Friday, 11 September 2020

Under-16s – Poems for National Poetry Day 2020

Here is our selection of the entries for Best Poem by Under-16s for the Given Words competition for National Poetry Day. They all had to contain the five words letter, childhood, fly (the animal), greedy and dream.

You can read the winning poem Attic by Sarah-Kate Simons along with the judge's comments here and the poems from the adults' category here.

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The Children With No Parents

I fell asleep
I had an unrealistic dream
Kids of childhood
With no parents
Houses that had letters
Teleported to them.
There was one greedy child
He didn’t have pet flies
Like the other children
He had pet eagles
And tigers
They were as gentle as ants.

Max Dixon, aged 7

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until we are hollow

the flies in my childhood
the bird, his dark travellers coat, in recovery position on my grandfather’s lawn
we approach / too close / his eye swarms white
greedy for him until he is hollow
one rears its head and flicks out.
we don green plastic-rimmed bug-eye glasses, shattering worlds with tessellations
ink dots on the white ceiling. the letters of flies. striped wipes remove their magnum opus
adhesive flowers pressed to windows, filtering light like cheap stain glass – my mother’s tacky flytraps
flies fairies would ride when I still believed in fairies
fairies who’d carry me to safety when I dreamt outside
fairies eating the grass at night. the grass we put in hollow trees we marked for them with child’s lipgloss
i still remember / the bark alive / with plastic sparkles
fly husks sucked dry on window frames my sister tried to feed her pet spider
flies in the fridge that one time
flies picking at everything around me
flies and fairies pulling the world away

Pieta Bayley, aged 15

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Wahine Voices

We watch the waves,
slide across the deck,
feasting on our childhood,
dancing with our arms.

                                                   2018: Photograph
                                                   I watch the waves,
                                                   tackle the boat,
                                                   swallow the shoes,
                                                   run with iwi

We watch the hills,
stand unfazed,
the waves continue,
to blur our view.

                                                   I watch the hills,
                                                   they continue to stare,
                                                   they continue to dream,
                                                   so much they do care

We watch the sun,
Tugged out of view,
yet the waves,
attack like a fly,
attack, attack

                                                   I watch the sun,
                                                   swallowed by the greedy storm,
                                                   splashed by the waves,
                                                   coated in grey.

We watch our luggage,
the waves unlock,
strewing our letters,
across Karaka Bay.

                                                   I watch their luggage,
                                                   The waves play catch
                                                   The tiaka now only holding,
                                                   its broken handle.

We watch the waves,
Fill us with anger,
push us around.
Send us / separate us.

                                                   I watch the waves,
                                                   finally part,
                                                   the iwi float away,

Evie Johnson, aged 15

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Bright colours burst in front of my eyes,
Lavender petals tickle my fingers,
A shine of vibrant currant peel,
Beckoning me forward,
A small circular cherry lies in my palm,
Such a small fruit, holding millennia of history
Bees buzzing by, pollinating the soft fruit
Birds fly by, chirping in unison
A fly swimming through the air,
Plucking a cherry off the tree, biting into the flesh
Oozing scarlet juice, staining my teeth
Flavours explode deep within the flesh,
I taste history all the way back from the stone age.
Discovered between the Black and Caspian seas
The cherry
A symbol of renewal
December rolls around,
The cherries are picked,
A stone embedded in the centre,
Its dream to live on for millennia
Greedy sparrows indulge in the fruit
Migrating with colonists from Europe in the 1600s
Is the childhood of the cherries
The letter C meaning receptiveness
The cherry, receiving history
Growing in the sun.

Trelise McEwan, aged 12

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Bare feet slap hard against concrete,
She drives forward, broom in hand,
A loyal steed, galloping across the universe,
Chalk scribbles of hearts and rainbows beneath,
Dissolved, smudgy from the rain’s laughter.

I see her race the light shining down,
A scintilla from the mall’s ceiling glass,
She slides across the butter-milk burnished marble,
Smashing unapologetically into a red-headed woman,
Undeterred, she resumes the rivalry.

