2021 Tween Poetry Contest

Eleven talented poets submitted twenty-eight poems to the 2021 Tween Poetry Contest! We were very impressed by their work, and you can see for yourself just how talented they are. The poems were divided into three categories:

short, for pieces with ten lines or fewer

medium, for pieces with ten to twenty-five lines

long, for pieces with twenty-five lines or more

They were judged upon Spelling and Grammar, Impact, Style, Creativity, and Originality.

First place winners each received $15 gift cards to the bookstore Peregrine Books. Runner-ups each received $10 gift cards to the bookstore Peregrine Books.

As part of the submission process, the poets were asked who their favorite poets are. Here are their responses -- their answers might surprise you!

- Dr. Seuss

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

- Robert Frost

- William Shakespeare

- Shel Silverstein

- Amanda Gorman

Contest winners

First Place:

Short Poem Category

Desserted Island

Elise M

To a graham cracker island

Sail cheesecake boats

Where lime wedge trees

Drink honey river floats


The peach sun rises

Cool whip clouds, once gray

Sprinkle lemon raindrops

On sandcastles of sorbet

First Place:

Medium Poem Category

Bluebird’s Farewell

Miriam H

Based on, “The Last Word of a Bluebird” by Robert Frost 


I saw the roost in an old birch- 

I knew it was the perfect perch. 

I landed and fluffed my feathers, 

And wondered about tonight’s weather. 


The moon lit the night 

And the stars shined bright. 

I could see all around for many a mile. 

The house, the barn, the wood pile. 


Then the wind began to blow, 

And I knew it would snow. 

I felt so terribly cold, 

As I struggled to keep my hold. 


Below me was the water trough. 

I hoped the wind wouldn’t blow me off. 

I was covered in frost, 

And my tail I nearly lost. 


Then came a crow. 

He was flying low.

I called “Good friend, come here 

So I can speak a word in your ear.” 


“Would you mind telling a friend 

That I’ve gone to the south end?” 

And with that, I flew away. 

I wanted to come back, someday.

First Place:

Long Poem Category

What If

Isabelle B

What if. 

The words what if are throwing around at length. 

What if I forget? 

What if I could have been there? 

What if I say no? 

But if one was to think of the power they possess, they would find that the words alone can make someone feel guilty or prideful. 

Happy or in despair. 

With the times of today the words have turned from a whisper to a roar. 


What if the pandemic never came? 

Would we still know the things we now know? 

Would mankind be as foolish? 

Would we be as aware? 


What if the pandemic never helped those who had something to say speak up? 

Would we still have as much courage to stand up for ourselves? 

Would we still be as aware of the struggles of today? 


What if the pandemic never taught us what gratitude and grief really meant? 

Would we just go about our days oblivious? 

Would we let those who struggle, struggle alone? 



What if I stand by you? 

What if we work together? 

What if we build a better world? 

What if we walk towards the future hand and hand and know that we can brave anything together? 


What if.


Runner Up:

Short Poem Category

Little Bird

Miriam H

Little bird, did you know? 

It's you the world loves so. 


Your sweet voice and silvery song 

Inspire us all to sing along. 


And though you're just a little chicky 

I know soon you'll grow up quickly! 


And then across the meadow will be heard 

The song of the little sparrow bird.

Runner up:

Long Poem Category



It was a heartbreaking spring morning, one of many she had suffered through. 

It’s difficult to climb out of bed, hopefully face the day she’s been unwillingly given. 

Where did she go wrong? 

Scarcely clinging to the happy face she forces, waiting for the hours to pass. 

Growing up is burdensome; without warning, the bubble of joy bursts, and everything is doubted. It was a harsh summer night, most likely the worst time of her life. 

It was her party, but somehow she had been forgotten. 

Where did she go wrong? 

Crying numbly in her room, while all the fake friends and cheaters were dancing the night away. 

Growing up is burdensome; suddenly every decision matters, and the hurt doesn’t fade away. 

