Poetry 99

High school winners

Kestrel Carroll

Kestrel Carroll

Photo By jason cassidy

First Place


Now, I’m no Lolita, but God knows I try
with these wet eyes and touching thighs;
maybe I was less kind than the average nymph
when I left the imprint of my lips and
sewed our skin so tight I thought I would perish
without your sweat on my cheek.

I’m not dead yet but if you must know,
you were my sin, my soul,
and your tongue has touched the tip of mine
too many times
for this nymph to die.

-Kestrel Carroll, 16

It’s looking really familiar here in high-school division, as both our first and second place winners from last year’s contest are back at the top. They’ve just switched places. Kestrel Carroll is a regular in our writing contests, having had several poems and short stories printed in our Poetry 99 and Fiction 59 issues over the last few years. A student at the CORE Butte Charter School, Kestrel concurrently takes classes at Butte College.

Second Place

My Place

My place is one where it hasn’t rained in a long time.
I have made do with the small bursts green grapes provide,
time pockets ruled by sour hydration,
the smell of hot sand.

Tiny grains work ways under fingernails, in the crooks of ears.
The spots I bend; elbows, wrists, knees, are flaking white from dryness.
My tongue is the refugee, hidden in its bubble of sameness, same as it will ever be.
In my place, one where it hasn’t rained in a long time, corners packed with hot sand,
green grapes rolling round sightlessly, waiting for rain.

Sylvia Pape

Photo By jason cassidy

-Sylvia Pape, 16

Since Sylvia Pape didn’t take first place again this year as she did in 2011, she just decided to own the next two spots. The sophomore loves to write and says that, in addition to poetry, she also pens shorts stories and enjoys working in video production at Inspire School of Arts and Sciences.

Third Place

Don’t Say

Don’t say love words to me
Don’t say them ever if you can
Don’t say to me your sympathies
Don’t say you understand
Don’t say I am witty, wise, or wondrous
Don’t say you smile at the thought of me
Don’t say everything else seems blunderous
Don’t say you would swallow the sea
Don’t say I have your heart
Don’t say, just don’t say
Saying love words is poet’s art
How about you just show me, okay?

-Sylvia Pape, 16

Honorable Mentions


They run,
Seeking shelter,
Cowering beneath
The brightest of colors,
Made even more vivid
By the gray of the sky.

They hide,
Ducking into shops,
Slamming car doors,
Completely unwilling
To ruin new suits,
Shiny shoes,
Flawless hair.

They curse,
Shouting uselessly
At the heavens,
Only making
The clouds more furious.

They stare,
In disbelief,
Watching in astonishment
As I tilt my head up
To meet you
With a smile on my face.

-Taylor Matousek, 16

Dirty with Pride

What does it mean to live?
Or to laugh? It doesn’t mean being detained,
It’s not blending with society.
I long for a freight train with wind blowing in my face,
tugging at my clothes,
dirty with pride.
Craving new sights,
meeting new people,
and making memories for the future.
For now, I am lying on the tracks pondering …
All who wander are not lost.

-Shayne, 14


I turned an apple into a headstone once,
epitaph carved into red skin
juice bleeding

I chased a forest of trees once,
we all just stood there
forgot moving

I dreamt of dying in arms once,
dead as I was becoming
not soothing

I swam in tears that weren’t mine once,
sinking in salt I couldn’t stop them
so unmoving

I stood atop a grave once,
rain and excuses poured on dirt
kept losing

I forgot all the boundaries once,
mind seeped out to the air around us
stop choosing

-Megan Sousa, 16

The Deviant

She was a deviant,
and there was a sea-filled void.
There was surging and convulsing
and a sun that shone black.
And she was within the heart of surge
swirled with watery void and sun’s black,
and she was alive.
She gathered up inside herself, preparing,
and she stretched out her hands,
the voided sea swirling ’round them,
and she was powerful.
And there was black sun and sea filled void
and there were whole worlds in a set of eyes,
fueled by potential and energy,
and all existence was encompassed within the deviant.

-Elizabeth J. Allen, 16