The dream suspends before my eyes,
Behind them, too, like veins,
Childhood memories, they call them,
I want to reach out and touch
My young, pink fingers,
Never to forget.

Two friends lost willingly in the drama,
As we feign ‘Cats’, mewling, hissing,
Slinking across the hallway,
Greedily licking water from bowls,
Our dog gawks at us in bewilderment.

Stubs of screaming crayons,
Pressed too firmly against sheets of paper,
Forming unruly letters,
That resist straight forms and create
Monstrous worms, linked by their tails.

I can discern snippets of youth,
Like flies on the wall at night,
I know they’re there, but darkness
Cloaks them in woven night sky,
Those memories veiled before me,
Please don’t forget.

Thalia Peterson, age 13

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The greedy sea

Every day the sea gets hungry
It decides to have a snack
Some sand, then some trees, houses
Cities dropping like flies
The sea gets greedy
Chomping on childhoods, love letters on the beach
All into the belly of the beast
Fueling dreams of an empire

Freya Atkins, aged 12

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For the love of plastic

The greed of the man stole the life of so many.
He stole the smiles of children.
the hopes of a brighter future
for those that chose to dream.
The flies dug deep into the flesh of the young bird.
The youngsters’ life stolen by greed and wealth.
The juvenile Toroa found dead.
with a plastic bottle wedged in its stomach.
The birds’ childhood taken away in the wind.
to a distant land where the greedy man can’t be found.
Where letters for change are heard.
and loud cries echo along the cliffs
of hope and dreams.

Freddy Toddhunter, aged 15

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The river

Where the leaves are neon green
A red panda roams the land of childhood
Tulips bloom in summer
Making the ground look like a
Colourful silky blanket
Shaped like the letter L
The sky is bright blue
With fluffy, pure white clouds
In the heart of the land
A river flows
Swans elegantly glide on the water
One eel silently slithers through
The water
He dreams of rising
Flies buzz along the surface
Greedily looking for food

Ivy Martin, aged 7

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A crisp morning breeze flushes over the beached whale, Its eyes flutter closed as greedy flies lay waiting to feast upon its thick flesh.

A dream of safety and peace calls to the whale as it fights to survive; the dream echoes and sings, numbing the whale’s dying mind.

The whale feels the cool splash of water hitting its face, letters and words rumble; the whale recognised human’s voices. “More water! Go! We don’t have much time.”

The whale feels the fog that clouds its mind recede slightly; Yes. It enjoys the tingling sensation as it regains feeling in its tail.

The whale lets out a cry that pierces the otherwise still beach. The whale gets laughs and cries of relief from the humans in return.

It reminds the whale of the childhoods it used to witness as it soared beneath the water; the smiling faces looking down upon it as it sang its favourite tune.

The whale sings its thanks as the humans heave it back into the water.

Emma Van Schalkwyk, aged 12

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By the playful beach

The sun gleamed in freedom.
The sea splashed and swayed,
more than I could've imagined
from my precious childhood.
On this grateful beach,
the greedy seagull
stomped his feet red as a rose
and shooed the flies away.
He was trying to steal
my deliciously melting
strawberry ice cream.
It was summer.
Letters dreaming to fly.
Near the playful beach,
the trees floated into their dreams.
Exceptional to look at.

Anna Kim, aged 10

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Beneath each childhood
Some fulgent dark
Of memories hid
And spread by lark.

The letter knife
Below your bed
Would stay just there,
Till turn of head.

All children’s nightmares
Nobody’s dream
Fantasy and fact,
Split at the seam.

Eyes in the twilight,
Malevolently glinting
Shushed, quiet whispers
A secret, it is hinting.

The black fairy tales,
Long since gone wild
Your towering fears
No longer mild.

A fly upon the night stand,
Throwing shifting shadows,
Fragments of monstrosities,
Mirrored in the windows.

Is it truly selfish, greedy,
To want a good night’s sleep?
Hush, hush, my darling child.
In darkness, only one shall creep


Saphra Peterson, aged 13

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I’m really sorry that you’re sick,
And I hope soon you will feel better.
It took me a lot of time and effort,
Just to write this letter.