It was a chilling fall afternoon; chances are, it was when she completely fell apart. 

Self medicating was the new normal, however the help wasn’t truly of assistance. 

Where did she go wrong? 

Watching herself slowly shatter, realizing she was only sinking further into the deep end. 

Growing up is burdensome; at a rapid rate, your existence is changing in every way, and the word normal is wholly meaningless. 

It was a surprisingly friendly winter midnight, and she was laying in bed pondering her hopeful improvement. 

She had confessed, and was pushing through the controlled road to feeling alive once more. Finally, an event had gone right. 

Smiling in the sunlight, remembering her family’s still standing there; waiting for her. 

Growing up teaches a message; through good times and bad, you will persevere, for there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. 

To all the broken souls with their counterfeit personality, concealed and scarred skin, along with their crumbling hearts, keep fighting. 

Even when the season drags on for decades, you must believe that one day the sun will break through. 

You are stronger then you realize.


Short Poem Submissions

​Friends with the Dragon

Alexander H

You can feel 

the fire in the sky 

within your eyes. 

Your heat 

keeps on pumping 

and the pumps give you power. 

You feel 

like you can be 

friends with the dragon.

​Good Day at the Bay

Ivy B

Today is a good day 

So I sat by the bay 

At the bay I had mac and cheese 

But there were bees! 

So I ran home I found a honey comb 

Bees came out I was about home 

So I followed the route

​Butterfly, a haiku


Butterfly, pink wings 

Pretty in a summer's breeze 

Beautiful, graceful

medium Poem Submissions

The Wild Nature

Alexander H

In your heart

you feel so alive 

when the tiger 

goes inside. 


It gives you 

its power. 


It heals you 

when you go 

to the water. 


Stars turn 

into a dragon. 


Bit by bit, 

when it finishes, 

you feel 

like you can fly 

in the sky like a dragon.

At the Beach

Belle M

At the beach it is fun, 

The water is clear, 

In the bright bright sun. 


The sand is covering all my toes, 

Hopefully water doesn’t go up my nose. 


There are lots of cool sandcastles, 

Seashells, crabs and fish! 

To never leave is my greatest wish! 


The sun is setting, 

What a beautiful sight! 

We have to leave before it is night. 


For at night, 

The Loggerhead’s eggs are laid. 

I’m so glad we came to the beach and played!

The Importance of School


Why do people not appreciate school 

when it’s a privilege that can help us. 

Although others say they think school is cruel, 

they really shouldn't be making a fuss. 


So what if learning is boring sometimes, 

it is learning that can help our futures. 

Math will be needed often lots of times, 

and good reading skills are always super. 


School is the place where you can learn new things, 

as well as discover a new passion, 

And challenge your brain by making it think. 

You might finally understand fractions. 


School is the place that can help us prevail. 

If you appreciate school, you won’t fail.

The Box

Kirra A


A box in the dark. 

On it is only one mark. 

It’s in a room with no windows and no door. 

Only one way in and it is through the floor. 

The box is sealed with brown packing tape. 

Do I dare to open it, I can hardly wait. 


I try to open it I pull I tug. 

The box does not open, 

But then came a warning spoken loud, 


I try to get out but it is a trap 

Oh wait, I was only taking a nap.

I, The Ocean

Miriam H

Based on “The Wreck of the Hesperus” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 


There appeared no moon in the sky that night, 

And the lantern’s beam glowed pale 

There came no warning, not even one sign, 

Of the dreadful approaching gale. 


The tempestuous winds stirred me up 

Into many a great wave. 

The ship came closer and closer 

To her eventual stony grave. 


When the Hesperus struck the rocks 

There was a tremendous blast 

And I beheld a ghastly sight, 

A tender maiden bound to a mast 


I surrounded her, covered her, 

And took her far below 

Then laid her in her watery grave 

On Norman’s reef of woe. 


Don’t say that covering a youthful face 

With the mask of death is fun, 

For in the end, after a long day’s work, 

Nature’s will is done. 


