2017 New York Browning Society NYC Poetry Contest Winners + Short List
The Mary Louis Academy
She creeps her head up over rolling hills
Rests upon her halo, soft and holy
With myth and wonder, surely hearts will spill
Our eyes upon her craters, oh so ghostly
Our curiosity took hold of us
Dear Kennedy’s one wish immortalized
By flags and prints in monumental dust
A birth from chaos, yet she is our prize
A race commences to win her sweet love
We plant our flags on snowy-colored soil
Against the night, she resembles a dove
She sits upon her throne, oh how royal
A joyous time for us on Earth is when
Her bright, full face smiles on our dark den
Xavier High School
Ms. Margaret Gonzalez
Original Piece: “A Call of Heart”
Inspiration: “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A Call of Heart
By Kraig Puccia
Who am I to look ill upon her grace,
Elegant, humble, charming, and beautiful of face,
Whose wit does provoke mine pride,
And lead me to grit whilst I chide,
“What a fool I had been to not see her a bride!”
To neglect all wealth of material,
For a love that is truly ethereal,
And look not upon her stock,
Of which I have been cruel to mock,
To reconcile, perhaps, a most sophisticated dream,
And enlighten myself with her most radiant beam.
But alas, a stoic mind forbids mine own heart,
Of making amends for a brooding start,
And so I am made null and void,
For her image is one I cannot avoid,
And the thought that we mirror one another,
I now realize besmirches your character.
A fault of fate and no other affairs,
To have her sweet sounding air,
Is a blessing for me that would be unfair,
So now comes the task of repair,
Which has made me more aware,
That class is neither here nor there.
Here I stand made vulnerable to the world,
Seeking the knowledgeable insight hurled,
By the most fair maiden to ever stand at my side,
And it is without pride nor prejudice that I reside,
With you, my beloved, as a most noble bride.
Ode to a Park When I was Six
In summer when the leaves would whisper still
Of bygone glories, caked in mud and rot
And mirth and liquor still rolled through the hills
But lacked the ichor icharus had fought,
And lacquered conversations through and through
That reeked of jazz and rhythm,
the pit of me could open up, absorb
Each glowing neon effigy as orb.
And eerily five years ago we knew.
We knew that playgrounds crash and fall to dust,
We knew the signs of death, of waste and rust.
Adrenaline that saturated veins,
And penitence, sand cradled flesh to test us,
Our tombstones writ in blood, or crushed asbestos
In empty raspberry fields, full-microbe stained.
And so I miss green circles, left alone
For we are lovers, made to watch them spin
That spin from empty innocence to home.
Instead we turned subversion into sin.
Corrosion by the very idea of power
And never can I reclaim what is left
To scrape the burning salt from porous lungs
That no longer recognize themselves in death.
Homage to process, crush the native flower.
And leave the heaving relatives bereft.
For heathens know that heaven is in jest
And heaven knows a haven is a tower.
So maybe structures exist for the good
But crush what’s there, in childhood’s final hour
And never can the day hold so much meaning
And never shall the high priests be so pious
This subjection or submission of the highest
Human intelligence to the simple fact
That a rock and a skull cannot occupy the same X and Y values in space.
One must bend to the other, intact.
Rudolf Steiner School
Ms. Carol Bartges
“Two in the Campagna”, by Robert Browning
In the Campagna: The Edge Between Two Worlds
The mist swirls gently around my feet, rising in tendrils towards the rainy
sky. The water of the Reservoir reflects the wind’s distress with erratic ripples moving
here and there, Sending small waves everywhere; its mirror-like nature casts back the
clouds In a swirling, seething replica of the tempest before the edge. A single ray of
light peeks through the heavy, ironclad clouds, And for a moment lights up the gray,
disturbing the peace of the water-soaked world.
The edge is in that ray of light, a memory of an unbounded storm. As I stood
beneath its steely skies, the rain beating the gasping earth, The mist and the
showers surrounded the entire world it seemed. And yet, as I looked towards the
frowning heavens, a parallel world appeared ten feet away. A world of light and
sunshine: the rivalry and balance of Nature, Apparent in my small, mundane
backyard: at the edge of the storm.
I’ve always wondered, where is the edge? Do the clouds that seem to cut off the
light, And hold us fast in their impermeable grasp, do they have an ending, an
edge? All storms possess an edge; in Nature and humankind. The balance lies just
on the other side, ten feet away, in an unremarkable place, A seemingly endless,
impenetrable fist, a grasping world that darkly gleams with rain Is simply a balance
to the world of light that stands just on the other side, past the edge. I savor the
rain as it douses the earth, as it drenches my hair and clears the air Because I
know that its opposite shines beyond the edge, hinted at with just one ray of light.
