Student Poets


Student Poets


          Below are the winning student poems of the Poetry Without Paper competition conducted by the Gloucester Lyceum since the spring of 2003. The contest began as a celebration of poetry month, April, and has been an annual event ever since; over a thousand students have entered thousands of poems. Winners were recognized in three categories: elementary school, middle school, and high school.  The poems are headed with the winner’s name, school, and grade level at the time of the contest.




2003 Poetry Contest Winners


Cathy Cusumano

First Place Winner, Elementary School

St. Ann School, 5th Grade


Him or Her?

Him or her?

Whom should I choose?

He is so fun and she is so nice.

He takes me places where I like to go.

She lets me come over and listen to the radio.

When he is there I feel so good.

When I’m with her hanging at the mall I feel right.

So my question is, him or her?


Kate Bresnahan

First Place Winner, Middle School

Ralph B. O’Maley School, 8th Grade



Meet me, my name is nothing.

I can predict, I can foresee.

But no one ever listens.

Even in a time of great peril:


I am alone.


A loneliness I can’t describe.

Even those I am closest to

Do not see me.

They cannot hear me.

Touch me, hate me, love me.

That is why I am alone.

Because they refuse to know me.


Nothing is a name I gave myself.

My true name has no meaning.

Because no one knows it.

They never tried to know it.


I try to reach out

But I must always pull back.

I am not allowed to love them.


It is fate.

Fate wants me to be alone.

Unable to see,

Unable to be seen.


I can hear, but cannot be heard.

That is why I call myself nothing.

My tears mean nothing

My cries mean nothing

My love means nothing:

I mean nothing.


Andrew Bergeron

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 12th Grade


Flat Beer on a Sunday Night

Flat beer on a Sunday night

inspiring scribbled ramblings

out of half-drunken spite.


The incense burns, the radio sings

and on this notepad I confide.

Out of language I wring


the hopes and fears modified

into happy rhythms I despise

and tired rhymes that have been tried.


Using things like clouds and red to symbolize,

the strain and stress and frustration,

writing soliloquy while my heart drip-dries,


frying my brain till its overdone,

knowing my point, still unsung,

will go over the heads of everyone.


2004 Poetry Contest Winners


Heather Boudrow

First Place Winner, Elementary School

Beeman Memorial School, 3rd Grade


My Cats

I have two cats

I am glad to say

that one is a little bit smarter.

One bats the fish tank

and the other one slides into walls.

Milo is the one who slides into walls

and Lily is the one who bats the fish tank.

Milo has no brakes

and Lily can’t wait for a snack from the tank.

The silliest thing the two have done together is

falling down the stairs.

So which one is really a little bit smarter?

I am not really sure!


Emma Chandler

First Place Winner, Middle School

Glen Urquhart, 8th Grade


Beach Day

The summer sun bronzes my light

skin as I lie in the sand.

I concentrate on the sounds of the waves

rolling over the sand,

and then hear them gurgle

and retreat back to the mothership, the whole ocean.

It spreads out, never ending.

I am covered in a blanket of sunshine and warmth.

The ocean beckons,

the small waves tease me,

tickling my toes.

I give in and wade in,

letting the cold spread up my body,

until it reaches the top,

My head is under.

The sound is gone.

I can think clearly now,

with just the bubbles

whispering to me.

I surface and breathe.

The sun greets me

as I lean my head back,

it reflects off my home,

making it shine

as if someone has dusted it

with diamonds

I let myself sink back under

and move with the current.

I feel complete

for a moment, while I am under.

Not grounded by gravity,

yet not flying out of control.

I am suspended in a liquid of tranquility

Not breathing, not suffocating,

just floating in bliss.


Kate Bresnahan

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 9th Grade


Out of the Window

Out of the window

The land so quiet

The night bringing on its lust

The noise of the wind beckons me

And I can see the moon clouded over, hardly visible

No light, no sound

Only the wind and the faint glow of the moon

The trees sway in tune with a silent song

My hair flies out around me

It’s as though I’m flying In this world that I have never seen before

No more tears can flow from my eyes

I can’t make that happen anymore

Now that I have seen outside of my window

And into this place I have never known

The tears only come because of the sheer beauty

I can’t hold it back

It’s enchanting

And with a last breath I come back from my window

It smells different in the world I know

It is enchanting, but not in the way I have just experienced

It is beautiful

But not breathtaking

I now know what’s beyond my window

How can I love that which I know now?

Now that the world beyond has come to life

I cannot appreciate the beauty I have created any longer

So I look out my window again

For that one breath

Of sensational wind


2005 Poetry Contest Winners


Alexandra McKay

First Place Winner, Elementary School

Beeman Memorial School, 3rd Grade



Everybody has friends.

Even the stars have friends.

They glitter with the moon in the morning light.


Everybody has friends.

Even the sun has friends.

The sun is bright and the clouds are white.


Everybody has friends.

Even the planets late at night.

When the astronauts come in from flight.


Everybody has friends.


