• Carl Sandburg Home and Barn

    Carl Sandburg Home

    National Historic Site North Carolina

2014 Poetry Contest Winners

3-5th Grade Results.............................................................................................................

First Place
Battle
by Sophie Young

Cold silent soldiers
March the dark blank hill
Beaten black paths lead to
Shadows
Small caps of chill
Shoes of grass
Clothes of night

Blue clad armored knights
Gliding on horses
Of light
Over bubbling brooks
Raging rivers
And mirrored lakes
Onwards to dark

The silent stand still willow
On the crossway
Almost claimed
Moving to one
Or moving to another

The dark hand grabs
The iridescent hand grabs
Then
Light splits
Shadows crack
The Dawn has arrived
Caps of chill float away
Gone for another day

Blue clad armor
Marches down the hill
Safe for another day
As Dawn flies away

2nd Place
Day Shadows to Night Brightness
by Abby Davis

When I touch my downy blonde hair, I know I am awake.
My yawn feels as if it reaches the edges of the Earth.
The early mornings somber darkness obscures the morning birds angelic song.
My sleepy eyes want to close.
My mind races back throughout yesterday and I push my achy body off of my SUDDENLY
springy bed,
I feel strong, even though the loudest quiet is going on in the world around me.
Today’s first sun rays gleam through my window and I am ready.
I thrust myself forward for whatever challenges come my way.
Good morning light.
Movement

Lanky with wavy brown curls that roll down her bony back
Her tan skin is coated with piles of tears carrying sad memories, showering like waterfalls.
Shy. Words locked in her head, heard by no one but her own soul.
Our words were blocked out by the pain she felt underneath the radiant yellow monkey
bars.
Dark shadows in her life were ones we hadn’t experienced.
The second came when she overheard the laughter of friendly conversation,
A smile hung on the comers of her mouth, visible but far from full.
Beneath the luminous yellow monkey bars all of our worlds became brighter.
She smiled and said, "Hi."
Movement

Malicious customers, counting dollars, loud bawls from annoying little babies
She shouts. She is done, she says, done and storms off.
The comer she finds herself in is filled with dust and cobwebs.
That is what she feels in her heart; dusty, dusty cobwebs.
One chocolate cupcake, beautiful orange frosting, scattered sprinkles
"Happy Birthday," he says.
She laughs. She laughs like there is nothing in the world that can stop her.
Tears explode that have been bundled up behind her eyes.
Not sad, happy, extremely happy.
She screams of joy and lifts him off of his feet, eating it lightheartedly.
Movement

I bounce back on my springy bed, downy blonde hair sprawling across my pillow.
After all I have seen today, my eyelids flutter to the tune of a heavanly bird song and close
eacefully.
The memories drift into my head painting a smile, an image of things I have learned.
There is strength in each part of each day, every situation filled with emotion.
The day’s events each made me feel heartbroken while its happy moments mended the
broken pieces.
You can’t have happy without sad because light pours out of darkness.
Dark shadows give way to bright smiles; dusty cobwebs are swept away with life’s
beautiful frosting.
Somehow, somber darkness always releases an angelic heavenly song.
The darkness of the night sky will be illuminated by the light that shines in the morning.
Giving all things a chance to reflect, to experience, to start over...dark to light
Goodnight.
Constant movement

Third Place and People's Choice
Floating Leaf
by Avery King

Dangling high upon a frosty limb,
Little leaf watches as others drift by him.
Soon it’s his turn as he breaks free,
Floating through the crisp air with glee.
Gently gliding as he falls to the ground,
Weightless little leaf floating down.
Landing softly in the clear mountain stream,
Little leaf continues his traveling dream.
The swift water moves him farther away,
The moving, little leaf- so happy this day.

Honorable Mention
They Are Ice Skating
by Samantha Penny

Rapidly, the couple glides in the empty, silent stadium.
Faster and faster, their skates cut the ice, leaving a dent behind.
He speeds before her just as she spins, holding her arms out to
lock with his.
Grabbing her gentle, frigid hands, he turns her around just as
her body flings into the air.
She wraps the bend of her foot onto the other to keep herself
gliding smoothly through the air.
Elegantly, she drops, creating a current behind her.
Landing easily with one graceful leg elevated, the other
supporting herself.
Just as she lands, he speeds after her, clasping her hand,
swinging it into the air as they both pose.
They are ice skating.

Honorable Mention
Beautiful Ballerina
by Fiona Burau

The beautiful ballerina glides gracefully onto the stage
Like a swan across a lake.
She starts to move as the music flows within her.
She leaps and twirls as if she’s on a cloud.
The dancer descends to the ground
And lands effortlessly on her tip-toes.
She plies as a bow
And then gracefully glides off the stage.




6-8th Grade Results ............................................................................................................

