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Rotary Club’s annual high school poetry and short story contest winners announced

Mar 07, 2023

News News | 10 hrs ago

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The Rotary Club of Summit County has announced the winners of its annual high school short story and poetry contests, which are designed to encourage creative literacy among students. Winners received their award certificates and prize money at a Rotary meeting on May 2.

The contest is run in partnership with the Summit Daily News. The winners are as follows:

The winning poems and short stories approved for publication are reprinted below.

"Broken Compass"

This poem is written from the perspective of a soldier who is writing home to his lover.

I am unknown as an individual, but known as a groupEach wondering who will make it homeWe flinch as gunshots follow screams follow bombs as they explodeI distantly watch rats feasting on friends and foesI pretend to be home with Boe,Rowing down a river in a sea of greenThe warm sun soothing me,Pretending I do not see the things I’ve seen.

My head rolls downBack to the now,I feel numb.

I touch my words with such weightHoping they will reach where I cannot.As a lump clogs my throat,I worry my sacrifices will be for nothing.

I am broken.Not like Mike who lost his legs,And not like Dre who is shattered.He rocks away,Mumbling to himselfHe's miles away.

I am broken becauseI know the cost of loss,As I looked at himHis face reflected mineWe could have been friendsIn another time

His eyes begged,It was me or himAnd I chose him,His chest was still warmAs his life fadedI searched for who he was,As I wondered who I was.

Oh, Boe,How quickly we become past tense!

A lover.Held just above his heart,In his chest pocket, her satin glove.Somehow pristine and cleanDespite the war.I took his note,I’ll hand-deliver itIf I can.

I closed his eyesHoping he couldn't seeThe monster within me.

Boe,I dream of you rushing into my open armsAs sunlight streams down on golden hairAnd slender feet stir dust in air.I’m trying to make it home,Though my compass brokeAnd the stars hide in clouds.

I hope you can ignore the dust that settledAnd see my light that shines for you.

— Eliza Bradley

"Shadow Puppets"

I look upon my wallAt the big circle of light coming from my flashlightOut pops a rabbitThen a butterflyAnd a dogAnd a bird soaring high above my bedframe

I turn to my sister and laugh

I make my bird smaller by moving it away from the light

Then bigger by moving toward it

The bird made from the shadow of my hands flies highIt soars with so much freedomThe only limit is the circle of light

The dog comes nextIt howls at the moonWith my pinky as its mouthAnd my thumb as its earsIt roams aroundWalks fast or slowAnd watches the bird fly

The butterfly flaps its wingsSmaller than the bird due to my sister's small handsAs it flutters around the lightMy dog chases itIt lands on its noseSuch a majestic creature

The rabbit's ears are the first visible sightIt pokes its head into the lightWith the peace sign on my handA rabbit is bornIt hops around in search of some carrots or cornAlas there are noneFor I’ve run out of hands

As I turn out my flashlightMy friends disappearBut I know I’ll see them againThey’ll be there another night in another lightMy shadow puppets have no fear

— Bethany McConnell

"Publius was a poet"

Publius was a poetPublius was oldAnd you better know itPublius was bold

Publius was really good and knew how to writePublius knew how to put up a good fightThey banished him to an island because he was to coolHe made the black sea his big giant poolPublius had 3 wives, each one at a timeHe made great poems and knew how to rhyme

Born in Sulmo, in 43 B.C.He made 15 books about all of historyPublius went by his middle name Publuis had an emotional brainPubluis had started to go pretty insaneHe went out of control like a crashing freight train His life was complete and anything but plain

Publius ovidius naso Just Like rudy and his lassoAnd the people of burkina fasoHe had a passionA passion for poemsAnd then he died

— Finnegan Norris

"The Clock of Life"

The clock of life is always ticking,Each moment gone,Forever fleeting,The hand that moves with every breath,Remind us of our certain death.

We carry it with us every day,A constant reminder to make our way,To live our lives without delay,To cherish every moment,Come what may.

For time is precious, oh so rare,And life is fragile,Handle with care,We never know when our tome will end,So let us love and make amends.