Samantha Turner

First Place Winner, Middle School

St. Ann School, 7th Grade


Dreams and Nightmares

Open and sweet with bright colors

Anything can happen

Flying over the highest cloud

Dive into the deepest ocean

Climb the tallest mountain

Ride the fastest horse

Chase the wind in a game of tag

Peace is all around you.


Darkness overwhelms the light

Pain consumes your happiness

For just a moment everything is still


Then chaos erupts all over

Shadows chase you to the brink of a cliff

Volcanoes explode with giant rocks

Floods and strong winds wash and scour the earth.


Fires burn with powerful heat

Then courage comes and you fight back

You wield powers of untold forces

Passion to free yourself from evil fights


Light comes back

You have won

Warmth comes to touch your sleeping face

You wake up from the night’s adventure

To go on to the new day’s quest



Kaitlin Nicolosi

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 12th Grade



World Wonders


World wonders are small beauties, often lost in the blink of an eye.

They are shadowed by the extravagant, the flash of riches that we see,

It’s sad to know we often let the best things in life pass us by.
Like a string of laughter which makes us double over and cry,

Or even the soft curve of a smile one can so brilliantly foresee,

World wonders are small beauties, often lost in the blink of an eye.
A kiss so sweet and gentle that the lungs exert a sigh,

Watching nighttime as the waves wash out slowly past the sea,

It’s sad to know we often let the best things in life pass us by.
Late afternoon swimming and early evening cookouts in July,

The delicacy of autumn with burnt citrus leaves in each tree,

World wonders are small beauties, often lost in the blink of an eye.
A friendship formed where a shell was cracked in someone that was shy,

Or genuine surprises that bring a glow to the cheek and a tremble to the knee.

It’s sad to know we often let the best things in life pass us by.
A face adorned with makeup is the beauty that you buy,

But life is far more glamorous than a cosmetic will ever be.

World wonders are small beauties, often lost in the blink of an eye.

It’s sad to know we often let the best things in life pass us by.



2006 Poetry Contest Winners


Billy O’Donnell

First Place Winner, Elementary School

Brookwood School, 5th Grade



I left you far behind today,

With your gravity-bound ways.

I am now on top of the world,

As light as a feather.

I no longer have any earthly limits,

Just the constraints of my remaining minutes.

I feel happy, excited, and adventurous.

I feel as though I am floating.

Looking down on you, I am not gloating.

I am in control of everything,

Except for nature’s anger!



Britany Diamondt

First Place Winner, Middle School

Ralph B. O’Maley Middle School, 7th Grade



Ecstasy at the Beach

Sitting Still

sounds all around

laughter fills the air

splish, splash, the ocean pounds the rocks

along with the squawk and mock of a gull

soft, silky sand slipping down my leg

along with the tickle of a crab

faint taste of ocean on my lips

can taste the salt in the slush with every sip

sun shining from every angle

my hair tangled

wish the moment would freeze

like the ocean waves can

Breathing in,

clean, crisp, coconut lotion

sweet smell of burned skin

refreshing and invigorating

not a care in the world

the sun is beginning to set

sky looks on fire

fire spreading now reaching the ocean

within minutes the world seems to be caught up in flames

fireworks of red, orange and pink

everyday at the beach is a different story

this one just happens to be my favorite



Erin McManus


First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 11th Grade 



Blood Has No Doctrine

blood has no doctrine

when it



from the gun’s barrel

our sweet stifled indignation

is identical

our wildest dreams are






blood not of mosques

or temples or



Blood of the people

Blood of our written

Byronic heroes flows and flows




red hand of mortality

Oh blessed life!

The soliloquy begins and terminates


us all

the same



2007 Poetry Contest Winners 


Phoebe Weissblum

First Place Winner, Elementary School

Harborlight Montessori School, 5th Grade


The Midnight Clock

Tick, tock the midnight clock

will life turn out soft, or hard as a rock?
Tick, tock the midnight clock

will the door to my dreams be open, or will it have a lock?
Tick, tock the midnight clock can I pass through my troubles silently,

or will I have to talk?

Tick, tock the midnight clock

it never ends, it never stops.



Kazira Slocum

First Place Winner, Middle School

St. Ann School, 8th Grade


I Dream with a Reason to Wake Up

With a shy voice, sweet words are spoken.

With calm eyes watching there is no stutter in the pattern.

Breathing gently, with soothing gasps.

Lying with compassion.

Sleeping now with the sound of night.

I hear inside my cry.

The three words I have never heard before.

Were spoken with truth.

Within lying tears, I lie awake.

Not wanting to leave my dream.

I wake to a reality with your voice inside my mind.

It rings in my ears; the three words I have never heard before.

I love you.



Alexandra Lees

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 10th Grade


A Girl of the Sea

The sky is a deep ebony

the sea slaps the sand gently

the wind is cold and biting

the stars sparkle and dance

the moon is pregnant with light


A girl lies on the beach

her clothes, hair, skin are

brushed by the wind

she is shivering,

but she doesn’t notice


She is part of everything,

her skin is moonlight

her hair is burnt dune grass

her curves are the moon’s curves

her eyes are the stars

her breath is the waves


Her soul is the sea,

swirling, gliding, caressing

the earth, the creatures

embracing the world

in a blanket of peace



2008 Poetry Contest Winners


Lydia Anderson

First Place Winner, Elementary School

Beeman Memorial School, 4th Grade



In Africa miracles come alive like spirits on a bike

there are some animals I personally like

from monkeys swaying in the trees

to elephants stomping in the breeze

there are even more even some as delicate as a glass

such as chomping cheetahs in the grass

and gentle giraffes looking around with a face of brass

but my favorite is the warthog or pig as many people would say

they always run but they just have a different way

of expressing themselves in their land

and I hope they will never ever die as planned.



