Writing Contest Winners

2022 Teen Poetry Contest Winners

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High School, 1st Place

“Filler Words”

by Rebecca

(Hall High School)

sometime it’s hard putting thoughts into words.
um,
The struggle to talk to people is
um,
rather annoying and embarrassing.
Um,
always stuttering my words can make me feel
um,
stupid.
Like,
always thinking out every sentence before i say it,
is like,
um,
time consuming and anxiety inducing.
Like,
even asking my friends a simple question
like,
“did you do the wordle today”
is like,
a whole tongue twister,
and um,
I don’t know why.
So,
I always switch words around and say things in short sentences, and keep quiet in
classes during school.
My teachers think i’m lazy or not paying attention,
but trust me,
um,
I’m trying my best.

High School, 2nd Place

“Beauty in Brown”

by Grace

(Hall High School)

There’s so much beauty in brown,
the color often overlooked, discounted.
But it’s natural and rich with history.

Brown is my skin, inherited from my parents,
darkened by the sun’s rays,
lightened by the cold of winter.
This skin is beautiful: it connects
me to so many others. So many shades
from peach to umber,
mine is gingerbread, syrup, sepia,
no one paint shade can capture it.

Brown is my hair, so dark it’s almost black,
but the sun’s rays illuminate the tight curls,
revealing its true color. Coils that shrink
as water soaks in, stretch when I
pull at them, revealing length that’s hidden.
Curl patterns are unique to each of us with African Ancestry:
are tighter, looser, softer, more coarse,
types all refuse to be tamed for long.

Brown are my eyes, warm and full of emotions,
portraying what I’m thinking before I say it.
I get them from my mother. They shine
and crinkle when I smile and
Tears darken my lashes when they fall.

Black is how they define me, but brown is what I am.

High School, 3rd Place (Tie)

“Atlantis”

by Maya

(Hall High School)

Water is deep but breath is deeper
Put your head beneath, ostrich-like
Atlas turns his back
Atlantis opens its arms
And you close your mind
Stinging eyes, fill with glitter: pearls and jewels and coins
Breathless mouth, fill with savor: salt’s poison tastes better than oil
Sing in threads of gold
The water will weave them into a rope
That pulls you deeper below
Slowness is excused here
Falling does not exist
There would be no one to catch you anyway
That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? To breathe?
Can you?
Your family scans the waves for you
All they see is their own warped reflections
All you see is them looking down upon you
You’re not flying; you’re swimming. Barely breathing
A dollar in the sand not a star in the sky
Atlantis will love you
Atlantis will keep you
The waters will wash your name from the ledger
Atlas will forget you
Or maybe
One day
If you’re lucky
He’ll send a sea scavenger to find your shipwreck
Dredge you up in a bundle of sharp twine, back where you belong
Sell you for a prettier penny than the sea-swallowed circles of solid gold
Or put you in a glass box for all the world to see
And you’ll finally be noticed, admired, wanted
All for drowning

High School, 3rd Place (Tie)

“why me and not the blackbird. the blackbird and not me?”

by Madeline

(Hall High School)

I like it when the birds sing at 4am
they are insistent little things,
squeaking, chirping, trilling in the dark space between midnight and dawn.

They chitter to each other, heedless
to the unbearably human world around them.
They perch
themselves upon power lines,
roof tiling, chimneys.

They rise each day in a world so achingly
not theirs. They do not possess one inch of it:
they borrow and beg and scrape
to pinch one strand of straw
for their nest, to pluck
one cricket from a green lawn.

Humans developed for thousands of years
so we could build neat brick chimneys,
tall electrical poles,
and sloping, angled roofs
we lived, died, loved and fought and created
and birds hum among our creations.

I wonder if birds can love.
I wonder if birds can love in this world that
grinds their creations between its teeth.
Machinations destroying
everything they’ve known.

I think if there is a God and He brought mankind
the gift of free will, the gift of
choice, of eternal crossroads,
then He deprived the birds of it.

And I wish the birds would cry for me
in the heavy air. Their song
is the only betrayal of morning in the dark.
I wonder if their twiggy skeletons
burn to make mistakes like me.

I have been given the choice of free will
beyond the instincts and primordial
compulsions of birds.
By God, something greater or lesser perhaps,
or simply the whims of the universe.

