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2017 Student Poetry Contest

Division Winners

Division I
(grades 3-5)

Szymon's Last Dream
by Finn Ramnarain 

I dreamt of you last night, Mama
you were singing as you made our dinner.
The smell of bread filled the air
and you laughed when my stomach rumbled.
You held me in my dream, Mama
we were safe and happy at home.
The yellow stars were twinkling in the sky
and we were free to be ourselves.
This morning when I woke up
I remembered you were gone, Mama.
The only bread I have is moldy
and my stomach never stops rumbling.
Our lives mean nothing to these soldiers
we are German but we are Jews.
This morning when I woke up
I knew I would see you soon, Mama.
he time for dreams is over
I do not want to wake up here again.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Finn Ramnarain


by Trishika Chintakunta 

Dripping delicacies swam in my vision,
The monster inside me was gnawing relentlessly at my conscience,
It felt like I was paralyzed,
The knots keeping me together slowly unraveled.
Blonde ringlets cascaded down her face as she stared dreamily at her snack.
I sprinted over to the girl, my cold hands wrestling hers for the food,
Victory was mine.
They say fortune favors the bold but I am a coward.
To me light is a distant dream,
So I hide in the darkness.
Eating the food, the monster was satisfied,
But something that should taste like Heaven,
Tasted like misery.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Trishika Chintakunta


by Kayla Childs 

Captivating patterns.
Tiny legs cling to emerald green blades of grass,
Hoping to find a morsel to eat.
Stepping cautiously into the light,
Its delicate wings like stained glass windows,
Deciding that it is time to find a new home.
Black spots winking at the sun,
One of millions but different ...
Lifts ever so fragile wings,
and flies away,
Like he was never there.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Kayla Childs


Division II
(grades 6-7)

by Hailey Cheon 

when i was little i sipped my mother's words
like tea on a summer's afternoon,
it danced on my tongue and
from my lips sprang new words,
they came out sweet like cold lemonade
and sang a song of peace and innocence.
when i grew they accused me of gluttony
as they shoved words down my throat
and i was taught to swallow.
they say that america is a place of free speech,
but they forgot to mention that
you cannot speak when your voice is stuffed
with words that are not your own.
the next time that they put a knife up to my throat
and tell me to swallow,
i will let them cut
because then at least
my throat can sing a song
that it has been dying to sing
ever since you muted me

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Hailey Cheon


Cardboard Castles
by Nicole Patrock 

As I passed by this old box
wedged between two dumpsters,
it reminded me
of the forts and castles
I had created as a child
from cartons just like that.
Once inside, I would curl up
and often fall asleep
feeling safe and protected
within my cardboard womb.
But this box at my feet,
discarded and unwanted,
was the only home
for the woman inside.
She lay awake, unblinking,
clutching her knees to her chest,
scared, alone, and crying
within her cardboard tomb.
As a child she, too, had
played in castles and forts.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Nicole Patrock


I Define Myself
by Ella Sran 

I will not be defined by stereotypes
I am not a living accessory that belongs in the kitchen
Nor the clearer of your mess
I was not made for your pleasure
Nor does my value derive from my looks
I can run just as fast, punch just as hard, work just as much
My sisters and I will go through so much more than many will ever know
Before you call us weak, master our challenges
And then tell me what you think
Do not stray to the mindset where women hang on a cliff of weakness
Where only men can lift them up
We can pull ourselves up
As we have for centuries
Do not think of me as a doll or a fool
I am strong, fierce and raw
I will not be defined by stereotypes
I define myself

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Ella Sran


Division III
(grades 8-9)

American Pie
by Molly House

Cold hands, warm heart.
Chunks of fat sitting, ugly,
glutinous in my pretty dough.
The intoxicating aroma of
comfort, of summer evenings,
wafts throughout this
Layers; flaky and finicky,
I took a step back to achieve these.
I watched and learned and
let go
cold hands, as they say.
White pickets and iridescent red apples,
anxious murmurs and flour caked aprons.
Little burns decorating my fingers,
dreams decorating my words,
floating above this house.
Cold hands, and American pie.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Molly House


