Teen Poetry Contest


On April 27, 2016 we had the Lee Golomb Cadiff Teen Poetry Contest Awards Ceremony. 22 of the 23 winners rad their original poems. Below, we have updated next to each poem with a photo and the prize they won at the ceremony. All of them did an excellent job of reading their poetry. What a terrific night!

The finalists have been announced for the 12th Annual Lee Golomb Cadiff Teen Poetry Contest. From over 300 poems submitted, the judges have selected the following finalists:

From Swampscott Middle School:
Ben Armour-grade 8, Olivia Chavez-grade 8, Madison Diehl-grade 6, Caleigh Hopkins-grade 8, Meggie Jensen – grade 6, Olivia King – grade 6, Marina Kolthof – grade 5, Isla McClung – grade 7,Tyler McCoy – grade 8, Lucy Naughton – grade 8, Benjamin Neilan – grade 7, Maddy O’Brien – grade 8, Leah Pashkova – grade 7, Vreni Runstadler – grade 6, Bella Seligson – grade 8, Ella Sprague – grade 7, Andrew Templeman – grade 5, Sarah Tribendis – grade 7, and Maddie Winklosky – grade 7.

From Swampscott High School:
Sophia Bereaud-grade 10, Leen Chikh AlChabab-grade 11, Lori Kholomyansky-grade 9 and Asja Zimmerman-grade 11.

Poems written by the finalists:

Ben Armour
Grade 8
Swampscott Middle School
Library Staff Prize


Only the light shows

Only the light shows,
to anyone and everyone.
But inside there is DARK,
for no one to see.

Only the light shows,
to anyone and everyone.
But inside is CONFUSION,
for no one to see.

Only the light shows,
to anyone and everyone.
But inside is SADNESS,
for no one to see.

Only the light shows,
to anyone and everyone.
But inside is ANGER,
for no one to see.

Only the light shows,
to anyone and everyone.
But sometimes,
the DARK leaks out.

Sophia Bereaud
Grade 10
Swampscott High School
High School Second Prize



we wake
so unadulterated
curves of warmth, comfort
deep breaths
the silence in which conscience sleeps and heart is open
but all too soon, we hear the clock

so we strip
fleshy, bright
we cut, we powder, we paste, we smear, we squeeze
and at the end
we have no more curves
we are lines, straight, bare
painted to perfection, trimmed, tucked
glimpsing freedom behind the bars of identity
no jungle, mess, deep, vivid, colors
we are geometry, sharp, cold
and our breathing is far


Olivia Chavez
Grade 8
Swampscott Middle School
Rising Star


3 Limericks

There once was a man named Bob.
He was a really big slob.
He didn’t have a life,
so he didn’t have a wife.
He was sad, so he ate a kabob.

There once was a woman named Heather.
She wore a coat made of leather.
She ruined that coat,
when she fell in a moat.
Now, she wears a coat made of feather.

There once was a man named Chuck.
He always had very good luck.
He fell in a lake
while eating a cake.
Then, he tripped over a duck.

Leen Chikh AlChabab
Grade 11
Swampscott High School
High School Honorable Mention


I See Syria Bleeding

Five years ago a girl dreamed of freedom.
She opened her eyes and found
people were killed for it.
Boys were asking for justice,
government used violence.
The girl’s mom taught her to say the truth
but how can she say it loudly
when it’s locked in her mouth?
Nobody realizes that Syria is getting hurt
her tears are bleeding,
for her children
who were her candles
for her family who have become strangers.
Children, women, old people shouting
their voices are unheard.
Carnage, blood, martyrs
conscious of their world lost
still speaking the same language
no longer understanding each other.
Her family escaped
to the country of the statue of liberty
maybe she could fine freedom there–
Someone hugged her
but didn’t know that she was hurt.
Why are you afraid?
From losing Syria and myself.
Where is your happiness?
Time faded it.
Don’t be afraid look at the sun,
she looked at the sky
and saw the waves of freedom shine.

Madison Diehl
Grade 6
Swampscott Middle School
5th-6th grade First Prize


The Ocean

The crashing of waves pounding on sand, the foam, froth on a frosted milkshake.
It glitters like a thousand stars when the sun catches the perfect angle and shines down upon it.
Green and blue, it shimmers.

