Poetry without Paper 2020

poetry without paper

2020 Contest Winners

Middle School


First Place, Middle School

Josephine West

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

“Hymns and Handstands”

Pencil rests behind his ear,

critical eye judges:

bones, sticks, clouds

littered across pages.

A purring motor drones from a cocoon of blankets,

Queen Clementine ruling her kingdom,

a stationary monarch.

Seagulls screech outside-

she flies, a blurry orange streak.

Cat thunders downstairs

to a graceful gymnast,

legs suspended in air, until-


She falls, a heap of limbs.

Joining joyful ruckus,

my fingers slide up and down frets,

plucking notes that drift

into the magic kitchen.

Sweet-smelling slightly charred carrots,

creamy feta, crunchy-smooth walnuts topped

with spring-smelling sprigs of dill

prompt a chorus of growls from our stomachs.

Chord sheets pepper the island,

strums and stirs synchronized,

handstand percussion

drumming out the beat.

Artist descends, stairs creaking.

We gather.

Chef hollers orders,

and we oblige

with minimal grumbling.

Prettily presented veggies blanket table.

We sit, our hands linked.

Meows accompany our grateful refrain,

and at last, we feast.


Second Place, Middle School

Lyall Cunningham

O’Maley Innovation Middle School


On the rock I sit

to think,

to contemplate

my actions

thus far into life.

My hair in the wind,

I am all but still.

The cool breeze in my face,

my thoughts swirl.

These drafts of thought

are more wild

than my hair

in the wind.


Third Place, Middle School

Talia Higgins

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

“The Weeping Willow”

The wind sings a sorrowful song
She stands weeping
Her hair sweeps across her face
She sways to the sound of wind

She hears a familiar melody
The color returns to her face
Her friends have arrived
They have been away for so long

A robin lands on her shoulder
Singing the tune of spring
Cheer up, it whistles
Cheer up


Honorable Mention

Natalie Sheedy

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

“Dream State”

Drifting to another world,

Hoping it’s permanent, knowing it’s not.

The night is yours to wish away.

The moon and stars looking down upon you.

Inner darkness finally melts away leaving true happiness.

Sometimes startling, dark, but everything happens for a reason as they say.

A distant memory the next day.

Sad when that time, state, turns into the best part of your day.

Dreaming, the most desperate wish for hope.

Night turns to day, once again we wait to feel fully free.


High School


First Place, High School

Willa Brosnihan


Finger depress the tongue-latch of the door,
trigger her gag reflex and slide,
leaving open, hoping no other feels the draft and closes,
out, across the parking lot,
too quick a trip for a coat, arms crossed and nose up,
smelling ice, smoke from the kitchen,
the plain reverse of Main Street lit in orange.
The flashlight, click the button three times,
it must be convinced. Open
the cathedral mouth of the shipping container and shine in
the light, look for hiders, girl snatchers,
find none.
Enter like Pinocchio, unhumble, biblical,
into the whale. Tickle her insides for replacements,
for the things used up. It is supremely quiet.
It is cold. Run back across the parking lot now,
be re-swallowed like a lover after betrayal,
forgiven, and stack,
what you’ve gathered
where it’s easy to find. Watch Fransisco, Frankie,
sorting silverware. The clatter.
You are among people. Outside
you’d been like rhythm,
unfelt but shaking
the air which was the everything.


Second Place, High School

Autumn-Marie Silva

“Lucky Feet”


Third Place, High School

Calhoun Dyer

“Snowy Owl”

To loft freely above the highest bough

With wings of fluffy down

Softening any sounds

Unknown, unfound

A greater freedom than man can know

Borne aloft on feathers of snow


Honorable Mention

Mila Barry


Honorable Mention

Katrina Machetta


The sound of the unfamiliar language.

The smell of pasta and fish in the market.

The sight of old photographs with people

we never talk about anymore.

The place I call home


Never put as my permanent address.

The brokenness we never talk about is why I keep coming.

The yesterday that no one remembers

formed the today that people always talk about.

I love every flaw because that is when I realized what beautiful really means.

I want to show you my gratitude but money can’t buy a thank you or I love you.

