First Place Winner

What Happens Next

by Angelica Vera-Franco

I’m sitting in the other room
staring, waiting, listening.
I hear the chair crash,
the chair slam,
the chair fall.
I sense tension, trouble,
The arguments start.
My past appears.
I hear the phone buzz, flash,
They stare.
They ignore and ignore and ignore.
A minute passes
two, three more.
The room remains still,
remains silent.
Quiet as if nothing ever happened.
The prayers fly,
the crying starts,
pain worsens.
The children stare, wonder,
too young to understand.
My hand shakes, trembles,
my hand is nonstop.
The fight continues and continues and continues.
The words curse,
the words poison.
The melody starts,
and plays and plays and plays
It is a fight
no, a war.
It replays and replays and replays.
The walls seem to close in.
The walls know how I feel.
Teared stain pillows,
smudged back stains,
red eyes.
The lyrics mean more now.
The song speaks words
you are too afraid to say.
The voices speak, yell
the voices take you away.
To the place you fear
to the place you swore you’d never go.
You want the war to end,
the pain to stop,
the hurt you feel inside to stop.
You have trouble breathing,
trouble staying in control.
The imaginary crown falls,
it shatters,
it breaks.
Breaks down far worse than before.
A hit
a punch
you knocked out.
Knocked out by the hundred
no, million thoughts you have.
The thoughts roaming in your head.
The thoughts that bring you down.
The chair shifts,
the chair moves,
the chair scoots.
The voices stop.
You want to believe it’s over.
Then, footstep one
then another one
two more.
I wipe the tears, the stains,
the thoughts.
I look up
then look down.
They stand in front of me
like statues.
Admiring the mess and destruction,
I see the guilt
they know my pain.
They whisper,
they let me know what’s next
after what just happened.

Angelica Vera-Franco is a freshmen student at Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School.


Second Place Winner


Miracle from Above

By Julian Hernandez

You found someone to always love you,
now you and he spend all your time together.
He is your reason for seeing beauty in the morning dew,
and you think he’ll be around forever.
He says everything you do is simply amazing,
and supports you, even in your hatred.
His words and your fists were frequent in their raising,
and his good book is to you oh so sacred.
But this unending love is not good,
and it will lead to your greatest downfall.
It lies to you of your perfect fatherhood,
and its promises of a place in his golden capital.
so get your head out of the clouds and see the love,
and stop waiting for your miracle from above.

Julian Hernandez is a junior at Charter University Prep high school


Third Place Winner


Boys Are Better in Books

by Shani Zuberi

Where is my Fitzwilliam Darcy when I need him
My Jamie Fraser with his kilt
My Sir Gawain to save the day
and the wooden steed the Trojans finely built
Where is my Charles Wallace to make me hot cocoa when I wake up in fright
Or those two dashing Hardy boys to rescue me from things that go bump in the night
Where is my true love Othello who will kill me over handkerchiefs and lies
and my beloved Blue Beard and all his secret wives
Where is The Fryer, The Vicar and The Wife of Bath to tell me a wonderful tale
and my daring Jace Wayland to seek me out from the depths of hell
But, I don’t think in real life I’ll even try to look
and fall head over heels for my very next book

Shani Zuberi is a 12th grade student currently attending Visions in Education.


Honorable Mention


Just Kids

by Mirette Ochsner

This room holds America.
Right here we’ve got the world in our hands,
Every skin color, background, more than one native tongue, religions, cultures,
roots so deep you can’t trace them.

This room holds the future.
Young, bright minds tolerating, pulsing, feeling, giving, loving.
We’ve got ideas more buoyant than the clouds,
thoughts heavier than the weight of the earth.

In this room we are infinite.
Strangers become closer than family,
are given permission to glimpse one another’s minds.
In this room we aren’t forced into a jigsaw puzzle
without enough space to fit our pieces.

In this room we grow wings.
Wings that the rest of the world can’t see when we walk out of here.
In this room we don’t sink, because no one has to
show us the right way to swim, there is no right way.

In this room there is no set in stone
because we’re all still learning to carve out our story.
We’re just kids.
But we’re also just America.

Mirette Ochsner is a Junior at Visions In Education Charter School


Honorable Mention


Him and Her

by Jenna Turpin

He was a
Foolhardy firecracker
With an itch to toy with lighters.
She was a
Deadpan hurricane
With a curfew.
He could
Explode and destroy everything you ever loved.
She could
Rip up your whole world without a word.
The two would never meet.
The two should never meet.

Jenna Turpin is a junior at Center High School.