2019 9th annual themed 
Teen Poetry & Flash Fiction Contest  
at the Hamilton-Wenham Library

Open to teens in grades 6 to 12, who are
residents of Essex County in Massachusetts.
Poem or story entry must be original work.
Flash fiction story must be 300 words or less.
Maximum of 3 entries per author may be entered.
2019 THEME is:  Music 
Poems and stories must incorporate a music theme or have an associative metaphor such as: harmony, rhythm, melody, tune, chorus, etc. 
Judges will deduct points from entries that do not incorporate the theme.
Each poem or story must have a title.
Entries due by midnight, March 21, 2019.
An online form must be filled out for EACH entry (see link to entry form below).

Contest winners and honorable mentions will be announced at the
Contest Reception on Thursday, April 4, 2019, 6:30 to 8:30 PM.
You must be present at the Reception to win.

$ Cash prizes to be awarded $

All first and second place winners are required to read or recite their entry aloud at the Reception. Your entry will be disqualified if you are not present at the reception. Please do not submit a poem or story if you cannot attend the reception. Winning poems and stories may be published on the Library's Informed Teens blog and/or in local newspaper(s).

Poetry Contest Reception  
Thursday, April 42019, 6:30pmT
Our featured reception speaker is Daniel Sklar.

Mr. Sklar teaches creative writing at Endicott College. Some of his poems, plays, and stories have been published in the Harvard Review, the New York Quarterly, Madcap Review, Clockwise Cat, A Progressive Literary Magazine, The American Dissident, Nature Writing, The Somerville Times, the English Journal, and other magazines. His plays have been seen at the Actors Studio, the Firehouse Theater, and the Boston Theater Marathon. Dan's latest book, Flying Cats, was published by Ibbetson Street Press. He rides a bicycle to work. 

Mr. Sklar has been a contest judge since the first year of Hamilton-Wenham Library's Teen Poetry Contest.

2018 8th annual themed 
Teen Poetry & Flash Fiction Contest  
at the Hamilton-Wenham Library
Contest winners were announced at the Contest Reception on 
April 12, 2018, 6:30-8:30 PM.

The 2018 reception speaker was Nathaniel Hawthorne portrayed by Rob Velella.  Remembered today for his novels like "The Scarlet Letter" and "The House of the Seven Gables," Massachusetts author Nathaniel Hawthorne never offered a public reading in his lifetime and, in fact, often scorned the fame which he earned. For this presentation, however, the author himself returned to read some of his short works which explored the dark side of human nature. Following Nathaniel Hawthorne, the winners of the Teen Poetry and Flash Fiction Contest were announced by members of the Teen Think Tank, prizes were awarded, and the winning entries heard.

2018 Winning Poems and Flash Fiction
The 2018 theme was: Outer Space or Unexplored Territory

Best Poem Entry Grades 6-8
Chloe Bendoris, for "People"

I lay there
Untethered by reality and untouched by logic
A symphony of visions erupts like a plume of volcanic ash
Chaos curls and twists behind a sleeping face

I could be running
I could be dancing
I could be constructing a poem
They think
But they don’t know
They can take their clipboards and their pens
They can pour over every symbol and meaning
But all they’re doing is knocking on a door to an empty house

They don’t know that your senses are locked
How you taste, touch, feel, hear, and see
Your own universe of emotions
That’s all yours

Know one knows you
Unless they are you

Best Flash Fiction Entry Grades 6-8
Sophie Bassom, for "My Own Infinity"

My face pressed up against the glass of my window, my heavy breathing easily heard among the whirring of machines. My pen danced atop my notebook, taking notes as my eyes drank in the beautiful view surrounding me. I took notes, not wanting to forget the perfection of my flawless reality. My rocket continued onwards, revealing swirls of picture perfect purple in the galaxies, with stars sprinkled atop the magic. Engine purring, my ship turned around, and soon I found myself facing my home, the Milky Way Galaxy. I knew now, why it had this brilliant name. Milky stars swirled around, draining into an unknown middle, the only knowledge untouchable in our day and age. I wanted to go closer, to touch, to feel. But I could not. Not today, not tomorrow, but soon. Very soon. Turning again, I sped towards what I thought to be the horizon, wanting to learn more about our little piece of infinity. Planets sped past me, colliding with asteroids and shattering like brittle glass. My lips parted slightly in surprise, but on I sped. Power surged into my veins, the adrenaline of my speed and intensity in my exploration pushing to the front of my consciousness. I was faster than light. I was a part of my own infinity.

Best Poem Entry Grades 9-12
Rory Haltmaier, for "Painted Galaxy"

It’s as if Pollock and Chagall
are on the job
as day melts into night,
the entire sky a canvas
stretching out past the horizon,
fabric stapled to the sky
waiting for the painters’ skilled touch.
Splatters of tangerine and magenta
smudge and swirl
across the expanse of blue,
then disperse.
Replaced by an deep indigo —
whites and golds
take form as
the arms of Orion
and the claws of Ursa
find their place on the darkness.
Late night watchers in the trees
exhale in wonder
as the loyal planets,
stay the course,
twinkling a hello
from the void above.

Best Flash Fiction Entry Grades 9-12
Lily Knudsen, for "Gladys and the Extraterestrial Nurse"

Of course, Gladys has believed the government’s controlled by aliens for long enough that she finds it unsurprising when one becomes her nurse. Her (at least, Gladys thinks she’s a her) personal nurse-alien calls herself “Alex.” Her form is relatively humanoid, but her hair’s short and purple. Because lavender’s Gladys’s favorite color, she doesn’t mind it as much as the metal bars stabbing through “Alex”’s eyebrows, lips, and nose. When the alien reaches over to help Gladys stand, the aging woman can finally squint through her glasses well enough to distinguish the dark pictures covering the nurse’s arms. Gladys has always believed such pictures mark successes in battle, but she must have been incorrect. Why would extraterrestrial lifeforms battle roses?

“Are you comfortable?” the alien asks. Gladys wonders how “Alex” learned to speak English so fluently, especially around the metallic growth on her tongue.
“What’s life like on your planet?”
A chuckle. An indiscernible look from the alien before she summons a reply:
“Loud, hectic, a little outrageous. What about yours?”
“Never mind that. Tell me more.”
So the nurse tells of advanced radio communications and her alien companions eating alien foods (what’s an acaí bowl?), telling alien jokes, listening to loud, alien music and doing exciting alien things.
“It sounds lovely.”

“Can you take me to your planet?”
“Not today.”

“When are you taking over the Earth?”
“We’ve already started.”
“That’s a shame. I’m rather fond of it…”

Gladys awakens surrounded by sterile white ceilings, buzzing machinery, and incessant beeping. Alex is there.
“Are you taking me to your planet?”
The space creature smiles softly, “I’m afraid not.”
“I would’ve liked to see it.”

“Tell me about your Earth.”
“Why would you want to hear about that?” Gladys questions.
“When you talk about it… it sounds lovely.”

2nd Place Poem Entry Grades 6-8
Aeneas Strozier, for "Unexplored Territory"

Like the soft, endearing cracks of a book cover,
The subtle twinkle in the eyes of someone who has told a joke,
As if they are inviting you, begging you to join
Their world of excitement and joy

Like the rebellious strands of hair
That lie above the others
Daring to be ugly, daring to be noticed,
The marker that that appears upon one’s hand
No matter how careful you are

The way a writer refers to “one”
As if there is only one their writing apples to
Only one who truly understands,

Unexplored territory
Unnoticed universes
Our eyes see it
Our brains understand it
But we do not

2nd Place Flash Fiction Entry Grades 6-8
Eliza Bassom, for "Bed Pan to a Sun Tan"

Lying in this hospital bed slowly dying I cannot help but wonder what lies ahead of me. I hope it is Heaven. What will it look like? I wonder. Will I like it? I thought. Hundreds of these thoughts pound me one after another. The only way I found to calm these out of this world questions was to try and picture Heaven and how I would get there. My eyes closed suddenly and I heard a doctor around yell “code blue” hopefully not about me because that means a patient’s heart had stop. Then the famous light envelopes me and I head to what will hopefully be my utopia. I land softly on my two feet that I have not walked on in twenty years. Hope takes over me and running on my working feet I pound the somehow forever soft ground that surrounds me. I gaze around me at the cities and land with the infinite light that is expelled from the bright sun. I walk to the city where I find my dream house and deceased relatives waiting for me. I have not gotten a single sunburn even though I walked across a valley with no shade. I feel no pain even though I just rolled my ankle. Everything is perfect for me in Heaven, but outside of Heaven is my family that grieves over my death not knowing what Heaven is and what it looks like. Eventually they will know but for now they will have to wait. However until I do die I cannot prove my guess. I open my eyes to the blinding lights in the hospital. Until I hear it, the flatline and my eyes close for the final time.

2nd Place Poem Entry Grades 9-12
Brandt Luce, for "The Discovery of Flight"

A small bird peeps through branches and leaves
And is captivated by blue.
Hypnotized by the light hue of horizon,
The creature admires the color:
A tone that stretches down to the earths crust,
Filling every space in between.

