2023 New York Browning Society NYC Poetry Contest Winners + Short List

Hanna-Rebecca Douglas – Gramercy Arts HS


The day dawns, but that doesn’t matter much to the balls of fur at my feet
They lie curled, tired out from a long night of scrambling down the hall.
Teeth bared and tails up, they dash through the night, illuminating the darkness with
streaks of white.
Later, one launches into the air like a bird, while the other becomes one with the ground underneath
Both thinking about what to do when the world wakes up.

As the sun rises into place, they bark incessantly,
Their most important worry being the sound of the elevator.
They know nothing about responsibility,
Not the worry of chasing the green papers with faces,
Nor sitting quietly as information is seared into their brains.

When the day goes by,
They simply tug on a rope and chew on a toy,
Digging their heels into the planks, a fire alight in their eyes.
The squeak rings across the building, further strengthening their determination,
Where their only concern was about who would win their contest.
Not of their safety if someone were to break in,
Nor the ravenous hunger of a fire.
Finally, the door creaks open.

I try to walk as they leap happily at me,
Whining and barking their complaints for the day.
The toy resurfaces as they bring it to my feet,
Squeaking endlessly at every bite.

They do not know about the exhaustion I have for the day,
Not the rush, as I try to understand the most of my studies each day,
Nor of the taxing wait of speeding past as I try to not fall asleep in time to get home.
They barely know anything at all.

They stare with their curious eyes and gaping mouths,
Wondering about whatever “duties” a four legged creature may have.
I wonder what they would do,
If they were to have the experience of a human;
And what I would do,
If I had the blissful simplicity of a dog.

Francesco Macias – All Hallows HS
“Unforgettably Forgettable” Inspired by “Confessions” by Robert Browning

Unforgettably Forgettable

In memories, we find an unforgettable cherished light,
That guides us through life’s endless and unpredictable flight,
But when a mind succumbs to cruel dementia’s blight,
Our once-treasured memories begin to fade.

With confusion and forgetfulness starting to take hold,
The cherished moments become a story untold,
And we are left with nothing but despair and woe,
As precious memories cease to flow.

But let us not lose hope in this plight,
For even in the depths of a forgetful night,
We can still find moments of pure delight,
And bask in a joy that’s bright.

For just like in “Confessions” we can see,
Even in the midst of life’s uncertainty,
There is still a sense of love and sweetness, a joyous plea,
Which we can hold on, making us eternally free.

So let us cherish the memories that for the time being remain,
And find comfort in the love that never wanes,
For though they may forget, it’s not in vain,
And love will always light the way once again.

Noah Meserve – NYC iSchool
“An ode to a Replicant, to a Lie”

An ode to a Replicant, to a Lie

Once, when we were young
And everything seemed so simple and fun
We thought the world was vibrant,
Like a meadow of flowers 
Nobody ever thought, not once,
That those flowers were hidden so deeply in deceit

A veil of deceit
The everything that we came to know
As we grew older, and weary
The flowers grew more and more dreary 
The sun, extinguished by shadow
Made itself ever present in our lives

Will we be haunted again?
By such a sun, such a field of flowers
When I look up at the sun now
I see brightness
A blinding light it is, once more to me
I feel the weight of my replicant, my Lie
Lifted off my shoulders

Have we been fighting in vain?
This tree I stand by, full of birds
This field of flowers, so vibrant with the colors I have sought for so long
I look out at my work
My effort and my pain and my dreams
I am reminded of that blackened sun 
Which looked at me so ruthlessly before

Often, I look back at my life
I see who I was, my replicant, a fake
A fraud, struggling under the shadow that would become both his shining light and his extinguished sun
Never again, I tell myself, never again
Never will I let that delusion come back
To haunt me again
Though the thunder’s rage is quieted at last
The nightmare has laid itself bare before me for me to gaze at all it was

Hidden so deep, in veils of deceit, 
I hope that I will never again be imprisoned
Not by the replicant, the blackened sun, the Lie, nor the prison of twisting spells
I will not let the fiends make me their plaything again 
I will live in the vibrant flower field, by the tree with the birds, my dream.

Kaitlyn Owens – Notre Dame School of Manhattan
“Painting Love”

Painting Love

Our love was like an unfinished piece of art
Filled with colors and shades that set us apart
My mistake for what love could have been 
Maybe I was blinded by my optimism within
Losing you was vibrant blue like the tears I cried
Missing you was the somber gray like the love we tried 
Maybe our mosaic hearts were never meant to be aligned
Since I was picking up the pieces you left behind,
So watch me strike this final match 
To all my wasted time with the pain attached
Maybe I was naïve for thinking we could never change
But I didn’t know our love was made to interchange 
I took my chance, I grasped my shot 
I thought I was bulletproof, but I was not
You and I have always walked a fragile line
But I never knew of this painful design
You widened my horizons in this short amount of time 
Even if I never planned on you changing your mind 
The paintbrush drops as the colors start to fade 
Just as my love for you slowly decayed

Javien Vasquez – Xavier HS
“Maelstrom of the Heart”

Maelstrom of the Heart

Curious Vision
Sitting on the horizon
A beautiful sight

Seen from a distance, oh so fascinating
Awaiting impact, a connection, a word.
I see you, my heart pounding at a sight so bracing.
I crave only this storm to stir the waters of my ford.

I am floored. Impact.
Beautiful, dangerous, my desire rent.
A beauty no less than objective, than fact.
Unshackled by concern, simply elegant.

Not just the beauty, but the feeling;
Not just the face, but the heart;
Your laugh, a thundercrack, soul-stealing;
How strange- the first time I’ve been given such a start

A bolt to the mind, a desire for you to be mine.
To capture this storm, furious yet warm.
Furious, impactful, and yet ethereal and tactful.