We've sure had a funny childhood,
You and me,
In this crazy year of 2020.

When covid broke out,
We all thought we would be fine,
But now it’s spread,
We can’t go out to dine.

Lockdown was a bit of a dream,
Wasn’t it,
My family and I,
Finally, we were a team.

We played cricket on the street,
Zoom meetings with my class.
Lazy pj days,
And Soccer on the grass.
Hey, did I tell you about the fly?
It landed on my dog’s nose,
He ate it,
And my sister started to cry.

“What if a thousand flies grow inside of him?”
The look on her face was really quite grim.

My brother is greedy,
He really is a pig.
Yesterday he ate the whole bag of chips!
I'm surprised he isn't real… big.

So that's what I put up with,
During lockdown,
It was fun,
But the thought of going back into it,
Makes me frown.

Kaitlyn Robinson, aged 12

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Long luscious grass crawls between my fingers
Enormous trees stretch up to the sky
Honey bees drown in the flowers
Letters edge out of the mailbox
Gumboot sinks into thick mud
Flies race forward and back
Butterflies fling into the open
Gushes of water from the roto rainers slide down my face
Greedy cows wrap grass round their tongues
Birds flutter up and away
Cats pounce onto their prey
Smells of pollen climb into my nose
My childhood belongs here
My dreams stretch long and wide

Masha Pospolitak, aged 13
Selwyn House School, Christchurch

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Drowning sunshine of fever,
Golden glitters of youth.
Never felt ever so eager
To meet you at the booth.

Long, sullen restless nights haunting
My fantasies of wondrous times.
Too wild, relentless to remind
Those old days free of crimes.

I dare not to dream of dawn
When wind caressed over the lawn
Where happiness sparkled from childhood.
Memories enlighten our sisterhood.

Last time when flies buzz,
Summer breeze pigmented the sky.
We sat together, singing
Promises of no goodbyes.

Miss having you by my side,
Two hearts beating as one.
Harmonising the morning lark,
Like meteors with the dark.

May as well cover up them
Greedy gusts from hell with
Letters of young naive faith
Born from hopes we embrace.

Xiaotian (Kitty) Xu, aged 15
Epsom, Auckland

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The letter “F” made me remember
Of a greedy fly whom I met in December
It kept me bugging me from the sky
As if my childhood dream had come alive
I tried to swat it
However it flew even high.
I jumped over the mountain
And caught it in my hand
Letting it only free
After it had apologised.

Maanvir, aged 6
Papatoetoe, Auckland

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Greedy Cat Walking

Greedy Cat walking about
Flies buzzing
Dogs barking
Bunnies hopping
Cows mooing
Sheep baaing
Crocodiles writing letters
Hippos dancing
A childhood giraffe singing
Then there’s me…
In bed dreaming.

Cooper Paterson, aged 10
Otatara School

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Childhood memories

Our childhood dreams of happiness were like rubbing warm oil into our skin, then suddenly being lit into a roaring nightmare.

Our excitement was comparable to that of a fly when food is placed upon a table.

Our hands were greedy as we reached for cake, but we shrank back when mother growled, “That’s for the visitors!”

Our joy was contagious when a letter slid into the post box but was followed by a wave of disappointment when it wasn’t for us.

Sanura Lokuliyanage, aged 11
Rolleston, Christchurch

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Fortnite Dreams

Kingston and Evan, aged 8/9
New River Primary, Invercargill

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standing there, greedy little imps grabbing at watermelon, spilling juice all over our
brand new trousers

mother staring lovingly at us and wiping away mud and grime

my letter to santa claus, sent over hundreds of thousands of millions of miles, wrote on messily in

pink crayon

while i fell asleep with my head full with a dream and a stocking stuffed to bursting

swatting away a fly as it invaded my favourite play room, laughing as mother sung us soft lullabies and we listened to the

little black radio

on her bedside table. giggling through the years of

lots and lots of

this was childhood 

Micah Bradburn-Hay, aged 13

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