Winning Poems 2017-2018

By: Sophia Bernhardt, grade 5
The Milwaukee Area Home Learners

Awakening to the sandy beaches
Staying by his mother’s side
Never to wander on his own
Against the violent tropical tide

A year of happy times will pass
The sea will sparkle and shine
Before he has to leave
On a journey of a lifetime

Across the ocean and through the tide
Fish swim away to find shelter at night
The baby whale comes down for a snack
Then returns to his mother’s side

Years later he gets to his home
His journey is far from over
Yet after a storm the next day
He soon has to journey alone

A song of a desperate wail
Is enough to draw attention
And years afterwards he leads his calf home
Who is wagging his tiny tail

Lost in storm he finally knows
That he will no longer get home
Later found on the shores of Maine
Where the water gently flows

Now to hang on the ceiling
Of the museum we all know
His life is not over as he watches us
And you can still hear his song ring


By: Maddie Schellinger, grade 5
Addison Elementary School

A skeleton,
Formed by a forest of birch trees,
A creature of genuine music,
Once always free.
A majestic mammal,
Like an opera singer,
They belt out their tunes.
With the deepest tone,
Another verse slips by.
He is pulled from life
Into the brightest light,
The light of Milwaukee,
A sparkling city.
The whale travels far
To reach the marvel that is Milwaukee.
And now,
As you walk in,
You see him,
And above you he swings like a chandelier
As beautiful now
As he was living.


By: Karin Juhl, grade 7
Chilton Middle School

In the evening, the sun going down
Two women in kimonos sit on the floor
Playing with cards lain out on the ground
One hundred poets they call
Just waiting for the other to fall

The frogs outside are the melody
Part of this great song
The wind is now ready
The trees as its snare
The sound of the water floats through the air

With the setting of the sun
Inside their house of bamboo
The younger of the two has won
The moon shines into the night
Along with their lantern’s light


By: Hannah Kleinerman, grade 6
Milwaukee Jewish Day School

As I sit on the wood bench, I look at what’s around me:
There’s stone, trees, wood and glass.
It’s quiet.
There was a soft breeze.
I could hear the music in the background.
I smelled the moss where the garden was.
I could hear the trees.


By: Abby Walter, grade 7
Slinger Middle School

I search for inspiration
in the bones of a mammoth.
Two whole pages full of notes
in my own wobbly handwriting
carry no poetic potential.

I circle the creature
wanting to find something
in these tusks and bones.
They are all so big:
I need to find something smaller
to release the creativity
my scribble-filled pages long for.
The mental padlock breaks
when my friend points upward
to a white key-like shape
hidden between two skeletal shoulders.

I can see right through
to the wall on the other side,
but that doesn’t mean
that there is no more to the mammoth
than a jigsaw puzzle of bone casts.

The descriptions don’t say it all;
the rest simply waiting
to be unlocked.
Its secrets are hidden
in the empty spaces.


ghost of the orange evening/lovers’ lament
By: Isabel Barth, grade 11
Arrowhead Union High School

the wooden porch overlooks the garden
of delicate trees, tired stones.
when you search the sky, you catch a glimpse
of the waning tohoku sun.

it is with our love

inside the house,
the air hangs thick with memories.
decades are etched deep into floorboards.
faded from exposure to the tohoku sun.

that we spread open our wings

the two daughters are older now,
with shoulders sore from grief,
but there are still sunflowers in their smiles,
and their eyes shine as bright as the tohoku sun.

and entwine our souls

chest heavy and room spinning,
this place, once so fondly remembered, is abandoned.
you are left alone once again
beneath the apathetic rays of the tohoku sun.

but when we depart, how such

the garden, however, is an old friend.
The stream’s gentle trickle calms your mind,
And the sharp shadows dance with grains of sand
As ancient as the tohoku sun.

great sorrow is left behind!

as the gentle chirping of crickets
mingles with the quiet laughter inside,
you find stillness in a place that knows no time
and melt into the warmth of the tohoku sun.


By: Rae Shaw, grade 11
Winneconne High School

I often wonder about the history of things,
The sights and sounds, the smells.

Was our past just candy stores and movie shows?
Was our past just trains and gains?

Or was there more,
More than meets the eye?

The sights, the sounds, the smells,
The stories, the people, the memories.

So take me down another road.

Show me the stories, the people, the memories.
Show me the sights, the sounds, the smells.

Show me that there was more than meets the eye.
Show me there was more.

Show me there was more than trains and gains.
Show me there was more than candy stores and movie shows.

Take me down the other road.
Show me the history of things.


By: Amanda Stahl, grade 12
Arrowhead Union High School

Like that of your own heart-beat,
Pounding of the drums guides your feet towards the sacred circle.
Those ancestral whispers resonate faintly in your ear,
Each step a solemn promise,
Of your bloodline’s reawakening.

The stomping of the feet from each Nation,
Dancing with benevolent force as lighting of the prairie.
Prosperity and robust grasps hold,
Feeling the earth’s soil between your toes.

Every motion releases an arrow to the sun,
After centuries of cadences we understand our severed roots.
Melodies of the wind-spirit carry us to our birthplace,
Our history told in movements,
A singing trance and vision quest tells our story.