2019 Poetry Winners

3rd to 5th Grade Poems

First Place
by Madison Arrowood
4th Grade


I felt it
when hewas first in
my arms withhis blue eyes
looking at me

When he was crawling
and said his
first wordthe sound
of his voice
was like the
chirping of birds

He just started walking
and he came to me
his embrace was like a
blanket over me

He has gotten older
became strong and tough
but we will always have each other
and he will always by my little brother.

Second Place
by Gabriel Morris
4th Grade

The Smiling Goat

I am a jolly goat
and my horns reflect the sun
The bees are buzzing over the flowers
as I graze over the grass
the bushes sway happily in the sun

I walk to the shed for a nap
Then I see people coming toward me
There is a boy with them
tottering towards me in overalls
He comes to me
and he pets me
as gently as a butterfly
and he plays
He is happy
He stays
And he plays

ln the morning dew
When I awake, I am happy
I wait for the boy
The boy does not appear
There is no one to stay and play
I graze
and nap

Then a noise rings in the air
A familiar laugh
A happy noise
It is the boy
He comes and plays
We are joyful

Third Place
by Nabeeha Salahuddin
5th Grade

When Winter is Here

By the warm fire,
In sweaters and blankets.
In their hands are hot chocolate,
With white mini marshmallows and candy canes.
Outside, snow gracefully falls,
Upon the snowy hills.
Beyond the houses and into the forest,
In a cave, a bear family hibernates for the winter.
Past the snowy mountains,
Down the children go, as they sled down the hill.
Near the children, girls ice skate,
On the frozen pond.
At the kitchen mothers and daughters bake cookies,
For their families and friends.
Under the snow is the driveway,
Outside, dads shoveling the heavy layers of snow.
Underneath is the brown fur of the Mountain hares,
Outside is the warm, white fur of these camouflaged creatures.
At the door carolers sing festive songs,
To bring joy to the neighborhood.
After a long day of winter fun,
Inside the families go, to cozy up in their heated homes.

Honorable Mention
Kate Hill
5th Grade

A Winter Storm

The Winter Storm
How glorious the winter storm is
The snow hits the earth
it feels as if everything has lifted

As I walk through the frosty forest
I hear trees talking to me
Birds sit perched on
An icy oak tree with sparkling eyes

Deer stand quietly and watch
As I wade through the winter storm
The earth is a clean sheet of snow
I feel the cold air brush against my face

As I come to a clearing, stand in the middle and look up
That’s when I feel a sudden sense of joy!

People's Choice
by Andre Lodico
4th Grade

Magical Books

Oh, the knowledge!!
Oh, the learning!!
Oh, the books!!

Learning is to have knowledge

Non fiction is information
Fiction will bring you to other worlds
like a magical field

Oh, the field has flowers of all sorts!
The grass is swaying back and forth
beneath your feet
You just want to lay down
You do
Your eyes just start to get heavy,
They close.
Now, you are asleep
in another magical

6th to 8th Grade Poems

First Place
by Eva Schneider
6th Grade
Joy of an Owlet

small white owlet
lifting her delicate, feather-laced wings
to try again, to reach the sky

many times before
the owlet has stumbled
failing day after day

the ground looks far
and the sky
but a seed of hope rests in the tiny
gently beating
heart of an owlet

a push of her legs
off she begins
this could be the day she reaches the sky

a biting wind
and the owlet has lost balance
the familiar tumbling spin begins

but the gust of air catches her
in the delicate creases of her wintery-white wings
it lifts her high,
and she soars

slowly, naturally,
her wings pump to an invisible rhythm
a song from heaven only she can hear
great joy fills her heart

for joy
is to fail a million times over
and then,
just once,

Second Place
by Andrew Stumm
8th Grade

The Five Senses


Felt in the tickle of snowflakes-
The testaments to the beauty
Of individuality and imperfection-
That flutter onto a warm
Outstretched tongue
Felt in the soft fuzz
Of a child’s pudgy fingers caressing
The satin coat of a new puppy
Felt in a cool breeze
On a winter’s morning
As the cold abounds
Through shivering bodies