And I, the ocean, 

Must swiftly obey 

And do everything 

Nature’s way.

Bored Games

Elise M

Magical dolls 

With eyes that twinkle 

Of ice cream wishes 

And cupcakes with sprinkles 


Fluff in stuffed animals 

Make them most huggable 

Great at listening 

Perfectly lovable 


Even in rain 

I can walk the dog 

Like puppets on string 

Yo-Yos play leapfrog 


Scatter and scoop 

As I gather them back 

One-sies, two-sies, 

Three-sies - Jacks! 


Tricks and tables 

Fingers, toes 

With tiny skateboards 

Everything goes 


Jigsaw pieces, though, 

Puzzle me 

But, borders and corners 

Bring victory

Summer Fun


Gliding, flying 


Cruising, driving 

Like the sea 


Fast, fun 

One mile a minute 


I am speed 


East to store 

Keep it outside 

Travel much more 

Than hiking a bit 


Two wheels 

Moves like a car or trike 

What am I? 

I am a bike

Count My Family

Miriam H


1 is for Mom 

2 is for Me 

3 is for Papa 

4 for Sandy 

Jake is 5 

And 6 is Joe 

7 is for Lily 

Who walks real slow 

8 is for Puppy 

9 is for Kitten 

And 10 is for Little Bird 

Who sits on my mitten.

My Little Furball

Miriam H


My little furball 

Lays upon my bed, 

Setting gently on my knee 

Her soft and silky head. 


As I stroke her pointed ears 

She sighs with content. 

She knows I wouldn't harm her,

No matter the event. 


She's always there for me, 

With her happy grin, 

Man's Best Friend is with me 

Through thick and thin. 


With a rope she'll tug and tug, 

Bark and give even chase 

And when I'm upset or feel alone 

She'll lick my tear-stained face. 


My white furball 

Is here by me. 

She snores softly, 

Dreaming happily. 


Tomorrow will be a bright new day, 

Fresh adventures on the way 

For me and my little furball.

Mary's Best Friend

Miriam H

​Based on “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” 


They call me Mary, 

And they say I’m contrary 

But really it is not so. 


To make friends I’ve tried, 

Though none can abide 

To be my friend, just foe, 


But I would recommend 

A garden as a friend 

For you can help it grow. 


My silver bells 

Don’t like farewells 

They always cry “Don’t go!” 

And pretty smells 

My cockleshells 

Upon me do bestow; 


And my cowslips 

Like catnips 

Planted in a row. 


This tale is mine 

And it would be fine 

If everyone knew my woe.


If you spread the word 

They’d say they hadn’t heard 

Or didn’t want to know.

Long Poem Submissions

A Child's Nightmare

Miriam H


Oh how the dark and dreary nights 

Eat my soul away. 

The night has always haunted me 

Since a babe in arms I lay. 


When night sets foot upon the ground 

There's no mistaking it- 

Her cool voice lures the warmth away 

To kill it bit by bit. 


If forever the dark shall last, 

A tortured soul I will be 

And under my covers I shall hide, 

My faithful dog by me. 


For with the cold nights come 

What most I dread: 

My mind betrays me 

While I yet lie in bed. 


If I look around 

At the empty spaces, 

My treacherous mind 

Turns them into faces. 


Some faces smile, 

Some faces leer, 

Some seem kind 

While others look queer. 


Their faces are long 

And cold and gray 

And a ghastly sight would be 

In the day. 


The portrait of Grandma 

Upon the wall 

Hardly seems like her 

At all. 


The shadows swim around 

On the canvas like a veil, 

They change the image 

To look less frail. 


Her eyes look black, 

Her skin pale white, 

And seeing her 

Gives me a fright. 


The ghosts and goblins 

Of present and past 

Catch up at night 

To haunt me at last. 


Was that the wind, 

Or a wolf could it be? 

Outside my window, 

Waiting for me... 


Its burning yellow eyes, 

Its claws of steel, 

Surely it plans to make me 

Its next meal. 


