Scholastic National Gold Medal Poetry by Ava Sharahy

Ava Sharahy Newark Academy“M” by Ava Sharahy ’20 earned a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Gold Medal in Poetry awarded at Carnegie Hall in June 2018. In 2017 Ava earned a National Silver Medal in Flash Fiction for her story, “Hero to Three.” She has also earned numerous regional Gold and Silver Keys. Of about 350,000 Scholastic entries, less than 1% earned National Medals.


blue veins intrude the faint ink of a stick-and-poke
dying it navy:

an “M” on the forearm, etched in chicken scrawl
that only a child could stab in

(not even his initials, you know
because they said his real name was too Jew-y)

with a stick sharpened on a rock and the last of their pen ink
he was inked only at nine

skin tender, he was a bird plucked of feathers, ready
for its head to be chopped

(he figured he’d be liked more, i guess, if he allowed
his peers to pierce him)

his mom cried when she saw his arm, saying he wouldn’t
be buried with the rest of the family

he told me he was confused then, because when you’re nine
death is just what adults deal with

(he’s eighty now, and i can hear him bartering with God:
he doesn’t wanna hurt Grandma if he’s not in heaven)

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