High School Prize

2010 winning poems


Haeyeon Cho
Milton Academy



The Soup Kitchen

Winter drinks her alive
cheeks peeling, lips crusted
with wind and dead flesh
a chicken-eyed crane
nesting in her craw.

She is ashamed to eat alone.
Hollow bones, wire hangers
pushed into crooked wings
droop as the warmth of the fish
seeps through, feeding the bird
that grows wilder,




Samantha Ardoin
Phillips Exeter Academy

Samantha Ardoin



No Meaning Intended

I have finally become aware; my story rumbles, in full, abstract motion:
Caravans with medicine from Antarctica climb right over the Berlin wall.

They whisper ďhelloĒ from the windows while I rewrite my story,
The pilgrimage to the graveyard that I donít know the name or place of
Since it doesnít yet exist.

I havenít seen fresh water in months.
I am sinking in the mud, sinking in the tulip bulbs,
Sinking into the guitar and violin strings that we scratch
Like the backs of dogís ears,
Like the kinds in books where people eat hot fudge sundaes for breakfast
Because everyone has forgotten about them,
And the end of the world looks like a relief
From the boredom of sugar and sex and saying I love you.

Weíre not allowed to speak our minds when
Pink scarves and greasy newspaper fingers cover up our smiles,
Shoving handkerchiefs in our mouths, like assassins taking us captive for ransom,
Like in books.

Weíre not allowed to show any mercy, nor can they for the money,
Nor can we for the peace of mind.

So we sit back, injecting culture into the cotton strings of capillaries
Surfing through us like yellow lampshade light
That makes our scars hurt so much that we laugh,
And wonder how none of this can mean anything.




Elizabeth Bennett
Milton Academy

Elizabeth Bennett

Race Days

Water spills over wind
cracked lips, sloshes in hollow caverns.
Shoulders rise to red ears, we twitch
like stallions pawing the dust and then all
movement ceases, sound expires like air strikes winter frost.
Muscles clench, caked in tar. Hearts skitter into stomachs where they thrash
like wet cats and then back up
up into throats, mouths like raw salted meat. And when
the gun sounds, we pounce
at the open air like a pack of wolves let loose. As we pound those trails
under limbs, through snapping winds, we find our hearts begin to sink
back down
down to where they belong
and that we have heart.







Carly McIver
Marblehead High School

Carly McIver


In Which a Past Shows Visions of the Future and the Mallard Duck Regrets His Choice of Living Quarters

Today I will take a walk
Across a rippled pond Laid down by God
Like a fine silk dress pooled
On the dressing room floor
Of some Famous Starlet in Hollywood.

A face comes to the surface
Then calloused hands,
Nails short and dirty
Then scarred arms
Scratched and bruised
Appendages of decisions made and not quite dead.

The strangest feeling, Of knowing what could have,
What would have, What should have,
Icy water down your back
On a frozen January day

I turn and look
Down the path
That leads to the pond
Mr. Mallard stirs and glares with contempt

Today is a cold and dismal day.
But it still holds hope
In the folds of its dress
If it hasnít dropped it to the floor.
Silly Mr. Mallard
Donít you wish you had built your home elsewhere?




Tracy K. Smith


Judge for 2010: Tracy K. Smith

The High School poets spent the day at Smith College, meeting privately with Tracy K. Smith to discuss their poetry, and presented their winning work at her evening reading on March 23, 2010.

    Watch for next year's guidelines!