2020 High School Poetry Contest 2nd Place Winner




2nd Place: Emma-Jade Cantrell

Junior, Dreyfoos School of the Arts





How to Avoid Hypothermia

find fire girl.

collect the flames that spew from her lips,

and don’t flinch when they scorch the hairs on your arms.

the smell of burnt wood will become your nostalgia,

so savor it, as if it were the smell of playdough or grape cough medicine.


replace the ice forming in your chest with fire.

place her hands on your shoulders and let

her melt you from the inside out.

don’t be surprised when you have to deal with

thawed emotions; the ones that have been frozen for decades.

warning: you may become dependent on her


gather the ashes she leaves in her trail.

make her every word your scripture and

let her criticisms mold you,

as if you’re the pool of hot wax beneath

her stamp. she will brand you as her creation.

and for the first time, you will have a family.


place the ash jar on a shelf. 

she is an expiration date, and you can feel her heat rising.

prepare for the day she leaves you.

hope that her ashes still radiate heat so your hands

won’t freeze over again.

hope that she will remember you,

so that maybe once she’s gone you’ll be able to

create your own fire.


According to Final Judge, Dr. Jeff Morgan of Lynn University, Cantreall’s poem is “among a new generation of poets giving voice to social issues, cultures, experiences, imaginations, and lives.”