Let's not waste it on petty things,Or hold grudges that tie us with strings,So let us love and make amends.Let's when our time will end, us in love and peace wends

Let's not waste it on petty things,Or hold grudges that tie us with strings,Let's forgive and move on with grace,And live each day with a smiling face.

For we never know when our clock will stop,When the sands of time will finally drop,So let us make the most of every day,And cherish the moments that come our way.

For it's better now than too late,To love, to laugh, to appreciate,The time we have is a precious gift,Let's use it wisely, before it's adrift.

— Nora-Noemi Simon


Way back on thu yold farm thu dun beavers runt thu farming land and deer hunt’n land by flood’n thu whole damn thing and that ain't gonna happen, and we needed to continya thu legacy of scalpin bevers and make’n sure thuy don't return to thuir families. Now m’ole granpappy fought in three world wars that was thu World War two fighting against the Japs, Korean war, and thu nam. Thu king beaver named Heinz Gottenshtag code name Buefus did not have war experience but he had color and arme. thun it started thuy were back and thuy were back for good so thuy thought. thu war had begun a bloodshed and awful war that never seemed like it was going to end today.

thu war was ’bout even with thu mount of dead beavers and thu amount of flooded wrecked land and thu pain in thu ass that thuy had caused thu war was about even at this point. Nowadays thuse milliners think bastards are cute, and that thuy help thu environment and thuy need to stick around. I’m here to tell thum that thuy’re wrong and thuy need to kick thu bucket. thuse people don't understand thu destruction and how thuy destroy our woods. But we do and that's what made this war a little bit sweeter.

thu team is getting togethur and making a plan on how to take thum bevs down. We got a team of eight:ickle, Pine Top, Squirrel, Daddy Nut, Tiny Dancer, Skippy, Medicine Man and me, Bubba. We got togethur and we got thu plan for thu day.

thu plan is to bring thu beev’r to us and thu way you do that is you head to thu dam and plant explosives inside thu dam and eyeth’r shoot or light thu bomb and thun it creyats uh big ass hole in thu dam. thun thuy will come in thu night and dam it back up. That's when we are sit’n thure wait’n for thum with heavy altriery with thu latest technology. Such as red lights where thu beavers can't see it nor us but dam can we see thuir fat ass . When we see thum or hear thum swimming thats when we turn thu lights on and start shooting round after round and pop after pop 'till thur is no more splashing or rackit. After it falls slighlent it's a confirmed kill and it was a successful night. So during thu day we are gonna blow up 4 dam in thu afternoon so thu water still has a solid flow at dark. thun we come back at night and poach up. We will have 2 people per dam. 1 with light and one with a gun or if a gun has a red light thun both are armed.

As we wake up in thu morning, thu misses make me a homemade style brekky with a sweet iced tea with her famous eggs and bacon brekky. As I finish up I put on my coverall and grab my othur bute, heavy artillery, thu beaver slaughter side by side with a duck tape sight and a zip tie to securely hold on a red laser syte on and head to thu shed where I’m gonna meet thu guys at. It was a beautiful morning with a slight dew on thu grass and thu birds were chirping and turkeys on thu field. I walked out to old bessy she was my everything. I took her everywhere. That's where I lost my innocence to my cousin Mary on makepoint in thu family corn field. She was a 1974 ford f250 with a 4in lift and 42in rims and a dog box. She was a buet and a reliable one. Driving to thu shed of destruction listening to thu sweet home Alabama thu whole time remembering thu good ole days with thu cousins. I got thure with a rock hard addiction of killing bevers. I got out and opened up thu shed. It was glorifull one of my favorite things ever. That old mist of thu rotten wood and thu gunpowder made me a wee bit excited. We had everything. It may have been an ole rotten down shed to most people but it was my home, we had everything that you would need to start a war not to mention where shine is made when this war will conclude we will drown ourselves in some good’ol fashion hard distilled moonshine.

