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2023 Student Poetry Contest
Division Winners

Division I
(grades 3-5)

by Graylin Khalsa-Bryant

I wake from my midmorning nap
To see my favorite spot in ruin
The tree in the front yard is at an odd angle
These large metal beasts
With large sharp teeth
One of them is mauling the cherry tree
I tried to stop them by meowing
But no one listens to me
Alas, I cannot save my spot
I cry out,
But no one listens

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Graylin Khalsa-Bryant


by Cora Seed

Hope is a powerful thing,
sometimes so subtle we can't tell it's there.
Hope is a flashlight in the dark,
a smile through anger.
It can be a feeling so strong it hurts,
But sometimes it's just
a hug after a bad day
rain after a drought
acing a test or finishing the last lap.
Maybe it's laughing after grieving,
or the doctor saying you'll be OK.
It's that little hint of light,
no matter how small, it's there.
Because a fire starts from a tiny flame,
growing and shrinking but never dying.
Hope is in every smile and laugh
in the blood and sweat and tears we shed.
you just have to ignite the flame.

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Cora Seed

The Garden of Beauty
by Siena Chen

Summer brings big, round grapes, wholesome and sweet
The weather is warm, the sun is shining bright
Until the air turns cooler, and fall comes
The trees are almost bare
As hazel and crimson leaves slowly fall to the ground,
and a gentle, swift breeze brushes past
spreading the spirit of Autumn wherever it goes.
When fall ends
Winter takes its place
Leaving patches of snow where the leaves had fallen
A fluffy, white cover over the ground.
As the snow melts
The spring rains arrive,
a soft relaxing sound that lets you know
The flowers are brilliantly blooming.
The sun's bright rays finally shine
on the fresh red, pink, and white roses.
Nature is simply a garden of beauty.

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Siena Chen



Division II
(grades 6-7)

All I Know Is Blue
by Rylee McKinney

I never looked good in blue
until you took all my colors away
you stole the red that once painted my cheeks
when I would laugh a little too hard
the gold in my hair that you never liked
is now a faded dull brown
even the green that once shone in my eyes
appears a melancholic blue
before you I avoided blue
because I knew
it didn't complement my vibrancy
now blue has consumed me
all I know is

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Rylee McKinney


The Land of the Forgotten
by Wellspring Thomas

In the Land of the Forgotten
Rivers of buttons and beans
Childhood toys in between the cushions of the couch
Cloudy skies of painted rainbows and stars
Stuffed animals of sleepy safety
Doors to attics you never explored
Nighttime stories underneath the comfort of a blanket-fort
Hikes into the woods with your older brother
Rock collections and Honeysuckle flowers
Unfinished sketchbooks and fairy tales of maidens in towers
You look back at all of these things with a combination of nostalgia and disarray
But beware if you venture too far
You may forget about Present Land
A land of fear and joy
Sadness and anger
Stress and relief
And most importantly

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Wellspring Thomas


The Unmistakable Mirror
by Erika Powell

Look at yourself in the mirror,
but not too long.
15 seconds is all it takes for
insecurity to spark,
then spread like a wildfire,
impossible to put out.
Wild red flames of unease,
steamy glows of depression,
scorching torches of worries flaring up the sky,
smoke intoxicating clouds of inspiration,
turning the bright sun of happiness dark.
The towering burning trees begin to shrink and shrivel until they're nothing.
Just like you.
The mirror stares at you too long.
You hate it and the glass hates you,
but time and time again you go to it.
Each time it makes you shrink even more into the misery of your body.
It breaks your fragile, fragile confidence that takes so long to build up.
Go back into society and pretend.
That's all you can do after you face the unmistakable misery of a mirror.

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Erika Powell


Division III
(grades 8-9)

The Key
by Kaylan Gagnon

We play a game,
me and my grandmother
a game of wonder
in my hopeful eyes.
She hides the key,
harder and harder to find each time.
If I found it,
it would come home with me
and then come back the next time.
I always hoped
one day that clever key
would come home with me for good.
One tragic-unexpected day
that key did come home with me.
I did not want the key anymore.
It hurt
to know that that wonderful
and hopeful key that it once was in my eyes,
has turned into a symbol of loss.