Immersed in this revelation,
The creature squints into the bright light,
And Leaps.

Little toes push off the nest edge.
And a small shaking head peers down.
Eyes blink in surprise,
As the distant blur of shapes quickly clears
And pictures form.
Desperate to slow the dive,
The creature beats it’s wings and glides.
Wind tousles the feathers,
Tugs at the little tufts of fluff.

The bird is enveloped in clouds,
Sprayed by mist, and warmed by a yellow glow.
And in this plethora of space
And Infinite quantity of air,
The bird finds freedom.

2nd Place Flash Fiction Entry Grades 9-12
Emma Sullivan, for "The Upside Down Turtle"

We used to play doctor - Jamie and I - back when we were Kindergarteners. Armed with our Sesame Street doctor’s bag, we could cure anyone!
But Ernie band aids no longer work on Jaime; she has become alien to me.
Jamie’s skin is now furry, her hair brittle, her arms and legs swollen and bony. Hugging her is like clasping a rattling skeleton. She is always wearing long sleeved, bulky sweaters, and I am always catching her pinching her flat stomach.
Jamie is always running, running around our neighborhood for hours at a time, running away from questions about her health. When I try to wrangle her, she kicks and bucks like a wild bull, and keeps on running.
And then there’s the lies, which slowly, insidiously seep into me: the drops of blood on Jamie's pants? Ketchup. The bloody train-track marks on her briefly exposed arms? Cat scratches. Jamie is always behind locked doors, making an outcast out of truth.
During gym class, I watch Jamie’s body twitch like a quivering heart. Her body lurches, as her eyes slowly flicker and close, like lights shutting down during a power storm.
Her body crumbles like an empty lunch bag. I beg her to see a therapist, but it’s like I’m speaking a foreign language.
So, onto plan B: I hide two tickets to her favorite movie - Jaws - in her bag, and when she opens it, I come out from behind and pretend to eat her with my shark hands. Snap, snap! Crunch, crunch! But the next day, I notice her merely pushing food around her plate.
I am helplessly waiting until Jamie becomes dust, and all for what - a more prominent rib cage? I have entered foreign land, where reason has no sway; I am an upside-down turtle - directionless.  

2017 7th annual themed 
at the Hamilton-Wenham Library

The 2017 Poetry Contest Reception speaker was Erica Funkhouser. Erica Funkhouser’s most recent book of poems, Earthly, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2008. Other Houghton Mifflin titles include Pursuit (2002), The Actual World (1997) and Sure Shot And Other Poems (1992). Natural Affinities was published by Alice James Books in 1983. Included in Sure Shot are three dramatic monologues in the voices of 19th century American women: Sacagawea, Louisa May Alcott, and Annie Oakley. The Oakley poem was adapted for the stage and produced by the Helicon Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Funkhouser’s work on Sacagawea led her to become involved with the production of Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and her essay on Sacagawea appears in Ken Burns’ and Dayton Duncan’s Lewis and Clark (Knopf, 1997). “Singing in Dark Times,” an essay on war poetry, appeared in the Autumn 2005 issue of The Harvard Review, and a story, Snapper, appeared in The Massachusetts Review in 2006. Funkhouser’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Paris Review, Poetry and other magazines; one of her poems has been sand-blasted into the wall of the Davis Square MBTA Station in Somerville, MA. Educated at Vassar College (BA) and Stanford University (MA), Funkhouser was honored as a Literary Light by The Boston Public Library in 2002 and in 2007 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. She lives in Essex, MA and teaches at MIT.
Link to Erica Funkhouser's books in our library catalog.

2017 Winning Poems
The 2017 theme was: Perfection

Best Entry Grades 6-8
Emma Sullivan, for “"Perfect" Teen”
Wash your face to prevent embarrassing acne
Clean and soft skin is a must
Skinny jeans are always in
Coordinate your shoes to your outfit
Eat healthy, lose five pounds
Thinner is better
Be seen at all the right parties
Shop, shop, shop
Always be in the now
Be playful, don't be too smart
Boys can't stand looking dumb

Wash your face, smart girls
Thinner is always in
Always be at the right parties
Coordinate to prevent embarrassing acne
Boys can't stand healthy
Lose ten pounds
A pair of skinny jeans is a must
Shop, shop, shop
Be seen dumb

Wash your face, play healthy
Always be skinny, lose yourself
Coordinate worthlessness
To prevent acne, wash away self-esteem
Always falling short at the right parties
Shop, shop, shop
Isolating smart girls
Fifteen pounds dumb

Wash your face, doubt your abilities
Alienating smart girls is a must
Boys can't stand self-worth
Coordinate people pleasing
Embarrass yourself dumb
Shop, shop, shop failure
Thinner skin is always in

Lose yourself
Fall apart

Second Place Grades 6-8
Emma Sullivan, for “Words”
"Goody two-shoes"
"Goody two-shoes"
Like a drill boring through my brain

Gut me in the stomach
Endlessly pierce me
Slap me in the face
Without any warning

"Goody two-shoes"
"Goody two-shoes"
She snickers as I walk down the hallway
Carrying my A+ marked test
My head drooping

I stop dead in my tracks
My hands are shaking uncontrollably
My legs are throbbing

"Goody two-shoes"
"Goody two-shoes"
They chant in the cafeteria
My head buried in a book
As I chomp into my sandwich viciously
Hoping to alleviate the pain

Tears overwhelm my eyes
Sting my throat
Crunch my bones
Like a vise

"Goody two-shoes"
"Goody two-shoes"
She cackles in the library
When I conscientiously study
My shoulders sagging

My voice is sucked out of me
No air
No voice
No power

"Goody two-shoes"
"Goody two-shoes"
I can't shut it out

Best Entry Grades 9-12
Lily Knudsen, for “Im(Perfect)”
Your crooked teeth
Your shirt shirt falling off one shoulder
The freckle on your pinky
Your hair
Disheveled from running to meet me

The lights that flicker
The puddles on the ground
And our distorted reflections
Fading chalk
On cracked sidewalks
A world tilted as it spins round

Perfection is paper folded and crumpled at the corners
Perfection is in the memories stuffed away by a borderline-hoarder
Perfection is everything slightly not-how-it’s supposed to be

Second Place Grades 9-12
Amy Thissell, for “Perfection in Society”
I don’t fit the normal stereotype of perfection.
I don’t have a thin body, my skin isn’t flawless,
They wouldn’t put me on a magazine cover.
I like to eat junk food and stay up late, I don’t take
Drugs or drink alcohol, but I wouldn’t call that being
Perfect. I’m not popular, I’d say I only have one friend,
And even they wouldn’t say I’m perfect. I’m judgemental,
I complain about what other people do, even if it
Doesn’t affect me. I’m not the first person to be picked
For teams in gym class, the gossip goes to the nerds
Before I even have a chance to hear about it.
Honestly, I don’t care that society says I’m not perfect.
Society doesn’t know who I am, society doesn’t care.
To me, I’m perfect. I have flaws, I don’t make
The best choices, but I’m human. I won’t fake
Who I am, I won’t lie to fit into society’s standards.
I am perfect, even if society doesn’t think so.
I mean, what is the definition of perfection anyway?

Honorable Mention 
Lily Knudsen, for “Nostalgia”
I’m a hoarder of distorted memory
Of things I call once weres
But are really could have beens
I collect a set of realistic fantasies

They’re all lined up in a row.
Look at all of the times I was so happy.
Look at how I used to be
A ballerina from a box
A child model from a back-to-school-magazine
Look at how perfect everything used to be

Look at my smile
It was charmingly off.
(Shut up, my jumble of teeth was charming
The braces ruined everything)
Look at all the people
Who were so good to me.

People think I’m unaware,
That this perfect construction
With the seasons in four squares
(it’s never in between)
Is more construction than reconstruction
Is less nonfiction and more poetry

I know, sometimes, but it’s nice to fantasize
About the loveliness
Of experiencing in my mind
A perfect used-to-be
Of little stories with expositions
And rising conflict
And climax
And resolution
Always a happy ending

When everything’s dark and jumbled
And the future seems so far
I don’t mind a little deceit
To see a picture-perfect memory.

Honorable Mention 
Alex Diefenbach, for “Housecat”
Slowly night gives away to dawn, the house cat stretches, showing his abundance in stature.
The light soon follows; a darkness capturer.

How he trots down the stairs silently,
and advances towards his bowl with an increasing glee.

Soon morning fades,
and the afternoon sun bursts past the horizon,
With its vibrant Amber rays.

How housecat runs to the living room's glass rows,
As he looks outside at nature where the green plants grow.

He spots a bird and watches every move it makes,
He jumps for it and misses; digging his claws into the couch like rakes.

And when the sun beams penetrate the windows and travel down low,
The housecat's vibrant vermillion hair begins to glow.

Noon gives away to dusk far too soon,
As the cat paces around the downstairs rooms.

As the sun goes down on another sublime day,
The tangerine tabby growing weary; curls up at the end of a bed,
And begins to drift away.

Contently by his owner, all night he will stay,
Until come morning,
From where he'll leap to start another perfect day.

