2017 Poetry Contest

16th Annual (2017) GCC Student Poetry Contest Winners

poetry contest winners
Left to right: Stephanie Kehr, Benjamin Martis, Atiya Jones, Catherine McCabe-Strong
Not pictured: Jessica Phillips

The authors were honored at an awards ceremony in the library on Thursday, April 20.


Best Body of Work: Catherine McCabe-Strong for 7 am on a Rooftop in Seoul, Afternoon Feast, Jacques Burlesque at 11 o’clock

First Prize: Jessica Phillips for Real Life

Second Prize: Stephanie Kehr for Talking to the Sea

Third Prize: Benjamin Martis for I love you, son

Honorable Mention: Atiya Jones for Vision

7 am on a Rooftop in Seoul, Afternoon Feast, Jacques Burlesque at 11 o’clock by Catherine McCabe-Strong

7 am on a Rooftop in Seoul

We watched the sunrise turn
Namsan Towers pink-purple-orange.
The sour-warm smell
of pickling kimchi mingled
with our coffee.  
Carmine dragonflies
floated on the low rumble
of early traffic and the softly
strident notes of Für Elise
played on the piano, across the street.

Afternoon Feast

Beyond my window,
there’s a lick of concrete
with spun-sugar shadows,
sunshine au jus,
and a garnish of ivy.

I watch, and hunger.


Jacques Burlesque at 11 o’clock

Ten dollar cover to a crowded
room.  Miniature tables make a
small space vast.  Background
soundtrack: imitation ambience.
Chitter-chatter like radio static.
The masses coo in burbling


Sex on the beach shouldn’t
come in Dixie cups, but it’s
expensive to look this cheap.

still waiting

Her sash says ‘Birthday Bitch,’
her face says ‘You know you
wanna fuck me.’  Tonight she’s
forever 21 for the eleventh time.
The waiter wears red and navy
and the glamor of gay—back
swayed, butt swaying.  His
tattoo reads ‘Bad Boy.’ A drink
spills and a table of Long Island
prostitutes clap.

the show starts


Catherine McCabe-Strong
Catherine McCabe-Strong

Real Life by Jessica Phillips

It’s funny to me how people are doe eyed about the cuteness of love,

And I’m sitting here staring at you from across the room,

And all I can think of is fuck that,

I don’t want cute and cuddly because that is shallowly fragile;

We aren’t ice cubes that melt at the first sign of warmth,

We’re survivors who’ve walked through hell.

Cute isn’t even in my vocabulary anymore,

It’s been stabbed and kicked out by the inferno eating me alive.

I don’t want to simply be a candle of light burning for you,

I want to be the only light you can see because I blind out everyone else,

I want the passion between us to make the world rethink true love,

Because true love is a myth but there is truth in love,

And truth will always set the world on fire.

I want a kiss from you to rock the very foundation I stand on,

Rattle the beliefs I live for and make me fight for what I love.

I don’t want the bullshit of petty fights and cuddly make ups,

I want arguments of communication and breathtaking reconciliation,

Because damn it all boy if we don’t want to be rough with each other,

Then what is the point of craving intensity?

I want the nights of silence to be so loud with unspoken emotion,

That even the deaf can hear the shaking atmosphere,

I don’t want perfect because there is no such thing;

Give me the imperfect struggle of life that crashes and burns,

So we have to drag each other towards the unknown future.

If this hunger tears me apart,

I want to walk up to those gates with eyes on fire and soul bleeding,

Saying that I learned to love, and I loved hard. 


Talking to the Sea by Stephanie Kehr

Ocean wash over me.

Tear my flesh with your whips of sand.

Yank my neck back in your icy current until the thickness of my hair is strewn ragged across the beach. 

Pierce me with your teeth and mistake me for decay.

As long as I can feel it.


Waves, pummel my chest. 

Take every ounce of precious air. 

Clutch my throat until its bruised and bloody.

Shut out my voice like you've shut out the light.

As long as I can feel it.


Twist my legs around themselves until I cannot stand. 

Break my arms and burn my eyes.

Bruise every bruise and deepen every wound. 

Puncture my heart.

Carry my blood away on the backs of your seagulls.

As long as I can feel it. 


A pain too numb to feel is worse than all of these.

So let me feel it. 


Let me feel the blood pour out of my body.

Let me feel my fingers stiffen.

Let me feel hairs tangle and pull from my scalp.

Let me scream from the misery of it all.

Just let me.

Give me the choice.


Let me feel the making of scars.

Because scars heal.

But not the sickness of the soul.


When I can feel your grit--

When I can experience the rot--

At least then I know 

Hope is still alive.


"There is no language for this kind of loss." 

- Christine Baker Kline


Stephanie Kehr
Stephanie Kehr

I love you, son by Benjamin Martis

I love you, son

I was raised in a two parent household
Where my mother was the judge,
My father the Supreme Court.

My father is one of those old school fathers
He would go to work and provide
While my mother
She would stay home and educate, but

For 24 years, my father never said he loved me

I remember when I was 6,
He taught me to play his favorite game.
A game that to this day I love.

My father is a quiet man.
He would come home, go to his room and watch T.V.
I play his favorite game but still don't know his favorite color.
So you can understand the irony. But,

For 24 years, my father never said he loved me.

I started playing in competitions.
We would have long drives
With long one sided conversations.

My father would express his frustrations
Of home, work, and political associations
As I nodded my head in accordance,
I realized that,

For 24 years, I never told my father I loved him

I went to his room one day,
I talked to him and before I left, I said:
I love you, dad.

My father looks at me,
it's the longest three seconds of my life.
He opens his mouth and says: OK.
I smirk and understand the man. But,

For 24 years, my father never said he loved me.
He showed me.


Benjamin Martis
Benjamin Martis

Vision by Atiya Jones

When I look in the mirror,

I can see beauty,

I can see flaw,

I can see everything,

or nothing at all.

I don't feel how I see,

I don't look how I feel.

I see pretty dark skin, and hips that can kill.

But deep in my eyes,

I see a young girl,

Lost at sea, lost in the world.

But I still see knowledge,

I still see a brain.

She uses it well,

despite all the pain.

I see a heart full of love, which she gives out so often.

But I still see an attitude that she needs to soften

I see all of her confidence,

In the way that she walks.

I hear the intellegence,

in the way that she talks.
When I look in the mirror, I see so much.

A strong young women, who cannot be touched.

When I look in the mirror, I love what I see..

Because at the end of the day, it will always be me.


Atiya Jones
Atiya Jones