High School Prize

2008 winning poems




Mai ten Brink
Falmouth Academy




I’m not sure how but
last Tuesday I told myself to stop
loving you and it worked.
where was the switch? and how
did I manage to get my fingers on it?
it was as improbable as locating
an acupuncture point
on the ear shell that triggers
and disables the electrical orgasm
of the intestines and taste buds
and sole of the foot and forgiveness.
something within me shuddered.
like an infant I spit up my love,
which was writhing and scallop-stomach-soft
on the soaked pillow, and with it I vomited up
the organs of risk-taking, levitation, innocence,
psalm-singing, empiricism, kite-flying,
and also that thudding bloody bundle of heart.





Sarah Fitzgibbons
Frontier Regional H.S.



This Millennium’s List


               Defining features should be:
syringes (silver. white. black). & glitter should be a capital offense & rock 'n' roll can still be our whore but
stripped naked & tied to the headboard-
               Even better: tied to a chair because beds are a luxury
We don't need, we don't sleep, we have uppers & we have computers.
               Tell me that you don't write code to pay your rent that you don't dress in
               geometric patterns & solid colors & eschew ruffles.
               All the cute in your barrettes is planned & I'm jealous but all the girls have short hair & it's straight
because what can you hide in straight hair? The skirts are getting shorter: so are the screams: so are the waiting periods: how long do you think before I can get my handgun?
               We will be soft city girls: we will be hard as diamonds & no one will question that our purses are                smaller but hold a whole lot more. & we can maybe add it all up: balance out the lowest common                denominators: find the perfect amalgam of what makes a 22nd century girl. & boys: all you have                to do is remember the condom & maybe leave a cell number in the morning: does that sound okay?                I can't remember the last time I thought there was more & I want to know why you keep hoping                there is: why isn't this enough? Never satisfied & keep coming up with new reasons why not &                words why not & that's the gist: the vocabulary of our century should be drastically overhauled
& improved & all of us down to bones down to where we are: higher centers of gravity. All we need is the palate: some sort of philosophical color scheme: all we need are screens
               & buckles up & down our arms to release the hands we hardly ever use
               & our hearts will be stones & stones will come down in the melting glaciers
               & we will die colder than we lived & the irony will not be lost on us.





Rebekah-Shireen Lefebvre
Hopkins Academy


the air creaked
and suddenly
the rain was playing gibberish on my head
he moved with a kind of apathetic grace
and though he did not have perfect architectural posture
there was a type of elegance to his draped body
it was obvious to me this day was born in the perfect
glass womb
waiting now together now
things were said in the rain things were said in calcium words
our weathered bones sitting together
over crooked cobblestones he was practically majestic
a lonely espresso scent drifts between our linked cathedral fingers
there's coffee grounds under a maple tree
it could be refuse or it could be mistaken manna
it's an out of body experience
warm and blossoming
we feel this intensely, if we don't say a word
this moment was a blessing
and it is as delicate as the skin on his bare wrist
we break apart
and together again
dignified kiss
bowing shyly together as wet swans that we are








Sadie McCarney
Walnut Hill School



Swimming Pool


Bow-legged, ripe-kneed, the children run
Through sticky-sour September air
That still smarts of chlorine from the basin
They swam in. Pond scum and ennui
Are autumn diseases; no clean, clean wash
For the wriggling bubblers who kick to stay
Afloat, no wet-blue kiss to baptize their sunburns.
Its rigor mortis is vivid and green.

Alone, one man mourns the heat waves,
Stippled with stubble and a wax-shiny pate.
Relic, archaic, his deck chair sags; he scowls
At Friday. He surveys the pool, the pool
Flat and stagnant as a neutered woman. He has seen God
Once, in grandmother’s swimsuit, contort, splash,
And corkscrew out like a bowl-shy guppy from its gravel
Grave. He sees the surface, its hardened case where
Mites and fruit flies breed together; the unnatural fur
And horror of it, and no one, no one to swim.

A giggle erupts. The children gather
with earnest school faces and itchy blouses.
Socks are shucked.
They cannonball in.
Algae surrounds their heads like a caul.




Sharon Olds  

Judge for 2008: Sharon Olds

The winner & finalists read their poems at the judge's reading at Smith College, April 8, 2007.