Poetry 99 winners - Teens

Photo By Evan Tuchinsky

First place

dad’s birthday
today is your birthday
and you are fifty-one years old;
you should be fifty-one years old.
                for ten years,
                you’ve been following me.
make that a few years longer.
since i was seven, most likely;
                you’ve been following me.

most days, you’re invisible.
some days, you visit in visions.
others, there are memories
of sheets and tickled feet
and hiding under covers;
                i was safe there.

i am safe there
even on ninety degree nights.
                i hide.
on those nights, i think of you.

on your birthday, i think of you
and don’t know what to think.

By Angela Lashbrook
age 17, Chico

Second place

To What We Don’t Say
My mother is resting
And sister is dreaming
Two states away
And my family is sleeping easy tonight
Because I don’t tell them what I thought about today
We never say what we’re afraid to say
To the people we’re afraid might not love us so much
If we did.
I’ve got a world built on these shoulders
Clavicles like dams
Blocking the river
From the town built on bamboo
And chicken wire
I’ve got a world on these shoulders
Where we play hot potato
With branding irons
No one gets away with being perfect

By Amber McCready
age 16, Chico

Third place

The Taste
The medicine was bubbly, and tasted like glue,
But the doctors say it is good for you.
The taste seems forever to stay.
It just won’t seem to go away.

I try and try to clean my tongue.
Into my mouth food was flung
Try as I might the taste just wouldn’t go.
Why, oh why did the taste leave so slow?

I tried shrimp cocktail, even some steak.
I tried doing work, I mowed and I raked.
Then the cure came to mind in a flash
I cut off my tongue and that was that.

By Timmy Hemeon
age 15, Redding

Honorable mentions

life, meet train cars and cigarette smoke
i am in repose
in this rectangle train car.
bjork serenades

from the back; alec
swings by, gives me verse advice.
he leaves, and i recline.

i am in a tube,
as is the nature of trains.
nature of my life,

rather; I’m honest
and i will hold nothing back.
i’ll lie on this floor.

It’s blue, white speckled.
the man: “can i bum a smoke?”
ash, meet foot, meet ground.

life, meet foot, meet ground.
meet train tracks, cigarette butts.
really, they’re harmless.

smoke, in truth, is sweet.
in this booth i will recline;
i am in repose.

By Angela Lashbrook

submerging myself,
i feel one with my body
and away from the world.
it’s quiet,
yet I’m screaming for air.
i surface,
only to find everything i left behind,
i go under again,
this time to let the water take me over.

By Brooke Acevedo
age 16, Chico

My Favorite
Ask me my favorite color,
as we look into a shard of glass,
and I will explain the most miraculous
color blue of your eye that nobody knew could ever exist.

Ask me my favorite time of year,
as we sit on a park bench,
and I will explain the way the most welcoming
time of life is
when I’m in your arms.

Ask me my favorite actor,
as we walk down the garden steps,
and I will explain that the only good picture
will always be just
your face, when you
tell me the meaning of life.

By Jean Marion
age 14, Palo Cedro

Beast Inside
Everyone has a beast inside.
It’s always trying to escape.
It lurks in the shadows of your soul,
Feeding on every sour emotion,
And gorging on every raw memory.
It pollutes you from the inside out.
One day that beast will come out.
        Then what?
Do you think you can control it,
The evil and hatred that’s been growing in you since birth?
Do you think you can control something you made?
And has been growing in you, unchecked?
No one can control it, the ones that try, destroy themselves.
“What’s the beast that lives in you?”

By Andrea Nattress
age 16, Chico

Paint Reality
I read your poetry
And I can feel my barriers melting down to glass
Because in the beginning
They were just sand
Strands of dirt
That now create upside down mirrors
That paint reality like you were looking at me
Like if I tiptoed I could walk on water
And you’ve got a way of making words dance
With that music in your mind
I can see the notes in your eyes
Like love letters to
beating the back of class persona.

By Amber McCready