Carnegie Mellon University

First Place for High School Poetry

"hey beautiful"

Autumn is cool and serene today
fiery leaves caught in their graceful dance of falling,
cradled by puffs of refrigerator wind.
Today is for short sleeves and long pants,
the sun’s nimble fingers tingle my bare skin,
the breath of almost-winter flushes my cheeks red and raw.
Each step is exhilarating, my body swaying side to side
with the wind and with the trees, back, forth, there is music in my hips
and life in the soles of my shoes.

The gears of his bicycle click-clack, whine behind me,
leisurely emerging from behind the trees like a tortured ghost.

When he calls to me from the other side of the path
my neck bobs a nod and offers a curt smile in return

keep walking, keep walking
usually people hold no threats
but I have been taught to always be scared.
Morning, afternoon and night are danger
a world of men is a world of danger
so keep your head down and keep walking,
and always be prepared to run.

hey beautiful . . .
what’s up, miss?

tell me, what’s up, beautiful?

I feel the opposite of beautiful
when his words latch onto my skin like sticky, assaulting hands,
the creaky, gasping laugh of his bicycle taunts me
and the sky crushes down on my shoulders.

hey beautiful,
you have that long, pretty hair . . .
I love your long, beautiful hair . . .

my body is frozen and now the leaves are not dancing
but falling down dead from the sky.
I wish myself far away, anywhere but here,
but somehow everywhere I turn he is always following,

whistling slowly, tauntingly,
creaking bicycle winding down the curving path,
falling, crumbling leaves framing his face in a fiery halo.
He forever circles closer, closer, no matter how far, how fast I can run.

hey beautiful . . .
hey beautiful . . .