We could talk today,

but I don’t want to get stuck on our yesterday.

Just open your arms-

because tomorrow I will be home.


Honorable Mention

Sarah Nealon

Artwork by Calla Rose Zerilli, Grade 3

Poetry Without Paper 2019


Sponsored by the Lyceum Committee of the Sawyer Free Library


Elementary School

First Place   

Lyall Cunningham    Plum Cove School    Grade 5    “Trees”                      

Second Place 

Alexandra Morgan   West Parish School    Grade 5   “Something Changes”

Third Place    Judah Collins    Plum Cove School    Grade 2    “Golden Rays”            

Honorable Mention    Elizabeth Comfort Mu   Veteran’s Memorial School    Grade 4    “Victory

Middle School

First Place    Elijah Sarrouf    O’Maley Innovation Middle School    Grade 8    “Old Town”

Second Place   Josephine West    O’Maley Innovation Middle School    Grade 6    “The Market”

Third Place    Aurelia Harrison    O’Maley Innovation Middle School    Grade 7    “Words”

Honorable Mention    Hannah Olson    O’Maley Innovation Middle School    Grade 6    “Living Symphony”

Honorable Mention    Yashvi Patel    O’Maley Innovation Middle School    Grade 7   

“A Ruler”

Honorable Mention    Chandra Lavery    O’Maley Innovation Middle School    Grade 8    “1,2,3”

Honorable Mention    Callahan White    O’Maley Innovation Middle School    Grade 7   

“Where I’m From (What I’m From)”

High School

First Place    Autumn-Marie Silva    Gloucester High School    Grade 10    “Star-cross’d Lovers”

Second Place    Willa Brosnihan    Homeschooled    Grade 10    “To the Painter and the Repeating Woman”

Third Place   Mila Barry    Gloucester High School    Grade 10    “Honey in the Sky”


Elementary School

First Place

Lyall Cunningham



If they could talk,
Then I wonder
What would they say?

Would they tell us about the stones,
For example,
About their smooth plain surfaces sometimes covered in splotches
Of different colors?
About how they were created thousands of years ago, or
In some cases just recently?
By a volcano,
For example?

And how they affect everyone’s lives,
Our ancestors’ lives?
But they can’t, so I just tell them about the world
Beyond, where they came to stand for all of these years until now.
I wish that I could ask them about the world
So many years ago,
But they cannot answer.


Second Place

Alexandra Morgan

West Parish School
Grade 5


Something Changes

I watch and wait,

Sit and stare,
Smile and rage,
Laugh and cry,

Nothing changes.

I sleep and wake each morning,
I dance and play each day,
I sketch then paint,
I bake then eat,

Then sleep and wake again.

Still, nothing changes.

A gift from the heavens floats into my waiting.
It disrupts my watching,
Disturbs my staring,
Interrupts my raging,
Distracts my crying,
And I think about not waiting.

Will something change?

He starts smiling,
He starts playing,
He starts laughing,

He starts changing

He is different than before.
He is not hiding like before,
He is not shying out like before,
He is more happy than before

I start playing and smiling more,
I start sketching and then painting more,
I start baking then eating more.
We all play and smile.
I have changed,
She has changed,
He has changed,

Something has changed.


Third Place

Judah Collins

Plum Cove School

Grade 2


Golden Rays

When the moon shimmers and the stars twinkle,

The precious moonlight shines above the earth.
Sweet birds sing their precious songs
Scaring away the dark.
The pirates look for their buried treasure,
When the golden rays of sunlight bring a new blue day.


Honorable Mention

Elizabeth Comfort

Grade 4

Veterans’ Memorial School



She skipped, she hopped,

She jumped up and down,

She knew she had to calm down.

She said to herself

I can beat anyone in a race!

She saw someone staring at her.

Who could that be?

The boy meanly said, “You wanna race?”

“Well, can you beat me?”

“Of course I can, girl.”

“Oh no, you can’t; I trust in myself, me, Jiana,

But I wish you good luck.”

“Oh Jiana, you’re definitely losing.

I raced every girl on earth, and none have won,

“So what’s up with you?”

