Poetry 99: high school winners
I melt with the snow
the river rushes, swollen in the belly
the flowers blossom,
I do not
The fruits hang low
from the sharp beaks
of the birds hovering on their pinions
The seeds fall
the heat licks at the moisture
clawing the sun for mercy
the colors retire, brown succeeds
and the leaves collapse
to the sighing ground
soaking the fallen till we are paste
Then snow, freezing the dirt
it piles, until the sun returns
I melt with the snow
Though she currently attends CORE Butte Charter School, Lydia Honan says that she nonetheless received an email from a teacher at her former school—Inspire School of Arts & Sciences—alerting her about the Poetry 99 contest. Working independently, she submitted this year’s winning poem! In addition to writing, Honan enjoys photography and ballet.Second place
I wanted the first draft;
the shirtpocket paper
by a pair of stony fists.
You wanted sterilized strikeouts,
an exile of parasitic phrases.
“Is not connection, but
I wanted to believe
that I could trace each lick
to its master’s grip;
I wanted to cultivate
a colony of metaphors
in crumpled columns.
You wanted revision,
my fingers kept trembling
when they touched
Given that she took both second and third place in the high school division in this year’s Poetry 99 contest and has had her writing published in Chico High’s Seven-Eighths Under Water literary magazine, senior Rebecca Kuehne obviously has a way with words. But more than anything, she enjoys putting her words to music. A guitarist and vocalist, she writes original “folkish” songs and performs them for the school’s Underwater Cafe.
How do we know when the film has ended?
Is there blackness; bold letters scrolling
upon a screen? Or perhaps closure comes
from the last line spoken through sunset lips.
We all know what happens before the end—
The intermission, the shuffle, the hush,
and the hero, returning like a ghost
to his mistress in thick-voiced solitude.
Perhaps there is another ending,
a second state where no one leaves the room,
and replacing the crush of popcorn
underfoot, is a silver-screened hum,
where our faces tremble like wax figures,
and the world is locked in wordless limbo.
Lonely mornings in the alluring arms of past skies, I can almost see my mother.
She begins to fly.
Lonely, violet nights force me to face my lies, straight into their promising eyes.
Silly me, my mother could never fly.
She was just high.
So tell me, is this a lie?
3rd and Pine
And I will walk home
Under canopy of tulip trees
And spin madly on my axis
Like the collision of sunlight on pavement
My soul will bloom into flowers
They’re just weeds
A cage, no matter how beautiful is still a cage. But mine isn’t breathtaking. My cage is self-made. I
don’t know if it’s to keep people out, or me in.
My mind is yawning
Panic rises through me like a counter jinx
Flying in poinsettia noise
Embarrassment like a firecracker
Sinking into a cement cage
Writing in a distrustful language
As regretful as a minister caught in the act
And life begins to dawn
Wondering why this place is suddenly feeling like home
Reminiscing on things that never happened
My mind is trapped in a cage
I will fly away the day I am released
I can’t trust myself to do the things I promise
This is what it’s like, drowning,
I’d be prone to say.
As artificial darkness falls,
I’m grasping at straws and clutching
this struggling breath.
The lungs don’t really do the breathing,
the diaphragm does.
Maybe that’s me,
the winner of a race
that was long ago quit
by the real hero.
The hidden deep virtue,
unreal and untethered
beast of my tunnels,
minotaur in my labyrinth of
wanting will clothe me and bear me naked
in the eyes of a god I’m not sure exists
every day in unending repetition and replay.