Monday, April 24, 2017


Monday, May 1, 2017
6:30 – 8:00 PM
Thayer Memorial Library

            Paul Hertneky – Rust Belt Boy: Stories of an American Childhood

In Paul Hertneky’s RUST BELT BOY: Stories of an American Childhood the author counts himself among the millions of Baby Boomers who fled the industrial north upon fulfilling their parents’ dreams of a college education, leaving behind a rich cultural legacy that has all but disappeared.

For over twenty-five years, Paul Hertneky has written stories, essays, and scripts for the  Boston Globe, Athens News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette New Hampshire Union Leader, NBC News, The Comedy Channel, Gourmet, Eating Well, Traveler’s Tales, The Exquisite Corpse, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Adbustersand many more. His work centers on culture, food, industry, the environment, and travel, winning him a  Solas Award, and two James Beard Award nominations. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, he serves on the faculty of Chatham University.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Student Poetry Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the
Seven Bridge Writers' Collaborative's

Third Annual Student Poetry Contest!

Thank you to our guest judge, Lex Thomas, for reading almost 300 poems by students in grade 2 to 12!  Thank you to the staff at Mary Rowlandson, Luther Burbank and Nashoba Regional High School and to the staff at the Thayer Memorial Library for their partnerships and help with the contest.  

All student poems are on display at the Thayer Memorial Library through the end of National Poetry month.  The community is invited to hear the winning poems read at the Poetry Open Mic on Sunday, April 30th at the Hall, the First Church of Christ, Lancaster, MA, at 2 PM.  All poets are welcome to read poems of their own as well.

"This program was supported in part by a grant
from the Lancaster Cultural Council,
a local agency which is supported 
by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency."

Chit Chat
This is a cat. He loves to chit chat.
His name is Matt.
He has a neighbor who is a rat.
He just bought an expensive hat.
His hat has stripes.
They look like pipes.
The stripes are red and green.
You better be nice and not mean.
Matt likes pie.
He doesn’t cry.
He likes to fly high.
He met an animal that was drinking a Danimal.
The Danimal was flavored berry.
The animal was named Larry.
He was singing, ‘Don’t stop the beat!”
He was singing it while he ate meat.
            Aaron Ethier and Amanda Ritter, grade 2

Surprise in My Eyes 
Surprise, surprise, in my eyes.
I see a star over my car.
Now, now, little bear,
sitting in my little chair.
Here, here, little seal,
don’t steal, little seal.
            Emma Hudak, grade 2

Golden Dragon
Golden dragon, golden dragon, how are you?
You’re like flames. WHOOSH!
You fly right by,
by the blink of my eye and the tips of my toes.
The wind blows sharply, and the night crept slow and smooth.
Then he went home and slept through the night.
Silent! Nothing moving in your cave.
            Brendan Brunelle, Zachary Flanagan, and Joseph O’Riorden, grade 2

Up! Down!
                                                            Up! Down!
                                                Up,                              Down,
                                    Up,                                                      Down,
                        Up,                                                                              Down,
Up and down to the tiny town.

Liberty Zmijak, grade 2

Bugs, Bugs!
Bugs, bugs, are on the ground.
Bugs, bugs, I found, I found.
Bugs, bugs, fly high in the sky.
Bugs, bugs, fly in a house.
Bugs are outside.
Bugs are inside.
Alia Hanson and Madeline Krikorian, grade 2

Once there was a girl named Summer
who danced with a plumber
that sang with a drummer
who loved her husband named, Gunner,
who sat on a wheel with a spear that night.
As they slept, came a noise
that sounded like boys that swept
through the night.
When a boy came into sight,
when summer screamed with the thunder that rumbled,
the next day she woke with a start.
(What is that boy doing in here? asked Summer.)
As the drummer, plumber and Gunner came through the door.
            Chelsea Amaral, grade 3

Athletes are always fast.
Athletes never come in last.
Athletes are competitive.
This is how they live.
Athletes are you and me.
            Katie Potter, grade 3

My Dog
I have the smartest dog of all.
He will come when you call.
He can sometimes stall,
but he loves it,
when you throw a ball.
            Emma Lemire, grade 3

