"BEST of ISSUE" WINNER
Gray slush, squelching, a wet echo in the sullen woods
All sparkling whiteness gone, trodden dense
And there – I stop – there, crumpled, a frosted form.
Red, red, deep and crusting, bringing crows like wheeling cinders.
Milky eyes watch dully and my shriek scatters feathers
Those familiar cheekbones, that long nose – those hands – shattered-glass-thudding fists.
Scars in the ice where scrabbling fingers left troughs – a murder, obviously.
Beaten dogs bite – and I – phantom blacks and blues – wouldn't I? Oh, wouldn't I?
No one – for miles – except myself, and the crows – intruder, they cry! – and the carcass.
Sightless eyes gaze asunder, loose jaw laughs – laughs! – feeding off panic, as usual –
Strange, the stillness… blind sky above, rutted path below, stiff invader by the wayside.
Report – I should – and yet. A fitting sentence, this. Not fair, but neither was my own…
Soft evening light, the ultimate equalizer. Leaves, limbs, laws, jumbled in gray unison.
How long until decay reclaims the vile creature? Now half-assimilated, icy and beak-torn.
Flesh to feed scavengers, death into life, and come spring the maggots will feast.
Surely nature is as good a judge as any. If I walked, kept my silence, leveled scales…
Gray sleet, hissing, a wet murmur in the sullen woods
Bitter rain sluicing over bloated skin, crusted blood melting away into rust-streaks.
Drops send shivers down my crown, but home, I know, will be warm. Turn, walk on.
Tug gloves, flick hood, burrow hands in toasty pockets – I've dinner to make, after all.
Gwen Roberts, CO, Vista Ridge High School
EDITOR'S CHOICE WINNER
Every night, I pull open the thin layer of glass, blurring the lines of within and without
Every night, I crack open the blinds, like sleepy Sunday morning eyes
Maybe I'm afraid that the snug blankets will stifle my dreams
If I don't offer some way of escape,
The empty spaces between my mattress will absorb me
Into a place entangled with the sorrow of memory.
Or maybe I like the window open because when I look up,
Millions of tiny particles of light and freckles off the face of the moon glare back at me
Because the evening air intoxicates me,
And the breeze explores the fissures of my figure with a sense of endearment
Because the limitless universe of astronomical proportions is somewhat consoling,
Like a nursery rhyme is hidden within the nebulae and suspended between the meteors.
But there is truth and there is invention.
The universe is both.
When I am almost asleep yet not quite awake,
A lump builds in my throat
Because the universe is too big
And I am already absorbed
Into the breathing space of humanity
Into the empty place between the stars.
Voulette Hattar, CA, Valencia High School
ALL OTHER CERTIFIED NATIONAL WINNERS
Air - Harika Kottakota, CA, Burbank High School
Clearwater - Anli Chen, FL, Dr. Phillips High School
Lavender Demise - Courtney Lefevers, TX, Odessa High School
A Longing Unfulfilled - Christina Chong, NJ, Bergen County Academies
Coast Highway - Bowen Jiang, CA, Pleasant Valley High School
Oh Vonnegut soul searcher... - Abigail Rose Munson, CO, Compass Montessori High School
Skate - Ariel Wiegand, NH, Merrimack High School
For A Penny - Allison Huang, NJ, The Lawrenceville School
The Second Law - Anna Savelyeva, TX, Liberal Arts and Science Academy
LAMENT - Keairra Abdul-Ahad, TX, Claudia Taylor Johnson HS
Division, Soft - Ava Goga, NV, Robert McQueen High School
Let the Voices Die - S. Ana Henriquez, TX, The Atonement Academy
All the dead Flowers Since 2001 - Laura Elizabeth Wendt, WA, International Community School
He called me the poet, - Casey Hennings, IN, Kankakee Valley HS
from the mouths of babes come unhappy liars - Lauren Edwins, WA, Washington Virtual Academy
The Speck We Know as Humanity - India Persson, NC, Charlotte Latin School
Mosaic - Eva Cranch, OR, Lake Oswego High School
Sonnet 18 - Part Two - Shyla Davis, MA, Haverhill High School
JUST POETRY!!! & the Live Poets Society of NJ...
legitimately good poetry since 1998
no fooling, no kidding, no scamming.