Craig Middle School eighth-graders Sheyenne Cromer, 13, and Jake Vallem, 14, earned first place in the Carol Jacobson Memorial Poetry Contest, an annual event named in honor of the late Craig resident who helped launch the contest about six years ago. A poetry reading and awards program for the contest will take place at 7 p.m. Monday at Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Craig Middle School eighth-graders Sheyenne Cromer, 13, and Jake Vallem, 14, earned first place in the Carol Jacobson Memorial Poetry Contest, an annual event named in honor of the late Craig resident who helped launch the contest about six years ago. A poetry reading and awards program for the contest will take place at 7 p.m. Monday at Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave.

CMS 8th-graders try their hands at poetry through annual contest


If you go ...

What: Poetry reading and awards presentation for the eighth-grade Carol Jacobson Memorial Poetry Contest

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave.


“You have to sit there and think. It’s like a riddle.”

— Jake Vallem, Craig Middle School eighth-grader and first-place winner in the Carol Jacobson Memorial Poetry Contest, about writing poetry

Poetry Contest Winners

Craig Middle School eighth-graders recently entered in the annual

Carol Jacobson Memorial Poetry Contest. The winning entries are

included below. Please note more than one student was selected for

first, second and third places.

First place


By Jake Vallem

I am feeling terrible, malicious, mean and mad,

And dreadful and deplorable,

Snappy, sick and sad.

Perhaps nasty or unbearable

Maybe depressed, hateful or blue

Arrogant and annoying,

Like someone's untied shoe.

Mischievous and malevolent

And sleepy as a cat

Rebellious and rotten,

But not just a brat.

I might have all these feelings,

But I don't wish someone dead,

Isn't it simply obvious?

I woke up on the wrong side of bed.

I'm in a horrible mood today.

I hope I gave a clue,

But thanks a lot for asking,

And please tell me, how are you?


By Sheyenne Cromer

Petals soft as silk, rain down

along bark hard and splintered,

time stands still

she sways her arms in the evening wind

her leaves turn and twist

breaking free from her fibers.

She wraps her arms around the newly dewed grass

dances in the breeze

her roots connected to her growing soul.

Every moment her feelings burst

as she sheds her darkened shell

drooping branches getting small

roots shrinking

egg white surface appears

petals turn to strands of midnight brown

long thin legs appear

she stands in her new form

stumbles on the damp soil

falls on the crisp grass

amazed at the surrounding world

angles she has never seen before

new life she brings to those in her path.

Second place


By Paige Durbin

Cryptic hallows

Hallows of forgotten trees

Trees white as bones

Bones lie beneath the earth

Earth that crumbles under my footsteps

Footsteps heard in the silence

Silence fills the souls of trees

Trees that have long faces

Faces emerge from the shadows

Shadows so inviting

Inviting me to enter their darkness

Darkness fills the sky

Sky as deep and dark as an abyss

Abyss of neglected souls

Souls that moan from grief

Grief that can be lifted

Lifted from my heart

Heart that is pure

Pure of sins

Sins that cause cryptic hallows


By Nealy Shaeffer

Probation is like living in an aquarium

You'll always be trapped

Behind a glass barrier

Doing good

Doing bad

Endless paper work

It smells of morning breath

Of teeth chattering

Like a broken recorder

Like a dark dull knife

Stabbing my chest.

Papers dance in the wind

Murkiness, washed away

by crystal, clear new water.

I'm finally free.

Third place


By Bryce Tuttle

I walk through the morning mist

The sun awakening slowly, like a sleepy beast.

The hills start to sing,

Sing the elk song

I try to single out one,

Just one to hunt down

To eat all year round

To hang on the wall

To be proud of my prize,

To recognize his sacrifice.

The Surfers

By Riley O'Leary

Here they come

over the hill

To see her there

in lustrous curls

of golden foam.

Her white smile

makes them run to her.

Like young boys

with lustrous fancy.

Without warning

she upturns and roars,

Picks up the riders

drives them to shore.

She batters them

with waves like mallets.

She lets them know

They've overstayed their welcome.

The riders

forsake the broken waves.

She thunders goodbye.

as they leave

back over the hill.

