm south smile
Time worn hands
 Hold a bright-eyed child
Deep southern faith
Where grace abounds
The hymns are sung
And church bells sound
Here coyotes howl
The south still wild
Boar shredded ground
The copperhead riled
Down lonely roads
Ten head of steer
Turn curious heads
From grazing there

N’er a cloud seen
A royal blue sky
Graced by a hawk
And its screeching cry
A long day done
Hear joyful sighs
For home-style chicken
And a pile of fries
Traits so simple
And yet so define
Our life in East Texas
The land of the pines

Fourth Place Student, $100: Kaitlyn Tackett

East Texas Comes and Goes
Watching the horizon
Darkening from the storm
Earth’s camera starting to flash
The roaring lion shaking the walls of the older houses with every scream it releases.
And yet, through it all, the small calf’s velvety face fills my vision with light
Such spryness, curiosity, and wonder fill this little gert’s eyes.
As the roaring ceases and the flashes stop, still she stands
The silage dries and the tractor comes
Cutting through her curiosity
It is gone.

She has nothing now
She has lost it all
It has been weeks since the farmer has come
Months since the last east Texas storm
And years since her mother was taken.  
She has grown stronger as she coped with her pain
Soon she will pass just as the seasons, come and go,
Her season is almost up
Time has taken its toll on her, and now…
Like a cool autumn breeze
She is gone.

Adult First Place:  Hannah Collier

my heart clutched by exhilaration
I love this time of year
hoping and praying
with tremulous anticipation
I fear this time of year
parched and panting
I wait
aching, I wait
like the earth
like the trees
dry, brittle
longing for that which is not here
forgotten like lost lovers
whose companions have long since
turned to sweeter sins
who'll surely soon turn again
I loathe this time of year
that unfettered gypsy
wanders close to me
sauntering back from his travels
seeking to seduce
his voice beguiles
it's soft
and so cool like the mountains
cool like the deeps
it whispers
and it promises
such lovely things
that I'd falter whole-heartedly
save for that I would be a fool
to trust such, this fickle wind
that, empty-handed, leaves me here
I detest this time of year
why punish so mercilessly
withering that which
depends on your bright face for its very life
why unleash this abhorrent assault
onto your celestial kin
I wipe my beaded brow
I despise this time of year
just when hope seems forsaken
the world shivers and catches its breath
for against the horizon looms a somber wall
building ever upwards, slate and indigo
bloated clouds creep closer
rains come
thunder shakes the ground and lightning blinds
caught in the throes of their heavenly opera
enacting scenes from distant memories to awe the crowds
and rivers burst and overrun
unaccustomed to the deluge
rain pours
washes away the sweat and dirt and worry
and rain drowns
the fear and weariness
it comes to comfort and refresh
comes to bring life again
winds tug at my hair, my clothes, my soul
and these liquid kisses from heaven caress my face
my eyelashes, my cracked lips
my no-longer-furrowed brow
my outstretched, upturned palms
I breathe in the scent of life and of beauty
I relish this time of year.


Second Place Adult:  Angela Wylie

As a small child I watch the dense grassy turf
Plowed up by cutting, turning metal disks
Must not get too close!
Vibrating dark diesel exhaust
Scents the late spring air
Hanging over the nostalgic scene
As the tractor engine strains
And the ground is laid open.
Damp, brown, and rich with promise
This, the sweet deep soil.
I walk behind the tractor,
Digging my bare toes, scrunching
Down deep into the fresh coolness.
The scent of damp earth fills my nose
And excitement rises up
A primeval memory stirs inside
Time passes and I am older and helping work
My grandfather’s ‘truck patch’, as it was called
The soil is hot sand now, crystalline and white.
I bake in the humid morning sun.
There are rows upon endless rows of peas.
Bushel baskets drug behind, filled to overflowing
Purple Hull, Black-eye, Red Ripper, Cream Crowder pods.
My young back aches, my feet burn, my arms are tired
Up early at the break of dawn to dig potatoes,
Rousted out of my lazy summer sleep
Up the sand hill I go, into the cool morn.
Digging out the fist-sized red-skinned potatoes,
Tender of skin and damply clinging to their secret place
Rudely laid open by the plow’s ruthless swipe.
Yes, it is hard work, but it must be done
For it is for family that the harvest is made
Adult now and the garden is my own
A tiny small garden in the edge of the yard.
Not a giant truck patch with endless rows
Oh no! I am no farmer like my grandfather
Yet, I take the knowledge that he bequeathed
That which he learned from his own parent
Who received it from grandparent and grandparent before,
Stretching back to the eve of time.
I carefully make my rows and plant my own seed,
Planting by the moon as one must do,
Dropping each small dried kernel of life carefully
Into the open fertile earth,
Spacing them just so that they may grow strong.
A whispered prayer for increase as I tuck them in
Tamping down the cool damp soil covering over
I wait eagerly for them to grow
My garden is much like my life
I am deeply rooted to this place in the world.
This tiny corner of Eastern Texas beneath the deep blue sky.
I am a result of generations of experience and time
Memories harvested, some joyous, some that hurt.
We grow and we spread and each has their season
Their time in the sun and their time in the earth
And we all seek that the harvest-time be bountiful
Deep soil
The first memories endure
Digging bare child toes into the dirt
Filled with the primal scent of fresh-turned earth.
Placing small footsteps in those of my daddy’s
As he walks across the fresh-tilled ground
My bare footprints in the center of his large boot tracks
Stretching my legs long to match his stride
Small child, young girl has passed by
Woman and grandmother I now am
The garden comes again each spring
The soil is turned and the seed planted with hope
I wait for that first tender shoot to emerge
From the pungent fresh-turned earth.
There is joy in seeing that first hint of green
Push up and crack open the crusted soil.
There is anticipation of generous fresh vegetables
Salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, peas,
Okra, potatoes, beans all in a row
Food for the table and satisfaction in the knowing
That I am a continuation of a long line
Of dirt diggers and weather watchers,
Praying for rain, hoping to enjoy that which
I have brought into being with my own labor.

I am the result of generation after generation
Following the same steps.
Planting and harvesting and working the land.
Large fields or small plots,
It matters not.
We all tread in the big steps of those
Who showed us the way
We all dig deep into the loamy experience of the past.
And from that wealth,
Love for the land and love for each other
We will hopefully plant seeds.
For others will stretch out their stride
To tread in our footsteps
As we lead the way
Across the plowed furrows
 Of deep soil

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This page last updated by A. Yox on 06/19/2013

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