2014 Palm Beach County High School Poetry Contest Winners

We are pleased to announce and congratulate the winners of the 10th Annual High School Poetry Contest. Winners were selected by our distinguished judge, Dr. Jeff Morgan, Chairman, Department of English, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida, as follows:

1st Prize
Abigail Miller, Alexander Dreyfoos School of Arts, Grade 12,
for “Crescent Moons

2nd Prize
Kenneth Haliburton, Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, 11th Grade,
for “Handbrake Turn

3rd Prize
Juliana Diatezua, Wellington High School, Grade 12,
for “Ways to Disappear

4th Prize
Tessa Bravata, Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Grade 12,
for “Rebel Gum

5th Prize
Tiffany Abreu, Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Grade 10,
for “Wisps

Crescent Moons

My nails are rubbery, translucent.

My father’s, pearly, durable.

My mother’s, yellowed, sickly.

I cringe when I look at them.

But, his nails, they’re different.

His cuticles curve up like the weary crescent moon

at the start of a long winter night.

His nails are narrow, but not thin,

and they gently brush against my palm

when he traces the cracks in my skin

like a map he has been dying to follow,

though he may not know his destination.

They are nails that I want to dig into my skin,

to peel back the layers of filth,

of misconception, of insecurity,

in deep scarlet trails.

I want him to make my back a grandeur of divots.

I want to kiss the grit from under his nails

after he plows through my skin,

now smelling of freshly turned soil.

I want us to plant seeds in the rows,

watch them take root in my spine, my ribs.

I want to breathe in flowers,

knowing that I could not have planted them

with my own nails, so reedy, so weak.         

I want to polish his, make them shine,

and I’d do the same for everyone.

 I’d make a thousand nails glisten

instead of mourning my own. 

Abigail Miller


Handbrake Turn 

Gas pedal out

Clutch pedal in

let the clutch drop

make the tires spin

shift out of first

give the handbrake a jerk

that’s how you make a handbrake turn

by Kenneth Haliburton


Ways to Disappear

Route 1:

I hide like a love note carved into a forest before the fires engulf my single paper-thin sheet of skin.

The curve of my spine will say “I’m afraid I’ve swallowed the city.”

But the only lights to write by will have been in the stares of my childhood Polaroids

and the muted sepia will have bled all over my hands,

staining the scene of a chicken scratch arson they’ll eventually call my home.

It will be everywhere. And so shall I.


Route 2:

Waves crack inside my veins and I take the sea to the head

like I’m rebirthing my insides with storms of cheap liquor.

I will sway to the rhythm of a song written by the threat of the sunset and

the echoes of my sea salt heartbeat will render me but an algae green blip on a sonar screen.


My greatest fear will be forgetting to sing along.


Route 3:

I walk home and negotiate infinity with the pavement.

It will be the ambiguous hour where skies like crushed grapes are reminders that the string theory

knots in the dimension in which I am alone.

I will be,

and the weight of this overwhelming reality—of my active Being—will heave its lead body into my mouth.

Eventually, my fingernails will scrape the air between the sidewalk cracks; cherry-red painted weeds.


Route 4:

I speak through the silences after you mispronounce my name.

I raise my voice as if that will silence the roar

of the oncoming train.

by Juliana Diatezua

Rebel Gum

It’s the split second you edge your mother’s car to 60 miles an hour,

Your glossy permit jutting from your hipbone,

Tasting sweaty danger on your tongue,

Sloshing it around so it clicks with each tooth,

Dangling and swirling until your mouth sputters it out like

An arcade machine rejecting a disheveled dollar.


It’s unexpected rapping at your front door.

It comes from palming your first gun;

Black and new and ferocious.

The first ashy cigarette to graze the

Crackled and creased edges of your

Lopsided lips.


It’s rushing water twenty feet below,

Toes snaking around the sun-bathed bridge,

Ripples shifting into shadowy waves below.

Your knees become someone’s molding clay

Contorted into wobbly, pointed triangles.

The wind kisses your knotty curls farewell. 

It’s the smack of your body against the

Cool, blue waves. 

by Tessa Bravata


A girl looked into a fireplace,

watching the flames dance.

She asked if they knew her face,

she asked if she had a chance.

And she said it in a whisper,

as if the world had already missed her.

Flames cast light, light casts shadow,

she would wonder what hid in darkness.

Outside light's grasp, an after glow,

secrets were her only witness.

And she realized it in silence,

and the world didn't notice her absence.


And the fire would not speak,

though she begged for a reply.

The blaze had reached its peak

and ignored her desperate cry.


And she begged with patience,

as if it was the world she wanted to convince.

Yet when it finally did shout,

it told her only wisps of the future.

Until the hearth sizzled out,

and she was left alone and unsure.


And she thought to herself what it meant,

and the world offered her no comment.

"And when we are gone,

our ashes scatter through the wind

And when we are gone,

we leave no trace of where we've been."

And that was all she would say,

when the world up and blew her away.

by Tiffany Abreu