Seen in the flutter of butterfly wings
Against the sweet spring air
Seen in dew drops glistening
on wispy golden blades of
Grass in the crimson dawn
Seen in the bowing head of a fawn and doe-
Mother about child-
As their parched lips
Send rippling kisses across the gilded face
Of a babbling brook
Murmuring its secrets
To any who care to listen


Heard in the bubbling laughter of children
Echoing across a sand lot
Littered with dreams of grandeur
Heard in the trumpeting squawk of seagulls
Throwing their heads to a sky
From castles of reeds
Streaked with hues of iridescent violet
Heard in the symphonies played
By an orchestra of crickets
To a moonless night
With its sky strewn with the faint glow
Of flickering stars

Smelled in the sweet bouquet
Of a grove of pink cherry blossoms
Smelled in the unnecessarily expensive
Perfume of a first date
As torrents of nervous jitters run wild
Smelled in the aroma of a cooling apple pie
Wafting through the haze of an excruciating
Summer heat


Tasted in the bittersweet warmth
Of a cup of Joe
Being sipped on a Saturday morning
Tasted in the salty froth of waves
From the receding tide
As hordes of surfers with boards
Raised over their heads
Sprint towards the tumultuous seas
Tasted in the soft crunch
Of mom’s homemade cookies
Laden with gooey chocolate
After returning
From a hearty day of play


Dancing on rays of light
In a singular moment of ecstasy
As the only audible sound-
A chorus of playful giggles-
Causes the air to buzz
In a realm where impossibilities
Are shattered illusions-
The purity of humanity
Illuminating the darkness
Of ignorance

Third Place
by Elle Cooper
7th Grade

The Empty Street

My bare feet kiss the pavement
As I run down the cracked road,
My little brother’s quick footsteps
Slapping the gravel behind me.

All the blue has dripped from the sky,
Replaced with paint brush strokes
Of blushing pink and soft gold.
The air around us stands quiet and still,
No breeze to brush away the sweat
That drips down both of our foreheads.

Earlier, I said I would race him to the end
Of the street, to the faded red stop sign
No cars ever bothered to slow down for.
His calloused fingertips reach ahead of me now
To graze the sign as he laughs triumphantly.
The pitiless laugh of a champion
Who has earned his golden crown.

Honorable Mention
by Aivery Pena
8th Grade

The Joyful Mask

Joy is best defined as a feeling of great pleasure and
But what if that feeling is just a mask to hide the real pain
someone is actually feeling
On some days they might feel joy but others may not, and I
question what it really is to me
It is the feeling of knowing that I am able to breathe?
The thought of knowing people love me?
May I know what the real meaning of joy is to me?

I hide behind a mask of joy because I want to make others
But that sacrifices me to feel pain instead
They may seem like I am fine, sometimes I am but I contemplate
what others see or think of me
Seeing the emotion of happiness gives me joy to see that
others are happy
I give and spread that joy to others for a reason
Seeing them happy
Seeing that they are good
Seeing that they have a reason to feel good
A reason to laugh
A reason to smile
A reason to feel joyful
I may be sacrificing my own joy to make others smile, but that
is the blessing that was given to me

The feeling of knowing others are joyful running through my
veins give me ecstasy and a reason to smile
The pain may sting for a little, but that joy will be a great
reason to feel a forever feeling
I do not exactly define joy as happiness, but as a blessing to
feel a great emotion inside and to spread it to others.

People's Choice
by E.K. Baer
6th Grade

Drawing Hearts with a Pink Flashlight

It was 7:30,
Nearly midnight dark...
It was cold and the wind picked
Up and made my bones rattle...
It was Valentine’s Day...
And there I was,
Standing across from a hospital,
With a pink flashlight in my trembling hand...
Drawing hearts in the air
For the kids who were waving their lights at me
From the inside of their hospital windows.
Shouts of affection, warmth, and love
Twirled through the air.
Little lights went on, one by one...
Here! There! And over there!
Do you see them? Can you feel them?
There I stood,
Strengthening my grasp of my pink flashlight,
Sending even more love
To all the lights in the distance...
Wondering who was holding them
And why they were there.
My pink flashlight clinked with
My valentine’s,
And together we drew a heart
In the late evening air
And that was joy.