New Utrecht High School
a cognitive symphony plays inside me
the violins trembling from passion
the piano banging and clicking from anger and love
what pigments go where
in order to compose
my wand drinks the water
licks the chroma
and disperses it onto my parched canvas of cotton
every drop of saturated beauty
induces my heart rate to speed
and my mind to go into auto-pilot
i paint transcendently
when i am in a state of
High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Inspired by: “The Romance of the Swan’s Nest,” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“Light tomorrow with
today.” ¬¬ Elizabeth Barrett
Peel away the plaster, See what’s
there inside. The inside was once
the outside Before the mortar
dried. We live in a world of layers,
One age on top of the next. Just
like books in a stack, Page upon
page of text. I wonder what I’ll find
if I look in the dirt and the damp.
Deep in the earth there’ll be objects
That I’ll find with a hurricane
lamp. Tear back a piece of
wallpaper To see what was there
before. Think about how, in the
future, You’re going to put up
The Brearley School
Jee Leong Koh
In sleep, they are broken
apart by two doors, two rooms, a hallway.
But what is sleeping together, the closeness of bodies,
compared to him waiting
in the doorway when she returns from work?
She does not need house keys with him
unlocking the door when he sees her shadow
pass over the porch steps.
What is intimacy but his removal
of her coat, standing behind
her elbow so it doesn’t catch in the sleeve;
kneeling at her feet and removing her shoes?
Allowing her seamstress hands,
which have remade, brought in,
let out, undone,
to rest. To have another
undo the knots.
The Browning School
Teacher: Kevin Lane Dearinger
(Reflecting on E. B. Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee.”)
Kills me that I do not make you happy;
Special no more than the same sun rising
Every morning. The son with no daddy,
Incomplete it does feel. Not realizing
A mess made, we could have not cared no more.
How elated we were like two lovebirds,
Conscious of other’s flaws we still adore.
Swapping silly soulful laughs left no words.
Eyes, smile, hair elegant since forever.
Not to forget the first time on the train;
Fingers touched, hands touched, were we not clever?
Prohibited kisses helped unseen pain.
Yet you were going through your roughest patch,
Did not know what to do as your four walls
yelled hints to quit, not easy to detach.
We made it together, the late night calls.
Tried to be that shoulder when you needed,
Allowed myself to stay long mistreated.
Marymount School of New York
(Inspired by Robert Browning’s “Wanting is — What?”)
The swirls of soft brown hair brushed the back of your neck with every passionate lull of your head,
I watched as the hairs on your arms stood on end with every sharp chord you played.
The harsh lamps dimmed,
Only a yellow glow seemed to come from behind,
Softly lighting your limbs as you move up the scale.
I felt my heart beating in my chest every time I watched the bone of your elbow appear and disappear with every touch of a black key.
The contrast of your pale, peachy skin against the harsh white of the ivory;
The melodic sounds coming from your mouth were muffled by the fluid motions of your hand on the keys and your feet on the pedals;
You seemed so angelic, like a vision –
Something that can be seen but cannot be touched.
You are an apparition;
You will never be mine.
The Browning School
Teacher: Kevin Lane Dearinger
The Lament of an Electronic Musician
If you could understand the piercing agony of being me, you would know of the sleepless nights,
tormented turbulent and talent-barren,
Hoping to find some new inspiration, searching deep within the soul with a magnifying lens and
Tirelessly click-clicking the mouse to write some secret melody inaudible and incomprehensible
to dull and stupid ears,
Ears which writhe and shriek upon hearing a single tune played in a club that does not appeal to
the refined taste,
Which sit in hipster cafés drinking lattes stroking their unkempt goatees reading their Eliot,
Whitman and Ginsberg,
Which have the audacity to contemplate a work of genius on their laconic iPods and abominable
Beats by Dre and state outright This is not music,
Which get on their laptops in the hipster cafés to write Internet graffiti in the comments section
of YouTube, calling me a hack and a mainstream fraud,
All of the blood, sweat, and innumerable tears that have gone into project after project after
project are worthless and abject,
Hours and hours spent on a drum pattern, then phonecall, then drum pattern, then email, then
Endless negotiations negotiations negotiations time and time again with big-wig record labels
and small-fry networks,
Parties and dances and mindless humanity and awful house music, waking up the next day
wishing I hadn’t wasted my time,
Time which fleets day after day, waiting for me to catch up but always running a little too fast for
me to be able to,
Which is swallowed up in mindless assignments, practices, friendships, clubs, family time but
never music time,
Which offers itself in a five-day weekend journée de grâce but, when it’s over, is never quite
All of the times life’s cadence missed a beat, love’s melody hit a sour note, and the birds of peace
didn’t sing in harmony,
I put a Band-Aid on the scars of life and opened up my laptop, hoping that with that magnifying
lens and that microscope I could find some inspiration from the pain,
But it will never, ever hold against the struggles of this dull yet turbid existence, all wrapped up
in a blank project file on a dusty computer screen.