Listen to Bella Koschalk read their poem:

There are elephants in the hall looking for their mothers.
You wouldn’t want the elephants in the hall to mistake you for their mothers.
The lost elephants in the hall need it to be dark and quiet for them to find their way home.
You are being such good friends to the lost elephants in the hall.

My mother stretches her body over me
at the intersection
and tells me to close my eyes.

My mother tells my father we have to move.
My father says we’re strong and poor.
My mother says I’m five.

Sing a song in your head where the elephants turn pink.
Sing a song about how fun it is, in the coat closet playing hide-and-seek.
Sing a silent song about the shadows in the hall.
Sing not a song where you are knight and being quiet in the coat closet is your sword and shield.

We sit in the time it takes
for us to become wreaths around our own faces.

Sometimes they call it a dog without a collar or excessive
Questions are a noise that’s gonna kill us all and

You’re grown up enough to know
nothing but
break the window and run and we won’t
make you pay for the glass.

In my mind, I make a woman
who stands in front of me

I should be in math right now I tell her.
She calls me little. She remembers.

Here is a man with guns on his belt
to tell you how to run in a zig-zag
and push down on the wound.

You’re being a little too irrational right now.

CHORUS is on the school board

CHORUS borrows money

CHORUS found a loophole

CHORUS can’t work a cellphone camera

CHORUS shot the clay pigeon to smithereens

CHORUS doesn’t want to think about it too much it makes them sad

I got prettier when I learned what matters.
I got ready for the photos.

Read the other winners of the Seventh Annual High School Writing Contest. . .

Buzzcut,” by Andrew Kang, first place
My Neighbors Make a Ghost,” by Stella Lei, second place