Neil Rostick, a seventh grader at Polk County Middle School, earned first place in the student category of the 11th Annual Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition.

Rostick took top honors with his work, “Past the Concrete Wall.”

Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina’s poet laureate, selected the winning poems.

Polk County Early College student Cash McFarlane placed second with her work, “Nature’s Song.”


Past The Concrete Wall

Further and further I go
Past the limbs of trees strewn with ivy
Like a snake wrapping around its innocent prey
But still I walk on, past the concrete wall

Descending further into silence, past the pile of small branches
I bend down and see a speck of green glinting in the sun
The morning dew crystals shimmering against the gray
But still I walk on, past the concrete wall

A creek runs through the shadows
As it carves a way for itself through the soft Earth
As it has always done – and will always do
Even as I walk on, past the concrete wall

The littlest brown spider crawls on me
Its delicate paper thin legs cling
Until it falls down into the mud at my feet
And like a spring it bounces upright and crawls away
Its destination will always be a mystery
For only mother nature can know
As I walk on, past the concrete wall

I step once more on the worn trail
Through the emerald green blades of the onion grass
But I stop and look at such a thing that many pass
The pine needle fans
An ombre of deep green and sunlit brown
But this was not made by Vincent Van Gogh
The delicate brush strokes made by time and patience
Their work is never done, so they continue on
As I walk, past the concrete wall

And even as I am away from the brick and mortar
I still hear and see human nature, what we have done
You say this land is yours, that it’s private property
But nature belongs to all
We use these woods as a landfill for our own needs
But what about the crystal clear stream, the onion grass, the spongy moss
And even the brown spider
Yes, the little brown spider that bounced like a spring
But maybe they’re right – All of them
Who cares about the little spider or the delicate leaves of autumn
The chill of a winter breeze

Step by step I walk away, past the concrete wall