Poetry Contest Winner

Lexi Manning

This year’s WO Poetry Contest was unusually competitive. Four judged selected a first and second place poem; six different poems earned recognition from the judges. Ultimately, the judges selected Jr. Jennifer Reyes’ poem.


By Jr. Jennifer Reyes


I grew up and was nurtured with the flowing words of my parents’ native tongue
Spanish danced and rang throughout the household
The words held warmth, love, and everything good in the world
Spanish was home

Kindergarten was a dark blue and a washed out grey
It was cold, hard, and a stranger
English was a jumble of nonsense
English was not a language
It was a confusion

I learned at a young age that there are two worlds I lived in
I lived in a world created by my family and the honorary members that it was extended to
I lived in a world that rose and fell to the rhythm of the Stars and Stripes

Regardless of the culture clash that shadowed my two worlds I grew up
My childhood memories took shape and form with Uncle Sam
I learned to spout an unruly Yankee accent

But as it always does, reality hit hard

The country’s air I first breathed now suffocates
I have the face of an alien
My eyes and hair are dyed dark
My nose is crafted with a distant origin

“This land is your land”
Lies. Lies. Lies
This land is white and stubborn
This land has set up its walls high, its glass ceiling strong, and a foundation on solid rock

I turn to my mother’s poverty infested and crime riddled land
With a devilish smile I am extended a hand and gracefully taken in
The people look like me
The language is the same that carries and echos throughout my home

The illusion is quickly destroyed
A slap on each cheek awakens me to a haunting truth
And it slices me open and reveals my broken heart

She is an American
She is a foreigner
She is not from here

My accent is distinctive
It is not American, nor Mexican
It is a sore thumb

My ability carries holes
My conversation halts and jerks with a constant evil
My written word taunts me with blemishes

I am not of my birth country
I am not of my mother’s country
I am of no country

Thank you to Instructor Ken Strobel, Instructor Chris Knoll, Instructor Christopher Norton, and Instructor Ann Kirkendall for judging this year’s annual poem contest.