Teen Writing Contest at the Morgan Library & Museum

Winning Entries

Zoe Gabrielle Quijote
Age: 13, Trevor Day School

A memory so old and so buried emerges
A child once more, I hear his voice as images fly through my
Two siblings, two gods in a rice field
Blades pointed, they charge
Strike, block, and parry for the chance to reign
The brother, Apolaki, slashes down-
The stench of copper and regret.
A truce.
He and his sister rule the sky in turns-
Mayari’s gaze is always slightly dimmer, but just as regal.

No. Impossible.

But outside the window,
the sky is a soft powder blue.
I’m definitely not hallucinating.

I touch my fingers to the side of my face,
and to my surprise,
no blisters
no rough, peeling skin
just intricate patterns, it seems,
around my eye.
Like the tattoos that were on Kuya’s arms.

Should I even call him that anymore?

What- who-
are we?

I feel like I’m falling
Into an abyss
of uncertainty and despair
because despite my prayers and small false hopes
I have no doubt that my hunch is true
and despite all the logic that says gods aren't supposed to exist
at all,
here we are.
And I’m absolutely
Totally helpless.

Helpless in the looming face of my broken reality.
Helpless to stop this strange new energy raging inside me.
It grows
grows and my face
burns with magic concealed within

It’s dying to be released.

Suddenly the room is awash with a white glow
warmth surges through my bones
In a heartbeat, the whole world
winks out of sight.
All but one
plunges back into the darkness
Of night

The moon shines alone,
More luminous than ever
But there’s something
All my life, it has been stained
with crimson.
Not anymore,
for it is now
pale as snow.

And so everything stops, even my
kuya-not-kuya-sun-god-Apolaki, who should’ve been
right above the horizon.
Flor and I sit speechless, gazing in awe

After fourteen years, the eclipse is over
and as the lolas say, Bakunawa retreats
back into the sea.

Zoe Weinreich
Age: 14, Bard High School Early College

the fire fell solid in my arms; ambition and determination
twisted burns into weight
just a small something to carry after the real carrying was done

my mother told me there was not much i could do in this world.
and i understand the temptation
those who grow up with ideas of being heroes grow up to die young

but those with disproved value grow up to prove their parents
i have always wanted to do something of value what is life
outside what you offer?
and what is life if not all that i can see and all that can be
seen and lived
so why don’t i make some myself

it started with a hobby; it began with toys made of mud and rock
and water
they were mindless blobs and needed no such guidance or
assistance or help
but i asked a friend, “breathe a little air, breathe a little
life into them” i didn’t mean it so literally
no regrets. i have my own race, my own species at my fingertips
like a good parent i will not leave them to rot ; i will not keep
from them what makes them advance
i will not leave these children behind, they are mine to handle
and so, for their next step is fire, i bring fire
in my hands no less i will deliver the blessing and promote their
survival once again

if you sit down, you’ll never get back up again is what my
mother used to tell me
i will not sit down i will not stop
because good people do not sit down; even if i am not good on
purpose i am good (even if He does not want me to be) i am
good and i will stay good because i can be good at being good
He sends the storm after me but They are more important than
lighting, hair singed off the raw scalp

if we are not here to work against nature, i could not tell you
what else we are here to do. because what is our being without
impact, and what is impact beyond alteration of what is before
you, and what is before you other than the natural unless the
natural has already been tampered with in which case the natural
has been worked against. my mother has told me that i don’t
make sense, but i think she lies. i think she agrees with me. i
don’t know what i would do if i didn’t know that she agreed
with me. i don’t think i want to because there is not much good
that can be done outside of pleasing those who make you. those
who create you are those who protect you from everyone but them
and yourself, and that is why i must bring what He does not want
me to bring, because He does not want me to tamper, because He
does not want me to do right, because He wants to be the only one
who can do right, because He wants to be listened to like i only
listen to my mom.

so i run
and i run
and the fire is white hot
my stomach is white hot my fingers are white hot my lungs are
white hot my vision is white hot my bones are white


now they suffer now i suffer now i see hero wasn’t worth
it because mommy isn’t proud
Mommy doesn’t think I’m special

Olivia Rawiel
Age: 15, High School for Environmental Studies

The History of Eirōneía

I was bred of something inexplicable.
Something tangled and loose.
I was born from art,
Sprouted from a Greek comedy.
I was a joke.
I scattered from one play to the next,
They named me Eirōn.

