2013 Teen Poetry Contest Winners

10th Annual Teen Poetry Contest poster

Congratulations to the 10th Annual Teen Poetry Contest Winners!

Each year we celebrate National Poetry Month in April with our Teen Poetry Contest.
Teens in grades 7-12 from Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Westmoreland, are invited to submit up to three original poems. Out-of-region library cardholders may also enter. 

This year's winners were chosen (anonymously) by Claudia Emerson, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
Entries were accepted online between April 1 - 14, 2013, and winners were selected from participants in grades 7-9 and grades 10-12. We had 158 entries this year!

Winners are awarded prizes and invited to read their work at Teen Poetry Night at Headquarters Library, Wednesday, May 1, 7:30-8:30.

And the winners are ...

First Place, Grades 10-12 

Night Rhyme

by Andrew
Grade 12,  Massappannox High School


I like how the night

            feels under my skin,

        wearying a different kind.


I like how the dark

                 lets nothing in,

     though something walks inside.


I like how the deer-hiss

      rings a stir

              in the heart of the hunting man,


who dropped the rifle

                                        upon a purr


                       and ran


                                         and ran


                       and ran

Second Place, Grades 10-12


by Amber
Grade 10, Massappannox High School

some of my scars showed up.
they were on my legs,
but not all over.
no healed skin,
just light gray indents.
they are quiet
not too dangerous.
not over the edge.
a reminder of what once was
what could be once more.
a way to show i was strong
very weak as well.
i think they are
the most beautiful thing in my being. 

Third Place, Grades 10-12

Morning Music

by Jacob
Grade 10, Courtland High School

Before songbirds stretch their wings and
juicy bees polish their stripes, the
world is different.

By shadows of the moon, I fall from bed and
brush nighttime off my face. With the
patience of molasses, roll down the stairs.
Grimace, just a little, when the last step, its
broken wood scuffed from miles of footsteps,
screams in vain, The first sound
I hear every day.

And then, my mechanical morning.
The plink of the letters, the plunk of the space,
the clickety-clack of the return key. Slowly, like
tides kissing the sands, a swish of the washer and
steady cascade of drowned clothes. The faint
hum and buzz of the television set somewhere
behind mumbles of the percolator. A spring from the
toaster vibrates the kitchen counter, like a
mini-earthquake dancing across the backs of my hands.

The moon hides behind my rising fire. As long yellow
rays begin to sprinkle the dust and hug the walls, a
plinking begins. Pinkie fingers tiptoe across a piano’s
bones. A crescendo that hums the most colorful noise
across my Saturday morning.

Honorable Mention, Grades 10-12


by Abigail
Grade 11, Courthland High School

Brighter than black
Darker than death
Save for the tinge of light
timid in the corner,
face turned away:
a frightened animal

A dark so wholly encompassing
it isn’t there at all

Among the dancing daffodils
and rosy ring around the posies,
crunch the swaying grasses
of the unkempt mind:
the pinnacle of nonexistence.
Fluid as oil,
it sticks to everything in its path

They link hands and dance
with the ashes, ashes
floating from the sky
serenely like so many
little feathers
of flightless birds,
merry on their way

Snowflakes drift
in the sweet inferno
of a velvet lined void

Don’t cry meaningless tears:
Those who don’t remember
never forget.
This moment we all fall down.
Eyes open against their wishes.
Squinting in the dawn
of the dying day.

The Playground

by Shelby
Grade 11, Colonial Forge High School

It’s where we first learn what freedom tastes like
and how the cold, dense sandbox can bury
your legs and corduroy dress,

And how the grass stains marring skinny knees
are the markers of a well-fought battle
against the amber mulch and gravity.

Where we learn the unspoken protocol,
the intuitive impulse of chasing—
and of being chased.

And the way jackets feel like fluttering capes
and how easily we memorize the inside grooves
of the rubbery tire swings.

