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Literary Art

The following literary pieces were selected from collected submissions of local student-written poems, essays, and short stories.​​


Thank you to WSWHE BOCES and to all of the students who contributed to this exhibit for inspiring us all with your thoughtful creations.​

Lauren Zhu
Erin Farnsworth
Molly Graiff
Dyla Porreca
Ayla Goldman
Bagged Oats

2023 Selected Works

Nomad's Lullaby

Lauren Zhu

Shaker High School, 12

My dream home is a stained

glass arboretum, far away, under Greenland

midnight suns. Until a nightmare chases me


from my lonely room, across cold tile

to my mother’s bed, & I tuck my head

against her trembling chest.


The next morning she tells me she dreamt of billowing streams

and her late grandmother. I do not tell her that this is the first time

I see someone cry under the silk stupor of sleep.


I spend the late hours of night, slinking

out the back door, sprinting towards the speckled groves

that backdrop this town. If I run faster, I inch closer


to sunlight. Closer to the day that has already risen

over the rest of the world, over my mother’s childhood home.

When my mother goes home to mourn, she sprinkles


her grandmother into the ocean. Into a current

that caresses, connects two continents.

If I run faster, I inch closer to dawn, to the hour


my sister left this home, which harbors quiet grief

that my mother nestles into the crook

of her elbow, that silently weaves


itself between my chubby, young fingers.

My sister leaves me with the symphony of daybreak,

tuning, rippling in the shallow second


of pitch silence before sunrise,

yearning for life. I mean

to be alive. Lush with light and melody.


Enough so I look upon

a twirling maple key

and think triplet.


I am a baby of this earth

in which my mother is a wasp,

seeking respite in the flower


of this country. Instead of

satin petals, she sinks into a budding fig’s

small intestine. I am a caterpillar,


watching my sister burgeon

into a butterfly, without knowing that she

becomes mush before metamorphosis,


must melt her body behind the sheer of her chrysalis.

If only, to soar past this hard packed

earth, out to the crescendoing, crestening seas. 

Spirit of Nature

Erin Farnsworth
Shaker High School, 12

I see myself floating. No, not floating. Flying.

I’m flying towards the sky, afraid of what might be waiting for me.

The wind blows on my pale skin. My hair is catching in my face.

I feel at peace. This is what I was destined for.

The views of what lies above are haunting but beautiful.

I’m on my way home and the air has never felt so good.

It was an emotional time in the world below but I know,

This is where I was meant to be.

I Am a Ladybug

Molly Graiff
Columbia High School, 11

Ladybugs are my spirit animal 
Tiny, True, and 
In the flesh 
A real version of who I am 
Ladybugs represent me 
Sleeping with eyes awake 
No time to waste 
Dreaming of opportunity 
See, it’s not a matter of their appearance of simplicity 
It’s authenticity that makes them who they are 
Spotted, savvy, and spectacular 
That’s the vernacular associated with these bodacious beetles Ladybugs are omnivores 
Just like I want more 
Luck to sweep believers 
If you’re the kind of person 
Who trusts dandelion wishes 
Butterfly kisses 
And rain on a summer day 
Then you too are a ladybug 
Ladybugs protect plants 
Give everyone and chance 
A loveliness of luck 
A red-riding hood cape 
Decked with endless black holes of possibilities 
Everyone knows the evolution of butterflies 
Stages you can’t deny but 
They have a history just as rich 
European farmers would pray to them 
Have faith in them 
To save their crops each year 
I’m not saying I’m a superhero 
But my energy levels are definitely not zero 
Because ladybugs protect all they love 
Ladybugs believe in themselves 
Trust in their surroundings 
And stand up for what’s right 
Because ladybugs too have wings 
And ladybugs too can fly 

Our Worlds Downfall

Dylan Porreca
Queensbury High School, 11

No more fresh water

No more

Lush green fields

No more majestic glaciers

Flowing  by us

What happened to this world


Healthy farms

Full of produce

No longer

Safe to eat



Meant for insects

Are killing us

Each day


Our animals are starving

Or dying due to heat

Forests once protected them

No longer their retreat


Oceans filled with plastics

Prescription drugs and oil

Marine life in polluted water

Floating lifeless

Sick and soiled


We traded life for gadgets

No contact

Quick responses

We need to send that message

Make that video

Lose our senses








Where will it end

Where does it stop

Is it too late for a solution


Ayla Goldman
The Doane Stuart School, 11

The sun shines bright on a cold winter day
In the woods a girl walks bringing sorrow this way
Emptiness, longing, alone, and scared
She felt it so suddenly and was unprepared

Floating in a dark void, remembering the fear
Of the loneliness coming quickly, drawing near
She feels so alone, as if it is a dark night
It's coming, she can't stop it. She can no longer fight.

