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#ThisIsWhere Poetry Contest Winners

Elaine Chen

We announced our contest winners at the #ThisIsWhere finale at Miami Club Rum on Wednesday, April 30. This is where we share them with you.

Read the winning poems below and watch three of our winners recite their poems above. Then stick around for an extra poem about one of South Floridians' favorite experiences.

Best Broward Poem: "The Hatching" by Stelios Serdenes of Hollywood
Between Oak & Elm,
Two tree-streets visited by Apollo
Long before they were named.
Golden sands, Calypso’s favorite.
On a cool September midnight,
After the departure nearby
Of a roaring jet going south,
Two big, black raisins pop out,
Ready for a long voyage
To the opposite direction,
On top of a loggerhead.
This is where the beautiful
Birth of a Caretta-Caretta
Can be experienced.
The where: North Hollywood Beach

Best Poem in English AND Spanish: “Salt Silence/Silencio Salado” by Cesar Omar Cortes Montes of Hallandale Beach
This is where the beach opens its sand arms
to confess that my heart should be in the hands of the sea.
In the distance I hear the cars running fast along Ocean drive
fleeing from the sun, seeking shade to rest.
This is Hallandale beach,
this is where the silence is another way of talking
and where I prefer Keep this silence to say the things that I can not say
those words that are daughters of death and fear.
In this beach my silence is worth more than all the treasures
by shipwrecked men in a time without time.
On this beach I translate the language of the wind
and again I feel alive, terribly awake.

Aquí es donde la playa abre sus brazos de arena
para confesarme que mi corazón cabe en las manos del mar.
A lo lejos escucho a los autos que corren veloces por Ocean drive
huyendo del sol, buscando una sombra para descansar.
Esto es Hallandale beach,
aquí es donde el silencio es otra forma de hablar
y en donde prefiero callar
para decir las cosas que no puedo decir:
esas palabras que son hijas de la muerte y del miedo.
En esta playa mi silencio vale más que todos los tesoros
por los que hombres naufragaron en un tiempo sin tiempo.
En esta playa traduzco el idioma del viento
y vuelvo a sentirme vivo, terriblemente despierto.
The where: Hallandale Beach

Best South Dade Poem: “Slippery Slope” by C.M. Clark

They fall oblique. The head’s pin tufts bobbing. They
fall rough. Could be buffalo scruff, this
duck baby down. They are alien meat. Perpendicular,

the wing joints conniving in emerald or aqua, splaying
a murky diet of mindless plankton,
algae sunbathing upstream. This

is where water takes shape, the creaturely mass
setting up housekeeping, canal flow
engineered to massage something

ungovernable. Living perched
on oolitic limestone, we wait
the sea’s slouch upland. This

is where we risk joining fluid
and feather. Flesh and fur. Taking our chances.
The where: The C100A Canal in South Dade

Best Miami Poem: “Trust Exercise” by Amanda Valdespino

We are told to hold a rope that will lead us to a campfire,
And my fingers cling to every fiber of braided nylon.

And in my mind I can hear the soft steps of a deer,

The wings of an ibis rustle,
The whiskers of a panther twitch

Nearby. I bump into my fellow classmates,

See their silhouettes shudder with each unfamiliar noise
And feel our backs bump as if dominoes;

And I sigh. This is where

I just want lamplights, busy highways and blinking gas prices.
I don’t want to look up at the stars, I want tall buildings.

With Grey Goose billboard ads pressed against the side,
Yet now I imagine alligators grinning in the dark,

And I realize in the dark I hear nothing at all.
The where: Unknown

Winner by Popular Vote: "Cemetery Cycle" by Chris Bergh
this is where I hide
from the seeking eyes of other black-clad boys
in the shade of a white concrete crypt
shuddering as the soil stirs
and a cicada nymph hoists itself
up the weathered cross
bursts its earthly hull
unfurls its wings
and sails
screaming for his mate
into the same August heat
that once touched old Conchs and young
congregated among the early marble markers
to tuck the Captain’s flesh and bone
down into the riven limestone
a bed for fossils of the antique sea
that built these Keys
and then begat this thin and salty loam
The where: Key West Cemetery