As I shiver and look up, 

My fan changes form. 

It's now a great beast 

Causing a storm. 


I look out the window 

For something serene, 

And see something move 

On my great trampoline. 


Thinking of villains 

From old folklore, 

I wonder why there 

Are always more. 


Was that a pirate 

Or enchanted dragon, 

Or the devil coming 

To count my sins? 


I snuggle down with my dog 

And close my eyes, 

Then open again 

And to my great surprise 

Find the dark has gone 

And the morning has come.

Horse and Rider

Miriam H


It’s a proud horse, 

With its head so high, 

Standing in the stall, 

Wanting to fly. 


The rider, handsome, 

Strong and tall, 

Calls to his horse 

From the door of the stall. 


This horse is proof 

Of his love and care. 

His mind races, 

As his eyes fix and stare. 


The horse whinnies. 

It was time for his drill! 

Running with such power, 

Such beauty, such thrill. 


The man walking, 

With rope in hand, 

The horse so excited 

He could hardly stand. 


Lifting the saddle 

From its place on the stake, 

He puts it on the horse 

And great care he takes. 


He clips the bridle, 

Set the bit in its place, 

Then jumps on board 

And to the wind he faces. 


He slaps the reins 

On the horse’s flank, 

And they race off together 

Down the river bank. 


They run and run 

Til they come to a fence, 

Then over they sail, 

Into the woods so dense. 


As they ride into 

The rising sun, 

You can see 

Not two, but one.

Navajo Blanket

Miriam H


I wonder what wonders 

Of which you can’t tell, 

Stories of glory 

You know so well. 


Of native wars, their 

Wealth and fame 

That gave them their 

Tribe and earned their name. 


Of handsome warriors, 

With arrow and feather, 

And their wives who cured 

Their deerskin leather. 


And of the little babies 

Whom you did cover 

And the legends of old that 

Above you did hover. 


And last, of things 

I’ll never know: their pain, 

Hunger, death, happiness, 

Snow and rain. 


And know, during 

The chilly winter night, 

You are wrapped around me,

Until the morning light. 


Wind may shake the leaves and trees,

And the long meadow grass, 

But cozy and warm I will watch through 

My window pane of glass. 


Though frost may stop 

The morning bird's song, 

Of summer I will dream, 

All night long.


Though the world be covered 

Under a blanket of snow, 

I will dream 

Of the tales you know. 


I will trace with my finger, 

The sturdy blue string, 

While I think of the First Nations, 

Everyone and everything.

The Pear Tree Boy

Miriam H


I took a walk 

With myself to talk 

And soon came upon a tree. 

Its branches were broad 

And it seemed to nod 

Its green head down at me. 

It was plain to me 

As many could see 

Up there many pears would be. 


But I could have none, 

For there was not one 

Low enough to reach. 

The branches of the tree 

Had long been made free 

Leaving none for me. 


Then I saw it: 

Just a little way 

From me lay 

On the ground a pear. 

So ripe and fine, 

It must be mine 

Just waiting for me there. 


With flying hair and bright red bonnet 

Gleefully I rushed upon it 

And quite soon my hand was on it, 

When I saw the other hand. 


The owner looked up and I felt his stare 

And truly it gave me a shivery scare 

To know we both wanted the pear. 

Then I looked up. 


Wondrous blue eyes with a hint of gray, 

Golden locks that fell astray, 

His youthful face so bright and gay 

That I felt fear no more. 


He was dressed in rags 

And they looked like bags 

Upon him had been thrown. 

Though handsome his face 

I could tell by his base 

That hunger he had known. 


The look of surprise 

Soon fled from his eyes 

And his hand of the fruit let go. 

His smile was broad 

And his firm nod 

Indicated the pear was mine. 


As he turned to go 

A twinkle did show 

Flashing from his eyes. 

And like the dawn In the morning, soon gone, 

He left in my heart some joy. 

Though he had no fame 

I ever wondered the name 

Of my beautiful pear tree boy.