Out into the woods her lost voice calls
Longing to come out she eventually falls
And as the world tumbles, together they drop
It spins around and nothing can stop.

Then, out of the darkness comes behold
From behind an Oak tree ever so old
A bird so small, and yet so kind,
Acknowledges her pain, and tells her, “leave it behind!”

And this bird walks forward,
Rests its head on her knee,
And as she strokes its feathers
She finally is set free.

Bagged Oats

Cristiane Richardson
Shaker High School, 12

Some oats slide into a bowl.

They soak in milk and sugar,

Mixed with care and attention.

Their flavor and texture are delightful -

Sweet, creamy, and puffy As

they pervade my mouth,

Claiming my admiration.

But other oats remain in the bag. They

crack from dehydration. They are flat,

thin, and small, Their flavor lackluster.

They are tasteless and their skin is

dry, So they shuffle and dance around.

They dance,

They fly,

They jig,

They glide.

Never has a bag of oats seemed so energized.

Some oats dazzle with cinnamon.

They swell with love,

Cherishing their time in the spotlight.

They tan and warm up in the oven;

Toasty is their flavor. As they cover a

dollop of strawberry jam

They make the plate their own.

But other oats lie still in their bag.

They roll over each other and sag.

They sit, wanting the light.

They sit, wanting the warmth.

They sit, dreaming of their own flavor.

They are tasteless and their skin is dry,

So they shuffle and dance around.


They dance,

They fly,

They jig,

They glide.

Never has a bag of oats seemed so energized.

May Man Rise Beyond

Kevin Lee
The Albany Academies, 10

I gaze upon the beauty I have made

Starting with the earthen rock I have laid

With harsh winds I begin to hew and shave

With water I begin to smooth and lave

Lightning lasers pinpoint precise detail

Making the figure in specific scale

From lightning comes the fires that do roar

Giving this great sculpture soul that will soar

Now comes alive it breathing with delight

My creation shall blaze in wondrous light

Exhausted in my work I go to sleep

Among the grass and ferns and straw hay heap

And wish I do that they will take care of

Their beloved earth over all else above

Many summers pass off to winter storms

As the land moves and changes and transforms

I wake a hundred centuries later

But I now find myself in a crater

Barren and fallow, littered with debris

I climb above onto flat ground and see

Nothing but many rolling dunes of waste

In the acrid air was a bitter taste

From forsaken shelter rises smoke plumes

While from the black rivers comes toxic fumes

The sea’s clogged up from sky high plastic dumps
Valleys become radioactive sumps

Running down from my cheeks are tears of horror

I could not think my art a destroyer

And death clutched on the land like the reaper

But I hoped man could still be restorer

Of earth that gave the birth to it and thee

Of earth that gave the birth to it and thee

The Right Definition

Sarah Smith
South Glens Falls Central School District, 12

Dream. Defined as “a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occuring in a person’s mind during sleep”. I find that definition boring. Thoughts, images, and sensations are three words that technically, yes, describe what’s happening while you’re dreaming. However the definition majorly underestimates the power of dreams and what they really are. Everytime I fall asleep, I find myself waking up in a completely different reality, meeting different people and exploring different places I never knew existed. Dreams can be so drastically different in even the shortest amount of time, which in my opinion, is the craziest part about them. One night my dream could consist of being inside a spaceship while being launched to Mars and the next night I could be swimming with sharks in the middle of the ocean. Some nights my dreams are so realistic I’ll wake up and remember every detail, not able to tell if that dream was actually a dream or if it was something I just remembered that happened five years ago. Other nights my dreams are so intense I’ll wake up drenched in sweat with my heart pounding, still panicking from the made up scenario in my mind that all occurred while I was asleep. Other nights I’ll have no dreams at all, the only memory I have waking up is what had happened the previous day, the time I was asleep being a pitch black void that I can recall nothing from.


