I rode my horse bareback
along the dry wash. Cottonwood trees
showed the path through the hungry desert.
I felt the heat of my horse pass into me.
The breeze scratched against my face.
I traveled to an adobe village long abandoned
where walls spoke to me of people’s lives.
I heard voices echo in the dried mud.
It was a secret place, no visible road
or markers. I would slide off my horse and peer
into the past, imaging a family warming themselves
by the cook fire, harvesting their ‘three sisters’, the seeds
saved over thousands of years.
Did the Anasazi suddenly appear in Arizona? I felt their
suffering in the saguaros who witnessed their passage,
and hope in the cactus’ impossible flowers of spring.
These are the original peoples of the Americas.
I see them in clear sky and vast expanses, like a mirage.
I see them where memories are stored behind silent eyes,
ancient and wise and mysterious. They are
heritage as well as history. These Native American
footprints are our legacy.
Jennie L. Pollard
1st Place Adult Category
I am so old that my patience fondles
a future already made.
I am old enough to remember
how to seek food with my drum
and to ask butterfly of future seasons.
I remember that my senses
feel colours that are extinct
and that my skin breathes
all Time equally and seeks it here.
I am old enough to call the rocks
family, the mountains teacher.
When I sit near a tilted line
of water, I know that it is me.
To become old,
one befriends rocks, consults mountains,
honours water. One learns
to stand on the divided island some call life,
and soak peace from sky and land.
I am old enough to know I am a bystander
to the ripples of insect births
and star deaths.
I should be eroded by the shallow crimes
of hate in human history,
but I am old enough to see
that our future sings of a tail
swallowed by its mouth
as it devours its past.
And I am at peace
watching the feast, awed
by its appetite.
I am so old,
this makes me new.
2nd Place Adult Category
Ode to the Pleasant Lake High Trail
They were here but yesterday. Those who identified the
springs, marked the water courses, moved the rocks, built the
walls, strung the twisted wire fencing, tilled the soil, planted the
apple trees, lilies and laid their loved ones to rest.
Now we come, latter day pioneers, creating paths of
discovery, placing large flat sided rocks in enchanted wet spaces,
building rugged foot bridges over streams. We identify stones,
tress, lichens, fungi, animals and birds. We marvel as we find,
etched in rocks, initials, dates, and drill holes, iron pins and bolts
set in stone, old blaze scarred trees, marking country, town and
private property boundaries.
We come to consider this quiet drama. We sit upon thick
mossy ledges, drinking water from plastic bottles, as our gaze
follows distant ridge lines of lofty peaks. In awe we look down
into peaceful ponds.
In the stillness our forefathers gently nudge our shoulders
and, for a moment, we are together in mutual respect and
appreciation for the miracle of this place.
Debra Lamson Perkins
3rd Place Adult Category
The world stopped spinning
Everything was silent,
The breeze stopped blowing the trees,
And the river stopped rolling along.
Everything was silent,
Oh, so very silent And Dark.
Sophie Stachulski, Elementary School Winner
It’s funny how quickly a moment can go from thrilling to terrifying,
Just like that.
Laughter turns to screams
The world becomes so loud, yet so deafeningly silent.
The impact isn’t even the worst part,
But the pressure of the water overtaking my body and stealing my breath is what kills me.
I try to gasp for air
But to no avail.
Air turns to water and fills my lungs.
In my last moments I relive everything in my life up until now.
Every wrong decision
Every right one
Everything in between
Will the world miss me?
Or will I just be another unknown soul,
Just like that.
Callie Valeri, High School Winner
New London NH
Mom, me, and my little sister, frowning. Summer vacation, road-trip.
Dad had rested the 1960’s Travco motor home, to extend its life
on the road. While we waited for it to quit its white-steam-sighing,
he brought his camera out to capture a gigantic Arizona cactus.
My little sister and I fence Mom, as directed, and stand in front of the star.
My oldest sister—absent—explores a Christian camp, 3,000 miles away,
where she’ll meet her future husband and try-on Mom’s Sunday shoes.
The star of the photo towers behind us, stiffly poking the desert sky
with its succulent-nubs, to force the rain that just won’t come.
This inside-out pincushion grows from Mom’s slumped shoulders, out
of her housewife-head, as if all of the cooking & sewing she did for us
came back in one impatient clump. Her feet swell beneath the burden
in the degree of heat that melts cheese; another reason we are not smiling.
My golden-haired sister—dressed in blue—leans close to Mom’s right side,
gazing at the concrete with her tiny-blue-eyes. Her three-inch feet
are firmly tucked together, readying her Air Force Sergeant future.
I am captured at eleven, a tanned, brunette, bean-pole; summer’s dry-gleam
a pasture in my hair. My white pants are rolled to my scuffed knees. My
white tank top hides two sore bumps, (soon-to-be trainees)—I match
Mom’s scowl. This trip, she tells me that it is about time I wear a brazier.
My left-hand rests on the back of my head, my elbow forms an arrow
pointing in the direction apposing her. Deep, in the distance between us,
on my right shoulder, a highway-sign cautions, alongside a chain-linked fence:
Do Not Enter.
By Amber Rose Crowtree
First Place Adult Category
A lopsided moon sends no light through the bare trees
as I stumble blindly
toward our compost bin.
One foot squishes and I jerk it back.
Someone’s cigarette smoke bullies its way
into my consciousness-a neighbor? Walker?
