AGENDA
  • Rules
  • Mr. Fuller
  • Dr. V and Mr. Gershman Introduce with Mashup Poem
  • Sarah Kay
  • Student poets and musicians
  • Judges confer
  • Closing
  • To This Day (Shane Koyczan)

Poems



by Nadira
White as the snow on the hill in our backyard,
Brown as the wood on our floors
Furnished with stain and kaleidoscopes
Tagged with the branches of history

Colorful blobs,
A woman across the window.
And the ground was full of adventure.
Creaking as you stepped,
Singing “Brown Girl In The Rain”

Oxygen, fleeting and focused.
Pulsing through the daylight, little flecks in the air
Daylight through the high windows surrounded by blue
A low ceiling I could touch

The elephant gave us luck
The guts of the piano gave us song
We cried all night long
Until the red from his eyes began to fade and his words became clear

Heavy footsteps,
Pancakes in the morning,
Surrounded by yellow,
Welcomed by friends.

The fish in the pond enclosed by rocks
Nibbled at the nature within their reach
Barking and blood from both sides
Bleeding colors of new possibilities

It was you 6647
Where they died and moved on,
Where they went to war and
Witnessed the meaning of wrong places and wrong times

It was you 6647
Where they painted the streets with their smiles
And left the crumbs of their bread
Not willing to let go of the mirrors

It was you 6647
That welcomed my eggs tucked in one basket clean
And you 66
That dropped them
In 47 seconds
On faded jeans

by Nadira
Yes, I am a
genius.
My knowledge
once leaked,
Walking along the
path of a creek
The sound of the
life of a freak
Wanting to speak.
Crumbling and
cracking
Under a stainless
steal peak.
Sniffing my coffee
And adding sugar
to tweak.
Wondering when
to smile,
And when to
meek.
Taking off facades
For a quick sneak
peek.
Rubbing at the
lipstick
On my left cheek.
Walking over
floorboards
That always tend
to creak.
Twisting your hate
And making it
weak.
Falling into bed
After a very short
week.
But no, I am not
the genius you
seek. Yes, I am a
genius.
My knowledge
once leaked,
Walking along the
path of a creek
The sound of the
life of a freak
Wanting to speak.
Falling into bed
After a very short
week.
But no, I am not
the genius you
seek. Yes, I am a
genius.
My knowledge
once leaked,
Walking along the
path of a creek
The sound of the
life of a freak
Wanting to speak.
Crumbling and
cracking
Under a stainless
steal peak.
Sniffing my coffee
And adding sugar
to tweak.
Wondering when
to smile,
And when to
meek.
Taking off facades
For a quick sneak
peek.
Rubbing at the
lipstick
On my left cheek.
Walking over
floorboards
That always tend
to creak.
Twisting your hate
And making it
weak.
Falling into bed
After a very short
week.
But no, I am not
the genius you
seek.

by Lily
11 and 51, both too young

Life is such a fragile thing.
Sadness is hard and heavy.
A warm April day, full of life...
It was cold.
His face.
Not the air.


Strange how life and death come hand in hand.

Death makes everything change.
One less plate at the table.
One less block in a pile.
One less person to have
and to hold.

I would remember him,
or would I?
It’s hard and it’s sad.
I do, but I don’t.

I was so young. And he was too.
It’s unfair.

I’m afraid of it all.
I’m afraid of myself.


All I know,
all that keeps me going when I feel as though I can’t,
the spark that is always burning like the Ner Tamid,
is that if my Dad could still be here,
he would.


And if I could go back in time and save him,
well...

I don’t know if I would.

Things would be different.

They tell you it gets better, and it does.
But it can never be good again.

They tell you that time heals, and it does.
But never fully.

It’s like the scar on my chest,
faint, but present.

A bad joke he would’ve loved the hear.
A cherry blossom tree in full bloom.
A block in math class.
A book series left unfinished.

The small things,
the small things like that,
matter most.
It seems so silly,
but it’s true.

A song of the loss of a father, praying for one last dance...

I never got to dance with him.
Not really.

He is gone.
For real.
For true.
For good.

by Jordi
If I should have a daughter, instead of “Mom,” she’s gonna call me “Point B,” because that way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m gonna paint the solar systems on the backs of her hands so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.” And she’s gonna learn that this life will hit you. Hard. In the face. Wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.

There is hurt here that cannot be fixed by bandaids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me. I’ve tried. And, Baby, I’ll tell her, don’t keep your nose up in the air like that. I know that trick. I’ve done it a million times. You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.

But I know she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rainboots nearby, because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rainboots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it.

I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass-bottom boat. To look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind. Because that’s the way my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this. There’ll be days like this, my momma said. When you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly, and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment, and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you.” Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.

You will put the “wind” in winsome. Lose some. You will put the “star” in starting over. And over. And no matter how many landmines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. And yes, on a scale from 1 to over-trusting, I am pretty damn naive. But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.

Baby, I’ll tell her, remember your mama is a worrier and your papa is a warrior, and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more. Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things. And always apologize when you’ve done something wrong, but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining. Your voice is small, but don’t ever stop singing. And when they finally hand you heartache, when they slip war and hatred under your door, and offer you handouts on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.

by Michelle
A Year in Poems

January
the first day sparkles with party
high hopes for the next 12 months
but for the next 31 days
grey tweed backs
hunched over glowing computer screens
worn elbow pads living at the bends of sleeves
bulky hands burdened with warmth
bones like splinters
piercing through pale frigid skin
the wind howls
salt specks the frozen asphalt
skeleton trees rattle against foggy house windows
like a cold grey hell.

