2014 Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards

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Senior prose, First place: Rapid Recovery


People say that life flashes before your eyes before you die. Those people are liars. All I could think about was the pain I was in, or that one gulp of air would prolong my death. Whitewater was pouring over my head and into my mouth. Some was swallowed, and some was thrown up again and again as I continued to spit when I go the chance. My life was not supposed to end violently like this.
My dad wanted to bond. I don’t know why. We were never close, always arguing over some stupid little thing. When my mom died, the arguing stopped. Actually, everything stopped. Deep conservations, interesting stories, nice dinners together. That all ended. This outing was a chance for us to bond. I had been previously rafting with friends, and never really had to do or focus on anything, but now I was by myself in a kayak. Well, now I was actually out of my kayak and stuck between two rocks. I don’t understand why he wanted to do this.
When we arrived at the put-in, I organized everything together. There was a young blond there, smiling and waving at us. Screw that blonde. This whole trip was an excuse, a justification of my dad’s actions. Screw him. My pessimism increased when I saw them hug, and him take her hand and leading her over to me.
“Hi, I’m Michelle!” she said with a white smile. Piss off, Michelle. I smiled, said nothing and then walked over to my kayak. I could hear them whispering as I gradually turned my back on them. The river was taunting me with its beauty, gesturing with its stunning rapids. I couldn’t look at them without being disgusted. I wish my mom was here. My dad wouldn’t be with this fake girl. That’s all she was. A girl. A young one at that.
After putting in the kayaks we went through some rapids, went over flat parts, and ate lunch on land. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t smile. I didn’t frown. I didn’t do anything. I did my best to not think. We camped that night. I slept. I ate with them. I didn’t smile. They laughed, sang some, and had a one-sided conversation with me. They were happy.
My parents were happy. We had dinner together. We trusted each other with everything. We loved. I was with my mom when it happened. Of course it was a car accident. Just like all the clichéd tragic accidents. We were arguing. Arguing about a stupid party that I wanted to get smashed at. My mom didn’t know this. She had already made some plans for us or something. The argument was getting heated, and the second my mom turned her head toward me … that was when she died. When she looked at me. The other driver died a couple of days later in the hospital. Depression is a funny thing. Remorse for the man had been blown away the second he hit our car. He had a family, but I didn’t care. I hoped that they were suffering even more than I was.
My dad couldn’t say anything in front of me. He had glazed eyes and a stiff body ever since that accident. Maybe I was jealous of him and his happiness with this new girl. Maybe I was mad because he smiled more with her than he did with me. Maybe I was just mad in general.
I am not mad now. I’m drowning. I would laugh at that, but I can’t. I’m drowning.
More water, less air. More chaos, less hope. I knew the outcome of this situation. My legs would not magically become unstuck between these two rocks. How stupid of me.
On the second day of kayaking I had had enough peace. I was through listening to my father and that stupid girl gammar on about how wonderful life is, while that prick had been living like a zombie for the past couple of years. A new rapid. I saw the drop off from the rock. I saw the hole that my kayak might have a chance of falling into. I saw the danger. I didn’t care.
Now, here I am. Dying. My kayak is over my head as I do my best to yell. This will be the last thing I ever look at. Northwest River Supply highlighted in orange. Those are the last words I will read, and they don’t mean anything to me. There is no deeper meaning to my death. There is just … well death.
Finally, this kayak is being moved from above my head. Somebody has gotten their stuff together and thought, “My God, we need to get that boy out from under there!” I felt no thankfulness, nor appreciation. Just impatience. A strong hand is gripping me now, pulling me slowly from the two rocks.
My God did that hurt. My ankle bent in every way possible, obviously broken, to squirm out of the impending rocks. Twisting from right to left and back and forth in every degree possible.
Safety. Whatever that means. The girl had saved me. After being pulled from the water, the feeling of gratitude set in. And as we made it to land, transported to a hospital and finally tended to. I could see it. I could see the happiness initiating in my mind. The sense of wholesomeness. The sense that I had felt with my mom.  ♦