They raced an..,,d raced and raced and raced.

The boy went faster, but Jiana wouldn’t give up.


The boy looked behind and saw nothing but grass.


Middle School

First Place

Elijah Sarrouf

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 8


Old Town

Great stone walls

surround the metropolis

of ancient times,

encompassing a limestone mountain range,

Its gray piers
jutting into the rich ambrosial sea
of impossibly clear turquoise.
Smelling of ancient innovation
and tasting of candied orange rinds.

The city’s dark alleys lead into

the maze of old houses,

meandering endlessly through secret markets,

restaurants beckoning weary travelers,

“Come eat here “Molim!”

Cafes wafting fragrances of

burek and opulent teas.

Prosperous palaces perched precariously

on slopes that climb high over the city

like a wave about to crash.

Chapels lined with statues

foretell of archaic religions

and mysterious gods.


A massive clocktower spire

rises above the

orange-tiled roofs

and calls boastfully of its knowledge.

Yet with all the history

of unresolved wars,

cruel battles,

and forgotten warriors,

in all the commotion

of seaport revolution,

this is a quaint, loved town

that stands still

as the world moves on.

The town is a painted town,

lasting only in fond memories.


Second Place

Josephine West
O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 6


The Market
Orvieto, Italy Summer of 2018

Saturday morning, Market day!
Majestic stone walls stand,
enveloping Orvieto, tiny town
atop a hill.

Traveling up the Corso,
the cobblestones uneven under our sandals,
sweet-smelling jasmine climbs its way along the
dozens of intricate doorways.

The market stretches out before us,
scarves and purses blowing in the wind,
a tent city rising up from the Piazza del Popolo,
vendors calling, “Buongiorno, bellissima!”
and “Chao! Chao! Chao!”

The candied fruit stand.
rows of brightly colored fruits:
sweetly sugared strawberries,
slightly tangy apricots.
“Nocciole tostate, per favore e grazie.”

The cheese truck.
through the glass:
giant wheels of red-rind parmigiano,
jagged hunks of salty pecorino.
“Mozzarella di bufala, per favore e grazie.”

Crates piled high with
nectarines, white peaches, plums, lemons, cherries,
tomatoes, zucchini blossoms, carrots, and eggplant.
“Tutto, per favore e grazie.”


Back to the Corso, towards home.
Scent of buttery croissants beckons us
to make one last stop: Montanucci’s!
Cool silver tins carry thick clouds of gelato.
“Uno cono piccolo, limone e fragola, per favore.”
Sharp and sweet.


Third Place
Aurelia Harrison
O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7


I am from words:
My escape
My passion
My first love.
I am from language:
Sentences weaving together
In an intricate web.
I am from stories,
My dearest friends
Stored in yellowed pages.
I am from conversation,
Banter and wit as sharp as needles,
Honesty and lies
Compassion and coldness.
I am from words
I was raised by them
Hurt by them
Loved by them
And I will die with them..


Honorable Mention

Hannah Olson

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 6


Living Symphony

The world is a symphony;
Everything has its part.

Conducted by a power above,
The earth begins its song.

The ground pulses with life,
Rhythms of order
Consistent and strong
Like a steady beat coming deep
From the percussion section

The storms are cymbals

Loud and clear
Shaking everything in sight

Beautiful plants in all shades of green
Cushion all parts of life
And guide everything along
Like the strings pushing on a song

The woodwinds hold the melody to each oncoming move,
Animals like woodwinds
Give life to land and home,
A melody of family
That lasts throughout the song.

We, the humans, are the brass;
When used right are beautiful,
When messed up shake the entire song.

If we respect each other
And help each along,
Who knows how long the symphony will go on?


Honorable Mention

Yashvi Patel

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7


A Ruler

It lies where our sun awakes
In the moonlight
Under a blanket of stars,
A symbol of history.

Arched gatehouse to welcome,
Vile dungeons to punish,
A haunting feeling,
Crawling up nerves
As each step is taken forward.

Vacant and spacious rooms
Where his highness
Once roamed
Between medieval walls,
His presence is left

Gold patterns along paintings
Ornate chandeliers swinging above
Halls like tangled maze
Same sunlight from open windows..