Honorable Mention 
Nathan Giarnese, for “Summer”
The young boy climbs up the hill, jumping from rock to rock as a child may
His name is Peter,
That's what he's been called
The boy called Peter plants a seed on the hill
From the seed sprouts life
And Deep in the soil the outer shell cracks open, revealing a sprout
Over time the sprout flourishes,
Writhing, bristling with new leaves, a testament to nature's perfection

Years have passed now, and the boy called Peter has grown
He's built himself a life in his little town
He has a little house to call his own,
Friends who support him,
A family that loves him
Co-workers who respect him
Surely, he thinks, "this life must be perfect"
He's done all he should
He has a house and friends and a family and a job with good pay and a pet fish named Gerald and his children get good grades and he goes to the golf course every Sunday at nine o'clock in the morning and then comes home to a wife who loves him and they talk about their day
Surely this life is perfect, he tells himself, but does not believe it

The tree, which was once a seed planted by the boy called Peter,
And grew into a sprout on a hill, looked on in silence
She was envious of Peter's perfect life,
As every once in a while he'd climb up the hill, simply taking the direct path now,
And tell her of his doings, of his house and family and fish named Gerald,
And she envied him
Her days of long, weary solitude stretch endlessly,
Unbroken hours forming weeks and months and seasons that go by so fast and yet never end,
Her only solace being her boy named Peter,
Who comes to her and entertains her with his little story
But the man called Peter is unhappy,
and wishes for something different,
and envies the life of the seed he planted those years ago
For she is her own being,
Unbeholden to society's wants,
Living as she may, free to do as she will,
Without expectation
All throughout his week,
At work,
With his family,
At the golf course,
He envies her perfect life

More years go by,
And the man called Peter has grown old,
He lives in his little house,
But his wife has died, his friends and children have moved away,
And he can no longer get up the hill to see her
The tree that was once the seed planted by the boy called Peter knew that the boy was dying,
That his perfect life could only last so long,
And envied him yet again
For he had lived a life of experience,
Of happiness and pain and loathing and longing,
Of friendship and other multitudes of things that she could only begin to comprehend
For he had life, and she had nothing

The old man who was once a boy called Peter spent his days staring out the window at the seed he had planted,
Longing only for the life she led,
For she was still in her youth as he wasted away,
An everlasting pillar of existence
That he so deeply desired
For she had life, and he had nothing

The seed and the boy now watch over the little town from the hill,
As people come and go with the years,
Each desiring his own perfection,
Building homes and families and jobs and working towards their goals,
For they have life, and we have nothing

Honorable Mention 
Audrey Kiarsis, for “What is Perfection”
What is perfection?
Well, I really don't know.
It's something you can see
in the newly fallen snow.
It's something you can sense
on the breeze at night.
It's something you can feel
in the sun's warming light.

It exists only for a moment,
and is then gone in a flash.
If you ever did catch it,
it would simply turn to ash.

So if you ever do see it,
Just smile and say,
"How lucky I am, on this perfect chaotic day."

2016 6th annual themed 
at the Hamilton-Wenham Library

The 2016 Poetry Contest Reception speaker was Nancy Henry: Nancy Henry is the author of three collections of poetry and has been five times nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her poems have been featured on NPR's "The Writer's Almanac", college literature textbooks, and several anthologies. She is a former Assistant Attorney General for Child Protection in the state of Maine, and now lives in Wenham, MA where she has a gardening business called The Garden Nana.

2016 Winning Poems
94 Poems were submitted. The 2016 theme was: Glass.

Best Entry Grades 6-8
Rory Haltmaier, for “Slipping Under”
The dragonfly twirls,
making pirouettes in the thick air,
a tongue whips,
slicing through the fog,
snatching the iridescent morsel mid-flight.
The creature reels in its catch,
a fisherman like no other,
it blinks once in gratitude
then crunches.
Delicate toes make ripples
as it hops from lily to log
to find the perfect spot
in the center of everything.
A perch
to see and be unseen
a place
to bask as two-legged giants
slink through the reeds–
One hooks an ankle on prankster cattails,
tumbling into the water,
sending a cacophony of giggles
to vibrate through the summer air.
Herons roll their eyes and
leap into the pale sky
as the emerald jumper
slips through the mirror
into the quiet below.

Second Place Grades 6-8
Emma Sullivan, for “Breaking Glass”
I am glass
I am fragile yet highly resistant and solid
I am transparent yet sharp-edged
I am vulnerable yet strong
Like each grain of sand that shapes me,
I am unique
I am incombustible
Your words cannot shatter me
You can't shape me into another version of you
Holds no flame over me
People may strive to burn me
But I am fire-proof
Heat nor pressure can pierce me
I will not break

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8
Rachel Lee, for “Look Through and See”
So vulnerable, so breakable
Just like this world.
With one wrong
whole societies
could come crumbling down
with just one weak link.
Nature's colorful gifts, some so fragile
with one slight touch of the
human hand,
the work of living art is
because the world gave us
sand, gave us fire,
so that we might make glass.
see-through, so we might see what
we have done. How wrong to see it disturbed.
There is only one, we can't mess it up.
Earth. Our Home.

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8
Chloe Ting, for “Set Me Free”
We are like glass
When we are clean and good,
we are missed, seen right through
We attempt to dirty ourselves a little
To be heard
to be seen
to feel important
But you have taught me,
not believe in what others say
in what others see
You have shattered me
and set me free

Best Entry Grades 9-12
Lily Knudsen, for “Clear Skin”
I wish you all had clear skin.
I wish you all had clear skin and I did too.
Wait, not that way, that’s not how I mean it
So stop reaching to your faces you self conscious skeptics.
I mean, I do wish I had clear skin but… not the point.

I do not mean acne so much as I mean apparency,
Less like pimples and more like plain to see,
Transparency, I mean transparency,
The opposite of opacity.
I want your skin to be… clear.

I want the light to shine straight through your cutis and into my eyes.
I want everything on the outside to be a thin layer of crystal… tap tap tap
Crash! Visible instead of vague
Every description of the self is flawed because I do not know what you mean!
I can get through your glasses and into your eyes but never inside your brain.

May I watch your blood slog along to your heart’s beat?
May I see through to the place where your joints creak?
May I observe every chemical your cells secrete?
May I stare as your lungs consume the oxygen photosynthesis leaks,
As your muscles contract and use up energy, as your brain crackles with spider webs of electricity?

I have to compare the shades of our blood
I have to know what it's like to bumble about in a different body
To see silver through different eyelid-slits
To have a different set of memories, a different history.
I need to understand the differences and the similarities between my sad and your sad, between my joy and your joy, between my wonderings and your mysteries.

There is too much material between you and me.
Too many thick velvet-flesh curtains obscuring my view
Like long-sleeved maroon childhood Christmas dresses that erase the person beneath.
Please, turn your skin to glass, please, give me a clue.
Please, I just revealed as much as I could. Give me a chance to see?

Honorable Mention Grades 9-12 
Lily Knudsen, for “Sippy Cup”
A mother holds a bottle for a child
They suck suck suck, without sound or spill (it’s wild)
Little cloud hands try to get the bottle in their grasp
Why, one might wonder, for it is not truly supported in their clasp?

Bouncing braids and fidgeting feet
A tipped over cup, no spills, that’s sweet!
The magic of a purple plastic sippy cup
A life of little consequences, of always looking up.

And suddenly you’re holding another purple plastic cup, with an open top
Tipping, tipping, no, stop! stop! stop!
My third ever poem was actually called “Spilled Milk”
A story of white liquid sliding through the cracks of a cold kitchen floor, like hideously expensive silk.

The horror of spilled milk never prepared me for the echoing crash
Of sparkling, splattering, red-kitchen-lit glass
For the feeling of failure which came with shattered shards
For the pain of cutting my finger while cleaning up my own mess (it was hard).

Now I laugh at the host of this party I was dragged to
Hoping whatever she said wasn't a question.
My parents, the draggers, have ridiculed me twice for clinging to their hips.
My glass was only filled halfway
To avoid the risk of spilling liquid over its sides
Due to my ridiculous hands, shaking like a tricycle bouncing over a pebble-filled walk,
And causing tiny, alarm-bell ice cubes to clink against the sides
I take another sip, just in case.
Oh, the things I would do for a sippy cup
For an unbreaking, purple plastic place.

Honorable Mention Grades 9-12 
Annabella Twomey, for “Shattered Pieces, Broken Hearts”
I see the vase.
I remember it in its glory,
The day we exchanged our vows
Glistening, transparent

That was you as well.
Perfectly in-tact,
Sturdy, consistent.

There it stood
Your anger was a rock,
Thrown at around 60 miles per hour,
Enough to shatter glass in a matter of seconds.

It takes almost no time,
It just requires a catapulting force
And then it is destroyed

A heart,
Can break in almost no time at all
And just needs a quick, forceful action
And its heartstrings unravel
Faster than one would ever expect

From a sparkling vase to pointed shards,
And no one to pick up the pieces.
How did we get here?
Broken and shattered. 