Aidan Breen

First Place Winner, Middle School

Glen Urquhart School, 6th Grade


Where Are You?

I try to feel your ghostly presence thinking of you.

Are you there?
I went to visit you at the hospital.

I saw all the wires, IV tubes hooked up and blood rushing into your skin.

She went over to see you that day.

You smiled real tiny and started to cough.

I remember the whole thing like it was yesterday.

You started to cough real hard and Grammy got scared. She started yelling your name,

“Jimmy, JIMMY!”

You made it through that time so why not this time?

I really didn’t understand what was happening then.

When Mom told me to go away I knew something was wrong.

I never thought this would happen to you.

But I guess it did.

So now you are really gone.
I was at your memorial.

Four hundred people were there.

Everyone knew you, I suppose.

It was all-quiet. Hushed.

You taught me many things. Some as simple as throwing a baseball.

I’d sometimes be afraid. I’ve always been shy.

But there is one last thing I need to ask you, “Where are you?”

All I know is that you are gone.



Alexandra Lees

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 11th Grade


Dreams on the Wind

Spring day, sun shining, I walk alone,

feet hitting the sidewalk, one after the other,

I hear them as they scuff the pavement,

The wind sweeps past me,

sends my hair flying like a flag,

It whispers, “I know who you are

and who you want to be,

I see past your imperfections,

I see your soul,”

“I hear your heart beating,” roars the ocean,

“I feel the passion stirring within you,

it pounds through you like the waves crashing on my shore.”

The trees reach out their fingers to the light,

reaching, reaching, always reaching ­out.

“We have had death,” they rustle,

“But we have also had life,

Without hope, we have nothing.”

The wind whispers, “Keep dreaming,

Keep hoping, keep being.”

My eye sees gold dreams and sweet winds



2009 Poetry Contest Winners


Jordan Gentile

First Place Winner, Elementary School

Veteran’s Memorial, 4th Grade


Earth Day

The tree is tall,
But its home is still cut down for a mall.
The bird can fly higher than oil
But its escape is foiled
Because oil makes it unable to fly.
Bug spray keeps the bugs away
But makes frogs die
A whale can flip a boat with its tail
But if a boat hits it, its will to live fails.
The worst thing for animals is pollution
Which makes me come to this conclusion.
Always help on Earth Day
To help the Earth is the best way!



Meghaen Favazza

First Place Winner, Middle School

St. Ann School, 7th Grade


What is love?

A mother’s care for her baby,

A couple holding hands.

From which comes life,

Comes the ability to love.

It’s not a must,

Nor a need.

Love is a privilege, an opportunity.

What is love?

It is intense and eternal,

A difficult reality.

How can you love?

Listen to a person needy of a friend,

Talk to a person needy of advice.

What is a world without love?

Nothing but a lonely shelter,

A place of endless torture.

What is love?

Peace during a war,

Forgiving a conflicted friend.

That is love.

Love is the strength,

The intensity and courage of a relationship.

And compared to love,

Everything else is second best.


Lucina Fox

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 12th Grade


5 Ways How He’s Not Like the Water and 10 More How He Is

got more than three forms:

I’ve felt his ice, his rushing rivers, seen him

evaporate, and then some.

water’s not flammable

but he lights me up burns right alongside me.

so damn sweet my teeth ache.

and pure? that boy’s a sinner: though I can’t say I don’t crave it.

space between? a damn barrier.

he couldn’t find a way from point a to point b.

couldn’t move the dust and dirt to make a grand canyon

yet I still managed to fall in

or did I jump?

oh, but his lips are cool like the river

and his caress is omniscient like the lake

he babbles like the brook

but whispers like the waves.

reminds me of summer,

a force, to be reckoned with: could hold me under, could lift me up.

thirst quencher (heart wrencher)

the stuff of tears

he filled my ears

he slipped between my fingers.


2010 Poetry Contest Winners


Jemma Johnson-Shoucair

First Place Winner, Elementary School

East Gloucester, 5th Grade


Leaping, jumping, falling

Soaring when the stars come

And still flying when the stars fall

Diminished by the rain’s tear

And grasped again by the rich earth

It is as true as truth itself

And more eternal than all eternity

Hope is hope itself



Alessandra Moceri

First Place Winner, Middle School

St. Ann School, 8th Grade


Gone With the Wind

Sitting in what we believe is here

Watching intently as motionless sounds roam about

As the trees stand claimed and waters sing a silent song

What is the place of where I cannot see?

