2019 New York Browning Society NYC Poetry Contest Winners + Short List

2019 New York Browning Society NYC Poetry Contest Winners + Short List





Gearoid Kennedy
12th Grade
Fordham Preparatory School
Mrs. Salvatorelli

An Irish Morning

Walking through the muck in my dark green

sinking into the ground trying to avoid the mounds of

I look to my left – Con with his

whistling tunes of

I join him that morning

the sun hides, but the cows have to be

As we approach, they look massive, blocks on

One strays from the crowd as we nick and

trying to keep them

Con walks behind and gives it a

and then a

A massive thud rings out as Con lies on the
I run home in a mad

and leave him on the ground, gasping
for air.




Bridget Farrell
Grade 10
The Mary Louis Academy
Dr. Mary-Patrice Woehling
Inspired by Robert Browning’s “Love Among the Ruins”

As the winds of recollection caress my hair,
They whisper tales of yore.
The dark waves of memory pull back to high tide
Then crash upon the shore
I hear in their echoes tales of lovers past,
Stories of you and me.

A once mighty kingdom that crumbled long ago
Now lacks a queen and king.
The bard left, and the only music that remains
Is found in the bird’s song.
The art and handiwork of are now gone;
Love’s labours have been lost.

But despite the sadness that Mnemosyne brings,
You’ve cleaned my looking glass.
Where gilded words and golden tongue once deceived me,
Hope shoots from the green grass.
I was blinded by your handsome charm and sweet smile;
It won’t happen again.

The fires of passion have long been extinguished;
Nothing but smoke remains.
The gardens in which you planted seeds of deceit
Now are only green plains.
Beyond the misty gray of your indifference,
My lover proudly stands.

I know a betrayal like the one you gave me
Could halt potential love.
Still, fighting the waters that drowned
Is a single white dove.
Scorched by despair, his black feathers block the moonlight.
A beam of light breaks through.

Heaven’s rays shine forth to illuminate the truth;
Stars dance on the old walls.
A crown of celestial lights adorns his head
As we stroll through the halls.
With my hand in yours, we coronate each other.
A new kingdom is here.

On the crest of a hill where a palace once stood,
Near abandoned by all,
Beautiful melodies of human heart’s Nature
Did not abide by Law.
My kingdom, like a phoenix, has risen once more;
Of this there is no doubt.
Kingdoms will rise, empires will fall, but ‘tis Love
We cannot do without.




Jillian Louie
11th grade
The High School Of American Studies at Lehman College
Moira Mosco

My favourite Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem is Aurora Leigh, as Browning’s innate ability to evoke such deep emotion is clear in a poem as personal and remarkable as Aurora Leigh.

in which a beekeeper’s daughter teaches me how to be brave.
What can you say to the beekeeper’s daughter
that she hasn’t already screamed?

Her knees painted with the grey of bruised fruit,
stockings run down from the edge of the kitchen table,
a face like dried flowers your mother keeps from Easter.

Reborn, anew,
torn down,
a girl of steady courses and
dipped horizons.
Much too young to die,
far too old to tie her hair into pigtails and
become unforgettable again.

So I’m in love,
she cries into the clouds of wings,

there comes no response, friendly only in their
wispy bodies and
whispered hum.

A universe,
bitten lips and
ruined nails.

A bitterness that comes
with being normal.

She tells me that
there are some things
that don’t feel like anything

What can you say to the beekeeper’s daughter
that she hasn’t already screamed?





Divya Mehrish
The Spence School
Grade 11
Sara Beasley


I have this memory of us in the ocean—
My thick thighs rolling between the waves
A polka-dot of sweet moonshine sticking to my glinting nose
Mommy must have forgotten to spread it

She used to laugh, then
Bouncing me on her knee,
She would squeeze the air out
Of the space between my round stomach and my rib cage
and float me
until she taught me that drowning is a choice.

Age was sweet to her, then,
Before I knew about glass
About bottles dancing on bathroom floors
About the music behind closed doors

Those were the days when I slept with hot eyes
When night was yellow, and wet.
When twilight creaked by as slow as the swing on the porch.

When rivulets of crimson began meandering
down the rotting mirror,
Time had already stretched my calves, my fingers, my fear
Time had already stretched her tears
Stretched the darkness in her hair
To soft, grey light
Stretched her laughter
into a long, low wail
Whispering behind my curtains
Scratching at my door
If I thought hard enough, it sounded like a hum.

The morning the air smelled like cold marsh sweat
I saw orange in the sky
Saw the pink gumdrops in orange plastic cylinders popping
A firework of twist, whoop, roll, tumble, pop. Repeat.

Drowning in color
I saw the glass in her eyes
Before I saw the shard between her fingers
Etching a smiling Jack-O-Lantern onto her forearm
Peach pus glistening through those jagged teeth

That was the last time I spoke to her.


My lips
the cold glass
cutting into the glorious stillness of her steely-eyed silence

When I sleep now
I’m hungry
My stomach is flat against my pelvis

I am empty
of mother.

