2018 Teen Poetry Contest Winners

2018 Teen Poetry Contest Winners


High School Winner


A pool of plastic,
Twice the size of Canada,
Needing a lifeline.

Drifting across the infinite is a swath of plastic,
Threatening with dilemmas damaging and drastic;
A kiddie plastic pool twice the size of Canada,
Not for child's play; a lifetime for Oceania!

Gazing within the depths of the ocean blue,
Forego a walk on the water gummed and glued;
Tracking fluid footprints of a different kind,
That centuries of travelers have left behind.

Seeing pirate battles upon sea of heaven's tears,
Images of immigrants full of hope and fear;
Half-drowned sailors, legs longing for dry land,
After some monstrous storm they withstand.

Yet some footprints obscured by sand and dirt,
Not easy to spot, but so bring agonizing hurt;
At the gallows, a plastic hood over fish gills,
Reefs that nefarious, "seafarious" stalkers kill.

Oil leaking from a tourist ship on the cruise,
Sweet poison swallowed with much to lose;
Creatures forever vanishing and to time lost,
Oceania joining Atlantis at an enduring cost.

Coral cities concede to palettes of plastic ink,
Blanketed, nestled within heavy metals that sink;
Is there a life boat for mighty, magical maritime?
Do saline seas savor saving? Or wish for a lifeline?

Penelope Duran
Willy Brandt Schule
Grade: 9



Middle School Winner

I AM FROM........

I am from a great-grandfather, who was killed in battle,
From grandparents who left everything they cared about behind,
To cross the ocean and to start a new life.
I am from the parents who love me to pieces, I will never break.
I am from “pelmeni” and “borscht” and shots of vodka,
And I am from a world of a million stars.

I am from a place where fog settles over the Golden Gate Bridge,
Where cats roam the alleyways and seals rest on the pier.
I’m from the Lone Star State where you can enjoy the best steak.
And I’m from the deep blue waters where fish and sharks rule,
Where volcanoes erupt and natives ate Captain Cook,
I’m from the lights and stage of City that never sleeps,
From the buffets to the casinos to the desert heat.

I am from Mozart to Bach to Jerry Lee Lewis
Practicing piano day and night, even when I am tired.
I am from Picasso, Chagall and Kandinsky
Covered in paint, yellow, red and maroon.
I am from bricks but not the ones you can break,
But the LEGO ones you can build an amazing thing with.
I am from the Death Star to the Millennium Falcon
To Kylo Ren, Han and Leia in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
I am from the Spad to the Spitfire to the Boeing 747
All fighting for supremacy on my bookshelf.

I am from love, kindness, kisses and hugs,
Loving and caring for people around us.
I am from wishing the best to all around me.
I am from a family who cares about me and
Wishes me all the best, and to reach the stars in the sky.
I love my family all so much, not too little of course
They care about me and in return, I care about them.

Ari Braslavsky
Old Orchard School, Campbell
Grade: 7



High School Winner

Cast of Characters

Babies in business suits; suckling on the milk and honey of the promised land.
Of AP’s and Honors, of the everlasting hope of becoming lawyers and doctors.
All you have to do is know the facts, you don’t have to understand.
And in other corners of the world lie dreamers, who dream of quelling our gun fire and stopping
our plows from tearing up the earth.
They only live on in statues and stories, of tales of their glories.
For too often they are martyrs, biting the bullet, throwing themselves in front of the bulldozer,
embracing the dirt.
And then there are the war dogs, the leeches who can only support themselves on other
people’s blood and bones. Of flesh from another, from their sisters and brothers.
They consider it a commission when they receive yet another loan.
But it seems as if all of us are dreamers, since we’re all half asleep.
Dreaming of the day the world will stop and fall to our feet.
And yet we tell others still that their day is yet to come; that to keep on working until they are
numb in the hopes they will find they can march to their own beat.
And I am here, writing about people I will never meet. People who I already know.
I recognize the blurred faces that everyone else will forget, the seeds of regretted words they
will sow.
I am not just a writer; I am a historian- I write the stories of people who exist today and vanish
They are all of us and none of us, faded into oblivion- exalted by their successes and drowned
by their sorrow.

Anusikha Halder
Monta Vista High School
Grade: 11



Middle School Winner

The Flag of Our Nation
It stands for liberty and justice for all.
It stands firm for our values, staunch as a wall.
The flag was so young, it had suffered no loss,
When first created and stitched by the hand of Miss Ross.It endured many hardships with brave Minutemen,
Who shouted with joy, to freedom, an “Amen!”
When we emerged victorious, not colonies, but a free nation,
Before the Constitution, the flag was our foundation.As leader after leader emerged from our homeland,
The country was budding, the borders to expand.
Everything was changing, for the good, and for the bad.
But our flag remained right there, as it always had.Tensions rose over slavery, between the North and South,
Angry words spouting, from each and every mouth.
The flag, it grew filthy, and sometimes it was torn.
And from these tensions a new one, the “Stars and Bars”, was born.War came to pass - brother against brother, friend against friend.
The flag, and the nation, it seemed, would meet its end.
But finally peace came in the days of one spring,
Slavery was gone, but what would the future bring?America prospered, and immigrants came,
Seeking a new life in liberty’s name.
The flag, a symbol of hope, in their troubled days,
They knew they would find freedom in here, always.

Then both world wars erupted, producing many fears.
Countless people gave up their lives in those horrible, bloody years.
They sacrificed, grieved, and gave it their all,
To uphold the Union, to answer her call.

The flag of our nation flies free, it flies strong.
To us it means home, it is freedom’s song.