Senior prose, Second place: Our Special Treestand

BY PAIGE SZAROWSKI, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania
The brisk November wind is blocked by the wooden room as tall as a tree. Every November, since 2008, I have visited this place deep in the woods. This sacred place was a present from my grandfather, and built for my father and me by a close family friend. The land it sits on is an abandoned farm on the outskirts of Fairfield, Pa.
Although this treestand may look ordinary, it means more to me than anyone would be able to understand. The time that I have spent in this work of art has made me appreciate my surroundings. The woods around me are composed of pieces of nature that I normally would not notice.
By the middle of November, the majority of the crunchy leaves have left the trees bare and naked to the winter wind.
Every now and then my eyes catch a movement; they trick me into believing that a deer is approaching. I realize the movement that caught my eyes was merely a dry and crispy leaf that was trying to remain on the tree as long as it could.
The gust of wind was just powerful enough to pry its remaining attachment away from the branch. As I watch the weak leaf fall, I cannot help but get excited for the promise of snow that is to come after the remaining leaves are stripped from the trees. The changing of the season is the most beautiful transition to witness. The weather and leaves are not the only things that I notice in the woods.
Every now and then, I am not fooled by the falling leaves. I can hear the soft crunch of the leaves as the graceful creature walks nervously, trying to venture through the woods unnoticed. Its light brown fur often blends in with the colors of autumn; but a trained eye can see the slight flicker of a white tail. Seeing the beautiful creature in its natural habitat is one of the most exciting and wonderful sights to see. While experiencing all of the peaceful nature, I have one of the most influential people in my life right by my side.
Since I am not 18 yet, my father has to assist me while I hunt in our treestand. Even when I am technically an adult, I will still want him by my side. He sits in the opposite corner from me in the swiveling, slightly-
cushioned chair, observing all of the nature that is occurring behind me. Since the shape of our treestand is a rectangle, and there are windows on all four sides, it is impossible for one person to see everything.
Whenever we first climb into the treestand, it is only a matter of minutes until I can hear his soft snore. As soon as we hear the first gun shot of the season, he and I are wide awake and alert. I would have none of these memories of the treestand without my father.
The memories I have made in this treestand are what have made it special and important to me. I spend quality time with my dad when I hunt. The nature that I see, through the sliding windows, is nothing that can be captured in a picture or video. Without this treestand, I would never have such a great appreciation for nature as I do today.
We may not always see deer, but experiencing nature and spending quality time with my father is what makes our treestand special. ♦

