Poetry, Grades 10-12: Third Place
Leopold and Eve — Kenny Stesin
Author’s Note: The following pieces are modeled upon the works of Rita Dove in Thomas and Beulah. Her unique prose and style, along with her attention to historical nuances, were emulated here to honor and recognize her prowess and craft in poetic writing. What follows is a poetry anthology inspired by Thomas and Beulah’s theme of grandparents and ancestry.
I. Tarnished Thread
Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.
— Elie Wiesel
They came in the night
and there was nowhere to hide.
No one to argue, no one to protest.
One, two, three,
then four and five.
The force was intense and the
guns were big;
The sky was clear as the open sea. Blue with
slight streaks of silver, it gleamed.
Those were the last free breaths taken
before the sky died and
became the flaky, blotchy gray of steel-wool;
spewing the tears of a dusty
They took everything material
and sentimental. Personal and shared.
They put everyone together
then split them apart.
Dignity and identity
stripped like the clothing on their backs.
The tears striking his shackled pride:
Whack, thump, bang.
II. Sewn and Mended
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
— Albert Einstein
Lost and Found
The peace and repose weren’t
new. Their value had been lost for one;
for the other, their worth had hardly been found.
Thousands of kilometers they traveled, fleeing
too with the émigrés. For how could they not?
Peace, tranquility, must not be found in
hell. And yet why should they stay if not cherished?
Lost, only to be found by those who seek it to survive.
For they are the only beings who can truly
fathom the quasi-life that only exists on earth
in hell. But she understood. And when she didn’t
she tried. But who could truly feel the horrors of
a place, a lifestyle, a reality, that
even tranquil peace cannot conquer; who can fathom
the value of survival when the very core of
evil draws up the script?
was over, the camps were
closed and destroyed.
The ghetto walls were torn down,
the evidence disposed of.
Only the memories lingered in the
tearless, dry air.
Rich with stories the birds sang.
Their songs of lessons touching
minds. Hearts. Souls.
The truth, the reddish-yellow, fiery
truth attaching itself to those who
happily or reluctantly want to
hear, see, touch it. Peace was
discovered. For her it was its worth
that was discovered. For him, its
existence proven and reaffirmed.
A new start. A new discovery
found in a complex journey.