Only by the force of what is taken unexpectedly

How we live and how we’re gone

When I look I see it

And then, I think if what I had just seen was a reality

Not sure of what has been witnessed

Making no promises

It’s there and then disappears

Right before I get the chance to collect what I had just seen

Teasing figures and motions taunt me

Fearless of what is to happen

Waiting contently

Hoping for the best

Waiting for the worst to come

One step at a time

Coming closer and closer

Seeing the unseen

The best is to come

But it’s gone with the wind.



Katina Tibbetts

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 12th Grade


The True Story

Everyone feels bad for her

But she’s no angel

The true story is

She stole my prince charming

She is my step sister

But I am not evil

She is not so nice

Underneath that innocent exterior

That magical pumpkin


And mice the morph into horses

Those are all lies

And that beautiful gown she wore

Well, that dress was mine.

Along with my gown,

She took my glass slippers too.

She ran away to the ball

Before I even knew.

And after she wooed him

I tried to explain

She was nothing but a liar

And a downright thief too,

He wanted to believe me,

So he said,

“Try on the shoe.”

I returned home

To retrieve that slipper

And as I walked in

I heard that evil little snicker

I didn’t realize how far

She would go

And then she went and closed

The door on my toe.

I couldn’t believe it

My foot was too big

My prince charming gave me

A sad look and said,

“Sorry, you’re not my perfect fit.”

So this is my story

You don’t have to believe me

You can think,

“Cinderella?! She wouldn’t hurt a thing!”

But she did, she stole my prince charming.



2011 Poetry Contest Winners 


Rumi Thomas

First Place Winner, Elementary School

Cape Ann Waldorf School, 2nd Grade


The Misty Seas

Far away on the misty seas, where the whales come and go,

where the sharks hunt their prey,

where the seal pups play

amongst the cresting waves,

where the foghorns blow their low-pitched tunes,

where the lighthouses shine their yellow light

so the sailors may find their way home again

far away on the misty seas.


Enzo Paganetti

First Place Winner, Middle School

St. Ann School, 6th Grade



I am forgotten in the corner,

Nobody to use me, no one to move me.

I think about the life I’ve had

As I wait inside the dark.

I’ve seen the ages passing by,

Seen the children grow and grow

As I collect dust in the cellar.

I’ve read the books stored inside me,

Felt the work stuffed inside me

As I remain in this tiny room.

I remember the itching scribbles of pen;

I long for it to happen again,

But now I abide in this gloom.

I’ve heard the lectures of the teachers;

Now I remember them all.

As I rest in this murkiness,

The weight of books

I’ll miss so much,

I think of this and much more

As I stand, expelled and rejected.


Jaclyn Canillas

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 11th Grade


The Eternal Gem

(This poem was inspired by the Greek myth of the amaranth flowers – amaranth means “never fading” and is a symbol of immortality.)

Ah, the eternal amaranth,

stuck between the  tides,

unable to complete the cycle

of life and death.


Always in the sunlight, and never the shade,

beautiful and lonely,

an earthbound angel

tied down to the seedlings of the ground,

with no wings to carry it away.


A mere flower,

elegant and warm as the sun above

but reserve and silent as the stars.


Struggling to blow out the remaining flame of the candle,

Afraid to lift the veil and find out what is on the others side.


A gem of the fields,

A delicate beauty of the earth

Just waiting to be set free.


2012 Poetry Contest Winners


Willa Lepionka Brosnihan

First Place Winner, Elementary School

West Parish School, 3rd Grade


Under the Waves 

Under the lapping, dancing waves

Is a world of water people

With tails and fins and scales to swim

Under the beautiful, wonderful waves.

They play with dolphins,

They sing with whales

Under the magnificent, mighty waves.

They swim with seals,

They jump with fish

Under the strong, lovable waves.

They race with crabs,

They dance with eels

Under the churning, pounding waves.

They take care of the shellfish,

And they live with the lobsters

Under the waves,

The lapping dancing, beautiful, wonderful, magnificent, mighty, strong,

Lovable, churning, pounding waves.

But what they love the most are the waves,

The perfect waves,

Their home, the waves.


Aislinn McCormack 

First Place Winner, Middle School

St. Ann School, 8th Grade


Neither Nor

They say I am too young

But aren’t I much too old?


I’m too old to sleep with the lights on,

Too young to go anywhere by myself,

Too old to need help with my homework,

Yet young enough to need help with major decisions.


I’m too young to form my own opinions,

Too old to afford not to.


Too old to be so naïve,

But too young to be so distrusting.


I’m old enough to see the shades of gray between the black and white,

But I’m little so I can’t do anything about it.

Furthermore, I’m big enough to hear about all the world’s suffering,

Too small to make a difference.


I’m too young to take all these insults to heart,

Too experienced to just deal with it,

Far too old for such outbursts,

Too young to keep them from slipping out.


Young enough to try my best,

Old enough to know it wasn’t good enough.


Too young to be so knowing,

Too old to be so ignorant.


I am not an adult

Nor am I a child.

I don’t fit in,

Nor quite stick out.


I am me.


Whether it’s rain or shine, thick or thin

I wouldn’t want it any other way.