I fluttered into a way of being,
Leaving behind my plays
And comedies.
I grew.
I evolved.
You did not notice.
Having no theater to ground me,
I floated aimlessly for a long time.
Every once in a while,
I’d find myself encaptured in someone else’s long lost
You humans
Have a habit of forgetting.
But I do not.
I do not forget.

After many long days of wandering,
Philosophy found me.
He watched over me
And laid me bare in new found books and scriptures.
He introduced me to Plato and Socrates,
They cursed my name.
My name,
Which has bloomed into something of my own.
Something beautiful.
I collected this name,
Inspired by those who defined it.
I became conscience
And hungry.
I was also angry.
Angry at those who had forgotten me,
And those who had mocked me
And those who ignored me.
I was furious.

That is when,
Under a nightly layer of stars,
I fell in love with hope.
She was blistering with passion and
And betrayal.
She had shone so bright
And clear
And vivid,
You could not get her out of your mind.
Me and hope,
We danced.
Fingers interlaced,
Bodies heated,
We twirled
And jumped
And spun
Until the sun hugged the sky.
My hope,
My darling hope,
She stayed by my side forevermore.
We were engraved in one another.
I, the trap,
Her, the trick.
It was love.
Love beyond what humans could understand.
Love beyond reason.
We were beyond logic.
We were there.
Oh how darling, beautiful…
We were there.

The funny thing about you humans
Is your faith.
Faith is a construct.
It is a promise,
It is hope.
The funny thing about faith,
Is that it is the perfect cover up
To help me and hope sneak past your mild views.
Your faith has blinded you
And for this,
I am incredibly grateful.
Because now I have something I have not had in a long time:
I am in control.
I control you,
Beyond your faith.
Beyond your reasoning.

While my back was turned
You gave me another name.
Use it all you want.
I don’t care.
It is not my name.
I am a goddess now.
You will not see such a thing grappled on my gravestone.
I am all around you.
You undermine me
And push me
And forget me,
But I am there…
I am your future
And present.
You cannot let me go.
I am here.
Call me by my name:
You will not forget it
Once you recognize my pull.

Axel Aranha
Age: 18, Coop Tech

If I could communicate
Outside of barks and tail-wags,
I would tell your tears
To dry in laundry bags.

I’ve seen you trim your arms,
Like a gardener cutting flowers from weeds,
Bleeding out your beauty and considering that as self-forgiving.

I remember the first day we met,
I wasn’t accustomed to your house but I easily felt at home.
You embraced me as we laid on the carpet,
Holding me close as if I’m your first locket.
With those monumental polaroids,
Cut to fit in the molds of your memories.

I’m sorry for the first seizure at midnight.
Waking you up with fear and my bubbling spit,
I wish I could stop, I wish I could control it!
But thank you friend for you and your mom helping me through it.

I hope you still love me even when I am unwell,
I hope you still love me even when my body can’t stay still.
Sizzling like Sparkling Water,
Electricity and Fire.

I remember when you brought your ex-girlfriend over,
I liked that she was nice,
But I don’t like the way she cuddled you in your bed covers.
She didn’t have the snickerdoodle smile like you do,
Genuine like Periwinkle stars,
Curls from mars,
I knew one day she would break your heart.

And she did throughout that Sophomore Summer,
Cried every night and feared going to your Father’s.
I hope I did the best I could to comfort you in those times,
Sleeping next to you and licking your damp tear-stricken eyes.

You know I was picky with the music you played.
In your room, on those mundane Gastonia days.
I appreciate you accommodating to my tastes,
I liked that you liked the same things.

Our walks through the parks was my favorite,
Enjoying our small-town environments always seemed to put us at
from the craziness that went on with your family.
I hope you know you are always my specialty.

I hate that I eventually slowed down.
While Death's strings caught up with me,
You kept tugging on my leash,
I tried to keep moving.
But my body was aching,
and I only had you as my energy for surviving.

I was jealous of that Christmas when your step-dad decided to
bring home those bunnies,
You knew I was scared of being replaced by them.
But somehow you thought it was funny,
And once you gave them away for being smelly
You were right, I was being silly.

Axel, father of peace.
I know you are ready for the big city,
This small town can't hold down your pouring, radiant velocity.
Don't keep yourself waiting for your destiny.
It's okay, I'll set the course to the fields.
While you carve your worst and best.

You know I can't control my lingering malignant spirits,
Who paralyze me lastly.
I'm sorry, I can no longer travel with you on your journeys.

My body is rotting,
And you see
Oh you see
You named me your shadow.

And so I'll follow.

Read about the contest