Age 8 and younger

First Place
Sunset by Caeden
Caeden Gipson, Middle Tennessee Electric

I like to watch the sunset
that’s setting over me,
And when the sun has finally set,
the moon glimmers the sea.
Sometimes couples go and sit
and watch it on the shore,
Because when you’re sitting hand in hand,
You’ll love it even more.

Age 9–13

First Place
Only I
Samantha McNabb, Tennessee Valley EC

I am the only one
who’ll ever know me
Even if I tell you my secrets
I’m still a mystery
Deep down you’ll never know
Only I can see my soul
I am the only one
who’ll ever know me
Even if I told you
my hopes and dreams
You’d never see them
like I do
They mean to me
what they never can to you
I am the only one
who’ll ever know me
Even if I laid myself
bare at your feet
You’d never really see
my soul clearly
I am the only one
who’ll ever know me

Age 14–18

First Place
Hidden Beauty
Ruby Purgason, Appalachian EC

Something beautiful is hidden on these
mountains.
Maybe it’s obscured in an Iris?
A vibrant violet flower whose eponym is
from the rainbow goddess.
Maybe it’s in the sounds of a Mockingbird?
Who inspires geniuses to write, paint,
and sing.
Maybe it runs alongside the raccoon?
A tenacious animal whose intelligence
rivals other species.
Maybe it has scaled the Tulip Tree?
Whose yellow petals seem to touch the
skies.
Maybe it’s concealed within the fireflies’
lights?
Whose visual signals enchant entire populations.
However, I believe beauty is revealed in
people.
The dreamers who find solace in nature.

Age 19–22

First Place
My Own Brutal World
David Smith, Fayetteville Public Utilities

I have filled my heart with concrete
To turn it to stone.
Stiffened my shoulders
To carry the heavy burden alone.
I’ve poured glue in my broken places
To keep myself together.
Removed my thin skin
And replaced it with leather.
I couldn’t afford a new face,
So I had to sell this smile of mine,
I found a hunk of wood in the forest,
At least now I have a spine.
They said I must be tough
If I’m to stay untouched,
Now all I am is tough things,
But the pain remains too much.

Age 23–64

First Place
Cycle
Rebecca Case, Pickwick EC

Raindrops bathed by
the lamplight stretch
across the window pane
coruscating like stars
on the endless canvas
painted in delicate strokes
by the artist’s hand
The puddles on the ravaged earth
goad them
waiting to see if they’ll make
the leap
dauntlessly let go and fall
to the abyss of
uncertainty below
Burial awaits them —
a temporary home
among rich dirt and earthworms
before the resurrection
Soon they’ll rise
head for the sky
prepare
to fall again at
Heaven’s next heartbreak

Age 65 and older

First Place
Ode to the Iris
Wesley Sims, Oak Ridge

No Plain Jane, even though
you appeal to ordinary people.
Commonly appear at borders,
stand around varied gardens
in simple solids like blue and purple.
At lawn’s edge you remind us
of children waving flags
at a July Fourth parade.
You exude an air of sophistication,
spruce up any floral space with elegance.
Your wardrobe of bold colors, patterns
and designs varies even to exotic.
You have a flair for ruffles
and stun us with your impressive
collection of two-tone suits
accented with ribs, trims, and speckles.
You so wowed Tennesseans
they chose you as their state flower.





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