The following literary pieces were selected from collected submissions of local student-written poems, essays, and short stories.
2022 Outstanding Artist
Shaker High School | Grade 11
I think better with my eyes closed
My mother knows this of me. Though she
believes I think, lone, in chilled
earnest. That shut eyes build dams, and
Here, in this jagged
ravine of a brain, unforgiving like valleys of
isolation, do my thoughts
ring and accumulate? Or do they echo,
rebound in the barren prism of my empty restropsections? Rebound
and repeat, against eroding rock. How they drum and churn
dry and listless, how the wind wheezes on these worn walls, beating and breathing
how an atmosphere can be both ice and parched,
here the unwarm Sun is loud
and lone in the sky,
here sound rushes
like searing sand, I can think of nothing. I think nothing.
Here, I am nothing.
But I do not think lone. Because in this jagged
gorge of my mind, the walls were carved by surging rivers. I do not think
lone because the grooves of my ear and the givings of my eye
carry the age of my mother. I do not think in isolation
because shut eyes build darkness like the
womb, warm primordial breath, where air does not exist, and where she forever begins and I
never end. Darkness like placid Earth beneath flowing rivers, like the imprint of
wet soil along water’s edge.
2022 Selected Works
Grade 12 | Greenwich Junior Senior High School
The Year I Saw Yellow
that was the year i came to see color
in World’s fragments, i saw through the rouge days
beneath the pink, there is a glass other
crisp new life when one ousts the inner haze
turns out life exists by sentient light
the air is heavy with the love of Sun
the trees smile, glad to be held in our sight
i could see this now, no more on the run
turns out there is life beyond known to meet
in the hills there is a jade so alive
in the quiet road, dark warmth for your feet
in a sweet slow life, honey to revive
that was the year i came to see yellow
royal flaxen canaries- my fellows.
Grade 12 | Shaker High School
I like the satisfaction we get from calling this a global pandemic, like every immensity is essential to explain what is happening, that feeling that we are all experiencing the same obstacle. This thing that has evolving effects, distancing and cleansing. But the search for the antibody makes us anti-everybody. It initiates finger pointing, where did it come from, who can we blame. Bans to keep us separate, yet each light blue polypropylene face looks identical. At least we have learned, a world of effort, is required to fix a world of problems.
Written after Etel Adnan
Grade 9 | The Albany Academy
They say that the world is held up by four pillars
The Learning of the Wise
The Justice of the Great
The Prayers of the Righteous
The Valor of the Brave
First, there is those that listen
To the language of Man’s thoughts and ideas,
Seeking answers to questions that pervade time
And give instruction to the young buds of spring.
Second, the figures that tower over our civilization
Bring the smaller atop their shoulders,
Allowing them to gaze upon the world
In the same light as ordinary people do.
Third, ones whose words inspire
The hearts of people to do good
In the bitter bleakness of this world.
Soothing aloe vera gel of
Hope seeping into crevices of the spirit.
Fourth, the heroes that jump in
Without hesitation, nor a flash of doubt
To step into the heavy, impermeable darkness
And bring others into the glowing light.
Yet, all of these are nothing
Without a ruler who knows the art of ruling
They who hears the language of the earth,
Something beyond the birds chirping cheerily in the trees Or the calm bubbling of water in a quaint little creek, But rather the colossal tides of change
That heralds the coming of New.
May they take these sparkling, indomitable pillars Bind them together with the strongest
Cables of respect and friendship.
Sustain the world with their Shining, bright-star greatness.
Grade 10 | The Albany Acaemy
Bitterness Of The Alabaster
Recount the day when that alabaster beauty,
Upon its pedestal of silken stone,
Whose hollow eyes,
Cast woeful terror upon all who met its gaze;
Emerged from its crystalline sarcophagus.
Grey and marbled, scars speckled this stranger;
Complexion fair as it is haunting,
For only the dead know its hue.
Across pursed lips resides a frown of discontent,
A mime, a mannequin, an impersonator of infinite character,
Yet lacking in the ardor of man.
At its feet bows the creator, warm to the touch,
Breath upon his cracked lips;
Chisel in hand as he unravels this phantom creation.
Gypsum dust paints the floor an ashy white,
Linger on, the faint resonance of metal on stone.
An armature of indefinite pose,
Set onto the maddened awe of the masses,
A disproportionate silhouette of its simple origin
An enthralling idle stands this fair hermit,
Kissed by the ages,
Bitter by his petrifaction.
Rachel Beth Mannix
Grade 12 | Queensbury High School
for type A writers,
writers like me,
who question the worthiness
of their words.
But still I love watching
become a story of blotches and letters
right before my eyes.
they see the world
through a lens slightly cracked,
with a mind slightly bent,
with a heart
a little broken,
but still beating in my chest.
A heart a little broken,
but at least it still beats.
It still beats
in still beats,
like the wings of a bird
in a cage.
“I know why the
caged bird sings.”
I know now
what Maya Angelou means.
I can be free.
Grade 12 | Saratoga Springs High School
A convenient word
To write a haiku
Grade 12 | Queensbury High School
Dependence on Interdependence
I rely on my pain to bring me back
Time and time again
To my own personal place of comfort
Driven by forceful dismay
Discomfort that I have to convince myself is comforting
Time and time again.