The waves rise up like a sea monster, they come to rest upon the golden sand. The water washes up treasures.
Shiny sea glass, exquisite sea shells, and smooth damp rocks end up in the sand waiting to be found.
The sea is waiting for us to walk its shores leaving footprints, dive into its cool waves,
and unearth the treasures it has left.

Caleigh Hopkins
Grade 8
Swampscott Middle School
Library Staff Prize


Broken Matches

The spark of a match
and a flame is born.

For so long it is strong and unwavering,
Illuminating the blackness of the infinite cavern.

But then the flame’s beautiful glow begins to dim and fade
as the Darkness comes creeping in.

It begins to slowly flicker
and is losing its war.

The cavern is now so very dark
Yet no one can see that this tiny flame is gradually

Soon the flame is to sputter into smoke
As the Darkness wins,
Conquering its Soul.

The flame becomes lower and lower.
Smaller and smaller.
Weaker and weaker.

I feel the heat growing closer to my fragile fingertips.
How much longer can I hold on to this light?
The pain is too much,
And I am forced to let go.

The burnt out match clutters to the ground
And the blackness comes rushing in and taking over.

The once lively and vivid spark now rests at my feet,
Broken and slain.

Meggie Jensen
Grade 6
Swampscott Middle School
5th-6th grade Honorable Mention


Through the Field

As I run
Like wispy hair in the wind
Through golden fields of sunlight
Chasing the shadows
Of darkness away
Through the air
I see smiles of gold
Rooting for me
As I make my way up
Into the clouds
For I know
I can dream there

Lori Kholomyansky
Grade 9
Swampscott High School
High School Third Prize

The Cemetery

All I want to do is lie down with the dead
Sing songs with the dead
Praise gods with the dead
All I want to do is live long with the dead
Break bread with the dead
Dance ‘til dawn with the dead
But the dead don’t want me here
Their painted mouths open wide
and scream, “You don’t belong with the dead.”
And I can argue my longing but
I become aware of my boiling blood
Their gnarled crusted fingers
push me stumbling from the shadows
out of the gates of eternity
I look once more at the skeletal guards
But they call to me in rusted voices
“You don’t belong with the dead, not yet.”

Olivia King
Grade 6
Swampscott Middle School
5th-6th grade Honorable Mention



Once the rays of the sun disappear,
Your sparkling neighbors start to appear.
Without the Sun you will go dark
But even the farthest away, you will
Always see the slightest spark.
You live in our Galaxy far, far, away
But when we look up at the night sky you
Will always stay.

Marina Kolthof
Grade 5
Swampscott Middle School
5th-6th grade Second Prize


The Wonder of Winter

The snow outside my window is falling, twisting, spinning.
Beautiful cold crystals flung about in the howling wind, churning and twirling in a great winter whirlwind.
Outside my window, there is white that’s whiter than the puffiest cloud, and white that’s more quiet than the darkest time of night.
Outside my window, there are millions and millions of unique flakes dancing the elegant waltz of winter.
The freezing transparent ice is reflecting the Sun’s vibrant glow, casting a pool of golden light onto the newly fallen snow.
I open my window, to feel a blast of frigid air, and small flecks of white appear on the floor.
My vision is blurred due to the endless snow, and I can’t see beyond it, as if the cold had built a tall gray wall, separating me from the rest of humanity.
The snow-capped trees resemble the tip tops of many mountains, and they are shaking in the brisk wind.
Snowflakes hug my eyelashes and eyebrows, leaving specks of white atop my blonde hair.
I close my window and open my door, my anticipation building sky-high. I don my boots, jacket and gloves, and I am bundled up like a fragile package.
I rush outside as fast as I can, breathing in the freezing fresh air. The ground below me shifts as I take a step into the white powder.
I trudge on, listening to the familiar “crunch” of the snow, and the whistling of the breeze. Children across the street are playing.
I watch snowballs soar across their yards, and my eyes rest upon the forever standing snowman.
I then lay down, and let my body sink into the soft sheet of white flakes.
I open my mouth and feel small ice crystals dissolve upon my tongue, I exhale deeply, and I close my eyes.
Even though the air around me is cold and sharp, I am warm inside, like a marsh-mallow in some delicious hot cocoa.
I open my eyes yet again, and stare into the infinite twister of beautiful specks, flurring, twisting, churning, and I once again breathe in the wonder of winter.

