The Power Of Imagination


"When power corrupts, poetry cleanses," President John F. Kennedy once said.

For Samuel Johnson, "Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth."


Rim Country Middle School student Geneva Delaine Eckstein (center) took first place in the sixth-grade division of the school district's 2003 Poetry Contest for her poem, "The Pine Tree." Joining her under the source of her inspiration are seventh-grade winner Robyn Mueller (left) and eighth-grade winner Shea Larby.

In today's technology intense world, we have less time to read much of anything, let alone poetry. But good poetry is still being written -- even right here in Payson.

The winners have been chosen from a record 115 entries in the 2003 Poetry Contest sponsored by the Payson Unified School District.

Noted American poet Carl Sandburg summarized the limitless range of poetry when he wrote, "Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits." None of the students who entered PUSD's 2003 competition wrote about hyacinths or biscuits, but just about everything else was fair game.

In the foreword to a bound collection of the entries put together by Susan Campbell, the district's curriculum secretary, she wrote:

"Imagination is a wonderful thing. Who would imagine that a mundane event like a yard sale, an everyday place like a messy closet or an ordinary animal like a house cat could become the topics of poems, but they did in this year's poetry contest. There were serious subjects, too: tributes to parents and friends, questions about war and peace. Add metaphors galore, rhymes ofttimes and free verse plenteous, and you have the 2003 Payson Schools Poetry Contest."

Here are the first-place winners, but you really should read all 115. As American poet Walt Whitman put it, "To have great poetry there must be great audiences, too."

You can get your copy of the unexpurgated bound collection from Campbell at the district office, 514 W. Wade Lane. But call her first at 474-2070 and let her know you're coming.

First Grade

Rose the Turtle

by Audrianna Baez

Julia Randall Elementary

My turtle Rose

Makes me laugh

She walks funny

And the harder she paddles

She gets nowhere

She's a mad little turtle

But she's God's sweet pet.

Second Grade

The Chocolate Cake

by Ruben Gonzales

Payson Elementary

I saw a chocolate snake

Who was in a chocolate cake.

And when I bit it,

I wanted another.

And then I got so fat.

And I said,

"No more cakes with snakes."

Third Grade

Love is True

by Payton Pettet

Julia Randall Elementary

Love is true when near the deep blue

And the sun shines down on the ground

Wind in your hair, life without a care

Feet in the sand, as if you were standing

In God's hands. The sounds of shells sound like

Churches bells. As the seagulls fly in the sky.

Fourth Grade

The Yard Sale

by Will Conlin

Frontier Elementary

There was a yard sale

It was at the jail

There were all sorts of things

From springs to diamond rings

They sold broken skis

And boxes of mac and cheese

There were rusted fishing hooks

And giant history books

They had a jeep

And a bird that goes cheep

There was a picture of a queen

And an old TV with a shattered screen

There is a shirt with a stain

And a toy that looks like a brain

There is a doll that can wink

The problem is all these things stink

Fifth Grade


by Lucy Schouten

Frontier Elementary

I bought a kangaroo today.

Oh please don't ask me why

She looked so lonely standing there

I simply had to buy

With yellow eyes and a bushy tail

My cat named Kangaroo

All of the dogs in the neighborhood

Barked at her "aroo"

She chased them round the building

She chased them round the block

She chased them to the waterfront

They fell in at the dock

But Kangaroo that rascal cat

Stepped primly to the side

They slowly started walking home

Full of feline pride.

Sixth Grade

The Pine Tree

by Geneva Delaine Eckstein

Rim Country Middle School

The pine tree's branches reach out

Like bird's wings ready to fly.

It stands tall as a soldier ready to march.

It covers the small animals in the

Rain like a huge umbrella

It feels as strong as a lion ready to

Pounce on its prey.

Yet it yells as loud as a horn on a

Silent night and calls for rain.

In a drought it fades away like desert

Sand on a windy day, it fades away.

