Poetry Corner

April was National Poetry Month. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we had to cancel our annual poetry celebration but we adapted and managed to celebrate our love of poetry a different way this year. We asked the community to express how they were feeling, processing, and dealing with the pandemic through poetry. We had an overwhelming number of responses and our judges selected their favorite from each age category. Published below are the winning responses. Judges: Safety Harbor Poet Laureate Steve Kistulentz, Former Safety Harbor Poet Laureate Barbara Finkelstein, local author and poet Laura Kepner, and local writer Darla Chesnet. Winners received a Safety Harbor Strong t-shirt, courtesy of the Friends of the Safety Harbor Library.

Poetry Corner
Age Category Title Poem
Youth (8 and under): Covid 19 no guarantee Covid 19 is very mean,
put everyone in quarantine.
If it does not kill,
you have to pay your bill.
And your survival is nil!
It may make you cough,
you need to cover with a cloth.
It is hardcore,
it might kill you while you snore.
And everyone will Shhhhh you like a moth!!
We need to invent a vaccine
til the virus can’t be seen.
Lets keep our patients
Stay in isolation.
We shall win!!!

By Abelia Chung
Tween (9-12): Fear Fear knows no guidelines,
It's always there.
Every bargain it declines,
Cause its only in it for the scare.
Lurking in the shadows of day,
And in the light of night.
It’s the predator and you're its prey,
for there is no escaping its fright.
Stalking you like little thieves,
It never breathes.
Trying to retrieve little children's screams.
Only finding the right moment to complete its schemes,
For fear never leaves.
I have tried to run elsewhere,
But the isolation, panic, and anxiety pull me back.
There’s no intention of fair,
For fear is a maniac.
It wants all the glory, and all the fame,
Fear will and forever be untamed.
Now I’m all alone,
Watching as fear sits on the throne.
Fear is the King and I am his slave,
For it thinks I’m not brave.
These chains on the wall,
Can't contain me at all.
So, I cast my farewells,
For fear can no longer cast it’s controlling spells.
I believe fear can have its rights,
For it cannot reach me here.
Here with my family’s bright light.

By Isabella Theofanous
Tween (9-12): Pop! -imple Is coronavirus a type of acne or something?

By Emily Yang
Tween (9-12): Inside My Bubble I miss hanging out
I miss eating out
I miss the surprise ice cream before supper
On Sunday nights
I miss the laughing
And the sound of feet clomping
Heard everywhere nearby
From the elementary school
Across the way
I miss my bedroom
Just being my bedroom
Not my classroom
With papers strewn about
I miss strolling in the wood
Without keeping to the edge
At the first sight of other people
I miss the track team
My hair flying back in the wind
As I win third again
I miss interacting with the people I care about
in person
Instead of seeing them
on the screen so small
but I can't shove my way
to the other side
even if I try all day
I miss the way life used to be
Not the constant anxiety
that the world could crash down
even further
than it has already

By Elana Ernst
Tween (9-12): Looking out Nature blooms outside
While I bloom inside waiting
For a chance to grow

By Josie Swenson
Teen (13-18): For the Afflicted Your only view is the four walls of your apartment.
Birds chirp outside your window
     every morning as a greeting, like they are your alarm.
Little do they know you haven’t closed your eyes
     for more than a minute at a time.
Your chest is wracked with violent coughing fits,
     rattling your bones and organs and jarring your brain.
It was the flu, at least, that’s what you believed.
Then it grew worse.
I can feel you weakening through the phone.
There’s only so much medicine can do for you,
    but the greed of humans has restricted your access.
So here you are, staring at the screen of your laptop,
    hacking up your lungs before me.
Your hands tremble as we lock eyes.
Who knows how long you have left,
     and the only consolation we have
          is that you aren’t completely alone.

By Morgan Crosby
Teen (13-18): What I Miss the Most There’s light in the room
For the first time in days
The clouds have departed
Setting free a few rays
It gets warmer at noon
When the rain ceases up
I look up from my book
And listen to the fighting let up
Staying at home would get boring
They said
No bells to ring
No classes to attend
Boredom isn’t the right feeling
It’s endless suffocation
Living in a time loop
With no possible violation
What more is there to say
When a few lucky strokes of light
Are the highlight of the day
Even the week, at its might
Perhaps it’s a curse
Our generation has been dealt
You reap what you sow
Struck by an iron belt
But today I was asked
About the thing I miss the most
Was it the rain or the smoke
Or the teachers at their post
I thought of the sun
As I reached forward to hold
In the grasp of my hand
The few rays I’d been sold
Perhaps it’s the routine
That I miss
Though I hated it the most
Or the small talk and the jokes
The banter and the fights
The alarm clocks and grades
The rushed off nights
Maybe it’s the friends
Or the strangers on the street
Maybe it’s the stone building
And the smell of dirt on our feet
I would say
The interruption is jarring
Impossible to escape
Like a hand always barring
Any possible normal state
But if they were to ask me again
What do you miss the most?
I’d say
I miss you
But you will never resume your post
There’s light in the room
For the first time in days
The clouds have departed
But I know
The storm is here to stay

