Prize Poetry

Pongo Poetry Prize - October 2015

Congratulations! Poets, we are honored to share your brave and honest stories.

by a young person, age 18

Grandma taught me,
when you draw a picture,
don’t draw the figures;
draw the shapes:
block them out in
simple forms.
Grandma was a product
of the housewife generation.
Picket fence,
pretty property,
pebbled path,
promised privacy.
She taught me to want it,
to draw it.
Step 1: Draw a triangle.
Second grade-
a lesson on safe touches.
Mrs. Terry said “Imagine a triangle”
soft legs meet each other,
up to each side of your petite chest.
Your triangle.
Not theirs.
Tell the bad man who offers candy out of a van while you walk home by yourself “NO.”
Tell the creepy neighbor with the sequined sexy slip who babysits you when your family is out “NO”
and when a shadow ambushes you on the street yell and scream until your tired lungs give out.
Step two draw a box:
I was never good at
listening to instructions;
I played Picasso
put the box around the triangle-
didn't know
it was meant to sit on top.
But a box can
surrounding solid walls, lines, like slithering snakes, sneak so softly over sacrificed slumbers…
step three:
A scribble of trees, a rich long white fence-
tall to keep gossiping neighbors wandering eyes away.
everything neat on the outside
-they can’t see the dark
dank interior.
But when the man with the long
and a quiet
finds solace in the walls of the
little pink
it is not
a tree, or
a fence,
or a privilege.
rather a cage,
a padded cell,
each perfectly polished tile trying to convince you you’re crazy.
its all in your head, just a poorly drawn picture;
nothing out of the ordinary has taken place.
tall trees and curtains
would shroud his careful caress,
bedrooms with thick walls,
purple bathrooms,
closed windows,
silent doors;
no not silent— small creaks,
hesitant but steady in the little room
with fragile butterfly wallpaper-
he would
every morning,
before the sun’s filter tainted
the soft pink walls a sudden red,
and the trees hid the windows from view, and nobody could see the man in the little girls room.
Nobody saw her
bent box or broken triangle.
Grandma taught me,
when you draw a picture,
don’t draw the figures
draw the shapes:
block them out in
simple forms
Step 1: Draw a triangle.
Step 2: a square.
Step 3: trees, porch, fence, stone path.
Dream it,
design it,
define it:
the perfect elusive home.
You spend so long staring
at the house and living in the little room that you start to imagine the power of the story lies in your hands if you try hard enough to break its perpetual pattern.
But instead of fruit,
my labors to grew nightmares inside my small belly like the spider plants in ms. Stevens health classroom:
room 211,
Sex ed-
room, like a locked closet,
concrete walls
immature teenagers,
power point
after power point
after power point.
abstinence only,
gonorrhea, herpes, HIV,
thuggish men in dark alleys-
how to hold your keys
like a dagger walking home alone.
never walk
never at night.
but then
home is safe…
But what of the times
when he is made of sugar hands that wrap kindness too tightly around your throat, massaging sandpaper over your raw back, or how you lie still, don’t try to fight back, tuck away into a corner of the ceiling and watch, wait for his finish.
when he loves your mother
and their shared
subtle smiles carve the lips off your face,
onto the floor, effectively rendering you incapable of simple speech.
you reason
and you sort it out,
in your head,
collecting logic
within soft sad stains in your shrunken sheets,
until one day, you’re not in that bed.
in the bed
with the
on top of her,
heavily humping the humid air
out of her lungs.
Thats someone else.
the same girl
who washes each morning,
eats breakfast across from him,
and leaves for school
weaving the lies
that she believes
She dreamt it,
she drew it,
the triangle,
the box,
the house,
the man.
But he was an artist too,
and clever
with his lines,
turning a square into a box,
a box into a  cage,
and a little girl into an empty outline of a young woman who tells herself she caused it, clinging to the concept of clear-cut control.
sometimes I still find myself hoarding
my feelings, emotions, away
like the aging chicken in our fridge he insisted on saving.
When you
force them down
so long
its hard
to break their inevitable path of
self destruction,
of decay,
of rot.
But I’m
to learn;
And I see now that we,
as survivors,
are not snakes.
We cannot shed
our old skins or scars,
and sometimes i cant
shake off that
little girl
I was-
out for my
whispers to me from sharp metals,
But i cant afford
to stay unchanged
in that little body who wore my name
like abandoned home.
Grandma taught me,
when you draw a picture,
don’t draw the figures
draw the shapes:
block them out in simple forms
Step 1: draw a triangle.
Step 2: draw a box.
step 3….
Step 1: draw a triangle
Step 1…


Step away. 

[Author's Statement: I hadn’t planned to share this poem with anyone, as it is so deeply personal, but chose to submit it when I came across Pongo- in effect throwing my deepest insecurities into the online abyss. Through this sort of online anonymity, I’ve become more comfortable sharing my writing (or rather the emotions and feelings that are otherwise hidden behind various facades) with others; I have grown so much, as a young writer, because of this].

Honorable Mentions, October 2015

We Kiss Our Pens to Paper

A Walk In My Shoes

We Are


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