Antique red carpet
Leading to the sacred throne
Where a voice used to command

Wonder why sacred the throne is called.

Get ready to have it slide.
There lies a wooden door
To cover his grave
Where he lies — a ruler.


Honorable Mention

Chandra Lavery

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 8



I. Revelation:

If I close my eyes
I can almost see it,
a fertile land
with welcoming whispers.
that is enough.

II. Reconciliation:

If I clench my toes
I can almost revisit it.
Our scarred hands will touch.

that is okay.


III. Intervention:

If I think about it
my mind will run too far.
I do not want to be exhausted anymore.


IV. Rebuttal:

If I let go
will I go slack?
that is something I do not want to know


Honorable Mention

Callahan White

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7


Where I’m From (What I’m From)

Many ask where I’m from.
They assume
The question is what I’m from.
That’s what I’ll tell you.

My eyes are from the deep ocean blue
Whose lonely calls rock me to sleep.
My bones are from those before me,
Hair the sand I roam.

My skin the smooth mountain slopes
I visit and wish to call home.

My breath the wind in my hair
As I bike down a hill,
My blood the fire in the blazing hearth
Staving off the winter’s chill.
My limbs are the branches from
A tree I climb;
My feet and hands are sturdy roots

Though I am a person,
A flesh and blood mortal.
I see myself as a traveler

Roaming through portals.

I am what I make myself —
A dragon, ogre, or elf.
For that is who I am.
I am constantly changing
Like an unfinished piece of art
Waiting on a shelf.


High School

 First Place

Autumn-Marie Silva

Gloucester High School

Grade 10


Star-Cross’d Lovers


O’ Fate!
Cruel, vexatious Fate!
Thy threads of barbéd wire
String us together
Like gnats to a spider’s web.

O’ Love,
Sickly sweet
Dripping down my throat
From a golden goblet
Its rim dipped in sugary poison
Burns mine lips
But still I sip again.

And when the goblet is emptied
What do I find
But a spider?
Nay, not a spider, but its web.

Fingers down my throat
I wretch up this silvery twine,
But too late I see,
For the blood that follows
Stains my milky fingers,
Saints’ palms.

Too quickly did I gulp this intoxicating elixir,
But would the spider not have lain in wait
No matter how slowly I sipped?

Was this some consequence
Yet hanging in the stars
That I was too blind to see?

More importantly,
Would seeing this consequence
Have done a thing to stop my thirsty lips
From suckling thy poisoned breast
O’ Aphrodite!


Second Place

Willa Brosnihan


Grade 10


To the Painter and the Repeating Woman

That which in winter
we call melancholy
in spring is loving.
I give it to everything.

See the peaceful fat of the sky,
and behind it
something that can make the clear ocean hold a feeling.
If I was braver and stupider
I would put it in a black-lidded jar
for my father,
that thick pigment
light as royal gossamer,
so big that the immorality of my bottling would worry only me,
captor too tentative
to encapture the scene.

See how the one pencil unruined has a string tied to its end
for the cat.
Put it there after he pulled down the tie
which held everything and the bathrobe together.
I gave him a skinny snake to kill.

Desperate, clean,
I am so sad today
that my body takes maintenance.
Couldn’t I be,
instead, like something which comes from a bulb?
Do all my work in the winter? So —

See me like I am a tulip,
always about to die.
Make me a relativist, set me free, close me,
tell me,
“There is no salt, no sugar, no snow,”
tell me,
“The beauty of each belongs to the other.”
tell me, and I will believe you,
“These extremes are so easily ripped open.”

I am so happy today because my life is barely my own and just goes on around me.
I cannot claim the fog or how it informs me.
The hunter in my house,
when he disarmed me,
was braver and stupider than I could be,
in his

See how it all tastes,
Uncurated, mixed together?
See how I am growing patient even though this humanness interrupts
my loving and its opposite?
See how kind I am with the cat?
See me owing things to colors.
Tell me,
“You are so fragile,
within seasons.”

That way
I will know when I have taken myself too far.


