2017 Poetry Contest Winners

3rd to 5th Grade Poems

First Place
The Voice
by Julia Bledsoe

The Voice

I don’t want to go through this,
It brings tears to my eyes.
Thinking about him,
Fun, strong, unique.

At every single game, he yells,
“Go after the ball!”
I keep dribbling,
I keep kicking,
I keep running,
I score!

Happiness for my team,
Happiness for myself,
Happiness for him.

I don’t want to go through this,
It brings tears to my eyes.
Now that voice is silent,
I must be the voice in his place.

In my head, in my heart,
I keep dribbling,
I keep kicking,
I keep running.
I score!

Thinking about him,
Fun, strong, unique.
Finding strength in the journey,
Finding yourself.

Second Place
Little Bird
by Edward Peyroux

Sitting in its mother’s nest
It flaps its wings
Hoping to pass the test
Just trying to hover a little

The little bird tries ond tries
But does not succeed
Its dream is to fly, fly owoy
And start its new life.

The little bird is starting to waver
A drain sucking its courage
It sees its brothers and sisters
It sees itself, a coward

As I sit there I see
It sitting there
With no glee
As sad as a kid who just
Got denied ice cream.

But then I see
A glint in its eyes
I see it just like me
It spreads its wings and starts to soar

And I like to think
That was my sign
To start being strong

Third Place
The Power of Your Mind
by Bhushan Mohanraj

The Power of Your Mind

Little Johnny, listen here,
The world unfolds around you.

The flutter of a bird,
The croak of a frog,
The sunset, the sunrise,
A never-ending cycle.
You shake the world,
In your own little way.

The power of your legs,
The strength of your arms,
The wealth you attain,
And the way in which you prosper,
Nothing matters, nothing matters.

Listen to the gentle wind,
The roar of the mighty lion,
The ripple of the falling rain,
The crunch of the fallen leaves,
Under your bare feet.

Listen to the roar of the water fall,
The chirp of the smallest cricket,
The howl of the mightiest wolves,
The scutter of a mouse,
Across the forest floor.

The power of your legs,
The strength of your arms,
The wealth you attain,
And the way in which you prosper,
Nothing matters, nothing matters.

What matters most, the power of your mind
The way you observe the world,
And the way you hear the River of Life.
If you fight to go upstream,
Or flow with the current.

The power of the mind.
Little Johnny, listen here,
The world unfolds around you.

Honorable Mention
by Davis Harvey

Dads are strong
like lions
Dads protect you
when you’re hurt
Dads are smart
like Einstein
are heroes!

Dads are wise
like some kings
Dads help you
like a friend
Dads are brave
like Superman
love you!

People's Choice
A War to Win
by Dathan Allison

A war to win,
A war to die.
A war to prosper,
A war to survive.

Through the rain,
Through the snow.
Through the wind,
Through the pain.

A shot was heard over the crowd,
Before they knew it, one was down.

Through the screen of smoke he lay,
Another shot heard, but it was too late.

Through the smoke, on the mountain,
A man approached, a man appeared.

The men charged over the peak.
Try as they may, no one reappeared.
At Bloody Ridge the men lay.

Strength to fight,
Courage to try.
One will live,
One will die.

A war to win,
A war to die.
A war to prosper,
A war to survive.

6th to 8th Grade Poems

First Place
by Clara Hockenberry
The Soul's Vibrato
Musical frisson,

a sudden, passing sensation of excitement;
shudder of emotion associated especially
with a strong piece of music

The emotion past hearing,
Like listening to the very soul,
expressed beyond the notes
as they lift off the page in a symphony of

Defying the logic of the brain
For the reason of the heart
Favoring the rush, the fill
Of the void in the soul

As the score begins
And the first of the tune floats down
Landing gracefully atop the listener
Patiently waiting for the beat to manifest

Some involuntarily sway,
Engrossed in the rhythm
And some may tap to the beat
Feeling the music throughout their body

This beauty that fills the spirit with life
Like a fresh breath of spring air
after the heavy hand of winter
Releases its grasp on the immortal season