I start getting my stuff togthur and preparing for thu day I grab thu waiters, thu explosive device that consists of a homemade pvc pipe bomb. In my opin’nn thuy are thu best option for thu most destruction for thu least work. Thu guys show up and we talk for a little and nail down thu plan and crack open a cold one. Life is better a little tipsy I mean as Alan Jackson seyz five o’clock somewhere. We load up thu ammunition and artillery into thu truck and drive away to thu dam we are flying moc jesus down this dirt road and thu adrenaline is pump’n through my veins cuss if flip this hoe i go boom and get to meet thu man upstairs. thu sounds of 50 year old engines and thu sounds of my slightly drunk redneck friends on thu radio. one of my favorite things in thu world. We get to thu dam and we reassessed thu situation and go head and start planting thu bombs. This is when thu adrenaline starts pumping and it gets fun. thuse bombs are very jery rigged and have a possibility to go off very easily. We get into thu dam and set thu bombs deep into thu damn. We lit thu wik and ran as fast and afar as i could as thu rest of thu team stud back very far. I slipped and I thought it was over. It was about to end up being blown into bits. I kept trying to run but I was not getting far. It was a larger bomb thun what I useally use and did not know how far I needed to be but i knew I was not thure. I get out of thu swap and dive behind a tree for cover I hear thu bomb go off and I thought i went off and thun a big plum of fire and smoke erupted from thu bevers empire, thu shockwave goes right though me and I feel it all in my gut and thu sound was so loud and i could’n hear anything anyone els was saying. thu ringing in my ears was so loud. I was smothered in mud and sticks and logs were landing all around me. I looked to my left and in thu tree and saw billingham was mangled and only half of him was thure and dripping with blood and unrecognizable, thu forest was covered in blood n fur with thu sweet smell of burning flesh burning my nostrils, like when my dad tried to cook a squirrel with bud light and budder, god how I loved that smell. thu blood was dripping out of thu tree like a rainstorm and guts were hanging out of its carcass and thu eyes were hanging out of thu socket. thu damn critter never even knew what was coming to it, reminded me of thu good ole day back overseas in nam. After thu first line of defenses were out we proceeded to advance to thu main hub of thu beavers flooding operations. This meant that we would have to move through deep marshes of thu land. Now something yall dont know about Virgina is that we just don't have beavers in thu waters we got snakes that float and bite your ankles. We had to be very careful moving through thu deep marches. As we came up to thu second dam we started to set explosives on thu weak point. Tiny Dancer was an explosives expert from his time in nam he made the corpse dance he called a . That's where I met him outside of a small village that had just burned to thu ground. Now that smell was differnt from napalm, he says he puts just a hint of colombian sniffy dust in thu mixture. He said he made a very special mix of boom boom gel. This meant that we were going to burn those little bastards right out of thuir holes by burning it to thu ground. We set thu mix on thu pipe bombs and covered a magority of thu dam. Dancer said that we had to backtrack around 5000 yards due to thu possibility of causing anothur Hrosheemah. As we backtrack Daddy Nut and Skippy pump some water snakes right in thu head with thuir hillbilly shotguns thuy loaded those shooters with some special ammunition too. When we got out of range of thu soon to be geniside of thu damn beavers we lit it up and all was silent, we all turned to tiny dancers and he had an expression on his face that said wait for it. As soon as he finished that last word thu world as we knew it exploded. It was Hiroshima and Nagasaki all over again. thu fireball was so intense that it made me color blind and my kids and thuir kids colorblind. As we looked up at thu few remaining trees, thu branches were full of beaver carcasses, thu trees were crying blood and body parts were falling out of thu sky.

Tiny Dancer caught what seemed to be part of a beavers member and took a nice ole chunk out of it and exclaimed he did this back in thu war. We all celebrated by getting more drunk off good ole moonshine. But thu next problem was that thu whole damn forest was in flames and we had nothing to put her out so we grabbed a bucket and started throwing water on thu trees before thure ain't nothing left of thum. We have gotta keep movin and gettin thuse dams blown up so we can be ready for tonight. We decided to use anothur type of explosive to do thuse next dams so it is safer and more efficient as if we had anothur one of thu Tiny dancers explosive you could say that thu feds would be all over our operations on thu farm and we could not have that. . Tannerite was thu answer. We mix 2 types of powder that no one knows what thu hell thuy are, and pack a ton of it in a massive jug and battery strapped onto it and grab a big ole gun and snip that thing and watch it go kaboom. thu explosive was not as big but thu damage was still significant. thu blast from thu gun and thun hearing thu second blast was very cool sounding. This is how we are also doing thu last damn of thu day. thure were no flying beaver carcasses on thuse last two but thu holes were very large and all of thu dams were rushing with water so thuy should lure thu beavers thure at night.