Third Place

Mila Barry

Gloucester High School

Grade 10


Honey in the Sky

The sun split sky at dawn today —
some angry altercation sent this soaring crack
to sever stratosphere.
Up there the air was cold and sharp, but
honey leaked
from some far-off place
in outer space,
and fell so slow
to hit the early faces of May buttercups,
and splash upon the asphalt,
in sticky puddles,
sluggish, sweet,
invite the bumblebees
and the blue-sing birds,
and people — oh so many people! —

with those all too eager fingers
for familiar comfort in that stagnant pond.


Poetry Without Paper Award Winning Poems 2018

Poetry Without Paper 2018


     These brief essays over the past several years of Poetry Without Paper have focused largely on the various ways in which poetry can be defined. Some definitions, like the one you might find in the latest on-line dictionary, attempt to be objective and literal, but most, especially those by poets themselves, have been quirky and fanciful, as if to capture the essence of poetry simply by illustrating it. When the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas said,

     Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone and not alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own,

                            he was doing just that, in a fiercely authentic, passionate way.

     This year, for the first time in my memory, we have a prize-winning poem that attempts to define poetry in poetry.  As you hear Seth Grover read his poem “Word Entanglement,” or later, at your leisure, read it over again, or even a third time, try to discover how much of the distinctive nature of poetry has been caught and preserved in this work of a talented eighth grader.

     We hope you will enjoy our ceremony this evening, as well as the chance to savor these efforts by an impressive group of student poets.


                                                                                                              Richard Sloane

                                                                                                              PWP Judge






Elementary School


First Place   Josie West   West Parish School  Grade 5  “They Called Her Moses”

Second Place    Hannah Olson   Beeman Elementary School  Grade 5 “Blossom”

Third Place     Alexis Thomas   East Gloucester School  Grade 5 “The Big Trip”

Honorable Mention   Gabriella McKearney   Plum Cove Elementary School   Grade 1 

               “The Good Place”

Honorable Mention   Beatrix Brosnihan   West Parish School   Grade 5   “Story”

Honorable Mention    Evelyn Porter   East Gloucester School   Grade 5   “Boat on the Ocean”


Middle School


First Place   Elijah Sarrouf   O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 7  “Back Then”

Second Place   Chandra Lavery   O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 7  “Evanescence”

Third Place   Seth Grover   O’Maley Innovation Middle School  Grade 8  “Word Entanglement”

Honorable Mention   Clara Del Vecchio   O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 7

            “The Scent of Jasmine”

Honorable Mention Sean Bergin  O’Maley Innovation Middle School  Grade 7   “Freedom”

Honorable Mention  Gabriella Amaral   O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 8

            “Little Star”

Honorable Mention   Willow Barry  O’Maley Innovation Middle School   Grade 6

           “Painted World”


High School


First Place   Willa Brosnihan   Gloucester High School   Grade 9   “Café Lameiros

Second Place    Erik Waxdal   Waring School   Grade 12   “Graveyard Shift” 

Third Place   Katherine Bevins   Gloucester High School   Grade 10

           “Photosynthesis of a Relationship”

Honorable Mention   Mila Barry   Gloucester High School   Grade 9  “Another Birthday”

Honorable Mention   Sophia Palumbo   Waring School   Grade 11   “Recess”

Honorable Mention   Joscelyn Shulman   Rockport High School   Grade 12 

         “Visions of Gideon”


Elementary School


First Place

Josie West

West Parish Elementary School

Grade 5

They Called her Moses

(Harriet Tubman: 1820-1913)

Small girl, age seven
Rough linen shirt over black body
Deep sober eyes, scared.
Clip clop, clip clop. Being sold.

For twenty-three years 
Scars crisscross her back 
She watches sisters, brothers sold off,
Fearful it will be her next.

Following the night,
Slips of paper guide her 
To strangers’ houses.
Stop by stop
She finds her way to freedom.

Free…but can’t rest;
She dreams dreams, receives 
Visions — answers to prayers, 
Answers showing her 
The way to protecting her people.

She slinks through the underbrush 
She glides along the ground
Knock, knock. Secret password: A friend of friends
Inside: Food. Hope. Light.


