Winning Poems from the 4th Annual Youth Poetry Slam

Photo L to R: Owen O’Farrell, Beverly Patton, Eric Tinajero

Poem by Eric Tinajero
1st Place at the 4th Annual Youth Poetry Slam

I grew up independent with no father ever mentioned.
Never knew what a father was until my first day at school.
I had one parent. Others had two.
I caught myself staring like who are you.
Nevertheless I didn’t think much about it in the moment I was just excited to be going to school.
Infatuated with being cool.
I introduced myself. “Hi my name is Eric, I was wondering if you’d care if I asked you a question?”
The boy replied “Yea sure what is it.”
“Who’s that guy standing next to your mom? Did he just come and visit because mine seems to be missing.
“Oh yea that’s my dad.”
“A Dad what’s that?”
“You know the guy your mom marries, then the stork comes and carries you in a blanket as a baby, and you guys live happily ever after?”
“Hmm I don’t know? There is my mom I’ll go ask her.”
“Hey mom I noticed everyone here has a dad where is mine?”
I glanced at her eyes and noticed years of pain go rewind in her brain.
She said “I’ll tell you later, here’s a pencil and a paper, go make some friends, and by the end of the day I’ll be back, here is your lunch pack.”
The day went by quick.
I didn’t even notice it was time to go.
But I was still so eager to know, where did my father go?
My mom approached me “So how was your day?”
“Well it went great, but what’s the answer I’ve wait all day.”
“Well look he’s locked away. If you want to visit him you’re going to have to wait a couple of days ok?”
A few weeks later it was time to meet this father of mine.
I was so ambitious inching my way to prison where my father was living.
I remember the sky was grey, the prison was grey, and the guards were grey, but he was in all orange.
I noticed my Mom was then pouring in tears of happiness.
I knew this was the real business because I never have ever witnessed something just like this.
This is where ignorance is bliss on some crazy shit.
Finally he was home.
I was so happy he was home.
I haven’t seen my momma happy in way too long.
I let him in I trusted him.
I told him all of my secrets and to forever ever keep them.
He said he promised with a smile so honest he could convince Obama, the ballers, Iguodala, and even the Dalai Lama.
Even apparently my momma.
He promised that he would never harm her.
Well times were good for a minute it was good while in it.
We went to Mexico to visit some family in my Dad’s side.
It was a good time.
Lots of family lots of love.
Time passed and we returned back to our lives.
Momma was working in the day and daddy at night.
I remember this one time I woke, and did not want to wake my daddy up.
He had it rough running the night shift, so I let him sleep.
Then my mom got home around six and said “Hey where’s Alex”
I replied “He’s sleeping he’s really tired”
My mom went to check the entire house and said “Where is he then”
“Well I don’t know then”
On the bed we find a note.
He was gone like a ghost.
I ran straight to my room and shed the most tears I’ve ever had.
After a little bit my mom called me back.
In her hand she had a picture.
She said she wanted to explain, but this was quicker.
“The man holding you is your true dad” I was devastated.
Everything I knew I had until was a lie.
No family in Mexico, no dad, just another guy.
If I think about it though.
If I really think about it.
I was just blind.
This was the first time I used my eyes.
The answer was right in front of me.
She was the best father, the best mommy.
The one of a kind role model that always loved me.
I’m glad I didn’t need no man to become a man.
Just a strong, independent, hardworking, Mexican, women.
I love you mom. I always will.

“What You Made Me Think I Was; What I Am & What I Will Be”

by Beverly Patton
2nd Place at the 4th Annual Youth Poetry Slam

You made me think that I was soft and sweet like the petals of your favorite flower.
But no longer would my eyes open to the to the sight of the rising sun upon the horizon.
Instead, my eyes would open to the sight of the street light above as I laid on the cold cement below.
It flickered as had my thoughts.
You left me there.
You left me there without those petals you made my think I had and without the sweet aroma I gave off when you first met me in the parking lot.
“I love you, I love you not”
Those petals had dropped, torn off by your strong hands and the fingers that tormented me.
You made me think that you had stripped me until I was nothing more than a green stem, my petals scattered and broken.
You made me think that I was no longer beautiful.
And no longer living.
You see, you made me think that a flower like me could not live without it’s petals.
But now I know I was wrong to let you make me think such things.
I was not a flower, not a rose with beautiful red petals and a sweet scent.
I was lava.
I am still lava.
You got my color right,
Red, hot and fiery.
Touch me and you will burn.
I’m pretty to look at, but too powerful to touch.
I come from the volcano that is womanhood,
She taught me that it is good to erupt and destroy and thrive.
My ashes will intoxicate you then suffocate you.
I will spread through miles and miles and miles and I will keep going and flowing and growing until you can not bare my heat any longer.
Maybe, just maybe you will finally regret what you have done to me after you have felt the burning sensation that is my emotion.
Maybe, just maybe you will finally realize that I am not just a flower,
But a catastrophe of color and heat that will bring you to your knees.
And sooner or later, I will turn into the strong rock that I need to be.
The strong rock that you have somehow made me.

by Owen O’Farrell
3rd Place at the 4th Annual Youth Poetry Slam

I can be your hands,
snap my fingers for you,
snap bones for you,
pull teeth for profit.

I’ll sell my soul for verses,
sell my verses for attention,
and pay attention to pretty strangers who aren’t worth it.

Then again,
I suppose you don’t need me.

I clench fists to keep secrets close,
bedazzle knees with loose gravel
I decorate my bedroom with broken broomsticks,
frame light bulbs with murdered desk bits.

In short,
I like to collect dust.

You dig dinosaur bones out from under your fingernails,
pop beer bottles with sheer willpower,
and light people on fire with a gaze

Ms Fahrenheit.
Your paper burns at 451 degrees,
but you spit like a volcano-
no you’re even hotter,
you get to the core.
10,000 degrees,

not just melting hearts,
but flesh from bone.

have you noticed?
We ride bikes on back roads,
yet still this place manages to take its toll.

Here our limbs grow heavy
eyelids drag us down,

so let us descend out tongues
trying to break free,
let’s hollow our bones
like the bodies or guitars,

become acoustically stable,
grow feathers and be able
to fly.

We could leave this small town,
tip our toes against the precipice of tomorrow,
dance on the horn rim of your glasses.

We’ll find refuge from the storm in the shadow of your jawbone,
unspool the threads of your sweater
and tie out veins together
so we’ll never get lost.

You know, I couldn’t bear losing you.

You with hair curled  
braided like barbed wire.

You who has spools of roses,
rosary beads
baked into bodies,
eggs and ham.

Sam I am disdainful of reality,
because even you are a fantasy.

You crush mountains into mole hills.

I wear my heart on my sleeve like it’s cannon fodder.

Be gentle.

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