photo of Hank Jaeckal
Hank Jaeckal, a 93-year-old resident at Brookdale Tamarac Square, Denver, was selected as the grand champion in Brookdale’s Second Annual National Poetry Challenge.

The Brookdale at Tamarac Square has a poet on its hands. 

Hank Jaeckal, a 93-year-old resident at the Denver independent living community has been selected as the grand champion in Brookdale’s Second Annual National Poetry Challenge. He was selected from among 103 poems from Brookdale communities nationwide. 

The contest was launched in 2020 as a way for Brookdale residents to express themselves creatively. This year’s theme was “The American Spirit,” designed for writers to convey what being an American means to them via poems — including the spirit of America, what America currently is and/or where the country is headed. 

Members of Brookdale’s resident engagement team reviewed the poems and submitted them to company leaders for final judging.

“Poetry is a powerful expression of language and feelings,” said Charles Richardson, the company’s senior living director of resident programs. “We wanted to focus on residents’ creative thoughts on a theme this year. We know they’ve seen and felt so much, and we’re honored to be able to read their thoughts on what America is, has been and what it could be.”

Jaeckal competed in last year’s poetry competition, too, and likes to write poetry and short stories in his spare time, including poems in birthday cards to his family and friends. 

Henry Jaeckal’s poem is below:

The American Spirit

America is an experiment.

Our founding fathers knew that.

We continue to make changes for the better,

But sometimes we do fall flat.

Too many are in poverty.

Too many are killed by guns.

Too many breathe polluted air.

Some throw trash where water runs.

Still we can be thankful,

We don’t have cruel dictators.

But, we do have pretty birds and bees,

Who serve as pollinators.

We can vote for our leaders

Of country, state, and nation.

We need to do that wisely –

It’s our moral obligation.

It’s pretty easy to be discouraged,

Due to issues like pollution,

Or climate change and corruption,

But hard work can find the solution.

Just think of all of America’s pluses.

There are schools where we can learn.

There are hospitals to care for the sick,

And there are jobs for money we can earn.

There are parks all filled with nature’s beauty.

And roads to take us there.

The potential certainly is here.

Look around – it’s everywhere.

So America IS beautiful

With clouds and spacious skies.

America is where I want to be.

It’s where the future lies.

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