Michigan River of Words—Michigan's Annual Environmental Poetry & Art Contest

2008 Poetry Winners—Congratulations!

Category III
Poetry Winners
Grades 7-9

1st Place
Patty Schlutt
Age 13

Crossroads Middle School

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Teacher: Rod Torreson

Dreams You Had When You Were a Child

Morning crept

over your senses in the form

of dying starts reaching

their last tendrils of light over a bright lake.

You walked. Since dunes pulled you up

to their smooth sunsets,

you followed your father's footprints

until you could bury your face

in the stars and breathe

the comfort and beauty

like you used to breathe it close to earth

when you'd bend your head

into the morning glories

and admire the way their leaves

arch into heaven.

It was early when you

stood out over the lake in

blue sweatpants. You've been

remembering your childhood often lately,

The sun a blurry red lullaby

that bled into your sleep as dreams do,

but they were good dreams

and your father walked through them with his

dark coat that was

old and stitched. He'd bought it in Mississippi

when he was twenty and still wore it

like a promise over his shoulders.

2nd Place
Emily Malone
Age 10

Immanuel St. James Lutheran School

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Teacher: Rodney Torreson

Visiting a River

the shore flooded

with wild magnolias

Bright, colorful fish


in the clear water.

You slip off your old

ratty sneakers,

dip your foot into

ice cold water.

Slowly your foot

reaches the bottom

of the knee-deep river.

The startled fish

suddenly come back

to explore the giant

foot. that

They wonder how it got there.

They think and think

until it's too much for them,

and it seems

like their tiny

brains will burst.

You take your

foot out,

start walking home.

The fish are relieved

and gladly twirl away.

3rd Place
Rebecca Chen
Age 12

Novi Middle School

Novi, Michigan


I sit by a stream, listening to it flow,

To water rushing by, never stopping for anything,

The sound soothes me in a strange way,

For now I can let go of all my worried calmly.

The stream laps against the banks, back and forth,

Like the gentle caress of a mother's hand.

It sparkles under the blanket of sunlight,

Reflecting millions of glittering golden "jewels."

It is sweet, cold, and refreshing when I take a drink,

As if it were my first taste of water in years.

I run an idle hand carelessly through the stream,

And fish come to nibble at my fingers, tickling me.

It is so tranquil and peaceful here, alone in the wilderness.

Category IV
Poetry Winners
Grades 10-12

1st Place
Rachel McGuinness
Age 16

West Catholic High School

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Teacher: Rodney Torreson

I Have Always Wanted a Giraffe for a Pet

I have always wanted

A giraffe for a pet.

When I was younger,

I had visions of a giraffe

That would stick its head

Into my bright pink

Two-story bedroom window.

I would slide down its

Graceful neck into my backyard

Which would morph into a


Full-size soccer field.

We'd play together for hours.

I would win, of course,

Because it was my house.

One day I saw a picture

Of a gray giraffe by a water hole

Gazing serenely off into the distance.

Rising out of the shadow

Of its hypnotizing neck were the words

"For information call the

South Africa Mystic Hotel."

The ripples in the water

Slowly distorted the letters

Until finally they were

Only the rocks

Surrounding the water hole,

Fragments of my impossible dream.

2nd Place
Johana De Los Ángeles Masis
Age 19

Colegio de Solentiname, Nicaragua


You���re a treasure, of beautiful light

that shines with much love

and tenderness the lives of your inhabitants

with your beautiful natural riches,

filled with smiles

all our lives,

the songs of the birds

the heart beat of my heart renews itself

when I watch the immense blue sky

that covers beautiful Solentiname,

I fill with happiness

because I belong to you.

How beautiful is my Solentiname!

3rd Place
Daniel Pakkala
Age 15

Hancock High School

Hancock, Michigan

Teacher: Stephen Smith

Water Everywhere

Water Everywhere

Streams, Rivers, Brooks, lakes

They are all connected

All over the world

The Great Lakes

Channels, Oceans, canals, Seas

Help with transportation

Small Boats, Big Boats

Lots of Bridges

Water Everywhere

Waves Crashing

Ponds, Springs, Rivulets, Tide Pools

Causing Erosion

Fishing, Boating, Swimming

People having fun

Water Everywhere

Honorable Mention

Britany Smestad
Age 12

North Point Christian

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Teacher: Rodney Torreson

A Waterfall

How it races down a torrent,

with all the other strands of water.

Then it flips over and lands on the finish line of rocks.

At that time it slows down into a river

and wins first place.

The price of being with the fish,

the friendly silent fish that splash around

up and down all day long.

The late ones rush into the seaweed homes.

The seaweed is moldy and slimly,

it is nothing you want.

The last place winners then call the wind,

to make the noise and blow the water

into a pool of zebra muscles; sharp zebra muscles.

National River of Words

Library of Congress: Center for the Book