Grace Wong
The King's Academy
Grade: 8



Middle School Winner


Poem called "One in a Million"

Lizette Jimenez Martinez


High School Winner

Star- Swept Sky

I found myself in a distant land,
whose trees hunched over like old men and whose
clouds sung an evening song so sweetly
I almost forgot what home was.

But then I laid on my back
surrounded by the sweeping stars of the night sky
and I felt I could almost stretch across the world to stroke
my worn out book spines,
the senior sycamore in my front yard.
I could hear the laughter in the air and the
sweet smell of sugar and sincerity.

I was there and yet I wasn’t,
trapped in my memories
as the sky swept out into infinite space around me,
swaddling me in silence,
soft stillness,
silk breathing,
stable seclusion,
swift serendipity,

I reached,
but could not find
all I longed for —
the grumpy,
cloudless skies
of home.

Jodie Bhattacharya
  Grade: 12 


Middle School Winner

Too Late

Cities afire Ablaze with liars
Ruins of integrity
The decay of morality

Those liars grew to fame
Playing their nasty game
Seeking to devour
Positions of grand power

With quite admirable common sense
They feed on your ignorance

           Your indifference
                     Your innocence
While you fitfully slept

And your family cowardly wept

They gained control
They took over your soul
While you made but a silent sound-

They barged right in
You could not win
While slowly and silently, you drowned

Because of what you did

What did you do?

And now it’s too late.

Suhrith Bellamkonda
Grade: 8


High School Winner


Look at us, forging through life
Forever in a Sisyphean search of beauty

Blindly stretching our arms so far
In pursuit of daunting goals:
Hope in a world plagued with pessimism
Peace in the midst of devastating headlines
Unity among communities shattered by hate
Joy in a society riddled with worry

But how can we achieve these visions
Without the bravery to see
That despite all the negativity,
There is beauty hiding in the small miracles
Lurking behind the scenes of life
For someone wise enough to recognize their value

The value

Of the fiery sunrise each morning
Greeting us with a silent promise:
“A new day of opportunity awaits.”

Of slow, mesmerizing strolls through nature
The serenity creating a perfect haven
for imagination to defy the bounds of reality

Of sweet symphonies of birds
Far above our heads
Performances laced with the strength of harmony

Of the carefree chiming of children’s laughter
Broadcasted everywhere by the wind
Spreading infectious enthusiasm through the air

Perhaps beauty isn’t as unattainable as it seems

What if it’s all just a matter

of perspective

Annie Liu
American High School
Grade: 10



Middle School Winner

Apology Poem to Teacher

This is just to say
That I’m sorry I knocked
All the papers off your desk
In second grade.

They looked like they had
A special order.
I don’t know if you are still holding
A grudge, now that you’re retired

Forgive me
I was in a rush
And those papers
Made the most beautiful rustle
As they slipped off the desk
One by one.

Makenna Ma
Sierramont Middle School
Grade: 8



High School Winner

Shades of Indifference

If the colors of the world,
All its shapes and its arrays,
Turned to tired strokes of grey,
Tell me, would you be the same?

If you heard the oceans crying,
Felt their souls hunger for the rain,
Saw their tears roll next to mine,
Could you smile through the beauty of our pain?

If I showed you the true maker
Of your brand new Nike shoes,
Do you think you could stand to listen To her
sing her sweatshop blues?

If you bore witness to the homeless,
And did not even throw a glance,
Yet claim to inspire change and dignity,
I ask, “Did you even give them a chance?”

If you ever cursed your homework,
Or hated the world for grades and tests
Have you ever thought of those Who of
education are bereft?

If you ever once felt lonely,
Felt abandoned, saw hope dead, I
sympathize with you,
And see the long journey ahead.

Therefore, justice isn’t easy,
But rather our responsibility to serve and do.
And every act of justice starts by admitting,
“Hey, the problem? It’s me and you.”

Diana Frias Franco
Grade: 11



Middle School Winner

Poem called "It's a Mans World"

Hannah Pieters and Madeline Arnott
Grade: 7


High School Winner

~ a villanelle~

Our voices spoke out, filled with dread.
We marched up the streets side by side;
When will women be heard? we said.

To us, for years, our dreams seemed dead,
Remained unchanged, and so we cried.
Our voices spoke out, filled with dread.

We marched to see our message spread;
Our heads held high with every stride.
When will women be heard? we said.

Most of the city could hear our tread:
No longer should grievance abide,
Our voices spoke out, filled with dread.

For much too long, I too have bled,
Felt injustice, my freedom denied:
When will women be heard? we said,

That march pushed past old lives we led.
This day we stand serene with pride:
Our voices spoke out, filled with dread.
When will women be heard? we said.

Anjali Pursai
Grade: 12



Middle School Winner

Where Fresh and Saltwater Meet

Flowing past everything in their way
In a hurry to reach their destination
Fresh and salt meet in the Ocean’s doorway

From large lakes’ and rangy rivers’ gateways
With gators and fishes in predation
Flowing past everything in their way

“Splash! Splash!” can be heard coming from the tides
With loads of prey from fish to crustacean
Fresh and salt meet in the Ocean’s doorway

Fresh water as clear as a polished tray
Salt water cloudier than gas from stations
Flowing past everything in their way

Upon these bodies shines Sun’s piercing rays
Aiding on the trip  to their location
Fresh and salt meet in the Ocean’s doorway

Coming closer and closer to the bay
Their journey lasted a long duration
Flowing past everything in their way
Fresh and salt meet in the Ocean’s doorway

Poornima Dorairaj
Grade: 8

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