Wolfner Library's Teen Poetry Contest
TEEN WRITING CONTEST
From 2017 through 2020, Wolfner Library hosted a teen writing contest for patrons ages 13 to 18 annually. Participants wrote poems and/or flash fiction (short stories that consist of between 300 to 1,500 words). Below are the winning writings from the past four years.
First Place Flash Fiction
Gone by Jordyn Walker
Saturday, October twenty second…that was the day the world around me collapsed. They were gone. The one person I cared for, the one person I truly got to know and love, was gone. The smell of the chestnut roses around me circled throughout my mind, the smell becoming so familiar it was almost sickening…It made me think of them.
I sat on the dock of the lake, thinking back to when everything was good. The people around me enjoyed themselves, when they were happy, and I wasn’t miserable. I knew it wasn’t the best decision to get close to them, knowing that they would leave me. But I guess the naïve teenager inside of me forgot about all the consequences of heartbreak. I watched the ducks tail each other, enjoying life as they swam without a care in the world. The small splash of the feathers incarcerating each of them in a friendly wave of absent minded fun. I wished I could go back to the days where I could play. Not having to worry about what other people thought, not caring about how I dressed or how I presented myself other than an innocent, playful child who didn’t know sin from savior.
I remember the phone call. I remember rolling off my mattress, my bare feet hitting the cold tile floor of my bedroom as I rubbed my eyes, searching for the source of the ringing noise in my kitchen. My body swayed with the fatigue of my sudden awakening as my slow and raspy voice choked out a soft, “Hello?” into the bottom part of my cell phone, my voice carrying all throughout my empty kitchen. I remember hearing the shakiness of the women on the phone.
“Is this…the Jasperson residence?” She choked out. I checked the number on the phone, wondering how a stranger found or knew my last name. The phone call was from Mercy West hospital. I froze. “Y-yes…why? What's happened?” I asked hesitantly.
“There's been an accident,” She started again. “We need you to come quickly. They don't have a lot of time left.” I felt my heart drop, my suspicions becoming a reality.
‘No…This can't be it,’ I remember thinking. One of the ducks quacked, knocking me out of my thoughts. I looked up at them, staring, and falling back into the hypnotic state I was in before, zoning out of reality and going back to what supposed to be my imagination. But it wasn't, I wish to God that it was just some sick joke my mind made up to scare me, but it wasn't. I skimmed back through my phone, seeing only one name at the top of my ‘Recently Texted’ list. It was their name, and it had the time, along with several messages from me. I clicked on the icon, scrolling up and skimming through all the texts we shared, every single one, every single smiley face, every ‘I love you,’ reading vigorously at the small black text that signified they sent a message. A message they wrote themselves, to me.
Then suddenly, there were only texts from me…At the top, there was me, my message box, my written text, a text telling them to come back, that I was sorry…that I didn't mean to say it, that I didn't mean it. I looked at the date of the message. ‘October Twenty Second.’ There's so many people who wished they'd said something to their loved ones before they passed. I'm probably the only person in existence that wishes they didn't say anything.
Do you ever ask yourself questions you know you can't answer? That a simple google search can't solve? Something egging at the back of your mind, scratching at your thoughts and begging, screaming to be let out?
Well I have a question…What would have happened if I wouldn't have sent that text? What if I would have sent it seconds earlier? Or seconds later? Would they have looked down to check their phone? Would they have stopped at the red light instead of going through it, ramming into the car in front of them and flipping through the interstate? I don't know what I could have done to change it, but if I wouldn't have sent the text at all, maybe they wouldn't have crashed. Maybe they wouldn't have left.
Maybe they wouldn't be gone…
It only took me about twenty minutes to get to the hospital, panic rising throughout my body as I couldn't even bring myself to get out of my Ford Nissan. The bright hospital lights glistening off the white paint to my car, everything deadly silent except for the sound of my elevated heartbeat, and my heavy breaths. I squeezed my eyes shut, not realizing I was crying until a small teardrop world off my cheek onto my knee, my knuckles growing white as my hands gripped the steering wheel, the sound of the leather curtailing under my palms. I finally built up the courage to open the door and step out, realizing I was losing time with my slow pace. The car rock back to its original position as I gained my balance on the black asphalt of the hospital parking lot.