Neurological chemicals bombard my every intellect Resurrection hidden away behind bountiful walls
Of insecure, internal dialect
I find solace in my agony
It is my recognizable flaw
Breaking Points, a safe space
Familiarity becomes a prolonged sanctuary
I rely on my insanity for sanity
Purposeful glares shot at myself through cracked mirrors Caused by my own accord
The blame game begins
Everytime my thoughts are brought back
Blinding myself of senses
Destroying my moral compass
Dependability on the remembrance of tragedy
Is always assured in the form of flashing memories
The interdependence in of myself
Accompanied by long term accustomed miseries
Neglectful internal autonomy
Convincing myself it is easier to sink
Where I once knew so well
How to float
Grade 11 | Emma Willard School
We The People
Have we forgotten
freedom doesn’t come
from the hands of one
A strong seed
found by many
planted by many
Can’t be watered by one
Poison is coming
towards ground zero
ridding the roots
what’ll happen to
We the People of the United States
We the people
the importance of we
Because your bones are mine
we share sweat and blood
we share laughs and joy
We share a home, share a pride
And although at times we divide
we might bicker
But we must always remember
at the end of the day
victory only happens
When it’s We The People
2022 Runner Up
Grade 12 | Saratoga Springs High School
As I open your door,
Nothing will surprise me.
Your superiority complex
With a masculine twist to the edges,
A connect-the-dots piece of the puzzle,
A storyboard that’s been ripped to pieces,
I’ll always find a way to explain this well.
With a quick glance,
Your shoes have been worn 500 times over
Overused is an adjective that comes to mind-
But not for you! No, of course.
Lovely is the picture painted in front of me.
Picking up from where I left off-
My freest words have paid the price
500 times over.
Give a chance that hasn’t struck me
It hasn’t packed itself into place
Or made a home within the edges.
Your jaw has clenched enough to snap
But not enough for it to glow.
I think I’ll bring myself to say
I love the way this will end up.
You skip a beat, for heavens sake-
Don’t let the suspense eat you whole.
Throw those worries into the pond of yesterday,
And sprinkle spite before you’re gone.
You’ve heard me say it twice before,
So, I guess the 3rd times a charm.
I’m building walls,
Building a concrete roof over my head
Because nobody’s going to concave through.
Not even a man.
Eyebrows that are so furrowed and stiff,
That you should probably take a lavender bath.
I’ll listen to your stories one more night,
Before they become divine literature.
You describe them to me as a castle built high.
A lonesome girl in the cliffs,
Always longing for something.
With each and every crease you put in the pages,
It is still not enough.
Longing for touch,
Or comfort of some sort
You look in the eyes of a foe
And you swear it’s on the tip of your tongue.
Spit it out to justify yourself.
Speak it out to humanize us all.
We are us,
2022 Runner Up
Grade 11 | Niskayuna High School
In a village forty miles away from Kolkata,
a farmer’s hands are weathered, his shirt is threadbare
and his rickshaw is loaded with gourds, melons, okras and eggplants.
He wakes up in the dark before the first streaks of scarlet have tinged the sky,
while the village lights are still dim and the reflection of the pearlescent moon ripples in the river.
He pedals for hours on cracked asphalt and uneven earthen paths,
past villages and banyan trees, empty bus stops and train stations,
the air silent without the rattling sound of trains and only occasionally interrupted by the screeching of crows.
On the solitary journey, he occupies himself by making up stories to tell his children,
and the thought of their giggles brings a light to his eyes and a smile to his lips.
The moonlight paints buildings in shades of muted gray and smudged charcoal and
a lingering scent of night jasmine perfumes the air, mingling with the smell of incense of morning prayer, as he follows the twisting ribbon of roads approaching the city.
He arrives at dawn
as the city slowly wakes from its slumber, the ephemeral stillness broken by the rising sun.
Morning fog clears, revealing graffiti on brick broken buildings and sleek five-star hotels,
while the sun hides behind the silhouette of swaying palm trees,
bathing the ink-drawn buildings in soft orange pastels.
But the pulse of the city is missing, its streets unrecognizable.
A few passerby dot the streets, hurrying on their divergent paths, faces covered.
The old market looks like a ghost town, empty and silent.
Streets cluttered with vendors selling morning snacks and paraphernalia are a scene of the past, the echoing of the boisterous customers bartering can no longer be heard.
The glowing screens outside malls advertise shimmering satin and silk dresses for weddings now postponed, billboards for canceled tours and concerts are a reminder of a world at pause.
In this new normal, he was forced to change his job for survival:
for the people who cannot come to the market, he comes to them.
He goes beyond the facade of urban high-rises, to the homes of the elderly–to flats, narrow alleys and gullies–delivering burlap bags of vegetables on their verandas and doorsteps, bringing the market to them so they will not have to risk their lives doing so.
These necessary acts of kindness do not go unnoticed-
The smile in their eyes convey a mutual sense of gratitude that blue mesh coverings cannot conceal.
He bikes back home at sunset, his rickshaw empty,
as crimson and indigo flood the sky once again.
A soft melody playing on the radio drifts out from a streetside store.
The acoustic guitar track recorded in a studio across seas sounds at once foreign yet familiar,
the universal feeling it carries transcends all borders,
binding the moment in time and space.