Selected Photography, Art, and Poetry Winners: Reflections of Creativity

by Holly Ann Welker

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    The Birthday Present

    This new tractor was large and sturdy
    but most of all it was red.
    Things moved quicker painted red,
    like fire engines, and there had been
    two red candles on that cake
    that had disappeared so fast.
    Red. Big people spoke to him
    but the tractor spoke louder,
    of cold tile floors in need of plowing.
    The wheels turned smoothly as the blades
    dug up acres under the kitchen table
    so he ignored the ache in his knees.
    He wiped his forehead.
    It would be a fine harvest!
    He kept his eyes on the end of the row
    while the wheels turned smoothly,
    the engine hummed softly
    and said red, red.

    Sunset Song

    Petals of roses, flamboyant and soft
    float from the earth
    when their duty to the bush is through.
    As the sun leaves the sky
    they gently flame the horizon,
    and like scented seraphs they
    herald the stars.
    If I were a sleepy cygnet
    (Sometimes I wish I could be)
    I would wake in the early evening
    to fly over the silver sea.
    I would wait for the sunset to be mirrored blow,
    Broken somewhat by ripples and dappled
    by galaxies.
    Then I would soar for a while
    through translucent clouds.

    [photo] Photo by Julie Thornley

    [photo] Best Photo by Wayne Rickords

    [illustration] Illustrated by Karen Bennett

    Canned Speeches

    I wanted to say something
    wonderful but the words
    ran together like water-
    colors in the rain and
    turned muddy grey, the bright,
    new thoughts that colored my
    mind. So I opened a tin
    can of stale talk
    and smoothly blurted precooked
    answers that faded in the air.

    On My Father’s 50th Birthday

    When my father read he’d push his lips together
    very tight, till they stayed that way without
    a book around. I liked to ask him questions at
    night when he was alone reading in the living
    room, watch him take off his glasses, lock his
    fingers. He always had the answer I wanted,
    though not briefly.
    He felt so guilty for making us
    live in the same small town he grew up in
    that he told me and my sisters never to
    become lawyers. We promised. We knew lawyers
    were nice people, but people with mouths tight
    like Daddy’s, and they thought so much at lunch
    that they either wore bibs or took off their ties.
    He was relieved and almost 40 when my brother
    was born. On John’s seventh birthday he
    bought two BB guns, yet I never wondered
    why he didn’t buy himself a doll on my
    birthday. When I turn 19 this December
    Daddy will tell me how lucky I am to still be in
    college and give me something he wants himself.
    I’ll thank him, tell him I’m so glad to be home
    and kiss that mouth and when the streets are
    quiet and it’s dark outside I will go in the living
    room and ask him a question.

    [photo] Photo by Aaron Vinck

    [photo] Photo by Lynn Howlett

    [photo] Photo by Tracy Jones

    The Balloon

    I thought about you
    today in the middle
    of psychology while
    a filmstrip about
    human behavior clicked
    on the white wall
    of the auditorium.
    The thought rose
    in my brain like
    a balloon at the rodeo
    and bobbed
    on the top of my mind.
    I felt good for just
    that moment today,
    then somebody
    said something and
    the balloon burst.
    Its empty corpse
    fell to the bottom
    of my imagination.

    Fields

    Silent squares
    and regal rectangles;
    Patchworks of gold
    and green and brown
    Acres of humble labor.
    Yet, for being the site of heavy work,
    They have a strange quality
    of beckoning
    And smell like freedom and wind
    and seasons
    rippling through their grasses.

    [photo] Photo by Frank Nilson

    Patience

    It’s lunchtime and I’m waiting,
    Waiting for the toast to pop
    so I can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
    Algebra in 40 minutes, I’m waiting for that.
    A test on the eighth chapter—I haven’t studied
    but that’s fine, I seldom do.
    I’m 16 and I’m waiting,
    Waiting to see the hips and waist
    Mother Nature generally hands out around now.
    I’m waiting for my handsome prince
    to appear from nowhere on a magic white
    charger,
    Smile, and hand me a single red
    rosebud
    just like the ones the cheerleaders sold
    for a dollar apiece on Valentine’s Day.
    But there’s no prince and no white horse
    Just basketball players
    in red VWs and blue Datsun pickups
    All too cheap to spend a buck on a flower
    for a poor flat-chested girl
    who occasionally writes poetry
    while she’s waiting,
    Waiting for the toast to pop.

    A Question Better Unanswered

    How many tomorrows are there
    to fill with promises
    and still have time enough
    to break them all?

