Announcing the Winners of Our First Poetry Contest

December 5, 2019

Thanks to everyone who courageously shared their work with us! We received entries that were whimsical as well as touching, in a wide range of styles and lengths. After many hours of reading and rating each poem, Daeus and Cindy made their decisions. The results were close, because they saw potential in several of the pieces, and we hope that will encourage you to compete in future contests. For now, however, please join us in extending congratulations to the finalists!


First Place: “Sister” by Kate Flournoy

I wove a clumsy daisy chain

and left it on your grave—

the little stone that rests beneath

the dogwood tree I saved

that one cruel summer when the rain

had locked itself from sight.

It’s raining now inside my heart

like storm clouds in the night.


How do you feel so close to me

when I never saw your eyes?

Never knew if they’re brown like mine,

or blue like tropic skies,

gray like the dusk of empty things,

things we will never share,

or green like a glimpse of newborn leaves

poking through white winter’s hair.


Why did I touch the newly turned earth,

hoping to feel your heart beat,

when my heart knows you never arrived

to the point where you even had feet?

The dogwood tree is a witness for us

as I stand without tears on your hill.

I didn’t know what I had until it was gone;

I can barely fathom it still.


A square of brown dirt is all you’ll see

of the world we thought would be yours.

So I bring you a daisy chain now and again

when the cloud gets too heavy and pours.

Daisies are white like the stars you can’t see—

and golden, just like the sun.

Maybe your hair would be golden too

if you’d lived until you were one.


My hair will be white way down the road,

like the dogwood that watches you sleep.

Your grave will be lost in a century’s worth

of brambles and vines; buried deep

I’ll leave you behind as I build my own life.

But no road can erase the head start

of the tears that still stand in the back of my eyes

and the footprints you left on my heart.


Meet the Author

Kate Flournoy is a die-hard country girl raised on Tolkien, Dickens, and Lewis, and she’s determined to change the world. She’s a shy drama queen, timid idealist, hopeful cynic, melodramatic logician, and intellectual poet who believes that simplicity is best and everything is possible…except her ever coming to like cheesecake. Let’s not get too wild here.


Since deciding that she wants to change the world, she’s channeled her energy into two different methods—writing and helping other writers. You can join her list of permanently awesome people by picking up her free fantasy novelette, The World Turned Upside Down.


Second Place: “The Invisible Fight” by Shaen Layle

The lightning walks on legs these nights.

We think of dreams and eye’s sleek veil;

We tell ourselves that all is right.


We bathe the room in heat and light,

Mute our ears to outside hail.

The lightning walks on legs these nights.


We drown it out with all our might,

The whispering Voice that seems so frail,

And tell ourselves that all is right.


We rarely wonder at the fight

Of soul with sin, and bright with pale.

The lightning walks on legs these nights.


A moment’s contact with the night

Might shatter our electric braille.

We tell ourselves that all is right.


We tremble at the open bright

And huddle in our sickened jail.

The lightning walks on legs these nights.

We tell ourselves that all is right.


Meet the Author

Trained as a literary novelist and with a decade of librarianship under her belt, Shaen Layle writes inspirational fiction from her home in the Midwest, where she lives with her artist husband, Danny, and their two rambunctious but adorable little boys. She loves discussing all things bookish and faith-related with her readers on her website at www.ShaenLayle.com and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.


Third Place: “Silence” by T.E. Bradford

She sat in simple silence, gazing out into the light

Cascading through the window, as if to see the sight.

What she might be thinking, I could not comprehend.

Sitting down beside her, I lifted her gentle hand.


“Anna,” I signed softly on her fingers with my own,

“I came to see what you were thinking, over here alone.”

She felt my fingers moving and waited till I was done,

Then tilted her face back into the warm rays of the sun.


“I think I’m very lucky to have so much love from you,

And from Daddy, and now somehow I’ve found William too.

He loves me and needs me, and I never thought I’d find

Someone who wants a wife who is deaf, mute, and blind.”


She couldn’t see my teardrops as I watched her fingers fly

Across my palm like feathers, while I couldn’t help but cry.

She sensed my jumbled feelings, my fragile state of mind.

Her fingers reached to touch my face, my traitorous tears to find.


Her brow creased in a frown as she squeezed my trembling hand.

“Why are you crying, Mama? Help me to understand.”

“I cry because I love you,” my stiff fingers slowly traced.

“Because of all the hardship you have always had to face.


“Life was so unfair to you, so cruel and so wrong.

You’ve had to live in silence and in darkness for so long!

I see you in the sunlight, and the sight makes my heart ache,

To know you cannot see it—this makes my heart break.”