Ten years
Nineteen trips 
Three hundred slaves
Not one passenger lost!


Second Place


Hannah Olson

Beeman Elementary School

Grade 5



Blushing with color 
Lush flowers fill the fragrant meadow 
Opening to feel the sun’s sweet rays 
Showing the world their beautiful colors,
Stars on the earth: 
Orchids, Dandelions, and Buttercups 
Many bees come to visit, humming gentle tunes


Third Place


Alexis Thomas

East Gloucester Elementary School

Grade 5


The Big Trip

I’m on a trip; here’s what I would take…
Amazing antelopes writing down their troubles
Bunches of baboons all blowing bubbles 
Christmas trees and lightbulbs (extras couldn’t hurt)
Dogs in different color skirts
Elephants eating my brand new shirts
Fudgsicles, that taste like no other,
Grape juice for my baby brother
Helicopter propellers (real ones, nonetheless)
I could bring my makeup to look the best.
Just a few more things that I’ll bring:
Kangaroos playing with a piece of string
Little ballerinas, in perfect rows,
Minnows with pink polka-dotted bows
New pair of pants that are blue
Octopi with charm bracelets too!
Penguins with suits all waddle to and fro
Queen bees in fake trees with a ball to throw
Rusted old screws with a sharp winding edge
Screens from windows that dropped into a hedge
Twisted Twizzlers for snacking on
Umbrellas when dreary weather goes on
Very old men that are all named Don
Wind pants for when it gets cold
Xylophones to make my entrance bold
Yodelers with bagpipes in hand
Zeke came with the marching band!
And within in all of that hustle and bustle, all of that is just in my


Honorable Mention


Gabriella McKearney

Plum Cove Elementary School

Grade 1


The Good Place


There is a place I know along the beach beside a tree.
I know a spot too.
I know a quiet place here.  
I know a loud place there.
I know a perfect place at home.
There is a good place at a rock.
I know a place greater than the beach.
I know a happy place too.
I know the rest of the places.
I love you places!


Honorable Mention


Beatrix Brosnihan

West Parish Elementary School

Grade 5



Pick up a pencil
And travel far away
To a place where people are welcome.

Choose your own story
Choose your own fate
To a place where paper and pencil meet.


Honorable Mention


Evelyn Porter

East Gloucester Elementary School

Grade 5


Boat on the Ocean

I shall float,
For I am a boat.
All of the fish,
when I come wish,
I come for pleasure.
Not for riches of treasure.
For that is what my sailors get,
when they sell all of the caught fish yet.
With the gulls, my sailors thrive,
As we fish the foaming brine.
The captain shouts his orders,
Straight from his quarters. 
The waves are really thrashing,
Leaving me to go crashing.
In the sea with no one to know but me.


Middle School


First Place


Elijah Sarrouf

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7


Back Then

Back then, when the flowers bloomed
So bright and beautiful,
When the bees would chant
In buzzing tones and collect and pollinate,
We were so scared the bees would sting.
But that was all back then.

Back then we basked in summer sun
And hid between the rocks
Built in the mud castles of miniature, 
Then cool off in the blanket of turquoise. 
We would go on a walk and or run and climb away.
But that was all back then.

Back then, the leaves would jump off the trees
And fall to the ground in vibrant reds and yellows. 
The wind would carry them, all the while assuring you,
“Let us take you with us.”
Can you hear them, do you listen?
But that was all back then. 

Back then, the winter snow would glow
So bright, so beautiful. 
You put on the mittens, the hats, the boots, 
And jump right in the veil of white.
We would skate across the frozen ice.
But that was all back then.  

I remember those days,
Back then, back then.
I remember the flowers blooming
And the summer sun
And the wind come to take us away.
I remember the snow, 
But I have a question: Do you remember,
Do you recall, what we did back then? 


Second Place

Chandra Lavery

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7



I walk the small path I have found,
Has my stay been too long?
The ground under my feet tells me that I am unwelcome.

My hands are tied tightly,
The skin of my wrists raw.
They ache for satisfaction,
The feeling of bliss.