The Break of Winter
by Katherine Milner 

An icy breath upon winter's crest;
The frosty wind, slicing through the air,
The taste of revenge and fury
Protruding from its gelid lips.
Like a frozen dagger, an icicle
Hangs above my head.
Warning me to step away
Else I feel its frigid wrath.
And watch it take its journey,
Down towards the final shattering
That I seem to hear ringing
In my ears this very moment.
Cold as a shiver down a petrified spine
The flakes of ice and snow crystallize.
Descending from the clouds, these arctic ornaments
Put many into its trance of everlasting fascination.
Out of the wintry woods stroll frost-coated deer,
The chilling glacial winds nipping sharply at their heels.
The trees, lightly dusted with snow,
Signify that winter has begun.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Katherine Milner


by Erin Chalk 

A blank page stares at me,
Waiting. Watching.
I stare back.
A horizon line splits the page,
Earth and sky.
Mountains reach for the heavens,
Always falling short.
Rivers snake across the ground,
Being devoured by the ocean.
A sapling is planted,
Cradled by the earth,
Nurtured by the light.
The sky clears, and the sun brushes the
Ground, coaxing.
And the sapling
A full page smiles at me,
Sleepy and content.
I smile back.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Erin Chalk


Division IV
(grades 10-12)

by Anushka Shah

We would lie on the blue-tiled kitchen floor on nights
Where the heat, oppressive and heavy,
would sit on our shoulders, knees buckling.
The kitchen floor was far better,
a reviving coolness permeating through our thin nighties.
Sis had eyes like the fawn who nestled close to his mother
in that dewy clearing, in the middle of the forest
where we once spent an afternoon at the pond, skipping stones,
polished ones, the size of my palm.
Lemon drop in her mouth, she spoke of the ink
that had bloomed indigo poppies on her cotton dress last Thursday,
"Say, don't I smell of sun and dust today?"
and in a bathtub full of milk, she would dream of tomorrow.
Cheeks flushed, eyes ablaze, she was intensely soft.
My own cheeks were hollowing, softness slowly intruded by bone.
My hands, the ones that plaited her wind-tousled strands
and clasped her away, like Mama said, from things unseemly,
were lean and rough:
the pad of my right thumb and pointer finger thickened
from gripping my inky voice and destined arithmetic.
Numb vulnerability melting into the tile floor.
Blindly tracing a school of minnows on her knee,
She opened her eyes with a gasp at the vision above.
Sugared tongue, she gazed at the plaster sky.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Anushka Shah


Las Vegas
by Gari Eberly 

There's coyotes screeching outside my window,
but the darkness conceals them
and their eyes don't reflect light like I imagined in my head.
Or maybe it's just the Dover boys from down the street looking for a little
excitement to escape this desert limbo.
Maybe they meant something else when they said jackals cry like girls.
A neon glow bathes my room and I look outside and there you are,
standing among the silhouettes of burnt oak trees.
Your form is black and stilted and you fit in perfectly.
I'm surprised you found my house among the other beige bricks.
We blend into the hills. The road between two houses is infinite
and your only company is the petulant heat wave. The desert swallows all.
Turn the bowls upside-down or there will be dust in them at morning.
I go outside and lie down on the cracked desert earth.
The flimsy screen door slams shut. No coyotes in the night. It is still.
Your cigarette smoke coils upward as you turn over, exhaling nicotine bliss
but leaving thick tar in your lungs. I say nothing,
but curl my nose into your wind-whipped arm.
You're the realest thing in Las Vegas, you say. That isn't saying much.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Gari Eberly


by Trevin Fitzgerald

Craning my neck around those corners,
My fingers forming a fist around my soft, cloth hoodie strings.
Running through the list over and over, what's left?
The white, fluorescent lights above my head,
Burning my eyes, hotter than the sun.
Hung on my hands, baskets full to the brim
With a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jam and plastic knives.
A gaggle of gangly children pass me by,
Pushing their cart, creaking with
The weight of sweet, sugary, strawberry pastry cakes.
A distraught mother chases in despair.
"No Pop-Tarts!"
Somewhere, the distant beeping of the checkout
Pings as painful as daggers in my ears.
Making my way to the lines, the dreaded lines,
Where everyone is silently judging, a bunch of hawks.
For my purchase is just outside the norm,
A high schooler, bringing home groceries like a soccer mom.
My veins are snakes, my blood is thick and sluggishly pumping.
I just wanted a sandwich.

Poem Copyright © 2017 by Trevin Fitzgerald

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