So yes, dreams are a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occuring in a person’s mind during sleep. I never denied that. But that definition is missing things. A lot of things.


Dreaming doesn’t only occur when you’re sleeping. It can happen anywhere at any time, whether you want it to happen or not. Daydreaming about your comfortable bed with fluffy pillows while you’re sitting in math class, only snapping out of it when your teacher calls your name. Or dreaming about your future, what you want to be when you grow up, what color your future house will be and how you’ll decorate the inside of it. To dream is to imagine and create, to think and to process and succeed. It’s a word filled with meaning and power, much more power than you think. Much more than everybody thinks. When I dream it’s like I’m scanning my ticket to enter a train station filled with hundreds of different tunnels and trains going in all different directions, and I’m the only person there. I can go wherever I want with nothing stopping me, entering any train to explore any place I choose. After every adventure I get off the train feeling like I’ve spent days in a whole new world, when in reality it’s only been minutes. Dreaming is an escape from our own worlds, leaving every thought and problem we have behind, stuck in reality with our unconscious body and dull mind that only thinks inside the box. You can go anywhere you want and be anyone you want, even if you choose to be yourself and stay within your own neighborhood.


Dream. Defined as “a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep”. Dream. Defined by me as “the strongest and most powerful concept in the world that allows our minds to go places we never thought was possible”.

A Dream of a Better Life

Eric Zelezniak
Galway Jr/Sr Highschool, 12

Growing up as a big kid, I dreamed for better days. I endured bullying, which made going to school everyday a real struggle. Everyday I would hear things about my weight or the way I looked which caused a lot of issues for me mentally and physically. I never wanted anyone to go through the same experience I did. I never wanted anyone to dream for an easier life. I was crushed. I still showed up everyday and endured the 7 hours of a living nightmare . Being a kid who wasn´t the biggest fan of making new friends or being the center of attention, the constant bullying was undoubtedly the worst experience of my life. The worst experiences came from what I call the ¨ the bus ride to hell¨. I had a 30 minute ride into school and for those 30 minutes I endured the worst bullying by upperclassmen. A particular day was the worst of it because on this day my family was brought into the harassment. My dad is a Schenectady cop, and a bully added this to his arsenal, telling me things like ¨your dad isn't going to make it home¨ and some other things so awful, I refuse to talk about them. Thankfully, that day my oldest brother Joey stepped in and helped me through that situation. This whole situation turned into a nightmare, a nightmare I saw everytime I closed my eyes. I couldn’t escape the bullies. It was always on my mind, whether my eyes were open or closed. I would come home sad everyday just hoping tomorrow’s school day wouldn’t come and it made me hate who I was until one day while scrolling through youtube, I came across a guy who's quote was ¨Smile More¨. His name was Roman Atwood.

Little did I know that his quote would turn my life around. I was tired of feeling not good enough, tired of all the insecurities, tired of feeling afraid to go to school, tired of spending every living day feeling like a burden to everyone, and tired of getting put down. I was me, I was a human being, and I wasn’t just another person they could destroy. After that day, I started looking at all the bullies as just a small part of life that will help me become a bigger and better person. As my school career went on, the bullies never stopped tormenting me. One thing did change and that was my passion to help others deal with the bullies and all together just ¨Smile More¨. I wanted kids to dream about a successful future, not use their wishes to cast away their bullies. As a junior in high school I finally got the opportunity to help someone with the same problem I had. I was asked to help mentor a young kid in 4th grade who was getting severely bullied to the point it caused him to try everything to avoid going to school. I spent as much time as I possibly could with him doing the best I could to make a small difference in his school day. I would go to recess with him, hangout in class, and help him get motivated to come to school and get his school work done. After a few weeks together, I started seeing a change in him. He started to attend school more and get his school work done. All I wanted was to be someone he could turn to or just be someone he looked forward to hanging out with. As the school year progressed, his attendance numbers trended upwards and he became this beaming ray of light whenever I saw him. I knew I succeeded at my task. I was able to help someone that endured the same nightmare I did. I now knew that kid was dreaming about a happier future, not dreaming of escaping a nightmare.

