Successful Student Poems: Ninth through Twelfth Grade

Poems featured on this page also appear in the 2018 volume of Cascadia, OPA’s student poetry journal.


Monster Underneath my Bed


i cannot sleep, for my mind is awake

with the memories of today.

i let my hand fall, after watching its silhouette

dance among the dark shadows in my room.

i imagine that i am reaching out to hold hands

with the monster underneath my bed.

i think about how the monster is still there,

after all this time.

i shouldn’t be surprised;

is the monster ever really gone?

if i roll over to the other side of my bed,

if i lay down facing the wrong way,

if i jump up and down on the springs,

is it not still there?

i think about how i’ve never seen

the monster before, but the sight of it

isn’t the proof of its existence.

and i think about how i wake up and

leave my bed every day for a short spell

without the monster,

about how sometimes i forget

it even exists,

and about how i sometimes kid myself

and say it is dead now.


and i think about how every night i still

return to the bed under which it resides.

and after all this thinking,

i notice that each of my hands

is occupied by the other.


Grace Bragdon

St. Mary’s Academy, Portland: Eleventh Grade

Mary Barrett, Teacher


Atop Mt. Everest


Atop Mt. Everest

With ice inside my lungs

My path is littered with bodies

With songs left unsung


Songs of praise and glory

From days that had gone by

Each song grows ever silent

As their owners all have died


In life, pride and arrogance became them

They shouted and laughed you see

They thought they were unkillable

They were wrong, like me


Songs of fear and sorrow

Soon we sang them all

As we lay here dying

Waiting for silence to fall


Silence like a blanket

Covers this forsaken mount

Each soul is trapped here

With screams they can’t let out


Here atop Mt. Everest

With ice inside my lungs

I was one of those unfortunate souls

With a song left unsung


Zach Brown

Grants Pass High School—Gladiola Campus, Grants Pass: Twelfth Grade

Jennifer Rood, Teacher


Regarding Your Euphoric Decay


Sickly sweet and positively succulent

Saccharine yet satirical,

her words thickly ooze over your fingers like honey.

From crystallized venom to velvety mellifluousness.

She has you in a vice grip.

You flinch, whimper and quake from her articulations; terror and

wonder cinched together and choking you to incoherency.

And you can’t get enough.


Schuyler Dull

Sunset High School, Portland: Eleventh Grade

Erin Werner, Teacher



you have three eyes

the lady with no face

tells me

one that shines on the

children that eat the

terrain of your body

one that shines

at the husband

who wakes you up

at 2:46 to eat you

and leave your wrapper

crumpled in bed

one that shines

because it is cursed to see



—three eyes


Anna Ferrarini

St. Mary’s Academy, Portland: Eleventh Grade

Sara Salvi, Teacher


Creation Myths


In the beginning God said let there be light

or maybe he didn’t.

Maybe God is a quantum-mechanical oddity,

spooky action at a distance,

flickering in and out of existence at our command,

more of a theoretical phenomenon

than a measurable one;

But they tell me if I want evidence I’m missing the point

and anyway, textbooks and holy books

have always been most often burned.


Here is what I know:

In the beginning there was nothing

and then there was something

(a light, a spark, a fusion)

(a god, a sun, a turtle with the whole world on his back.)

And that something grew and expanded,

there was chaos and beauty and darkness and light

and somewhere in there, humans

playing out our little wars and conquests

living, loving, hurting, dying

like a blink in the eye of eternity

among the fragility of cherry petals

that blow away on each spring wind

under stars that will blow us away with a fiery exhale

and keep on burning

until they, too are gone.


Anna Lipari

St. Mary’s Academy, Portland: Eleventh Grade

Sara Salvi, Teacher


Tangled Roots


They say the problem started when Nellie sold her heart.

Married an immigrant man, too old, too different,

The tightrope too thin, over a chasm in which

Shadows bred all evils men are prone to.

The shadows joined the baby in her womb

Poisoned it, a black hole eating away

Until the body purged itself with birth-death.

But the roots still remained long after

Even when they tried to force it out of her,

Her eyes like burnt-out street lamps in the madness of night

Her veins fried crisp and black with all the dark

Staining her lineage, with all the ink

Dripping down the family tree, bleeding together

Cold and dark over my name

Where shadows found a home, now demons built

Their nests under my skin


Emma Snyder

Mcnary High School, Keizer: Twelfth Grade

Laura Reid, Teacher




Around and around we go

In this cycle,

That turns our bones

To sticks

And stones


A soul fills the hollow body

A body of no significance

no importance

It is but only a shell,

A vessel

For your soul to call its temporary home


It is the soul

that ignites the true potential

It is the soul that is older than Earth itself

Growing and growing

Like trees



Around and around

The cycle does not stop

The cycle won’t be tamed

These sticks and stones

Derive from our bones

And our souls forever remain.


Angelica White

Grants Pass High School—Gladiola Campus, Grants Pass: Twelfth Grade

Jennifer Rood, Teacher