I skipped, taking on two steps at a time before making it to the top of the concrete staircase and sprinting through the slide doors pf the Emergency Room. It smelled clean, sterile. Phones rang in the distant near of the seemingly empty waiting room, nurse is looking up and asking me if I needed help. I couldn't focus, not even realizing people were talking to me before I started yelling at them to give me their room number. The nurses leaped into action, looking up their name.
“Third floor, room 117…Hey, hey! You can't go back there!” I couldn't process the words, I was already halfway down the hallway, skidding to a stop in front of some large metal doors, slamming my thumb repeatedly on the elevator ‘Up’ button until the doors slit open, revealing and empty, florally designed space made to fit no more than ten. I dove inside, searching for the third floor button. I pressed it, tapping my foot on the tile floor as I felt the chamber starting to move. I let out of breath of air I didn't know I was holding, trying to calm myself by opening and closing my fists while letting out soft, almost swim strokes of air. Slim, but present.
I finally built myself up enough to make my way out the door, walking quickly down the hallway in search of the room. One-fourteen, one-fifteen, one-sixteen…One-seventeen. For some reason I didn't feel the fear I felt before, maybe it was the hope that they were still there, that they were sitting on the bed, skimming through a magazine and muttering swear words under their breath about the useless drama in the celebrity world. I reached out my shaky hand, and slowly turn the knob, stepped slowly into the room to see…
Nothing…It was empty. Vacant. Dark.
I felt tears stream down my face. ‘No…nononono maybe…Maybe I just have the wrong room number,’ I thought. I peaked out of the room to see the same big white numbers I had before. I saw there was a chart, sitting in a holder—awaiting a doctor to pick it up. I checked around me before lifting the chart out of the pouch and skimming through it. It was theirs…It had their name, the date, their weight, height…at the bottom, it was labeled deceased.
I looked back up at the ducks, then back down at my lap, watching as a cloud casted over the lake creating, an eerie feel when thunder roared. The ducks scattered, and I knew I should too. I got back into my car and started up the engine, putting my phone in the passenger seat before starting to make my way back home. I stopped myself at a red light, letting out a sigh as the rain start to fall, looking off into the now damp road. Then I heard a small beep, a vibration of a sort from my phone. I looked over looking at the contact name above the new message.
The message was from them.
First Place Poetry
Someone Like You by Tionja Johnson
Someone like u;
There are wars happening
Inside of someone like u.
Cities are falling apart
But ur still standing on ur feet.
And when the missiles go into the air.
You count them one by one.
Because you know
That's how many shots
are about to go into ur heart.
There's something about, something.
About how grenades go off
One by one
At the bottom of your feet,
But you don't get knocked over.
And something about how
Guns shots come firing
At the weakest parts of you,
But somehow you dodge
Every single one of them.
There's something about
Tsunamis trying to take you out
And even without a life jacket
U still overcome it.
When tornadoes touch ground
And try to spiral u up
But u unspiral yourself,
There's something about that.
There's something about how
U make broken look beautiful
And strong look invincible.
There's something about
Someone like u.
Second Place Flash Fiction
Hathorn's Journey Through the Desert by Gideon Braley
The sun’s rays beat down upon Hathorn as he surveyed the land before him, nothing but endless sand stretching as far as the eye could see. Hathorn sighed. Out of all the lands he had traveled through, this desert was the worst. With its blazing hot days and freezing cold nights, it was the most miserable place he had ever known. Even more than the caves under the Black Mountains. At least there, he had guides. They had warned him about this place and had tried to lead him around. But, being the stubborn person he was, Hathorn refused and set out on his own.
Now he was utterly lost and the heat was getting unbearable. He needed a place to shelter until night came. Otherwise he would grow too dehydrated to continue. Just then Hathorn saw a dust cloud rising up from the east and heading toward him. Hathorn drew from his belt his spyglass and peered eastward.
It didn’t take long until he saw what was causing the dust cloud. There was at least fifty men on horseback galloping to where he was standing. Hathorn stood still while the horsemen rode up and surrounded him. He noticed, with some trepidation, that each man was armed with a recurve bow and a short broad bladed sword. When they had fully encircled him, a man whose long hair was braided with golden ringlets, rode up to regard Hathorn with dark penetrating eyes.
"Greetings," Hathorn said with as much nonchalance as he could muster. "Nice weather we’ve been having don’t you think?" "Who are you?" the horseman demanded. "My name is Hathorn Bogish," Hathorn replied. "And perhaps you can tell me how I can get out of this blazing desert." "What are you doing here," the rider snapped? "I was traveling through this wasteland to get to the lands beyond," Hathorn responded. "But I seem to have gotten myself hopelessly lost in the process."
