Photo Contest

2009 Poetry Contest Winners

First Place
Category 1 (ages 7-10):


Claire Wagner
Princeton, NJ

This, an example of wisdom as of ever seen-
From Ecclesiastes nine verses fourteen to fifteen;
The prize was not delivered, but still the wise stands,
And it did not fall into unworthy hands,
The city might be small, the little men beside-
But there is great value in those inside.

There was a town, which was small inside,
But still, there is much more, than what is seen.
There might be no mansions, no strongholds beside,
The men might number a hundred and fifteen.
There might be old age and 'round no able hands,
But because of wisdom, that city still stands.

Away, on a peaked hill, a strong castle stands,
With many armed men inside.
Spears and swords and shields clutched in hands,
With a huge piece of land 'round it to be seen!
These men were more than five hundred and fifteen-
With an extra three hundred beside.

The little city, so small, was beside
That stronghold that mightily stands.
'Twas 'round a thousand men to a hundred fifteen!
The men poured out of the castle, leaving it empty inside,
Threateningly moved to the valley they had seen;
Waving sword and spear in hands.

A poor, wise man took it in his hands,
And saved the city and the land beside.
A clever plan he wove not seen,
Thus the city still stands.
The people poured out from inside,
And conquering went that hundred fifteen.

Driven back by the hundred fifteen,
The enemy fell at their hands.
Then celebrating they went inside,
With feastings and parades beside,
Thus the city still so proudly stands;
But the wise man was not remembered or seen.

The hundred fifteen celebrate inside,
The wise man is not seen, standing beside,
But the reward still stands, not in unworthy hands.

Second Place
Category 1 (ages 7-10):

The Beauty of Nature

Anna Stuhlfire
Flour Mound, TX

When I look under a rock
I behold a beauty of nature
Before my very eyes.
I see worms, squirming; little
Spiders, waiting; snails, busy.
I marvel at this other world.

I am happy to see that their world is my world.
Although they are small and live under a rock
I love that they are in nature.
What may not please others' eyes
Pleases mine; more than a little.
Appreciating these things; I am not too busy.

Sometimes the world is too busy
To notice the beauty of another world.
Whether in a tree or under a rock
I am thankful for the gifts of Mother Nature.
Nature's gifts are too busy to notice my eyes
Looking upon them, a lot or a little.

I pause a moment, just a little
To notice this miniscule world; I am never too busy.
I am thankful to share their secret world;
This private home that is hidden under a rock.
Secret homes are everywhere in nature.
I can see hidden homes; I am patient and use my eyes.

What would it look like to see the world from their eyes?
I seem gigantic to them; but to me they are very little
Some might not see me at all; they are far too busy.
What would be tiny to them in their small world?
Do they know that they live under a rock?
All that they do; it's just their nature.

Some slime, bite, sting, it is their nature
I love them so; I can see beyond my eyes.
They are predators and they are prey. Little
Thought is given to them; but oh the busy
Creepy crawlies help our world.
I love them so; I think they rock!

What makes creepy crawlies rock? The beauty of nature.
My eyes see and love them, more than a little.
I am blessed to not be too busy to visit this beauteous world.

Third Place
Category 1 (ages 7-10):

The County Fair

Paige Baker
La Crescenta, CA

I have a pig.
He is fat.
His name is Sal.
We are going to the county fair.
I want to win the award.
O, how much I want to win this year.

“We are going to win this year,”
I said to my pig.
“For sure we will win the award.”
“Come on Sal,
we're going to the county fair.
You are going to win the prize for being fat.”

My hog that is fat
also thinks we will win this year.
He wants to go to the county fair.
He is the biggest and best pig.
I said,“Get on the truck Sal,”
and he got on the truck like he had already won the award.

When we got there, we saw the award
for being fat.
“That's the prize you're going to get Sal.”
“Time to lineup for this year,”
a man said,“everyone with their pig.”
“And now here are your judges for the county fair.”

The judges from the county fair,
looked to find the hog deserving the award.
When they came to look at my pig,
they said he looked nice and fat
and that he might win this year.
I gave that hog a pat and said,“Good job Sal.”

I had fun with Sal at the county fair.
As for the award, I didn't win this year.
They gave it to a kid who drugged his pig to make it look nice and fat.

