2022 New York Browning Society NYC Poetry Contest Winners + Short List

Maya Rothbard – Trevor Day School
“Partial” inspired by “Bianca among the Nightingales” by EBB


Loving you was like a seed that never grew.
An aimless seed that only needed water,
A place to flourish,
And a growing nature.
Loving you was like a singular cloud in a bright and clear sky.
A catalyst it was,
The singular cloud could ruin any yellow atmosphere with its gray and gloomy presence.
Loving you was like a cake that wasn’t fully baked.
A cake that was ready to be frosted,
And admired.
It was never able to live up to its full potential.
I soon took a bite of the cake.
I could feel the neglected crumbs on the edge of my tongue.
I looked up to the sky that I once thought was luminous.
The golden shimmer I could feel on my eyelashes every morning vanished in a fraction of seconds.
I stepped on a singular seed that was unable to grow.
Trying to sprout into a beautiful plant, its growth was silenced.
Except for the vestige of my footprint, nothing was visible.
The seed was gone, just like the love I had for you.

Genevieve Burke – St. Joseph Hill Academy
“Life of the valley” Inspired by Change upon Change by EBB

Lily of the valley

Splattered white, the paint will run,
When we come through this garden of
Placed, picked, perfect
Lily of the valley for my birthday

Each shred of green, a common height
Ankle deep to midthigh
Back of your neck, lay on my waist
I’ve stopped my breathing, so you could rest

I’m well aware, 
Lily of the valley wants me here
Along the lights, dust we see, 
Who are you to have hold of me?

If your a waste, believe I am
Placed, picked, perfect
I know you deserve this
How have I earned you?

Lay on the ground 
Insecure at eye level
Lay on the grass,
The curtain of trouble

Lily of the valley for when I go,
Down the gated overpass, a flowered memorial
She’s wearing white, from our wedding mass
She’s blessed the air with lemongrass

Lay your head sideways,
Palm of your hand
No chance at falling, 
That’s sort of the plan

My body is from long ago
My eyes are covered, with my broken nose
Placed, picked, perfect 
My posture slows, wet and broken in

If I’m not alive, I can follow you
Angels let you in 
I see the calm in your face,
You’ve grown lovely all over this place

Devin Berkowitz – The Spence School
“A Dreamer’s Words” Inspired by “The Soul’s Expression by EBB

A Dreamer’s Words

A dreamer’s words of fatal ocean depths
Cannot swim through the chapped and sandy lips
That do entrap the soul and wings in clips.
Of course, I long to chase and close in breadths
That mangle thoughts and dole out justly deaths.
And yet, alas when fingers stretch their tips
in dullness to be drowned by waves and dips,
They find release in disappointed breaths
and shadows stand to curse creation’s womb.
If I could utter spells of my own heart,
Break seals of paper that shut my tomb,
Allow my words to sincerely impart,
Then i should lead the world to floral bloom.
If not, then I should never truly start.

Simplistic lies will one day conquer life
A storm reduced to breezes in my hair
A stutter and a cough on soiled air.
A beauty cut off by a silver knife

Until the peak is dipped in needless strife.
For how can i convey what must be there
If truth is fated to evade my stare
And in its flight, find failure to be rife
It just will never reach the many ears
That strain and wait in patience for their turns
And thus, I shall confirm the very fears
Of life’s indifference to what wants and yearns.

Emilio Merino – Monsignor Scanlan High School
“Thy Beauty Whence May Blooms”

Thy beauty whence May blooms
Hence hath no parallel spare;
Pours unto me as thou art life abloom.

Pray death whilst death’s prey looms
As life is death, death is life snare
Thy beauty whence May blooms.

For a foe as such shall in tombs
Plea lo; beaut of mine, heaven bare,
Pours unto me as thou art life abloom.

Much is fitting, aye, bidding wombs
Sense thy touch, for none may share 
Thy beauty whence May blooms.

Fruit of Eden, milk of life illumes
Thy breast whilst life in thy glare 
Pours unto me as thou art life abloom.

Whom God blesses, thus, thy plumes
I vow entomb; as white grooms thy hair
Thy beauty whence May blooms
Pours unto me as thou art life abloom.

Emma Jose – Trevor Day School
“The Blue Eyes” Inspired by Sonnet 43 by EBB

The Blue Eyes

Why do thy eyes look so blue?
The eyes. The eyes that appreciate
Both life and the beauty that coincides.
The eyes. The eyes that celebrate
Are the same to self deprecate
All the wonders the body provides.

The evil eyes work to skew
The scale in others’ favor
Rather than helping to savor
That of a loving memory.
The eyes. The eyes would sooner
Remember that of a hand that folds
Rather than their own that holds
Up the weight of the world.

Why do thy eyes look so willing to undo
While laced with black and many shades of blue?
Why would you have to worry
When many turn a blind eye
To what is on the inside
Of the creative yet degrading mind?

