2023 Poetry Contest Winners

3-5th Grade Poems

Honorable Mention - 3 awardees
In alphabetical order by first name

Ava Luangkesorn “Free Prayer Flies to God”
Lillian Jones “Cancer Says No”
Milly Cartier “The Sky”

Third Place
by Vance McGraw

The Fish That Dreamed

There once was a fish who wished…
to be eaten,
So he came up with a genius plan: wait and hope.

So, He lay around, flopping in bed, swishing the water with his little fish head.
He dreamt of being made into a beautiful dish, with curry and mountains of sauce.
The next morning, he was pulled ashore.
As dry as the grass in a desert.
So he wiggled loose, and thought of his dream.
So instead he swam, free in the ocean, full of regret.
So when he was old, he wiggled back to the shore.
And dreamed again.
Not once, twice more.
He, again, dreamt of being a gigantic, beautiful platter of fish.
He would be so delicious, and fulfill his dream.
The very same one that he had when he was little.

So while he lay dreaming, on the ocean floor, a big, sharp hook pulled him to shore.
He didn’t feel anything, except for a burst of energy.
He knew he had lived his childhood dream.
Then he sat on a cooker, still chock full of hope,
He didn’t cry, he didn’t mope.
He just knew he fulfilled his dream.
And into a glorious dinner, full of spices and cream, he went.
So he lived a good life, as a fish that dreamed.

Second Place
by Gibson Stipe

Blooming Through

The concrete sits there
With no color
No light
No allure
No essence

As the concrete
With its dullness
Sits there
Without admiration
Without reverence
From any other living thing

Then comes a spurt
Of greenness
Of life
Of pleasure
The sprout
Unfurled its green tail
And spread out its purple arms
Its petals
Its fronds

Its yellow powdery center
Its pistil
Radiates the sun's light
The flower
Blooming through
The concrete
A sign of hope
Of life

First Place
by Mateo Amezquita


Hope is like a tree
It sways and shakes,
But stays upright.
Hope is like a sunflower
No matter how dark it gets,
It will always face the light


6-8th Grade Poems

Honorable Mention - 4 awardees
In alphabetical order by first name

Addie Wireman – “The Wish”
Audrey McCoy – “Rivalry of Love”
Aunica Tomlinson – “I Hope”
Sophia Lopez – “Through the Eyes of a Fox”

Third Place
by Allison Fath

It Could Be Bad

It could be bad.
It could be terrible,or horrible
Or atrocious
Or rotten
Or foul

Maybe it’s not meant to be
Maybe it’s Maybelline

Maybe today is the day
That the magazines and pop-up ads
Lay to rest

That insecurities are no longer
As a body is a body
Regardless of its form

A new day
As the book of sorrow and worry is put back on the shelf
Never to be picked up again
Or rather to become one
With the earth once more
To be dirt

Is to be
A resource to others
A land to be harvested
By decomposers as well

As those who compose fields
Watering and tending to
To be dirt couldn’t be bad

Save for a fell-ill farmer
Taking an off-day
Or lack thereof
Or rather

To be the farmer
And to compose the land
And give to it as it gives to you

But work is hard
Days are long
Noticing patterns of days past
Makes it challenging to push
Past futuristic mindsets
And live in the moment
For what it’s worth

Yet to see the sunrise
Makes all the difference
To see the setting sun
Dip below the horizon

And thus,
For all of the hardships
And doubt
And struggle
And strife

For when the sun is up
And the chips are down

It’s worth remembering
That it could be good

Second Place
by Erin Lee

Soaring High Into the Sky

Me and my grandma would fold paper cranes everyday,
The warm sunlight from the window, begging to play
Each crane we folded was a new life created
That everywhere there was happiness decorated
The bright colors of the small but powerful paper a symbol that there is a hope like this around,
Only just waiting to be found
The stillness of the crane perched on my hand, gave me tranquility soft like sand
It seems like we could’ve done this forever,
Until we found out my grandma had stage 4 cancer.
My mom would cry at the dinner table,
Her hands trembling as if unstable
My dad would be on the phone,
Attached to it like a fresh-baked scone
I watched them with my untouched math problems in my lap,
The crane I was folding begging to flap
I looked at the crane and thought of my grandma,
Her warm smile and soft hands melting away all of my worries
And instead I think of all the great memories we had,
And knew that my grandma would be mad at my acting so sad
So I picked up the crane and folded it finally,
Perching it on the table as if my grandma was there
I stared at it for a while and then started to smile,
Because I knew that this crane didn’t mean the end; it meant a new beginning.