Barely in reach,
There is a library of open-ended questions,
With answers I cannot understand.

Words rot in my mouth.
They beg to be spoken.
Talons claw at my cheeks.

Blood drips
The poison of me.

The path has vanished;
My visit has come to an end.

My skeleton has crumbled to dust,
The remains blowing away in the breeze.

Invisible monsters laugh and take,
Taking what little I have.

But nothing
Was ever truly mine.


Third Place


Seth Grover

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 8


Word Entanglement

Poetry is like the songs of writing:
Specific types for different themes,
Words too intricate for books
Entwined together in perfectly bonded stanzas.
Certain sounds
Made for each other,
Coinciding to simply sound nice
If used correctly.
You can say a million things
In just one sentence.
Using words to convey meaning —
That is the meaning of poetry.
To sound nice
Or look smart,
But to convey meaning.
Entangling different words together
In a consecutive order,
In an innumerable amount of words,
To say something
You could have said in five.

That is poetry.


Honorable Mention


Clara Del Vecchio

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7


The Scent of Jasmine

I remember the scent of jasmine wafting through my window,
Exaggerated by the hot summer air.
There is nowhere I’d rather be.
That was a paradise, I am aware.

The setting sun, the warm summer nights —
I miss them; that much is true.
The scent of jasmine reached my nostrils
As I stared out at the ocean blue.

The days spent in the sun are gone.
Now there are days filled with cold.
Once upon a time I laughed
While smelling jasmine, the scent so bold.

I suppose that the cold isn’t so bad,
Even though it does bring a sense of sadness,
A sense of missing the scent of jasmine,
But there is a soft side to the blackness.

It’s futile to miss the days I enjoyed,
Because now my mind is barren.
I wish I was still in the sun,
Still smelling the scent of jasmine.


Honorable Mention


Sean Bergin

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 7



Freedom is an amazing thing,
But fictional at best.
We all are locked away,
Trapped within our phones
Our schools
Our jobs
Our life.
We say those behind bars
Are the only ones not free.
Some say death is the way
And tie the knot of the gallows,
For they are the ones who know,
Freedom is a lock within our dreams
One without a key.


Honorable Mention


Gabriella Amaral

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 8


Little Star

Surrounded in a galaxy of darkness,
Only hope being the sun;
Shattered pieces arraying the night sky 
Having a subtle shine.

Being noticeably unnoticed, 
Trying to stand out,
Watching the moon smile down to others,
Witnessing everything around you,
Imagining yourself being better.

Lonelier than a deserted island,
Looking for some company,
Feeling lost in the gigantic solar system, 
Never to be seen in daylight,
Not knowing what happens to the star when the morning sunlight


Honorable Mention


Willow Barry

O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Grade 6


Painted World

In a painted world
the oceans could be made of silk,
and trees could be made of chocolate.

In a painted world
rainbows could be made of flowers,
and clouds could be made of feathers.

In a painted world
fish could be made of sunbeams
and drift about in a lake full of dreams.

In a painted world
emerald grass covered in diamond dewdrops
could quiver in the light of a topaz sun.

In a painted world
stained-glass crabs could scurry over
crystal coral and cardboard flounders.

In a painted world
a night sky full of stars could be 
flakes of snow resting on a black ice lake.

In a painted world
there could be strawberries made of rubies
and peas made of peridots.

In a painted world
rocks could be hard candy,
and balloons could be made of cherries.

In a painted world
paper peonies could quiver
in rain drops made of sapphire.
If the world were painted,
I suppose the pencil I’m using to write this with
could be made of buttercups,
and the of wood of the table could be honey.

All these things are possible for a painted world, 
but one can never be sure, 
for a painted world is different to all people who view it.
But I will imagine a painted world in the ways you see above, 
for I think the world would be better like that.