I Am
I am the sky
I am the
Daylight of the
the Darkness
of the Day
I am the Happy
of the Sad
the Evil
of the good
I am the
White in the Black
I am
the Beginning of
the End
            Melissa Cerioni, grade 4

The Ninja Kitten
Doo, Doo, Doo.
He’s a Ninja Kitten,
beating bad guys,
doing good things.
He’s super swag.
He doesn’t brag.
He’s a really good Persian,
like he should.
But then one day
there was a situation in May.
Hostages, with catnip
stolen by Dr. Evil Mouse.
He got in a choppa,
drove over to his lair.
By doing karate
he could beat the mouse.
Ninja Kitten didn’t beat him yet,
and I bet it would take
a miracle for him to win.
He kicked the mouse in the shin.
30 minutes later
he was hanging over gators.
Yes, alligators.
He thought he’d bite the rope
but he realized, he’d fall in.
He thought and shot a shuriken
at the button panel to close
the gator pit.
He cut himself out
and didn’t shout, “I’m free!”
Oh, wait, he did.
He got the guard’s attention.
He fought and fought
and won again.
He is the best!
Ninja Kitten!
            John Knop, grade 4

Dawn to Sunset NC
The sun appears in the sky at dawn.
I drink the light, some stars still in the sky.
I wait till they disappear, till you can make out the leaves fluttering off the trees and
resting gently at my feet.
I take a walk just to hear the sound of nature.
Leaves crunching, squirrels squeaking, and birds chirping in tune with the crickets.
I hear frogs croaking, and I know I have arrived.
Soon in the distance, I hear water splashing around.
I run up to the lake, take off my shoes, then my socks, then put my bare feet in the water,
lapping at my feet.
I throw off the t-shirt covering my bathing suit always, and I jump in.
After a while, I look up.
The sun is not in the sky anymore, it is in the trees casting shadows on the earth,
lighting the sky to a maroon pink.
Stars again dotting the sky.
I rush home before dark, and soon I am drifting into a deep sleep.
From dawn to sunset I think.
Then everything went black.
            Noelle Chandley, grade 4

Fog in the darkness
Inside my head
Getting thicker
And thicker
I get madder
And madder.
And then,
finally, it
goes away.
And the sun
can shine over me
As I become happier than
Emma Dionne, grade 4

Dressage, a Pi Poem
Harmony, grace, perfection.
They dance to music
Dancing a test to perfection
They dance in perfect harmony to the beautiful music
Rhythmic pirouettes
Counter canter, flying changes, half pass
They dance sunrise to sunset
Airs above ground
Flying like they have wings
Beginner to grand prix level, all in harmony
Kicking up dirt, foaming mouths and flailing hooves
We use only our legs to “talk”
Dressage is more difficult than it looks, sitting still
We sit still
Dressage is
Harmony and grace
Practice, perfection, beauty and grace, it’s more difficult
Than you think.         
Emma Schexnaydre, grade 4

Nat Cat Limerick
There once was a cat named Nat,
who was an old cat that took naps.
He LOVES to eat fish
served up on a dish.
And that is why he naps on a mat.
Wyatt Snow, grade 4

New England Weather
Weather, weather, always the same,
Florida sunny, Washington rain.
But here in New England, to our surprise,
it changes, summer to winter, in one sun-rise!
In California and Arizona it’s always summer,
but here in New England we have winter… bummer.
In South Carolina and Virginia the Springs are lush,
but here in Massachusetts the ground turns to mush.
In New Mexico and Texas it will be hot and dry,
but here in New England prepare to say, “Oh, my!”
NECN thought they could keep up,
but here in New England the changing weather won’t let up.
Kentucky and Wisconsin have the best Fall,
but here in New England it slows to a crawl.
Raking leaves all day long,
but people in Georgia and Louisiana do nothing, it’s just wrong.
We live by surprise,
weather changing in front of our eyes!
Some people only want sun’s rays,
but here in New England we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Michael DiTullio, grade 5

Secret Friends
Secret Friends are the ones found in books.
The words on the paper describe all their looks.
They might be heroic
but they may not know it.
They might pretty
or silly
or witty!
Some might be wizards
with magical spells.
Some might be travelers
with tales to tell.
Some might be crazy
like the Mad Hatter
but they are my friends
and that’s all that matters.
            Sofia Doucette, grade 5