Arlette Gindi – Ramaz Upper School
“Through the Glass Pane”

Through the Glass Pane

The world opens itself for me.
I melt past lakes
and through lush green trees.
Pleasant particles sift softly
through my feathers like flour in a sieve.

I perch myself atop a dusty white windowsill,
Red brick surrounding its cracked borders.
A pepper gray man bounces children on his lap
singing Birds in the Wilderness.
A woman coos with every bounce.

Dazzling sun spots dance around the room
as the family laughs together.
The air is sweet where they are,
And my feet are glued to the windowsill.

Soon stone scolds my feet, screaming
at me to remove them.
I fly from the ledge,
wishing to return from the moment I do.

A month goes by and the air begins to feel crisp.
The trees are lush with orange-colored leaves.
The lakes get cold and
green water turns black.
I fly to my window as I do most days,
but my family isn’t there.

Nobody’s laughter prances through
a cracked border.
Cries erupt from my window.
My family is burnt red faces and
tear-stained cheeks.

I flee from my window to escape the pain.

I see the orange-colored leaves
And the lakes with their almost frozen waters.
I see the world that once opened itself for me.

I spot the blue skies above and
Heaven’s twinkling eyes.
I fly towards them singing my song,
singing Birds in the Wilderness.


Shantel Sosa – Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts


It came in out of nowhere
On one windy day during spring
An email that signaled the beginning 
Of a new type of chaos 

I watched as the world unraveled 
Normalities scattered 
Our faces covered and shielded 
From a new type of sickness developed 

To those who have grieved,
Those who have remained,
Let this be noted 
We are united
In this new type of road ahead 

We breathe history 
What we do next is necessary,
To recall the memories who can’t make it to the next century,
In this new type of generation we are their legacy.

Alan Koren – Michael J. Petrides School

Still I Rise

You may write me down in books or novels
With any tale-ridden fib
You may drown me in your feelings
But like water, i’ll still rise

Does the way I speak upset you?
Do I present myself in a different way?
I will still walk with pride and glory
Every single day.

Just like the rains and clouds,
And like concrete built stairs,
Your words are just an illusion
Because still I’ll rise

Do you want to see my heartfelt feelings shattered?
Toppled head and red flared eyes?
With the hand over my sheepish face.
Feeding your sadist desire
By my soulful cries.

You may hurt me with your words
You may curse me with your eyes
You may take my spirits from me,
But at the end of it all, I’ll still rise.

Leave behind your dreadful commands
I rise
Into a world of golden souls and hearts
I rise
Bringing the gift of everlasting warmth and affection
And the care of my loved ones
I’ll rise
I’ll rise
I’ll rise.

Nana Oya Clarke – Wadleigh Secondary School of Performing and Visual Arts


I see and hear you, but the words are not sinking into me

I can’t understand you, nor can I understand myself

My body feels and reacts but my mind fails to keep up

A grain of rice turns into a house, and that house turns into my world. I’m trapped in a spiral of feeling but not understanding. Always getting hurt but never knowing why. 

The agonizing pain of screaming and having no sound come out, the pain that makes your throat close up and leaves you gasping for air.

The most hellish punishment is being trapped but even more cruel when you’re doing it to yourself. 

As you feel your stomach turn and your heart drop your mind starts racing to find explanations. You’ve always been a rational and analytical person. Not understanding something was almost impossible to you but now you can’t even understand your own body. 

You try to desperately reach for an answer as to why this is happening,“Everything in life has a reasonable explanation” you say to yourself. You’re running out of air, as your mind races the words in your throat start piling up and you feel as though you have so much to say but so little at the same time. 

The only thing you can hear is static. Buzzing sounds that come from fluorescent lights in hospitals and wards. This sound is so familiar to you.

Kate Giffler – Trevor Day School


Every evening
After dinner is done
With our stomachs full
And the plates piled up
My mother asks me if I could help her wash the dishes

In the living room
I watch as my brothers are settling in
Ready to watch the 8:00 sitcom airing on channel 7

I say
It’s not fair
I say
Why is it always just me
And never them

My mother sighs,
I don’t want to cause a fight 
She says
It’s not worth it
She says
It’s just some dishes
She says

But it’s not just the dishes
It’s the laundry
The cooking
The sweeping
The cleaning
Everything all piled up
In a stack of responsibility reaching up to the ceiling
It’s not fair.

I march off into the family room,
Stand right in front of the TV,
And shout,

Who’s going to wash the dishes with me?
Every night it’s only me helping mom out
It’s not fair

My brothers do not get up
They do not say a word
The tv blares in the background
As they crane their necks to see the rest of the show
But I stand firm

Only the second eldest even bothers to look away from the screen

He looks at me
He looks at our mother
And he looks at our brothers

She’s right

He says as he joins us at the sink

I look to my mother with a valiant expression
But I am met with pursed lips and a disappointed look

Why did you have to make a fuss?
I would have rather done the dishes myself
And you have gone to watch the television with your brothers
Than cause a problem like this

My fiery victory is extinguished by a wave of guilt
That moment was the first time I really noticed
Just how exhausted my mother was