2013 Elizabeth Graeme Award in Poetry

WINNER: Erin Farrell
, CB East High School
Coarse Heels

They say it's impossible to get lost in North America now
        
Since they've commercialized
                       
and vandalized
                                     
with infrastructure and order and rigidity and organization
         
The natural world - taming everything they decided was wild and proclaiming it savage 

and     uncivilized and wrong because it wasn't like us, the rugged individualists

But they - yes, that same they
         
That damned they that's always there with their sayings
         
They say nothing is impossible
                       
not one gaping abyss of normalcy nor a massive cataclysm of adventure
                        nothing

But sometimes, that's just all you want to do - get lost
         
Or maybe it's just me
I just want to escape the suburban catacombs in which I'm already buried and die somewhere exotic as someone different
         
Or maybe it's we - maybe you, too
        
Maybe it is you and you'll prove them wrong
         
Hopefully it's you: I still have hope for you, I really do
                       
that you'll live and not just wait
It's all you want to do sometimes
         
Run
         
Hole up in some deep dark oblivion and never speak again
It's all those meaningless things that are frivolous things and so absolutely thing-y and material that you're running from
         
And the people who have become things because of their obsession with things

Just hop on a train and watch the steam swallow the sky
         
Cut your ties - your losses

Just drive
Hide in the back of a rusty red pickup and smell burning light bulbs of old headlights and 

decaying wood and dirty wrenches and oil and talcum
         
Thumb a big rig and get lost
         
Just get lost and never find your way back
                       
but find a way forward
                       
shove a door open with a shoeless foot and disregard the past recklessly

Oh, just do something reckless, utterly reckless, like run away
         
Pedal somewhere on that old bike and never turn back
                       
Have a false identity 
                       
To be a stranger and find another stranger in a strange world 
                       
and just moonlight-dance and sing and be strange 
                                      
just run
You want dirt in your hair and under your nails

Grime at your wrists and on your feet
         
The only soap the running stream
         
The only comb your fingers

Feel hunger and need just to feel something even if it's pain
         
You'll chase nothing but the idea of something to the ends of the earth
                        and when you're there you won't fall off but you'll dive off
                       
and swim into some forbidden celestial chasm
                       
bare and unafraid of what might be swimming with you and the stars
                        submerged in the black and one with it because you let go and ran
                        living in a room you made out of the mountainside 

Because you're you and you ran because you could not because you should because you shouldn't have but you did
         
You ran because it was what you wanted
         
You weren't afraid to want and lose and defy and trespass and feel and take risks
         
You did what you wanted and are free

Could you imagine that liberty
         
Tearing your coarse heels on cracked black pavement and watching the yellow lines skid 
         
beneath you in a wild blur
                       
wild like you

Even though you'll die someday
                       
but not until you've lived, you restless soul, lived and you were wild

But maybe some things really are impossible

They're wrong either way
         
And they're right, too

RUNNER UP: Matthew Kolosick, 
CB East High School
Laundry

Have you ever been to a laundromat?

Walked through double doors to rows of silver fed beasts set to devour?

At least they're kind enough to return their food

Though it comes sodden and chewed

Like a mother bird feeding its baby.
Though this mother has but one child,

And it is stranded, huddled between its fellow orphans.

Relying on you for sustenance.

Have you ever been to a laundromat?

Sat down and watched your clothes
Cycle up then down, wet then dry?

Asked yourself why it is we only handle them when they're wet?

And spend the whole time protecting ourselves behind glass doors?

Have you ever washed clothes by hand?
Hung them out spaced and tall?

Watched the fabrics as they dry in time with your hands?
Just twine and wood and water
Bringing out a silver shine in the flesh of your palms.

But you get to keep this silver

Even though it comes and goes with the basket

And the washbasin where you rescue the clothes from drowning,

Then proceed to hang them by their necks

High above.

A warning for all to see.

The Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson Award in Formal Poetry is presented to a high school student from Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, or Philadelphia counties who has submitted the best example of a poem written in form