I ran my fingers across the stone.
Each divot seemed to play a role.
Wars, fires, floods and more,
I stifled a shiver as I was frozen to my core.
Everything in time seemed to slow down
as I slowly fell to the cold, hard ground.
My world went black as I could feel myself fading.
Then I saw a different black, a different shading.
I ran toward it, and my world seemed to come back to me.
My beautiful world came back, now I could see.
But something was off,
something was wrong.
Like an incorrect not, played in a song.
The stone, like my vision,
was gone from existence,
gone from the living.
            Charlie Lemire, grade 5

The wind blows by
In my hair
My arms nap
And fall to the ground.
Minutes later
My whole body
With a big thud on the ground
Am I dead?
Is it a new adventure beginning?
I’m discovered by the people
They take me away and cut me up
It hurts so much
My life is about to end
I’m getting burned
Where am I?
I lasted 107 years
Why could I have not lived a little longer?
Why did the wind have to take me down
I am a tree
Am I really worth saving?
                        Hansi Kommanavancha, grade 5

Orange and white,
sitting in a field,
for the perfect moment.
All of a sudden
a gazelle comes out of the
Jungle and into the field.
The tiger is waiting
for the perfect moment.
It is about to pounce,
but it knows better.
The gazelle comes closer.
The tiger is ready,
it jumps forward
from its hiding place.
The gazelle instantly
The tiger gets caught
on a piece of wheat and slows down.
The gazelle has just enough time
to run away.
The tiger sits in the field
for the perfect moment.
                        Matthew Howland, grade 5

They think I’m mad
            All day
                        Every day
But I’m not, I’m sad.
They run from me.
            They exclude me.
                        They are mean to me.
I was only mean because she was
            But she never got caught.
                        I did.
And as they run from me
            I get mad
                        As they exclude me
                                    I’m so annoyed.
And when they are mean to me
            I’m ready to burst like a water balloon that’s about to get smashed to the ground.
And as soon as the water balloon hits the ground
            I’m off.
I chase them, I swim after them…
            There’s always something near me to throw or bang them with
As my parents say, “No, Lauren,” or “Stop, Lauren,”
It’s too late, I’m in my own little world
            And they don’t exist.
                        Lauren DiTullio, grade 5

Coconut’s Life
            I remember when it all started
When I first gained my consciousness
            I was simply a little coconut
                        On a Florida palm tree
                                    Just a little green baby coconut
With all my coconut friends
            Overlooking the Caribbean
                        Hanging over the sea
In endless coconut joy
            Forever observing as the waves rolled in
                        And crashed onto the shore
With loud booms
            Shaking the tree where I lived
The hot tropical air would keep my outer shell warm
                        Because it’s never cold on the sandy shores of Florida
                                                            I have such a relaxing life
                                                I had such a relaxing life
                                    I will never again have a relaxing life
All thanks to the day the storm came
            It had violent winds that threw objects I had known all my life out to sea
Leaves of the mighty palm in which I lived were torn and ripped
                                                                                                                        Thrown out to sea
Worst of all,
                        All my friends
                                    The ones I had known forever
                                                            Were launched to the ocean
            And swallowed by the waves
As I helplessly sat in the coarse sand
                                                            Watching them leave my coconut life
            Now I’m just a lonely coconut
                        An old brown coconut
                                                Sitting on the beach
            Hoping my friends will return…
                                                                        They will someday… I know it
Owen Donelle, grade 6

I Fall
I fall
drifting to the ground
soaring this way and that way swaying in the wind
I land
The harsh winter air hits my face and sends me flying back into the air
I join my brothers and sister as I settle down for the second time
a great big hand comes down and picks me up
I get packed into a ball and thrown in the air
The wind whistles through my ears
I hit a tree and stick
unable to free myself
I slide down the bark and rejoin my friends
It rains
I can feel
the big
drops hitting my face
The water splashes
sending shivers down my spine
It’s cold
I freeze
The clouds part and I see the sun shining bright
I lay there
all day
watching the sun slowly melt my brothers and sisters
always scared that it will be my turn next
I melt
I feel the sun’s rays beating down on me
I go slowly
at first
then faster
I evaporate
turning into nothing but air
I rise
            Jonathan Castner, grade 6