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Kaylan Gagnon


Warm Sunny Days
by Rory Neilson

As the last package is boxed
And the rumbling, rickety truck pulls away
We chase it, our bare feet hitting rocks.
We run together, breathing heavily
Stopping at the end of the street
Hugging each other on the last day
I whisper into your ear, so quietly no one else hears
Remember the summer days together
As we sat together under the sprinklers
That were meant for the blooming flowers
Remember the dogs, barking in the night
Keeping us awake as we watched for shooting stars
Lighting up the entire night sky
But only for a second
So short that if I blinked, it would be gone
But still there, in the sky, just on a different planet
And like those stars,
I know you are still there, somewhere,
Remembering those warm, summer days

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Rory Neilson


Hearts On the Pavement
by Ava Meisel

Sitting on the warm pavement
Drawing hearts with our chalk
Leaving a rosy dust on our hands
Over us a lilac tree stands tall full of life
The brisk wind sending a wonderful scent our way
As time goes on the chalk fades,
Disappearing slowly
Along with the lilac tree once full of life, now lifeless,
The lilac scent now nonexistent
I draw more hearts hoping for them to reappear
As vibrant as they were before
But the vacant look in your eyes tells me that
Although the hearts we drew will never completely disappear
They will be forever

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Ava Meisel


Division IV
(grades 10-12)

by Carson Kramer

I have stepped on this welcome mat before
But I will never be able to do it again
I have heard the microwave beeping for me
Just one more time than I should have
I have sat at the same turning chair
Every night of my life, every night I've been able to remember
There are dents engraved in the wood
From how many times I've spun into the table
The corners of the playing cards are folded
From my hands, that were much smaller once before
My mother smiles at me in the kitchen, scrunching her nose
And I fall to the ground.
Not because of the pills in my stomach
But because I know that if they were there
I would never be able to see her do that again
So I smile back and run upstairs
I crumble up the letter I have beautifully written
And I take the prescription I have stolen
And I pour it down the drain, tears in my eyes
I don't do it, for my mother's smile.

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Carson Kramer


No Longer a Kid On Christmas Eve
by Madeline Lacotts

Your journal haunts me, because I know it's written for me.
Dad's thrown it in his closet, lying beneath shoes, fallen hangers, a hospital bag.
Everything I need is in that journal,
but I'd hate to spoil the calamity of not knowing.
My fingers tremble, tracing the pages
flitting against my fingernail.
Your ring on my right hand,
Dad's ring on the other.
His ring, because he's alive and yours, because you're not.
Just like Christmas Eve.
I'd kneel in Mom and Dad's closet,
run my hands over each gift,
fidget with each bow.
Now it's your journal, Mom, in Dad's closet.
No matter how much it taunts me, the pages stay closed.
You know I'd never open gifts until Christmas Morning.

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Madeline Lacotts


by Liana Giannuzzi

In awe was I mimicking my Nonna's motions
Molding pasta into my favorite shape.
Piece by piece, one by one, intricate, handmade,
With tender care, an Italian's passion.
I sat there as a beam of radiant light, reflecting off her.
The flower printed apron covered her carefully selected outfit,
The joy in my eyes as her ways endowed me,
Her arms stretch to reach my hand.
So focused on her craft, extending it to a girl whom she loved.
And I know her eyes, beaming with inspiration and a soft grin.
Gentle in her ways yet the strongest woman
who would soon endure a battle rather tough.
Before God would wrap his arms around her,
The way she used to wrap them around me.
But this time he would never let go.
And still today,
If I close my eyes just tight enough,
When I reach out my hand
Her arms meet mine and show me the way.
And there I am again, making pasta in her kitchen. 

Poem Copyright © 2023 by Liana Giannuzzi

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