2014 Teen Poetry Contest Winning Poems
High School Division (Grades 9-12)
1st Place: "We are Here to be Swallowed" by Nysha Chen
Shanghai is the
pulse-pulse-pulse of bright yellow flickers
neon light boulevards pressed up
against crumbling 1930's apartment buildings
saturating the distant landscape,
throbbing the morning sky
its August, sweaty
and sticky children scatter
through unpaved roads, devouring red bean cake
in their small fingers messily smeared
fruit peddlers collide into a rush of pedestrians
down Nanjing road, as night falls
the slumbering sun sleeps, heavy breaths
against clogged air
and yet I realize after
returning home with blackened sandals,
that nothing remains untouched
on the burning streets of Shanghai,
that the old decays into
the cracks and fissures of the
asphalt road and like abandoned newspaper,
we are here to be swallowed
2nd Place: "unanswered phone calls" by Meghedi Tamazian
maybe if we enjoyed the lullaby of empty
dial tones, we would fall asleep somewhere
amidst the clatter of unanswered phone calls.
there is a melancholy to be found in silence.
nothing but the static between our muted voices,
only the sterile hum of knowing you are
watching TV or driving or laughing or fishing
or out with friend or asleep somewhere.
love is not a limb; if it's lost, it will always grow back.
i am discarded bandages and surgical knives.
you are an amputated arm. your phantom limb
haunts whenever i doubt your ghost.
i learned a trick to uncovering the scent of the hospital without
actually going to one. pick a beach on Lake Michigan and swim
to the point on the horizon where the clouds become water.
you will find me there and immediately recognize the smell
of emergency. do not be alarmed; love is no urgent matter.
again, we will hug a hospital bed with no way to pay the bills.
the best way to dance is to a soundless song.
remember: the silence. when i'm restless,
i memorize your all-too-familiar voicemail greeting.
in it, you say your name as if it weren't holy, but just
another word in the dictionary. I correct your pronunciation
over & over until you say it the way i do.
you've never been patient. too often,
your bones rattle from all that rush & shake.
i've always been wistful. too often,
i fall asleep to the sound of your abscense.
B- Boys stepping onto the scene
Swagger in each step
Eyes gleaming with confidence
Bodies buzzing and bouncing
Ready to release their energy
Ready for battle
This is urban art
In every windmill, flare, and halo, in the footwork
Is this raw and gritty electricity shocking anyone who witnesses
This urban festivity
The beat reverberating off the walls
There are cat calls of “Yo! Did you see that son?! That ain’t never been done!”
Each fluid movement is unique
Originality is key
Taking this urban art to a new peak
Hip hop is the heart to this art form of soul
The soundtrack to this urban life
Making everything seem alright to those influenced by this culture
Even when the world gives them a cold shoulder
The beats of J. Dilla, Madlib, and Dr. Dre serve as a therapeutic melody
These 90’s kids, with so much to give
Artistically expressing themselves through graffiti
The art of the urban underground
Their tagging style and flair is their personal signature
The brightly hued messages like little stories giving insight into urban life
When we lost someone from this hip hop community, we don’t say Rest in Peace
We say Rest in Power!
Their presence made immortal by each dance we dedicate to them…
“Get up offa that thing! And dance til you feel better! Get up offa that thang! And try to release that pressure!”
James Brown speaking to this young fresh urban generation
Through the underlying beat of the music
Saying dance til you feel alright
Saying dance your burdens away, dance til you feel light
This is urban art
Close to the heart of the people who speak this language so well
Urban art is not just breakdancing and hip hop….it is a way of life
A whole culture
Versatile, ever evolving, and creative in its execution
It is food for the soul
Knowledge for the mind
And life to the body
Urban art is you, urban art is me
Urban art is we
Forever love, forever true, forever real
This is urban art
When Shelter becomes a cavity
-Walls starving to imprint
some words of wanting author
A dweller who draws from ticklish paint
Brushes; the skin of stone
simply lives to be and tell
a likeness of the world
But pick and hammer etching
go Shallow Scratching – deep
They understand the sentiment