9th to 12th Grade Poems

First Place
by Layla Wheelon
11th Grade

A Love Letter, Decomposing

If this poem were encrypted entirely
in Flower language, if I could deceive God
with the beauty of his own bloom, I would
confess that this tender, unnurtured future I imagine
takes the shape of a woman. Curled in the cavity
of my chest as only a silhouette until I pull her
light up against my heart, between my breasts,
to examine her closer. Sometimes she is sunny
and I deliver her roadside weeds as an offering,

as that lamb slaughtered, its blood slicked over
my bedroom door -- a plea, let Him pass. Sometimes
she wails when I tuck her away under the recesses
of muscle, deep within marrow, so I give her a honeysuckle
blossom to tuck between tongue and teeth. To hold her over
until I can look at her again. I tell my family I don’t want
to marry. Don’t say I equate marriage with a hairy arm
pressed to my rib cage, heat and soiled sheets. If this poem

had more guts, if l planned to run it under faucet and bury
its pulp beneath the oak, I would pencil in the ghost of that girl
I want to hold. Maybe she can French braid, weave intricacy
into limp strands. Maybe wears that crop top with a rainbow
on each nipple. Or maybe she drapes herself in jasmine, in shy
white blossoms that yellow too fast. If this poem were not the silent
beckoning of chemical-laced scents and neon pistil, if it couldn’t
make its way from roots to stigma, to God, my parents,

to the sister I am not allowed to tell, If solely secret, I would
open my throat and pull her out by the hands. Apologize
for my messy insides with forehead pressed to her cheek.
I want her arms coiled around me like vines. I want to
sit contented on a morning where the slow drift of dust
is the only marker of time, But this poem is not bold enough
to bear testament to that longing. It is merely pinpoint pricks
of petals against linoleum, just rose thorns embedded in this pair
of palms that will not hold another. Sentences that fall

flat. This poem garbles its syllables and coughs out
earth instead, bent stems and blanched veiny roots. Nothing
of substance, so I am left to present her with a meager sprig
of lavender. Ground up, crammed into one of those cheap
perfume bottles. I know that even encoded, this bouquet
I send will decay soon, these words turned to frail
color-leeched things. But in the meantime, I am content
to sit by her side, knees knocking together, and
watch. Marvel as the beauty fades.

Second Place
by Nathan Phuong
11th Grade

Kayaking: A Whale of an Adventure

It is good to get on the water,
Alaskan swells slopping onto my forearms.
I shell the water away with an arm’s reach of paddle,
the crests snap through the length of my kayak
like crumbling glaciers.

It is best to trail in the tense
bull kelp while the humpback whale huffs
half-breaths and yawns
in even smaller fish ---
lops leathery tail like a blooded battle-banner overhead.

The beast brushes wails into the cavities
of my heart, intoning raw acoustics
into the chambers there.

Tides run from the whale’s jaw, and with them
seep my week’s worries, plasma to be folded in the tides
and baked on some distant, sultry shore.

Like ravens of the sea, gulls bob and clap wings
over fish quickened to the surface
by the wallowing whale below.
The tufted puffin chases his troops,
as the passing kingfisher swoops disdainful wings overhead.
Cormorants jut bright beaks against slow rollers and low light.

Gray sky tamps down around my droplet-flecked jacket,
as spotted seals moan at the fat-hungry cold of the rising surf.
Unwillingly, I make swift strokes shoreward, but farther out
the whale continues his feeding. Gruff
breakers lather his sides,
but he does not flee the surface.

Instead, it is only my eyes
that sting from the salt-spray
while whitecaps run streaming off the whale’s back.

Third Place
by Caroline Conway
11th Grade

Something That Stands

Years later, her hands trace
the air, fingering orders
come and gone, lost
in muscle memory. She’s back
behind the scooping counter,
spoon in hand, digging
into a vat of rainbow sherbet,
dropping a nearly perfect sphere
into a cone crowned with chocolate. Taking in

all that she’s created: the little pink
tables, hand painted, sticky from another
summer in the sweltering ’60s,
pink and green walls on every side.
A young woman’s dream made
reality: something for her to have and hold
when she could use a little sweetness. Cold
rises from the tubs, and her cheeks burn

like they did when three words reminded
her that her signature was as meaningful as a child’s
scribbled with borrowed crayons, playing
at adulthood: Head of Household. The loan
officer with his pained smile, reaching
for the pen clenched in her right hand, already
looking to the next man in line.