– 1 year later –
We stepped into the same glass door we did before,
Instead of sadness feeling a glow of galore
We walked fast to the room that awaited our gift,
My grandmother, who just conquered cancer
My mom and dad talked to the doctor,
While me and grandma walked out the door
The door that had doomed us, consumed us but now, nothing but pure happiness allowed
And then I stepped out with her
Hand in hand, as we faced the cloudless sky
I looked at my grandma, who’s smile was soft as heather
We looked at each other and at that moment,
All of the cranes we had folded together
Blossomed from behind us
Flying high into the sky,
Our one wish being granted, colors swarming all around us
Our sacred hope being unleashed into the wild.

First Place
by Ella Studenovsky
Paper and Pen

Walking into a warm cabin
After the blizzard,
By the mellow sound of nonexistence.
Paper and Pen
Sit still in the room waiting to be used -
The only thing to do in this bland room.
They used to write stories
And draw pictures
And make words come to life.
The tiny room became big,
More grand than its limited space.
The paper is almost full.

9-12th Grade Poems

Honorable Mention - 9 awardees
In alphabetical order by first name

Abigail Leigh –“A Letter on a February Day”
Andy Du – “Pitter”
Elizabeth Khavich –“Hope is Like Glass”
Hafsa Abbasi – “Searching for a Fish”
Isabel de la Pena – “The Boys Who Waits”
Katherine Zeng – “Hope, She’s Stupid”
Matt Karoski – “Hope Pays”
Samantha Arevalo – “The New Normal”
Suday Kukreja – “Who Are You?”

Third Place
by Liam Walsh

Community Garden

Walk through East Williamsburg,
seemingly devoid of life,
see abandoned red-brick buildings covered in graffiti,
dilapidated warehouses with impenetrable garage doors,
metal rails buried in asphalt.

Keep going. . .

One block from the empty lot
lies Ten Eyck Playground
where teenagers trade layups for jump shots,
young children swing from a brightly painted jungle gym.

Down on Meserole Street
sandwiched between a secluded series
of depots lies a paint-chipped yellow gate
surrounded by stand-out street art –
mythical dragons
colorful cartoon characters
beloved beacons of the neighborhood –
an assemblage of artistic expression
individuality and imagination imbued
within these murals.

Walk the rocky gravel that covers the concrete,
the railroad tracks transformed into a walkway
guiding you to the next wooden enclosure,
ankle-high fences surrounding soil beds filled with
cherry belle radishes,
chieftain potatoes,
crimson sweet watermelons,
bloomsdale spinach,
and heirloom tomatoes.

The sun rises from the far-right corner of the lot.
Come feel the pulsing heart of this neighborhood.

Second Place
by Emaline Kercher

night sky,
for she was no longer
a vast sea, vague
with nation’s satellites
and stained by smog.
for she was bright pigments,
wielding places like this.

with an embrace
she gifted me
twin strokes of light
dancing to my
familiar melodies
that allowed the celestials
to seep in
and stitch my wounds.

tying the seams,
they whispered
they had a place for me
if i pick up the needle
and use the thread they leave for me

First Place
by Iago Macknik-Conde

Here’s To La Ciencia Emigrante
After Ijeoma Umebinyuo

Here’s to all the PhDs who replaced their pristine labs
with taxis amarillos.

Here’s to the former professors who took jobs outside of science
in strange countries,
solo para mandar dinero to their families.

Here’s to the académicos who left it all behind
to publish artículos in a foreign language,
but still dream in their lengua natal.

Here’s to the entry-level technician
who used to run her own laboratorio
back home.

Here’s to the researchers who push against the fronteras of knowledge,
only to be told,
“Go back to where you came from.”

Here’s to the woman who chose to do science in another land,
en una cultura diferente,
mi Mamá.

Keep lighting antorchas in the dark.

Spanish to English Translations:
La Ciencia Emigrante: Immigrant Science
amarillos: yellow
solo para mandar dinero: only to send money
académicos: academics
artículos: articles
lengua natal: native tongue
laboratorio: laboratory
fronteras: borders
en una cultura diferente: in a different culture
mi Mamá: my Mom
antorchas: torches

Last updated: May 24, 2023

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