National PTSA Reflections Competition:

“The Song”  – Advanced to the IPPC Level, District 36 Level

“One Brave Leaf” – Advanced to the IPPC Level, District 36 Level, State of Illinois Level


Creative Communications Spring 2011 Poetry Contest:

“Release” – Selected for High Merit; Published in A Celebration of Poets 2011.


Neuqua Valley High School’s Literary Magazine — The Essence:

Imperfect” – Published 2010-2011.

Who Are You to Say?” – Published 2010-2011.


Upstate Eight Literary Festival:

Who Are You to Say?” – Critic’s Choice Award in Poetry



The Song

A song can be so beautiful,

though it may begin with one shaky note.

The rhythms can cascade together,

and melody be so rich, you stop and listen.

The words might speak to you

and with each strum of the base, you feel your heart beating.

You may find yourself tapping with the drums

or humming to the chorus.

You find you love this song,

despite it’s weak beginning.

You realize that a song, like anything else,

sometimes doesn’t have the best start.

That people make mistakes

and should be forgiven.

That the world isn’t perfect

and may have started walking on an unsure foot.

You find in this song,

that there is comfort in mistakes,

celebration in differences.

Because like in this melody,

One note can start it–

whether it be strong or weak.

One voice can provide the root of the chord,

but together we can make harmony.



One Brave Leaf

A brave leaf falls to signify the start of autumn

then all at once the wind blows and many more begin to give way.

The leaves collect, their colors so vivid against the fading grass.

Yellows, reds, greens, oranges, browns.

They are all different, but each one of them beautiful

and they combine into a heap so strong.

They move, unified, in a pile that can stand alone.

No longer is one leaf by itself, now each is strengthened by another.

They have become one, starting from one.

And that one brave leaf fell to signify the start of autumn,

like one voice can cause an entire revolution.

Together we can make a difference,

redefine boundaries, recreate rules, restart.

Unified, like a pile of leaves, we can spark a change

but it all starts with one.

One brave leaf.




Shadows shift and faces rearrange

losing yourself in emotions and names.

A lover’s kiss still upon your lips

Heart rhythm. Pause. Syncopation skips.

We fade and forget moments of the past

storing our secrets in our protected cache

pretending we know the world as it seems

while inner voices break, fade, and scream.

Mistakes hold us hostage, burdens of our history

sweaty hands, bruised knuckles strain to set us free.

We slip and settle into a surreal sense of peace

and in the unbroken silence comes sweet release.




I am afraid of you

and me

but mostly of the thoughts

and feelings

when I’m alone

and nervous,

that I’ve invested so much

in so little

or that I will end up

like everyone said I would,

empty handed



You told me

that we would defy stereotypes

change assumptions

bend the rules

prove them wrong.

We are broken

but fixable

like paper

taped together–

slightly weaker

but believes itself

to be just as strong.

I thought

that you would be here


But you’re a red light

that shines and  fades

and turns to green


and go.

We are imperfect




We are crooked in all the wrong places

silent where it hurts.

But I’ve always believed

In us.



Who are You to Say?

Who are you to say

that my writing is cliché?

That when I write “he’s my everything”

I’m just another teenage girl

blind, love-struck, spineless

who is obsessively lustful

will make stupid mistakes

and give everything

to a petty high school romance

only to get her heart broken.

Who are you to say

that my words are trite?

That when I tell of sadness




that I’m just being




a typical adolescent.

You claim that my feelings aren’t real,

they’re wrapped up in pubescent insecurities



Who are you to say

that the things I feel

are not as important

as your deadlines



That my heartfelt thoughts

will pass

and I will grow out of this


of youth

and fit into the concrete mold

of an adult.

That I will forget his face

her betrayal

my innocence

the perfection of


Who are you to say

that you know everything

through experience?

I may not have lived that long

but I can feel

heartbreak and healing

losing and releasing.
You say I am searching

for nothing.

But aren’t we all just trying to figure out

what love is?

Who we are?

Who are you to say

that this generation is lost?

That we cannot communicate

beyond the keys pressed by fingers

the chicken-scrawl handwriting

or static phone lines.

But we have our own language

of embraces

gentle fingertips

grazing shoulders

and hips

or kisses


Who are you to say

that I do not know myself?

That I express emotions

too big for words

too cliché

too stereotypical.

That my feelings

aren’t stable

and I will forget

the faces

and promises

as I grow older.

That my generation

is too busy

giving themselves away

in pursuits of money

and power

forgetting how to talk

but expressing

all these exaggerated


just to feel something.

Who are you to say

that my writing

is the same as every girl

as every daughter

as every teenager.




running together.

That my peers

have no direction.

That we all want to grow up

and push boundaries

to stop where we started

in an endless circle.

Who are you to say

that you are right?

But, who am I to say

that you are wrong?


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