This feeling, this strength that flows from
the sheets of notes,
the known remedy to the ailments of the
Always finds the way towards inspiration
That moves the struggling forward
This feeling of tranquility
that lends itself to the mending of the soul
Gives other strength within the piece
An electrifying moment of pure bliss

When the music lulls and then swells
Like the heartbeat of an eternal melody
For just a moment
Where everything is right, everything is pure

Everything is strong, everything thrills
As the music shows that it can be bliss
It’s almost magical, the way the notes twist
through the air
Weaving into the very framework of culture

Although it is short, a simple ecstasy
It is enough to fill the gaping hole in the very
essence of life
Enough to give light to the dark, and strength
to the weak

But as the symphony slows
And the notes pause,
The magic is lost, the soul stills
And the strength sleeps

Until revealed again,
The spirit sits, fulfilled by the chills
The shudder of emotions sustained
By the strength that follows

As the musical soul breathes a grateful gulp,
And is finally refreshed by the beauty of the
inked notes
That spiral to a rest as the music finally dies
ln patient comatose, waiting to be reborn
once more.

Second Place
by Azra Erbatu
The Power of the Wolf

The strength waits in your heart.
It is an animal.
A bird.
A fox.
A bear.
I am a wolf.
Fly to the edge of the world. Fly past the last tip of existence.
Let it out.
lf you try to keep it in, it will fight its way out.
ln the end.
Your amimal can never change.
Even if you do.
It cannot change, but it can die.
Strength is the storm in your soul.
Only your animal can bring it out.
Using your strength against you.
ln its own time.
The wolf is released.
It runs.
Its paws pound the forest floor.
I watch the wolf from a tree.
The power glimmers in its eyes.
Its blue eyes.
Faster and faster she flies.
I watch, once more, from a tree.
The wolf inspires me.
The twig under me quivers.
As I leap.
For I am a sparrow.
lnspired by a wolf.
The power.
The glimmer.
The determination.
It starts to rain.
Her fur is weighted by water.
And tears.
Her snow white fur is now a muddy brown.
She lays her great head on a rock.
To peer at the stars.
My tiny wings flap harder than before.
I fly to a blinding white star.
Two specks of the glowing diamond are in my clicking little beak.
My wings slap to my sides.
l plummet.
I float to the ground.
To place the glimmering star in the wolf’s eyes
For she has lost her own glimmer.
My friend.
The strong wolf.
Her eyes as bright as starlight.
Once more.

Third Place
by Charlie Hastings

Self- Portrait as Luke Skywalker’s Severed Hand

Dark Lord how I wish
That I could take my searing grip
Off the blade of hazy blue light
And lay my shaking fingers
On your black coated shoulder
That shone a fiery red glow
From the kindling blade that burned
The gap that separated father and son.

Falling, farther
Away from our destiny.
Out of stubbornness I refused to
Leave the ones that showed me the light,
To join you and what
You stood for. Dark Lord of the Sith,
Because you were not the father
We knew in our dreams
You were swallowed by the darkness
By a churning hate that pumped through
Your mechanical heart
And ran through your plated vessels
To every cell in your half-organic body.

As I was beside your son, I saw what you did
And I turned to face
The open chasm
Away from you
Because the gap was your doing
And it grew between
Father and son.

You stayed steadfast
And watched me fall
With those cold empty eyes
That refused to let themselves see.
As I lay at the end of the great pit,
I clutched that lightsaber -
The light at the end of the dark tunnel.

Honorable Mention
by Olivia Sisson

A Man Pushes a Wheelbarrow

He holds onto the handles and pushes.
Hard. The wheels turn and for a second
The man can’t feel his aching muscles
Or his calves which burn. He does this every
Day, the morning light still on the horizon,
Reflecting off the windows of his house
Which stands as a silent wall, blocking the noise
And motion of the city. Now, all the man can see
Is the garden that he grew years ago and the fence
Which he had built. All of it was his. This thought forces
The man to the ground, making his jeans dusty with dirt.
He watches it stand in front of him. Then with the strength
He uses every time he picks up the handles,
The man pushes once more.