Senior prose, Third place: First bird signals a great day of duck hunting

BY JOSHUA ROLLINS, Hermantown, Minnesota
The smell of microwaved waffles and syrup wafts throughout the camper, beckoning me to wake up. This is one of those times that the allure of food isn’t quite enough to get me out of bed, forcing my dad to come over and shake me.
I know what is waiting for me outside though: The fun of shooting all day, and the promise of getting some ducks along the way. I eventually manage to pull myself out of the small bunk I’m sleeping in and to get the day’s first meal. The rest of the group is sitting at the table eating breakfast quietly. They talk about what is to come in the rest of the day, and of how many ducks that they’ve shot versus the next guy. I pull on my camouflage pants and jacket, slide my boots on, grab my hat and we’re out the door. We toss the guns, decoys, and the blinds into the back and start up the truck. Everyone jumps into the cab and then we’re off.
Now that we are on the way I know I can get a little more shut-eye before we arrive at the spot we’ll hunt this morning. Falling asleep is easy enough when you don’t have to worry about much talking and the rest of the world is still pitch black.
I’m awakened again when I feel the truck bumping over big ruts in the cornfield. We are close. We pull up behind an enormous hale bale to hide the vehicle from the ducks. My dad shuts off the truck and lets everyone know it’s time to get out. We go to the tailgate and take out everything we need.
I hear the clicking of shell belts as each pouch is filled with three 12-gauge shells. I pull my gloves on in an attempt to keep out the frosty air from my fingertips so that I can keep pulling the trigger. My uncle hollers to follow him through a field towards the spot we will be hunting.
A low fog hangs over the farmland, barely masking the lake from view. The crunch of dead soybeans underfoot feels familiar as we trek across the immense field between us and the lake. When we get closer I can hear the chatter of mallards, and the sound of wings cutting through the air as they fly above me.
My uncles tells my brother to hide in a small stand of reeds along one of the banks and then he tells me to go a little farther ahead. My uncle’s boots splash in the water while he is putting out a few frozen decoys. I find a comfortable spot where I can stand and watch for the ducks that will be visible in a little while.
Once I get settled in I pop open one of the pouches on my shell belt to reveal the three maroon cartridges inside. I pull them out one by one and slide them into the breach of my Remington. My uncle yells to us that is legal shooting hours and to take any shot that we can get.
I can catch a small glimpse of the sun peeking out above the horizon. We scan from one edge of the lake to the other to search for low-flying ducks. I spot a group of about five ducks coming towards me, straight up the lake. I ready myself by staying low in my blind and click the safety off on my shotgun.
The cold steel of my barrel slides through the reeds getting ready for the first chance of the day. I line up one of the ducks in my sights and squeeze the trigger nice and slowly. Boom!! My first shot echoes across the still and silent lake.
The muzzle flashes as all of the energy from the shell is pushed out the end of the barrel, and I catch a blur of the duck falling from the sky. I quickly reload as I slide the pump down and back up to chamber a new shell. I take one more shot at the other ducks but they have already veered off in an attempt to save their own lives.
The smell of burnt gunpowder now hangs in the air around me and my barrel has heated itself up, warming my chilly hands. Two empty shells now lay at my feet, having fulfilled their purpose. My dad tells me to go get the duck that fell out of the sky just moments ago. I’m not quite sure where the duck landed so I have my dad direct me to where it is. He tells me to go a little right then a little left until I get to some soybeans.
Right about when I get to the edge of the field is when I see it, a massive mallard drake lying on the ground. I pick up the duck to examine it a little closer. The first thing I notice how soft the features are and how beautiful the colors appear. The dark green on its head is similar to that of pine tree needles, and the blue on its wing like that of a lake on a sunny day. I carry the duck back to my blind and set up in wait for the next group of ducks.
Today is going to be an excellent day. ♦

Senior poetry, First place: Father and daughter bonding

BY ALEX DIETZ, Zanesville, Ohio

The two of them stood in the middle of the water,
The current slipping away, quick and cold,
The sun slow at his zenith, sweating gold, once in sullen
summer of father and daughter.

Maybe he regretted he had brought her-
She’d rather have been elsewhere, her look told
Perhaps a year, but now too old.
Still, she remembered lessons he had taught her.

To cast towards shadows, where the sunlight fails.
And fishes shelter in the undergrowth.
And when the unseen strikes, how all else pales.

Beside the bright-dark struggle, the rainbow wroth,
Life and death weighed in the shining scales,
The invisible line pulled taut that links them both.

Senior poetry, Second place: Those weekends

BY BRENNA WALTON, Champlin, Minnesota

The smell of fresh, crisp air
And the sweet aroma of wildflowers
Remind me of you
When we go fishing

Not many words are exchanged
But it’s fine by me
Just to sit there
Listening to the wind and water

Whoosh! Whoosh!
Goes the wind
Grabbing at
Our ears

Thud, thud
Goes the blue, green water
Licking at
Our boat

You just smile
Content and relaxed
You sit back
With not a care in the world

I can see your center while fishing
No screens or shades
Covering you up
With stress or fake smiles

I can see your personality
Is like a stuffed bear
Fierce on the outside, but as you take
a look
Soft and squishy on the inside

As we fish
The layers of makeup wash away
Leaving, though slightly pink,
A caring, selfless person

Fishing brings back your
Laughter and casual humor
As the boat rocks
And bobbers sink to the sandy bottom

There’s nothing I enjoy more
Than those weekends
Fishing on the boat
With my dad ♦