The Jolly Pirate Ship
Standing on the edge
of the jolly pirate’s ship.
I feel the breeze
play with my hair.
Looking down
into the water.
What will I find?
I jump into the water.
It’s as warm
as bathtub water.
I hear bubbles
sizzle up to the surface.
The ocean tastes
and smells like saltines.
Shipwreck with algae growing on it,
dark holes spotted the wood
halfway sunken into the sand.
How did that happen?
Coral reef with
millions of colorful
fish, sea life, and plants.
Angel, tuna, and clown fish.
Seaweed, barnacles, coral and more.
Like an underwater rainbow of confetti.
Beautiful starfish
Cotton candy pink, tropical tangerine orange,
Bumblebee yellow and plum purple.
I realized I haven’t seen one in so long.
Standing on the edge
of the jolly pirate’s shop,
As the sun sinks into the ocean
leaving streaks of pink and red behind.
            Mariah Reisner, grade 6

Nothing to do
nothing to see
darkness has fallen
blackness I bleed
treasuring something I no longer need
I’ve lost my willpower
on others’ I feed
delivering sadness
wherever I breathe
they don’t my life,
my sorrows I sheathe.
No entertainment
no purpose in life
against my own death
forever I fight
alone I shall cry
hidden by the night
and the joys I once had are removed by the light
but forever I go on
though life is my plight
my sorrows I sheathe,
They don’t know my life.
Evermore I search
for reasons not to hide
constantly living
a fracturing lie
yet I always will yearn
for what’s beyond the light
not for curiosity
but for my time drawn nigh
and now I may go,
and now I may cry,
no longer judged by thousands of eyes…
            Allie Hunter, grade 6

Snowy Woods
It was a great day,
the day that Mr. Woods came to life.
With his button nose,
his stone smile,
his stick arms,
his camo-style Red Sox hat,
and his carrot nose,
he was Woods… Snowy Woods.
Now Snowy Woods
was a happy guy,
he would never cry.
He hobbled around,
with his cool hat,
nothing was frightened of him,
not even a rat.
He loves to read,
outside it keeps getting hotter,
his favorite book,
is Snowy Potter.
He loves to try,
some new things,
even if it means
his car gets some dings.
Snowy Woods is like a joke,
he is thought and funny combined.
Now as the years pass, Snowy get old,
but he still tries to stand bold.
Now Snowy knows,
he must go
back to the land of other snowmen.
With that button nose,
that stone smile,
those stick arms,
his carrot nose,
and that one and only Red Sox hat,
he was Woods, Snowy Woods.
            Aidan MacDonald, grade 6

The pounding of Water
covers Ground
a coat of wetness
trying to cause destruction to Ground
It does not matter
beauty still germinates out of Ground.
Pink smudges poke out their heads
green sprouts out of Ground
darkness has settled all around
angry at Ground for its endless happiness
“This is no happy time, death is around but you seem not to care!”
Ground doesn’t listen to Darkness because
it does not matter
beauty still germinates out of Ground.
With no Light around
no one can appreciate
what still comes up
but Ground knows
it does not matter
beauty still germinates out of Ground.
Ground knew it would happen
Light coming around
bring Destruction
But as Light and Destruction attempt to kill Ground, Ground just grows back again
An endless cycle, Ground knows
It does not matter
Beauty still germinates out of Ground.
            Nicolas Cerioni, grade 6

Little dancers in the night,
or are they angels,
here to cast light?
Glowing and glittering,
they sail the skies,
for little ones to ponder,
with curious eyes.
Whimsical wonders right out of a dream,
spinning and soaring,
so, it may seem.
Hoping and wishing,
on the brightest of them all,
I find myself wondering,
do stars ever fall?
And if they fall,
where do they land?
Do they wash up on beaches,
to rest in the sand?
Is the Earth a bed,
for weary stars?
Or maybe someone comes along,
to collect them in jars.
Or do they simply stay in the sky,
watching day by day,
go by and by?
They watch from their posts,
the children play,
until the children group up,
yet the stars have to stay.
The eyes of children twinkle so bright,
easy for stars to see,
even in the gloom of night.
Yet as they grown,
the twinkle will dim,
the chances of it recurring,
ever so slim,
but the twinkle only leaves,
to live in the skies,
tis when a new star,
will rise.
And if you ever need a little light,
some hope,
            or joy
                        look up
                                    and see
                                                where all your wonder lies.   
Margot Sonia, grade 7

