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Celebrating National Poetry Month

Poems by students

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Illustration by Shina Kang


Content note: Some of these poems contain depictions of war and violence that may be distressing to some students. 


If a Poem


Pearls on a string

Process of refinement

Ode in a bottle

Pen and paper

A dream, a passion

Where reality is suspended


Megan Shi




Ars Poeticks


The helix’s course, slower than kaleidoscopic winds

even the interludes cannot assume one form

the heart unfolding upon itself as a change of cloth

four with one hidden is its own arithmetic.

The Sun’s scornful shadow. The saplings assemble

for the final revealing of the variegated. Cobalt

vista: magnanimities for the agile devices

a device: a distinctive blueprint for novelty.


Kaiylah O’Quinn




Inertia of Rest


There’s only the two of us

everyone else is from here

it must have been a misspelling

a disarrangement of numbers


Walking in a fleece foot-cover

living on a rubber duck boat

singing the blues we ask ourselves

do you mind coming back down?

kill that bird that holds you

aim at it with your feather arrow and be home


There’s almost the two of us

your eyes weren’t empathic when

you read the first chapter, the first verse, the first cry

there was once the two of us

and there’s still the two of us

unwillingly in the poem, unless you leave.

but the poem didn’t leave you


You’re there in it

and we know because you’ve kept waiting

wondering if there’s a reward

at the end of this. There’s none


You may call this a surrealist poem

tell yourself the reward is in witnessing the vague beauty

of a life falling tangent to a political uprising or a heartbreak

never not being tangent

but that’s not the intention either


All I mean is to see how much a brain-in-love will endure

in hope to make art of sense or sense of art


You and me have always been different

I and you not so different because I know the blues

I knew it when I believed the rest of the world wasn’t real

and saw something in fake vacation posters


There’s three of us now

you, me and the poem

sometimes a poem chooses to have a mind of her own

and that’s silence.

But it’s in control now. I’m here and I choose humming.

Denial is only a song playing in the speakers over my head.


It could be only one of us

because your and my mind in this moment are one

for this millisecond or some more seconds

to exist in one line, in one alphabet, one poem,

to know each other as letters on a page.

Until the page remains or until

we drift and are equidistant again


Khytul Qazi




Carson was Wrong 

Inspired by “Always Have a Joyful Mind by Nin Andrews and “On Orchids” by Anne Carson


I do not understand poetry. 

I am not a poet, and therefore, I do not understand the intricacies of verse, meter, pause, and line. When I read poetry, I feel it in my heart, not my head. It’s a tingly feeling—one that says, “this is saying something,” but I do not know what is being said. 

I am not a poet…or a florist. In the same way I do not understand poetry, I do not understand orchids. But he does. 

Every time I see an orchid, I send him a picture of it. Today, it is the poem “On Orchids” by Anne Carson. His response? Anne Carson does not know about orchids. Her analogy in the poem is challenging, as the nature of orchid rooting isn’t the same as other plants, and fragrance among orchids is often the exception rather than the rule. 

He goes on about how orchids are epiphytic—they grow on other plants, clinging to them like vines. He shares how to pot them; how to fertilize them; how they grow upside-down; how the circulating fog of the rainforest nourishes them…and suddenly, this is me. I am an orchid. 

I drink from his words like a thirsty plant. Bloom into the happiest version of myself at his touch. When I love him, I feel it in my heart, not my head. It’s a pounding feeling that transcends any logic.

…like poetry. 

I want to be remembered, not for my bad poems, but for being in love.


Sisel Gelman



My Graying Hair Doesn’t Make Sense To Me, Nor Does Time


My love—

Today I found a third gray hair in my bangs. It made me think of the time, years ago, when I found a gray hair in your curls. The night was young, and I held the talisman tightly between my index finger and my thumb. This would be the closest I’d get to seeing you age, and we both knew it.

You pulled me up gently from my knees. You held me, and my youth, tight between your

strong arms. I wept silent silver tears and begged you to stay a little longer—to stay until I got old.

You refused.

Now I carry my heavy age on my forehead, and your absence like a pebble in my shoe. I

find the urge to rip my graying hair intertwined with the love of the memory of you.


Sisel Gelman




Bet on the Muse


Sometimes all you have is the long shot

the perimeter of a perspective

a view that widens around you and narrows

so precisely at a point

(directly in front of you)

where focus converts to a natural feeling, breathing and sweating in public,


you can square up to face the distance.


Maya Odim 




Sky Migrations


Every time I trek through an airport, no matter the city, I call the boy who I grew out of girlhood with in New Orleans. Siblings not by blood or circumstance, but of inside jokes and matching Christmas Eve tattoos. He doesn’t hang up until I’ve boarded the plane. We both migrated far from Louisiana, growing into new bodies and cities. 


When my plane reaches Chicago Midway, he texts me a photo of a duck he saw on his walk home in Canada because “you landed, and ducks do that too.” 


Sidne K. Gard




Live in your bubble.


Go on, live in your little bubble. Shield your eyes from the hands reaching out to you. Cover your ears so you can’t hear their screams. Turn off the news. Turn off the news and live in your bubble where innocent people aren’t being murdered. But know that your silence is deafening. It echoes through my brain and I will not forget. But go on, live in your bubble. 

But I refuse to live in a bubble—and I’m so, so angry. I can’t stand that more people aren’t angry. This constant weight on my chest and the pressure to be doing more is so overwhelming. But regardless, I feel like I should be doing more. I can’t take this- the weight of the grief I feel. 

But you don’t get it, do you? Because you’re in your bubble. You don’t get that I can’t stop. I can’t give up because I’d rather feel this angry than feel happy right now. You don’t get that I have a responsibility to do what is right, and what’s right is to fight for justice. It’s not like I want this responsibility. It’s just that it follows me, no matter what I do or where I go. I’m so, so angry. And I’m tired. And I’m so tired of being angry. I’m also angry that I’m tired. But one thing is for sure, I can’t stop being angry. There’s too much to be angry about to possibly stop. I don’t get how you’re not more angry. It rumbles through my veins. There’s a pit in my stomach. There’s this constant pressure that I’ve been feeling… to do more, to yell louder, to write more, to be better. 

But I feel like everyone is living in their own little bubble. And I’m the only one that is sane. That’s the only possible explanation. 

Israa Darwich 




crimson winged finch 

i’ve witnessed with disconnection 

base human empathy with no personal tie 

then a songbird landed on my pallet 

and tracked paint all over my canvas 

i want to show you my homeland 

named for the groundwater that the olive trees dance in 

i listen to her sing and sing 

my heart bursting at the seams 

and as she goes her way 

i thank her for her music 


today i ask hermes what news he holds 

and he hands me a little red feather, darkened from his tears 

they saw heaven on earth and felt no peace 

they saw heaven on earth and decided that 

their hell was more important 

than heaven on earth 


i place the little songbird feather behind my ear and listen for her song every night


Castor Santee



hermes azaiza


wild footed wild eyed messenger

whose youth never wanes

bears the weight of every toppled stone

and broken doll

and ash filled tea cup

that his cousin Eris leaves in her path


tonight when he lays his head on his coat

(the one his father blessed before his flight)

beside a blood flecked witness

he will sleep with his eyes open

his pen moving

his clock ticking

and wake even heavier than yesterday


his war lorn brother helps him strap on his kevlar

perhaps today will bring a still sky

something he’s said every morning

before leaving for his duties


a still sky,

hermes thinks,

is a sky with no fire

and a place to close your eyes


Castor Santee


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