• Carl Sandburg Home and Barn

    Carl Sandburg Home

    National Historic Site North Carolina

2012 Poetry Contest Winners

3rd-5th Grade Results

Third Place
Child Workers in Foreign Lands
by Allison Joy Bradley

Child workers in foreign lands,
Working so hard with their small little hands.
Factories are dirty, the lights are dim.
Thirteen hour days, their futures are grim.
No time for school, no time for play,
No fresh air, no free time in the day,
No mothers or fathers to tuck them in at night,
Not enough food, such a sad sight.
They must live in the factory dorm.
Sometimes they're lonely, often they mourn.
Dangerous work, scary, and dreary,
Their bodies and minds are so very weary.
Stop supporting those companies and buying their stuff.
We are responsible for kids' lifestyles so rough.
Your electronics and clothing should all be made here.
Buy "Made In America" - the answer is clear!


Second Place
I am Rosa Parks
by Morgan Brady

I am Rosa Parks
I wonder why I had to go to jail because my feet were tired and I refused
to give up my seat
I hear white people calling me names like negro, dirty and diseased
I see my people stand up for me by walking to work or home during the
Montgomery Bus Boycott
I want to be treated like others, not different because of my color
I am Rosa Parks
I pretend like I don't hear ugly, angry white people calling me names
I feel pressured to stand because people are saying move to the back of
the bus
I touch my heart and I say a prayer to God to help me get through this
horrible time
I worry about all of those who went to jail for choosing to stand up for me
and my people
I cry when the police officers slap tight handcuffs on my black wrists
I am Rosa Parks
I understand white people are judging me because I stayed in my seat, but
I will remain strong and unbroken so I can make a difference
I say yes I am black and yes I am equal
I dream of being a teacher and teaching my students the shade of your
skin doesn't matter but feelings and character are what count in life
I am Rosa Parks

First Place and People's Choice
Samba's Gold
by Sophie Young

Robbie and I laugh on the half-mile walk to school
Samba paddles to work miles from home
I say "Hi" to my third-grade teacher Ms. Watson
Samba has no other 9-year-olds to talk to

My day starts with polygons
His day begins in a 9-story mine
During reading, we work on vocabulary words
Samba pulls rocks and dirt from the gold mine

Samantha dodges the ball I throw at her in P.E.
Samba sifts through rocks and dirt for gold
During recess I chase my friends around the playground
He cleans golden crumbs with mercury

Samantha and I talk about dodgeball while eating sloppy joes
He carries gold to the elders
I'm writing a research report about an ox
Samba returns to the mine to dig

Reading time: Evangeline Mudd looks for apes in the jungle
Samba is pulling up more dirt and rocks from the mine
In science when we're talking about consumers and producers
Samba washes himself in murky water

I shove my homework folder into my backpack before the bell rings
He is bringing gold to the elders
Mom made my favorite - spaghetti and meatballs - for dinner
Samba collects his payment, a bag of dirt

Samba's story unfolds on the computer
Some people in England are trying to help him
I wonder if he will ever become what he wants to be
I want to help him by convincing people to buy Fair Trade Gold

I fall asleep in my soft bed with my pink comforter,
Samba returns to a plastic hut
I dream of winning a tennis tournament
Samba dreams beside a machine that grinds up gold and a little of him.

6th - 8th Grade Results

Honorable Mention
Torture
By Raul Ortiz

Child abuse has a dark soul and twisted mind
How can you sleep at night?
Are your minds trying to think of ways
To hurt,
to inflict,
to kill if necessary?
The cruelty is more like torture that is eating both child and
You.

Third Place
Abused
By Melissa Barrett


It started out at a young age
I was really too young to know
That he was hurting me.
I sat and hugged my teddy bear,
Until "he" took it away.
I didn't understand it when he said,
"Let's keep this our little secret, ok?"
He told me by the time I reached an older age,
I would be ashamed of myself.
He said I was fat, and he didn't help
Me lose weight, he starved me.
He told me I needed to breathe under water.
And he put me under water until I fainted.
He broke all my dolls.
He told me I had to be strong to survive in life,
So he hit me with bricks.
I screamed until I feel asleep
And all he did was blame me.
My birthday came, I just wished
For a friend.
He went to jail, so I went with my mother.
I told Mother, Father killed himself.
He's gone, but I still feel the pain in sleep.
I'm older now and I still think back.
Please don't let this happen to anyone else.
It's horrible pain.

Second Place
Eyes of Water
By Katelyn Juliet Douglas

Eyes of water stare through bars,
Chains of steel, whip and scar,
Knees that break "for no reason,"
Left outside in Dry Season.

No drink to have, no food to spare,
Bleak, grey eyes that only stare,
Tail and mane mangled so,
Nobody comes to save you though.

On the mud, sinking in,
No soul is left, it's dead within.
Life is nothing, death comes close,
As they suffer the fatal blows.

Body carted far away,
Fur once white, now turned grey
Eyes are shut, pain still there,
"I didn't do anything," they will swear.

Quiet whisper in the night,
Last gasps of breath, end of plight.
Body limp, lifeless head,
What point is life, when you end up dead?