Senior poetry, Third place: Leaking

BY ALEXANDRA PALOCZ, Weston, Minnesota

A grey sky leaks drops of rain
bubbles in a pool of concrete
dirt and leaves and water
running together
things that were living
Someday, in a week
Or nine
or a year
they will be again
the patterns of the world
pulling it all together
and apart,
taking the leaks
and recycling them
into something new, like me
with these words
I write and the ink runs out
Freely, getting splotches
on the page
and on my hands
some which have meaning
that you can read
and some you can’t
salt and water and ink
running together
with the parts of myself
that drip onto the page
me, my body and mind running together
a single moment in a shifting pool
Right now, I’m like like the pen and the sky
Leaking ♦

Junior prose, First place: When 9.9 Horsepower is Close Enough

BY LIZ WEIERS, New Prague, Minnesota
You know the grass is always greener on the other side? That’s how my brother, Joe, and I feel about Cedar Lake. We live on the northeast corner, where the fishing is fine, but not compared to the west end. There you’ll
catch a limit of sunfish in an hour. The biggest are on the southwest end of the lake.
Joe and I used to fish every day in the summer, but we could only leave our dock when our dad took us on the pontoon. He rarely had time. We couldn’t use the pontoon alone. So we were stuck on the side of the lake with OK fishing, where it takes hours to catch a limit of sunnies, and Joe once caught a 10-inch bass.
At the beginning of June, right after I finished 7th grade, Joe offered a solution.
“Liz and I want to buy our own fishing boat,” he announced to our parents. Mom asked if we had enough money, so we figured out we had around $1,000. Dad told us we should get an aluminum boat, not fiberglass because it was too heavy. Also, instead of getting a boat lift, we could set up a winch beside our dock and crank the boat up to shore.
Joe and I searched all the boat listings in Minnesota. I set the maximum price at $800 so we’d still have money for gas and other expenses.
During the next week, we found some boats that looked perfect. Dad disagreed, usually because the motor was in bad shape. We listened because Dad knows a lot about boats, but it seemed like only a yacht would satisfy him.
After three weeks, it looked like we’d be stuck fishing off our dock forever. Dad vetoed more boats. Some passed his inspection, but when Mom called the sellers, they said they’d already sold their boats. I was sick of it. I love fishing because it isn’t stressful, but after searching for a boat I was more stressed than ever.
One June 29, Joe and I read a new listing for $650. “14-foot aluminum fishing boat with 9.9-horsepower Johnson motor and trailer,” it said. Perfect! Underneath was a picture and the location, Lakeville, only half an hour away. We’d wanted our motor to be at least 10 horsepower, but 9.9 was close enough. Even Dad approved! Mom called the next morning.
“You and Dad will look at the boat at 6 tonight,” she told Joe and me. We cheered. The rest of the day dragged. We fished until we had to leave. Dad told us on the way not to act excited about the boat in front of the seller. If we acted like it didn’t meet our expectations, we might be able to buy it at a lower price.
Dad drove the truck up a driveway where a barefoot man stood by a boat. It was an ugly shade of tan mixed with brown and green. If Crayola made a crayon of that color, they’d call it “Blah.” There were three wood benches inside the boat with a red seat attached to the front one. The boat was a 1962 Sea Cloud with a 1981 Johnson motor.
It took all of my acting skills to pretend I didn’t love it. Joe and I solemnly agreed we wanted it. After the barefoot man started the motor with one pull of its rope, Dad asked the man if he’d take $600. He said yes. We
left with a boat!
“Come see our boat!” I yelled to Mom when we got home.
“How’s the motor?” she asked.
“It’s great!” Dad replied. He pulled the rope, but the motor didn’t start, and the rope didn’t go back in. That wasn’t funny.
Joe and I both went inside crying. After Dad worked on the motor for a long hour, it ran again!
We put the boat in the water at a public access two days later. Dad showed me how to drive first because I’m older than Joe by a year. I went slow and kept steering the wrong way. Halfway to our dock, Dad had me stop and try restarting the motor. I couldn’t. Dad tried instead, but he couldn’t either. Luckily, we had canoe paddles with us. We paddled the remaining quarter mile.
Dad ordered a carburetor kit to fix our motor. I helped him replace the parts. I couldn’t believe he expected those tiny pieces to repair IT, but they did! We put the boat back in the lake later. I drove more until Dad was convinced I could do it alone.
Finally, Joe and I loaded the boat with our fishing equipment and set off. We weren’t to go too far in case the motor quit again. We anchored in the middle of the lake where the crappies are and cast small lures. Joe caught the first fish.
It was scary being out on the lake alone. After two hours, we decided to go in. Joe started the motor and I drove away. I tried going to the dock, but I couldn’t steer!
“The anchor!” Joe yelled. We’d forgotten to pull it up! I stopped so Joe could.
We fished off the boat all summer. The motor always worked. We caught sunnies in the west end and bass in the southwest part. In October, we put the boat away for the season. Dad drove to the public access with me in the front. I spent the ride wishing the access was farther away. I loved being in my boat, even when I wasn’t fishing.
I was sad about putting the boat away, but ice-fishing season was next. Soon the lake would turn white with ice and snow, covering the lake beneath. A sea cloud. ♦