Sarah Zuidema

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 12th Grade


Little Reminders

Territories are marked with rainbow umbrellas,

While wind blows hot sand against damp skin,

Stinging on contact.

Burns can be felt creeping onto cheekbones,

And tanned hides are pulled taut with the salt and sun.

The world’s giant mirror pounds the shore with its shards,

Cracked piece of broken dreams left scattered along the beach.

Chairs are left, tattered and worn,

An assembly of soldiers

Standing for peace,

Beaten with rounded pebbles and stones.

Sea glass shimmers in the sunshine,

Colorful memories and souls,

Hovering just out of reach.

Friendly lspirits smile in the sea spray

And dance between sunbeams.

Laughter from summers past

Rides the shite crests to shore,

Crashing in giddy mounds on sandcastles by the waves.

The seagulls mock,

Their shrieks vibrating the air,

Whipping breezes across the lonely crowd of people.

Each thought waddle its way down the slit

Where the hot sand meets the cold,

The dry meets the wet,

And the heavy summer air wrestles with the salty gusts.


2013 Poetry Contest Winners



Willa Brosnihan

First Place Winner, Elementary School

West Parish School, 4th Grade


The Waiting Drawer

In a drawer, the waiting drawer, sits a tiny porcelain doll with a chip on her chin

and grandmother’s missing diamond pin.

A baby doll wishing to go to bed,

a note that I have not yet read.

An earring that is missing its match,

a pair of jeans that needs a patch.

A page torn out of a book,

a poster of a wanted crook.

A mirror that has cracked in two,

a picture of someone, maybe it’s you!

Waiting to be fixed, or used, kplayed with

or just found.

Waiting in the waiting drawer.


Mark Turner

First Place Winner, Middle School

Eastern Point Day School, 8th Grade


The Girl in the Window

Her window is the perfect spot to sit.

She sits there with her legs crossed

leaning up against the concrete wall.

Her wardrobe is a light blue collared shirt,

thick brown belt,

and a navy blue skirt that hangs four inches above her knees.

Her long, luxurious, luscious, thick brown hair falls halfway down her back;

not one strand hangs out of place.

She’s tall with long olive legs

and the perfect crisp face.


After six months looking at her

I’ve found my courage to talk.

I come around the corner, my legs wobbling.

She is studying her biology text book.

When I’m within five feet of her,

She looks up and a subtle grin forms on her face.


Jordan Westling

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 11th Grade


175 Pounds

I tugged hard on his hand once, twice, a third,

And finally he complied.

The low tide burnt my nose as we walked closer.


As I tugged and pulled

His face remained passive.

His hands were weathered from the years

Leaving the end result similar to leather.

His rough juxtaposed my soft

Making it easy for my contours to catch his.


He outweighed me by at least 100 pounds

But he allowed himself to be pulled.


The spot was nice, maybe not ideal,

But neither was he.


He pulled out the rods silently,

And I happily picked mine from his hands.


Despite my need to break the silence I kept quiet.

Those were his silent wishes.

I looked up at his worn face

and saw the look of peace

That had evaded his eyes for so long.

A tug at the line interrupted my thoughts, moving my attention to the water.

When I looked back up, it was different.


He was no longer sitting up with his rod.

He no longer had slim weather hands.

He no longer had a look of peace.


I looked up and we were back.

Back to the uncomfortable white room,

Back to him lying down,

Back to his swollen dry hands.


Back to his worn face being obscured by tubes.



The poetry contest was not held in 2014.


2015 Poetry Contest Winners

George King

First Place (shared), Elementary School

East Gloucester Elementary School, 5th Grade


Blank Slate
A blank page

An erased whiteboard

Inspiring, beckoning for thoughts

A new Idea

Forever captured In writing

An Idea

While you will not live

Your Ideas live on

A new idea for everyone to use and honor

An Idea can make a dream

Or destroy one

Like knowledge Ideas have power

Ideas make life

An Idea has a purpose

Your Ideas are your monuments

Treasure them

New thoughts, fresh starts

Mean something

A second chance

To produce an Idea

Old Ideas don’t always last

They are burnt, thrown out

Which can be good, it gives space

For new ideas from the next generation

But sometimes old Ideas are priceless

With Ideas

Everyone has a chance

An Idea is special

It can take a month or years

Old Ideas evolve into new, better Ideas

And you don’t have to leave

Ideas to scientists

You can have your own at home

A new Idea may be good or bad

But if you try, your Idea can be


An Idea doesn’t have to be known to be respected

An idea does not have to be complete

Other people can open it up

Discover more

Your Idea, when told to others Is not yours anymore

An Idea is like an electrical charge

Or a time bomb, ready to explode

When your Idea explodes

You have changed the world.

Your Ideas, my Ideas work in harmony

My Idea can take your idea further

Ideas can be anything, change anything

Built on Ideas the world becomes better

Your Idea can be one of those

An Idea with purpose is the best Idea of

All but an Idea with hard work behind it

Has its own amazing journey

A person’s idea doesn’t have to be famous

To gain its own kind of fame

An Idea doesn’t have to be widely used

Even if only one person likes it

It has a place in the world

And if nobody likes it

You can create another

A new idea

Maybe just what the world needs.


