> Rachel Corrie's Peace by Richard Downing - (First Place - tie)
> White Flag by Sean Mclain Brown - (First Place - tie)
Youth (13 - 18) Category
> My Mother's Garden by Olivia Cole - (First Place)
> My daughter, the past by Emma Zeldin - (Honorable Mention)
Youth (12 - Under) Category
> Guarding the Good by Phoebe Arnold - (First Place)
> A Time of Everything, I Know by Kamil Kisielewicz - (Honorable Mention)
Rachel Corrie's Peace
by Richard Downing
First Place- Tie
She looks less dead in the photograph,
still the girl who wanted to be everything
from activist to astronaut but now,
not that many years removed
from fifth-grade dreams, lies
collapsed beneath a bulldozer intent
on collapsing less human houses,
her wall of flesh crushed, her blood spilled
to try to stop the spillage
that will be as it’s always been absorbed
into the sacred sands that surround Rafah
where she stood,
where she fell, her bright orange
jacket disappearing beneath the machine,
flesh against moment and metal.
Sean Mclain Brown
First Place - Tie
A few hours after we bombed an artillery position outside Kuwait City, a whine rose in
distance and like small gnats, our Harriers returned, and we counted each one, as if they were
sheep and we, shepherds. This wasn’t the adventure it sounds. We were young men who
questioned nothing—all action, no talk.
Hope’s kind of like the coelacanth, the ancient fish thought extinct but discovered in shallow
waters off the coast of South Africa. Hope’s a last resort against the human condition, and
today in the headlines I read, “Massacre in Iraq.”
Soldiers are swallowed by the rhythm of blood; fear pumps through them, something
primordial, something that crowds out reason and shouts “KILL THEM BEFORE THEY
KILL YOU.” It’s the less publicized version of the Marine Corps Creed that says, “When
you absolutely need something blown up over night, call the Marines.” We do our job and
we are exceedingly efficient.
I begin to suspect that I’m a criminal, though no court will ever convict me; who is
responsible? I find myself staring at my hands for hours, the single flame that illuminates my
thoughts—how many people did I help kill?
And what of faith? Strange to feel something stirring in my heart that asks me to stop
running and give in to gravity. After watching Bedouins and their camels winding through
the desert under a full moon, their trail curling like a long syllabic string of Sanskrit, I begin
to believe in redemption; the kind that the thief on the cross experienced, but stories cannot
silence the phantom shells exploding, or heal the aching disconnect in my shoulder. The
metal pins holding me together feel like biting on tinfoil, and I wonder when it will end, this
We brought our failures back with us, we buckled and yielded to their weight, their acrid
taste, like gasoline, their smell, noxious as a terminal ward. But I remember Derek, the kid
who refused to take part in the killing, even when he was beat by other Marines in our unit.
While waiting for the MPs to haul him away, he opened the door to our hooch, let the wind
wash his face, screamed a long guttural howl that raises the hair on my arms even now, a
sound I recognize as everything I’d come so far to give away.
My Mother's Garden
by Olivia Cole
my mother sits at the window staring
at the place her garden
used to be. the birdbath is empty
and dry like the flowerbeds. she
contemplates the grass,
how brown it has become,
and the pale hostas trouble her.
i look out the window too, but
at the city instead. I am ten
and want to change the world
and become president
and travel to third-world countries.
“somalia is starving,” I say.
and she says
“my garden is dying.”
i am ten and angry with her
for her lack of concern. I recite
facts about poverty, name
the wars that I’ve heard of.
my mother smiles as she always has
and turns back to the small universe
of her garden. “sasha, we have to start
somewhere,” she says, and on her grocery list
writes flower seeds.
My daughter, the past
by Emma Zeldin
History is growing
Strong and broad
And curved like moon-bone
Between my hips
Because that is where my power lies
The birthright to strength that so many women could not take advantage of
My heritage is traced in sand
Finger swept and loved
Rough skin turned black by numbers that don’t add up
Memories of Germany
We don’t talk about anymore
I am undernourished in my ancestry
Ribs visible beneath layers and layers of revised stories
Hidden like my grandmother’s hair
Which smells faintly of the spices of the old country
My history lives in that smell
It traveled from Russia
Nearly jumped off the boat into the black waters where so many stories end up
Mothers beneath the waves
Singing Adonai Yis-ra-eil as their names are forgotten
And their images lie dormant
But if history were my child
She would be born imperfect
And moon bone beautiful
Between my hips
Guarding the Good
by Phoebe Arnold
I blow on my hands.
They grasp the feeble cardboard sign
I had made on a whim
the boy informs his mother.
Not that it makes a difference
The bridge is positioned
so the bitter wind
whips from the water
and snakes directly down my neck.
the girl cries.
It’s hard to see
when there’s ash in your eyes.
A driver honks his horn.
I glimps his scowl and wonder
what he has against peace.
“Puppy? Puppy? Wake up!”
The brown fur
takes on a reddish hue.
My flimsy sign bends in half.
I reposition myself
so I can hold it straight
I stand here with frosty hands,
my pathetic sign—
a tiny army
A Time for Everything, I Know
by Kamil Kisielewicz
Mama always said
there’s a time for everything
and I guess I’ll have to wait,
like waiting for the seasons to change,
planting a seed and watching it grow, so hard, so long
starting summer, being patient, for what I want
in life that is, or today, tomorrow, just like yesterday,
it seems as if I can no longer understand time
till all the fighting will be done, forever
and I won’t see lines of worry
on so many faces or, losses of hope
in the people I know, but I
there is a
I’ve planted an Olive tree