The man’s eyes narrowed coldly. "I’ve heard of you," he spat. "You’re the one that's been traveling around the world making trouble." "Oh, I wouldn’t say that," Hathorn said with a smile. "But come now, my good man, what be your name?" "My name is Corth, son of Bamdon, chief of the Hamoden tribe," the horseman declared. "A good name I’m sure," Hathorn told him. "But could you, by chance, show me the way out of here?"
"I will tell you the way to go," Corth smiled thinly. "But first you must swear to never return. And secondly, you must give me something to trade for the information." "I swear it," Hathorn answered. "And what do you say to fifty gold pieces?" "A hundred," Corth countered. "Seventy-five," Hathorn shot back. "A hundred pieces or we’ll leave you in the desert to die," Corth said with finality. "All right," Hathorn sighed rolling his eyes.
When Hathorn past the gold over, Corth called to one of his men. "Give this troublemaker a spare horse and lets ride." After they rode for about an hour, they reached a large outcropping of rocks. Corth let them rest there until the heat receded and then led them northwards. They rode through the night with only a few stops to rest the horses. By the time dawn broke, Hathorn was so saddle-sore that he almost missed the land changing from barren sand to sparse vegetation and at last to grassy fields. At this point Corth reined in his horse and waited for Hathorn to draw alongside him.
"There you are," Corth stated. "Remember you swore not to return to the desert. If any of my warriors see you, they will kill you without pause." "I remember," Hathorn replied and dismounted. "Thank you for getting me out of there." "Do not thank me," Corth shook his head. Then he turned his horse and galloped away, the Hamodenites riding after him.
Hathorn smiled and shouted after their receding forms, "Farewell and good riding." Then he strode through the fields whistling, heading into another adventure.
Second Place Poetry
Moonlight by Nicole Motley
I can’t contain the thoughts anymore
My ability to deny its friendship is fading
Maybe I’m supposed to be this way
Tied up in past mistakes
When I grow from one thing another falls apart
It’s hard to play this game when I can’t win
I can’t force this thing called happiness
But depression can easily force itself on me
It comes in small waves of emotions at first
Then piles itself on my days slowly
It turns happy moments into instant regrets
Fills my brain with thoughts I can’t fathom
My mom tells me my anxiety and depression can be controlled
No depression and anxiety can be controlling that’s the difference
I can’t go out without having to worry about balling up inside
Have a panic attack then coming home to cry
I know hearing the same words I share can be boring
It’s just sharing makes this pain seem worth it
I pray one day I can look back and read of these
Thank you for staying and fighting with me
Answer? by Jessica Johnson
Today is a bad day,
Today is a good day,
Today is an okay day,
Today is a day.
What do we mean when we say these things,
What do we mean when we want to cry but no tears shall fall,
What do we mean when we want to laugh but no bubbles will arise,
What do we mean when we want to help but our hand won’t reach far enough.
Those who have the way but not the will,
Those who have hope but they can’t find the green grass,
Those who try but simply can’t find the courage,
Those who wish but can’t find a star.
What is the point they say,
What is the meaning of life,
Answers don’t come to me,
It’s like I’m learning my C,B,A’s.
Who can help but don’t have the strength,
Those who say Goodbye but not Hello,
Those who receive but do not give,
Those who know the answer but will not answer.
What has this world come to,
What have we become,
All empty shells? Without a soul?
The answer is cold.
Dar Ghazi by Lydia Olmsted
A man of love,
Love so strong that you can feel it in his eyes,
In his gentle nuzzles,
In his calming breath,
In his relaxed ears,
Through his back,
And in his gentle, soothing voice.
A man with a heart full of compassion,
Compassion that is always there when you need it;
And that comforts you in challenging times,
Compassion that is always understanding and sympathetic.
A leader who guides me physically and mentally,
A leader who teaches others how to act,
A leader whose traits make this world a better place.
A man who keeps me safe when in his presence,
A man who guides me away from potential danger,
A man who is always looking after me.
A man with unique comforting abilities,
Who has beautiful energy that helps me relax when going through rough times,
Who gives lovely, gentle hugs,
Whose cute nuzzling makes me smile,
Whose velvet muzzle appeals to my sense of touch,
And whose soft smooth fur and warm, gentle breath warms me up on the coldest days.
