Poetry 99: high school winners
They got next
Deep Southern Nurture
You are a canvas
you come into this world writhing and screaming
you must be painted
a man comes
palette in hand
he is ready to paint
he picks the color gray
he always picks gray
oh what a wonderful painting you become
the same as a hundred others
you are a go to church painting
a scream and curse painting
a refused to ever learn painting
a watch the world burn painting
you are the same as your father
When it comes to his writing, Ender Mills says that he “often draws on [his] feelings on politics and social issues.” But when it comes to playing music, something he’s done for several years in his band, Snowing in May (which also features his sister Seven, who received an honorable mention in this year’s Poetry 99), his focus is on playing guitar, not writing words. “I like playing instrumental music,” he says. He also likes fencing and engaging in spirited discourse with his classmates at Inspire School of Arts & Sciences.Second place
I am plasma–
my nebulous existence
stretches beyond the boundaries
of ordinary states of matter,
I am adrift in my own sea,
an ocean of stars
In a spiral galaxy–
arms reaching as wide as mine reach
to catch an inkling of hope–
hope that I will be emancipated
from this perpetual solitude–
let me burst–
into a thousand wayward stars.
Aubrey Whitely comes from a family of writers who have regularly been published in the CN&R’s literary contests. Aubrey, Avriella and their mom, AnneMarie Carter, have all been published in previous Poetry 99 or Fiction 59 issues, and this year Mom garnered an honorable mention over in the adult division. “My family likes words,” Aubrey says, “and I’ve always liked reading.” The high school senior—doing independent study though South Sutter Charter School—says that, in addition to poetry, she enjoys writing short stories.Third place
The Night City
Ghost trains sailing on the fog
One eye to glow, peering through the rain
They luminesce through a mist, watching me
Then disappear, are gone again
Ghost cities riding on clouds of black
Thundering; bursting with the weight of deluge
City lights that flicker; unconscious eyes
Peering at me briefly before vanishing
The night city is enveloping me
Skyscrapers almost tangible
Billboards of russet cloud
I am riding on a misty rain wave
On a landmass of electric light
Pulsing below, electric veins
Riding against the wind and rain,
I am sailing with the ghost trains
On the fog.
Forced to leave the nudist colony
His drinking problem finally has consequences
Now his only option is an apartment in the city
Only able to be naked at home
Before he felt free
Within cotton and denim
Stuck in an apartment his family owns
Unable to frolick
Within other nudist recreation clubs
His reputation the cause
His tendencies tear down his opportunities
The only career he has gotten
That he doesn’t hate
Or hide away in the bathroom
Is posing naked for art classes at the college
His family disapproves
Sad alcoholic nudist
-Allie Adcock, Greenville, 17
pain of regret
Overrun by the piercing
gaze of beauty.
my grave expressions
with a grayish cloak.
Crudely sculpted red fingers
reaching for my soul.
won’t allow me
to be consumed.
good and evil
as if I’m the boy in the novels.
living my dreams
and abiding by the laws
-Shawn, Oroville, 18
Book on sword stances, stolen DVDs from the bargain bin, the mattress a galaxy of stains.
Failing to complete any task
Flailing around unable to move
Falling deeper into my own ego
Ashamed to share my cheesy lines
Expecting sympathy? Understanding?
While I create my own problems
I deserve nothing at all
Wasting away I am an island
Inhospitable, uninhabited, uneventful.
A barren personality? A boring little boy
Without substance floating in day dreams
Asking for things borrowing with no return
It’ll just waste your time
To hear what’s on my mind
I’m not sorry
-Caleb Hovland, Greenville, 18
We’ve made it through yesterday, and so many days before
so why does it hurt so much,
To muscle through this huge lump?
There’s too much gristle.
It feels like rubbing a cat backwards
Tight under your skin
Like the roots of your mind
Are swelling with the flood.
We’re on hyper drive and your hair gets caught in the gears
Everyone else will live on a different level.
You’re on your own level now.
Where you’re marching the plank
The plank that YOU built
This plank that you built for yourself.
-Seven Mills, 14, Chico