2018 New York Browning Society NYC Poetry Contest Winners + Short List

2018 New York Browning Society NYC Poetry Contest Winners + Short List





Julian R. Navarro
11th Grade
Xavier High School
Ms. Mary Grace Gannon


The Port of Miami is Sunburnt Too

Ironclad watch dogs and their rust coats stand guard against the sea.
Ants of commerce are permitted
and the buzzing sun is peered at with suspicion,
as though it were a threat
Their swaying dribbles of steel hang in apathy;
as do the cocked caps and slumped shoulders
of the coral vacationland to the east,
A kingdom of sun-bleached and sand-filled
pastel pink apartments sits protected in its sin.
The wispy clouds peek down
at the seated and open-toed,
leather-skinned laggards
who return an upwards glance,
for a passing moment,
only to return to their worldly observations
of the blind, zinc coated faces
that walk past in ignorance
with their concrete-slapping flip flops.



Kalvin Singleton
Xavier High School
Margaret Gonzalez

Porphyria’s Muse

I was caught within the storm
With the wind unforgiving
But to my lover, who makes me warm
Is where I was headed this evening
Wrap’t in visions, lost with dreaming

But the weather would not taint the night
I declared when I shut out the cold
To restore the warmth with all my might
I sparked a fire; bright and bold
And rose from the Hearth, to de-robe

Water-filled was the coat I hauled
Drenched scarf and gloves alike
I removed my hat, and let my blonde hair fall
And last, I sat by his side
I called to him, to no reply

I knew my hands to his their guide
So I wrapped his arm ‘round
And stared back at myself deep within his eyes
And filled the room with mumbles of sound
“I love you,” I said, “To you, I am bound”

Passion-filled and insane
To act on these feelings was my only endeavor
But too sickly my body remained
White and pale as ever
Light and thin as a feather

We rose from the bed together
And in his eyes I found
A look I have seen never
When he wrapped my hair round
1, 2, 3, times my throat now

And strangled…

Not pain, but pressure filled my head
As the sound of my very own heart got louder in my ears
I asked myself in fear “Will I soon be dead?”
No emotion, not even a tear
His face remained as it was, blank and clear

Soon there was nothing
A ubiquitous shadow around us
With my rosy cheeks still blushing
He lifted my body, dollike and tenuous
But yet I had not moved at all

There I concluded a posteriori
Where I stood, alone
In the land of the betwixt: purgatory
Yet fixed and anchored in my own home
Perpetual Stockholm syndrome

But this final act done by him
Some could see as malignant
Was a gift; to prevent my body’s dim
To forever have a rosy and youthful existence
Free from fever and sickness

My lover holds me now
And through my hair his fingers will stir
To have a love like this, I no not how
Although the actions that have occurred
God has not said a word!



Clay Hard
Collegiate School
Dr. John Beall


The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
This might sadden some, but to me
It means the softening of the ground
And that smell of damp leaves in the dirt I love so much.

As I hurtle through the woods –
The footsteps of others fading behind me –
All I can hear now is my own breath
And the crunch of the cinder path beneath the spikes on my feet.

I tend to feel like an animal –
Panting, teeth bared, moving as fast as I can,
As I dig into the hill ahead of me.
Strangely, though,
I feel, now, the most peaceful I’ve felt in a while.
Me and the trail.

The pain arrives,
But that only confirms that I’m doing what I’m supposed to.
I speed up.
Strangely, again,
At the peak of the hill
And at the peak of my suffering
A grin spreads across my face.

That’s why I do it.
Why I add an extra three hours of work to my days.
Why I hurt, even when I’m feeling most tired –
Even when most kids dropped off the team,
I’m still here.

And I’m loving it.


Line 1: Ezra Pound, “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter”




Eli Schuchert
Xavier High School
Teacher: Margaret Gonzalez

A Woman’s Yes

A woman’s yes isn’t a must
It changes like the wind
In a moment – long, strong gusts
The next – hard to find

A woman’s yes on the phone
Means nothing at this hour
What changes – his tone
She shudders to the bone

In the bedroom they present
The woman starts to fall
He says he hears her consent
There was something in her alcohol

A woman’s yes
Is full of power
It is an accusation
That should make men cower

It is strong alone
Yet stronger received
When she finds herself
To be believed

A woman’s yes
Should be heard
Not put to rest
Isn’t that what’s deserved?




Giovanni Santalucia
12th Grade
High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Dennis Murphy
Original poem

Untitled 2

irreversible stain on the edge of my window spoke
to me more than
any white-robed archangel or
celestial monk ever could. I
was six, read to from tattered pages
each night, still
young enough to fall asleep on the
rocking-chair, but
old enough to dream of
rain-glazed Greenland
or Singapore with her
dewy horns.

But I was still young enough to hide.

Living in the wind,
our own pint of Heaven
stuffed into some corner
or other.
The paper on the globe in
my room grew old and cracked
like thinning lilac petals, but
never stopped spinning.
To have a world under my palm-
to have a world away from the
hallways with Folgers tins and film canisters,
away from the sick-sweet summer and my mother’s
slow-talking friends-
was burning glee.