It’s me.
Not the me you saw that cold Fall evening,
when you pulled me from the ground,
thinking it might bring me back.
But you didn’t find me.
You found a pale face,
darkened by the demons,
tearing at my bare flesh.
But she’s not me.
I’m not that rosy face,
the one they laughed at,
reddened by the love I felt towards you.
That girl,
She’s not me.
I’m not that pile of ashes
that you sprinkled in the lake
the one where I took my last breath,
the one where I drowned in the darkness of my thoughts.
She’s not me.
I’m the shadow that follows you,
The memories.
For that is the only part of me that hasn’t perished.
            Sophie Atkins, grade 7

The Unwanted Toy
There it lay
peeling from the
relentless sun
coated with
a film of dust.
Missing a wheel
and with a
broken axle, too,
no one wants it.
In despair, it
goes its days
hoping a better fate
is in its future.
Now with a
home to name own
and the watchful eye
of a compatible soul,
it plays its content
because life isn’t
perfect, but
how you handle it
gets you close
With a red
glossy glow
and a new
shiny wheel,
a wish fulfilled
echoes a star-filled,
joyous night.
            Eric D’Eon, grade 7

I stand there every day,
My toes, sticky with gum,
mindlessly thrown onto my steel body.
I’m stuck in the same position,
my jammed gun welded onto my shoulder.
as children pass by smiling but not at me.
Someway I will move,
but not willingly.
I will not move to stretch,
Not to deliver my hidden message.
I will move to a new prison,
trapped in a fountain.
            Andrew Spratt, grade 7

Death of a Marshmallow
Help me!
They’ll burn off my skin,
Boil me until I melt!
In chocolate.
I was always taught to fear it.
“Hot Chocolate”
It makes me hot just thinking about it.
They’re putting me in.
Here I go.
Tell my parents I have always loved them
Because I will die today.
But my sticky sweet soul will blend
With the creamy and rich essence
Of hot chocolate.
How bittersweet is the death
Of a marshmallow.
            Sarah Leonard, grade 7

Every night I wish
            To the clock at 11:11
                        To shooting stars in the sky.
I wished for a time machine
            For super speed
                        For a billion dollars.
But none of my wishes ever came true.
I tried harder
            Wishing on dandelions
                        Wishing on four leaf clovers
                                    Wishing on birthday candles.
But still, none of them came true.
But one day
            I wished for someone else
                        And it came true!
Even though I couldn’t see it coming true
                                    I could feel it
                                                            Deep in my bones
                                                                                                Like a strike of lightning
I realized then that all of my wishes had already come true.
I was healthy
            I was happy
                        I had people who loved me.
I went to school and one day would have a job
                        I had power to speak out.
I also realized that my wishes would never be answered
            Because wishes were reserved for those less fortunate
                        Those who were
                                                Sad, Unloved and Lonely.
Those without an education who might never get a job,
            Those whose voice is blocked by others.
            So, I still wish every day and every night
                        Only now it’s never for myself.
            Elise DiTullio, grade 7

Top Cheddar
Flying down the ice is an opposing player,
My defense is useless as per usual,
Zooming on down the middle, puck on his stick.
Readying myself
The player skates in
As is come out of my crease I think
Why don’t I mix it up a bit?
The player tries to
And Dodge
But I just waited him out.
He starts his final skate up and begins to dangle
He gets closer.
I wait.
He’s at the hashmarks.
I wait.
Finally, he makes his final move. It’s to the right.
I smile and being the most epic save of all time
Slide to the right
Fall back
Bring one pad over the other and
Stack. The. Pads.
I hear the shot fly off his stick a second later and brace for the impact
But it never comes.
I look back and see the puck suspended in the top of the net.
Top Cheddar.
Blake Winsmann, grade 8