To Have a Friend

Miriam H


In the natural path of life you'll find 

The urge to make a friend in mind. 

Friends are all over and many are your choices, 

But when picking your friends, heed wiser voices. 

Friends must confide, so do not be sly. 

You don't want a friendship built on a lie. 


Your friend shouldn't care if you're slim or wide, 

They must only cherish what's on the inside. 

Your friend should be ready to stand up for you. 

By this you will know if they are true. 

If you find such a friend -a blessing in disguise- 

To keep this friend it would be wise. 


But beware the perils of not being a friend, 

For you must also stay true to the end. 

If you turn your back you'll wish you had not, 

For you might lose the friend you sought. 

If you are ever rude or unkind or unfair 

Your friend may give up in anguished despair.


If your friend you want to lose, 

Use painful words, their heart to bruise. 

But if you are true and kind and real, 

You will find that it's the ultimate deal. 

Don't drag your friend through the dust 

Unless your friendship you wish to bust. 


If you brag and strut and boast, 

You won't be there when you're needed most. 

Your friend will need help and in you must find 

Someone they trust to get them out of a bind. 

If others see you are loyal and true, 

They'll wish they had a friend like you. 


If you're a snob or a childish brat, 

Your friendship is sure to end like *that!* 

And if behind their back you try, 

They will find out by and by. 

These words are priceless but mine they are not. 

They come from someone who gives lots of thought 

On how to have and be a friend.

Apple Boy

Miriam H


Red apple 

Green apple 

Yellow apple pie 

Low on the branches 

Or way up high. 


Sweet apple 

Sour apple 

Soft honey-crisp flavor 

There's no one taste I particularly favor. 


Fresh apple 

Fried apple 

Crisp apple bake 

Apple pie 

Apple rings 

Sweet apple cake. 


Apples with cinnamon 

Honey and thyme 

The taste of which 

Is super sublime. 


Savory apples 

In sweet honey drippings 

Gooey caramel 

For apple dipping. 


I see apples! 

I eat apples! 

Gimme apples! 

I'm the apple boy.

Curly-Haired Lad

Miriam H


I met a little lad 

As I walked through the fair. 

A remarkable boy he was 

With the nicest curly hair. 

The curls clustered thickly 

Like grapes about his head. 

Golden blonde was the color 

With a slight hint of red. 

At first I was deceived 

For an angel he looked to be. 

I bent down with a smile 

Saying "Who's this I see?" 

His eyes lit up, 

And bright blue were they 

Clear blue eyes filled 

With the light of day. 

He looked so perfect 

And could have been sweet 

Had it not been 

For this terrible feat: 

A naughty grin spread, 

Taking over his smile, 

And the words he spoke 

To me were vile. 

Of all the things 

He dared to call me, 

The one that struck hard 

Was when he said "Baldy!" 

Now I love kids, 

They're really quite charming, 

But my indignant feeling 

Was rather alarming! 

The impish look

Faded from his face 

As he ran 

And I gave chase. 

Round the tents we ran 

And into the road, 

Then I caught him 

And held him up like a toad. 

I was about to scold him 

When his mother took him from me. 

"Oh you horrible, heartless brute!" 

Cried she. 

Cradling him in her arms, 

She asked where he'd been. 

I seethed inside 

As I watched his innocent grin. 

She held him close and he giggled a bit, 

But to me he turned his eye. 

A smug look emanated from the blue, 

Making him look snobbishly sly. 

Though others may love 

His sweet little smile,

I will remember all the while 

The little boy who mocked me.

"I Long to Fly"

Miriam H


When the birds took flight 

As for winter they might, 

I watched them from below. 

From here in my yard,

I find it hard 

To stay and see them go. 


I long to fly! 

But how can I?

My hooves bad wings would be. 

For I run and run, but when all is done, 

They always go without me. 


I long to fly! 

Up there in the sky, 

Soaring with the birds. 

With the crisp air chills 

I would find thrills 

That could not be put to words.