People's Choice
by Ian Wright

Hope is a long strong rope
that binds you together in your dismay,
It will hold, it will never fray.
Hope is the branches of a sturdy tree.
Holding tightly to leaves pulled by a mighty breeze.
Hope is not just
Seeing or hearing
but believing
in the Almighty One who provides strength night and day.

9th to 12th Grade Poems

First Place
by Dillon Reese Fischer

Wanting to Die
in homage to Anne Sexton,
who has ironically reminded me to live.

It’s always been there, even as a child. Eight years old,
thinking of myself as a penny swept under the rug, value
in theory, not in practice. A girl on my bus told me my thighs
were ugly when loose, when I let them breathe. So I shut their
mouths in denim and never wore shorts to school. I thought
I could sew myself together, tight seams, pretty stitching.
But blisters grew like weeds in the gardens of my inner thighs,
painful, invasive, my doctor had me bathe in a bath of hot
water and bleach. Now only small tombstone scars are left
where they festered, where they died, small inscription
in memoriam of the first time I truly hated myself. I was ten.

I was thirteen, standing in the kitchen, doing dishes,
wanting to die. I picked up my mother’s chef knife
from the sink and turned it to accuse my gut.
I took short and deep breaths, each rough exhale
gently forcing my stomach into the tip of the blade.
I knew I wasn’t going to kill myself then. I just wanted
to feel the power of it, the control, the handle of the
knife making love to my palm, I could die at my own hands.

Ancient Grecians believed stars were holes torn in the
sky where you could see straight to heaven. I have decided
that is what it’s like to want to die. Suffocating under the
ink of the night and learning to bear wounds of light.

Second Place
by Maya Green

Before the Middle, We Were Slaves

ln the middle of my family tree
three sisters married three brothers. I don’t know
the very beginning: once I asked my grandma where
we were from. Somewhere in West Africa, most likely.
We only know rusted chains on wooden boats.
Brown bodies pressed against one another and tossed
into gray, frothing oceans. Years and years of swollen
fingers, bloody backs, a hollowed out cavern
in the very middle of a person where something unnamed
and very essential is supposed to be, but isn’t. Fields
of rice, then cotton. These came from the ground.
It’s easier to start in the middle. I like to imagine my ancestor
sitting outside looking at the dirt beneath her toes, feeling nothing
but full in the middle.
How does a woman live
resenting the very thing holding her up?
The earth demands no understanding, but there is
a reckoning that must happen. I don’t know how
she got there. Maybe she saw rows of dried dirt
and was reminded of white scars on brown backs.
Maybe she realized they had a lot in common.
She wants to know each shade of earth. Its color
on days that smell like sun, days where the horizon melts
into the sea, when she knows the world
is round because she can see it. And
the heavy-looking black after rain, buds
green and unfurling roots beneath the surface. Days when
the worms are too brave.
How do I live
never knowing when we’ll reach the end? I try to do what she did;
I want to know the brown, cracked like skin on the days
when the sky is white with heat and fragile like glass.
Third Place
by Maclean Hueske

Our Daughters (A Slam Poem)

We raise our daughters until a certain age
to think their mouths are cathedrals,
that their tongues worship the words they spit,
that their lungs are the catacombs, crushing themselves
with the weight of breathing.
We raise our daughters to think that blood tastes
like copper because hearts are made of gold.
We teach our daughters that crying
is prohibited unless it’s because a boy
has turned her heart to porcelain and let it drop.
We teach our daughters that they should
believe in the benevolence of people for the first time
in their small lives, the first time, every time a boy tells them
they would be their first time, first “I love you,” first “I’m sorry baby,”
first “I can’t live without you.”
But pinprick our daughter’s shallow surfaces
like you are testing for diabetes,
draw blood from their frivolous bodies, can you see that they
are burning their cathedrals, crushing their catacombs,
that our daughters know that hearts
aren’t anything more than blood and muscle
because you can try to teach them to think
with their hearts not their heads, but their heads
are filled with brains, beautiful brains beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful. Something about the way we have
branded that word onto the chest of our daughters
so it has to rise to their eyes every time they take a breath.
Something about the way we have promised them
that honesty is unfailingly baptized in the
holy light of positivity. And we’ve taught our daughters so
that these days, it’s hard to meet a girl
who holds redemption in the locks of her own
beating heart. These days, it’s hard to find a girl who knows
that you can’t put foundation on your
morality to hide the blemishes. These days
it’s hard to meet a girl who holds her own self
value closer than she holds someone else’s hands.