2015 5th annual themed

Poetry Contest Reception 
and Awards Ceremony
Tuesday, May 12, 2015. 7-9 PM 

For the 2015 Poetry Contest Reception, 
Edgar Allan Poe, Master of the Macabre, 
appeared as a special guest 

2015 Winning Poems
17 Poems were submitted. The 2015 theme was: Terror.

Best Entry Grades 6-8
Rory Haltmaier, for “The Bracing Light”
Waves advance like relentless soldiers,
pounding drums, 
stomping feet. 
Maybe this uprising will 
finally take me down,
plunge me into their ranks,
my fire sizzling out. 
The thrashing currents swirl
as seagulls shriek their alarm. 
Still my beacon flares 
through the din,
sparking red, white,
screeching its warning 
through the fog.
A streak of molten silver
slices open the darkness, 
coming closer, closer
to the outcropping I call home.
The gale howls insults,
brine splashes up
scraping my wooden skin.
Then, an unexpected pause.
The ocean’s tantrum begins to calm.
Sturdy walls sigh 
as my light sweeps
across the retreating waters.

Second Place Grades 6-8
Lily Knudsen, for “When I Was Four”
When I was four
My sister made me
Beat my fear of the dark
She went and turned of the light
As I held my blanket tight
And told me that in the morning
It would all be fine

When I was eight
My brother made me
Beat my fear of moths
We made a bet
And he gave me a net
Saying that until I caught a paper winged bug
I couldn’t go to bed

When I was thirteen
My mother made me
Beat my fear of people
She had me go walk
Into the party and talk
To a bunch of adults I had never met
And as far as I know no one mocked

When I was eighteen
My father made me
Beat my fear of leaving
He said “You have to go,
Yes it’s hard I know”
So I walked out the door
Although I walked slow

When I was twenty nine
My friends made me
Beat my fear of myself
I don’t know how they did it
But I don’t regret it one bit
Because I wasn’t scared
And instead I could live

When I was fifty
My children made me
Beat my fear of losing control
They said “Mother be strong,
We’ve survived for this long,
When you let us go now
Life will go on.”

Now I’m eighty two
And someone must make me
Beat my fear of the dark, again.
Because new fears come
As old ones go
But I don’t really mind
That I’m scared

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8
Oz Reyes, for “War”
It started with arguments, nothing more than minor disagreements
Then it was a quarrel, no contact, the squall was completely oral.
It evolved into fight, mostly verbal but now starting to cause fear and beginning to hurt people.
Then it was a battle, fists and insults flying fast, quite the publicity had it amassed.
It had now become a campaign, casualties couldn’t be prevented, both sides had views that were tinted.
Then it became an assault, rage and malice refusing to halt.
After that it was a war fueled by hate. Although some were trying to make peace,
by then, it was too late.
If hate comes from fear, and fear comes from difference, then our society, has a very big hindrance.
Now terror is in the air, and death is lurking everywhere.
And when day turns into night, you can
almost smell the survivor fright,
as the fighting rages on beyond the hills.
Both sides are drained of excitement, now all their spirits, have gone quiet.
At the end of the war, many lives have been lost, lives caught up in a battle, 
thinking that they were fighting for the right cause.
No one wins a war, all they ever do, is kill more.

Best Entry Grades 9-12
Savannah Panjwani, for “My Non-Life”
He always said it was for my own good
That I never did what I ever should
I would crouch in corners living fear
Wondering when he'd next appear
I'd scream and plead for the pain to stop
He'd laugh and say that he would not
I was worthless, nothing, broken and lost
Helpless, terrified, but at what cost
He said this was love, it was all I would know
He told me to keep my head down so the bruises don't show
Beer on his breath, bottle in hand
Every night was a nightmare, like sinking in sand
I learned not to scream, to take it in silence
Expecting torture, the agony, the violence
What could I do? There was no escape
Left wondering where lay my mistake
My life was fragile, just waiting to crack
A childhood lost, never given back
Nothing but darkness waiting for me
Nothing but pain for miles to see
Nothing but fear, nothing but him
Nothing but a non-life so grim
Scared for myself, scared for each night
Maybe I'm nothing, maybe he's right
Forever his toy, forever shattered
Surviving each beating was all that mattered
Am I person? Am I in hell?
Will I always be under his tyrannous control?
Will the tears never cease, will there never be hope?
Will I always be tumbling down this slippery slope?
Does nobody care?
Is anyone there?

Second Place Grades 9-12

Fiona Worsfold, for “Pinned”
I am lying down.
To my right, my arm
lies across the white floor,
The same with my left.
My legs are there too,
but I cannot feel them.
A pin
Sticks out of my right hand,
nailing it to the ground.
I try to raise my left,
to free myself
from this cold earth.
It’s stuck too.
Two nails
driven into my soft flesh.
I can’t move.

My eyes travel downwards,
a faint gasp,
but what did I expect?
The cast iron bolts
protrude from my feet.
Do I even remember
how to use them?
They’ve been that way
for far too long.

Finally, I give in.
The gaze of my eyes
ever so slowly,
moves up my frozen body,
to the black sky above.
And suddenly it’s all gone.

Here’s the funny thing.
The sky is not physical,
the pins are not physical,
neither are nails
nor the bolts.
The blank floor
really isn’t there.
It’s an idea that traps me there.
It traps us all there.
And if you don’t know what it is,
you will.

we are all trapped.
And you can only be freed,
Once you gather the courage
to look at your own black sky. 

Honorable Mention Grades 9-12 

Savannah Panjwani, for “They Came in the Night”
They came in the night
While I was asleep
Screaming, crying, flashing light
I opened the door to get a peep
They had Papa against a wall
Mama on the ground
They came down the hall
I made no sound
I was so afraid of what they might do
They caught me and dragged me out to the street
Mama and Papa too
Get on your knees they said, words cruel and uniforms neat
The rain pounded the pavement, I shivered and cried
They shot my Papa right away
Mama screamed, I struggled, but our hands were tied
They dragged her away and I tried to follow
But they pushed me down till I couldn't breathe
Paralyzed with fear, my body felt hollow
They shouted at me while I coughed and heaved
"Dirty Jew," they scream on
"Long live the Führer," they spit in my face
I don't understand what I did wrong
They take me away, away from my home
I never see Mama, I don't know where she's gone
Unfamiliar faces, I am all alone
There are scary men here; they are very strong
Sometimes they beat the others
We all must stand and learn
"This is what happens to your filthy Jewish brothers"
They say, and I watch the people burn
There is terror in my heart, always growing
We live in fear
Never knowing
Why they hate us here
My life was taken away from me
I don't know why
Why I lost my family
Why I must watch all these people die
When will this nightmare come to an end?
Why is this life a daily fight?
Why is fear my only friend?
All I know is: they came in the night
And everything changed

Director's Choice

Nathan Giarnese, for “The Annual Witch”
Every year she returns
And every year a child learns
That every year he might be next
Because every year, she breaks their necks
And when she comes, as we all know
That another child will have to go
Brought to the house on chicken’s legs
And pinned to the walls with iron pegs
Every year they avoid being collected
But every year they must be inspected
And one by one, they all are taken
Their parents leave them, their hearts aching
The villagers know they cannot interfere
Or Baba Yaga will return with a sneer
And carry off every last one
And devour every brother,
And son

2014 4th annual themed
Open to teens in grades 6 to 12
who are residents of Essex County in Massachusetts

Poetry Contest Reception and Awards Ceremony
Thursday, May 15, 2014, 7 PM to 9 PM
The 2014 featured speaker was John Perrault.
Mr. Perrault is the author of Jefferson’s Dream (Hobblebush Books, 2009); Here Comes the Old Man Now (Oyster River Press, 2005); and The Ballad of Louis Wagner (Peter Randall Publisher, 2003).  www.johnperrault.com.

2014 Winning Poems
21 Poems were submitted. The 2014 theme was: Technology.

Best Entry Grades 6-8
All From a Spark, by Annabelle Platt
All is darkness.
Silence lies thick among the inky blackness.

A spark
A flash
A flicker.
A whisper in the darkness.
Electricity flutters down an insulated wire
A slither in the stillness.
A bulb twinkles to life.
A single bulb
Gleaming bravely through the blackness.

Stillness returns.
But the bulb glows on.

And then another spark.
Gliding down the wire.
Another bulb illuminated.
Two beacons in a sea of of gloom.
They seem to greet each other.
To come to an understanding.

Then two more sparks.
Two more glimmers in the darkness.
Two more whispers snake down
Two more wires.
Two more illuminated bulbs, piercing the blackness.

And then more flares slice the darkness.
Flashes spread
Everywhere, tiny sparks leap into existence.
From everywhere comes the hiss and whisper
Penetrating the stillness.
Everywhere, light bulbs blaze to life

The blackness is shattered.
Shreds of it hide within the network of light
Struggling to maintain existence.
The dark is not obliterated.
It is fragmented.

But for now it is held at bay
By the frail, yet steady flickering of light
That all began with a single spark.