Honorable Mention
Category 1 (ages 7-10):


Carlie Mead
Eau Claire, WI

There were two brothers
When young they loved to play war
In play they needed no training
Arguing who could be hero
Would be no good to fight
Teasing that the other was scared

Just playing no need to be scared
They would be famous brothers
They had a dream to fight
Not in play but real war
To be a real hero
Not thinking they needed training

“Who needs training?
That's just for guys that are scared
Cowards don't get to be hero”
The game becomes real for the brothers
One brother wanted to go to war
The other for his country wanted to fight

When they got older and were ready to fight
They began there training
Awhile after they went to war
Both were very scared
But fear did not dampen each brothers
Dreams of becoming a hero

Although he still wanted to be a hero
Once they started to fight
One of the brothers
Who didn't pay attention to his training
Got terribly scared
Ran away from war

After the war
He was welcomed home a hero
The other solider was also scared
But for his country he would fight
He had paid attention to his training
Giving his life for his brothers

Going home after the war the last of the brothers,
Boasted of his training and the battles he didn't fight.
In side he was scared someone would find he was not the real hero

Honorable Mention
Category 1 (ages 7-10):

A Lesson in the Woods

Mary Montgomery
St. Charles, MO

There once was a time of joy
to the fruit-bearing trees
but afterwards they were too boastful
and pored lovingly over the mellow fruit
in mocking silence of, “You have nothing”
to the fruitless birches.

And - even though fruitless - the birches
were happy and content with joy
they had hearts, one more than nothing
and they were very thankful trees
but the ones who bore fruit
were inpatient(sp) and boastful.

The ones who were so boastful
were mean to the sweet birches
who bore not a fruit
but were content enough with joy
and those that were fruit trees
always pronounced with scorn “You've nothing.”

But the happy birches replied “You'll have nothing.” But the fruit-bearing were too boastful,
and then trembled the mean trees
and content were the fruitless birches.
For then they say what fate for joy
and the wind shook down the fruit.

Then the selfish ones cried, “Our mellow fruit!
now not a thing to bear!” Yet nothing
made the fruitless sad, for not a thing they had, oh joy!
Then the next year, the boastful
were crowned and snorted at the birches
And again their honor was useless to the trees.

So was the lesson for the trees,
who bore the mellow fruit,
and all year content were the birches
of whom the selfish thought had nothing.
the mean ones, each year, were boastful
but the others, the year was a time of joy.

Thus said the birches of nothing,
“Us trees have no fruit,
But better than boastful to us is joy.”

First Place
Category 2 (ages 11-14):

[It was summer, but it was cold.]

Nathan Rutter
Metuchen, NJ

It was summer, but it was cold.
We sat huddled under the painted black clouds together,
looking at the foaming waves at night with our
bottoms complaining of the freezing sand.
I leaned over, and kissed your blushing cheek, love,
and whispered, “You are my beautiful.” And I told the truth.

The car broke down, but we were together
as we walked, armed with oil cans, along the road; and our
flip-flops crunched the gravelly sand
in between our toes. Though it was cold, we were not cold.
We were exposed to each other in completeness and truth
and honesty. We laughed and smiled, in love.

Turn the clock forward. We are old now and our
lives' hourglasses are dripping sand.
You are beautiful, but your eyes are cold.
We are alone in the bare white hospital room together.
I cry for you, but you sit up laboriously and lift my chin, love,
and say, “There is hope.” You don't know the truth.

My eyes, dry from lack of tears, crave sleep, but the sand-
man doesn't visit. Like our nights on the shore, it is cold.
I shut the window. We are together,
but not quite. I sit next to your frail body and lean over and our
lips touch. You are dead, but I deny the truth.
I pretend you are still with me: my beautiful love.

Now my heart is hard and cold.
I drink, I cry. We are no longer together,
our minds separated, but our
bottoms still planted in the sand.
I fool myself: You are alive, I am not a widower, and we are still in love.
Living in my memories, I hide from reality and truth.

Clock, forward: I do not long to be together.
After your death, all our hopes and our
dreams slipped through my shocked fingers like sand.
My heart is barricaded and frozen cold.
I sit on the couch all day, hiding from life and truth.
My mind denies; my mind erases our love.

My miserable hourglass finally drips all its sand. I am renewed, our
hearts and souls united beautifully with the God of truth and love.
I know now: it was pointless to be sad and cold, for in the end, we are together.

Second Place
Category 2 (ages 11-14):

The Finery of Beautiful Love

Kayleigh Sinopole
Poulsbo, WA

With chalky apron, and smudged hands,
Sat she sewing with the threads of life,
As smiles wove themselves upon her mind,
And hope danced gaily in her eyes
And as work slipped from her thoughts,
In her mind danced dreams of love.

Another, too, thought much of love,
As pails were carried with work-worn hands,
While a special warmth busied his thoughts,
And twas not the dread of labor in life,
That swirled into the dreams of his eyes,
That saw with the heart not the mind.