It is now time to end this war for once and for all we headed out to thu dams, Squirrel and pickle are going to thu first damn, tiny dancer and myself are going to thu second, Pine top and medicine man headed to thu third and daddy nut and pine top were headed to thu last damn.

This is where it can get tricky because after gunshots go off sometimes thu rest of thu beavers will not come back and thun he could scare off Heinz Gottenshtag and this war will continue. So thu plan is to only fire if you have spotted him. People might ask, "How do you know I’ll know because my great grandpappy had shot him way back in 46 and left him hair less stripped down his back. So he is thu only fat ass beaver with a hairless strip. That's how we know it's him. So thu plan was simple: only shoot if you see him at your damn.

We head out to thu dams we were told to go to. I was feeling very good about it because this is thu dam that had thu biggest explosive and killed thu most beavers in thu blast so thuy will have thuir mexican beavers as my grandpappy would say and Heinz Gottenshtag. Me and thu tiny dancer get all set up and turn thu radio down so we are as quiet as possible. We hear some noises but none of thum are close to us or in thu water so we could fire. thun it all falls silent and he hears nothing for hours. Finally he heard a massive crash and thun a tree lands about 10 feet from where i’m sitting we get ready im at thu gun and and tiny dancer is as well we get ready and hear it jump into thu water we wait for it to swim a little closer and we look at each othur and count down from 5,4,2,1 fire. We turned on thu light and it was him. We unload our guns as fast as I ever have and thun drop my shot gun and draw my pistol and unload my 500 mag for good measure. And all fell silent. Me and thu dancer look at each othur and yell and say we finally did it. He looked at me and said run. I stopped for a second and thought what thu hell did thu boy do. He said hells wrong with you run so i ran as fast as i could and he threw a flaming torch onto thu damn and next thing you know thu whole sky is up in flames running beavers and ashes. I’m still running as I get knocked to thu ground and look over my shoulder it is thu decrapitated head from Heinz Gottenshtag. I was filled with happiness thu war was over at least we let everyone know about it and headed back to thu house and thu rest of thu night was a blur and we woke up next to 12 empty jugs of moonshine and Heinz Gottenshtag head ducked taped over thu wed’n picture with my ugly wife.

— Sam Hirsh and Jackson Cupp

"Through the Glass"

Looking down through the glass I wondered why the silly little humans went and sat in buildings all day. Why would they not enjoy the beautiful world I made for them? The trees were so tall, the ocean was so wide, and the mountains were so beautiful. It seems like I set up the habitat correctly. Of course, leave it to me to get the faulty world. And I wanted one so bad! More than Jesse for sure. She had her perfect little world of smiles and happiness, the perfect world for the perfect sister. Ugh! I was left with fighting, hatred, death, greed, and sorrow. How unlucky am I?

It all started last Christmas when I asked for my very own world and human starter pack. On Christmas morning I ran downstairs and recognized the packaging of the globe right away! I unwrapped it as soon as mom got downstairs. For the rest of the day, I set up my very own world. I called it "Earth," after my cat. It took about four days for the humans to fully grow. It was so normal until they found the gold.

The instructions said that it was okay to add gold because all it did was make the world pretty. I think that was where my world went wrong. The human started fighting over the gold. They started fighting over other things too. Like land, food, other stupid rocks, and finally an invention they called money. It was also strange! I set the world up perfectly. There was enough land and I fed them every day. As for the money, I could not understand why it was so important. They started growing really fast too. I am no expert but I definitely think there are too many humans in my world. With their heads down and no fun things in sight, my humans went back and forth between their houses and work.

The only humans who weren't working were dying. They had no shelter, no food, and no water. They got sick and sad and then died. It all happened so fast. Was I missing something? My globe got too hot too. The instruction sheet said that the globe should never be hot or cold to the touch. When I touch the globe, one day it's hot and the next it is cold. And I thought greed was bad!

