2023 Woolly Bear Writing Contest

Logo created by AJ Martin

Winning Entries

Please note that entries appear as we received them, typos and all  :) 


12 and Under Poetry


First Place:  Lily Pike, age 12, Nelson, New Hampshire (also, highest-scoring entry overall)


Silent Artists

A shout out poem   

Here's to the silent artists hidden among the shadows,

To the worn down pencil graphite and almost dead erasers,

To the filled up papers and small details,

To the rage of “Will you draw me?”s and others editing the artwork,

To the burning passion of sketching on school papers,

To the hatred of the void of blank space left untouched on the paper.

Here's to the favorite hoodies, falling apart, and covered in paint.

Here's to the pained hands of writers and poets and to the stories they write,

Here's to the silent, secret places for brainstorming, dark and lonely,

To the never ending despair of leaving the paper and pencil on the desk,

To the blank canvases, longing to be painted,

To the people who draw well-known and loved characters,

To the love of staying home, letting ideas run freely,

To the ones who get the dreaded artist blocks.

Here's to the silent artists, always listening, always drawing, but never stopping.



Second Place:  Theodore Hafer, age 12, Louisville, Colorado


Powerful Roses

Five roses with skinny trunks and stinging thorns. Five who don’t belong in the ashes and destruction. But they are here overcoming it.

They send their roots into the charred ground. Piercing the cracked concrete, and the rubble left behind.  Their strength is indomitable. Roses that move the wind. Force fire to bend in their wake. They grow upwards with every anger. This is how they suffer.

Roses that hook petals and make stunning displays. While the roots suffer in the toxic, inhospitable ground.

When I am too scared to keep going. I look to them. When fire flows over my head, Snatching my last breath.  I look at them. When there is nothing left they are there. Pushing and Pushing back against the cruelty of nature. 

Enduring together.



Third Place:  Vivienne Possley, age 12, Louisville, Colorado


Inside that counts

My first day at a new school. 

Scary, exciting, different.   

New beginnings can be hard.

I can already see hundreds of different kinds of people;

Short, tall, quiet, loud.

Each one like a bag of chips, not the same but not all that different.

 

Hot Cheetos.

She’s spicy and she’ll stain your fingers red. 

But you always come back for more.

Her confidence is blinding.

And her addictive chemical flashing in the light.

Nevertheless, people still buy her.


Funyuns.

He smells. 

When you eat him his stinky aroma lingers on your tongue for days.

When you eat him, you stink too.

But look a little closer and you’ll find a really funny guy.

(I think we have all been the stinky kid at one point.)


Sweet potato chips.

He’s not for everyone, and that’s okay with him.

He’s a little different from the classic potato chip.

Buzy halls filled with people, but still oblivious to friends.

But when you get to know and understand him;

he can be an extremely caring and kind person. 


Jalapeño cheddar ruffles.

Some people love her, some hate her. 

I don’t understand why because she’s not that spicy. 

She’s just got a lil’ kick.

High heels, flowing dresses, and claw clips.

Hence the little ruffles.


All-natural multigrain tortilla chips.

They're a bit of an outcast.

Most people don’t like them because they misbehave a lot.

They are on most of the teachers' bad sides.

And there aren't a lot of people who enjoy them.

But when you look deeper, you can find a nice person who just needs a little help with their math.


New beginnings can be hard.

But it will get easier.

You just have to look past the label and ingredient list,

find the real chip in the bag, not the “enlarged for detail” stamp,

plastered on the front. 

Find the real chip inside the bag.



Honorable Mention:  Sabi Gargan, age 12, Harrisville, New Hampshire


Hawk

I see you

Sitting on the wire

Which species, I do not know

Watching you sit there 

Waiting, knowing, for some unsuspecting rodent

To wiggle past

The comfort of knowing

Knowing anything

A pleasure known by many humans

While others sit in the dark

Waiting for an opportunity

You watch us

Cars, bikes, bare torn feet.

