First Place, Grades 10-12
the filling-space by William, Grade 12, North Stafford High
somewhere between orion and his arm is a hole of dark wider than years of light and heavier than clouds fat with dreams of snow there is a feeling lost in that irregular void of not absence but memory (if only there was some way to perfectly recall) of love’s sweet touch on your leg or promises mouthed across rooms because your headphones are thick or knowing that you will be happy hope is the thing that wings its way into the holes in a heart bigger than the whole sky (how you looked that night under the velvet veil of starlight falling around you) and comes bursting forth in times when that very same sky promises to fall on your head to fill you with the sort of purpose found only in books that you haven’t read because you like the smell of springtime (because I can’t remember) there must be something around us swaddling our being with fibers woven of experience and dark matter which actually makes up most of the universe so maybe if we dig deep enough in our lives we will find something invisible and unyielding (but it doesn’t matter) like the spaces between words better left unsaid or dreams and what actually happens in a rather arbitrary cycle of existence under the space between orion and his arm which isn’t actually empty at all but full of light (because I can imagine it)
Second Place, Grades 10-12
The Secret Life of Bees by Shelby, Grade 12, Colonial Forge High
Honey seeps down the wall—dark oak
thicker than the amber mass
now sluicing into cracks and seams
and under the door, where light and glass
are trapped in the golden ruin
of the mason jar.
I feel the way the young girl sobs,
I know the way the honey pulls down
on skin and wood alike, inviting
us on their downward pilgrimage.
Her tears roll down slow and warm,
like it’s honey leaking from her
more than salt and breath,
and I feel the sticking sweetness
of her loneliness.
Third Place, Grades 10-12
To My Mother: Two Years Late by Caitlin, Grade 11, Stafford Senior High
You think of her as you look in the mirror
and try to fix her curls you suddenly inherited.
When you kiss a boy for the first time
and you wonder if she'd approve.
Hearing a song she used to sing
as you scan the radio.
Remembering promises you made
before you fall back four years.
Shes in every exhale of smoke
and every cloud of hairspray.
Honorable Mentions, Grades 10-12
I Am From-- by Madison, Grade 11, North Stafford High
I am from pre- bought pies,
Grilled cheese with no crust,
And late night chocolate milk.
I am from fields of blue,
Tractor supply stores,
Strategically placed rocks,
Gravel with a speed limit,
And easter eggs on the wall.
I am from strong, close- knit,
Last minute Christmas traditions,
Pretending to always be right,
Second chances create a family,
I am from Roman Catholics and rule followers,
Heidelberg and Philippines,
Dinner out of cans,
And sleeping on the stairs.
I am from the Heart of Dixie,
Moved to the suburbs of Stafford,
From two plus one,
I am from small towns in Ohio to New York City,
Lovers of bologna,
I am from wooden head wounds and diving board accidents,
The Heaney wave and late night swims,
Chunky mashed potatoes, and falling up the stairs-
Smiles, car dancing, corniches, family pong.
Sonnet Duet by Sarah, Grade 12, Stafford Senior High
I was a camel once.
I had 4 legs 4 arms 2 heads
and 4 black-brown braids
with twin brains, twisted like twine.
I only have one face
duplicated like a handsome mirror,
even hidden under the blanket
that created the camel hump.
I would play the day away, and game
into the night, until falling into one bed,
to rest both heads, to sleep until light --
under the blanket that made 2 into a camel.
We used to be a camel once, together always
and now we are two humans, grown apart.
Born to Be by Bridgitte, Grade 11, Fredericksburg Christian High School
The florist said you need roses-
cliché and bland,
prim and proper.
I say you need sunflowers-
Queen Anne's Lace
And every wild thing.
First Place, Grades 7-9
Catching Lightning by Julia, Grade 7, Holy Cross Academy
Storm coming in the night
Clouds swelling, diminishing light
Metal staffs pierce the ground
Then you hear a rumbling sound
Waves washing with whistling wind
Purple skies start to spin
Flashes bright as the sun
As quickly as it came it’s gone
Striking the poles rapidly
Fire in sand unable to break free
As the storm is seizing
Once the rain has finally gone
Harvest the glass just past dawn
Treasures from the ground tapped
The lightning trapped
Second Place, Grades 7-9
My Life in Metaphors by Macy, Grade 7, Walker Grant Middle
I am the silence of my heart
I am the quickness to judge
I am the happiness of writting in my journal
I am the color of red
I am the the sadness of my sister leaving me
I am the music of keeping somethings to myself
I am the strength of never ending love
I am the taste of fake happiness
I am the whisper of missing my sister
I am the sweetness of myself
I am the curtains of my feelings
I am thre calm of my mind
I am the size of how much I love you
I am the yellow of black
I am the teeth of nothing
I am the sound of a still beating heart
I am the stillnes of silence
I am the anger of not being able to understand
Third Place, Grades 7-9
Ode to Six Stringed by Grace, Grade 7, Holy Cross Academy
Plucking along, you hum, Cheerfully calling about
Or you whisper, not disturb, or simply to express the silence
You can scream, exhaling frustration into a single maddened strike, wailing until it fades.
And again. And again. The sensation, aligning to a perfect sound, strings under your fingertips:
Elation. Striking a single strum sweetly feels like no other.
The guitar, pleased with its powers, knows its importance.
Maybe too sudden and strong, or maybe just right.
Are you a song? Or are you an idea, soon to be forgotten?
Which is evidently the worst.
Could have been amazing, a spectacular hit, but left to nothing
But all things great have a price
The sores on your fingers might raise question.
Honorable Mentions, Grades 7-9
ME by Kimberly, Grade 9, Chancellor High
I am a pebble
In a sea of octagons
I am smooth and unique
Surrounded by harsh corners
Who wish to grate away my personality
Mirage by Melanie, Grade 8, Freedom Middle
There is a small pond that sleeps in the desert
It dreams of being an oasis
Its surface is still and smooth, but underneath there is a current
It is seen by all, yet found by none
It has no friends or foes
Its only company is Moonlight as she dips her toes
Dwarfed by Dylan, Grade 9, Fredericksburg Academy
The void things dwarfed us
We could not so much scrabble about in their environment
Made of grace and silence
They were formless protean things
Incomprehensibly alien to us
And we to them
We in laughable comparison
Monkeys down from branches
Humanity was just taking a child’s first steps
Drifting through darkness
We will dwarf them