She loved gazing out the kitchen
window at the Minnesota lakes, formed from ice
scraping away at stubborn rock until it made
space to flow. When she was first
introduced to the world
of contracts and counting, her practiced
signature on fresh paper meant nothing

without a man’s beside it. Thinking of pink
tables and the smell of frozen milk and sugar
she watched someone else sign
for money they would never handle,
sign for her plaid walls, pink and green lacing
together like needlework. She likes to pay
the bills now, see the ink curve
and twist into something new,
something that can stand alone.

Honorable Mention
by Amanda Retzbach
11th Grade

Define Joy:
If joy had a smell, would it smell like paper-bound books?
Like the dictionaries that seek so fruitlessly to interpret it?
Or like homemade lasagna, ground coffee beans, the smell of freshly cut grass, and drying ink?
Had I thought to define it,
Undoubtedly, my definition would be incomplete, lacking and deficient,
And, if nothing else, would simply confine it to words, and break it down into illogical letters,
Any venture would end up with little more than meaningless characters, futile attempts at accuracy
In which letters upon letters will not fabricate worth.

If joy was a feeling, which one would it be?
Love, Hope, Longing, Delight? Or is it an emotion?
Maybe it’s a gentle touch, a mother’s kiss.
Or is it a sight--An indulgent smile, hushed whispers paired with sheepish snickers and brazen grins?
Maybe it’s the sun, shining brightly above imperfect flesh like a golden halo
Smudged makeup as you cry happily, thinking only of the moment and wishing it would never end.

If joy was tangible, would it taste like the Fourth of July?
Your first taste of freedom, on the road, newly licensed.
Driving too fast, too far, too young, too foolish.
Maybe it’s the freedom of expression,
Tie-dyed shirts, blue stained hair, and eyes, twinkling like stars adorned by the midnight sky
Maybe it’s your first “I love you,” the words pressed carefully onto the skin of a past lover,
And your first taste of reality, ignorant and fleeting, before you scurry back to safety, to family.
Maybe it’s hot chocolate on rainy days, decorated by whipped cream,
Rose petals dripped with fresh dew, sickly sweet,
And peppermint candy mixed with the sweetest of smiles.

If joy was a sound, would it sound like a name?
Or would it sound like the ocean, the breeze, the rain?
Would it be the vibrant laughter of a child, carefree and fearless,
Or the unstoppable applause of an admiring audience?
Could it be--impossible,I know--
Inspired by a songbird’s melody,
Or by the steady beat of a loved one’s heart? Ba Bump. Ba Bump. Ba Bump.

If joy is anything, well, how would I know?
Maybe joy is uncontrollable.
Maybe it’s rebellious. Maybe it’s wild.

If joy is anything, would you agree it’s indescribable?
Webster, Oxford, tell me, please, why you bother to define it,
To confine it to hollow words only to become dreaded vocabulary?
I cannot say. Yet, here I am, just as you, trying to put it into words,
When joy is not a word, never was, but the moment Apollo 11 first shot towards the stars,
When Harry Potter caught the snitch, and Shakespeare finished his final phrase.
Why bother to define it, to restrict it to senseless thoughts constructed by senseless minds,
When obviously it will always mean something different to me?

People's Choice
by Alecia Grigorchule
11th Grade

I Found Joy

I found joy
I found joy in the little things
Joy that comes from within,
Something to get through the rough times

I found joy in the sound of
my parents’ laughter,
wind rustling through trees,
rushing passersby,
pages turning

I found joy in the sight of
my siblings playing,
friends reuniting,
a genuine smile,
leaves changing

I found joy in the scent of
fresh coffee
smoke from a campfire,
a freshly lit candle,
Waves crashing

I found joy
in things I thought insignificant,
In fleeting moments

Last updated: April 5, 2019

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