The annual poetry contest sponsored by the Payson Unified School District is now history, and many of the entries reflect thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
Writing on a wide variety of subjects, the poems convey not only the hopes, dreams and fears of today's young people, but also an insightfulness that suggests that this generation is more grounded than we sometimes give it credit for being.
Lindsay Nelson, a junior at Payson Center for Success created a haunting word portrait in her first-place poem:
i sit on the bench
of the empty subway train
lit with the empty glow of overhead lights
with a few bulbs burnt out
leaving an uneven light
in the train
and on me
the rhythmic double-clicks of the rail
are all i hear
as i sway with the tune of the movement
as i ride alone
with nothing but an empty cave around me
and a notebook in my lap
with empty pages
as I ride
with no destination
Payson High School sophomore Ashley B. Dryer won a first place for this poem about trust and innocence:
A curtain of innocence and weakness surrounds us
Though we don't believe it's there
Our instincts tell us to "Grow up strong"
But do we even care
We think our world is secure
Like a child in its bed
But do we know the people
Who prowl our streets instead
Our hearts think that we can trust
But our minds say don't be blind
And when we see the real world
There's nothing to hide behind
For our curtain of innocence was all a facade
And we didn't see it run
For while you thought that it was your shield
You find out it's their gun
So now we must adapt
And teach our young the same
But yet again they're like us
They think it's all a game
So starts the brutal cycle
Getting stronger as it grows
For our children's children shall do the same
Or so the story goes.
PHS freshman Kristina Savage took first place with this poem about fear:
My greatest fear ... is my imagination.
I sense things that are not there.
I see shadows move, when everything is still.
My mind can not handle fear.
I lay in bed at night,
clutching my blankets around me.
Somehow I feel the blankets are a safety barrier between me, and them.
I hold my blankets close to my body, so as not to be exposed to the darkness.
This way I can feel my legs rubbing against the sheets,
and I know they are ok.
But my head, and my eyes,
are above the blanket,
above the safety.
My eyes wander around the room,
peering into dark corners.
And to the door.
Where I seem to await something,
to walk through the depths of the dark hallway.
Yet I see nothing.
But, I can sense it somehow.
I know that if I close my eyes,
they will start to advance towards me.
I can feel them staring,
and getting closer,
to only open my eyes and,
see that nothing is there.
I sweat, from the heat of the blanket.
I long to throw it aside,
to let the cool air dry my sweat.
But I can't, I musn't,
that would give them the perfect opportunity to attack.
So I endure the heat.
I tire from the tenseness my body has been in.
I try to relax, to close my eyes.
Maybe now ...
sleep will take me away from it all.
But I feel them again.
My eyes snap open and I remain tense still.
My eyes try to fight me,
they do not want to stay open,
they need a rest.
And yet, I force them to stay open
and to take quick, short blinks.
If only I was with someone.
Company always scares them away.
They don't like to prey on more than one person.
Maybe I could sleep with my mother tonight ...
I stir in my blankets.
Her room isn't that far,
maybe I could make it...
I set my bare foot on the floor,
then snatch it up.
I had forgotten,
I could not get out of bed.
I could hear the swoosh of a hand
at an attempt to grab my leg.
They would certainly take me if I got out.
And how could I go through the hallway?
That's where they are waiting.
I hear cackles as they laugh at me.
They know I cannot escape.
I have not the will power,
to make them go away.
So I lay back down in my bed,
my heart hurt by defeat.
You need sleep, my eyelids tell me, as they become heavier.
I am exhausted at the work my mind has been through.
Tears fill my tired eyes as I realize that I am not in control.
No matter how much I pray and wish for them to go away,
to leave me in peace,
they do not.
My mind makes them stay,
and they become more vivid by the hour.
Silently so they do not hear me.
I am so tired, why does this happen to me?!
I scream in my mind.
Why won't you leave me alone?!
I bury my head in my pillows to stifle my sobs.
They become silent.
Perhaps surprised at my actions.
I raise my wet face to see why they have stopped.
I no longer can smell
the odor of decay that they bring with them.
I see through my window
a glimmer of light.
A faint hint in the sky of deep blue.
"Thank God!" I whisper.
I now see that the night has ended,
and that another day has begun.
They are now withdrawn back
into the hell which they have come from
until tonight once again
When I will have to endure another long, awful night of