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Raynor Wallace Award Winners - 2013

First Place

  • Anthony Tobia for "Learning Life's Lesson: A Cento"

Second Place - Tie

  • Anthony Tobia for "Nightmare Reality"
  • Joy Yasinosky for "we were like stars"

Third Place

  • Jessica Micallef for "Defiant"

Learning Life's Lessons: A Cento

Anthony Tobia

Learning Life's Lesson- A Cento

What if lightning strikes me?

What if I get sick and die?

There seems to be no room for variation,

When I have fears that I may cease to be.

Because I could not stop for death,

He kindly stopped for me,

I don't know which to prefer;

I am terrified by this dark thing.

There is nobody wise enough

To find out all that is in it

Nothing has more possibilities,

That ends this strange eventful history.

I taught myself to live simply and wisely,

I have no time for idle cares,

That's what's good for the soul,

And better suited to the immortal mind.

If you can dream-

And not make your dreams your master;

Give me your hand

[Let us] walk away into the night,

To liberate us into life.


1, 2- What if, Shel Silverstein

3- Night Club, Billy Collins

4- When I have fears that I may cease to be, Jon Keats

5, 6- Because I could not stop for death, Emily Dickinson

7- Thirteen ways to look at blackbird, Wallace Stevens

8- Elm, Ruth Fainlight

9, 10- Brown Penny, William Butler Yeats

11- Picture Puzzle Piece, Shel Silverstein

12- All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare

13- I Taught Myself To Live Simply, Anna Akhmatova

14- Romance, Edgar Allan Poe

15- And The Moon And The Starts And The World, Charles Bukowski

16- To the Lady on the Death of Her Husband, Phillis Wheatley

17, 18- IF, Rudyard Kippling

19- A Conceit, Maya Angelou

20- I Birthday Peom, Ted Kooser

21- Touched by An Angel, Maya Angelou


Nightmare Reality

Anthony Tobia




The warm summer breeze gently combs the grassy fields,

Standing them upright and at attention.

The shallow roads simmer silently,

Stunned by the sun's shining solar rays.




The telephone poles stand in line

Ready to fall like dominoes.

Barreling through the horizon,

Clouds cascading down from the sky cover the calm landscape.

Unaware of the chaos dancing in the distance,

The sun is blindfolded, Left in darkness

To the blackened shadows that will soon cover this realm.

The uncontrollable madness consumes the perimeter of this image,

Foreshadowing an inevitable end.

One might wish to stay here, in the peaceful pastures,

But this slumber does not beckon, eternal peace.

The disaster reveals itself to be the dark abyss

That signals the end of a retreat, an escape, a sanctuary,

The beginning of a new day.


we were like stars

Joy Yasinosky

we were like stars

drifting further and further apart

and the constellation we once formed

was becoming indistinguishable

from the others in the night sky

maybe we were never decipherable

in the first place

and illusion haunted me

long after night sky faded to dawn

perhaps, we all along,

existed in places where

we could never see eye to eye

i was always the moon

at times, trying to come

into your evening sky

but you as the sun

never came into mine



Jessica Micallef

I am not a butterfly for you to catch in a ragged net

But I fly.

I am not a firefly for you to trap in a jam jar

But I glow.

I am unable to be tamed,

no more a beast than you.

I choose where I will be.

And that is not

shoved into a mason jar

or an old shoe box,

No matter how many

Holes you poke

In the lid.