A very trustworthy man,
One who always has my back,
One who I can count on to always be there for me,
And one who I know won’t ever deceive me with his actions.
A very skilled and talented man,
A man who has a beautiful trot and canter,
A man who has competed and won in many shows,
And a man with great wisdom and intelligence.
A man who has changed my life forever.
And a man who will always have a special place in my heart.
Monsters by Dionna Towns
There’s a monster under my bed.
Oh wait, maybe it’s in my head.
I’m just trying to erase what has been said.
But there are monsters in my head.
There are demons within and they are counting
every one of my sins.
The voices are so loud I can’t even hear a sound.
They’re just so loud.
There are monsters under my bed.
Oh wait, maybe they’re in my head.
If I were in Charge of the World by Alexander Watkins
If I were in charge of the world
I’d cancel ALLERGIES
HARD WORK IN SCHOOL
And also PEANUTS AND MEAN PEOPLE
If I were in charge of the world
There’d be PENGUINS IN YOUR HOUSE THAT CAN TALK
RAIN AND SUN ALL YEAR
And CHICKEN PATTY FOR EVERY MEAL
If I were in charge of the world
You wouldn’t have LITTERING
You wouldn’t have SMALL CARS
You wouldn’t have TIGHT HELMETS IN FOOTBALL
Or “SIBLINGS BEING ANNOYING”
You wouldn’t even have BAD FOOD
If I were in charge of the world
A PLATE OF MOM’S SPAGHETTI would be a vegetable
All movies would be FUNNY OR HAVE SUPERHEROES
And a person who sometimes forgot WORK
And sometimes forgot to PAY ATTENTION
Would be allowed to be
In charge of the world
Pain by Dionna Towns
September brought me pain
October brought me heartbreak
November brought me tears
December brought me scars
January brought me flashbacks
February brought me smiles
March brought me questions
April brought me death
May brought me loneliness
June brought me disappointments
July brought me pain
It all hurts the same
Father by Nicole Motley
I’ve been sailing the waves
Too many times the dark caved
But I’m okay, I’m saved
Because I’m following the path you paved
When the path gets blurry
Not to worry
I won’t get scared and scurry
I’m in no hurry
I try to be the perfect daughter
You’re already the perfect father
Sometimes I wonder why you bother
Then it hits me like ten gallons of water
Even if you can’t hear
I’ll always be endeared
The path will still be clear
You will be held very dear
Even if you’re not here
You are still the very best
Put to the test
greatest father ever.
The Things I Think by Jessica Johnson
The things I think,
The things I worry about,
The things they say are crazy
They are all reality.
I think of Open Fields,
I think about the animals hurt every day,
I think about the house up on the hill,
I think about the weather and hope it won’t be stale.
I worry about my Sisterhood and my brothers,
I worry about the plants and animals that cry and say goodbye,
I worry about the ones that are lost and need to be found
I think about what the world could be for the rest of Eternity.
People say you should not believe in this or that,
People say do this or do that,
They try to take away the free will we have,
Saying I know what is best if only you would try this.
People don’t realize the real in reality,
Daydream of things that could be but never will be,
Joining people together as one is the key
But thus Unity is harder than reality.
Poem Just For You by Nicole Motley
I have secrets, hopes, and dreams
things that will never happen so it seems
I’m stuck in chains, not of the devil, not of pain
but something that’s driving me insane
I would tell you but why waste my time
I would be destroyed like a melted dime.
I could say and it would be the happiest day
But what if it isn’t
I’m full of fear
That’s not my fault
I’d rather stay awake than go to sleep
Talk to you rather than weep
Yes I’m weak I know it’s true
I wish I could just tell you!!
Ride or Die by Desirée Lasky
Ride or die with me baby?
Just a caution I'm crazy
The pain made me this way
So what do you say?
Will you stay?
Do with me what you may
Cuz trust me I've felt worse pain
Just don't think this is a game
I want you but I don't just wanna for a minute
Don't just hold me for a bit
Baby and let me go
Cuz I promise I'll be the best you ever had
Cuz I give everything I have
When I give you my all
Just please don't let me fall
Love me like you say you do
Keep me and don't leave me
Imma ride or die for you
It'll be easy baby
Just not all the time
I'll be yours and you'll be mine
Do what you do that's fine
Just don't leave me forever
And hurt me like all the others do
Don't tell me this isn't what you consented to
Ride or die with me?