Eight year old me would be more than proud of the steps we´ve taken to help victims of the cruel and unfair act of bullying. That wasn't all this experience gave me, however. This experience brought out a different side of me; this kid brought out a different side of me. In the end, I wasn't just helping him, we were helping each other. I finally was able to see that I could make a difference. The joy I got from just being able to make him smile and see him finally regain the love he had for the things he used to do was worth the world to me . Knowing that I could make a difference in his life showed me that I am much more than just an ordinary person, I am someone who could make an impact, and I am someone who overcame self-hatred.  Now I dream about a better future where bullying is extinct and kids can grow up and follow their dreams without the interference of other kids. This world needs to be a better place, where kids don’t have to waste their wishes on an easier life but instead use them on their wildest dreams.

The Marionette

Lily Galietta
Grade 10, 
Hartford CSD

I remember,

the sound of music:

the majestic and upbeat tunes

that used to fill the room.

Now an eerie silence falls.

These once festive halls

feel more like a tomb.

I remember,

light from above,

and the crimson curtains which I loved.

Light that bore down on me

as the curtains drew wide.

The curtains

now are tattered, torn, and faded.

And the light

now flickering,

will soon go out for good.

I remember,

many different voices:

voices of children, voices of women, voices of men,

voices of clapping, voices of laughing,

voices of awe, and voices of crying.

Now voices haunt these walls they once filled.

I remember,

elegant clothes:

shoes, makeup, corsets, jewelry,

shirts, skirts, and dresses

of every color and every design --

whatever I needed to shine.

Now my clothes hang tattered,

my makeup is smudged and faded,

and spiders crawl through my hair, which is matted.

I remember

a lot of faces:

old and young, women and men;

none were the same, but all were filled with expressions.

Now the faces I once knew so well

seem like a dream.

I remember dancing,

swaying, gliding,

twirling, spinning,

leaping, jumping,

never missing a beat,

always landing on my feet.

Now I cannot dance, I cannot move.

I just stand there with nothing to do.

Music, light, voices, clothes, faces, and dancing --

things of my past that I remember,

now seem like a bygone era.

Why don't I leave this tragic place?

Well, I would, but I'm held in place,

stuck in this stance in which I was left.

Strings that once gave me the freedom to dance

are tangled and mangled in a mess.

The cross brace that a master once used

to conduct my actions

lay above my stage,

casting ashy shadows onto the floor.

And my stage,

oh my beautiful hand-made stage,

now lays covered in cobwebs and spiders,

buried in an inch of dust.

Its curtains are torn and tattered.

All the good it brought, forgotten.

All the joy I conveyed, forgotten.

All I can do is stand in my stance and dream.

What do I dream of?

I dream of lavender fields, sapphire swans,

and ponds filled with lotus.

But most of all, I dream of dancing once again.

I long to hear the crowd applaud aloud,

To hear the music and the voices,

to see the faces I once knew,

to feel the spotlight on me,

to be garbed in elegant clothes, and

to see my master conducting my dance

with the strings flowing free instead of an entangled mess.

I wish that someone would spare me

this never-ending torture.

How I wish someone would cut me loose.

But what am I without a master,

Without my audience?

Nevermind, it's not like I can change my fate.

After all, I'm just a marionette, a puppet on strings.

The American Dream from the eyes of a First generation.

Alex Beltran
Schuylerville Central School, 12

The American Dream or “La Sueno Americano” as my family back home in Mexico was a glimmering star in the night. With stories from friends and family about leaving everything behind and taking the risk that could penalize their life, the American Dream has lost its touch to the people who claim their allegiance to being “The Real Americans.” With stories and ballads of the nomad trail of crossing the United States border, the ideology of starting over with nothing to their name is the dream to these people. Regardless of what the dream consists of, with the finish line of the marathon being the goal for everyone to chase and complete. Dreams of a family, a do over in life or even education are just examples of what immigrants dream within their journey.

