2013 Teen Poetry Contest Winners

2013 Teen Poetry Contest Winners


High School Winner

“Empty Words”

Someone told me what bound me to earth,
what welded chains to my wings,
what smashed my halo to pieces,
what forced me to stay

was love.

Someone said it was worth staying,
worth losing everything,
worth the pain of betrayal,
worth giving up heaven

for love.

Someone promised that love was forever,
that once in possession, it would remain,
that it never went away though people did,
that there was nothing in the world

like love.

Someone fooled me into believing the lies, that
the pain will lessen over time,
the loneliness won’t overtake me,
the greatest gift in the world was

to love.

Someone told me he would love me forever,
would stay by my side until his last breath,
would hold me close in those dark times,
would heal the scars inflicted

by love.

Someone once guaranteed love was great,
greater than heaven,
greater than freedom,
greater than everything;
and now that someone is gone.

Carolyn W.
Westmont High School
Grade: 12



Middle School Winner

“What Lies Ahead”

On a railroad on the sea
Running from a broken past
A desperate band of refugees
The last.

Their eyes squeezed out the memories
Their gazes lay ahead
Frozen as a ship went past
Its headlights bloody red

Faces were still and cheeks were wet
Jaws set to not look back
Caps lowered as the wind rushed in
The darkness heavy black
Mist lay on the troubled water
Silence mixed with fear
They were heading to a future
When the past had lain so near

They saw the greying shoreline
Reality rushed in
They were the survivors
They were going to win

They didn’t see the horrors
They went where their hopes lead
Not knowing their betrayal
They might as well be dead

Their vessel calmly rocked ashore
Their bodies were asleep
And in the night the spirits watched
One boy begin to weep.

Anna K.
Rolling Hills Middle School
Grade: 7



High School Winner

The Sea Comes to the Shore 

On the other side –
The sunlight falls
across an unsuspecting
face, dark brows
scrunched together in
blocking out the light –
Though it chose him.
Light golden strands
flop cheerfully onto
a darkened face, tanned
by sunlit beaches.
Head set ablaze:
fiery, pure gold.
Below, eyes: the
color of the sea
sparkling with merriment
uncontained excitement:
waves crashing
upon the shore –
vast ocean twinkling
in both light and night
by the sun and the moon.
The sea; the shore
ever-welcoming –
Dimpled smile:
Footsteps in the sand
Leaving soft traces of joy
Erased daily by the tide
Yet resurrected, everlasting
Pearly whites:
Found from the very depths
of the majestic ocean
Hidden in shells, the
unseen beauty…
That must be found
through persistence and
optimism –
There will always be someone there for you,
On the other side…
Wait patiently.
The sea comes to the shore. 

Maya B.
Grade: 11



Middle School Winner

Fall Until You Succeed

Only one thing hurts more than falling
It is failing at your dream
Nothing will pick you off the ground
You look back at all the opportunities you missed
Only disappointment stands
Not with flying colors
Not with anything at all
Don’t let the confidence sink
Act like someone you want to be
Be yourself
Achieve your dreams
You are the best
Will always be
Succeeding doesn’t come in a day
Hard work,
Pushes you all the way
You did it
Will do it again
Failing in the past
Just time to rest
If you didn’t flourish this time
You will soar eventually
High than ever before
Just need the right take off pad
Optimism will take you above the rest
Be the best you can be
Only you can achieve your dreams
Let this poem remind you
Only one thing is better than succeeding
It’s falling back down again

Amrita B.
Lawson Middle School
Grade: 7



High School Winner


Sticks that appear straight and stern
Are easily bendable and broken
Waves crash on rocks sharp and stiff
Roaring about power and hunger
But moonbeams on ocean drops are calm
And sooth the building storm
The pounding thunder that booms inside
A rhythm of crash and collide
Draw in the cold like strength in shocks
As winds and waves caress,
Dive to leave the past behind in navy blue
Skin bare and feelings raw,
Let fears slip like tears down stained cheeks
Eager to join the midnight sea
Soak starlight in sparkling ocean shadows
As water rushes back and forth,
Quiet like willow trees and emerald lakes
Settles in gossamer ponds
Pooling to push away the pain and blood
Red ribbon scars that refuse to heal
Eyelids droop with lone wolf's weary sorrow,
Soft brushstroke waves lull
Burdens leave bones and irons are lifted
Embrace weightlessness
As you escape dull grey sleepless nights
And lonely light mornings
Fade softly away into a beautiful memory
As you drift out to sea

Alanna Z.
LAMB-O Academy
Grade: 11



Middle School Winner

Side Effects

Many things are
Brushed off as a side effect,
Lost in the vast scheme of things,
One casualty in the masses.

Divorced parents
A troubled child,
A weakened will to live,
Sad stories and broken hearts,
Who has the right to judge
What is a side effect?

