Poetry winners: Moved to tell it in verse

Writing • The winning entries in the Junior Creative Poetry Contest.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ballerina Feet

Here's the thing,

I don't think I could ever love someone with

Ballerina feet, someone tangled up in anguished

Grace. Someone broken and bruised and bleeding,

I don't think I could ever love someone happy,

Someone painfully, freely alive. See the

Problem is I'm too broken, all scars

And glass and heart.

Another thing,

We say we love the rain but we cower from it. Dancing for


A matter of seconds, before running for cover.

I've been thinking a lot about opposites lately, how

They push and pull, contradictory, magnetic,

Fleeting, but they can't work together.

It's true what they say about opposites

In love, if it were, I wouldn't

Be here, broken, in the rain, telling

Myself I could never love a happy

Person with Ballerina feet.

By Alexandria Robinson, Grade 12, Woods Cross High School

First Place (Division E: grades 11-12)

Virginia Riley, teacher

The Commonplace Symphony

A Rumbling bass note sends shivers down my spine, as the bus starts

The engine, turning over and over,

I hear a placid percussion of uneven cobblestone against rubber, as the bus rolls

Onward and onward down the desolate road,

An arrhythmic melody chimes upon the metal frame of the bus

Loose gravel hitting here and there,

A sudden whoosh of air as the brakes are applied

A harmonic crescendo in the symphony of my bus ride,

The doors groan open and the song is drowned in a sea of babbling people.

Mindlessly chattering over "this" and "that"

Nobody notices the magnificent, manufactured orchestra.

Driving away, in stifled silence,

I stand in childish awe enchanted by the machine,

Performing softly for those docile enough to listen.

Commotion is the only emotion felt by those

Refusing to listen to life's unappreciated wonders.

Spencer Dixon, Grade 12, Woods Cross High School

Second Place (Division E: grades 11-12)

Virginia Riley, teacher

My Last Name is a Memory

My name is a memory

It is a photo of revolutionaries tucked between the pages of a book

A bloody bandage of those who fought in the street.

My name is a memory of leaving a nation with one suitcase,

Two changes of clothing and one doll.

My name is a memory of Che.

I am asked who I idolize,

They ask me if I worship the man whose face is pasted on my bag,

Whose poster is in my locker. They ask of idolatry.

As if to him I pray.

My mother left her country, and she was told to leave by the man

Whose last name I share. She left with one suitcase

Two changes of clothing and one doll.

And when I asked her about Che,

She spoke with reverence about a man she could not know.

If you ask my grandmother of Che

She would say that she left the island because of him,

And there's no use in talking about her departure.

I am asked if I idolize him, remembering the interview I watched.

He smiled at the Irish girl, asking him questions,

And he spoke of a new nation, one my mother

Would not be a part of.

I know not of idolatry, except maybe of my idolization

Of a country I never knew, that my mother

Was in for more than a decade, idolization

Of rice thrown on brides and grooms outside cathedrals,

Idolization of a market with chickens to be plucked,

Idolization of the palm trees out a plantation window

I do not know of idolatry, I cannot know

of a man with long hair and a red star on his hat,

I cannot know of idolatry, or salvation, because I cannot

Know what it meant to leave, rice thrown on brides and grooms outside cathedrals,

Markets with chickens to be plucked, or of leaving

The palm trees outside a plantation window. I cannot know

Leaving a nation to decay because of whom you idolize.

My name is a memory. A memory

Of diaspora, a memory of warfare in the shade of palm trees

A memory of a grandmother's handkerchief.

A memory of fried bananas.

My name is a memory.

Camilla Reed-Guevara, Grade 10, Rowland Hall School

First Place (Division D: grades 9-10)

Joel Long, teacher

To Dance

To dance is to find yourself within the music,

in every hidden beat, in every hidden word, in every hidden silence …

You live to dance.

Your words speak through your movement,

every single breath you take, you act like it's your last.

To live on that floor, to be the dancer you want to be,

and to strive on hoping you're

being the best you can.

Pushing yourself to your limit, no matter what circumstance,

not settling for anything better than the best.

To practice as if you were performing,

doing it over and over again until perfection.

Your soul is simply supposed to take over,

to complete the movement and express your hidden emotion.

To point your feet, extend your legs,

and to get your leaps as high as they can go.

Dance is to simply feel free,

not to have a worry in the world …

To dance is to find yourself within the music,

in every hidden beat, in every hidden word, in every hidden silence …

You live to dance.

Rylee Dietrich, Grade 9, West Point Junior High

Second Place (Division D: grades 9-10

Mrs. Stokes, teacher


The eagle jumps from the top of his nest,

higher than everything in the forest.

He tucks back his wings and falls,

like a god-like creature.

Bearing down on the forest at the speed of light.

He spreads his wings gracefully,

falling, gliding, slowing

He takes pictures on his way down,

with his keen eagle eye,

of the thick forest foliage:

pictures of the journey,

to share the memories he is making.