Undistracted, briefly stilled, I savor my small illusion
Joyce White, Second Place Adult Category
No one knows
The next ride could be you
in the black hearse with the yellow fringe and tassels
draped over velvet drawn curtains
always parked in the dark end of Johnson’s barn.
In her stall, across from the hearse, Lucy
the retired black mare, waits alone.
When it’s time, she wears an ostrich plume
pulling the carriage slow and steady
with its pine casket and massive iron wheels
through the village of Sutton
up Meeting House Hill to the Old South Cemetery.
It might be Mrs. Ferry who is the next one to go.
The ninety-seven-year-old woman who lives on Barker Road
and holds the Boston Post Cane made of ebony with an engraved golden knob.
Although the last time I saw her,
she was on a step ladder painting her kitchen ceiling.
Jody Wells, Third Place Adult Category
Back Row: Ala Khaki -Contest Judge, Autumn Siders- Third Place Adult Category Winner, Mary Anker- Second Place Adult Category Winner, Gabriel Smith -High School Winner
Front Row: Lotus Gregory -Elementary School Winner, Tobin Smith -Middle School Winner, Katherine Leigh -First Place Adult Category Winner
photos by Robert J Popp
The Universally Besieged
Katherine Leigh, First Place Adult
Sad assignment, that of giving birth to a sterile baby
in a barren world, all countries shaken to their cores.
Takes a certain jaded courage to saddle up with only
hope enough for the slight remainder of what was
originally a full journey.
Yet we travel, pay the hand to pass us through
borders, open gates at night to the glint of coin and
bullet over bodies of our daughters, bones of our sons.
Listening to our plight has a color;
help, a shade of grey.
Carved into me is the bravery to move by moonlight.
The ‘besieged’ talk around the potato table about a
possible rebirth of remnants of family fled from damaged
culture, in a faraway imagined-place we may, easily,
So to mold a new future, to hold onto old traditions,
to carry embers of flame, to embolden sinew under the
burden of relentless intensity.
That is each waking moment if we curl for a drift of
We take time to thank Allah or Jesus or Quan Yin,
the ancestress energy, the generative offspring.
Believers, we bend our bodies to include moon and
sun, to reinforce as artists of our daily lives, of our
ourselves as stars.
Mary Anker -Second Place Adult
a mother recovers
her nine-year-old body
pulls years out of seconds
bald head worn proud
trips to Boston
a holy grail
in a chemo chair
alien face eyebrows and lashes disappear
elbow to elbow
eyes do the communicating
paint brushes, pens, journals, cards
after long nights
of floating blue
the sky of light
Autumn Siders-Third Place-Adult
I Could I could sit and watch
as you scream and shout.
I could back away
and let you sort it out.
I could hear those words,
Muslim, illegal, fag, Jew
but pretend they are just words
not to do with me but with you.
I could go home
and just wait my turn
until your hate becomes murder
and these words boil and churn.
I could wait until
those screams turn to fists
and look on in horror
as blood fiercely mists.
I could do all this
but then am I to blame
when the headline this week
is another soul has been maimed?
I could stand up
and make my voice heard,
stand beside a fellow human
and push back your bitter words.
I could stand up
and you could stand down
and realize that differences
are what make the world go ‘round.
I could lecture you on love
but you are just so full of hate,
so instead I’ll show you love
and all it can create.
The Power of Creation
Gabriel Smith -High School
This world would most certainly cease to exist,
Had it not been for our Creation, our Genesis.
What makes us what we are is what we do,
And any idea without creation, could be quite askew.
For we are creators, in everything, and every day,
Someone had the idea, and put it into play,
From your new recipe
To a song melody
All that you can see
Was made by someone just like you or me.
Do you think Da Vinci thought his paintings
Would be famous, and fascinating?
His “Mona Lisa” is the most renowned –
Even centuries later, it still wears the crown.
From design and innovation
To the plane you ride to your vacation,
To towering cities and works of art,
From the car that won’t jumpstart,
To the curriculum that you use in school
And the tools that do the work for you,
Whatever it is you need to do,
It was made to make life easier, and you can do it, too.
You may not win a Nobel prize,
It even may be criticized,
But don’t give up, you’re not the only one,
Our work on Earth is never done.
Tobin Smith -Middle School
Our beautiful country has existed
For 239 years to date.
If not for groundbreaking people,
Would we be brave enough to make?
Think of Leonardo Da Vinci,
With his wonderful thoughts and dreams.
If not for people like him,
We would be in the Stone Age, it seems.
Just imagine if Wilbur and Orville
Had stuck to making bikes,
If they hadn’t wondered, hadn’t made,
Would we ever have taken flight?
Imagine if good ol’ Walt Disney had
Never decided to make cartoons.
If he hadn’t made his movies,
Would we have shows with bug buffoons?
If Thomas Jefferson, a president,
Had never taken up in arms
The clever idea to write down
The declaration of freedom from English laws?
Yes, there’s no doubt that if we
Did everything in convention
We’d never come up with the
Fantastic word of something new: INVENTION.
So let us not relinquish
The good courage to create,
And take the job to do
Things new: more importantly, MAKE.
The tree branches sway in the milky glow of the full moon,
Casting a dancing shadow across the moss strewn earth.
This tree was different from the others in every way.
The branches protruded at odd angles,
the trunk was covered in knots and it was many feet shorter than the others.
It's beauty resonating in the air.
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