My father’s dreams were simple in life when he and my mother immigrated from the state of Durango in Mexico to our current home in New York. With his two younger kids, my father wanted them to have a better source of education for their future and he knew that their old home wouldn’t do. Migrating to farms around the United States, my father decided that our current home was the place for us. Roughly 20 years later after his first trip to the States, my father was able to live his dreams that he wished for as a child with my mother. A simple home on a farm where he proudly works on, 2 grown up sons working in careers that find him joy, another son going into college later in the year, a young daughter with an entire life ahead of her, a fully built home back in his hometown where his mother resides in and a truck he can proudly say he owns. Though his dream may be simple and something everyone wants to strive for, the stories and hardship my father had gone through for his family allowed him to reach the goal where is right now.

Corridos are a form of songs engraved in Mexican culture that share impactful stories told from the perspective of everyday people such as my father. El Inmigrante by Calibre 50 shares the hardship of what immigrants face to achieve their dream through different roadblocks that stop their way. With the lyric, “I'm one of many Mexicans that work day by day so my son's can one day have a future and to help my family. Oh how I miss my ranch, my friends that I do not forget about.” Though the lyric speaks about the topic of working everyday to provide for their child, the dream of sacrificing your life so your child can have an enjoyable life is the same dream people strive to have. Though Calibre 50 sings about the injustice immigrants face, there are other groups that play songs with the meaning of the American Dream being shared throughout the music. The music duo, Dueto Bertin y Lalo created a similar ballad to Calibre 50’s on the American dream. With the title of “El Sueño de un Mojado” (translated to “the dream of a wet person”) follows the story of a character stricken with poverty in Mexico deciding to leave his home and cross the border through the river as many immigrants do while chasing the ideology of the American dream. Though losing his dream, the character succumbs to alcoholism until the day he remembers about his family back home and how he had taken advantage of the dream that many people wish of just being in the United States. In the end, the character finally speaks about how his hard work allowed him to save all his money he achieved through work and determination to send back home to his family. Though these are only songs played, the story of people who sacrificed their life to achieve the American dream can inspire the next generation of immigrants to pursue their own dreams.

Though immigrants are an example of pursuers of the American Dream, the ideology behind chasing a Dream can affect everyone regardless of background. A simple dream such as getting an A on a test or a complex dream of achieving a degree in college is an example of an everyday dream someone can have. Regardless of being an immigrant or not, the American Dream doesn’t specify on who should chase one. With almost everyone having an immigrant background that spans to further generations, their ancestors came to America with the ideology of starting over or having a better life. History repeating itself with the influx of immigrants with hope and dreams coming to a new world with the chance to have a better life. However with the rising conflict of the prevention of immigrants to enter the country, most are not able to live a better life than how their current one is. With racism and inequality being a factor, most Americans do not accept the belief of immigrants working or even living in another country or working. Along with the trouble of not being able to enter the country, most immigrants don’t even make it inside legally which causes trouble for them and their future. Though most immigrants are good hearted and want to follow their dreams, the safety and concern behind allowing them to enter illegally is a problem as the United States is not able to see who is actually a criminal and who is actually a good person.

Going back to the Ideology of chasing a dream, The American Dream to me consists of the journey to achieve the goal rather than the actual reward behind it. Though the final reward is all great, the journey that was taken to complete is a lot enjoyable when you rekindle the origin behind it. The countless stories behind a goal seems worth it to share to others rather than showing off the reward given. Yes the reward at the end is extremely enjoyable but if you're able to take the time and reflect on the progress and growth, the outcome and lesson behind it can inspire others to share a similar dream that you have and follow the footprints left behind by you. Having said that, motivation improves the mindset for others as they see you as someone successful which may seem selfish to think but having people look up to you can impact the way you continue following your dream.


Overall, my belief in the American Dream is real and still available for everyone to follow. Without my father’s ambitious dream of leaving his life behind, I wouldn’t be here and even have a dream of my own. With my dream of graduating college with a Bachelor's in Computer Science and eventually raising a family of my own such as my father did. My gratitude to him is unspeakable as hearing his stories of what he had gone through brought tears in my eyes hearing them all. Even the songs that I had grown up listening to from my father impacted the belief as they would mention the American Dream. My heart breaks whenever I turn on the news and coverage of immigrants being denied entry  to the United States as they’re just humans trying to provide a better life for their families.

Kevin Lee
Sarah Smith
Eric Z
Lily G
Alex B
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