Charles King

First Place Winner (shared)

East Gloucester Elementary School, 5th Grade




Big explosions in the sky,

A matchstick’s all it needs to fly,

Up into its burning flight,

Up to the sky in the quiet night.


The sky a cloak of midnight black,

It flies along its careful track,

Then explodes in colors bright,

Up in the sky in the quiet night.


The ashes fall right to the ground,

Falling softly without a sound,

A couple of sparks still burn bright,

And there’s the sky and the quiet night.


All rockets gone but you still gaze,

So long that your eyes glaze,

There still seems to be a sacred light,

That keeps you looking at the sky and the night.


Mila Barry

First Place Winner, Middle School

O’Maley School, 6th Grade
Living in The Valley Green

For a lifetime


Throve there, in brush


When the sky turned cream

When the rain came tumbling, sliding upon the dirt

I saw

Those nights of silk whisper

And the days sing

Oh the summers

Which I did spend there

Dancing with the infinite open stars

Flying through gentle moonshine, twirling through the everlasting sun

The world was smiling the whole time

If only I had looked about and saw it

Oh the winters

Snarling pains

Forever came snow

And the winds screamed, threatened by a knife

Such terror never leaves

All the time the willows wept

And hunched

And with them cried along

So long

Forever is so long

So went the years, whisked away

By breezes ever sweet

And ever gentle

Far too many

Memories rode like leaves upon that tinkling wind

Never blowing back

My life Is printed in that valley so green

Though the sun has long since sunk beneath waves


Emily Ryan

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 11th Grade


Loving in Reverse

And I expected each goodbye

To be forgotten eventually.

And I dreamed that the rain

Would fall back into the sky,

Impregnating the clouds

With tears they would never have to shed.

That waterfalls would defy gravity,

And their foamy cascades would land,

Cushioned by the stars.

And the blood a-playing through air backwards,

Being sucked back into the pathways

Of your brilliant, ingenious mind,

Filling it, reborn, with the warm breath of life.


That the bullet that perpetrated

The gates of your skull

Would recede through its metal chamber,

Back to its cold and lethal bed.

And the chemicals ignited

Would snuff out into packaged, manufactured elements

Waiting for their destruction.


And the waltz we did before we rested

Would be what we awakened to

Each and every day.

Our skin would grow tighter and fuller,

And our hearts would ignite to the melody of love.


And I expected each goodbye

To create the yearning

For a new



2016 Poetry Contest Winners

Sean Bergin

First Place, Elementary School

East Gloucester School, Grade 5


A Mysterious Wonder

I don’t exist,
But I’m always here.
Brave people fear me
When I am near.
The poor own me,
The rich have known me.
If you eat me, you die.
I fill what’s empty,
Yet I have no mass.
I am more fragile than any glass.
To most I’m an opportunity,
A blank slate
That carries a flamboyant fate.
I am a secret
That cannot be broken.
I am Nothing.


Mila Barry

First Place. Middle School

O’Maley Innovation School, Grade 7


Spoken like Words on the Wind

Hush, Hush
Can you hear it?
Rushing, rapid, through the reeds,
Singing softly as it weaves.
Can you? Can you?

Let the silence
Whisper as it calms the violence!
Let the quiet come.
Can you hear it?
Can you? Can you?


Grassy glades give way to sunlit days,
Which stretch into forever.
But only if you listen.
Can you hear it?
Can you?
Will it come?

Towards the moon.
The darkness is like silence.
It is slippery.
It is naturally.
It will fill you with a peculiar emptiness,
Bleach you paperwhite,
Then allow you to be covered
In light, noise; perhaps they are one and the same.
Can you hear it? Can you, now?

Feel it!
Water trips over sandy stones,
Sitting cool on earthen bones,
Lucid as thoughts.
Here it is, plain as day,
Riding on the song of the river!
Can you hear it?
Can you?

Sweetness is enfolded in the spring breeze.
It will lie to you with ease!
Let you believe that it will free you,
Pick you up and watch you fly.
But then, what is the difference
Between believing and reality?
So can you hear it? Can you?

The truth
Is an odd thing
Because I know that you can hear it.
So tell me,
Tell me please,
What do you hear?


Anya Fulmer

First Place, High School

Rockport High School, Grade 9



A battle is raging here;
Chill gusts sweep fiery patterns up
To freeze the soldiers so near.

Beneath the high unforgiving blue,
Golds and browns are taking this;
A season comes anew.

This weakened majesty trembles so,
Shudders and sways in the wind,
Bows his mighty crown that low,

Bows from summer into dark,
Crashing to the forest floor below,
Red swirls to rest on a fallen monarch.

2017 Poetry Contest Winners


Wilhelmina Rolf Thaemert

First Place, Elementary

Glen Urquhart School, Grade Three


A Girl

A girl walked out of her house and slowly stepped down the rocky
She felt the wind on her shoulders and looked up to see the pretty
night sky.
She heard the sound of a frog in the nearby pond.
And kept walking.
Rain started falling and as it dripped on the sidewalk it reminded her
of standing in a stream playing.
She saw, as the rain stopped, a butterfly on the ground, wet.
She picked it up carefully and set it on a plant.
It took a while but it flew away and she flew with it into the clouds
and away.
Willa Brosnihan

First Place, Middle School

O’Maley Middle School, 8th Grade


Time and Quiet

Blue painted clay-ware holds it,
Cinnamon-sugar my mother mixed,
Belonging to burned toast,
And mushy summer-butter.