We rush past

Busy, busy, busy

No time to think

To appreciate life

You sit there, tranquil

Watching

As the gray, foggy world goes by

Leaving emptiness in its wake

We speed past all the time, never important in your life

I envy your peace

Through the struggles of life

You, hawk

12 and Under Short Story


First Place:  Rebekkah Copel, age 8, Arvada, Colorado


The Walk

Ooh it’s a walk it’s a walk! My owners are taking me for a walk! What are we gonna do? Where are we gonna go? It’s a waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalk!

Ooh! Ooh! What if we see friends? 

Ooh what's that smell? It smells so gooooooooooooooooood! I have to roll in it!

Ooh is that a rabbit? Oh, come on! Little owner is scaring it away! Why did they have to do that? I was only gonna eat it a little bit! 

Ooh! I see friend number 10! Hallo friend number 10! I want to play! You want to play? Let’s play! Sorry, Owner is pulling me away. I can’t play today.        

Oh god I got to pee! Agh! Where where where… ah, here is a good spot to pee. Have to bury it… 

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, home already? 

Lemme out! Wait! First water! Lemme out! Zoomies! Lemme in! Can we please go on another one?  



Second Place:  Audrey Buchen, age 12, Appleton, Wisconsin


Ever since Mom told me we are descended from mermaids, nothing has been the same. Fire scares me now. It chases me in my dreams. And now, that dream is a reality. The sharp siren of the fire alarm jostles me out of another nightmare, but the nightmare isn’t over. The house is on fire.


I stand up, grappling to find my glasses in the darkness. Slowly, the fire starts to enter my room. It's too late to go out the door. Smoke fills my lungs as I gasp, choking to reach the window. It seems like the flames are chasing me. I jump out the window and run, trying to get to the tree where we agreed to meet if there was ever a fire.


It's too late. The tree is already burned. I find my mother and father carrying the twins, coughing and running. The fire follows us, like it stalks us. You’d think if you were a mermaid things would be special, but not in this world. Here, magic is hunted. The committee will send fires to your home until you run. And then the fire will chase you.


As we run, I stumble, and the flames are gaining on us. Pain shoots through my arm as I stand up and start to run again. We run, trying to get to the community pond, where at least Mom and I will have an edge. The flames start to surround me. I blindly stumble toward the water and fall in.


I swim toward the surface and stare. The flames are being pushed back by a shadow. Slowly the shadow eats the flames. I don't know who saved us, or why, or how we have to repay it. But for now, we are safe and we have each other.



Third Place:  Olive McBride, age 12, Nelson, New Hampshire


Two New Redwoods

I wake to the sound of birdsong filtering through my open window. I stay under the coarse woolen blanket for an extra minute, enjoying the fresh air and dappled sunlight, before I start my day. The floor is rough under my bare feet. I grab a wooden pendant and slide it over my neck. I am enjoying my chamomile tea when I notice something is different. The birds have stopped singing. I slip on my leather boots and walk outside. I’m still in my nightgown, but no one is here to see me. At least, no one should be. Yet standing in a clearing are two men. And they are holding chainsaws. No. I cannot let this happen. How dare they come into the ancient redwood forest and stomp all over the needle strewn paths with their soiled boots! My duty is to protect the forest, and I intend to do so. The roar of a chainsaw coming to life brings me back to reality. I sprint at them, my nightgown streaming out behind me like the wings of a butterfly. With every step I take, I am more and more powerful. An anger rises up inside of me. The wooden pendant at my neck starts to glow. These people have no sympathy for the forest that stood long before them. A chainsaw cannot be the demise of something so strong. My rage and love boils up until it cannot be contained. A bright yellow beam erupts from the pendant and engulfs the men. They were never seen again, but two new redwoods sprouted up near my log cabin. They serve as a warning. Anyone foolish enough to threaten this forest will find themselves a part of it. 