Seventh Grade

Nature Talks

by Robyn Mueller

Rim Country Middle School

Snow falling on cobblestones

Rain falling on rocks

In all of this

Nature talks.

In the moonlight's silent glow

Where no one else should ever go

An owl squawks its careful warning

Where someone might tread only in morning.

The wind in the trees blows peacefully

The leaves stir in silent dance

Life is in this waking forest

As night sings the coming day.

Eighth Grade


by Shay Larby

Rim Country Middle School

It approaches after the finale of the sun, singing its sleepy song.

The shining stars awaken to greet the lonely souls watching upon

them in the dark cloak of the night.

The dark looming sky spots a single soul perched up on the roof.

They surround that watchful soul, singing their song of sleep and dreams.

The sleepy chorus beckoning those who can hear, to fall into their

constant dance of the Night.

The watchful eyes peel away, falling away to the sweet chiming of

the silent giants.

They keep singing their sleepy solos watching the towns beneath them, their innocence hiding the true face of the world.

The stars start to fade, their voices fading, and the ever-enchanting spell weakening.

The first rays of the sun strike, the once brilliantly bright stars blink

out into the abyss of the dawn.

They hold their song longer, long enough to see their lonely souls

awake to the stronger song of the morning sun.

The stars retreat back to their black world and wait,

Wait until the all-consuming darkness can swallow the sunlight

And create their entrances to sing their never-ending, ever-enchanting

Musical encore.

Ninth Grade (No winners)

Tenth Grade

From a Daughter's Point of View

by Julie Kudlicki

Payson Center for Success High School

I don't see you,

Where did you go?

I can't feel you,

Are you still there?

I don't hear your voice,

Did it trail away?

Your scent is gone,

But where are you?

If you are gone,

Where did you go?

Was it me?

Did I chase you away?

I'm all alone,

I'm scared,

I'm afraid,

But most of all,

I am confused.

What exactly happened?

Were you in pain?

Were you scared?

Why'd you go away?

You left me here,

All alone.

Without you,

What am I to do?

They said you were fine.

Was it all just a lie?

They said that you

Were gonna be okay.

Did you go and join momma

Up in the clouds?

Is she alive?

And is she okay?

I love you daddy,

I miss you a lot.

Don't be afraid,

I will never forget you.

Loving you always,

Your daughter.

Eleventh Grade

Without Her

by Cesar Flores

Payson Center for Success High School

Opening the door

I think of my mom sitting

In the living room

Watching what's the news from around the world

Sitting on the comfortable couch

Relaxing her feet on the

Foot stool

Her black hair tied back

Hanging down the left shoulder

Opening the door

I think about all the time she's been

There when I need her

When I broke my finger

She ran outside

Trying to stop the bleeding

I was six

Her carrying me inside

The car

Then to the hospital

Opening the door

I think of what I'll do when I open the door and she is no longer there

When her time's finally up and she's gone

Knowing that I'll

Be lost and confused

I would slowly vanish

Like the dying smoke

From a fire

Twelfth Grade


by Sara Marafi

Payson High School

Inches apart, I am trapped in our car

Speeding. All else is a blur but the inside

You are driving too fast

So quick I am thrown against my seat

Our little sports car running so hard

Burning up rubber, going to crash

I know it is dangerous

But you are not slowing down

Hurtling down the road

Pumping the gas, shifting the gears

This can't be good -- healthy, or safe

But my heart is racing. I love the feeling

Moving so rapidly wheels spin off the road

I can pretend we are forever.

Our path races the night

I know this is lethal

And I know you've had too many

Just like everything blurs for me as well

What my liver absorbs has absorbed my fear

The engine is screaming a song in my ear

Everything flies by the two of us

It strikes terror. It feels good

I wonder if you see our end

We are fleeting toward it

I know Hell feels a lot like Heaven

But I have to save myself

I must leave you to destroy the car

I never feel safe anymore

I'm ending it here -- I'm jumping out now

I've just got to open the door.

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