Second Place Grades 6-8
Inventions, by Lily Knudsen
He saw the moon was full
Defying the blackness of the sky
This is the perfect time
He thought
So he picked up the pole
He fashioned out of wood
And stuck it straight on through
Through the sky and the wind
And the stars and the tree tops
Until he made a nice round hole
In the center of the moon
And he pulled the orb of night
Right down through the roof
He sat his cart upon it
And said, “I’ll call you a wheel”

The wood it floated on the sea
Drifting drifting towards the beach
And the girl saw, and the girl knew
So she took the wood from the shore
And strapped it to itself
She found blank sheets
And tied them to
The pole she set up in the center
And she stepped in
And waved goodbye
To the village of people who thought her crazy
And then she floated on the sea
Drifting drifting
Her boat and she

The child touched the berries
And squished them between his fingers
The red stained his hands
He took the block his mother gave him
And drew a crimson circle
Then a pair of little dots
And a curve beneath
It didn’t really look like a face
But the child didn’t care
He said
“I will use this thing I must call paint
To make the walls like this”
He held up his little block and grinned

The man put light in a glass
And strapped it to a wire
It pulsed and shone and glared
His own miniature sun
A bulb, he thought, a seed
Like the kind that blossomed into his mother’s tulips
The light bulb

The builder who never ceased
Gasped as the invention buzzed to life
In the little dark workshop
With it’s flickering light
A dragon coming awake
It smoked and roared and rattled the floor
She touched it with her hand
To make sure it was real
And then she laughed because it was

Researchers and builders
Came up with new ideas
Years of studying
Mistakes and successes
Rooms painted white
A few minor experiments
Some customer surveys
Made up the Iphone 5c

My little sister is outside now
Banging away at that wood with her nails
Grinning like it’s the funnest thing in the world
She still has her helmet on
She was riding her bike earlier
She says she’s making a go-cart
But she never seems to finish anything
I laugh with scorn and shout
“Keep down the noise!”
I shouldn’t do that of course
She’s making history

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8
The Hacked Mac, by Richard Paul
There was a computer named Mac
Who someone decided to hack
They removed all his files
Which took all his smiles
And left his screen totally black.

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8
Sent You a Text Yesterday..., by Lily Knudsen
Text one:
Thank you

Text two:
I sent you a text yesterday
Just as I’m sending this one now
I believe that it said thanks
But only today did I realize what I did
I sent my gratitude
Flying into space
To stand among the stars
I guess I really wanted
To thank you

Text three:
You are right of course,
It didn’t really reach the stars
Only the satellites
But I like to think it went up to space
Circled in that forever place
To come down to you
Just like this one will
And that, though I’ll never go there,
At least my words reached to the sky.

Text Four:
I emailed you too, you know
I wonder what the e stands for
They say that the internet’s called “the cloud”
I wonder what they mean by that
That it floats threateningly above our heads
Ready to rain?
Or that it’s cold and dark and wet
Blocking out the sun?
Or that it’s nebulous
That we’ll never touch it
It’s confusing
Or meaningless?
That all seems kind of negative
Don’t you agree?

Text Five:
Sometimes I think you think I’m ridiculous
For all my fantastical schemes
But this isn’t one of those times
You responded yesterday
That it might mean
The web is above us
A thing to be glorified
I must disagree
It doesn’t seem to me to be a thing of glory
Or of pride
It is not a thing I hold in awe
I think it might be
Or it must be
more like the sky I found today
Where the cloud spread on forever
Up above
But the sun shone through the wrinkles and folds
Breaking through the holes
And etching the white sheet in gold
“The Cloud” they call it
a fitting name.

Text Six:
Oh right, and I figured it out
The “e” means electronic

Text Seven:
I must add to my earlier reflection
That they may not mean the cloud but the water which it pours
Covering most of the world
Iridescent clear
Life sustaining
Full of life
A connecter for it all

Text Eight:
I watched an old movie
“The Wizard of Oz”
Last night
And the scarecrow in it says that
“Some people without brains seem to do a whole lot of talking”
Dorothy appears to agree
I’ve been texting you a lot recently
And my texts themselves have been unnaturally long
Do I have a brain?

Text Nine::
You told me that of course I have a brain
Though a foolish one for asking such a question
I must admit I’m not thoroughly convinced
That movie’s a wise one
If somewhat cheesy too
But as long as you think I have a mind
I guess that I am good.

Text Ten:
We facetimed far too late last night
As I’m sure we’re both aware
I used a lot of words
As is my habit
You only used a few
As is yours
You’re really nice you know
In a kind of hard, silent, awfully annoying way
At least you put up with me
Even when you'd rather not
I’m tired now
So I’ll end my text here

Text Eleven:
Thank you

Best Entry Grades 9-12
The Fire-Waltz, by Eric Baumeister
I got fired today.
Accounting's going all computer:
Good for them. Not for me.
They're not cutting everyone, of course,
Just the new people:
The top layer of frosting
On a skyscraper layer cake.
Yum yum.

Clean the drawers. Check.
There was a lucky stick of gum in there, somewhere.
Put it in on dad's advice back when I started.
“Save it for retirement.”
It's not there anymore.
Don't look at me – I didn't eat it.
Maybe Ted took it.
Not enough he goes through my emails
And bookmarks my Facebook.
And my Twitter.
I don't think there's ever I time he doesn't know where I am
Or what I'm doing.
Not going to miss that.

Clean the desk. Check.
Notebooks and checkbooks and checklists,
Towers of them,
There's skylines on my desk,
With all the little numbers living inside them,
In little column-row apartment rooms
Of little spreadsheet apartment floors
Of big piled apartment towers.
The leaning towers of work.
“Work towers,
A division of Trump.”
They're gone now.
I recycled, don't worry.
I might be pissed, but I won't take it out on the Amazon.

Clear my desktop. Check.
Photos and files and emails.
Lots of emails.
Wow. Lots and lots of emails.
A million zillion of them,
About work and gossip and all that daily drudge.
With smiley faces instead of smiles
And “lawls” instead of polite pity-laughs.
I toss my digital trashcan
Out the digital window
Into a digital dump.
It's an arson's joy:
All the glee, none of the guilt.

All that's left is the monitor.
Big, black, blank-screened.
I don't have a computer at home.
No tablet or smartphone, either.
Can't afford them.
Too broke for DVD players,
And VHS and video games,
And most anything past basic cable.
Too broke for gumballs.
I do have my dog, though.
His name is Puddles.

And I can't help but think,
As the bulky black box hums its hum,
And its blank screen stares at me,
Of when I was a kid
And thought that, inside that monitor,
There was a little white star,
And a million mayflies waltzing around it,
Soaking up the glow
And making those ripples across the screen.
A million mayflies caressing the light,
Blotting out the light,
Flirting with the buzzing light,
Matching their buzzes with its own,
Until one by one they risk a kiss
And burn.
One with the light.
Up like a leaf doused in kerosene,
A wisp of smoke,
Leaving a million more mayflies
To bob and buzz,
Lost in their fire-waltz:
The roundabout march,
To embrace in tandem the light.

And on my desk,
Once they cart the box and boxes away,
I spy my lucky stick of gum.

Second Place Grades 9-12
S.O.S., by Emma Taylor
Small hands waver unsurely,
They hover over the black keyboard.
Her brown eyes peak down from the screen,
But the neon orange film hides the keys.
The plastic covering masks the letters purposefully.

If she could just
Refresh her memory,
See the unfamiliar QAZ,
Get a perfect score,
Type 30 words a minute.

The PC hums mischievously,
Laughing at the blonde third grader,
Taunting her little fingers to press the wrong keys.
“Time’s up” says the Mavis Beacon Typing Test.

If she could have just
Refreshed her memory,
Seen the unfamiliar QAZ,
Got a perfect score,
And typed 30 words a minute.

Honorable Mention Grades 9-12 
Your Decision, by Fiona Worsfold
It's important,
You know?
All these things we have:
Hi-def cameras and swift computers
Storing Information.
Information on us.
My first steps,
My first birthday,
All on video.
All stored away
As a perfect memory,
It's bittersweet,
You see.
As lost loved ones
Fade from our mind,
The digital pixelation of their faces remain.
A memory we do not want to forget
Has the ability to not be forgotten.
It's amazing,
Don't you think?
Every second online
Is a second connecting.
Connecting to the world around us;
the world we cannot reach
with our arms alone.
Embracing the sight of earth from the moon,
As if we are there.
It's dangerous,
I know.
Strangers on every screen,
Criticism with every click,
Secrets with every message sent.
But even with all that,
All the perils,
All the risks,
Don't you think
It's important?
You know. 