Eyes of water stare through bars,
Chains of steel, whip and scar,
Knees that break "for no reason,"
Left outside in Dry Season.

First Place
Letter to the United States Government
By Kye Laughter

Change was promised.
Spend our money as if it is infinite,
The bills, the laws, and the plans, cannot save us.
Feed us spoonfuls of lies.
Outnumber us and overpower us.
One of the greatest nations is slowly crumbling; we must adjust before it is too late.
The ceiling keeps rising, but feels like it's falling.
The time is now to change,
To rise
To act
To work
To revolt
People sleep in streets, pay for your bailouts. They earned their money.
You in your mansions, you use our money, you didn't earn it; your rise to power began with
orruption and tyranny.
Get off your diamond studded chairs, and change
For real
You placed your hand on the bible, when it was going into our pockets.
We the people,
You the government,
Us a nation,
We march,
You fear,
Bombs, Drones, Nukes, Satellites, all pointing down.
When did protection become control?
Keep printing, eventually you're going to run out of ink...


People's Choice
The Holocaust
By Taylor Gudac

Justice for Jews, it can't be found.
Hitler's coming up from the ground as a weed.
Controlling them left and right.
It all started with crystal night.
Jewish children of all ages:
Starved to death in concentration camps.
Some were put to death immediately, like a lion jumping on their prey.
Oh why, oh why, oh why?
Crystal night,
What a terrible sight,
Synagogues went up in flames.
You could hear the windows breaking. CRASH!
Break-ins, murders, kidnapping of Jews
Is piling up, higher than the tallest tomb.
What did they ever do to deserve this?
Oh why, oh why, oh why?
Anne Frank's cat had to be abandoned.
As so many pets were during that cruel time,
Their voices, unheard
"Come back! Come back!"
Hopefully, someday there will be justice for Jews.
Why did we let Hitler control them?
We could have helped...
But now they hope for a brighter day,
They hope...

9th - 12th Grade Results

Honorable Mention
The Causes of Bullying
By Sage Schultz

Blood, dripping down the bathroom walls,
Horrid names, written, upon the stalls,
The sound of their laughter rings throughout my brain.
With the names that they've called me, my heart is stained,
I'm not their first,
and I wont be last,
To leave my blood, my death, and my sorrow, in their hands.


Third Place
The Girl In Blue
By Nicole McCracken

She walks to school,
Wearing a blue linen dress;
Nobody likes her,
But only he knows her the best.
Only he knows,
What really goes on;
Or how it looks,
When everyone else is gone.
She always tries her very best,
Just to make her daddy proud;
No one knows what her daddy does,
And what really goes on when there's no one around.
The one who sees all of this.
Is a little boy, age 10;
He's sees what happens every night,
When her dad goes stomping in.
He stomps into her room at night,
And asks why she isn't asleep;
He hits her so very hard,
When her little voice begins to speak.
All he can do is watch and cry,
He doesn't realize what's going on,
Until one night he watches,
And at that moment, a little life is gone.
The police were called,
By a little boy, age 10;
He doesn't know what to say,
But "I wish her daddy wouldn't have stomped in."


Second Place
Am I
By Sydney Gilliam

Am I
A voice un-heard
A life un-lived
A step not taken
A shot not scored
I am Not
A "cell"
A life un-written
A mistake
I Should
Have my first heartbeat
Have my first word
Have my first kiss
I should..
Have my first kid
Because
I am
A beating heart
A child of God
A scar
A laugh

First Place
Endless Night
By Wesley Nichols

Bleeding, bleeding last drops of life
In the dark they writhe in burning shame
Screaming, screaming in endless night

Under neon lights, she dances, small frame gleaming
Naked before a gaping crowd
Bleeding, bleeding last drops of life

In a blistering field, his eyes burn with sweat
Bloodied hands trembling with fatigue
Screaming, screaming in endless night

In the dark, a young girl lies
Her ankles raw and clamped in iron, a bruised and aching breast
Bleeding, bleeding last drops of life

On the corner of a filthy street, he holds a broken bowl
Shriveled eyes staring into the past, before all went black
Screaming, screaming in endless night

And as those demons hold the crimson chains
They see, smirk, and turn away
As the children bleed last drops of life
Screaming, screaming in endless night

People's Choice
I Work On
By Jacob Dubois

PING! POW! DING!
The sounds rip through the room
A dust fills the air
Machine and man yelling at the top of their lungs
Some yell, "Faster," "More production!"
Some yell, "Unionize!" "Better conditions!"
Mostly, though, 1 hear whispers of
"Food for tonight. Money for my family."
Some praise the whistle that signals shift's end,
But I -
I work on.
The day turns to night
The roar doesn't subside Sweat rolls down my face, crying for a stop.
But I -
I push it aside.
Warnings of death, lung disease, amputation
Ignored nonetheless.
Deep down they are very real;
However, on the surface, they are alien.
They are words that "hurt production,"
Words that can "get people talking,"
Words, then, that get people fired,
Hurt a family.
Concern fills my mind and I wonder if I can make a change.

Did You Know?

photo of Carl Sandburg's book 'The People, Yes' published in French and other languages

Carl Sandburg is celebrated as an American poet, although his works are found all over the world and have been published in many different languages.