    [photo] Photo by Dana Beck

    [illustration] Illustrated by Patricia Slade

    The Taste of Love

    Grandma
    sends her love,
    my mother said
    as she leaned over
    to kiss me.
    She’ll be here
    in a week.
    As I wiped
    mom’s lipstick
    off my forehead
    I wondered
    how grandma
    could put
    love
    in an envelope.
    Grandma’s
    in the kitchen,
    mom said
    as I raced in
    the front door
    with a
    finger painting
    in my fist.
    I found grandma
    behind the counter
    wearing an apron,
    her hands white
    with flour.
    I love you,
    she said
    handing me
    a warm
    cinnamon roll.
    I smiled
    a thank-you
    and finished
    my roll
    so I could give
    grandma
    a hug.
    But inside
    I was anxious
    to talk
    to my mother.
    I had to tell her
    that grandma
    couldn’t have
    sent her love
    in a letter.
    She brought it all
    with her
    and put it in
    the cinnamon rolls.

    Rain Reverie

    Our country road glimmers
    and beckons—free—
    It stretches on forever,
    Overhung by sky and tree.
    The road sparkles when I squint
    And glistens black and bright.
    The world smells so clean, like dawn,
    Because it rained last night.
    I stroll amidst this shiny green,
    Aware of lovely world.
    It seems to me the puddles have
    still rainbows in them, swirled.
    How I love it after rain!
    We all do, I suppose,
    When fields are green and puddles gleam
    With remnants of rainbows.

    Piano

    Softly, skillfully
    she plays a song
    Smoothing angry words and
    tight tensions
    till worries and upsets
    are pedaled into muddy oblivion.
    Gracefully caressing a sonata
    lingering pianissimo
    a soothing melody of golden air
    cool rain splashes fresh
    wind-filled notes of silver
    Until she has me dancing
    once more.
    Softly, she plays,
    a silk serenade
    a lullaby of soft satin
    And I am calmed,
    as stilled as a smooth blue sheet of glass-
    blown sea.

    [photo] Photo by Julie Thornley

    [photo] Photo by Jose Ortega

    [photo] Photo by Aaron Vinck

    Night Crier

    Now that you’re gone
    there’s a hole in the
    floor where your bed
    used to be. The closet
    is echoing white.
    The wind round our
    house whistles lonely.
    I sit in my chair,
    our lamp is turned
    off. My mind is my
    only companion.
    The evening my solace.
    A shadow to swallow
    the tears that escape
    in the blackness.

    I Didn’t Know

    I didn’t know I loved the weeds,
    silent, lazily swaying in the wind.
    I didn’t know I loved the old corrals,
    creaking, faded white,
    defying the weather year after year.
    I didn’t know I loved the marshes,
    silent, deep, mysterious,
    with their different kinds of reeds
    and black ooze beneath the still waters.
    I didn’t know I loved the birds
    fluttering in the early hours of daybreak.
    I didn’t know I loved the creeks
    and their songs
    as they polish stones smooth,
    giving me new life.

    Feet

    Feet are very sensible creatures.
    When I was running a mile and a half
    at 6:00 A.M. this morning
    I wanted to keep going
    but my feet knew heart attacks
    can kill anyone
    and stopped.
    Then, just for fun,
    I tried to get my feet to stop walking
    when I was on my way to school
    but they knew I was teasing
    and kept going.
    Even when feet make mistakes
    they have good excuses.
    If they trip on stairs
    it is because they are concentrating so hard.
    When feet are naked in soft, cool grass
    and they step on a rock
    it’s never their fault—
    Somebody else forgot to put shoes on.
    Today I said to my feet
    “Feet, you need to take life a little easier.”
    My feet were busy walking
    and pretended not to hear.
    But I had seen them
    wearing nothing but red toenail polish
    and I laughed.

    [photo] Photo by Wayne Rickords

    [photo] Photo by Mark Allen

    [photo] Photo by Rex Strother

    Haiku

    Leaves lushly litter
    The crisp, star-reflected earth.
    Moon sets them afire.
    Obsidian night
    Pierced by diamond stars, jade moon—
    Breaks to opal dawn.

    [photo] Photo by Julie Thornley

    Homecoming

    I listened intently
    as the speaker voiced from his heart
    the deep, inexpressible joy we would
    someday feel upon seeing our Father in Heaven
    again
    and rushing into His arms.
    My heart was full at this thought, but an
    understanding was not yet born.
    I returned home
    (The college coed!)
    and flung my suitcase, gathering my family
    into my anticipating arms.
    Ah! Completeness. I was home. But dad
    was still downstairs
    and I fairly flew, without a thought.
    It was as fast as a breath and as natural
    and life-sustaining
    to rush into his arms. A warmth of understanding
    came—so this is what it must be like.
    And I knew.

    [photo] Photo by Aaron Vinck

    [photo] Photo by Rex Strother

    [illustration] Illustrated by Shane Worrell

    [photos] Background photos by Gerald Bybee