It’s here that we learn how smooth the sun
is as we gulp it down, as we’re growing plump
in the afternoon’s rolling warmth,

And how soft it falls on our faces when we rest
a moment under the scattered shade of trees,
studying the swirling motes of pollen.

Here, we’ll learn the limits of the swings,
and how we’ll always close our eyes,
hoping to fly off.


by Shelby
Grade 11, Colonial Forge High School

I wonder what angel, 
spread thin through this air
was blamed for spilling
this morning’s paint—
the color of salt in a flame. 
Brilliant orange light
is his signature 
on this slate-grey dawn. 
His punishment, I think, 
is the wind. 

The homeless man I pass
was talking in some shouts
and grimy mumbles
obscured by the elements, 
his mind, perhaps. 
But if I wasn’t afraid, 
I’d meet him. I hope 
I’d shake his rough hand
and I hope he’d tell me
what God’s told him lately.

We’re sharing this same sky—
the man, the angel, 
and my own quiet tire 
treads on the warm asphalt. 
Perhaps we’re all trying
to find our way to breathe 
under the weight of the icy sky,
between the contrails of jets—
to find our way to fill the silence 
of the rising stars this morning.

First Place, Grades 7-9

Broken-Hearted Girl

by Diamond
Grade 7, Walker Grant Middle School

Shredded heart
Warm and cold
Broken and fixed
Why’d we have to go through this?

I am the fist you hit her with
I am the hurtful words you said to her
I am the tear that dropped from her eye
I am the crying she did all the time.


I am the love she once had for you.
All broken and misused
Treated wrong and beaten
All the moments we had were ending
Just that fast.


Second Place, Grades 7-9

i rise

by Tamia
Grade 8, Gayle Middle School

i rise
i rise even thought i am
scared to be myself

i rise in spite those people
who have lied to my eyes
i rise

i rise to show what i can
be and what i can accomlish
i rise
i rise even though i dont
know what is going to
i rise

i have been hurt,scared
and abused
i rise

Third Place, Grades 7-9

at my house is at a zoo

by Alexcia
Grade 7, Walker Grant Middle School

My baby brother is a monkey!
! He loves bananas as a snack.
No pants on
But wears a cap.

My aunt is a lost alligator.
So mean,
So snappy
A matter of fact, she makes us feel crappy.

My big brother is a donkey.
Rude and gross
He stinks so bad I lose my appetite for toast

My two baby cousins are little grumpy trolls.
They’re so mean to everybody.
But why??
Who knows???

Last but not least
Are two mean beasts.
My mom and my dad,
The zookeepers of peace.

They lock us up
At 9:00pm on the dot.
To bed they rush us
Tick tock! Tick tock!

Honorable Mention, Grades 7-9

DAD Time

by Dominique
Grade 7, Walker Grant Middle School

You’re a dragon

I’m your rabbit.

Was a habit.

Now there is a hole
you used to fill
Now you can’t even fit
I’m not even sure I want you here

As I sit here wondering
What do you even want from me this year?
My tears turn into a stream
I close my eyes
and dream of you

Alone at School

by Nadia
Grade 7, Walker Grant Middle School

 ‘’Look at her ears,
And her hair smells too.’’
It’s the same thing I hear
Every day, they even talk
About my shoes.
I wish I was invisible,
Or didn’t have to come to school.
The kids are so mean,
And can be very cruel.
Sometimes I hide
In the locker room all day.
No one ever notices,
That I’ve even been away.
I wish they would know
That I am just like them.
Maybe not as rich or pretty,
I just want to be their friend.

Check Your Attitude

by Zionna
Grade 7, Walker Grant Middle School

Check Your Attitude
Why do people have to be so rude?
They be having the worst attitude.
Mean muggin’, eye rollin’,
Trouble makin’ and heart breakin’
Just because you are mad,
Don’t mean you can make other people sad.
You make them cry,
They are humans just like you and I.
Don’t be such a bummer,
Because karma can come at you next summer.