Honorable Mention Grades 9-12 
Falling in Place, by Annie Li
I click play,
and I can almost taste the excitement in the air.
The ‘fasten your seatbelt’,
the startling lurch of the roller coaster,
the rattling of the wheels on the rail,
the excited yet nervous high pitched chatter.
Adrenaline pumping,
we squeal like pigs.
The first bump in the road has passed,
yet the second is higher.
We are anticipating the fall,
tittering nervously.
I clamp my mouth shut, eyes widened
my organs lifting up in my system.
By the third and final drop, we are all windswept,
hair everywhere
our brains scattered
the acrid smell of food and pure oxygen burn our noses.
At the peak of the climb,
someone says a prayer in a foreign tongue.
we drop
I scream with them.
we drop
My spit is flying.
My hair is whipping the person behind me
we drop
the wind burns my face and water splashes me
or is it my tears?
we drop.
I almost scream
but someone could hear me
we drop.
We’re almost there.
The hands in front my body grip the bars with great strength
knuckles turning white.
I am so close. So close!
I can feel it!
The excitement!
The adrenaline!
The air!
Screams reverberating in my ears
and the ride lurches to a stop.
Then, everything freezes.
That magic window of light
asks me if I want to watch another video.
But I do not know if I want to.
I am reminded again
as I lie here, wasting away,
in this cold, white hospital bed,
that even though I wish to be in that magical world of technology,
I am one
unable to move,
unable to speak,
unable to breath by myself.
Rather than living in that shining world
I am one that lives on technology
unable to be normal.
Unable to see it,
unable to taste it.

Director's Choice
Power Failure, by Oz Reyes
I stared at the screen,
hypnotized by its brightness.
Then it all went black.

2013 3rd annual themed
Open to teens in grades 6 to 12
who are residents of Essex County in Massachusetts

Poetry Contest Reception 
Thursday, May 162013, 7:00pm
The 2013 featured speaker was Dan Sklar.  At Endicott College, Mr. Sklar teaches his students to love language and to write in an original, natural, and spontaneous way. Recent publications include Harvard Review, New York Quarterly, Ibbetson Street Press, and The Art of the One Act. His play, "Lycanthropy" was performed at the Boston Theater Marathon in May 2012, and was reviewed in the Boston Globe, May 22, 2012. 

SEEING (a Cento poem), by Dan Sklar  (Lines from the poems entered in the 2013 Teen Poetry Contest.)
And the wind moves on, frees the seeds.
Freezing blades of ocean.
Yellow the color of glittering air.
Life running through them
Where there’s a tapir, there’s an anaconda
As I whispered to her that I loved the storm
Rides the dawn
Main Street is silent.
Small but quick and fierce
The wind whispered to me its song.
one last breathe of hope
Thank goodness tigers can’t cook
Tuna salad and a loaf of bread
Except your bones
Her loneliness made her fall
They growl
The teeth and fur
Nature will take its course not bound by walls
I when I am out, what will I see?
In the distant woods afar
Longing trapped
Breathe, run, dance
So ferocious and yet so mild.
A sweet, sweet fragrance, green earth, flowers
As an intent observer
The buffaloes of the highway
Miles of words constrained by their pages
You dart between shattered and brave
Drink from a clear stream
A neon sun drop hue
Because I’m indecisive they fall
Leaves and flowers, sun and snow
Streams in my backyard
The deep soil down below
A rock in the current
Madly spinning earth
Home for lichen on its bark
The ocean at night
The drops want to tell us all
The universe tends toward disorder
Chickadee, chickadee, little fellow
Dashing, darting, and feeling new
I want to feel that fur
And I promise the sun
will shine after the moon
There is nothing more that
I want but to be here
With you in spring
Latin names trail on the tongue like a song
Warm blood flows beneath fur
First steps are monumental
The rest that follow are memories
Two creatures of the forest studying on another
Gently buds a verdant leaf
The spring says hello.

2013 Winning Poems
49 Poems were submitted, the 2013 THEME wasAnimals or Nature
Poetry contest winners read their poem aloud at the reception. 

Best Entry Grades 6-8
The Squirrel, by Sebastian Carpenter
Squatting on a low branch
The squirrel’s moonshine silver fur trembles.  
Her thigh muscles twitch.
Eyes deep brownish gray like the darkest seawater
That invites my eyes to jump into hers.
I desire a touch.
I slink low over the emerald green grass
Wishing its magic carpet could secretly transport me closer to her.
Clumsily, my feet crunch leaves as I approach.
The noise startles her.
Her head pops side to side,
Ears perky, watching me suspiciously.
My fingertips are drawn to her and reach out 
Almost involuntarily.
Her spell is cast over me entirely.
My body continues to creep slowly 
Ever closer
Ever closer.
I want to feel that fur.
At last, my outstretched hand is inches away.
I can feel her deep pile before I even graze a hair.
I am practically drooling with excitement.
She is a stone
Motionless trying to pretend she is not there
And hoping I stop seeing her.
My rear foot pulls forward to get that last inch closer.
Steady… Steady…
Crackle of another leaf under my toes and
She POPS up like a soda can exploding.
Up up up.
Nothing.  She’s gone. Disappears over the wall. Out of sight.
I hunch in disappointment.
What just happened?
So close, yet so far.
Another hope, another goal
Gone up in smoke. As if it never existed at all.
Why did I even try, knowing that this is the 
Story of my life.

Second Place Grades 6-8
Doe, by Shayne Bower
A doe from the dark
Comes to drink from a clear stream
And leaves in silence.

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8
We are the Seasons, by Annabelle Platt
We are the seasons, one and all:
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.
To make way for the next we go
Leaves and flowers, sun and snow.

Winter's winds whip chill and cold
But under the snow lies hidden gold
A wealth of life sleeps, soon to bring
When Winter moves aside for Spring.

The life beneath the earth peeps through 
The new-grown grass and sun-drenched dew.
The flowers turn their smiling faces
Receiving the sun's loving embraces.

Summer sun shines brightly down
On earth's smiling, flowery crown
Bees are buzzing in the grass
Watching summer's glory pass.

The leaves turn colors, bright and gay,
Flutter down and gently lay
Upon the yellowing grass beneath
The tree trunks, branches stark and steep.

We are the seasons, one and all:
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.
To make way for the next we go
Leaves and flowers, sun and snow.

Best Entry Grades 9-12
Fauna, by Victoria Arakelian
Within the network of this planet,
of the frigid tumbra, 
steaming rain forests, 
and moonless aquatic depths,
cells congregate in their organic majesty,
connecting and creating.
From tissue into muscle, marrow into bone,
nerves spurting electricity, 
thoughts fluttering within the encephalon.
Organic life,
it bursts,
species emerge from the shadows, from the dirt,
from the leaves, waves, and skies.
Latin names trail on the tongue like a song,
warm blood flows beneath fur,
scales shimmer beneath refracted light,
golden eyes smolder in the brush,
feathers are caressed by a soft breeze,
each creature,
a radiant piece in a grand mosaic.
Explorers have scored this world,
hunting for the most elusive specimen,
within a viridescent labyrinth.
Energy flows,
the unknown lurks,
instinct nestled at the core,
a desperate fight for survival.
A colorful array of species bloom,
flesh and conscience flourishing,
eventually to sink back into the Earth’s womb,
to whither, and merge,
and to be renewed again.

Second Place Grades 9-12
The First Step, by Chip Cring
The First Step
That's all it took,
one step.
Well, maybe not a step.
The amoeba oozed,
the fish swam,
at long last,
the mammal walked,
and the man stood upright.
The pinnacle of movement,
made by a few simple joints,
and simpler actions.
But what a monumental movement to the world.
With such a significance.
First steps are monumental
the rest that follow are memories.
The swaying of a toddler,
stomping to get the toy,
the swagger of a child,
ambling up the stairs to school,
or the slouch of a teenager,
wearily repeating the cycle of classes,
the stride of a man,
about to make a change.
All this 
from the determination,
of a single being
just to make something,
to take that step.

Honorable Mention Grades 9-12 
Frost, by Fiona Worsfold
My petals
Life running through them.
I lift them up to face the sun
Its gentle rays warming their delicate structure
Not for much longer.
I am weak.
I am cold.
The days shrink
The sunlight with them.
I am cold.
I hold my leaves closer, only to push them away.
They used to be such a lovely green,
Like emeralds on a sun-filled day,
No longer.
Their happy green slowly turns an ugly brown.
Not like the rich, moist brown that is my never-moving floor,
This brown is the color of the old leaves,
The ones I see on the ground,
The ones that have already fallen. 
I wish not to be like those leaves,
But I cannot escape it.
I am cold.
The night sets in.
It is a dark, starless night.
The lonely blues and wistful purples of the sky fill the night.
It is colder at night.
The elder trees tell us what is coming.
We will never get to see it. 
Large flakes of white, they say
Fall ever so gently to the ground
And blanket the bodies of the spring flowers.
They say we will not see the snow.
They say that a sickness comes, as fast as a knife.
Frost, they call it,
A single word can strike such fear
Into the hearts of the green bodies around me.
The sun rises.
I lift my petals to the sky,
They fall.
My petals fall.
The wind pushes them far away,
They land, softly, gently, on the ground.
It is cold.
I see it.
The wind has brought sickness.
My leaves are white like the others around me.
The trees look down upon us,
Why are they sad?
I am beautiful, encased in a white gown of crystals.
Why are they sad?
I am warm.
Why are they sad?
I am tired.
I put my head down to sleep.
The others around me do the same.
I fade away, slowly.
The colors I see slowly change.
Yellow, White, Black.
Night came fast,
But this is not night.
This is frost. 