Honorable mention


By Cheyenne Sequieros

Hope is the stars and moon shining down

The smell of the midnight mist

Happiness is the ocean breeze

Sand tickles between my stubby toes

Love is a twinkle in his eyes

The taste of his lips

Life is a freshly bloomed flower

The sound of a newborn's cry

Forgiveness is a new beginning

The second chance

Friendship is trust in one and other

The feeling of a hammock that cradles me

4-H Steers

By Kaitlyan Reed

Market steers

three black fuzzy beasts

rotund as obese walruses.

Tall, tough,

tricky to work with

they play childish games

punch me with boney heads.

Over worked

ready for market

grand champion


Forest life

By Tanner Hampton

Mighty waterfalls thrash the rocks below.

Animals awaken from deep sleep.

Cool fresh air whistles through green pines

and a blanket of light fills the forest with warmth.

The ground is a battlefront with predators and prey.

Birds, with gold and silvery feathers, sing for fallen warriors

some now covered with a cloak of green velvet.

Bears sit lazily on the bank of the river,

hoping to get dinner for their young.

They prey on the insignificant and the weak.

The sun rises higher

a new day begins

and a new chain of life.

Shepherd's Poem

By Stelios Peroulis

Lambing …

Early in the morning on May fifth

Wake and run to the barn.

Bursting through the door to see

Two small, white, skinny lambs pampered by mom

… the first of thousands.

Summer …

Saddling the horses early in the morning

Pushing the sheep, like water pushes white foam.

Through the pines to high country

Checking all the time for lambs that have wondered off

Until the mountain top pokes out of the horizon

Shipping …

The crack of a sorting gate breaks the morning quietness.

The blat of sheep can be heard for miles

Lambs demand their moms

Ewes yearn for their lambs

Bull racks pull away crammed with lambs going to market.

Winter …

Corn, sheep's sustenance, streams down the chute.

Woolly sheep hunker down in a tornado of snow

Guard dogs protect their herd from coyotes

Excited sheep run across the desert to yellow kernels of corn.

Lambing. Summer. Shipping. Winter.

A year condensed into a few lines.

It takes a sacrifice to make a living.

It all started with a headache.

Jake Vallem’s head was pounding the day he wrote his poem for the Carol Jacobson Memorial Poetry Contest, so the Craig Middle School eighth-grader pulled down a thesaurus and culled words that described how he felt, he said.

“I am feeling terrible, malicious, mean and mad,” his poem begins, “And dreadful and deplorable, snappy, sick and sad.”

Although Vallem wasn’t feeling so hot the day he put pen to paper, his untitled poem piqued the interest of Craig Poetry Society members who judged the contest.

They awarded him first place in the annual eighth-grade contest. Sheyenne Cromer also took first place with a poem titled “Metamorphosis.”

Students who participated in the contest will have a chance to share their work at a poetry reading and awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Monday at Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave.

The contest is named in honor of former bookstore owner and late Craig resident Carol Jacobson, who helped David Morris, CMS eighth-grade English teacher, launch the event about six years ago.

He and Jacobson were members of the Craig Poetry Society, and they both “had a strong interest in writing poetry and getting kids to write poetry,” said Morris, who has published several books of verse.

“And we decided that it would be fun to start a contest for eighth-grade students, since they (study a) poetry unit,” he said.

All CMS eighth-graders were required to enter the contest, creating about 200 entries for Craig Poetry Society members to sift through before selecting the winners earlier this month.

“They (were) looking for the elements of good poetry,” including figurative language and images that appealed to the senses, Morris said.

Cromer had trouble getting started on her poem yet like many poets before her, she found inspiration in nature.

She began writing about a blossoming cherry tree, and as the poem progressed, the tree gradually transformed into a woman, she said.

Writing is a form of catharsis for Cromer.

“I sometimes just write about my feelings, and that kind of lets it out and I feel good in the end,” she said.

In her view, rhyme doesn’t make or break a poem.

Yet for Vallem, finding rhymes is part of the fun.

“You have to sit there and think,” he said. “It’s like a riddle.”

He and Cromer each won $20 for their first-place entries, yet they also took away more intangible rewards.

Cromer learned how to apply the elements of good writing she learned in her English classes, she said.

And as for Vallem, “I certainly learned a lot of different ways to say that I’m mad,” he said.

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