In this group of poems, one of the young poets writes: “I imagine myself running, simply running …” Instantly, I am a kid again in a one-room schoolhouse in the Appalachians, listening to the school bell clanging out “Recess! Recess!” Then children explode out the front door and run for the farthest schoolyard limit — run for freedom, for basketball, for acting out cowboys and Iroquois, running for fun, for magic, for their lives. Without really wondering why.
These days, I mostly picture youngsters bunched together, laughing, with their iPod-connected ears, their fingers flying over laptops, iPads, smart phones, connected to everything, running with light fingertips all over the world.
Some old schoolhouses are still there, but look how far children and teens can outrun them now using fingers instead of legs, their minds like hungry lightning. Knowledge is all around us. We are running away from it or toward it. It doesn’t matter — we’re just running!
Marguerite Costigan, San Luis Obispo County poet laureate
I am as graceful as a gliding gazelle on the surface of the water,
I am as fast as the blowing wind.
I wonder what it would be like to walk on land but I am bound
with the water.
I hear the sounds of seagulls calling and waiting for me.
I see dolphins prancing out of the water like beasts from the
I want to feel the sand on my feet but that would be the end of
my sailing days on the water.
I am as graceful as a gliding gazelle on the water, I am as fast as
the blowing wind.
I pretend I am a race car driving through the waves.
I feel fast and free
I touch the waves when I race through the beautiful open sea.
I worry if I go to fast I will hit the rocks of the shore.
I cry when I see endless piles of plastic, hurting sea life and me.
I am a race car racing through the waves.
I understand that if we don’t take care of our ocean all the
beauty will be gone.
I say keep the oceans clean and bright so that I might sail in
I dream about sailing the world seeing parts no one has ever
I try to feel anger when the ocean hurts me when a storm
comes but I can’t it’s so beautiful.
I hope my dream comes true to sail the world.
I understand that if we don’t take care of the oceans all the
beauty will be gone.
I am a sail boat.
Takota Clarke, 12, San Luis Obispo
When blue mass quarrels under
Things that crash and sound like thunder
Rise above the ocean blue
And tumble away the rocks born new
Day after day repeating
The seaborn foam eats at the bay
Never will it stop
Turning stone into microscopic grains
Letting many boulders drop
And the mountains don’t regain
They fall apart as if by an unknown pain
Wind howls all night long
Even in the morning when the birds sing songs,
Water ever carries hills away
Leaving many a hoodoo to stay
And the lands scream in pain
At the acidic rain
To stop turning their mountains into
Cole Fairchild, 10, Templeton
People expect me to be the best basketball player they’ve ever seen,
They think just because I made the team, I’ve been playing my whole life,
They don’t take into consideration that I hadn’t even picked a ball up until last year,
They expect without knowing, and then judge me,
“Dude, you suck!”
“You’ll never go pro!”
“Why do you even play?”
Then they expect me to react,
They expect me to sputter out some comeback,
And instead I work harder,
One more shot, one more dribble, one more crossover,
And when I make it, they’ll expect me to forget,
But I will always remember what motivated me.
Andrew Foley, 15, Nipomo
A man who is very generous and very strong.
He is one to meet and have a drink with him.
He is one that you want to be around everyday.
He is one who had a smile hidden behind a serious face of his.
He is one that many people have not met but met in dreams.
He is one who fought in the Vietnam War and saved people.
He was the Morrison we knew that could be the leader.
He still leads us to the right path to success.
He is one who we remember and want to be like.
He is one to be serious with yet laugh at one point.
He is the man who stands tall and never gets pulled down like the
American flag standing.
He was like a series of books to keep reading and to not stop till the end.
Madelyn Morrison, 14, Oceano
My life is like a car
because we’re both strong and
we both run fast and also able to
run for miles and miles, we’re
both very heavy, and we’re filled
with gas and water and able to
drink it very fast, but most importantly
get our hands dirty every single day
Rivaldo Arellano, 13, Oceano
At the age of ten I lost my nana.
The cries filled months to come.
All happiness destroyed.
She walked slower than a slug.
But her personality shined through
She was kind and spoiled her great grandchildren.
Her smile blasted though anything sad.
But after ten years of living with her
The months of mourning over
with the memories I have
I am filled with a better peace
Devon Womack, 14, Grover Beach
Papers rustle, zippers shut.
A wise man once said that truth is Beauty. So write a poem, don’t
Sugarcoat. Tell me something Beautiful.
Across the sea, there is a boy
Who has to find his family dinner
From a garbage pile.
In a court of law there is no evidence
For a crime other than sheets which
Could have been stained by anything.
On the corner of the street
A life drained by a bottle. Broken
In shards of glass on the sidewalk.
There’s the truth, sugarfree.
There’s the world, no filter.
It’s a mystery
How many beautiful moments aren’t photographed
By people who could capture the world
Not behind digits and pixels but
With nature’s perfect lens:
Katie Bischoff, 16, Grover Beach
The sound of the waves whispered in my ear
Secrets of relaxation, peace and paradise
The waves rolled over bits of stone and shining shells
Caressing the sand gently
The sky was spot free
The sun was resting for the night
Projecting soft hues of
Tangerine and blue
Over soft, wispy clouds
The birds flew with their bodies covered
Their silhouettes shadowing the light
It looked like a painting
And felt like a picture
But the melody of the waves made it feel like life
Angela Enterline, 14, Atascadero
Stars of My Mind
Her soul is a galaxy;
Easily missed, from afar,
Among the sea of stars,
Yet still warming her minute expanse of universe.
