From left: Amber Harrington, Maya Stanford, Rachel Love, and Podina Nolt
Paul Wellman

A great poem helps resuscitate our sense of wonder. Whether it’s an intricately wrought ode to ancient urns or a plain-spoken image of a red wagon among leaves of grass, words memorably strung together can remind us that existence itself is extraordinary. The Independent is happy to team with the Santa Barbara Public Library annually to present a selection of prize-winning sensory wake-up calls culled from Santa Barbara’s fledgling bards. They help us recall that the hollow trunk of a tree, the celebration of birds, and even the simple fact of a dull knife can return us to ourselves.

First Place

Song of Believing

You must know

This moment-this is not about you

This is about sitting, cross-legged, under

a tree

This is about tasting the wind and knowing how sweet the birds sing

When it is nearly nightfall and they believe themselves invisible

This is about the blades of grass that flicker up from the warm ground

Like messengers from a beautiful, hidden world

This is about the simple complexity of nature

This is the pure, uninterrupted song of the earth

A singing that comes from nowhere and everywhere

A beautiful, discordant paradox of a harmony

This is about walking home in the dark

Believing the song will deliver you

To that place where a fire burns and warm food cooks

Civilization: it is comforting but altogether too tame and unsatisfying

For the song cannot be heard from inside closed doors

It lives only in the hollow trunk of a tree, in the celebration of birds,

In the darkness, which can lift a man up

And return him to that original vulnerability,

The place where trust is supremely vital

So you must know, now

This moment-this is not about you

This is about a song that is made more of feelings than notes

A song of closing your eyes and feeling your way through the dark

-Amber Harrington, 11th Grade Santa Barbara High School

Second Place

The troubles of Nobelium

If I were made of Nobelium, my life would be different.

Every 58 minutes half of my body would disappear.

I would make everybody around me sick.

I would be a little overweight, at about 23,101 lb.

I could withstand temperatures up

to 1,521° F.

For now I’ll stick with H O.

-Aaron Eidelson, 11th Grade Santa Barbara High School

Third Place


i’d be more popular if i didn’t speak my mind

and my voice was less annoying

maybe if i wore a push-up bra

and drank til i was snoring

and maybe bought a brand new car

(used up my college funds)

and maybe rote my wurds like this

commended war and guns

and maybe if it didn’t work

i’d change the way i look

and suck up to the nearest jerk

and burn my all my textbooks

so damn my mom, for teaching me

a mind all of my own

and damn my dad, for teaching me

the truth that should be known

if they’d all just let me snort a bit

and go party late at night

i’d run and jump and play and sit

my IQ’d drop out of sight

but now i have a brain to use

and a trap that can’t be shut

i can’t help but think how great life’d be

if i was a slut

-Anonymous, 10th Grade Carpinteria High School

Fourth Place


I live in the veins of an old woman’s hand

I am the sky at twilight

A dusty aged amethyst ring, and

The swirling color of paint

A robust glass of wine

Let us dine! Let us dine!

With the shiny young skin of an eggplant

-Padina Nolt, 11th Grade Santa Barbara High School

Fifth Place

A Love Letter to Anonymity :

I love the delicious taste of your attention

I love the cool breeze of rejection that smells like your specificity as you stride past without recognition of me

I love when you forget my name, and, embarrassed and flustered, call me by the name of your cat or ex-girlfriend

I love the radiance of your dysfunction and the cacophonous cadence of your depression

I love that you are ignorant of my sins, my attributes and my being

I love that you will never laugh at my insecurities that have so eloquently summed up my passion

I love the cruelty of your voice which flickers out from behind your perfect teeth like the conflagration in a dragon’s mouth

I love the sound of your disdain as it matches my pace in the hallway, stride for stride

I love the passionate way your hair shields the top of your eyes from my penetrating gaze, how I can never look you in the eye

I love how you taunt me with your flippant shoes and unnecessary belt buckle

I love the cold sweat that forms in the crevices of my breast when you touch the fine hairs that line my hands

