“BEST OF ISSUE” WINNER
The Medicinal Properties of Sunflower Seeds
Prescriptions line my hamster cages.
Reeking of mass-produced ink and urine,
They run on hairless tinted feet.
Stamping repetition on running wheels,
Ink looks like oil, but my hamsters still squeak-
Speaking complaints while stepping nowhere new.
When stained paws force paths to succumb to night,
The lining is changed and up to date.
Chewing on M.D. signature strips,
Their hands are held out in front like prayer,
Tongues become stained with blue-black ink,
And words are formed when they lick their fur.
Staring through their little bars,
Was my way of refining proof reading skills.
But when they groom themselves into lumps of coal,
The prescriptions are changed and plentiful,
Separated into multiple cages,
Slipped through multi-coloured bars.
I leave the house to buy a new hamster,
To make use of the prescriptions I tend to bring home.
Mika Thomas, NJ, Bergen County Academies
EDITOR'S CHOICE WINNER
I yearn for the half forgotten lavender days,
when our hearts were only as heavy
as the lace of a honey bee's wing -
when we would press fallen petals to our quivering eyelids
and stare out
through the impossible center of chrysanthemums
so everything looked lovely.
But of course it did not take long for our flowers to wilt.
Like orange peels, our eyelashes fell from our fingers,
carried on a breath of a wish -
but keep in mind,
even dandelions are unwanted wildflowers.
I want nothing more than to forget the way your name tasted like tangerines,
like the blood oranges and sweet limes we sucked between our teeth,
while standing at the kitchen sink in the heat of that vivid afternoon.
I will never understand the perishable nature of memory -
that can spoil as those same fruits -
whose juices we let roll down our chins and stain our hearts.
Sophie Myles, PA, George School
"BEST OF ISSUE" NOMINEES
how stars form - Kasey Arnold, NJ, Raritan High School
All Hoping Animal - Brianna Breaux, LA, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
Tomorrow and Today - Dhruv Puri, TX, The Liberal Arts and Science Academy
ALL OTHER CERTIFIED NATIONAL WINNERS
Ave - Hilliary M. Miller, IL Hoffman Estates High School
Heaving Sighs of a Reckless Mind - Elizabeth Tsaltskan, NJ, Marlboro High School
What is Real - Jenna Pimentel, AZ, Mesquite High School
Stone Poem - Leila Selchaif, NY, Bard High School Early College
For Bukowski - Jacqueline Lucente, VA, Appomattox Regional Governor's School for the Arts and Technology
Carcinoma - Talin Tahajian, MA, Belmont High School
The Zero Gravity Blues - Shivani Singh, WI, University School of Milwaukee
Do Wishes Die? - Kaitlyn Murphy, IA, Abraham Lincoln HS
An Ode to Humanity - Nadia John, WI, Sheboygan High School
Appalachian Son - Maxwell Granitz, MI, Walled Lake Central HS
heartsunken - Nicolette D'Angelo, NJ, West Milford High School
Finger-painting in a Room Impervious to Light - Safwan Khatib, IN, North Central High School
the water and my bones - Rebecca M. Goforth, VA, Home-schooled
House of Firsts - Bailey Lawrence, FL, Wesley Chapel High School