February
Give someone a card
with writing on it
to express the words
you can’t say yourself.
and put a red satin bow on it.

March
march rips you out of your cold winter skin.
in like a lion,
out like a lamb.
maybe you were a lion already
or you’ve always been a lamb.
either way
spring is springing
rain is falling
and the days are long.



April
Take a shower on the first day of april
and wash the winter out of your system
with spring will come change
green, pink, blossoming life
april fools.

May
may is a month full of anticipation
your mind dances with summer
memories of past ones
hopes for the next one
but your body is trapped in late spring
caught off guard by the fact that
the dew underneath your bare feet is still cold
shy flowers hide in their stems
waiting to fully bloom.

June
someone once told me
that you should always measure your years in summers.
the summer you did this,
the summer you learned that.
it makes sense,
but for a reason i cannot place.
maybe
you’re a different person when the sun is warm
the days stretch out before your tan-lined feet
endless possibilities in sight.
you can’t help but be optimistic
hopeful for what might come your way
even though it probably
will just stay the same.


July
celebrate your freedom
by eating processed meat
and watching colors explode in the night sky.


August
the end of summer
drips down in the sweat of air conditioners
slowly making its way down damp backs
draped in tank tops.
the sidewalk burns and sparkles
too hot to stand on with bare feet.


September
september is a month that creeps up from inside the tall green grass
one minute you feel warm and free and happy
the next, you’re drowning
in thick new books, scribbling your signature under the names of past owners
forcing school spirit
pretending you missed people in the 2 months you were allowed to forget them
and falling leaves that you’re no longer allowed to jump in.
covering the cold clipped grass.


October
bring out the skeletons from inside the closet
and wear them.
pretending that its
just a costume
so you can be somebody else
for only one night.

November
look out your window on a brisk november day
and see that right before your eyes
lush trees have turned to skeletons.
ghosts of nature
as the air around you freezes.
everything but evergreens
shedding life onto the ground.
and the night sky drapes around you
always earlier than expected.


December
december is a month that flies by
the buzz of generosity and giving.
giving people things
to show them you love them,
which is somehow representative of a baby
that was born in a stable.
after your boxes are opened,
and gifts received
ribbons strewn across the living room floor
you slink back to bed
reflecting on the year you’ve had
mistakes made
promises kept
laughter heard
promising yourself
next year
will be your year.

Jen and Jordi
Dead Sea" by the Lumineers (song with guitar accompaniment)

I stood alone, upon the platform in vain
The Puerto Ricans they were playing me salsa in the rain
With open doors and manual locks
In fast food parking lots

I headed West, I was a man on the move
New York had lied to me, I needed the truth
Oh, I need somebody, needed someone I could trust
I don't gamble, but if I did I would bet on us

Like the Dead Sea
You told me I was like the Dead Sea
You'll never sink when you are with me
Oh, Lord, like the Dead Sea

Whoa, I'm like the Dead Sea
The finest words you ever said to me
Honey can't you see,
I was born to be, be your Dead Sea

You told me you were good at running away
Domestic life, it never suited you like a suitcase
You left with just the clothes on your back
You took the rest when you took the map

Yes, there are times we live for somebody else
Your father died and you decided to live
It for yourself you felt, you just felt it was time
And I'm glad, cause you with cats, that's just not right

Like the Dead Sea
You told me I was like the Dead Sea
You'll never sink when you are with me
Oh, Lord, I'm your Dead Sea

Whoa, I'm like the Dead Sea
The nicest words you ever said to me
Honey can't you see
I was born to be, be your dead sea

I've been down, I've been defeated
You're the message, I will heed it.
Would you stay,
Would you stay the night?

Dead Sea,
You told me I was like the Dead Sea
I never sink when you are with me
Oh, Lord, I'm your Dead Sea

Whoa, I'm like the Dead Sea
The nicest words you ever said to me
Honey can't you see
I was born to be, be your Dead Sea

by Hannah
eyes fly open in shadows dim,
red stains ‘round bright blue-green rims
and there’s a deficit of wispy whims
in the cold

she’s wide awake.
she’s wide awake for the first time in years.
and for the first time she feels the pavement—
a backpack,
her only pillow
a near-empty rucksack
with just a notebook and a
faltering pen
that stops working over
and over
and over again—
her only friend
in the urban wasteland.

the smell makes her sick,
the garbage, the waste
a foul, filthy reek
clings to this place
of urine and vomit and unwashed skin
and tomorrow the stench will be stronger again
when those cold, filthy beasts wander back in–

–to the alley
with delectable fruit from the valley
borne on their shoulders,
into the cave
where they breathe in the scent
that takes them away
to the hills, the soft grass
aglow in the daylight
sliced to pieces by clouds
it’s a dim, sleepy place
they perpetually pace
‘til they’re thrust back into the cold.

…wide awake now,
back to sleep
she’s wide awake
in a rubbish heap—
so wide awake
the truth, it creeps
now wide awake
in the darkest deep

she’s sitting in an alley, there
with bloodshot eyes and unkempt hair
forgetting about how to care
for she never will get out of there

so in the stench and cold she sits
in the alley there – so dark, unlit
it’s been ages now since when she quit

so why not do it?

just one more hit.