Junior prose, Second place: My First Buck

BY LUKE MORRISON, Albert Lea, Minnesota
My most memorable hunt took place on a cold, rainy October day when I was 12 years old. I was going with a first-time hunter, my mom. My dad, who had always taken me deer hunting, was working more than 100 miles
away from home and unable to go with me on this particular day. My mom was willing go and sit with me in the treestand in my grandparents’ woods and, as she said, “spend some quality time with me.” She had never been hunting before and did not know what she was getting herself into.
When we got to my grandparents’ house it had started to rain and all of our hunting clothes that I had hanging on the clothesline were soaked. I was ready to tell Mom that we should just go home because I didn’t want to sit in wet, cold clothes but she took all the clothes down and went to put them in my grandma’s dryer. I tried to explain that the deer would smell the dryer sheets on our clothes, but she told me it would be just fine.
I knew my dad wouldn’t have done that. By the time they were dry it was about 4 p.m., leaving us not much time to hunt. I told my mom that we could just go home because it was getting pretty late, but she insisted we try even though it was sprinkling again.
We got dressed, I grabbed my bow, and we walked through the woods to the treestand. We climbed up onto the double stand just got tethered-in and situated when I heard something rustling in the leaves below. I looked down and saw my grandma’s two cats climbing up our tree. They must have secretly followed us out to the woods.
The cats climbed all the way into the treestand with us and were sitting on our laps and shoulders, making me very frustrated. At one point I was even thinking about dropping them out of the stand, but my mom wouldn’t let me. (I really don’t think I could have done it either but the thought crossed my mind!)
Finally the cats climbed down and wandered home to grandma’s house. I told my mom to keep her eyes open because it was beginning to get dusky, and the deer would be starting to move. I told her to watch in front of us and I will look behind the stand. After about five minutes I heard something off to our left. I looked over but could not see anything. I kept watching in that direction and finally saw a deer flicker its ear. I didn’t tell my mom right away that I saw the deer. I wanted to wait and see where it was heading.
It finally came into an opening in the trees, and I used my rangefinder to see that it was exactly 32.5 yards away. My mom saw the deer now and loudly whispered, “There’s a deer over there.” The deer looked directly at us. I slowly began to stand up and get my bow ready for a shot. My mom had a death grip on my pants because she was afraid I was going to fall out of the stand even though I was tethered tight. My heart was racing and my mom’s hands were shaking as she was now grabbing around my waist.
The deer turned and gave me a perfect broadside shot. It was almost impossible for me to turn and shoot so my mom finally let go. I then turned, drew my bow and shot it right through both lungs. Now as the one shaking. I just about dropped my bow! We were both so excited and could not believe what had just happened.
My mom called my dad while I climbed down from the treestand to see if I could find the blood trail. I found it and marked it with my hat. As we headed out of the woods we heard a crashing sound not more than 50 yards away and we just froze. We were sure the deer was down. Both of us were jumping up and down unable to hold back our excitement. We headed back to my grandparent’s house and waited for Dad and our friends, Chad and Kaleb, to help us track the deer.
My dad arrived shortly and we told him the story of our hunt. He was very proud of us. We went back into the woods and my dad found the deer. We all rushed over and saw the awesome 6-point buck that I just shot with my bow. It was my very first buck ever.
My friend Kaleb and I dragged the deer out of the woods and I gutted it. I made sure to save the heart to cook that night when we got home. My mom thought that was kind of gross, but she was willing to fix it for me. I never dreamed this is the way I would get my first buck. Looking back on that day, I would not have changed a thing. Thanks Mom!  ♦