Isla McClung
Grade 7
Swampscott Middle School
7th-8th grade Honorable Mention


Everlasting Interlude

I wait,
months on end
weeks, days, years almost.
I wait,
for my other half
for the only person I can flood my teenage girl problems to.
I wait,
to be with him, even if it’s for a short time
to hear his terrifying and hilarious college stories.
I wait,
to get shut down with the innocent “I have other plans”
to wait all over again.
I wait,
to be back with the person who will never tell me i’m ugly, or that i don’t fit in
for laughing until we cry, and staying up all night talking.
I wait,
for my best friend.
I wait,
for my brother.

Tyler McCoy
Grade 8
Swampscott Middle School
Best Humorous Poem


Homework Hardships

I finally arrive home
After a long day at school
I have so much homework
Why are my teachers so cruel?

I take out my pens
But what color should I choose?
I have reds, greens, and purples
But it’s blue that I’ll use

I start with my Math
With equations and functions
English is next
Reviewing rhymes and conjunctions

And then on to Science
Studying space and astronomy
After is my History
How the US achieved its autonomy

I finally put down my pen
I’ve completed my chore
It’s dinnertime now
So I then walk out my door

I trudge down the stairs
I am tired and famished
I sit down to eat ¡Ay Caramba!
I forgot about Spanish!

Lucy Naughton
Grade 8
Swampscott Middle School
Best Poem about Music



When tears trace their paths down my cheeks,
And my hands can do nothing but shake,
I know there is only one way
To quell my poor heart’s ache.
My trembling hands reach out
And rest upon the keys.
With one small tap and the pedal pressed
My worries float away with ease.
I feel the notes beneath my fingers
As the melody begins to swell.
Now not a thing can touch me;
I am under the music’s spell.
Even after the cadence ends
And the lyrics’ stories have been told,
My mind is at rest, my heart at peace.
Only by song can I be consoled.

Benjamin Neilan
Grade 7
Swampscott Middle School
Donor Prize


The Garden

I stare across the water, at the beauty of it all,
And then I cross the bridge, to where the bamboo trees stand tall.
They sway with the breeze, in peace and harmony.
As I move, with the trees, dancing in the breeze,
I see a garden with rocks, and sand raked around it.
It is a real zen garden,
Like none I have seen before.

I pass through more gardens,
All different from one another
Some with just trees and flowers,
Others with a waterfall, and a calmly flowing stream.

A glorious bridge appears in front of me,
Glowing and gleaming,
Like the gateway to heaven.
I am surrounded by gardens, with flowers and bonsai.
Then I look to my left, where the water swims with life.
Turtles and koi navigate the waters,
Creating an array of brown, orange, yellow, and red.
A majestic heron poses nearby,
Just watching it, too.
And I whisper to myself,
“This is where I belong.”

Maddy O’Brien
Grade 8
Swampscott Middle School
7th-8th grade Honorable Mention


You Must Be Starving

You must be starving,
haven’t eaten since lunch,
and now it is three o’clock.
You must be starving,
did not have enough time
for breakfast this morning.
You must be starving,
weren’t allowed to
eat during class.
What about the others,
the other people who are actually starving,
stomachs wrenching,
bodies aching.
On top of the world,
to getting one meal a day,
let alone three.
Remember that there are others,
that have it worse.
Because really,
you must be starving.

Leah Pashkova
Grade 7
Swampscott Middle School
7th-8th grade Third Prize


The Four Seasons

Winter, spring, summer, fall
Four great seasons–love them all!
Children playing in the snow
their cheerful faces all aglow
Through the night white crystals blow
Oh, I love the winter so!
In the spring bright flowers bloom
letting out their sweet perfume
The birds’ cheerful songs resume
I really love springs cheerful tune!
Spring to summer soon makes way
children run outside to play
All enjoy the pleasant day
Summer is wonderful, I say!
Leaves start falling on the ground
We pick apples by the pound
Birds are flying round and round
I love fall so much, I found!
Winter, summer, spring and fall
Four great seasons–love them all!

