April may not be the cruelest month any more since it is officially deemed National Poetry Month. Within the city, opportunities abound for poesy fans to take wing, but our personal favorite is the annual Young Poets Contest, which The Independent cosponsors with the Santa Barbara Public Library-one of the city’s greatest champions of budding writers. In addition to its many literacy programs and its recent upgrading of the children’s area of the Eastside branch, the library sends youth services senior librarian Janice Rorick out to visit junior and senior high school classes throughout S.B., where she challenges the young to mix memory and desire, stir their dull roots with spring rain, and come out with some strong words. This year, poet Barry Spacks and arts writer D.J. Palladino teamed up to assess the results of Rorick’s challenge. The response of our budding Elliots and Pounds, not to mention Dickinsons and Moores, can be enjoyed below. Shantih indeed.
My full name’s Beautiful Pretty Gorgeous.
I’m the feeling all the other feelings wish they could be.
They tell me I’m snobbish, they tell me I’m a bratbut why would I care? I don’t, so forget that!
I sometimes talk to Depression, feel bad for the guy. Don’t forget Humiliation, she’s loud but shy.
Anger won’t talk to me, jealous as can be. Oh yeah, there’s jealousymean, mean, and mean!
But let’s stop talking about them for a moment because this paper’s about me.
I’m the important onethe leader of the team.
No rhymes for a secondthey get kind of hard.
I am the mark on your face that gets you attention.
Sometimes people get surgery to have medoesn’t always work out so well.
There’s beauty treatment, beauty sleep, beauty blah blah blah :
Some humans don’t like each other because one has me, one doesn’t, but the truth is they both have me.
I love when there’s formal dressing because I’m all over the place! That’s fun.
But it gets kind of tiring when I’m with a modelshe’s always on the run!
But overall, I think I’ve had the most fun just being crazy and being the different one.
If you are down and think that you are without me, you’re totally, 100%, completely wrong.
I belong to everyone: the big, small, weak and strong.
But if you still won’t listen, at least listen to this:
Think of yourself, nobody else, that’s what beauty is.
-Taylor Hamilton, Dunn Middle School, 6th grade
Time, Space, and the Relativity of a Teacup
Between the times of here and now
Between yesterday and yesteryear
There was a time, there is a time
A past, present and future.
Between the time of dark and light
There is a twilight zone
A space of moral, literal gray
Post fear of dark, and Pre hope of light.
Between cells and other cells
There are spaces that to bacteria
Might be the relative size of a teacup.
Between “like” and “um”
A mad rush of brain cogs and sound is there
Between the spaces are words and between words there are letters
Islands in the spaces,
Between the pen and paper is ink, the ink waiting to spread
The ink that wrote this poem.
-Chrysanthe Pantages, La Colina Junior High, 7th grade
I want to thank the sun
For its power
And how it lights up the heart
Of a lion
And makes the eyes glitter
Like a rain drop falling
In to the ocean
And how the sun makes
The father lion come back
To his family
And how it makes the lion cubs
Come to life
I want to thank the sun
For letting the grass grow
So the deer have something to eat
And how the shine
Makes friendship and love
How it makes plants grow
And gives us food
I thank the sun for giving us life
-Lina Kleinschmidt, La Colina Junior High, 7th grade
My name is Shadow
My weight is hollow
When you do something, I do ditto.
You move quickly and I will follow,
And that is where there is light, no
When the sun is high I’m short, but when it sets, I will distort
No matter your shape, I’ll be flat
You’re in color, but I choose a gray format
I follow you everywhere except when it’s dark, then I go hide, until you come out in
the light, where I can abide.
-Jennifer Andreas, Dunn Middle School, 6th grade
The World of Black and White
The world of black and white is gone
The world of safe and secure
It’s now a gray and dangerous world
A world wtithout a cure
The world of black and white was polite
With manners, ease, and grace
The world now can be sinful and rude
A melancholy, cloudy place
The world of black and white was safe
With not a worry, threat, or care
But now the world is confused and lost
A world of fear everywhere
The world of black and white was joyful
The world was content and pure
But the world now is an impending storm
A rash world long unsure
The world of black and white was perfect
Calm and sophisticated with nothing sought
But the world is gone because we destroyed it
And this gloomy world is what we got
-Stephanie Zirretta, La Colina Junior High, 7th grade
You think to yourself “Where is the hammer?”
