2017 Student Poets

Emma Crockford

Claudia Inglessis

Kelly Sheng
Runner Up

Aidan Wertz
Runner Up

Emma Crockford is a Junior at Rising Tide Charter Public School in Plymouth, where she is the founder and editor of her school newspaper. Her most recent publications include The Emerson Review, Brown University's The Round, Gravel Parallax and Liminality Magazine.
Claudia Inglessis is a junior at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She enjoys writing prose poetry, training in classical ballet, reading James Joyce, and baking multitudes of chocolate chip cookies for her school's writer's group.
Kelly Sheng has been a public speaker since she was in middle school, and grew up learning to love literature and the humanities. She never got the chance to explore poetry in-depth until she took a poetry workshop class in school this year, where sheI really learned to understand and develop her voice.
Aidan Wertz is a senior at Haverhill High School. He enjoys playing the cello and going on runs. After a gap year where Aidan is travelling the country with his twin brother and their friend, he plans on studying Political Science and English at college. Thanks so much for this opportunity!

  • The First Real Funeral

    You grieved for the skin we found stuck to the sidewalk;
    not knowing the garden snakes were only molting,
    like boys running towards the water, their elbows popping out of T-shirt sleeves.

    At nine and a half in dress up clothes on basement steps, we held mass like priests.
    Wearing Father’s ties, you wrote eulogies for everything that tasted like tragedy.
    We learned to mourn on Saturday mornings, in bare feet with dirty hands,
    planting tulip bulbs upside down in Mother’s garden.

    I am buttoning my black coat to my chin, standing in the kitchen,
    feeling your silence on my skin.
    I am at the corner of your grief, and you are
    somewhere in the middle of its country,
    in the middle of his absence,
    small again.

    At night, I wake up and I am close enough for a minute
    to hear the boys, sixteen, and calling to the shore,
    The night they raced to the water.
    I dig my feet into the cold sand and watch them
    spitting salt water from their cheeks.
    Children with sunburns peeling down their backs,
    fresh skin scrubbed raw with salt water underneath.
  •  To Write a Poem

    Ah, sweet self indulgence!
    Won’t you carry me across cotton candy clouds of metaphors and similes and
    shall I compare thee to a summer’s days?
    Overshare, you say? Then overshare I shall!

    I’ll tell them about my shitty romantic situation
    (I’m sure they’re dying to hear!)
    or about how my grades have plummeted into the depths of the sea
    (Let them sympathize, let them relate!)

    Write a poem about heartache, about heartbreak, about
    heartstrings and heartbeats and heartburn (?)
    Okay, maybe not that last one.

    I’ll write a love story, a sob story, a coming-of-age story, all at once,

    condensed into a
    haiku with a beginning,
    a middle, an end,

    bursting at the seams
    with things about myself that
    no one wants to know.

    Ah, yes, self indulgence!
    I hear you loud and clear,
    Sonnets are the way to go!
    What better way to boast
    A poet as brilliant as I?

    To write a poem is a long-lost art.
    As quiet nights bring muse to artists’ minds,
    Words translate complex workings of the heart,
    Of love and all the ones they’ve left behind.

    But now a poem’s form is less divine!
    As people from tradition turn away,
    And modern poets step far out of line,
    A poem’s worth has started to decay.

    Today, a poet really won’t need much,
    A pen, some paper, and a working hand,
    Some words about their ex’s gentle touch,
    More metaphors than readers can withstand.

    Now anyone can write a poem too,
    Perhaps the next big poet will be you.
  • Sophia

    Sophia told me she was going to jump out of a tree.
    Craving the euphoria of flying,
    sure that gravity had its exceptions,
    I joined her.

    I broke my ankle twice,
    but Sophia
    found her clarity in the open air.
    Sophia needed to fly,
    so she danced like her feet had wings,
    floating, leaping, soaring.

    Sophia used to watch herself dance.
    We spun on wooden floors,
    and Sophia’s eyes traced her body in the mirror,
    lingering through her every move,
    and I loved Sophia,
    because she smelled like honeysuckle
    and her skin felt warm
    and she made me feel
    like I was floating.

    Sophia and I used to eat.
    We stuffed snacks in our pockets and crawled into corners,
    tearing the bags open and pouring sugar into our mouths.
    We stumbled giddily into ballet class with potbellies like drunken men.
    Our teacher slapped Sophia’s potbelly with her cane, and sneered
    “I can see those pancakes you had for breakfast. Why don’t you suck in a little bit?”
    Sophia’s chest ballooned out,
    her ribs pressed against her pale pink leotard,
    her abdomen caved into her body,
    her face grew red
    as she held held her breath,
    never to exhale.

    Sophia traded our snacks for ice water,
    and our 2 miles runs for 10.
    We raced through frigid trails,
    cracking ice with our sneakers,
    collapsing into snow drifts.
    Sophia took my icy hand and laid it on her stomach so I could feel her skin shiver.
    She told me she felt empty.
    I had never loved someone who was empty.

    Sophia stopped dancing to fly.
    She danced for the valleys between her ribs,
    the indentations of her collarbones,
    the light that shone between her thighs.
    She danced with her eyes closed,
    covered every mirror in her house,
    showered in the dark.

    I stopped catching Sophia dancing in her underwear,
    and started catching her skipping lunch,
    hiding food in napkins,
    shoving toothbrushes down her throat.

    Sophia shattered every light,
    slammed every door,
    made a spectacle of removing herself from my life.
    She evaporated in front of me,
    and I grasped desperately to keep her on the ground,
    because I didn't how to love someone who let herself float away.

    Sophia failed her auditions,
    failed mirrors,
    failed scales,
    failed eating,
    failed looking at herself,
    failed at not tearing herself to shreds.

    The shreds of sophia floated around me like ash above embers.
    I picked shreds out of the air for her to see.
    I showed her the wrapping paper she used to tear off my gifts
    showed her the swings that took us so high our toes pricked holes in the sky,
    showed her the tree she threw me out of.
    I showed Sophia the shreds,
    and she saw
  • My Father: Comes Home a Buddhist,

    grocery bags in tow. He unloads
    the food into fridges and cabinets,
    storing away the sustenance
    that he will later consume
    in thankfulness. He cleans the toilet,
    God of patience,
    bathing in the pungent smell of urine.
    He washes the dishes,
    God of things undone and things yet to be done,
    of dirt and excess and polish.
    My Father meditates when he breathes,
    he prays when he walks,
    and he comes home a Buddhist,
    God of mastering the awareness