By Maria Abou-Raffoul
Teen (13-18): Pandemic A cough, a sneeze means
Dirty looks from strangers
In the Walmart self checkout.
Stupid songs sung by the rich,
A kumbaya of bullshit.
Middle class college kids,
And their paranoid parents
Preach safety first and
Enforce guilt to justify panic.
The “Stay At Home” advocates
Who beg for empathy.
They post about their
Sick, asthmatic, vulnerable.
They don’t share their reserves of
soap, sanitizer, toilet paper,
canned meals, water, and privilege
With the destitute, the homeless.
It’s easy to scream “stay at home”
when your home has everything.
When you lounge in AC
Snacks by your side.
Home isn’t a place to stay
When the cabinets are damn near empty.
Cause these people can’t afford to
Hoard 3 months of food.
Preaching quarantine comes with
A lack of empathy
For those without the barrier
Of walls to protect them.
Because who cares if a homeless man
Dies of a virus?

By Isabella Suell 
Teen (13-18): Alone The sky, drenched in midnight, boasts,
flaunting the congregation of the stars.
They giggle, they chatter, they vibrate with life
as they dance and swirl in a celestial tango.
Up there, they sway, enjoying the company of
their kin, yet here I sit
The blossom clusters shine and shimmer in
welcoming sunlight as they wave, inviting me to
join them in their conversation. And as they talk,
the wind runs it’s fingers through their hair, smiling
and kissing them, petting them with love and adoration,
yet here I stand
And the birds chirp, their voices colliding in an
enthusiastic melody. They sing sweetly, tempting me
to venture closer than 6 feet. They crowd the black cables,
partying on the power lines, gloating that they can laugh and
embrace each other, plume to plume, intimately.
Yet here I am, sitting behind a screen, the clack of keys
ringing in my ears, stressed, depressed, and
By Azya Lyons
Adult (19 and over): Virus Lullaby Sleep my darling sleep tonight,
And let the storm blow past.
Let the time go and the walls keep you warm,
For in this room we’ll wait in peace.
Waiting for winds to slow and the thunder to unleash its wrath,
The echoes of mother earth, angry from the past.
For in this home we're safe tonight,
No need to crumble in fear.
Just close your eyes and close them tight,
And we will persevere.
Sleep my darling sleep tonight,
And dream of when you wake.
For after this long sleep you've had,
There’s sure to come a day,
The earth will fondly reminisce of the time the humans gained insight,
And how we learned in our sleep, on this weary and fearful night.
Sleep my darling sleep tonight,
Have patience deep within.
The doors will open soon my love and all is still again,
There will be rain across the fields, and clear blue skies so bright.
And we will laugh and roam the land,
Different but the same.
Dream my darling dream tonight,
For in this dream you’ll grow.
For in our peaceful quiet rooms,
We’re separate but not alone.

By Hayley Boothe
Adult (19 and over): Untitled Please shake my globe and change the scenery.

By Ben Leslie
Adult (19 and over): Post Partum It wasn’t postpartum depression but a sadness
I had kept you safe inside of me for 9 months 
Controlled what you ate, where you went
You weren’t exposed to smoke or alcohol
A sac of safety between you and the world
But even then as I would tire easily and seek
Harbor in rest, you would wake.
I imagined you having a party
Sneaking out now that Mom was out of the picture
And I would whisper be safe and hug my belly
Finding peace and rest knowing you would grow.
But soon you were across the room from me
I once even confessed that I missed you and
Everyone laughed and looked confused but it was true
You were across the room fighting against a swaddle
And I wanted to rescue you from a world I couldn’t control.
Months ago I missed you again
You were across town at a high school party
I was hoping you were steering clear of drugs and alcohol
I tried staying up but I tire easily and didn’t stir
When you came in quietly so as not to wake me.
Now in quarantine I am reminded of those early days
That early womb, your teenage room
Our silly fights that matter nothing now
I long to see you run from the front door
Greeting friends, growing, glowing
Never again socially distanced from the people you love
Partum is the Latin word for creative
A world we need now to masque what we can’t control
An attempt to foil a depression, swaddled and
Fearing for safety
May you know chaos, a thousand sadnesses,
loves lost and heartbreak, free abandon, recklessness.
I pray you that postpartum.

By Amy Azano
Adult (19 and over): Pandemic Spring The long season of soft, ancient flowers has come Earth blossoms quietly beneath
A cold winter moon sky
Seeds murmur into roots
Howl wet life to the world
Verdant rain breathes its thick, moist song
Deep in the black river, fish sleep sweetly
A lonely spring wind gushes wet secrets to green field
Night insects listen as the ground stirs, their faces small and sacred
Light trickles like laughter rustling warm dandelion morning
Only a few months ago the autumn forested mountain shone its brilliant yellow harvest
Soon summer thunder will journey above
Oceans as crabs shiver like blue petals in the cool, evening tides
But now we are upon our only season
The newly tendrilled honey-suckle investigating a fragrant dusk
The sun melting a blue road through icy streams This will never happen again
Come follow the wild path with me
The dark blossom of a summer night that may never come
Petals pressed closed like a silent mouth
While the dead whisper above us their eyes bright and ravenous like newly hatched owls
“Rise! Rise!
This is all you may ever have”

By Celia Forno

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