Are we all just loved ones
Waiting to be lost,
After everything we endure,
A page in the past,
A name engraved in stone?

Sabrina Z.
Brownell Middle School
Grade: 7



High School Winner


Sometimes it is the

beautiful, small things that are so

easily broken

Jessica L.
Mountain View High School
Grade: 12



High School Winner

We Did Not Say Good-bye

We did not say good-bye
We said goodnight
Leave me on earth
Take your flight

Do you still remember?
How I wept?
When you took your departure?
When you finally slept?

Show yourself to me
Through the glowing moon
Tell me, little sister
That I’ll be with you soon

I look to the night
For the northern star
For in his watch
I know where you are

The morning dew gleams
Like the light in your eyes
The shade of your gaze
Rests in the skies

Whisper your secrets
Through the season wind
I will find you again
When the fog has thinned

You have gone
Where I cannot go
I will follow you one day
Led by your afterglow

We will lay down our troubles
And rest in heavenly isles
For we are alive
For only a short while

Ariele S.
Orthodox Christian School
Grade: 11



Middle School Winner


sometimes i wish life

was as easy as piecing

scraps of fabric together

how wonderful would

it be to patch up the

emptiness in your heart

to stitch up all the mistakes

you’ve made hoping

it won’t come apart

to make everything better

by simply moving the needle

in through the fabric and out

Clara C.
Thomas Russell Middle School
Grade: 7



High School Winner

This Is What You Shall Do

You shall go forth and explore with boundless curiosity,|
Look up at the night sky and marvel at the galaxies before you,
Know that you are quite literally looking into the past
Admire the stars you see that might not even exist anymore,
Stars that birthed the elements that make up your very self.
You’ll collect moments, not things,
Soak up every ounce of the world,
The people, the taste of the air, the smell of autumn leaves
And keep these imperfect Polaroid snapshots of life in your heart.
I want you to let the ocean wind run through your hair
And to take note of the taste of rain,
To listen to the song of being alive, of laughter and cities and fireworks,
And lose yourself in the sounds that threaten to engulf you.
Find your heart in their throbbing rhythms,
And let the melody fill the emptiness in your chest.
You shall paint the sky with lines of poetry –
Blushing pink rhymes and pale violet phrases
You shall soak yourself in the perfume of fog-laced forests and long lost books,
Throw yourself at life with reckless abandon,
Because you mustn’t forget the miracle of your existence,
So fill your soul with lovely words and paper lantern dreams,
And I want you to lose yourself completely
In those moments when laughter fills your body,
A thick, golden syrup that tastes like pure bliss.
Here, in this space between two seconds, if you could somehow stop time,
Caught in this moment for the rest of your life, you could live forever.
And even when you remember that you are not immortal,
That you are fragile, and breakable, and that nothing gold can stay,
It will not matter
Because you will have lived. 

Amy L.
Oakwood School
Grade: 11



Middle School Winner

I Remember...

I remember when you were here

I was here, too

My body is still here, however

I was wishing yours would be too, later we will meet again, I hope

My feelings are afloat

Dedicated to James Gustaveson, my father


Joey G.
Martin Murphy Middle School
Grade: 8



High School Winner

"Hakone Gardens"  – haibun

Like schoolchildren, the baby koi swim in tandem with their parents, imitating their movements. The adults, large enough to swallow any of their children whole, move in viscous water, laboriously propelling their streamlined bodies forward with even movements.

fast slow stroke across
glass clear pond – swim back forth back
repeat forever

The younger ones, almost uniformly gray, flutter their fins, making waves in the otherwise tranquil pond. Only one has acquired the characteristic bright orange associated with adulthood. He wears the color awkwardly, but to onlookers he is like a ring in a murky pond – bright and beautiful.

storm cloud gray babies
camouflage against black rocks
save one sunshine koi

            The air is clouded with the buzzing of bees; they are warriors cloaked in swaths of silk lemon and blackberry. Beside the pond, a honey-colored trellis rises from the ground seamlessly. Bubbles of darker wood mar the square columns.

like Atlas theirs is
eternal, to kneel before
royal wisteria

Ashley C.
Saratoga High School
Grade: 9



Middle School Winner


The autumn leaves circle

the drenched pavement.

Besides the occasional

streetlamp, the world is

a dark, wet expanse of

sidewalk and trees. She

tips her head back, opens

her mouth, and catches

raindrops in her mouth.

She glances up just in time

to see the overhead trees

hiss and spit, smacking

the rainwater against the

concrete. Her wispy white

dress swirls gently around

her ankles. A silver moon

peers down from the inky

sky above. It whispers her

name, over and over again:

Artemis, Artemis, Artemis.

Margaret Z.
Redwood Middle School
Grade: 8


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