Devotion crowded each workers mind,
And thus they thought of hope and love,
Love that twirled inside their eyes,
Love that powered the work of their hands,
Love that filled their dreams and thoughts,
Love that reigned throughout their life.

Neither had ever been pretty in life,
But the beauty was inside their mind,
Where goodness described each thought,
And where beauty prospered under love,
Like a understanding stroke of the hands,
Like a compassionate look from the eyes.

But each knew from the looks from eyes,
One with the other together for life,
A hopefully blessed joining of hands,
Not only in heart, but in soul and mind,

Together forever, sealed in love,
Love in hearts and minds and thoughts.

Both's beauty was only in their thoughts,
Not on the outside to look at by eye,
But on the inside to notice by love,
While everyday labors strengthened life,
And enriched the dream in the mind,
Of a hopefully blessed joining of hands.

And indeed there was in both minds,
Love that so bettered each thought,
Dressed in the finery of beautiful love.

Third Place
Category 2 (ages 11-14):

Beneath the Oaks

Andrew Gosnell
Taylors, SC

The breeze blows gently through the oaks
overlooking the peaceful villa.
The master of the farm,
a Roman soldier, is kissing his family.
For he is leaving to march to war.
At his side hangs an unused sword.

He thinks not of his dreadful sword,
but of the swaying oaks.
Putting aside thoughts of war,
the young soldier glances back upon his cherished villa.
Dreaming of his most loved family,
and the friends he left on the farm.

His beloved brother runs from the farm,
catching up to him with his sword.
Now both of them are leaving the family,
whose songs of sadness reach into the oaks.
They saunter slowly into the villa,
praying for their men going to war.

The brothers sing not of war,
but of how conflict will strengthen love on the farm.
They pray of their return to the lovely villa.
Wishing not to use a violent sword,
but to again feel the gale blow under the oaks,
and longing hopefully to dance again with family.

As they walk far from family,
giant Rome looms; the path to war.
Here, there are few oaks.
The outskirts are dotted with farms,
and many men bearing a sword.
At the sight the brothers forget their valued villa.

The ominous houses are nothing like a villa
They wish they had brought the family.
Gazing down at each sword,
the two bring out their chests for war,
knowing that they will again see the farm.
Oh the thought of those gentle oaks!

The war has come with a sword.
They think, “We fight for farm and family”,
and for the love of the oaks at the villa.

Honorable Mention
Category 2 (ages 11-14):

The Mate of the Gallant Grey

Matthew Harper
Centerviell, TN

An English ship, the Gallant Grey,
Had been to sea, and through the spray
Some seven times before. The beams
Of sunshine brought no cheer, it seemed
Its crewmen's lives were much like dreams,
Unvaried as the waves.

But one, the mate, looked past the waves
To their return, to him the grey
Expanse was but a road; his dreams
Were filled with one beyond the spray,
Dearer to him than life, who seemed
To shine with heav'nly beams.

Their cargo safely stowed, the beams
Of evening called them o'er the waves
To homeland's shores, so near they seemed;
Their spirits lifted as the Grey
Sailed steadily onward through the spray
As swiftly as their dreams.

But night put an end to their hopes and their dreams,
A storm hit the vessel, nigh bursting its beams,
And tore off the masts; the crew, blinded with spray,
Vainly endeavored to battle the waves,
But God had forsaken the sturdy old Grey
And doomed it to perish, it seemed.

The mate had been thrown to the ocean, it seemed
The end had drawn nigh, and denied him his dreams;
He clung to a splinter, and watched as the Grey
Went down to the bottom. The morning's first beams
Had pierced through the gloom, and calm were the waves;
He swooned in the frolicking the spray.

Cast on shore beyond the spray
He walked in Paradise, it seemed,
To the music of the crashing waves
And thought of her who filled his dreams,
Her touch, her eyes of gentle grey,
Her glance like silver beams.

He crossed the waves and dancing spray
Once more; the beams of heaven seemed
To call him from the Grey back to his home, his dreams.

Honorable Mention
Category 2 (ages 11-14):

Cinnamon's Story

Hannah King
Central Point, OR

My dog found a bird with a broken wing,
a crooked hop and a faded yellow chest.
She was a tiny, ugly, dirty thing,
so scared she seemed about to die from fright,
and so sad when she heard the other birds sing.
To think she'd been among them singing, free,

mingling with the other birds, happy and free.
I took her home, trying not to touch the injured wing.
I could not hear the other free birds sing,
for my thoughts were on the one with the yellow chest,
that pounded even quicker from the fright,
and whose wing was just a torn broken thing.

