With disdain he watched her through his bedroom window
as she worked in the overgrown garden.
With a pick axe, she persistently attempted to penetrate the petrified red clay soil.
Beads of perspiration upon her brow glimmered in the early fall sunlight
as sweat leached through her dingy denim work shirt.
Her need to cultivate something was overwhelming.
Thoughts of their last encounter sprouted memories of better times as she toiled.
"You're not going"… were her last spoken words.
Dejected and frustrated she abruptly ended their quarrel.
Angrily he turned and hastily climbed the stairway leading to his bedroom.
Solace was found in his juvenile belief that she never understood him.
Each rhythmic blow of the pick brought him contemptible satisfaction
as the unyielding earth would not open for her.
Bored at relishing in her failure to break ground,
he allowed himself to reflect on happier times.
Memories of them planting that garden intoxicated his mind
and moved him to stagger down the stairs and exit the house to the garden.
As she labored, his presence was felt behind her.
No words that could be heard were said as he gently removed the pick from her blistered hands
and began to chop away at the hardened ground that separated them.
Austin M. Watson, GA, Sprayberry High School
SECOND PLACE WINNERS
Luminous as thee
Though caramelized by life
Peek through learned eyes
Carissa J. May, MI, International Academy
Violet Roadside Flower, O-
Untouchable muse, how easily you
Become permanent when pressed
Between the pages of my memory.
A stark vessel, colored,
Braving the insipid gray
Tides of daily climax and
Daily relax; and then, there's
That day whose corset I
Forced you into, the page you stained
Delightfully purple. That whole
Chapter, choked, showing its veins and
Promptly erased. Eulogized by you,
The brimming lass, deft, adamant.
Insistent on reading your long
Flow of fugue poetry sporting no
Line breaks twixt dry dichotomies:
Of life, fear, death, love, the rest;
It reeks of spring, despite these dusty tears-
The deep blush of
Your folded Corolla is sincere.
Lee Norton, MN, Grand Rapids Public HS
THIRD PLACE WINNERS
When An Orange Smells Like Pumpkin Spice
The soft scent of Pumpkin Spice snuggles Into my thought today, unlocking
Arizona's limits of reality and responsibility.
Freed to follow passion and truth, They travel to Michigan where… moist kaleidoscopic leaves nestle nourishingly
at the roots of their strong sleeping Maple-tree Mothers,
like a pack of grateful Upper Peninsula wolves that
Howl hymns to a Rotund Harvest Moon.
Where… Tiny, frayed pillows of frozen, feathered water
Gather in great groups of blazing blanca fire opals
A deep inspiration of Michigan's Winter Wellspring swells My Soul
A purifying Happy Moment.
With the wild Hawk, my thoughts soar… Limitless, Laughing, Living
Until the half-peeled orange drops from my hand. The harsh glare of my school Agenda Smacks my memory Back to Arizona.
Kathleen Schave, MI, Harbor Beach High School
Roots of Life
The breezy sways of grand,
trace rays of green light
posing warm contrast
to cracking boards
of older places:
boards of fragile footing,
yet roots for green seeds.
Draw we on these frailties
and trembling rise
to full determined height
embracing our bridges,
bearing them up
against their waning season.
Margaret Rountree, LA, Cedar Creek High School
Innocently, a chubby face
peeks around the protection
of a cheerful new stroller.
Waiting on the sun-warmed sidewalk,
a powdery scent sweetens the air
as the afternoon traffic rolls by.
Inside the grungy market
a shirtless man reaches into faded blue jeans
to pay for Budweiser beer.
Stepping onto the sun-baked sidewalk,
cigarette odor sours the space
as the impatient traffic crawls by.
Grimy man hands shove a cheerful teddy,
making room for an imposing pack
of Budweiser beer.
His business accomplished,
the ragged father steers baby and brew onward,
like a miner pushing a coal cart.
Jenna Cross, HI, Punahou School
I musing mindlessly
Mindlessly musing over childish trivialities
Hands steering steadily
Steadily steering toward my natural habitat
Droplets descending delicately
Delicately descending from grayish-white clouds
Wipers swooshing sullenly
Sullenly swooshing off autumn rain overture
I stopping suddenly
Suddenly stopping for eclipsed octagon
I watching wonderingly
Wonderingly watching as rain blankets her
Wonderingly watching as her cane tapping timidly
Timidly taps away the years.
Brenda Vogelsinger, PA, Parkland High School
The Aftermath - Ryann Milne-Price - MT - Helena HS
Suspended in the Passing - Myra Blake - MS - Vicksburg Catholic School
Demigods - Michael Zink - DE - Brandywine HS
The dangers of philanthropy - Laney Spann - FL - International Baccaleureate at Bartow HS
The Spirit Collapsing - Kyle Sanders - ID - North Idaho Christian School
What A View - Katie Hott - MA - Northampton High School
Elderly Hands - Kara Helmick-Nelson - PA - Beaver Area High School
Love - Huong Nguyen - CA - Pacifica High School
Shattered - Emma Wagnon - MN - Cotter High School
Prayer Room - Colin Hickey - CO - Nederland High School
Cool Whip - Christopher A. Adams - MO - Warrensburg HS
Revival - Ashley Dent - MN - Park Rapids Area HS
Oakwood - Allison Baker - SC - Brookland-Cayce HS
Carcass of a Dead Animal: The Beauty in the Ugly - Adam Porroni - NJ - Princeton Day School
Whistlers Dreams - Stephanie Dragoo - IL - Homeschool/North Dakota Division of Independent Study
Crimson Tears - Natasha Vanessa Ostrom - AZ - McClintock High School
The Capture of a Life in Lace - Leslie C. Kehoe - MI - Royal Oak Clarence Kimball HS
The apples of your cheeks - Jessica R. Dieguez - NY - Roslyn HS
Heads Up - Carly Kaatz - CO - Cherry Creek HS
1945 - Lee Hong - OH - Notre Dame High School
Saturday Ride Home - in memoriam - James Kernochan - MA - Roxbury Latin
Broken Angel - Rachel Russell - MA - Tewksbury Memorial HS
Rubber Wings - Rachel Reckin - MT - Libby High School
Lambent Memories - Kaitlyn Holland - MA - St. Bernards Central Catholic HS
Eliezer's Poem - Annaliisa Rathburn - MN - Anoka High School
(Untitled)Glaring lights are... - Sarah Traub - ME - High Mowing School
Rundown Robots - Sarah Broyles - CA - San Dieguito Academy
Tango Rojo - Kim Oster - MN - St. Louis Park Senior HS
Unbreakable - Sarah Wilson - TX - Grace Christian Academy
Reminiscence in Abandon - s.e.trammell - GA - Oglethope University
Snow Globe - Kate Kniejski - TX - Incarnate Wrod High School
Thanks to all of you for helping to make our contest this year the very best that it could be.