I crave salt. the ocean. soft, clean skin.
I plead into the hum of the thrashing waves
To feel her fingers on my stomach.
I scrunch my eyes and feel through the darkness
get the kitchen knife
And trace a circle around the scar I made in her
I peel back the flap of flesh
Shiver as a blast of warm, throaty air seeps into my skin.
I climb back into her stomach
And nestle into the dark, tangled space between her ribs.
I cradle her heart in my arms,
and rock her thudding lullaby to sleep
And as I feel my roots plant into the depths of the darkness
I kiss her tears
and I cry.





Rea Gibson
11th Grade
Wadleigh Secondary School For The Performing & Visual Arts
Ms. Denerstein/Ms. Ruocco



How am I supposed to feel when you walked out that door
and told my mother that you
were coming back?

Those empty promises you made
& we believed you (believed in you)
Saw the best in you as no one else did
I wished she had found someone worthy

of her        deserving of her        I placed you
on the highest       pedestal because you are
my father yet I barely even knew you while you

I can’t
count the times
thoughts of you placed
tears in my eyes

wanting to be held by you   the sound
of your heart beat    the bass of your voice
the prickliness of your beard on my face
I can still feel     it if I close my eyes and imagine
hard enough

I wish that you didn’t walk out the door that night
only to be shot and killed      It’s not your fault but
sometimes it feels like it is      I’m alone and I am
scared I’m abandon


left me to fend for myself         like an animal in the wild
abandon, you left her                         alone to protect us by
any means, abandon.               You left us searching
for you in the men                      that enter our lives

You’re not here.                       And, Hi,

I’m abandon.




Katey Sexton
12th grade
High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Mr Murphy

Grey Rainbows

I wish I was a rainbow,
full of color, even after a storm.
sadly i’m more like a sunset.
i’m mesmerizing, distracting even,
but I am temporary.
no one thinks about me,
once I am replaced by millions of stars.

I force myself into cracks I don’t belong in
like scarlet blood spreading out on the sidewalk,
just to ensure I can’t be removed painlessly.

i’m a black hole hidden in pastel pink clouds.
I let people bend me until I break,
hoping they can make me into something useful.

no one can get close enough to fix me,
they just get lost in the dizzying darkness,
until they find a way out of my mind.

I miss standing on solid ground
and being able to hug people
and waking up feeling awake.

he stole more than you know, my perspective.
I used to see the world in color but now it’s grey;
nothing sparkles in the same way,
I only see the darkness in people
since he stole my colors.

even a tear stained hug from my mother
doesn’t bring them back to me.
because even bloodstains fade if it rains enough,
and even the sun will burn out eventually.

I will find my colors one day.
perhaps when my muted grey world
finally stops shrinking and goes away.








Carly Kahan
The Rudolph Steiner School


Where Mountain Meets

The snow falls softly on the grey

Earth’s frozen feathers float down in the graces of the

Each car has its due amount of the frosty white

Just enough to draw my name on

The step between street and sidewalk is sloped with the fine winter

Cold air tickles my nose; I feel the crisp frost brush
over me.

Earth in winter, bustling through, brings a new feeling to the

But there is a scent, one that also lands upon the towering

The grey skies above shuffle in images of the

I am walking in a blizzard that is not unfamiliar; similar in

My hands retreat up the sleeve of my

I shiver inside the many layers I already have

Here I have no mask to cover my

Here I only see the darkness of this raging

Through the blurry grey and fluttering flurries, I make my way through this

I remember a place so far

This place where mountain and sky meet

To me it is heaven between earth and

The brisk air tingling my

I could feel my heart beating as I steadied my

Sky high, my brother walking by my

I like Main Street, strolling down the snowy

I see the soft lights that line the

Crisp air fills my lungs and puffs out white

It is quiet here in this quaint moment of everlasting

When the snowflakes fall, bringing all worries down
with it.

I see the smile on my brothers

The light in our eyes shines through the

It is as if we are drawn here by the

Safe in the storm-deep, mountain

These streets feel farther away than what I

My heart still racing into the memories

This far away land, with the same

The same crisp wind, the same smell that lightens
the air.

Where the mountains meet the sky seems far

But within, I feel the sense that they prosper among

My heart is lifted when I remember the mountains color, the snow

These streets here, where I stand are not the

I am unsure why these places feel so

I feel this uncertainty and take it, hoping it gives me a

Though both here and there look the same in a crowded

Here, I don’t see the light in your

Only here, we can know one

The snow is only here to

But the snow remains frozen where the mountains meet
the sky.