Honorable Mention:  Valentina Primarti, age 10, Rockaway Park, New York


I pushed through crowds of people. Rain drops pelted my winter coat which I pulled towards me looking for warmth. I was breathing heavily as I ran away from my horror. Who knew when you go pray at a graveyard souls will be awakened. I neared my house running with all my power. I ran in and slammed the door and locked every entrance to my house. “ What? Who's there? what is the matter?”. My moms panicked voice filled the air. “Mom, Blood was gushing and it was saying my name”. “What? What happened, are you ok? What do you need? My mom was as red as a tomato, she was hyperventilating. “ Mom, are you ok?” “Are you ok? That is the real question”. “ Yes i am fine” I said. I was still breathing heavily. “ I will make you some hot chocolate and fresh cookies”. “ Thank you mom; you are awesome” I shaked. I pulled a blanket up and snuggled close as I reached for the remote. The screen flashed. The news came on. “ This evening Something strange is happening, there seems to be a wild creature running around terrorizing....”. Suddenly I heard a sharp knock on the door. “ Who is that sweetheart, can you check”. I smelt the warm aroma of Hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies. I looked through the window and saw it looking at me. I shrieked. Then I saw black. I rose slowly shivering “Mom? Where are you?”. It looked so familiar, almost like I had been there. It came out and placed its cold hands around my neck so I could not breathe. I was crying. “ Please let me go please PLEASE”. He pulled out a knife and started sharpening.” you pray for my enemy you pay”. He jerked his hand into my heart.

13-16 Poetry


First Place:  Lucie Perarnaud, age 15, Boulder, Colorado


A Conglomeration of Colors 

Red is the lifeblood 

The river running through us all 

Red is love, all the roses and the valentines

Red is the explosion of autumn leaves

The fire hydrant, and the flames

Red is rage, war fading into forever 

Red stains blades and bullets 

Marks memories

With messages of impermanence 

Red 

Crumbling clay 

Crazed cackling 

Red is the wolf

Catching her prey 


Black is candlelit darkness, snuffed

Deep shadows, portals into void 

Black is a sky without stars, my mothers hair

Black is empty space, until you close your eyes

Black is calligraphy ink on the edge of a brush 

Quivering as it drops onto paper, a spreading stain of darkness

Black, all that remains of a forest after fire 

The midnight ocean 

The inside of a butterfly’s cocoon

Waiting to see the sun 


White is sea foam, and the old phone 

That fell down the stairs 

White cloudy skies, that yield snow 

Caught in my hair, melting on my tongue 

White pages 

Filled with stories to get lost in

White of the bones, bleached by sun, smoothed by water 

White 

Of tiny spring flowers 

Of soft fur and brittle ice

White is the beach sand, so hot under my bare feet

So good for building castles 


Blueberries on my tongue 

A sign of summer sweetness

Blue sky, blue dye 

Staining my clothes as I paint 

Blue of my first saddle pad, for my first horse 

Blue is water, shadow, and sky 

All the untouchable things  

Blue eyes 

That my brother has on some days

Blue is quiet 

Unassuming 

Everywhere 

And often unnoticed



Second Place:  Sally Ingalls, age 13, Keene, New Hampshire


A book, read

End to end

Page to page

A game,

Played, lived, won

Heavy sighs mean

Grief, 

Love, 

Loss,

Longing,

They mean

Anger and

Love and

Joy and

Pain

Red eyes and slow rolling tears of signs of lives lived,

Well and full

Right and fine


Books, Stories, Tales must end for if not

Pages and Pages

Will turn and no one will be there for the ending

Movies, Skits, Shows have to have closure or else

You might fall asleep before seeing the finish


Crystal tears rotate

But not because of the end

Not because of no more

Pages

No more

Chapters

No more room;

But be sure it is said,

Crystal tears roll, slowly 

For a celebration of life,

For love and loved,

For accomplishments and accomplished, 

For survive and survived,

For live and lived.