First Place
The Slimy Snail
by Susanne Thomas

The slimy snail slips onto a stone
Her shell shines as she solemnly slithers on.
Through the wood, across the field
Night fall quickly overcomes.
She silently crosses a brook, stone by stone
Over the clear rippling water.
She slowly passes a garden full of crisp veggies
And stumbles along a path of fallen leaves.
She steadily climbs onto a mossy stump
To overlook what she overtook.

Second Place
What Lives at the Bottom of the Lake
by Kayla Hay

Water clouds,
like milk in coffee.
Leaves drift across the surface.
My toes tap the water,
come up pink.
Fog hides what’s there. . .
keeps me guessing.
Far out,
there’s a splash.
I wonder. . .
What lives at the bottom of the lake?
Shifting,
wooden planks sigh.
Why? Where? What?
Bubbles surface,
forming tight blankets.
Who are they tucking in?
I stand—
the dock groans.
"Shhhh," I whisper,
"Don’t disturb
what lives at the bottom of the lake."
Cold air twirls around my shoulders.
My hair rises.
I turn my head,
looking-- nothing.
I face the water.
Straightening,
I take three deep breaths,
and jump to meet. . .
What lives at the bottom of the lake?

Third Place
The Provider
by Madi Gardiner

He crouches behind a bush
So still, like a rock.
His unsuspecting victim munches contentedly.
The lion’s royal mane glistens in the sun.
The creature does not know of the doom
That awaits him.
The sturdy king prowls toward the tender prey.
He pounces,
Teeth sink into the skin of the antelope
Which tries to gallop off
But the lion’s jaws are clamped.
Three infants come tumbling out.
They prance around their proud father.

Honorable Mention
A Summer Sea Storm
by Claire De La Vega

I thunder on the rocks and storm.
Beautiful, strong, and delicate I am.
The Wind and Sea are a perfect team.
I am a Spirit, a Goddess, an Artist.
Immortal.
A Sea Storm.
A Summer Sea Storm.
I may startle the small town
below me, but in the most precious way.
In the cloudy charcoal sky where I paint my art,
is a perfect view of this wonder
The salty crisp air is dancing
around me, as though praising me.
Waves are elevating higher and higher.
My attire matches this affair gorgeously.
Salt water covers me like a dress.
It is threaded together with the most
shells of imagination.
Finally, the Waves are worthy enough for
stepping onto them and dancing and singing.
The Waves respond to me as though I am a friend
They cradle me, and take me up to the sky.
I am a Spirit, a Goddess, an Artist.
A Sea Storm.
A Summer Sea Storm.

Honorable Mention
The Slaughterhouse
by Annie Grace Plott

Thu-Thump, Thu-Thump, Thu-Thump
The old mustang glides across a rough terrain
Trying, trying to reach his end
He glides as freely as a runaway kite
As swift as a lightning strike
The old mustang travels day and night, day and night
Up, up through the clouds
Up, up to the everlasting spectacle
Up to the sun
He never stops to rest
He’s never alone
He’s followed by others, others like him
He leads them to a place far far away
Away from harm, and away from dread
Away from fear, and away from hurt
He leads them to a new life
To salvation
Away, away from the green earth so full of life
Away from pain and sorrow
Away from death
He leads them away from their personal hell
The slaughterhouse

People's Choice
When the Wind Passes Through
by Madison Belk

"Come, follow me", beckons a voice
The leaves have no choice.

A gentle hand coaxes the leaves off the trees
Rustles the leaves on the ground
Spinning them around
In a whirlpool display,
Drops them on the bay
To pick them up another day.

Wind, a devious creature
With a touch of her finger
Sends a shudder through the crowd.
In a gushing uproar, she screams aloud
But do not bereave,
When the wind passes through the leaves.

Wind is like a child that is running her hand
Through the trees where they firmly stand,
Feet rooted deep.
And pulls the leaves along.
The air sings a song
When she gallops through the reeds,
Grasses swishing around her bodiless form.

Her spirit begins to coil and roll
Wind’s elemental soul
Thundering, the sound like the bellow of an army.
Do not grieve,after the maelstrom and gale
Serenity will prevail.
Do not bereave
When the wind passes through the leaves.


9-12 Grade Results ..............................................................................................................

First Place
Free
by Julie Myers

The raindrop is a child,
Set free from the cloud.
She twirls with laughter in the wind;
Flying gleefully in the open air, she giggles.
With a bounce she strikes the tops of the maple tree,
Sliding down a leaf, happily cheering.
She hits the tin roof, tapping out her dance.
Springing to the window sill in a prance.
She leaps onto a clay pot.
Crawling with delight,
Rolling onto the tattered pavement,
She swims down the drain.
Set free from the cloud,
The raindrop is a child.

Second Place
Necropolis
by Jada Walters

I stand amidst a cratered world,
where tree trunks lie sideways like broken bones,
and beating hearts are ripped out of the ground and tossed aside still pulsing.
Rigor mortis grips tree roots, tragically snarled into a darkening sky that has no life left to give.