Zoe Stojkovic
The Calhoun School


bloodless being

My collar bones buckle with the weight of my heart
And like winded shorebirds they quiver,
moored to the sand and belonging to a leaning, one-footed


I am so entangled with the everyday
Entrapped in the lowliness, so now i tie my hands
And hope to lead myself into the blinding darkness

Surreal when i meet your engorged eyes
They greet me, translating and salivating, they look away

We knot ourselves around each other just so.
I end up mistaking my own body for yours
Phantom limb confusion, but
An excess of parts, so your verse blends with mine and
notions of your vocal gait bounce around in my ears and collect in my
your clips and phrases all kicking at me from within

Hangnails and chain mail are both things i know you can’t ignore
And so am i, though i feel vain to say so
Looking away with purpose
Peripheral vision deserving an award of its own
The doors open and there’s a flood of you oncoming
my skin stands and my hair falls out and my teeth wither back into my skull i know you’re here, my stomach spins and i puke up my entire heart, it tastes mealy and putrid in my mouth, burning my throat deep into my chest as i frantically try to swallow it back down i can always feel your presence

Your appetite is lost When the subway rocks me to a drowsy oblivion
You insult my predictions and dismiss my insecurities
Now here i am taking myself home, dreaming the first fable of your
I hope your lungs are in shambles just like mine,
I wish they could be,
though I know they can’t be,
Oh you bloodless being, you.







Aria Martinelli
The Rudolph Steiner School


My Browning inspired poem, No Marble Venus, is a work of confessional poetry where I explored inner psychological dimensions of how false perceptions regarding appearance have the power to make one feel so vulnerable. The poem is an indictment towards one-dimensional pre-conceptions and is meant to read like a monologue in order to express myself in a defiant way. In writing this poem, not only did I strive to explore the ways in which certain instances affect me emotionally, mentally, and physically, I also wanted to try and form an understanding of the inner motivations and false ideas of the objectifier.


Poem #1:


No Marble Venus


Your eye.
Does my image bewitch you?
Am I that yummy ingredient in your spell?
That dreadful trance that strips me bare?
Why the stare?
That frozen stare.
The eyes of envy, the eyes of reward,
How much power do I give you?

The wishful eye.
Your elevator eyes pierce my body filled with nonsensical shame.
Instead of us, we are one and two,
Your eye – the divider, the screen, the glass.
I, a failed expectation, but also too pretty for you.
You want me to be you,
You want to be me.
Me and you,
Cotton and veneer.
You examine, you analyze, you decide.

The hungry eyes.
The hard high pitch echo of your call I know so well never seems to fade,
An unpardonable bell and twenty years too rusty for me.
You are the unforgiving flat melody,
Tingling slowly but sharply through me.
The sounds in your eyes drown out your call.
Eyes salsa at my expense.

I am not your marble Venus,
fruit or diamond ring,
Your muse or your time,

Are you unaware that I’m aware of every stare?
Your rude uneven game.
Every call,
Every wink.
Every time penetrates my memory.

You examine, you analyze, you decide.

The surveying eye.
Then there are the skirts short – tops tight – shoes white, cold eyes.
Attitude-the bad kind.
Did I win your test?
To make your look appeal and be the most subscribe?

I’m sure I would fail without my glossy lips and skinny thighs.
To be cool is a construct,
Your construct.

You examine, you analyze, you decide.

Eyes shame,
Your shame.
If I’m not there, who will you be?


Poem #2: Inspired by the Wordsworthian style of poetry. Connecting spontaneity with reflection.


Metropolitan Musical Conquistador


Just before dawn as nature’s sounds begin to play,
The horizon spreads her wings for light of day,
I sleepily trudge myself to the subway,
Yet again.
My heavy boots slow and hesitant,
I feel as if I’m sinking in molasses,
Longing for my cozy, warm bed, dreaming sweet, wonderful dreams.


I reach the subway, entering the underground world,
The stark light and usual clamor,
Stiffens me,
But O, listen!
I hear a sweet sound!
One familiar from years ago.
The harmony of guitar and voice fill my heart with rapture,
Dignified on his concrete cloud nine.
A conquistador in shining armor!
It is my friend,
My favorite subway musician!
It’s been a decade since this lyrical bliss,
Now with more wrinkles and strands of gray hair,
His contagious smile and sparkling eyes lift my spirits,
Painting a mood with Spanish songs,
Strumming and singing, the tunnels echo,
Feliz navidad, Vamos a la playa!
Rhythm and joy awakens my deja vu,
And my memories, like the music, fill my heart with nostalgia.


Time spreads her wings in flutter; almost a decade ago,
My embrace of dawn began with the buttery harmonies and crystalline tones,
Of this singing and strumming conquistador.
Seven years-old and off for the first day of school,
The first day of my habitual rhythm.
That day so much like today,
Same subway, same train, same song, same musician, little me.
First day meant everything new,
And this new conquistador serenaded my morning.
Warm he was from his first song,
He seemed to fancy my curious firery eyes and dimpled smile.
Beautiful sweet tones streamed out of his voice like a metropolitan troubadour,
He sang to me and only me!
O, the rush of embarrassment,
I looked away,
And tightly gripped my mother’s hand.
As the train approached,
My new friend waved,
Never dropping a beat
On this milestone day,
A song, a smile, a wave,
A singing stranger became my friend.


Time, O what a funny thing
Passing like my express train,
I stand here reliving that day,
Of years ago,
The sound, the smile, the wave.
Same subway, same train, same song, same conquistador, big me.
The sweet melodies bring joy.
How healing music and just one smile,
Can be.
The sweet sound will always remind me,
Of the mornings at dawn.