"I long to fly!" I sadly sigh,

As the other goats laugh at will. 

"You must stay here!" 

They mockingly cheer, 

As dismay inside me fills. 

Into the meadow I trot 

To give some thought 

To what can never be. 

I cannot fly, 

And I don't know why 

All are happy but me. 


"I long to fly!" I desperately cry, 

Shouting to the wind.

"I feel alone!"

I said with a moan, 

To the place where the birds had been. 


I turned to the yard, 

My heart stone-hard, 

In my throat an aching burn. 

There's nothing to be done 

But try to have fun, 

Until the birds return. 

I long to fly!

Ten Little Blackbirds

Miriam H


Ten little black birds, 

Sitting on a fence. 

Their bodies sleek, 

Their feathers dense. 


The first cocks his head 

And looks to the sky, 

Wondering why 

Others wish to fly. 


The second preens 

Her ebony wing, 

Hoping he'll notice 

When she sings. 


The third looking lazy, 

But fully content, 

Sits still and watches 

The world's events. 


The fourth is quite grumpy, 

For first he is not. 

He thinks that he looks

 Handsome and hot.


 Number five is very tired, 

She's happy to wait 

And listen to sweet songs 

Sung by her mate.

Her mate is nearby, 

Number six is he. 

A joyful bird, 

Filled with happy glee. 


Seven is lonely, 

He's got no good friends. 

That's why he sits 

So close to the end. 


A chick is the eighth, 

Waiting for the day 

The other chicks 

Will want to play. 


His mother stands 

And watches with pride 

As her chick stands bravely 

By her side. 


The tenth is old

And wise with keen wit, 

And watches the world 

While on the fence he sits. 


Ten little black birds,

All with different names 

Special personalities, 

Wealth and fame 


Yet they all flock together 

And get along fine! 

Could this be a lesson,

O friends of mine?

Turkey Friend

Miriam H


It's EXPO day as girls and guys 

Exhibit their work to win a prize, 

All aim their hopes for Best of Show. 

Horse, sheep, and cattle stock, 

Rabbits, pigeons, and poultry flocks 

As far as anyone's eye can go. 


The cocks all crow and strut their stuff 

And the rabbits think "Enough, enough!" 

As the noise consumes the air. 

The hens all pose for those passing through, 

As many a pigeon exclaims "Coo-Woo" 

At the local County Fair. 


I like the fuzzy little cavy faces, 

And blue plumes filling the peacock's spaces, 

And the chickens are all quite fine. 

I love the duck quacking, 

And the geese are not lacking, 

But there is a favorite of mine. 


Near the back in a cage 

Like a great center stage 

My favorite used to stand tall; 

Long tail fanned, 

Snood like a band, 

My turkey once beat them all. 


He once was a jerk 

But with lots of work 

I worked with him and then he was tame, 

On many a day 

With him I'd stay 

Til whenever I called he came.


If I'd bend down 

He'd come around 

And hug me with his wings. 

Then at the gate 

He'd patiently wait 

Until I had finished my things. 


When this show came round 

I knew I'd found 

A way to show off my friend. 

I cleaned his foot scales 

And oiled his nails 

Hoping we'd win in the end. 


Then came the time for me to show 

I knew I was shaking from head to toe 

As I entered the ring.

In a row of show turkeys 

Stood me with my Erky 

The judge was approaching. 


The judge smiled wide 

As she looked side to side, 

Helping me lose some fear. 

My turkey posed great 

And at any rate, 

At least we'd made it here. 


Then came the shock- 

I could barely talk. 

But the judge handed me the prize. 

We'd won first place! 

Heat rose in my face, 

As I felt neither smart nor wise. 


Bad endings are nigh 

But I can't see why 

Erky on earth cannot be. 

I sit a lot 

And give many a thought 

To when Erky was still with me. 


I remember the turkey 

Whose name was Erky 

He met too soon of an end.

 His laughs I hear 

As if he were near. 

I miss my turkey friend.