Teen Poetry Contest Winner for 2000
Tamar Rubin
Niles North High School, Grade 11


                    he didn't really understand stuff too good.
couldn't spell too well
             didn't learn to read 'til after the other kids
the numbers on those math worksheets
              snapped at him like little sharks,
and he drew back, nursing his nipped fingers.

he locked in combat with his leaden mind
      an opponent as formidable as any on the recess football field
what was it? he groped for the answers in the darkness
            they slipped away, marbles in jello

           he got really, really mad. he hated the teacher.
he hated the kids. he threw one against the wall
when he couldn't bear to hear that word again.

         he would close his eyes, at night
    and all smart thoughts slid out of their cage.
  they swam like little minnows around his hurting brain.
            he knew that tomorrow he'd show those smart kids.
he'd bound into the classroom, smarts just bubbling over
               like macaroni noodles escaping from the pot.

of course, all the smart thoughts would be gone in the morning
           locked up in solitary confinement.
he trudged off to school, walking slowly.
              it was going to be another stupid day.

Tamar's poem appears in the April 2001 issue of VOYA magazine.  It was one of five winnning poems in VOYA's national teen poetry contest.  Judges of the contest commented "... we've ached for the ones set apart, rarely so compassionately rendered as by Tamar Rubin in 'Stupid'.