Bright and dangerous. All sense says I should run. Yet- I desire nothing but becoming closer. The risk, what fun!

Trapped in your eyes. The eyes.
The eye. This eye.
To leave would mean my heart would die.
Stuck in the center of a torrent, serene and benign.
A window to the soul, a gateway inside.
Only magnifying my desire for the storm to be mine.

A moment, passed.
Gone so soon, was it not meant to last?

Stunning grace, slipping away far too fast.
Gone with the wind, left to the past.

The maelstrom rages on, and yet-
It feels peaceful, a warm feeling beget

Gone down the line, propelled along rails.
I reminisce about it now; a quest to reclaim that embrace, I shall not fail.

Floored, I stare at the sky
Simply wondering at my luck: why?
For now, all I desire is to gaze once more into the eye.

Grace Katsivelos – Frank McCourt HS
“A Melancholy Kind Of Cold” Inspired by EBB’s poem “Grief”

A Melancholy Kind Of Cold

it’s such a beautiful word 
to describe a feeling I do find beautiful 
it is the personification of the mundane 
it is fresh rain
and color green
It is a feeling
that somehow
I deeply enjoy 
it is cozy days during the in-between seasons
it makes me feel interesting 
it makes me feel
but just like how you might love driving fast before the crash
this feeling brings danger
it is what comes before the depression 
it is the cool but not the cold
and fall can fool you
tell you that you love the cold
but you do not yet know winter and the wicked way it freezes your toes


Kristen Ng – World Journalism Preparatory School


My edges once sharp, are dull and round
Waves of regret, I feel drowned
My shattered dreams glisten for all to see
In my reflection are my parents
I’ll be their perfect prodigy
My wildest dreams, they crumble now
In place of the hopes that my parents allow
To gain their approval is my goal
So I’ll be their puppet, play the role
To hear those three words fall from their lips
I’ll even work ‘til my very soul chips

But what happens when their little girl isn’t perfect anymore
So broken and tired, focusing on a score
Defined by a number, I let it take control
Try to piece myself together, but I’m no longer whole
Their golden angel
How she’s fallen so fast
Her wings have been clipped
She’ll no longer last

They say time heals, but what if I’m broken
Did all of this to hear three words unspoken
Running a marathon, but stuck in a sphere
There’s no end in sight, no ones here
I’ll tread on broken glass if it means that I bleed
So be it, I’ll do it to succeed
My parents wishes they’re complete
If so, why do I feel this overwhelming defeat

Nicole Morado – Notre Dame School of Manhattan
“The Whisper”

The Whisper

As I walk alone in the dark,
I can no longer feel your presence.
The road ahead leads me farther away.
My heart grows cold and full of doubt.
As I continue, my sadness blooms.

In the darkness you whisper my name.
Like an echo reflected from a mountain top,
I can hear your words against my ear.
Your voice is like a gift I cannot see.
If I answer your call, then I must turn around.

But if I turn around I must admit,
That in some quiet corner of my soul,
Yours is a presence I always feel.
A presence of joy, love, and reverence,
That lies dormant in some small part of me.

Once again you call out to me,
only this time it’s not a whisper.
Yours is a roar heard across the seas.
Your call is strong and commanding,
And gentle and patient and… familiar?

“You know my name, you just need to turn.
Listen to the voice deep inside your soul.”
I turn around and I catch a glimpse,
of the magnificent blaze of glory before me.
I am in awe, I am hypnotized.

The flames rage, frightening yet inviting.
The fire calls me, it pulls me in.
I hear your voice in the majestic blaze.
“Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
I am not afraid and I walk through it.

I welcome the warmth of your light.
White doves of peace fly overhead.
My heart is joyful, I am enlightened.
I know your voice, I now remember.

Purifying showers a distant memory,
My praying hands a sign of faith,
and a communion of eternity during our last encounter.
I walk with thee O’Lord, forever more.

Claudia Wysocky – The Mary Louis Academy
“Poland, From Afar.”
Inspired by ‘Home Thoughts, from Abroad’ by Robert Browning

Poland, From Afar.

Oh, how lovely it is to reminisce,
About Poland and its winter bliss,
A world once transformed by snow and ice,
A sight so breathtaking, it felt like paradise.

The trees, once bare,
now dressed in white,
A scene that filled our hearts with light,
The snowflakes, falling oh so gently, Blanketing the earth so perfectly.

The lakes and rivers, frozen solid,
A playground for all, young and old,
With skates and sledges, we would glide and play,
Creating memories that forever stay.

And though the cold made us shiver,
Our loved ones, in our arms we would deliver,
Their warmth, a comfort we held so dear,

A reminder that winter is nothing to fear.

Oh, Poland in winter, a magical place,
Where nature’s beauty we could embrace,
A land where memories were made,
A winter wonderland that will never fade.

Frank Dolven – Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
“Death of a Street Cat”

Death of a Street Cat

There was a little cat in the street
And as the words:
“Don’t look over there”
Inexorably turned my head
The dark wet pavement,
Reflecting solemn streetlights
Held a slight, broken body
A stray
Draped in sable black fur
That seemed to meld
With its blacktop terminus.

The world filled
With desperate yowls
And Though I know
I can’t have fixed a thing
Guilt clutched the seams
Of my pale chest,
Pulling me taut
Leaving me stiff
I left the stray
Wandered away
As remorseful steps
Carried me.

When I look back
I turn to irony.
Dullest irony,
Effortlessly disheartening,
Wasted upon myself.
For curiosity did not kill this cat
A speeding car did,
That evening
Curiosity took but a pair of victims:
A cool breeze fulfilling,
Once pleasant walk home,
And my belief that street cats
Would forever roam