Honorable Mention
by Caroline Macurda
"Listen to Me"

box cat run
I stole them from my older brother’s bookshelf
in first grade
When he wasn’t looking
I started with the smallest, the youngest,
the single-syllable words
Sounding the big ones out
as they passed me by
They each whispered in my ear, “Listen to me...”
So I added them all to my growing arsenal.


mo-ther tur-tle yel-low
I lost them in fifth grade
When my mouth lost the
“how-to-form-the-vowels-and-consonants” manual
They slipped through the cracks
in my porcelain fingers,
One by one dropping kamikaze
and smashing on the tile floor
I said “L-l-listen to m-me” Screaming,
Crying, I waged my own war through the crowd
“C-can anyo-one hear m-me?” No one heard.


lud-ic-rous ac-ro-bat af-fec-tion
I spoon-fed them into the open mouth
of my instrument
Weaving them through shiny metal keys
and up the plastic black body
It waited everyday, hoping to be held,
to be spoken to
Praying to touch my fingers.
I taught it to command: “Listen to me!”
“Let me show you amazing things!”
And it sang for me.

ta-ran-tul-a ca-co-pho-ny os-ten-ta-tious
I watched them spill from my black ballpoint pen
It spewed them out,
splattering ink over those 33 parallel lines
Pages upon pages upon pages
Each told their own story,
Shoving and pushing each other out of the way
to get a turn
As I listened, I looked at my pen and asked:
“Did I really make these?”
“Will anyone listen to me?”


Pan-de-mon-i-um in-con-ceiv-a-ble
I caught them before they could pack their bags
and leave
I sat them down and asked them how
They fidgeted, eyes caught on the floor
Until one spoke up
And another, and another
They told me to plant my roots deep,
To water them and wait patiently
And I would grow tall and strong.
They told me to keep from swaying
with every wind
That flowed through my branches
To scream from the sky
with every breath that circulates through my body
To “Listen to me!”
And to beat the world up with
my “I believe’s.”

People's Choice
by Joanna English

Just a doctor’s visit- she drove.
Just a normal day- she thought.
I’m healthy, I’m fine, just tired, that’s all.
The doctor walked in thinking she already knew,
He talked about treatment and tumors and time.
At that moment she realized-
I’m not healthy, not fine, more than just tired.
I’m... Small.
It’s not just a normal day, she thought.
It wasn’t just a doctor’s visit- she drove.

She planned to fight with everything she had.
She had 3 kids who needed her there
Her husband, her family all made her care.
I will be healthy, I will be fine, I refuse to be tired-
There’s more I need to do! It cannot be over!
She planned to fight with everything she had.
She planned to fight with everything she was.

First treatment.
She walked in, hands trembling, but Psalm 63 kept her head high.
Toughness and tenacity filled her that day-
One down, I will be healthy, I will be fine.
Her oldest was concerned, her middle wondered why, her youngest felt afraid.
Her husband prayed for healing. Her family trusted in His plan.
For His strength is what would carry her through.
Eighteen weeks later she went into surgery.
No hair, little weight, but filled with Psalm 63.
Toughness and tenacity filled her that day.
She realized soon it would be over-
I will be healthy! I will be fine!

Eight years later she still stands with strength and radiance.
Her trust stayed strong throughout the pain.
It wasn’t just her 3 kids that needed her thereit
wasn’t just her husband or her family that caused her to care.
It was her undeniable strength that no one else had.
I will be healthy, I will be fine, I will be tired- for I have kids but I don’t mind.
I saw my son graduate and I continue to watch my children grow.
I will never forget that not normal day, I drove.
I will live, she still says;
With everything she now has.

Last updated: April 25, 2017

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