High School


First Place


Willa Brosnihan

Gloucester High School

Grade 9


Café Lameiros

The four sit at the table,
outside the cafe,
the women perched on the knees of their men,
underwear showing neon through tight pants,
hair loose and dark against their skin.
There is a symmetry to it,
the way the shoulders slump down to the table,
work-worn hands,
brown with sun,
on the lower backs of their women. 
There is such splendor
in the four
at the table,
with their laughter,
the goodness of touch unabashed.
They are the truth
as they sit in the shade,
the hills around them green and dotted with ruins,
the grey-brown skeleton cork trees,
the living drinking coffee and the dead stacked in their graves,
a child giving fresh dirt,
to the worms of her mother.
And here are these women,
perched on the knees of their men, beautiful,
belonging to the countryside,
belonging to the dead and to their children,
and the four at the table —
they look like modern art painted by someone
who changed everything.


Second Place


Erik Waxdal

Waring School

Grade 12


Graveyard Shift


I spade kitchen grease from thin pans, thick glass, 
brittle neon and facsimile chrome,
and the young couple, sanctified in Chardonnay embrace,
wipe hot tears from each other’s cheekbones. 

Projected on the Whiteness ahead, 
too far to grasp,
too near to flee,
a wizened Woody Harrelson
loves his wife a final hour
loads the gun in the parlor
and paints his tulips
a darker shade. 

With each gust of August air,
each gasp from my midnight Audience, 
the tattered curtains writhe, dance,
twitch from the banister
and let the lavender harborlight
lie silent
at my feet.


Third Place


Katherine Bevins

Gloucester High School

Grade 10


Photosynthesis of a Relationship

When she met him
something was different.
He was not like any of the others;
He was pure and gentle.
They were young,
But for some reason
She fell for him, 
She fell for the way he admired her 
and not her body.  
He made her laugh.
He was cute,
not like “omg he is so hot”
but for the “I can’t stop thinking about him” way.
They talked
and he held her hand
and something for once seemed right.
There was something about his innocence 
That made her feel safe,
But it didn’t take long for him to change his mind.
She opened up
Only for him to judge her
and leave her
and now years later 
he thought to himself:
“Now I’m the one who would beg for a chance
but she is a flower
and I am only the clouds
that deprive her of the sun.”


Honorable Mention


Mila Barry

Gloucester High School

Grade 9


Another Birthday


Chipped windows, smudged sashes flung wide open 
invite inside summer premature, late June sun beat down to
end spring, hasten hot dog days of months to come,
and later on the women to be born of prickly asphalt, barefoot
wood chips borne away to tall walls of responsibility, jails of time
and consciousness, one way
ticket to the reality
of adulthood.

That afternoon fourteen was young enough
to just forget, slide curvy rose hips, bursting buds out 
flaky paint panes, 
black roofing burning beneath feet bare once again, we sat
precautious, hyperaware of twice-told tales of hard placed footsteps
shattering brittle building bone, 
leaning far back on our tailbones, testing fate to see if we might
slip too far, 
fall fast to hit the deck below.  

Grassy lawn harbored low beach chairs, grown ladies chatting
back and forth, a strange, almost 
Goodbye.  The littlest one babbling unaware, and us
the in-between, not yet
Goodbye.  From our vantage point above cool breeze blowing the clouds
of someday ever closer, 
closer, but 
not ready to receive us quite yet.  

Which was just fine by me.


Honorable Mention


Sophia Palumbo

Waring School

Grade 11




I used to be the best at cops and robbers.
I would climb the pine tree in the backwoods,
The tall one with the sap that glues your hands and your shorts
The tree I would have to jump up to reach the branch to climb.
I would sit there until I heard the noise of footsteps on rocks.

As the sound neared, I jumped,
Scraping my hands, making them bleed,
Running through the briars
Scratching my legs.
I would turn just enough to see my friend’s face
Red and smiling,
Her arms and legs as scraped as mine. 

We’d run to the school
Giggling as we bandaged our battle wounds.


Honorable Mention


Joscelyn Shulman

Rockport High School

Grade 12

Visions of Gideon

Visions of orange lights 
and standing while my feet went numb. 
The beauty
and serenity of the moment
dulled the numbness
and brought about a feeling that flooded my lungs and filled my veins.

Looking among sculptures falling from the sky 
As my field of vision was overtaken by light, 
I stood, 
I watched,
I felt parts of myself that had vanished years ago 
fall onto my face, 
and once again 
mend within me.