Junior prose, Third place: Heart of the Hunter

BY CAROL GREGOIRE, Lakeville, Ohio
Bang! Bang! Bang!
The gunshots echoed in the woods. Thirteen-year-old Jessie Gilbert smiled as she walked up to her brother, Kyle, and surveyed his targets.
“Not bad,” she said teasingly. “For a boy.”
Kyle grinned.
“Hey, we’ll see how good your aim is when you get back from the hunt with Dad.”
He handed her the gun. Dad nodded at Jessie as she readied to shoot.
Jessie put the gun up to her shoulder and squeezed the trigger. Bang!
A few days later, Jessie peeked out from behind the deer blind. Nothing in sight. She sighed and changed position. Glancing up at Dad, she asked, “Do you think something will come soon?”
Dad smiled at her and nodded. Jessie switched her gun to the other shoulder and looked out once more at the wooded forest. They had picked a nice spot to wait- right next to a stream that wound its way through the forest.
“And with the salt block that Dad put out,” Jessie thought, “we should have a good chance of getting a deer. Now if only one would come.”
She settled back down to wait.
She really wanted to get a deer this time, because Kyle had gotten a nice buck the last time he had gone hunting with Dad. So far, Jessie had only been able to get a rather scrawny-looking doe.
She wasn’t hunting just for that, however. Dad had taught all of his kids that hunting wasn’t just about the deer you had at the end of the hunt. It was also about what happened in between leaving to hunt and coming home with a deer. The wait was good as well.
Jessie thought through what would happen if she shot a really nice buck. She imagined coming home triumphant and Kyle saying,” “All right, all right, you’re pretty good at hunting.” She knew that she probably wouldn’t get anything, but it was still fun picturing it.
Suddenly she noticed Dad motioning her to keep quiet. He slowly pointed out to the stream. Jessie’s mouth fell open as she saw a magnificent buck standing at the stream drinking. She slowly drew her gun up to her shoulder. After lining up the sights carefully she pulled the trigger.
The deer jumped, looked around quickly, and ran away through the woods, its tail up like a flag. Jessie sighed in frustration as she put her gun down. She glanced at Dad. He smiled sympathetically and patted her shoulder.
“Why did I miss?” Jessie asked herself. “I had lined it up perfectly!”
She shook her head and settled herself in for another long wait. She kept rebuking herself for missing the shot.
As it got closer toward noon, the weather grew colder and colder. Gray clouds blocked out the sun and a few snowflakes fell, warning of a snowfall to come.
Dad dug in his backpack and handed Jessie a granola bar. She chewed on it absent-mindedly, still thinking about that buck. All of a sudden she heard a crackle. She looked over at Dad. He was looking out at the woods intently.
“Could something be coming this soon?” she wondered. She got her answer quickly as a deer stepped out of the woods and began licking the salt block. It was just a doe, but a nice one nevertheless.
“Here we go again,” Jessie thought. She really wanted to be able to get a deer today, so this time she made sure that she aimed correctly. She tried to remember everything Dad had taught her to do.
“Line up the sights, aim about one and a half inches above the head, and pull the trigger,” she thought.
Jessie hesitantly squeezed the trigger. Did she hit it? Yes, she did, and in the right spot, too. The deer staggered before dropping to the ground, its head settling on the frosty grass.
Dad and Jessie climbed down out of the deer blind and inspected her kill. It was a clean shot. Jessie was excited.
“Was it a good shot?” she asked anxiously.
“Good?” Dad said, smiling. “It was great!”
Jessie grinned back at him, relieved. Dad fished into his pocket and pulled out his hunting knife.
“Would you like to do the honors?” he asked.
“No thanks,” Jessie answered emphatically.
She watched with a wry face as Dad gutted the deer, knowing that the next time they went hunting she would probably have to gut it herself.
Then Dad attached the deer tag and the two got up and carefully took the deer through the woods to their truck. They put it in the back and set off toward the nearest check station. As they drove along, Jessie couldn’t help admitting to a feeling of accomplishment. Just wait until Kyle saw her deer and heard about the shot she’d made. He’d be green with envy.
Soon they reached the check station. As Dad and another man stood outside, doing all the registration work, Jessie stayed inside. She noticed some pictures on the wall and walked over to them. They were pictures of hunters, some her age. They were all smiling happily, even the ones who didn’t have a very big deer.
Jessie realized that it wasn’t really the size of the deer that mattered – it was the heart of the hunter. Some just hunted to kill, others to win prizes. And some hunted for the experience and the lessons that they got from it.
Soon it was time to go home. Before leaving, dad took a picture of Jessie with her deer. She made sure to smile as it was taken. Then the two climbed into the cab and set off for home, driving straight into the freshly fallen snow. ♦