I’d watch clouds,

crisp yellow around the edges,

creep along as

the hot-hollow sky sunk over fields outside,

where stuttering millet interrupted our house’s shadow

We weren’t among the pockets of life scattered along

the road. We were never ones to remember names or

draw straight lines

or carry folders.

Sometimes you get lost, and you don’t even know it.




Susanna Shull
(11th Grade)
High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Mr. Dennis Murphy
Inspiration: “The Autumn” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Eulogy for Thoughts
Free Verse

I had these words once
Written on a scrap of notebook paper
But I folded them up, and put them
In my back pocket for another day,
Buried between creases whose softened edges
Were made weary with time, with sweat and soap
And the pressure of anxious fingertips searching
For something to crush.
Those words were mine, once,
And they carried with them wind
That will leave the tips of your ears trembling
And pen-mark scars carved gently by afternoon sun.
They had an address, too, but were never stamped,
Returned to sender but never sent.
Now my words belong to the earth.
Afterthoughts collect in the gutter, huddling for warmth,
Inked memories itch against the wet concrete, then trampled
By apathetic rubber soles
They bleed out into the soil —
You can taste my regret in the petrichor.








Yassie Liow
The Brearley School
Mr. Jee Leong Koh

Medusa’s Revenge

Once she, Medusa, known for gorgeous hair,
Was raped by Neptune of the mighty sea.
And in Minerva’s temple then and there,
The raging goddess changed her destiny.

A gorgon scared and wishing death at once,
She watched, afraid, as eyes flickered to stone,
And deadly ringing shrieks dropped to dead silence.
The scattered statues never were alone.

And when her own death did come saunt’ring forth,
With a hero and Minerva’s shield,
She let her head fall swiftly to the earth.
Her misdeeds now completely unconcealed.

But just before his boastful sword did fly,
She looked mad Neptune boldly in the eye.




Bridget Farrell
Grade 9
The Mary Louis Academy Dr. Mary-Patrice Woehling
Free Form Entry

Writing Between the Lines

And when the pen tip touched the blank white page A
waterfall of words began to flow
And soon she found that she couldn’t hold back
All the thoughts she had kept hidden below.

There’s a certain sense of wonder to it,
Because only when she writes her stories
Can she access the deep parts of her mind
Where she wanders unmarked territories.

Her own characters and fantasy worlds Hold
much more appeal than reality
So this author does not close with “the end”; She
detests its sense of finality.

She is a dreamer, lover, and fighter All
of this and more; she is a writer.



Nathaniel Hylton
Collegiate School
Dr. John Beall


Shade Me In

is a thing that crawls beneath the surface of the skin.
is the thing that powered American economics via the cotton gin.
at a young age festers like a sore,
But Blackness
at an old age is something to believe in. Something to embrace.
My curséd black qualities make me a proud monkey:

I am
as skinny as a poor man’s wallet
as skinny as a fishing rod without fish or bait
as skinny as a split toothpick covered in blood
as skinny as a rail that can no longer guide you
as skinny as the stem on what used to be healthy red rose.

I have
Knappy hair.
Curly on top, cut short on the sides and back–a single line etched on the left side.

I have
Brown eyes.
Like warm cocoa on a cold day.
Like oven baked chestnuts in the fall.
Like melted hershey kisses when you forget them in your pocket.
Like coffee and cream meant to keep those eyes wide open,
No opportunity for a deep sleep and American dream.

I have
Red lips.
Thick. Sometimes dry but mostly wet:
Good enough for making love.


I have
Black arms.
Bony and slightly hairy but with skin light
enough to see the green veins running through
Black hands.
Long, double-jointed, soft fingers with nice
pink fingernails: good enough to caress you.
A Black upper body.
Ribs clearly visible, six abs all in eye view,
and an outie: good enough for no shirt on the
Black legs.
Bony and slightly hairy but with well defined calves:
good enough to outrun most.
Black feet.
Size 10 and no sweat odors but shaped flat:
good enough to get through a day full of walking.

For some reason,
All this Blackness that runs in me
instills fear in others.
So if you’re scared of it,
I guess that gives me inconceivable power.

If the blackness that crawls beneath the surface of my skin is so evil,
Then—what am I?




Camilla Cheng
Stuyvesant High School
Grade 11
Favorite Browning Poem:
My Heart And I, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning



Lazy specks of white softly
flutter down, reflecting the streetlamp that
illuminates the two of us,
sitting on park benches in the cold,
silently letting out puffs of
Winter seems longer this year.
We wave at each other from across the
way and I split a toothy grin.
She laughs back, and my jittering
hands can feel the warmth of her
We blow snowflakes at each other with a simple,
I love you
entangled in
and every one of them.
When the wind picks up and we
are hit by whirlwinds of snow,
one of us will cry or scream
as the frost creeps up our back until our
entire body is weeping
and numb
and the other person can
only watch from across the
wanting to get up and embrace the
other, well knowing they can’t.
We cry together,
until the tears won’t come anymore,
wondering how the world could be so
She sends snowflakes my way and I send
some back. We stare at each other until the
whirlwind subsides and the sky is clear.
Winter seems longer this year,
But together I think
we’ll be okay.