Director's Choice
Lost, by Zachary Vaneck
My batteries run low,
Drained by the toil of highschool life.
Humanities readings take hours now,
Like starting a lawnmower the first day after winter,
I turn the pages of “The Ancient Roman City”.
Math has shattered the will of my pencils,
Eraser shavings skitter across my desk,
Hiding in remote corners and under books.
French papers graffitied with corrections
Add to the landfill ontop of my tissue box.
Miles of words, constrained by their pages,
Lie face down on my floor in neglect
SAT Prep.
Calculus I.
My eyes see 6:32 PM
But my body feels 12:47 AM.
I am alone.

(The Director’s Choice is awarded by Hamilton-Wenham Library’s Director, Jan Dempsey. After Best Entry, Second Place, and Honorable Mention poems have been scored by the Library’s 3 contest judges, the Director chooses her favorite from the remaining poems.)

RULES - Read carefully, poems not adhering to rules may be disqualified. 
  • Poem's author must be a resident of Essex County, Massachusetts.
  • Poem entries must be original work.
  • Maximum of 3 poems per author may be entered.
  • Each poem must have a title.
  • An entry form must be filled out for EACH poem submitted.
  • THEME: Poem must incorporate the theme of nature and/or animals. (Judges will deduct points from poems that do not have nature or animals as the subject or theme of the poem.) 
  • All poems must be submitted on or before midnight April 30, 2013.
  • All winners and honorable mentions are required to read or recite their poem aloud at the Poetry Contest Reception - May 16, 2013.  Your poem may be disqualified if you are not able to attend the reception. Please do not submit a poem if you will not be able to attend the reception.

Wordle: Untitled2012 2nd annual themed
The featured speaker at the 2012 Poetry Contest Reception was Carla Panciera.  Ms. Panciera has published fiction, poetry and memoir in several journals including The Chattahoochee Review, The New England Review, Painted Bride and Nimrod. Her first book of poetry, One of the Cimalores, received the 2004 Cider Press Book Award. Her second volume of poetry, No Day, No Dusk, No Love, was awarded the 2010 Bordighera Poetry Prize.  She lives in Rowley, MA, and teaches high school English.  Following Ms. Panciera, poetry contest winners read their poem aloud. 
2012 Winning Poems
The 2012 THEME waspersonas, 2 characters, or 2 viewpoints.

Best Entry Grades 6-8
Three Nazi Teens, One Jewish Man
by Chip Cring
That man over there, Those Children there,
Do you see him? With their blonde hair,
He looks different, And blue eyes,
With his lopsided gait, Their superior attitude,
His hollow eyes, And the way they look at me.
His sunken cheeks, They treat me like filth,
And the way depression oozes out of him, But I know them.
His armband! I’ve babysat for one
It’s a Jew! The other was my neighbor
We walk by, insulting it, The other was my friends son.
We kick it and punch it, I practically raised them.
We spit on its broken spirit, They beat me.
And laugh all the way home. The parents and adults are the worst,
We always enter our houses and stores, They beat me and spit on me,
With a “Heil Hitler” They tell their children too.
Why can’t they see?
Why can’t he see?
I am there friend.
Second Place Grades 6-8
You Don't Know Me 
by Amy Thissell
I am a beautiful girl.
I am a rotten girl.
I have so many friends.
My friends are imaginary.
I have so many toys.
I have nothing to play with.
I eat dinner every night.
I may starve by the hour.
I am rich with money.
I have nothing to call my own.
I am perfect.
I am nothing.
I don't have problems.
Will anyone help me?

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8, and Director's Choice Award
by Mariah Manter
I am compassion, love, empathy
I am art, beauty and creativity
I am the happiness of all the world
I am the springtime, a new leaf just unfurled
I am the feathers in a peaceful white dove
I am the light of heaven above
I am the trust between two friends
I am the hope that will exist when all else ends

There is another side to me that society would detest
a side that blackens the heart beating within my breast
I repress and conceal it
I compress and I seal it
into a dark locked chest.

I am every one of the seven deadly sins
I am the murderer of the innocent
I am all of the pain and the sorrow
I am the procrastinator who waits till tomorrow
I am the simplest sign of imperfection
I am what you hide from the world's inspection
I am that which taints the sophisticate
I am part of you, a truth you can't admit

How is it fair that I must be caged
Inside this body a war will be waged
The world will cringe at my roar
I'll be crowned victor
Evil will prevail! the monster raged.

We, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are incredibly shallow
without each other's contrast to show our value
Separate we are the impossible angel and the malicious demon
But together we are magnificently human.

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8
by Savannah Panjwani
Imagine a kitchen stretching and yawning,
Listening to a songbird,over her chicks she's fawning,
The gentle early morning sun,softly shining through the glass.
All is quiet,all is calm,until the silence is broken with a crash!
Suddenly,a sound like an explosion,
splits the air,it's an invasion!
Quickly,the noise of pounding little feet,
Thump down the stairs and proceed to greet
Our kitchen,who has seen this before,
the dreaded, messy, grinning four.
A cupboard door flung open,
The fridge sees small hands come groping,
A carton of eggs,two loaves of bread,
Bananas, apples, juicy and red,
Cereal,cheese,oh,boy,you name it!
Orange juice, Keifer, and hot chocolate,
"I'll make the eggs!" "I'll make a smoothie!"
"I want some cereal!" It's like a movie.
A glass shatters to the floor,
"The broom is by the door!"
After the mess is as messy as can be,
After the dishes are a sight to see,
I'll tell you why I made up this rhyme,
I am describing Breakfastime!

Honorable Mention Grades 6-8
The Better 
by Fiona Worsfold
SUN I, the sun, am a worshipped idol
I am a god who lets them live
The one who holds their bridle

I throw my rays about their land
Warming their bodies
Undoing the shivering hand

Who is to say he is better than I
Surely not the moon
In the dark night sky

The cold being who gives only light
But no use it brings
In the heart of the night

MOON I am the moon, the tranquil spirit
I cast a cool, serene shadow
Softening those who wander near it

My light tiptoes through the air
Quieting frightened children
Dancing on shimmering glassware

I am the better of the two
The sun cannot compare
Sulking in his blanket so blue

The burning fool who makes them red
Supplying tender, painful skin
To the shade they will have fled

SUN You scornful, moony mutt
For your fictitious words
My light this day remains uncut

They will be delighted
No darkness flung upon them
For longer their fields are lighted

MOON Foolish god, soon you should weep
For they will worship me not you
To get a minute’s sleep

No work will light inspire
Eyes tortured with burning rays
Their need for rest will soon be dire

I rest until tomorrow
And you I will then snuff

MOON Until tomorrow
The cycle of each day
Sleep comes after inflicting sorrow

Best Entry Grades 9-12
They Said 
by Devin Hoyle
He says that he needs me
You said that you miss me
I'm saying that I'm sorry,
But please just let me go free.

I want to see your smile
You wanted us to be forever
He wants us to stay together
In a paradise we built for ourselves.

You know how these things work
I knew what I should have done
He knows where we went wrong
And thinks he can do it all over.

You can be anything you want
He could've been really great
I cannot realize my dreams,
They are just too far away.

He will only twist the truth
I did alter reality a lot
You'll just sit there and pretend
That everything is perfectly fine.

I believe in false hopes
He believed in empty promises
You're believing in nothing,
Except whatever tomorrow brings.

We struggle to evolve
We struggled to survive
We're struggling just to live
In a world as maddening as this.

Second Place Grades 9-12
The "C" Word 
by Jack Schreuer
She walked into the kitchen,
her eyes betrayed why she had been late,
they were filled with that unmistakable mixture of exhaustion and fear.
Nine, too old for ignorance but too young for understanding,
left drifting in the ether of half truths,
where “The C Word” means death.
And all the pain put into survival is just a futile attempt at delay.
When I looked into those eyes and I saw an emotional cocktail,
that only killing parts of yourself in an attempt to save the rest, can cause.

Honorable Mention Grades 9-12 
Insignificant Words that Pale in Comparison to Nights they fail to Describe
by Jack Schreuer
“Here’s to the nights we felt alive,”
as the three of us snuck out of the cabin,
plunging into the dark,
into the black night made all the blacker by the knowledge that the forest we had entered traveled for an eternity of lightless miles.
On an old rotting log we would sit,
watching the entire camp sleep,
sharing loves and fear,
shielded by the impunity of the night.
The three of us were bound together by those nights,
like brothers, close as we would ever be,
but soon to drift away,
for the universe breeds disorder and entropy will forever increase.

“Here’s to the tears, I knew you’d cry”
I thought as I entered the cabin,
that was filled with cacophony of his screams,
we had warned him time and again but now was not the time, nor would there ever be a time to gloat on the profundity of our correctness,
for he was a boy who had just lost the last thing keeping him together.
A final howl seemed to take the last fight from him as he deflated on to the mess of our belongings strewn across the floor by his upturning of our suitcases,
We went and sat with him in silence until in a nearly inaudible, dying whisper he said
“She said she doesn’t want to talk to me again,
I don’t think I can...
She was the last good thing.”
The two of us put our arms over his shoulders and sat like statues until the rest of the cabin returned.
That night we three went to the log, and spent all night sitting in near silence having nothing to say but unable to leave,
knowing that this night would be our last.