Junior poetry, First place: Atop a Mountain in the Alaska Wilderness

BY DREW KLUTHE, Bemidgi, Minnesota

Above me the sun shines through the clouds,
Like a candle breaking through the dark.
An eagle soars, letting out triumphant screech
as it clears the mountain’s peak.
That peak, the final challenge of my climb, stares at me as if to say
“I dare you.”

Below me is a defeated trail, conquered by me.
The footsteps in the dirt like a bread trail, leading to the final
I see my family, gasping for breath as they try to catch up.
I was always the fastest, so I wait.
Sitting on the plush, soft snow.

To my left a small patch of trees clings to the mountain.
Beyond, the city of Anchorage is lively-
It’s the 4th of July after all.
Parades march through the city,
Horns, drums, and singing can be heard even from where I am.
Boats leave port, and tourists snap pictures as orcas follow ferries.

To my right, the vast Alaskan wilderness seems to go on forever.
The lush pines and the clear gushing river
Make this mountain seem almost dull.
An airplane sways me back to the present.
“Stupid airplane” I think.
The plane seems to read my thoughts as it turns away toward the
Leaving me atop a mountain in the Alaskan wilderness. ♦

Junior poetry, Second place: Reincarnation

BY GABRIELLA C. ECK, Jasper, Indiana

Winds whistle between the trees as
Thunder and lightning wrestle
In a contest of strength.
Hail rips the woods apart
Leaving only ghostly trunks of evergreens.

The forest is gone.
The creatures that played
In and out of the twisting
Tree paths are now a
Scattered memory of days ago.

Death fills the air in this
Place of destruction.
Roots of the fallen guardians
Gasp fresh air for the first time.

Rocks, the only victors against the winds,
Now become home for the
Carpet of lush green moss
That carries the first seeds of new life. ♦

Junior poetry, Third place: Respect for the hunt

BY MARAIS HOUSER, Esko, Minnesota

Sitting in a majestic oak tree,
My gun by my nervous hands,
Listening, waiting, for a break in the stillness,
Nothing, noth… There! Crackling, crackling… stop
Slowly, carefully my gun is now perched waiting.

A noble beauty lightly saunters out of its hiding in
the woods,
All breath is gone. My arm is shaking,
While my heart is beating and pounding,
My eyes stay glued on my nervous goal,
The deer stops and is cautious.

Sweaty hands meet cool surface,
Sound breaks the barrier of stillness,
Bullet meets target.
Standing now, in a majestic oak tree,
Out of respect for the noble beauty which has fallen. ♦

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