I love the torture of watching you leave my presence

I love the girl whom you do not ignore, the girl whose body you know like the pattern of the well-worn tee-shirt I gave you three years ago for your birthday

I love my anonymity

-Rachel Love, 11th Grade Santa Barbara High School

From left: Katie Tovar, Kelsey Rich, Jes°s Olivo Nicol¡s, Savannah Hudson (Honorable Mention), Chris Siefe, Skye McGill, and David Lopez.
Paul Wellman

Junior High School

First Place

Dull Knife

In Santa Barbara

There’s an apartment

In that apartment is my home

In my home there is a kitchen

In my kitchen there’s a cabinet

In that cabinet there’s a drawer

In that drawer there is a tray

In that tray there is a dull knife

-David Lopez, 8th Grade La Cumbre Junior High School

Second Place

My Life as a Severed Foot

I’m a foot,

Well a detached one I should say.

My owner abandoned me.

He left me alone in the streets.

I didn’t know what to do,

I became a homeless foot.

I couldn’t do anything,

Especially without opposable thumbs.

But one day,

A light of hope,

Shined in the distance.

Well, actually it was a car’s headlight.

The car hit me of course.

But out of that car,

Came Hope.

Yes, a girl named Hope,

The girl who helped me out of this predicament.

She befriended me,

She took me home.

And one day she told me a secret,

She had lost a foot.

So she took me to the hospital,

And finally we were connected together forever,


-Chris Siefe, 8th Grade La Colina Junior High School

Third Place

Four Seasons

A baby deer awakes,

Ducklings arise from

Their nest,

Birds glide across the water,

And a new life has begun

Temperatures begin to rise

Animals begin to sunbathe,

A child is free

And summer has arrived

As it gloats from its throne,

Children dive down into the water


But slowly the throne

That once so greedily ruled

Disappears into a pile of leaves

Children line up and a new teacher

Says “Hello”

Fall has taken over

A leaf falls like a snowflake

So daintily floating without care

Squirrels gather nuts the color of amber

Owls begin to hoot later at night

The sun changes the hours of day

And a turkey is served

After the feast,

All is quiet

Until the whisper of

The first snowfall leaves a cloud

And in comes winter

Snowballs fly,

The aroma of a

Christmas tree fills the air,

Presents are passed around

Everything is at peace

A new year arrives

Rain splatters the ground

Animals go to sleep

And dew glistens on the

Morning grass

Then suddenly in the month

Of March

A baby deer awakes

Ducklings arise from

Their nest,

Birds glide across the water,

And a new life has begun

-Katie Tovar, 6th Grade, Mountain View Elementary School

Fourth Place

Don’t Judge a Book

by Its Cover

Don’t judge a book by its cover,

As people always say,

This saying quite confuses me,

In many different ways.

If you don’t judge a book by its cover,

Then what do you judge it by?

Title? Author? Publisher?

But not its cover, why?

What goes around comes around,

Isn’t always true

Why do people say this?

If I only knew.

If you pass your cookie around,

You may never get it back

But those you pass it to,

Will get a tasty snack!!

-Kelsey Rich, 8th Grade, La Colina Junior High School

Fifth Place

Finger Painting

The clean smile of the paper,

The different colors in front of your eyes,

Each little boy and girl staring

At the paper smile up at them,

Like a change of a traffic light or

A blow of a whistle

The colors splattered, each finger a different color,

Hand prints on each page, big, small, fat, or thin,

Everyone’s a different color

On their own skin.

-Skye McGill, 8th Grade, La Cumbre Junior High School

Gabriela Mistral Prize


Me preguntan que si te he de olvidar,

Olvidar piensas que he de olvidar

Ese cuerpo tu yo moldeado por los

Mismos ¡ngeles, olvidar tus ojos,

Dos perlas hermosas, tu boca, dos petalos

De la flor mas preciada de este jard-n, dime que harias


-Jes°s Olivo Nicol¡s, 8th Grade La Cumbre Junior High


The Young People’s Poetry Contest winners will read their work at the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Townley Room tonight, Thursday, April 17, from 7-8:30 p.m. For more information, call 564-5621.


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