It is in the white cabinet,
Next to prescription bottles,
And cloves of garlic,
Their long leaves braided.

The fever in July,
My mother made toast for my writhing stomach,
Like her mother made,
Cinnamon sugar toast,
Wet towels,
And ginger ale.

I would read picture books,
I would leave summer-butter fingerprints,
On the pages of Patricia Polacco,
Doctor Seuss,
To find now,
Grease stains a keepsake,
Crumbs and dust and sugar and spice clinging,
In the spines.

In the clay container it clumps and separates,
As it sits forgotten,
For stretches of time,
Next to prescription bottles,
And cloves of garlic,
With long leaves braided.
It is rediscovered,

On days too hot for pancakes,
When the milk is curdled,
It is rediscovered,
And breakfast tastes like the softer parts of sick days.

In the hotel dining room,
You spread dense packaged butter on both sides of your bread.

I thought of the Butter Battle Book as you told me,
That you put cinnamon sugar,
On your toast at home.

And then,

I wished only for time,

And quiet,

To tell you the bedtime story,
That ends with books marked with sweet honey,
The sticky reminder,
Much like my summer-butter blotches.

I wish only for time and quiet,



To show you the childhood in the lacquered blue,
And the bit of me,
On both sides of your toast.

I haven’t changed since then,
Since sick days,
picture books.
To know me is to know me as I always have been,
Filled with these narratives,
And tasting of cinnamon sugar.


Jemma Johnson-Shoucair

First Place, High School

Marblehead High School, 12th Grade


The Deeper The Shipwreck The More Precious The Treasure

I want you back so badly sometimes
I can still taste you in my mouth the
Scent of a home i have escaped from a
Refugee of my own body searching to make
A place for myself in this skin
My body a temple where i can find shelter from the
Looks you give her while i
Ignore your gaze pretending everything
Is fine pretending i don’t feel the ground
Slipping out from underneath me hoping
I have grown wings solid enough to fly when
The earth is gone and i am
Left in a cloud of my doubts ones
Strong enough to pull me under a
Ship lost in the bottom of the ocean one
That everyone wants to find but nobody has
My yearning the treasure in the hull of my ribs
My heart beating out a rescue signal hoping you will hear it
And come back to find yourself in my arms but
I forgot we cannot breathe underwater and
Dreams don’t exist when I am awake so I
Sleep to rid myself of you the only
Time when i do not imagine your hands in her hair
Kissing her sweetly the character i used to play and
Had almost forgotten that actors can be replaced while
The play still goes on and i am left to
Forge my own kingdom in the empty castle you abandoned for i
Am not afraid of solitude i am afraid of
Watching you find me in another’s eyes watching
Myself move on too slowly and too quickly at the same time
I have lost a best friend
I will not pretend it doesn’t hurt i will not pretend that
Some days i can’t imagine the sky is still above me and
That morning will follow the stars and i
Forget to look at the stars
The same elements i am made of chasing off the darkness
Burning without fear of fading knowing
That when they die they will have two options:
To explode into a supernova or
Implode in on themselves to become a black hole i feel
I am doing both at once my lungs collapsing with
Every breath while straining with the weight of the oxygen they take
My diaphragm tired of holding my body up
My heart restless in my chest pounding a beat that I once thought
You could hear music to but now
I am left to decipher its rhythm to craft
Notes from its cadence ones that i will dance to when
I am on my own ones that i will sing to when I
Fear my voice has grown too soft to understand
In the end you have lost one of the only people you can trust and
Replaced me with a substitute to carry you through these months
You leave burdened with regrets you have lost
The wild woman who will haunt your dreams the one who inexplicably
Caught your breath it was you who decided to open your heart and
It was you who decided to close it again leaving me on
The outside of someone i thought i knew i
Know how to climb walls to build bridges through the rubble of
Heartbreak but i will only be an unwelcome visitor one
Who is not quite an enemy but you still do not want
To share your home with a
Thorn in your side that you pull knowing
The space left behind will heal not knowing if
It will leave a scar
You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me i
Do not regret loving you with all i had learning that
I am allowed to heal to sink back into the
Mold my body had made years ago but was waiting
For me to find
I am one of the best things that has ever happened to you someone
Who let you be a child while still holding the title of a man
One who kept your dream in my pocket for safekeeping
Rolling around with promises i still intend to fulfill I
Am the best thing that has ever happened to me
When I cry myself to sleep my eyes will still open in the morning
Me to move on the muscles in my face will chew my food my
Throat will swallow keeping me alive i am forever grateful for the
Beauty my body has graced me with the way my legs stretch out
When i run pretending there is nothing behind me my chest heaving
With the hope that I will never have to stop my mind
A constant whirlwind of ideas ones that can be overwhelming but
What storm isn’t
I am a hurricane, a fire, a quiet chaos waiting to turn into a roar
I am the silence after an unnecessary apology the feeling
In your throat when you hold back tears i am
The hand that holds you steady and the one that grabs you
Down i will not be silent because you can’t hear yourself think i
Will only be silent to hear the beat of my pounding heart
Leading me back home


2018 Poetry Contest Winners


Josie West

First Place, Elementary School

West Parish School, 5th Grade


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.