Vreni Runstadler
Grade 6
Swampscott Middle School
5th-6th grade Third Prize



When a seed lets go
It has no idea
If it will sink or rise,
Hit the ground hard,
Or lift to the skies

It does not know
If it will ever become
An oak or a rose,
Or etched in a painting,
Caught in mid pose

Its life ahead
Might be on cement
Maybe only a life
Of pain
And forget

When a seed lets go,
It believes.
It believes that the arms of the wind
Will take it to a place called somewhere

We need to be like the seed
To let go and believe
For there is always a place
Called somewhere
For you and I to be

Bella Seligson
Grade 8
Swampscott Middle School
7th-8th grade First Prize


A Dream in My Eyes

To me, my dreams are flash floods.
They flow down the river of hope,
And through the valleys of ambition,
Destroying everything in their path.
In my eyes, my dreams are trees.
Tall and Big.
Stretching out every limb of possibility
and branches of desire,
Growing bigger and stronger.
I see my dreams as birds.
Soaring into the future,
Without turning back to the past.
My dreams are wild horses.
Running free like my mind.
And as content as my heart.
But to everyone else,
My dream is a pebble.
Kicked around by the discouraging feet of others.
And stepped on by those who doubt me.

Ella Sprague
Grade 7
Swampscott Middle School
7th-8th grade Honorable Mention



The road ahead is bare and silent.
The green light flashes and her
foot is secure on the gas pedal.
The cold breeze in the brisk night air
gives a chill.
The houses alongside the road
seem empty and abandoned
in the darkness.

She turns to her right and carefully
unplugs her device that is lying
on top of the console.
The loud ping from her phone sounds
and she looks out each window,
making sure she is still alone.
She stares down and then laughs at
the screen.

Her long pink nails type away
unaware of her increasing speed.
The intersection ahead shows a red light of warning,
but she continues anyway,
her eyes focused only on texting.

A large black SUV turns, expecting
her to stop at the light, but it’s too late.
Ambulance sirens roar.
The once quiet houses are now
alive and awake.
Families watch the victims get driven away
through their fogged windows.

Her extremely damaged car sits
on the road shattered like glass.
Another ping sounds but this time
she isn’t there to answer.

Andrew Templeman
Grade 5
Swampscott Middle School
5th-6th grade Honorable Mention



The joy in children’s eyes pouring into the world
If you can do anything then it
and would
be to laugh.
It is good for the body and for the heart
For when you laugh, an angel will laugh with you.

Sarah Tribendis
Grade 7
Swampscott Middle School
7th-8th grade Second Prize


Winter Rain

Water pouring down is all I see
The sound is soothing to me
I block out every other sound
My thoughts have been drowned
I am in a trance
Staring at rain hitting the ground

The spindly trees turn very dark
And water seeps through the peeling bark
The ice-trapped branches are now set free
And I realize how glorious winter rain can be

Maddie Winklosky
Grade 7
Swampscott Middle School
7th-8th grade Honorable Mention


Boring Weather

The rain drips down the window
slow, but consistent
The sun hasn’t shone in several days
The clouds overrule the sky

What was once bright, sunny summer days
has now become cold, dark nights
No snow, but no warmth
No ice, but no water to swim in

No snow plows, but no convertibles
No sledding, but no going to the beach
No ice skating, but no water skiing
No ski trips, but no summer camps

Simply stuck in the middle
of the boring, everlasting weather

Asja Zimmerman
Grade 11
Swampscott High School
High School First Prize


Where I’m From

I’m from Dorchester,
A small town in Boston.
Some might call it “Ghetto” or “Poor”
But I call it home.

I am from a family of eight
That never stops growing
With two half-brothers and one half-sister
Raised by both my mom and dad.

I am from the early mornings
That start with the dog finding his way in my room
And the constant barking in my ear
That always seems to annoy me.

I am from the busy days and scary nights
Lots of traffic and delayed trains
Impatient people and fights at night
The sound that makes you believe are fireworks, but really gun shots.

I am from the judgmental people and the name calling
The comparing myself to others
I am from the you’re beautiful, but sometimes don’t feel like it
I am from the endless cries at night.

But I’m also from the cold mornings and nights
That create this sting in my ears and turning my nose red.
With white sparkling snow banks almost as tall as I
And shoveling that feels like hours.

I am from the warm summer days
With sandy beaches and crashing waves
Beautiful flowers and tall standing trees
The best nights you hope never end.

But most importantly, I am from the “never give up” from my mother,
The “do your very best” from my father,
The “stay committed in whatever you’re doing” from my grandma,
And “stay in school” from my grandpa.
Where are you from?