No one can live forever

And now just happens to be your time, my friend


So, I’m sorry to bother

Sorry to cause a ripple in the seas of lives.

Sorry to bother your peaceful, 

Happy,

Still life 

But much, much more is ahead for you.

More mountains to climb, 

More trees to scale

And rocks to skip

And tall, dry, yellow meadows to run through.


While the grass may not be greener on the other side

I am sure it is for you


So, sorry to bother

But don’t cry because it’s gone,

Lost like dust in the wind

Cry and smile and applaud 

because it happened,

Like a seed to flower to grow

Grow

Grow,

To dead

And over again 


Sorry to bother but now is your time

Sorry to bother but

Know,

Forever,

That you have all of our dearest love.    



Third Place:  Luke Raimond, age 14, Louisville, Colorado


Every New Day

Every new day,

we are all just a little bit older.

closer to our end,

to our one truth

to the earth,

to where we came.


And every new day,

as the sun arizes just

over the boundless horizon,

painting the sky gold and verdant red,

another child is born,

another person dies,

and the world keeps turning,

no matter how slow it seems.


And every new day,

we love, we laugh,

we cry and we hurt,

and every new day

we start fresh,

and we start knowing

that that we know not

exactly what the day will bring.


And every new day,

We push ever onwards,

Terrified of what may lurk 

In the shadows

Daring fate 

Eyes fixed only at our goals

Struggling to keep sane

To keep from giving up

On ourselves.


We all grow and fall,

live and die,

tossed in the cycle of the seasons,

but in the end,

There will 

Always come

a brand

new

day.



Honorable Mention:  Kaia Miller, age 14, Boulder, Colorado


The Dragon

After William J. Smith

   Watch as he leaps

    up into the blue sky

     as his wing sweeps

      and he flies right on by

      a guttural roar

     and barritone bray

    the creature of lore

   skyrockets away

  watch as he dives

 towards the glimmering bay

 talons like knives

 and wings blue as a jay

  regal and grand

   faster than sound

    tail beats the sand

     and whips around

      and as you gaze on

       the magnificent beast

       he looks down upon

      the awe he’s released.

13-16 Short Story


First Place:  Luke Raimond, age 14, Louisville, Colorado


Nameless

A name is a cage. It traps you in your skin. A name is a way to address me, you, them, but it confines me to me. Some people treasure their names because they see themselves as their ancestors’  legacy, inherited through the name. They see them as who they are, the sum of their parts. But everyone is more than just the sum of their parts. To you I am Luke, translating to bringer of light, blond, blue eyes, around 5 feet tall, pale, and thin, but I can be more, less, the only person on earth, or no one at all. I want to be nameless. Free. Free to fly from the syllabic prison that is Luke. namelessness is a liberation. A setting aside of burden to be light enough to fly. A name is a cage. A cage perpetuated by years of numbing civilization. It's cold iron bars closing in mercilessly day by day like a lifeless snake coiling around its prey. But why then should I abide? Damn the bars. Kill the snake. Forge a key and be free of the name. Step out of the shadows of the cage and hold aloft your soul to the golden day. Cast your name aside and open your heart to the world.


Be free and fly.