Silently  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!



Elijah Sarrouf

First Place, Middle School

O’Maley School, 7th Grade


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?



Willa Brosnihan

First Place, High School

Gloucester High School, 9th Grade


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.



2019 Poetry Contest Winners

Lyall Cunningham

First Place, Elementary School

Plum Cover School, Grade 5



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.



Elijah Sarrouf

First Place, Middle School

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.



Autumn-Marie Silva

First Place, High School

Gloucester High School, Grade 10


Star-Cross’d Lovers


Cruel, vexatious Fate!

Thy threads of barbéd wire

String us together

Like gnats to a spider’s web.



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



2020 Poetry Contest Winners

Note: Due to complications caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, there were no Elementary School winners during this contest cycle.


Josephine West

First Place, Middle School

O’Maley Innovation Middle School, Grade 7


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.



Willa Brosnihan

First Place, High School

Gloucester High School, Grade 11



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.


2021 Poetry Contest Winners


Betsy Telep

First Place Winner, Elementary School

Homeschool, 4th Grade


Sea View

Seals bask in the sun,
As I try to run,
Against the waves of Glory.
The wind ruffles the seagull’s Feathers
As they glide gracefully atop the infinite blue sky.
The roaring sea
shouts now even more gleefully
“Come in, Come in! The water’s fine. Of course, it’s mine!

For I am the roaring sea.”

I walk the sandy beaches,
As the rocks tumble.
I walk the sandy beaches,
As I throw off my first pair of breeches.
The seaweed will decide
It’s getting quite bored
With all the rope tangled and the crabs crawling
This way and that.
Yes, the seaweed will decide
That it is her turn to glide
Upon the ancient seas.
I climb onto the marshy marsh,
and fall into its tall grasses.
I climb onto the marshy marsh
Always happy and gay,
Because the ocean is my life,
And my life is the ocean,
And here I am. Right here! As I sit upon the bay.


Caliana Dort

First Place Winner, Middle School

O’Maley School, 7th Grade


Where I am From

I am from distractions and trauma, depression and hate;
I am from where dreams and lives were crushed to pieces with no hope in sight
I am from a group of nobodies with no aspiration;
I am from a place where nobody wants to be, a place for desperate nobodies
where even the lowest of the low look at this place and call it a ghetto;
Where the government pays you for disabilities and where no one works;
Where little kids’ toys are left out on the lawns;
Where people are living together in a duplex;
Where people leave their pride behind them and have to settle in this dump;
I am from parents who are separated who live separate lives;
I am from one who has anxiety to the roof but values every moment with his kids;
This man is my father and he is the glue that holds our love together;
I am from a one who chases love and never finds it for long one
who wants to be valuable to more than her children
one who has been broken multiple times,
but every time puts herself together and puts a mask on;
This is my mother she tries her hardest for her children;
I am from sisters that act like they love but they don’t show it;
A home where two sisters moved away from us,
A place where one of my sisters is using my vulnerability to throw me insults
about two people that have made a long impact on my life;
One sister that has her own problems that she hides with her own friends
as they are rude and as useless and as dumb as stones;
One sister that says she cares for me but throws my life out of her way,
asks me to do favors for her; but I have shut down to a point

Where I couldn’t care less because where I’m from defines me;
From a little kid I was brought up liking life;
But life brought me down, a slave to its nightmares;
I was and those nights had got the best of me and I’m broken;
Mentally shattered and physically unhealthy; my life has the better of me.
Torn between life and death is getting to my head.
Am I better alive or dead?


Kyia Karvelas

First Place Winner, High School

Gloucester High School, 10th Grade


The Tea Kettle

This feeling of anxiety and sadness that I can’t control
No one to turn to, to express my feelings
I feel like a tea kettle that after a while I might just blow
Steam overwhelming my life
My mind and heart slowly wash away not feeling how hot I am
I might just blow
Blow all my feelings out of me and force myself to not feel but still live
Forcing everyone out of my life and not letting anyone in
Like how a tea kettle blows all of the steam out and only keeps the water in
Two people that flipped my life and made me this way
The domino effect hits this family of mine
Soon way more people become like me, tea kettles
Everyone wants to help and take me off the burner
Thinking it will stop me from feeling this way
That won’t work
I’ll still steam up
I will still feel this way
You can’t touch me unless you want to burn yourself
You can’t help me
No one understands how I’ll blow after a while
I might just blow
I won’t blow now
I feel someone who I can let in
Someone who moves me they weren’t afraid of the burn
They lifted me up and let me become cool again
My scream slows down
I don’t feel as hot
I will no longer blow







* * * * * * *