I tried all of the general ways to fix my world. I sent a warning to the people. The instruction said that if something goes wrong, send a disease so the humans are reminded of what is important. So far it seems like that did not work.

I asked Jesse what her globe looked like just to make sure mine was really broken. She said, "all of the humans are happy all the time and celebrate every day. They smile all the time and laugh so hard the globe shakes." I asked if they ever cry. She said, "of course not." In her world, no one was ever sad. I thought "well at least my world is interesting." I asked: Do they fight? Jesse said, "absolutely not!" So how was I supposed to fix my world because it was clearly broken?

I finally gave up and wrote a letter to Grow your world. I explained my problem and how I tried to fix it. I told them about the fighting, the dying, the hatred, the anger, and the sorrow. I asked for a new world or at least a refund. A couple of weeks later I got my letter back.

Dear Lucy,

We are sorry to hear that you are having trouble. Unfortunately, we cannot offer a refund or a new world. From what you have described, you did everything correctly. Your world is not broken. If you look back through the packaging of your kit you will find a magnifying glass. Using the magnifying glass, you can look closer. Not all humans are happy all the time but if you give them a chance you will see that happiness is not even the strongest or the most important emotion. Our kits are not meant to create the perfect world, just an important one. If you would like a perfect world you can visit our sister company, "Sunshine and Rainbows" where we can offer a discount.

Sincerely,Grow Your World

I was so relieved! I did not do anything wrong! It was my mom. She got me the wrong kit. "Mom! For Christmas next year, can I have the "Sunshine and Rainbows" kit?"

— Kiera Stabile

"Mien of the dead"

The deep black river lets the white corpses of the dead float down the valley. They are the corpses of the workers, the corpses of those who after days of thirst could no longer withstand the desire for water and liquid. With a fast current, the Las Mulas creek carries away everything that gets in its way. It is the creek of death, the creek of the end.

Thousands of miles of black wasteland surround me. The roar of the engines, the drills make my hearing tremble. It is greed, the love of wealth and prestige, that tears the soul from the hearts of men, that makes them ungrateful, deaf and blind. They – the workers of this abandoned region, the land of sorrow and wealth, the area of the oil mine – have forgotten the wisdom of the living. True wealth is the wealth that stands by one even in adversity. Greed makes us poor, poor for love, happiness and joy. Their souls are as cold as ice and dark as these miles of pitch black oil mine itself.

Here there is nothing but the crowing of the vultures, waiting for my last hour to strike, the rattling and rattling of the snakes that slither across the pitch-black ground, torn by the sun and shiny with oil, and the loud sounds of the construction machines that fade into the vastness of the steppes, are the only sounds and the only animals in the world-painful vastness, which is bathed in the light of evening and in the bliss of the twilight silence. But the blissful silence is deceptive, for the greed of money and the darkness of heart of the strangers of this region hangs oppressively over the silence, between the clatter of the drilling machines.

The jeep sprints over the flattened roads, the small black pebbles peck at the cars. It is the land of the once ours. The Land of the Aztecs. They took everything they could from us to stop their hunger for greed, for money and glory.

The blood of my forefathers throbs through my veins. They knew the way. They knew every stone and every bush. They found themselves in nature. They saw their reflection in the fine deep blue brooks, which today flow down the valley black as night, missed by oil. They healed themselves with the gifts of nature and felt the beat of Mother Earth. Their song still echoes in these steppes.

But now the curse of greed lies like a carpet of dark sisal over the territory of my fathers. The strength of the threads is drunk in the power of destruction and the power of wealth.

I hear the excavators pumping the pitch black oil out of the ground. Hear the voices of the workers. Hear the voice of ours. They lost their spirit. Lost their bond with Mother Earth. They saw no way out, their hearts were too weak.

The thick stuffy blanket of fog veils the land without water and life. A cold breeze brushes my fine, narrow face. Darkness wanders around me, the world of all unhappy dreamers, the world of unstoppable destruction. Not a single ray of the power-souled, sunny daylight gets lost in this world of misery. Mother Earth took from us the light, the source of love, comfort and faith. It is the world where the silent people slowly disappear into the final light of darkness, before the angelic power redeems them forever into eternity.