My presence feels sacrilegious, but I kneel down to the cold earth,
gently touch the unanchored soil with light fingertips, and hope
that the dead land senses that I want the forest back-
That I want the trees to rise as more than reanimated corpses,
that I want the earth to revitalize its primordial power,
and toss aside the slaughtering behemoths that litter its graveyard like
hulking tombstones.
But I realize that the wilderness would move on with righteous certainty to
the roads, the houses,
the humans. And I too would be swept aside, my trembling hand repulsed
by nature itself.

The only things that would shake the trees would be the idle wind.
Primal creatures would weave through the night as soundless as shadows, isolated warbles and howls occasionally spilling secrets into the unfettered air.

The low roar of a car engine sounds heavily,
a dirge of progress that causes the wild things I imagine
to leap away and scatter into shadows beyond my reach.
Headlights glare across the scene, desecrating the empty field
and cutting through the phantom emptiness where trees presided.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be zipping along the same bend in the road
and my tires will speed beside the mourning land
whether wilderness or civilization stares back at me.
And the only thought I will spare is a brief tremor of sorrow,
that the trees I remember are gone.
I lift my hand from the grave soil, and imagine that the land pushes some last organic energy into
my blood through the tips of my fingers,
My heart beats hummingbird-quick, outpacing the car and
the coming dawn.

Third Place
Border Hopping
by Leah Mell

I toe the line I presume to be the border between our town and the next town over,
tucked into the woods behind a double-wide trailer.
All those years ago, it had never occurred to me that,
when the two of us were roving among the trees in the middle of the night,
distancing ourselves from the place we called home, we were border hopping.
Somehow, that border didn’t seem pertinent then.
Almost nothing had.

We lived in a kingdom of our creation, where the lines between
child and adult, recklessness and reason were smudged,
and the light of the rural sun blinded us as we drove out of town
in your Dodge truck in search of something to kill the time.
At seventeen, we were both exhilarated and exhausted
by the boundless potential of our existence.

But there came a day when I decided to leave,
and that was the day our implausible kingdom was overthrown by the inevitable
and the smudges that had once constituted boundaries became defined again.
Yet, the phantoms of our wild spirits still hang in the air
above the border that we disregarded for years,
permanently preserving our unbound youth in its golden realm.

Honorable Mention
Hovering
by Audrey Myers

Rotor blades drumming, wings vibrating,
Busy ones steer, tilt, and take aim.
Leaving their quarters, the bees carry out their mission,
Moving in perfect alignment:
Propelling wings ascend and descend.
Antennas move to keep watch,
Keeping the ideal position to gather their syrup.
Transparent glassy wings revolve over the peduncle,
Hovering over the delectable daffodils.
Furry bodies skitter throughout the daisy’s floral leaf.
Drones spring from blossom to blossom,
Velvet legs rustle the pollen and bees sip from the flower,
Carrying edible cargo back to the hive.
Couriers deliver the syrup into the pods.
Rotor blades drumming, wings vibrating;
Busy ones steer, tilt, and take aim.

Honorable Mention
Movement
by Alyssa Walker

Foam hisses as heavy waves crash,
Thundering, endlessly throwing themselves
At the cool, unyielding shore.

Thick white clouds roll by,
Pure and illumined against the lighted pastel sky.

The rich smell of salt
Intertwined with crisp, delicious sunshine,
Floats and lingers for miles,
Caressing the soft, warm sand
As time ebbs lazily on.

Everything is moving,
Flowing, changing,
Yet, I feel infinite,
As if time were standing still.
I am frozen in this eternal moment
Of ecstasy and contentment.

A gentle breeze rolls across my face,
Flutters through my hair.
The silent, ebbing tide swells,
Reaches out,
Tickling my toes.
Yet, I do not stir
Because in this one perfect moment
I can last forever.

People's Choice
Rain
by D.J. Sommerville

The rain falls to the ground soft and sweet.
Some see the rain as a curse, but I see the water as a blessing.
From the water comes life, joy, and love.

I feel like a rain drop.
I am falling through my life, with no control of my destination.
I only have a wish as to where I will end up.
Within that frightening picture of what I am, there is beautiful hope.
The rain and I are falling with no control of our orientation,
But the Lord knows where we both need to go.
He has a perfect landing spot in mind for me,
And to Him, I am just as a rain drop, soft, sweet, and totally dependent on Him.

Did You Know?

a black and white sketch of letters found on Carl Sandburg's desk; art by Will Irvine and Mark Haines

Everyday Carl Sandburg received mounds of letters from schools, organizations, beginning writers, media sponsors, critics, acquaintences, friends and family. Mr. Sandburg was very deliberate about to whom he wrote back, even keeping a carbon copy.