Sr. Daisy Bello is this year’s Poet Laureate.
The competition for the title of Poet Laureate was intense. Seven judges, including five teachers and two students, read the 24 submitted poems; each chose a top three from the stack of anonymous poems. An unprecedented fourteen poems claimed spots in the judges’ top three ratings. Six different poems were rated first, with only Bello’s poem rated first by more than one judge.
Ultimately Bello’s poem “Do you know me” claimed victory.
The poem sprung from an English assignment; Bello selected a beginning and concluding line from two shuffled piles. The lines “I want a red dress” and “Of my name” provoked powerful personal experiences for Bello, and she utilized those experiences and those of her close friends to craft a piece she felt lots of girls could relate to.
Instructor Kristen Bentley, one of the judges, appreciated the “subtle, not in your face, rhymes” and the shift in voice between the thoughts of the speaker and the thoughts of those around her. “I felt it was an emotional piece that could’ve been linked to the #MeToo movement.”
Do you know me
I want a red dress.
But rumors are spreading,
Whispers that I look better with less.
I have no clue of where I’m heading
Yet here I am.
Walking down the alleyway
Her hips sway,
Short skirt, blouse, and skin
Tempting others to sin.
With lips that with forever say…
You watch my lips
Like you watch my every move.
My heart no longer skips
When you look at me and approve.
She has many labels;
She calls herself Daddy’s little girl
While she’s dancing on tables
and tugs on her curl.
Look me in the eyes
Where all my demons hide
You come near me in disguise
But I already noticed what’s inside.
There’s a stoplight
You licked your lips
And promised you don’t bite
But you will never catch a glimpse
Of my name.
The contest has two runners-up this year due to the extreme difficulty in selecting a winner.
One of the runners-up, Sr. Alexis Moore, wrote “The Sun Combusted One Morning.” Moore is part of the Creative Writing Club and wrote her poem independently.
The sun combusted one morning
As I was brewing my coffee
The pot sputtered to me
dense as the bread we chew,
A fixated light
Illuminated flowers blemished
Outside my kitchen window
And a golden gate
Not far off
In the distance.
toss me their baggage of remorse
From my kitchen
I sit in still and I sit and I wait
In a moment fixed and stationary,
For my coffee to simmer
Slowly, half heartedly, down the drain
Indeed did I
Brew coffee I’d never drink
The sun’s misinterpretation
O’ my praiseful inclination
To seize the day
And after it’s frolicked a while
The shadows appear to me
Coffee seeping through my ceiling
O unfurling distress
Upon my thinning brow,
An empty pot
I stare at!
A sun combusted
Some situations you simply cannot allow
The wind to shave such indiscretions
Down to nubs
Noticeably the golden gate
Across a distance of sacred mourn,
Beckons my name
And I am lifted
My oven left on
All I have been taught
Sr. Juliana Malinowski, the other runner-up, wrote “Warning.” Malinowski also wrote her poem for an assignment; she had to choose a title from a list and write a poem around it.
There are bad people:
Reprehensible, vile criminals,
Murderers of young and old, who lay in muck and grime.
Shadows who loom in the dark
Seeking cruel misdeed.
Villains who reek of malevolence
and possess a strange biofilm of immorality.
Or maybe ordinary-looking fellows who set out
To lure the weak and surrender to their own
They creep in our streets and neighborhoods
where the children run.
Their affinity for destruction alone
Defines their being.
They worship something incomprehensible to the average mind;
They revere something unknown.
Let us banish them, fight them, hurt them.
Or do we understand them, listen to them, heal them?
For the empathic individuals
Not seen the darker roads traveled
by bad people, or perhaps good people
Lost, disguised by evil, controlled by thoughts
not true to themselves, what shall be their bane?
Have they fallen down a hole to
who knows where, looking
for a hand to pull them out?
For the less empathic ones
Who do not see the value of a life
Or a life that once was (up to their standards),
Who’s to say our lives matter more than the lives of those corrupted and plagued?
Who’s to say that there even is an “our” and “their”?
You think justice lies
In the prevention of immoral actions
Rather than in the correction of wrongful behavior.
Failed have we when one of our own
Diverges from the path of righteousness
And into a seemingly inescapable abyss,
And we abandon them.
What will become of us
When we shun our own,
When we ostracize our own?
A responsible society we are!
Are we too committing a crime by accepting fear?
Though surely, we sin when we shy away
From the souls searching for an escape route.
When we don’t understand the minds of men
And we leave them bruised,
Take no surprise from the consequences:
a waited battle brews.
The West Ottawan appreciates all those who submitted poems; you made the job of selecting the winner very difficult.