For you wish to strike a nail into the rotted wood
that is the malformed head of your homemade doll
How hard could it be to whittle a little wood man?
You know how it should look, just like the people you see everyday
a head, two arms, two legs around one body
not fat, but not too thin
Just replicate your sight onto this oak canvas
With a well-sharpened knife, and a free afternoon
Then dress him in old rags and sit back proud
looking at your primitive masterpiece
Before returning to everyday tasks
A brief, creative respite from the chores of the usual
Nothing is ever so easy, of course
His right hand came clean off after a shaky cut
A wooden amputee still in the line of fire
You hurt yourself on the finely sharpened knife
Blood staining the statuette, foreshadowing its doom
One leg came out too long, the other a mere stub
And trimming the one resulted in a humanoid monster
creeping about on grotesque, infant feet
An errant slice flattened the head
leaving the already-carved eyes far too high on the face
That can’t be fixed, so you moved down the body
Leaving a gouged belly and punctured thigh along the way
A last attempt at fixing the right arm
Then came curses and exasperated sighs
And a quick look through the tool box
-Alex Dunn, Dos Pueblos High School, 11th grade
The crows and pigeons meet in circles
they move against each other
coming from odd-ends, coming in shades of agate and cinderdust
coming like death, conversing so oddly, coming to make sense (like shoe strings finally tied)
all just for me
Where they meet answers
why Grandpa one and two died before I ever held their old, withered hands or smelt their
why Beautiful children stop smiling
in the churning air, they move in circles
coming at each other
The logical snapping of their wings The beat of their circles
The invisible swiggles of their motion
The point they meet
but yet so sensical
where Death meets Life when I
am still living
where black and white meet without becoming
where existence explodes into
the coo of the black bird and when it meets the call of the white one
in the circles of the crows and pigeons
-Hannah Friedland, Dos Pueblos High School, 9th grade
What if my fingers were made of sushi
And fairies and sand? I’d sloth away toward
The blockades that contain the lonely sea
And find an outbound ship to climb aboard.
With pictures of adjunct realities
Next to the foggy interpretation
Of some old novel, inspired to tease
The rust and dust and smoke out of creation
I’d visit children sleeping on their dreams
So skillfully adorned with tiny smiles
By the tiny tether to tiny screams
That hold my wing-beats close and sleep in piles;
Comestibles and imps and stone combine
So faith and fog and fantasy are mine.
-Nicole Zok, Dos Pueblos High School, 11th grade
Ache me Baby
Ache me baby
Because you told me
Over being friends
But what about the benefits?
Please answer me Marley,
Could this be love?
Find themselves here
And react to the agony.
Goodbye really does hurt,
And this time no kisses were blown my way.
Instead the arrows, with their
Pink hearts, were off target from us.
And maybe I did wish for a
Happily ever after and so did you,
But love or something thought it impossible.
So ache me baby,
And slice my heart,
But don’t break it.
Twirl my soul,
But don’t take it.
And feelings of regret
And maybe humility
Will take over.
But the nights will sleep,
And the world will die on,
And so will life.
So I say
Ache me baby.
Just for now.
-Esther Tran-le, Laguna Blanca High School, 10th grade
The Cliff (for my father)
smooth, tan flesh in the calves,
shoelaces untied on lavender shoes and
ankles covered in magenta socks.
A dark cerulean cotton dress,
almost lost beneath the layers of printed sunflowers,
blue lace on the hem that
skimmed the air like a brush on paper.
Beneath the dress, dark pink shorts,
there for when the wind might lift the dress
above the knees.
Sharp, sparkling eyes,
the sea on a sunny day,
the waves of seaweed green and water blue
arcing and crashing behind the eyelashes.
The long honey hair, braided,
but wisps of sunshine framing the face,
the sweet, pink cheeks
that blushed just in their existence.
Small feet curled their toes over the cliff,
little soft hands spread their fingers,
skinny arms that came out like bird wings
that waved over the green forests
and bright sky over hill and rural house.
Each finger grasped the atmosphere.
And then something strong around the stomach,
big, warm hands that gripped the waist
and lifted up the child :
and pulled me back from the edge.
-Meghan Petersen, Dos Pueblos High School, 10th grade