Ode to Hockey Skates
When I lace you up, skates,
I get an amazing feeling.
As you get
Tighter and
It feels like power and explosiveness,
like I can do anything.
I can smell a stench of opportunity,
hard work,
and effort.
When I put you on I think of
all the hard work
I put in to make me better,
and it all comes down to these moments.
My mind is soley on the game.
I can feel a sense of
I explode onto the rink.
The steel blades dig deep
into the fresh ice.
It’s the most tremendous feeling.
I could not live without you.
Hockey would not be played.
Ice would have no point.
It would just stand forever,
No reason for cold air,
Absolutely no reason for me,
My life would be pointless.
You are the greatest, skates.
            Jack Wanamaker, grade 8

I lay there motionless.
I am always here.
Every day the same routine.
I am frozen.
No one cares.
I am paralyzed.
No one sees.
I am transfixed.
No one hears.
I am always there for you.
I am stepped over,
stomped on.
The weight on my shoulders,
Is too much to bear.
Almost everyone forgets about me.
It’s a pity,
you’d think.
I never get a thank you,
or a sorry.
But why would I,
I am just a floor.        
Sydney Machado and Haley May, grade 8

Turning Shoes
I can’t live without you.
the pointed, turned out feet
you helped me show.
The perfect turns you helped me perform.
You make me a better dancer.
My performance triples in
energy, elegance, and emotion.
I can taste the determination
as it drips down my face.
When I slip you on, I am
thrilled to get up and dance.
The assurance that these shoes won’t fall off
is the best in the world.
When I slide you across the floor,
I hear my instructor: 5, 6, 7, 8.
When I don’t turn,
the world doesn’t turn,
and my world would be in darkness without you.
            Amy Doran, grade 8

Quixotic Thoughts
I tell you things I haven’t even told myself
Leaving thoughts set out on the table with their utensils ready for you to digest
A feast of inner fears and deepest desires
Lovely words that turn into actions as directions
speak and cars swerve
& the edge is too close to see in hindsight
& there’s seconds between
Want and need & youth is a poison we both drink
& it’s the way to cope with existence & sometimes
minds think alike & and why
can’t this end the way I
Want it to & sleep is all my
Eyelash wishes
It’s turned into a phenomenon and and and
And and I lose a word again because of the misty moonlight through
These glass cages
Dreams are now yet you remain above
Away from the world
Seeking the thoughts that will block reality
Wasting your livelihood for numbness and
Blind optimism
And it’s not bad but it’s not real and why
Does it have to end
Giving everything only to be slightly shoved
In a crowded hallway
Because almost is never absolute and
Dreams rarely come to fruition when
People are involved
So aim not to care
Deviate from what every synapse tells you
After these words and don’t let it
Block you from forming thin veils of smoke
That eventually break into a home of youth
And mystery
When you finally wake up years from now
Know that caring wasn’t the worst fate
Pretending not to was
            Isabel Stringfellow, grade 11     

I’ve been taken to a place
where the grass is always greener;
a constant sun engulfs the land,
but the wind whispers of fever.
Such blissfulness insinuates
a sap within my bones
that dissolves the cries and courtesies
of dangers deafly told.
And to the wind’s forewarning
of red feelings brought to flame,
I say, what is there to fear
if love and pain are all the same?
Haley Neff, grade 11

On College
May God be praised for college
That enlightens those inside
Nowhere else can knowledge
So liberally abide.
It introduces freedom
As leaping off a cliff
So young men would be dumb
Not to dive into that rift.
Yet looming lies the end
That is the fall’s conclusion.
Count the dollars that they spend
That’s the force of their collision.
Advisors say “investment,”
So blindly on we go.
When we had reassessed it
Would then our course be so?
I heard stories of wild parties
And late nights remembered dear,
Until my eyes grew starry
Above the lower glows of fear.
But an arrow pierced that phalanx;
The thought that later I will rue
Glancing at my balance
And seeing a dragon’s treasure due.
Then Damocles swap lives,
For I would rather wait
Upon a death by hanging knives
Than flames that shan’t abate.
No money then to burn a hole
In empty pockets ignited
By a fiery debt that swallows whole
The man that cannot right it.
Damocles at least gained wealth,
By taking on such stress.
But I will trade my future health
For joy, a job or less.
Then pounding frustration,
As life slants unfree.
The pomegranate of damnation
Has such juicy seeds.
Oh college -- both parts fortune and dross.
A necessity, that is perhaps the truth,
But O God, at what cost
Comes that opportunity and prolonged youth.
            Isaac Bleecker, Grade 12