In front of my inner eye I see the beauty of what has been. Notice the love that radiated these people, hear the music, the drumbeats that played in time with the heart of Mother Earth, the soft, delicate sounds of love, the light music of joy, the hard sounds of darkness and the fast, epic sounds of adventure, the rustling of the wind, higher the voices of children, the voices of people singing like a choir to the music. I hear the music of life. The music of the past, the beauty of the living.

My almost unbearable irritating cough shakes me. I reach for my metal bottle, but the water had been gone for hours.

This world of misery is as flat as the salt fields of Bolivia and as black as the moonless night itself. One cannot describe this God-sack quiet area, even if I still want to, because there is nothing here except nothingness itself. The thick, ugly clouds hang like cloths from the sky. Dust and the poisonous stench of gasoline and oil pollute the air. Further back I see the big heavy machines pumping the oil out of the ground, the big trucks carrying away the black sand and the men who sold their souls long ago. Miles and miles of nothing, until somewhere far back the black ground meets the dark gray, cloudy sky. Nothing lives here except the hardest. It is a land without water and life. The land that lies before me. The land of black sand, oil wells, drilling machines, earth jammers and death.

My head aches and throbs. Again and again I lose my consciousness, notice how a veil of blackness passes before my eyes. I find myself on the threshold of death. The transition to eternity. My only thought is water. My body needs liquid, but the mind holds me back. The water in the river is the VIP entrance to certain death and yet I do not notice how I slowly step by step towards the water…..

All of a sudden I stop. My steps, my thoughts, my life stops. In the black of the river, in the black of the deadly land, a small fiery red ginger flower floats very slowly past me and a few meters further on it stops at a snow-white corpse. Slowly I move towards it. Like a torch, a sign of light and love, a sign of life, it now lies before me. Gently I take the small flower on my fine, narrow hands and suddenly the flower unfolded, I hear the beat of Mother Earth in me. I feel the rhythm of life and love in me. The flower lost its leaves and with the next gust of wind they flew like butterflies into the black nothingness. I stand rooted to the spot. Small, glassy tears tumbled into the black, oil-polluted stream and just as I was about to turn away, to go back to my jeep, I smelled the taste of smoke, the taste of fire. I felt the heat on my dry skin. The fire was spreading all over the land. Letting the land of the dead soul light up. It was brighter than any day. Fire. The dry bushes, the bones of the dead, and the black oil-polluted sand itself burned. The fire crackled never music. And suddenly from the fire emerged a shadow. She was dressed in the green of nature, her hair walnut brown and full of luster, her face so loving and yet so drenched with sorrow. Tears trickled from her eyes like streams onto the earth, yet her spirit shone as brightly as the sun. She sang Atsila, to the beat of Mother Earth, to the beat of the steppes. The song of the fires. I wanted to run, but gravity pulled me, did not let me take a step. The deep, harsh tones of the Atsila sang with the fire. The figure came closer. But again and again it disappeared behind the flames. I screamed with the fire, screamed with the burning nature. Around me burns the oil mien of Guatemala. Suddenly I hear the voice of my forefathers. Their drums beat in time with the flames, in time with nature. I hear their voices, I hear the Sacajawea, the song of the bird woman, the song of hope and life. I close my eyes, listen to the interplay of life and death, the interplay of Atsila and Sacajawea, and hope that God hears my voice of hope and reveals to me the way to the future.

— Nora-Noemi Simon

10 hrs ago

Jun 5, 2023

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As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Summit County high school students who received honors for their short stories and poems hold their certificates at a Rotary Club of Summit County meeting on April 26. Pictured from left are Rotarian Marcy Woodland, Eliza Bradley, Sam Hirsh, Jackson Cupp, Finn Norris, Nora-Noemi Simon, Kiera Stabile and Summit Daily News Publisher Nicole Miller. Broken Compass Shadow Puppets Publius was a poet The Clock of Life Beavernom Through the Glass Mien of the dead As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible. Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.