Poems from the 20th Annual High School Poetry Competition

ae poetryEditor’s note: For this edition of Poetry Corner, we’ve chosen to spotlight the first and second place winners of the 20th annual Santa Cruz County High School Poetry Competition: Ellie Loustalot and Erin Gudger of Harbor High School. Poetry Santa Cruz administers the annual contest, which is open to all high school students in the county.

Each year, approximately 50 poems are selected for inclusion in the annual anthology. The poems are selected from hundreds of entries by a panel of three published poets, who have no knowledge of who wrote the poems until all selections have been made. This year’s judges were Frances Hatfield, Danusha Lameris and David Swanger. The pictured photograph, titled “Self” by Natalie Hales of Aptos High School, was selected for the cover of this year’s anthology.


Glass of wine and a thick mustache

gold pinkie ring and a lot of cash

an old Lincoln Continental and values fundamental

always stern yet sentimental

Gentle hands though big and strong

there to guide me when things go wrong

A plate of pasta never without a meatball

Cholesterol may perhaps be his downfall

Cigar embers burn and the poker game starts

no one will know he is cheating, that man is so smart

women slaving away in the kitchen and preparing the meal

Call it old fashioned but their cooking’s unreal

He loves his family through thick and thin

would risk the world to protect his kin

a man of strength, love and pride

My grandfather heart stands Semper Fi

—Ellie Loustalot

Harbor High School | First Prize



With each passing moment

He slumps farther into the corner

Coat tattered

Left sock missing

Someone accidentally kicks over

His “anything helps” sign

But doesn’t look back

As he stares up at each person

Who passes him by

He is filled with longing

Not to be rich

Not to be clean

Not even for a dollar

He wants most to be acknowledged

A smile

Even a frown

Anything to prove he is still there

—Erin Gudger

Harbor High School | Second Prize

photo: Natalie Hales

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