Fiery suns of emotion and thought rise from stars’ iridescent ashes,
Carefully, painstakingly assembled;
Cautiously released to the scrutinity of the constellations,
But the heavenly bodies are too distant to take notice.
Ten thousand burning celestial spheres and more,
Adorned with abstract planets and unclear comets,
Twirl through her cosmos, flashing and dancing all too fast.
She is bound together by fine strings of gravity and motion.
But you’d never know, with the warmth and care and balance,
At her very core,
Dark and yawning,
Lies an all-devouring black hole.
Sydney Holt, 14, Atascadero
You were my heart and soul,
The only one I loved.
You left me stranded,
Feeling like a rabbit being hunted.
Whenever you were here
I would always smile.
But after you’ve gone
I feel alone
As if you were never here.
I remember the times
Your black fur shone
And you were flesh,
Not dirt and bone.
The thing we shared
Will always stay
And you will forever
Be buried under a stone.
Grace Allen, 13, Arroyo Grande
I find myself running.
I don’t know why I don’t know where all I know is that it’s away from here.
My mind runs,
to a different place.
I imagine myself running, simply running.
Landis Blakeslee, 12, San Luis Obispo
The Lonely Cafe
The leaves weaved in and out of the dark alleyways
Pulled by the crisp November wind
With me as I headed down towards Main Street
My way illuminated by a few streetlights
Along the edge of the pavement
The leaves passed me as I stopped by the corner
Where lay the lonely cafe
Where we used to get coffee
To warm us from the cold
Of September of last year
But now the little cafe brings
No welcoming warmth
Only sweet coffee and bitter memories
Katie Padden, 15, Nipomo
I looked to my right, and suddenly felt powerless.
That person, in the doorway, I knew him.
That look in his eyes made my breath turn shallow.
The taste of disgust arose in my mouth.
Our past was negative, but it was also impulsive … and exciting.
Why was he here? What did he want?
When he started toward me, my mouth dried up.
I couldn’t breathe.
My heart beat faster with every step he took.
When I dared look upon his face, I swore there was a hint of a smile.
Not a warm smile, it was a smile that said he was here for dinner, and I was the main course.
Our past was ravaging my thoughts, refusing to remain buried.
My heart felt like an old wound being reopened.
It ached with a pain that could not be soothed.
All of his shameful deeds, I had tried to forget them.
Now I wondered, was that the right decision?
Has he changed? Come to apologize for his actions?
All the questions … too many to count.
This wretched memory of his countless wrongdoings was back, unburied, for all to hear.
Madrid Holland, 14, Nipomo
sniffing his dinner
crunch of pine needles underfoot
Annabelle Demarest, 10, San Luis Obispo
Dark clouds overcome the sky, I start a deluge that keeps hitting your roof.
When you reach outside you inhale my musky, dusty, and dank smell.
You feel the heavy humidity in the air, pressing down on you.
I grab on to your window and get too slippery and roll off.
I fall into your slippery, wet rain boots and soak into your socks.
I come landing on the grey sidewalks, making small cold puddles.
I am RAIN
Sophia Box, 10, San Luis Obispo
today in the office
I spotted something small as a pea
as I did my work
you said hello to me
it’s hard to explain
why you caught my eye
you must have been looking for pie
I don’t know much about you
but it’s sad to say
you passed away the same day
your life was taken away
by a simple cup
now it has me in a rut
Vivian Avant, 13, Grover Beach
A Storybook’s Magic
A storybook’s magic,
will draw you
To its core.
You will fly,
Through unknown worlds,
You will fall through its doors,
Turn into a king in his castle,
A wizard of dark magic,
A peasant child, whipped by his father.
Then this magic of a storybook,
Will make you turn into an object.
A key to a hidden door,
A witch’s cauldron, bubbling with a potion of death,
A magic crown of glory.
Will turn back
Into an ancient leather book,
Not wanted or read,
In an adult’s head.
But loved and treasured,
In the mind of a child.
Isobel Ridley, 10, San Luis Obispo
A list of things I am and am not
I am not early morning responsibilities.
I am not red lips and rosy cheeks.
I am not summertime tan lines, or French tip fingernails.
I am not a pallid marble statue of Central Park.
I am not worthy of that many gazes.
I am not Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
I am not Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby,” I am not a Shakespearean sonnet,
I am certainly not a masterpiece.
I am, however, late night phone calls.
I am overgrown and untended gardens.
I am greyish cracked sidewalks, and rusted mailboxes.
I am the yellowed and neglected letters.
I am comprised of slightly sharp, untidy love ballads and amateur freestyle jazz.
I am the abstract painting before anyone “got” the genre.
I am the rejected author’s pleas.
I am an emotional poetry slam,
and although I am not a masterpiece;
I am pieced together with brilliant and beautiful possibilities.
Sarah Mosichuk, 17, San Luis Obispo
‘If I Were a Mermaid and You Were a Unicorn’ by Jim Warren
A sunlit day discovers a fantasy.
The sky blushing pink,
trees waving myrtle green,
a reflection of a girl and a horse
immersed in a dream.
The water is calm,
allowing them a short-lived eternity.
Her gentle hand reaching,
its head bowed tenderly.
Friends in reality
brought closer by a horn in a reverie.
Hannah Hagy, 14, Atascadero