2018 Poetry Contest

17th Annual (2018) GCC Student Poetry Contest Winners

poetry contest winners
Left to right: Nicole Favata, Cameron Kowalczewski, Mackayla Poorman, Rax Piper, Catherine McCabe-Strong
Not pictured: Gabrielle Rozanski

The authors were honored at an awards ceremony in the library on Tuesday, April 17.


Best Body of Work - Committee's Choice: Catherine McCabe-Strong for Flagstones, My Pain is Like an Old Friend, Venus Still Lives

Best Body of Work - Director's Choice: Cameron Kowalczewski for Internal Conflict, Sarah, 7.19.2017

First Prize: Nicole Favata for audio poem

Second Prize: Rax Piper for The Perfect Woman

Third Prize: Mackayla Poorman for The Games We Play

Honorable Mention: Gabrielle Rozanski for Tomorrow

Flagstones (DRL § 170 (7)). My Pain is Like an Old Friend, Venus Still Lives  by Catherine McCabe-Strong

Flagstones (DRL § 170 (7))

I went back to the secret
waterfall where once
we professed our love
and poured libations to the gods,
only the river had dried
to a trickle
and was choked
with leaves.

I stood there
on the wide dry stones,
listening to the humbled
murmur of lost waters,
and realized
that when the river was gone
it became a road.


My Pain is Like an Old Friend

It’s the kind of friend
you can’t really remember
how you met, or why
you still hang out.

The kind of friend
who gives you a monkey’s paw
and tells you it works
just like a genie’s lamp,
go ahead, make a wish.

The kind of friend
your Momma warned you about,
who gets you hooked on drugs
and drags you down dark alleys.

The kind of friend
who takes you to the banks
of a wide river, and says
stay here.  Float for a while.
Drift on the meditation of agony,
and tell me what you learn.

Venus Still Lives

She fled her abusive
husband, and made
her way to a small city.
She studies medicine
now.  She wants to help
women and children.
And in the quiet
and the stillness
of her foreign home,
she finds new worship
from online acolytes
and a woman who loves
her, the way she has never
been loved before.


Catherine McCabe-Strong
Catherine McCabe-Strong

Internal Conflict, Sarah, 7.19.2017 by Cameron Kowalczewski

Internal Conflict 

What you do 
speaks so loud 
that I cannot hear what you say. 
I suggest you have grown tired
of speaking;
which, in great irony, 
your voice is so depleted of volume,
it seems as if it were 
an intemporal mist 
settling itself in a boreal forest
only to agree  
on stone cold sentiments
given by the nods of the owls’ parliament. 
Not only can I no longer hear you, 
but the meaning has drifted
through a river of poignancy 
and existence. 
If you intend to speak louder with actions
we have no reason to speak. 

Can you remember 
the evening we sat at the river 
beside the man we did not know? 
he wore linen trousers
colored the same as a leaf from an ancient novella. 
he tied his hair atop his head,
cascading down his back like a brass waterfall. 
He sat, his feet engulfed, 
a guitar knotted in his lap, continuously plucking.
a bowl, cupped to hold nothing more, nor less, 
than the color of illegality and sin.
His creativity left during his exhalations
and irenically planted peace within each of our lungs. 
Can you remember?
The sun oozed a honey 
that clung to the clouds, like
powdered sugar
to a beignet.  
It was the first moment I had felt paradise
in the grecian town 
tucked behind the hills. 



It is an affair:
the yolk slides down the cedarn slope
the clock tower sits above, surveying
the gossamer 
patiently rolling a poked yolk,  
spilling, and 
staining the continuously bruising 
divine liqueur filled bowl 
above our conscienceless minds. 
The cedars, painting a syzygy with the poked yolk,
Turn the dial of incandescence, 
and welcome
the ephemeral moon. 


Cameron Kowalczewski
Cameron Kowalczewski

Audio Poem by Nicole Favata

I was an open book and she was a treasure chest
And she had already swallowed the key
I didn’t see past her beautiful smile and her funny jokes
But that’s all she was
I learned nothing about her
Not even her last name
She told me nothing 
And I told her everything
I let her in
And she left me on the welcome mat to dust off my feet
And try the bell again
I never got an answer
Days passed
And hearing from her is like hearing the chirp of a robin
When you’re six feet underwater
She isn’t concerned with you
And yet you care for her
Like she’s the most precious thing to ever walk this earth
Love comes when it is needed
And you are not it
Just a pit stop on my road trip 
I don’t hate you for who you are
I feel sorry
Sorry that love approached you and you slammed the door in its face
And used your 140 characters to say good-bye


Nicole Favata
Nicole Favata

The Perfect Woman by Rax Piper

For 21 years, I’ve been trying to force myself to be someone I’m not.

I grew up with an image of “the perfect woman” ingrained in my mind.
She is more soft, more generous, and dances in rivers.
She wears sundresses and always knows how to make others happy.
She is the right kind of quiet, the correct amount of emotional.
She can show off her legs without also showing off scars. 
She has been my definition for so long that I no longer remember who put her there.

Perhaps at one time I was a soft dancer, but life has a funny way of forcing you to survive.

I am fire and earth,
and I’m not sorry I’m too much for you.


Rax Piper
Rax Piper

The Games We Play by Mackayla Poorman

He’d fallen into a pit of
New depths
This time.

The feeling was different;
The nothing was different.

He felt no responsibility;
He was so responsible.

His head was a clutter;
His life was a clutter.

He was a void.

His expressions now
are borrowed.

He wakes up
in the middle of the night
to nothing
And stumbles
Back to sleep.

Are we ever really awake?

Those sessions don’t work:
Normalcy is a cage
He’d long realized that.

By now,
It wouldn’t make a difference

Sharing just feels like a bigger burden.

How can someone
feel so light 
and yet so
At the same time?

Smiling feels foreign,
Even when it comes

Teeth bared and


Where in the world are you?

So many babies crying-
How do you sleep?

Where in the world are you?




Mackayla Poorman
Mackayla Poorman

Tomorrow by Gabrielle Rozanski

She sat there under that tree
The one that’s always been big
Warming my favorite spot
On a Sunday afternoon
A basket of berries begging to be eaten
Rested near her bare feet
Her toes curled, intertwined with grass

A vision straight out of an old story
The one that grandma used to tell me
Her dress flowed like it waved goodbye
So long to an old friend in the wind
Hands holding a worn guitar
Fingers moving familiarly over strings
The sound created, freezing us in time

This is what happiness feels like
The one that everyone wants to know
Smiling softly, as if to invite me closer
She beckons for me to enter the canopy of shade
And taps the ground without saying word
This is how we operate, words aren’t necessary
A ray of sun peeks through the leaves, momentarily blinding me

And in that moment I decide forget 
Forget all the worries and leave them for tomorrow