At first I wished my dog hadn't found the thing,
but compassion sets a kind of love free.
Soon a thought brought about my fright:
“What if she died? From infection in her wing?
Or her heart beat so fast it burst in her chest?”
In time my fears left, and I wanted to sing,

with her small, clear voice and heart when she'd sing.
Now Cinnamon wasn't just a bird or a thing;
and I saw her with a blazing yellow, golden chest,
as small and sleek and looking almost free.
She still had a tear down her dark brown wing,
although the break had gone with all her fright.

Like a servant girl, shy, but without fright
she'd wait 'till we were gone to sing.
She seemed to sing of other birds, birds taking wing,
chirping and twittering at every thing,
sitting in the old birch tree and just being free;
While listening, I sat on the ancient wooden chest,

and peeked to see the song throbbing in her chest.
To think she was ugly, at least in her fright.
On a warm spring morning we set her free,
her heart and my heart both began to sing.
Hers broke; mine stopped at the dreaded thing:
she'd never fly with the gash in that glossy wing.

If she were free no one would care about the life in her chest,
but I care, about her life and wings, I worried that she would die from fright,
maybe that didn't change a thing, or perhaps, perhaps it changed her song.

First Place
Category 3 (ages 15-19):

Feigel on Her Philosopher

Rebekah Curry
Lawrence, KS

And what makes this night different from all
other nights? Nothing is what I would say,
except that it's another year I've passed
to sixty-three. I lie in bed alone,
reading Plato for you and wondering
just how it was you spent those heavy days.

I sometimes think that, in the first long days,
you wrote across the wall in pencil: All
men are mortal. Were you wondering
whether or not to finish and say
that you were mortal, while you lay alone
and hardly slept until the night had passed?

Your being able to write must have passed
after they caught you; I imagine days
you had to bear, entirely alone.
Perhaps you whispered then, reciting all
? the wisdom you remembered and could say,
or simply kept your silence, wondering

if you'd ever reach Phaedo. Wondering
if what's between us had already passed.
(Could you forget that once I heard you say
I love you? I've filled fifteen thousand days
with memory; I can remember all
the words exchanged before we were alone.)

Conjecture states this: you went on alone
until the end came. I've been wondering
where in Hanoi you're buried, if at all,
and what you thought of when the moment passed,
conclusion for too many broken days.
But more than that, I wouldn't like to say.

The one remaining thing I've got to say
is that I have you still, and I alone
am yours. I spend my greater part of days
with competence, despite my wondering
about the causes of what's quickly passed.
—Now Socrates is gone, yet I knew all

he'd say could never stop me wondering.
I lie alone until the night has passed,
I look at days and find I count them all.

Second Place
Category 3 (ages 15-19):


Emily DeFreitas
Kendall Park, NJ

The sound of ripping paper was like the tearing of my heart.
It was satisfying, relieving even, but it left me in pieces
As countless as the bits of paper I now scatter like ashes
Upon the floor. There were words on the page, but there
Are words no more. I watch in helpless sorrow as the pieces flutter from my open hand,
They are gone, as I am gone, crushed and crumpled on the floor.

It was only in my foolishness that I came to be like this, lying on the floor
With my head in my hands, staring helplessly at the pieces of my heart.
Scattered, they covered far more ground that they had in my little hand.
The pieces were a display of anger, but now they are only pieces
Of torn up lined paper. If I look hard enough, I find that there
Are words on the paper, but they are so indecipherable they may as well be ashes.

Ashes. I like the sound of that. Clean, black, burning, ashes.
I ought to burn the pieces of paper. I pick them up off the floor.
They were simply lying there, peacefully. It seems foolish. I leave them there,
For burning the pieces of paper would be like burning what's left of my heart.
Although my heart is completely broken, I'd rather let the pieces
Lie. They are of more use to me intact. I scoop the pieces into my hand.

I carry them over to the trash. They seem to burn my hand,
I do not wish to hold them. They seem to multiply. They are not ashes,
They are sparks. They set me on fire. The very pieces
Of my heart are burning. I drop them back to the floor.
They shall lie there forever, I think. Lie like my heart,
Trampled and doomed, they will stay there.

I begin to cry. I do not want them to remain there,
Tossed about the floor like ashes. They burned my hand ,
So I am afraid of them. I am afraid of the paper pieces of my heart.
I am afraid, if I burn them, I'll be lost to the ashes.
I need to get rid of them. I leave them on the floor.
I know what I need to do to mend the broken pieces.

And so, with some reluctance, I pick up my phone. I am giving you the pieces
That I cannot seem to lose. They are lying there,
I say, and I can't take them off the floor.
And so, across the miles, I place them in your hand.
For with you they are not ashes, but a token of my love. The ashes
Cannot burn me, not while you protect my heart.