“Here’s to goodbyes, tomorrow always comes too soon”
I said in a low whisper she didn’t hear.
We sat side by side on that little lake beach,
water reaching just far enough to lap at your feet,
The sun started to peak its head from behind the horizon but night’s dark vale still lay over the camp as the mountain blocked most of the sun’s morning rays,
The mountain shone golden in this new morning,
and a few rays glinted across the crystal surface of the lake,
that lake were I had spent some of my best times,
but was destined to never see again,
for this was the last goodbye,
we had reached the age of no return
all the other years when we had said our truly heart felt goodbyes before 11 months apart seemed so trivial now,
forever is infinitely longer than 11 months so this goodbye would be infinitely harder.
I looked over at my most difficult goodbye,
as she sat beside me, her hand in mine, her eyes transfixed on the rising sun.
Night’s vale lifted just enough so I could see the beautiful contours of her face,
her captivating smile so contently sitting on her lips and her grey eyes I had gotten lost in so many times.
It was the last sunrise of our sunset,
we stole this final night,
we slipped away from the bonfire,
but now as morning was breaking and the bonfire ending,
someone called to us,
so we rose in a reluctant stupor, still holding hands.
Speaking in our secret language of sighs and glances we said our final goodbye.
“Here’s to the nights we felt alive,”
“Here’s to the tears, I knew you’d cry”
“Here’s to goodbyes, tomorrow always comes too soon”

When I hear these three lines repeat twice at the end of the song, I think not of our brotherhood of the log, that piece of wood still siting in the same exact place continuing towards its inevitable fate of utter decay, nor of the night he broke and its consequences more far reaching than I care to imagine, but I think of you, that night, and that tomorrow which came too soon.

The Hamilton-Wenham Public Library's 
First Teen Poetry Contest

2011 Winning Poems:
The 2011 THEME wasLost and/or Found.

Best Entry Grades 6-8:
A Thousand Lost
 by Mariah Manter
I am meant to live in this grassy plain and the echoing canyons
Of this I am sure
As well as the fact that the earth is my mother

My skin against hers is inseparable
Any difference in color goes unnoticed
Because both of our hides have been sun-kissed

I am young
 Learning to cook and to weave
But I learned long ago never to be idle or naïve

Coarse tendrils chafe my fingers
While fibers color my hands like a dark red stain
The pattern of my first blanket beginning to wane

When out of a storm of dust
Comes unnatural din,
 Threatening features and birch bark skin

They force us out
Of land and home
To tread like herds and roam and roam

I sense a tribal rhythm
Thousands of racing heartbeats
Unison when with my own pulse it meets

 We walk through the grit in our filth and stench
A thousand lost in a single day
And our own perfume masked with rot and decay

Terror rests on my tongue, for the fear of where we’ll stop
The white men call them reservations
But I have no past acquaintance with this illusive name for our destination

 I’d rather march here with my people
Until I die
Than to receive help from those ivory grim reapers and to my soul say goodbye

Best Lost Theme Entry (tie):
Icebox Heart
by Coco Young
A frenzy of noise and pollution;
You are lost.
Manic bunches of rescuers fly past, and I know
You cannot be found this way.
The mad search must halt.
I must fold in on myself, close the world out
enough that you can appear again,
enough that I can find you.
Or maybe my ghost can.
And I feel you.
I sense something.
You are in one of two locations,
On a higher plane or a lower.
Where love ignites or where it goes
to die.
I know I must find you to find me,
But I fear for which spot you've chosen.
I'd like to find myself somewhere with a heart so flammable.

My fingers shake.
I descend to the basement,
my heart cold and frantic.

And you are not where I sensed you.
You've trapped me, adopted a life
On this plane; comfortable and solitary.
But if no one can see you, who do you dress up for?
I tried to find you, and now I'm alone.

You could be anywhere.

But you are lost.

Best Lost Theme Entry (tie):
The Dead Letter Office
by Anika Schaedle
These lost letters lay like furtive ghosts,
in tattered fragments and ragged heaps.

Whispers of forgotten souls
float and curl around torn edges
and yellowed, grubby corners.

Like hazy, dusty spirits,
figures emerge from
smudges, folds, and bends.

Memories of the old
jump into the unfamiliar.
Incongruous with the times,
discordant in the air.

Missives missing their recipients
are left to decay and rot
without a use or purpose.

Into the steaming furnace
do the letters reach their destination.

The fluttering, flickering paper
and discarded, empty lives
burn in a common cremation.

Best Found Theme Entry (tie):
What are we?
by Lucy Huang
Where am I,
Am I only a name?
Or a living shadow.
What good is it to live without doubt?
Behind the curtain,
We all hide.
Are we looking for ourselves?
Simply hoping to find a thread of truth.
Where are we really in the universe?
Are destined for greatness?
Or to live a quiet life?
Who knows?
We're all looking for adventures,
Yet, we find ourselves ignored,
Maybe looking in.
Who are we?
Well that is up to us.
As we go through life
But we always find ourselves at the beginning.
The question isn't who are we.
We know who we are-
Maybe it just takes time to find ourselves.

Best Found Theme Entry (tie):
Something Lost
by Jennifer Kong
Shanghai lights light up the summer night sky.
In a taxi, on my cousin’s lap I lie.
My eyelids droop as I put up a fight,
To beat jetlag—to see the dazzling sight

Of everyone walking through the streets
Shopping, laughing, talking, getting eats.
But what about that little dog I saw?
The memory is so vivid and so raw.

I say, “that dog must be in a shelter by now.”
She retorts, “That dog is meat just like a cow!”
I am shocked, disbelieving, stricken by surprise.
She looks into my foolish twelve-year-old eyes.

“Over here they beat the strays to death” for meat.
Stunned, I slowly sit up in my seat.
My heart sinks, for my soul is exploding.
My head, it hurts; my brain, overloading.

I feel like I should call 911.
Something dramatic surely should be done.
The culprits immediately must be arrested,
Corrected, detained, denounced and detested!

But then I knew that nothing would be done.
Wanton suffering is the plight of anyone—
Who can’t petition, or threaten, or talk, or sue.
And the humane humans who speak up are so few.

I inevitably lost something intangible that night:
My peace of mind and my sense of right;
My innocence and my faith in humanity,
But someday I’ll find it again; you will see. 

Best Entry Grades 9-12:
A Life Lost
by Anika Schaedle
A light graceful mist
plays delicately over
tombstones of the dead
like figureless ghosts.

The sharp smell of lilies
punctuates through the
brisk, hanging air.

The attendance is small, intimate.

A friend who just happened to care,
mixed up in a whirlwind,
caught up without his control.

A father, lost and forgotten in a world apart,
mourns a boy who was never his.

And a man that could see all,
unguarded, honest, and wise.

Swirling inside heads and out ears,
thoughts and memories crinkle and fade
like an old, yellowed photograph.

Shrouded in mystery,
captivated by an idea,
the Great Gatsby lies
in an eternal dream.

The saddest procession yet,
not for the death of the man,
but for a life so foreign, so fleeting.
To die alone is the greatest grief.

Honorable Mention:
Where Do Balloons Go?
by Anika Schaedle 
I skip, twirl and leap
across mud puddles
in my red rubber boots.

A blue balloon wrapped snugly
in a bow around my wrist,
bobs above me like an older brother.

The wind plays with my hair,
while a current of air moves
the ballon in a haphazard jumble.

The breeze picks up and
the balloon knocks and taps
at my head, my elbows.

In a chaotic moment,
the wind plots with the balloon
for its sudden escape.

The balloon is lost,
bouncing along among
treetops and lampposts.

It climbs higher,
grazing chimneys and buildings,
bumping windows and prodding roofs.

Way up in the air,
the balloon is but a speck
on the robin’s egg blue of the sky.

What happens to a rogue balloon
when it is set free?

Will it circle the earth,
or journey to the moon?

Does it join the other millions of balloons,
floating on a castle made of clouds?

Or maybe it will simply…. pop.

Honorable Mention:
Lost and Found: This is the Moment
by Becky Moffat
Confident, daring, fearless
My hands grip the wheel-and
I realize I am in control of where
I go from here.
This is the moment I realize I can overcome
with my yellow flats and skinny jeans.

One mattress and two dividers
this is the moment I miss her- the her
I thought I knew.
But her dirty look in the hallway
makes me realize I don't need
her anymore.  I am my own person-and
I need me. Strong.

Fumbling to unlock the door-I look at
the home I have created for myself and my
father.  I walk up the narrow stairs and realize
how alone I am.  But I walk into my room and smile
my red lips
at the spontaneous guitar box on the floor
bought with my own money.  This is the moment
I realize I am all grown up.

I look at the list that I created-inspired by a whim
Its called "An Infinity of things I have to do before
I die" It is filled-almost fifty pages with spaces for the
accomplished pictures.  This is the moment I remember
I am just seventeen years old, with so much more to live.

And two months ago, in the
ambulance; dark-too early and throwing up
I never thought this moment would come.  

It all started with a poetry slam held at the library in 2010.