Below are the winning entries in the Junior Category of the Wish Poetry Contest 2022. All poems are copied and pasted in their original states.

First Prize – “Wish

i wish i didn’t leave three people for you letting them walk away
with smiles that didn’t quite reach their eyes and a transcendence that could rival the fae.

i wish i wasn’t wasting my youth being without you that history wouldn’t prove and say
that growing old wasn’t for the weak-hearted:
oh what a pitiful, collapsing display.

i wish that there weren’t any ghosts
more alive than i’ll ever be
shedding gnarly thorns for unfurling roses as we face the revolting sea.

i wish that i could pick a god and pray to them instead of just seeing you
with blinding reverence, benevolence, malevolence: if only i could stay true.

i wish that humanity didn’t have
such hands, such designs, such minds
the envy of eden- what thoughts, what reason! then maybe you and i wouldn’t stumble blind.

i wish that the skies were green
and i never hurt anybody because of you.

instead i love them because i care;
roots grow upwards in the crisp fall air;
the moon runs an ivory ring;
whales intertwine and sing;
underneath the fern-green sky
we meet chasing after the same blue butterfly.

Jemie Wong (age 12) | Island School

Second Prize – “Starbird

clear cut
cropped, condensed, convoluted
full of naïve optimism
I blaze my trail

finding my path around, over, through snags and logs
I saw, search, see
empowered, still
full of energy

welcoming with wildflowers
wondering what critters in hiding
I dart through
the green expanse
relieved with this respite

dead, desolate, deceivingly long
and so
my bounce from bleak boulder to bleak boulder
turns into a scramble, I stumble
—a slog

my halfway point
alight with glittering rage
I skilfully maneuver across
what’s behind and what lies ahead
pride and unease?

rock face
naked against naked slab
inching along
vulnerable and scared
I take in sights just a moment longer
more water, air
until I am
ready to power through

banks bursting with blooms
 balm for my body, now nearly beaten
I soak up lovely, lush greens
the last to be seen
as I head up
the trickle

sparse grass rich memories
of summers past
I rest & recover
leisurely launching
into the final stretch

home stretch
I climb, clamber, nothing to clamp onto
yet safe and intimate
comfortable and known
like an old friend

the pass!
standing in the wind
my heart singing
my breath taken
frosty peaks, frozen lakes, rivers of ice
teeming with silence
not a soul in sight

up my tent, down for the night
tomorrow, I will journey on
in search of greater heights

Tern Kaplan (age 13) | French International School

Third Prize – “Your culture binds you like a root

Your culture binds you like a root
It’s like a mother’s embrace
Makes you feel loved
There is no need to think
about what to do, it’s all written
in stone; just follow-
learn to greet your elders in order; to be courteous and pour the tea you get praised, wonderful attributes they are
the root of your tradition crawls into you slowly
You let it
You like it
it holds you in place firmly

You let it
But you don’t like it
the worm crawls out from your mouth
the elite club made of men
bowing to your elders until your chest touches your legs like parasites they eat into the vine

a worm winds itself around a skull, enlonging
a serpent
tradition is a gnarled vine
so cleverly foolish
The balance of one’s tradition
continues to elude me

Kwok Valerie Tin Wing (age 14) | St. Paul’s Co-educational College