The enticing colors,

beckon him to go there,

but the eagle keeps his course,

never losing sight of his prey.

Now I stand at the door of the plane,

at 15,000 feet.

Scared to death

of the leap of faith that I am about to take

I pause and think about the brave eagle

Taking its leap of faith,

learning to fly.

Finally, I jump

and tuck back my arms

Speeding down to the ground,

feeling like the eagle.

I spread my arms and try to fly.

The colors,

greens and blues and yellows.

What beautiful things to see.

I take my own pictures to remember this day.

I deploy my parachute.

Steering myself to the target zone,

never losing sight of it.

Falling, gliding, slowing.

Anthony Laubacher, Grade 8, St. Joseph Catholic School

First Place (Division C: grades 6-8)

Andrew LeTellier, teacher

First Day of Sixth Grade

I wake up in the morning; I know that I am doomed

I nibble my breakfast

Finally, it's into the heart of the sea

Kids pushing and shoving, going who knows where

Social minnows glide here and there

Sharks grab their share


Chaos turns to panic; I'm in the middle of a tsunami

I try to get in the right current, but end up in the opposite

Finally, I find a life raft; the teacher rescues me

I'm safe, but soon that safety ends

The teacher wishes us luck; I'm in the rapids again

Oh no, I'm under water, I'm floundering

I see another life raft, through the rapids

Adrenaline kicks in as I crawl for the raft

I clutch a firm hand on the raft, and claw my way onto the raft

All of us sing songs of joy

This time I am more prepared for the dive into stormy waters

Though at the end of the day, a tsunami starts up again

I am not able to change directions, I am being crushed

I try to scream, abut the roar drowns my voice

Soon I see land, a life boat waiting for me

I swim as fast as my battered body will let me

I gasp for breath, as I crawl into the boat

What a day

Caleb Furse, Grade 7, Hurricane Intermediate

Second Place (Division C: grades 6-8)

Leanne Worwood, teacher

Things I Have Lost and Found

I've lost a book, socks, a flip camera, and a shoe.

I've found a more interesting book, better socks, a cool iPod, and a new pair of shoes.

I've lost a house, friends, a school, and a neighborhood.

I've found a bigger house, nicer friends, a smarter school, and a safer neighborhood.

I've lost a grandpa.

I've found sorrow.

Sydney Allen, Grade 5, Challenger School

First Place (Division B: grades 3-5)

Mrs. Johnson, teacher


Red sand creeping up hills,

Water from a cactus spills

Coyote sniffs the air,

A rabbit pretends he isn't there

Hiding in a rabbit hole

Trying to dig like a mole.

Coyote hears the sand fly,

Rabbit thinks he's going to die

Scared, he runs at top speed.

Coyote finally has his lunch

And finishes off with a crunch.

Mariel Swindler, Grade 4, Reid School

Second Place (Division B: grades 3-5)

Lindsey Palmer, teacher Dust to Dust

The grandmother's hands were too full of peaks and valleys.

Thick snake veins writhed beneath her skin,

her paper skin, her rice paper skin that bruised like a blackberry in Oregon summer.

I had to touch the dead flesh, the fixed snakes and frozen blackberries;

papery bone-dry softness had turned to well-done roast.

I made her bed every week for four years, and then, finally

she lay down in her bed, with her lavender sheets and my hospital corners,

I remember her eyes were closed — no — open. I could not see the iris,

I could only see white, white cataracts that sat on her eyes

like a skin on hot chocolate milk heated too long and too quickly.

The dead look like baby birds,

parted lips and cheeks curved like eye sockets.

She would float to the bag, be lifted to the bag, like a child, like a dog taken to the vet in a pillowcase.

I was afraid of her open door, her personal bocca verita,

mouth of truth; it bit off her hand because she was not faithful.

I know she missed the warm sun and grapes and olives and salt-fresh breezes.

She saw me, and the bag was zipped.

I heard it, crouched in the laundry room; the grit of the filthy floor cut into my feet.

My legs burned. Please, do not move.

I could hear voices through the vent, round voices of consolers.

Lost was the sharp voice of a Dorothy Parker reader.

She died, not in the warm sun but in front of the TV playing nothing,

Not with grapes, olives, salt-fresh breezes but with pale rice paper skin.

The record player entertained itself. My legs gave out.

I sat in grim grit, the ashes of my house.

Austen Van Burns, Grade 12, Rowland Hall School

Winner of the C. Cameron Johns Award

Joel Long, teacher To mark National Poetry Month, The Salt Lake Tribune honors the winners of this year's Junior Creative Poetry Contest. The contest, now more than 65 years old, is thought to be the largest statewide youth poetry contest in the country. It is sponsored by the Utah State Poetry Society and paid for through a grant from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. This year's winners were lauded at a ceremony on Saturday, April 20. The C. Cameron Johns Award is named after the founder and is given to the best poem by a student in grades 9-12. First-, second- and third-place awards are given in five grade categories. Today we are publishing the top poem as well as first- and second-place winners from four of the divisions.