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©2020 by The America Library of Poetry.

2009 Student Poetry Contest

Division Winners

Division I
(grades 3-5)

I Think I Can't
by Fiona Cohen

I am the Little Engine That Couldn't
You say that I can do it
You say I have to try
You say I have to think I can
Well I can't
It's not that easy
The mountain lies ahead
Suggesting in its own quiet way
That I should go back
To where I came from
Just turn around
Take the easy way out
Avoid the towering mountain
Stay the Little Engine That Couldn't

 

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Fiona Cohen

I Am the Dark
by Anusha Bishop

 

I am the dark
My voice is hidden in the shadows
A black cloak keeps my thoughts from entering the world
I am unfathomable
Not able to show who I am and what I can do
Sometimes a bright moon pierces the clouds surrounding me
And lets me shine
But that is not enough
Because I will always prevail
I am the dark

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Anusha Bishop

 

Feel My Rhythm
by Abraham Fakhreddine

I am poetry
There is meaning in my every word.
I am full of inspiration
When you need me,
Just take me in your arms 
And feel the rhythm I contain.
I may soothe you and comfort you
Or I may make you angry and enrage you.
No matter what happens, hold me tight
And drift into the flow of me
Rhythmic feelings.

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Abraham Fakhreddine

 

 

Division II
(grades 6-7)

Poseidon
by Jennifer Coleman

Ten thousand years asleep, asleep
Beneath the caverns of the deep,
The monster rears his head again 
To take revenge on worlds of men.
With hiss and snarl and firm-set jaw,
The monster bears each tooth and claw
And bounds for surface, sun and sky,
For sails the ship, the Terrified.
He rips the sail and splits the bow,
The horror and the panic grow.
The crew and pilot turn to flee 
And pray for mercy from the sea.
They sink to haunt the ocean realms,
The captain standing at the helm.
The waters now at last are still
The evil one has had his fill.
The sky as blue as was before,
Poseidon lies becalmed once more.
Ten thousand years asleep, asleep
Beneath the caverns of the deep.

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Coleman

 

My Love, You Are
by Ashley Huston

The breath of angels dances through the night sky
A single petal stands valiant in the dark:
My love, you are the single petal
The sly fox stares up into bleakness
Blinded by a single spark of light's radiance:
My love, you are that spark
A tear rolls down a widow's face
In memory of lovers lost
My love, you are that tear
Oh, petal who is my greatest joy
Oh, spark that is my heart's beacon through despair
Oh, tear that is an ocean of sorrow
My love is lost, yet remains in my heart

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Ashley Huston

 

You Are
by Lyndsay Head

You are the One who died for me,
The One who cried for me,
The One who stands up for me in troubled times,
You are my Creator,
You are my Friend,
You hold my world in Your hands,
You are the One whom I worship,
You are my Father,
The One whom I love.

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Lyndsay Head

 

Division III
(grades 8-9)

On a Peppermint In a Hotel Room
by Jarred Worley

Crushed red candy of the ancient guild of delight.
Crawls after being stomped on and gathers hair and dust.
The sticky lips and stripes scream of the non-concentric irregularities.
The shards of guarding the hissing words of slander 
Have been cracked and shattered, 
The mirror of innocence, the pinwheel of childish demeanor!
Now, the tongue of the vacant vagrant walks out and lolls,
Dipping and dripping the saliva out in streaks and pools of distrust.
The casting off of an old life with the crunch of a past regret,
And the residue of grief on the black heel of a shoe.

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Jarred Worley

 

The Tempest
by Sarah Stratton

Behold, the storm-tossed tempest
Waves, the seaweed manes
Of foaming horses
That race with thunder at their heels
The flash of lightning
Caught in the glare of a fiery eye
With spray spewing forth from their nostrils
Poseidon's herd leads the charge
To clash against the rocky shore

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Sarah Stratton

 

The Artist
by Haleigh Swansen

 I sit in awe behind the Artist, clad in a greasy smock,
Peering over His great shoulder for a glimpse of His easel
My eyes flit hungrily from tip to base of each stolid, ominous mountain
And when they finally lock on the river slicing through the valley, I'm speechless.
I want to plunge into the foamy froth, laugh with it, dance with it.
I have to force my eyes away,
And when they reach the blank canvas at the top, 
My brow furrowing in confusion,
The Artist laughs, as if He knows what I'm thinking.
The bristles of His brush kiss the emptiness, flooding it with majestic sunset.
Then He cranes His neck to see My canvas.
I rush to hide it, but I know He's already seen
The barrenness, the lack of brilliance, the wasted paper
And I, His student, am ashamed.
He smiles, so patient, so understanding,
Places the brush between my fingers,
And wraps His giant, warm hand around my clammy one
"Don't be afraid," He coaxes, so gentle, so kind, "I'll show you how"
And we paint a masterpiece
Together.

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Haleigh Swansen

 

Division IV
(grades 10-12)

Void and Cracked
by Danielle Shpaner

I remember opening the medicine cabinet
And finding a white bottle of liquid capsules,
Only to spin around, and catch him, from the corner of my eye
Inhaling the pungent fumes of Cuban cigars 
And burning himself with bittersweet vodka. 
I remember tip-toeing to my mother's room 
And strangling her with my skinny arms, 
Beating her with the weight of my head against her breasts. 
"What's wrong with Daddy?"
She covered my question with her palm,
As sturdy as the distinct edges of a stop sign,
And flung my tears like a child, plucking petals from a dandelion. 
I picked up his glasses one morning 
And crushed them into the barren wood of the kitchen table, 
Watching specks of white pierce flushed flesh, 
And crimson red stain the creases of my palm. 
He knelt down next to me, 
Gray strands peeping through his haystack of hair,
His eyes the color of the pavement, void and cracked, 
And claimed that now he couldn't see.

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Danielle Shpaner

 

A Balloon For Daddy
by Ashley Frey

The September breeze caresses my cheek
Bringing with it the aroma of moist chocolate cake
And burning candles from behind
The sound of children laughing and playing in the background
Mother and I, away from the excitement of my birthday celebration
The travail of suppressing tears, pain, and love formed Mother's beautiful face
As she firmly clasps my little hand inside her warm embrace
A tacit transfer of anxious emotion joins us just before I set the balloon free
The papery string slips from my fingers as I let go
The bold red body transcends the cotton clouds and disappears from view
Destined for the heavens
Like the balloon, I have let go of childish things
Because there is no longer room for pretend in this intimidating world
Now, stray balloons are always echoing that little girl's whisper–
"I love you, Daddy."

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Ashley Frey

 

Split Personality
by Ellie Riedel

 A bowed head
A small voiced question
Brown eyes look up
Through black lashes
And take my breath away
Instantly I wish
His question wasn't as innocent as,
"Are you going to art club today? You should ..."
Then he's back to his fun self
Skinny Jeans
Bicolor hair
Tight bright shirt
Loud, bold, obnoxious
They are the two sides
Of this one boy
He walks away from me
Leaving me with green eyes trained on his tall thin form
As his Converse squeak in the hall of normality

Poem Copyright © 2009 by Ellie Riedel