Her frown smoothed out. She smiled. Put her hand against my face.

“Mama,” she signed softly, “I see God’s amazing grace.

I know that I can’t see the sky, or watch the water’s tide.

But I see something better—I can see what’s deep inside.


“I see the love and tenderness that other people miss,

How truly blessed by God I am to get to witness this.

I cannot yell or laugh or sing, but you can feel my words,

And everything I say is truly felt and seen and heard.


“I will not see my wedding, with the flowers and the smiles,

Or the little girl who sprinkles rosy petals on the aisle,

But I know I am loved without reserve, without a doubt,

And that is what a wedding day should really be about.


“I may not see the simple things the way that others do,

But I’ve been given sight into the love inside of you.

So don’t be sad for me. Don’t cry or shed a single tear.

Love, peace, and contentment are the things I see and hear.”


I looked into my daughter’s face and saw a woman there

So filled with love and light and grace the sun could not compare.

Though deaf, she’d heard God’s glory. Known His heart and seen His might.

All this time I’d been the blind one—and she the one with sight.


Meet the Author

Tracy is a writer, singer-songwriter, cancer survivor, and proud wife and mother. Born and raised in Central New York, she will tell you that her parents gave her the two best tools in her arsenal by reading to her and raising her in a Christian household. In spite of the long CNY winters, she continues to live there with the husband that God created just for her and the son who is her forever best story. In her heart, she feels that her gift of writing is a little piece of magic, and that it is both her privilege and grandest adventure to find new ways to stretch a hand out to touch the wonder of this vast universe God created. You can find out more about her at www.tebradford.com or on her Amazon Author page.


Honorable Mentions

Daeus and Cindy would also like to give a nod to the following entries:


“Midnight” by Anne of Lothlorien. We loved the imagery of this fairytale-like poem. The flow of each line gave the impression of a beautiful dance.


“Whisper” by Courtney Seybold. This poem offers praise to God with a majesty that fits its subject.


“The Ballad of the Shepherd’s Son” by Christianna Hellwig. This was a tight piece of poetry, with great structure and charming word choice.


“Rise and Fall” by Gratiana Sarah Neff. The contrasts in this poem flowed well and were eye-catching from the start. Thank you for your powerful message.


  1. Daeus Lamb

    Congrats, everyone! Your poems deeply touched me.

  2. Cindy Green

    Congratulations, guys! Thank you to everyone who entered. Our submissions folder was bursting with talent and beauty.

  3. Tracy

    Congratulations, Kate and Shaen! And thank you, Story Embers, for your wonderful generosity. I’m so glad my poem touched you. 🙂
    aka T.E. Bradford

    • Shaen Mehl

      Thank you, Tracy! Your poem was lovely! And I’d like to echo your thanks to Story Embers for hosting the contest. It’s great to see Christian poetry has a home here! A hearty congratulations to all those who placed in the contest!

  4. Sharlene Mason

    I am so very honored to have had the privilege of being the mother that carried my gift from God. My daughter Tracy E Funnellm I love you my darling.♥️

  5. Curtis

    Very good. “Sister” pulled heart strings. Having lost a brother a thirty three weeks, I fully understand the feeling. All these years later, the questions of the poem still pop into my head. Very moving.

    • Amy K.

      “Sister” pulled heart strings for me as well. I have never met two of my siblings due to miscarriages. (It is thought one was a boy and the other a girl, though never confirmed.) The poem seemed to give me permission to truly feel the grief of missing them. The fact that I have a brother and sister missing from my life is felt, but yet it feels surreal. This kinda helped strip the surreal feeling away. Thank you, Kate Flournoy, for a tender, touching poem!

      And congrats to all the winners and honorable mentions!

  6. Anne of Lothlorien

    Thank you so much for the honorable mention, Cindy and Daeus!!! I adore your selections for winners, especially ‘Sister’. Thank you for running this!

  7. Abigail Rebekah

    Congratulations everyone…they were all sooo good, especially “Sister”!!!

  8. Gracelyn

    Fascinating wordplay, vivid images, heartfelt messages, and beautiful poems all. Congratulations, winners!

  9. Libby

    Wow, congratulations to all you of – every poem was so lovely. And if may I say, “Silence” touched me very, very much. Thank you for sharing it, Tracy.

  10. Jacy

    Wow! I loved them all, but especially the first and the third poem! I had two siblings that died in the womb, so the first was especially touching!
    Congratulations guys!

  11. Grandma Bettie Need

    Weeping for sweet Mollie on the hill, and all we have missed. You read my heart and more, my dearest Kate


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