See the reason for the ashes, for the paper on the floor
Is that I was scared to give the pieces of my heart
Away. Do with them what you will, now that they are there in your hand.

Third Place
Category 3 (ages 15-19):

The Innocent

Catey Yuen
Colorado Springs, CO

Drip. Drip. I wish it were rain
Falling like water in the hands of my father
With his hands outstretched to silence
The shuddering screech that mars horror
As the No Longer Perfect Blood
That makes me weep

I heard that brown-eyed woman weep
As water poured from his side like rain
And trickling from his open mouth like blood
A wished-for cry to an unknown Father,
Their weeping wove in patterns of horror
But no more horrible than the following silence

I wished that I could hold his hand in silence
But I was afraid I would weep
After all, he had died. Gone. To my horror
I saw patterns in the sand like snakes from the rain
And I screamed and clasped to my father
Wishing I had not seen His blood.

I cursed the ground for taking his blood
But when faced with death, I stood in silence
I cursed at the innocent's unknown Father,
And held him close, though it made me weep
It was in my heart, because I could not hold the rain
Nor the innocent who died in its horror.

I stood in awe of the innocent, in horror
Because I loved him so that we had but one blood
And I screamed bitterness at the Rain
For taking Him from me in silence
But, I could not have him now, and I weep
And beg mercy from the unknown Father

I felt above the breath of this Father
And felt him wash away a horror
That had forced me, stony, to deperately weep
For I could never truly know the price of blood
Until I stood in worshipping silence
And held my arms to greet the rain

I knew there was horror in the innocent's blood
And, giving him to the rain, I felt his silence
Wash me, forgive me to weep, and sang me to sleep like the songs of my Father

Honorable Mention
Category 3 (ages 15-19):

This is My Real

Paxton Elliot
Atlanta, GA

At six am, with Aurora's eyes half open
I arrive at my life. I look upon the broken
Crates delivered as ordered. With key
In hand, I am not lost.
This is my real.
I begin to stock the shelves

Employee's hands help fill the shelves.
The sign on the door turns to open.
This is my real.
The economy fractured, is broken
Fortuna deserted, we are lost
Nothing gained today. I still own the keys.

I will not surrender these keys.
If I am the last one left, the shelves
Will not go empty. Customers must be found not lost.
Cash registers must remain open.
Mercury, tell all, I will not be broken.
This is my real.

This is my real.
Captured long ago by Portune's keys.
Those crates once delivered broken
Cease to appear. Those shelves
Once filled by others, now left open
I feel myself looking at lost.

Lonely, languishing, lost
Will of Mars. This is my real.
Closing Down. Sale. We are open.
Everything must go. Even my keys.
Silence slides across stripped shelves.
Lights out. Slavery to routine and order finally broken.

Jupiter, am I really broken?
Standing in the dark, Juno am I really lost?
I have been misled by my own mythology. Self shelves
Self-laden with what I made real.
Time misspent overlooking over another's keys
To a liberated kingdom, a soul now open.

The old shelves are broken,
Inside new shelves are unlocked open. I am not lost.
I am eternally real; I have found Peter's keys.

Honorable Mention
Category 3 (ages 15-19):


Jasmine Hoisington
Knoxville, TN

At length give up my soul to drink
Move my lips to Thee in silence pray
That I might receive from Thee a son
The only possession I could ever call mine
And all his days to Thee I'll freely give
My yielded heart as red and tender as the dawn

More unbearable with every dawn
So much that I cannot eat or drink
Only by another's provision do I have anything to give
With every year that passes, still I pray
But it is not really mine...
And she taunts me because I do not have a son

“Am not I better to you than any son?”
You ask me in the early dawn
Even you, darling; I cannot call you only mine
The wine I taste is bitter drink
But in the early light quietly pray
And ask what this new day will give

Please, sir, do not rebuke your servant while I give
My heart, for even you can say you have a son
With a broken heart I pray
I'll cry out until the breaking dawn
Don't think of me as wicked, having had to much to drink
What purpose would that serve the Lord, to consume what isn't even mine?

At last! Behold, these eyes of mine!
What the Lord in His might and mercy saw good to give!
We'll celebrate with merry drink!
For the Lord has provided me a son!
Who cried out in the early dawn
In that same moment, how I did lift my voice and pray!

In this way, I have taught my son to pray
And I have given back what now is mine.
I praise the Lord with every dawn
That I have something that I can give!
Present triumphantly at the door of the Lord: my son!
That he may freely take of your Spirit and drink.

So Yours will pray; lay down at the last all he has to give
The sacrifice of mine is not unlike that of Your Son
Where in some future dawn we all will drink.