Second Place:  Cedar Robertson, age 13, Louisville, Colorado


Touching down 

The moment you dream of, the moment that makes your eyes glaze over in school. The moment of heroism. The moment that most of us never get to have. The blazing orange scoreboard shows that we’re down by six and that we have one chance to save the season. The air is warmer now but the April wind still bites into my bones. I bend down touching the earth sheltering against the gusts of frigid air. Then in that silent cold world, the play begins. I accelerate forward, barely touching the brown grass. My foot plants hard, reversing the slowly tilting field, and the pain bites into my knee. I know I can't stop running though. Quickly the blue-painted endzone absorbs me. I see my defender stumbling behind vaguely pointing, yelling for help. The cool wind carries away his calls. Through the fog, the battered brown ball appears wobbling through the white sky. It’s a beacon of hope or a last resort. It’s when you have to roll an eleven to stay in a Monopoly game. It’s football. I leap up to the ball, stretching farther than I thought I could. I feel the laces hit my numb hand. I clutch for it but my hands clash into each other. The ball falls, shrinking away from me. The ball hits my calf, giving me a chance. I dive and everything around me evaporates. All I see is the ball. I hurl my body forward. The blare of the buzzer shakes through everything. The ball hits my hand, and bounces towards me. I pin it on my leg. The mist lifts for a second showing glowing sunshine. My team rushes the field tackling me, and in that heap of teenage bodies, I celebrate my first catch of the year.



Third Place:  Lucie Perarnaud, age 15, Boulder, Colorado


The moon is missing from the sky tonight, lending me cover as I slip out of the village. In moments, I am surrounded by jungle. Ferns brush against my bare legs as I move through the thick underbrush leading to the Meeting Place. I can feel the mossy ground beneath my feet, the cool softness after the rain. I strain my eyes, trying to see through the perpetual darkness. In the weeks past, the jungle has become a familiar place, yet my instincts are still strong, warning me that this is not friendly territory. Still, I know this path well, and I push on. 


The jungle opens up before me, and I have arrived. The massive tree grows in the center of the clearing, the grandmother of this jungle. She holds the inky sky in her branches, catching stars like dewdrops on her leaves. The orchids that grow upon her boughs remind me of the flowers I placed on the final resting place of my grandmother, so many years ago. This is the meeting place. The heart of the wild land. 


A dark shadow moves in the corner of my eye, and I resist the sudden urge to run. I know who this is. She moves with the quiet confidence of an apex predator, slinking out of the shadows. She is as black as the sky above, this jaguar, with eyes like an amber flame. 


We stand together, paying silent homage to the grandmother tree. Then the spell is broken and the jaguar turns to look at me, her eyes piercing mine. She flicks her tail, telling me to follow. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. A moment later, I trail her into the jungle on silent paws.



Honorable Mention:  Kaia Miller, age 14, Boulder, Colorado


        Otto Ward glared at the girl at his door.  

        “Your roof caught my cat.”  Alice Cleary crossed her arms and stared at him.  His roof was innocent, thank you very much, and Alice was clearly lying. 

        “More like your cat is destroying my roof.”  He would not be blamed, especially by Alice, of all people. 

        “I demand you free my cat.”

        “No.  You get your own cat down.”  They both stalked to his yard.  The cat in question, an orange tabby named Killer, mewed helplessly. 

        “The poor thing is traumatized by your roof.  I’ll call the city on you if you don’t do something about it.” 

        “Well, you’re the one who put it up there in the first place.”  Otto stormed into his shed, and returned with a rusty red ladder.  It wobbled against the house in the wind.  “You go up there.  I’ll hold it.”

        “It’s your roof, you go.”

        “But it’s not my cat.”  Grumbling like a rhino, Alice began to climb.  Otto, grumpy but trustworthy, held the ladder as best he could.  But the roof was tall and ladder weak; it came crashing down like a hurricane.

        “I’ll kill you, Otto Ward!”  Alice dangled from the roof by her fingertips.  “Get me down!”  Otto couldn’t think.  His irksome neighbor was seconds from falling to her death from his roof.  He had to do something.  So he ran inside.  

        “Ward!”  He could hear her screaming his name, along with some choice insults.  Otto clumsily dialed 9-1-1, and a fire truck was soon pulling into his yard.  Their much sturdier ladder had Alice down safely in no time.  The two were warned against using the rusty ladder again, and the fire department left.

        “Thanks.”  Alice muttered darkly. Otto only grunted.  “But my cat is still on your roof.”  

Thanks so much to everyone who entered!  We really enjoyed reading your work, and hope that you keep writing.