Everyday I cry for the birds.
I cry for them and their short lives
Their warbles unknown to me.
I cry for the hatchlings
laid to waste, made a mess
by a stray cat.

I cry because they were led to this
inevitably, terribly so.
I cry because if a bird was awake
at an odd hour, it was through no fault of its own.

I cry because each time I curse myself,
I have chosen to, I have taken that bend in the path.

God marches these beautiful creatures
on a path with only one ending.
I think if there was an honorable God
birds would not have to die at all.

I hold myself as tightly as the universe will allow me.
The birds cry, unheeded.
I cry for them because they do not know.

And I am distressed.
And I think that my fingernails dig crescents into my palms, but I’m not sure.
I’m not sure about anything anymore.
And a hospital bracelet digs into my wrist.
And my mother cries and tries to hide it.
Eyes skittish towards mine in the rearview.
And they tell me that it
has been stolen from me
and that I must be strapped into the car,
the gurney, the hospital bed.

And I am the hatchling pierced by
the bitter claws and teeth of the world.
And I am the one chewed and spit out.

And I think my parents curse lukewarm water and the sheets that don’t fit right.
They curse Prozac and Wellbutrin,
curse talk-therapists and too much time in bed,
curse the lady who picks up when they call 211,
and the pounding in my head.

Maybe they wonder if I can love
in a world that chews me up like gum.

Middle School, 1st Place

“Color”

by Robin

(Renbrook School)

Just a 5-Letter Word
Old photos are in black and white
But why? There was
color.
But there was no technology to develop the
color.
We saw color. We lived in color.
Then the world turned the meaning of the word color to
black and white
If you were black, you were colored. If you were Asian, you were
colored.
But black is not a color.
Black is the absence of color.
But so is white.
We turned color back in time
Rewound the clocks.
Tightened the locks on our
crayon box
filled with color.
Our world was stripped.
Or maybe not.
Our world saw only black and white
Or maybe not.
Color.
5 letters.
Not black or white.
But we decided to divide the
world using these “colors”
We took the light away.
We were left in
Monotonous misery.
It’s not that there was no technology to
develop the color
There was no color
in old photos.
There was no color
in the world.

There was black and white
White and black
Now, we look around and see a world full
of bright, vibrant colors.
What changed?
We did.
But not enough.
Old photos are still in black and white.
Time goes in both directions-
Backward and forward
Forward and backward
What we do now changes both the past and
The future.
Turns the black and white to
Blue and red
Yellow and orange
Purple and green.
Colorizes a world that was once divided by
color.
Color.
A 5-letter word.
Just a 5-letter word

Middle School, 2nd Place

“An Alarm Clock”

by Senuli

(Saint Timothy Middle School)

Dreams wander on a sunny deserted beach
Breathing the pine filled air of an empty forest
Floating on a soft pillowy cloud that
Sticks out from the canvas of the sky.

Dreams get drowned out by the mechanical voice
Of a metal box.

Dreams take us to the world we want to be in.
Dreams take us to the place where your feet are grounded to the floor
And won’t trip over your own shoelaces.
Dreams tape our hearts back together
Filling them with all that we wish for.

Until.

Your dreams get drowned out by a jarring voice.
Your dreams slip away as a bucket of freezing numb water
Splashes onto your bare face.
Your dreams escape as you fall onto the floor with a loud thud
Everything darkens away as the sunlight streams into your room
Blinding your dreams.

Reality greets us with a rough handshake
Time whispers in our heads to wake up.
We are back in our real story.

Middle School, 3rd Place

“Why Do We Do This?”

by Illy

(Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford)

i

people keep running
and burning out
falling at the finish line
never getting back up
fighting wars
told that if they die
they’ll die a hero
but you’re not a hero
if you fight to destroy
your own kind
why do we fight
if the only victory is seeing
more people die by the hands
of fellow humans
why do we fight
if the only peace is
lost homes and
lost families
uncertainty
and
fear
why do we take away another’s
future
for the pride of our own?
why preach that we’re so
great
when our people die every day
at the hands of the people
who are supposed to keep us
safe
and sometimes i wonder
why i feel the need to say this
but i think the reason
is because
not enough people ask
why do we fight wars
when the prize for winning
is just more suffering
and the continuation
of and endless cycle