Poetry Runner Ups

The First Runner Up Poems by Sherif Khairy

Hail the King

Hail the king;

Praise the torture;
Pendulum swings,
To bring it closer.

The time is near;
Decisions are made.
They fell here;
Now memories fade.

Hail the savior;
Praise the evasion,
That reeks of failure,
On every occasion.

Raise the flag high;
Hold the light bright;
Show the truth dyed;
The show of truth died!

Portray resistance traitorous;
Stab in the back, innocence.
Push past limits dangerous,
Blind to fated renaissance.

Roar mountains of breaths,
That pan out molehills.
Seek hiding for deaths,
To keep sprees of kills.

Fall like the rest,
Like there was a timer.
Tick tock kicks;
You were none the wiser.

The ABC of Life

Above the wasteland of hope,
Beckons the wind of despair.
Cries of who failed to cope,
Dust over the poisoned air.

Extreme is the pain they suffer,
Forgotten and never forgiven.
Ghastly shadows spread to cover,
Hiding the wasteland on which they’re living.

Idle, hopeless, is their state;
Joy is a meaning they have lost.
Kept on the ground just by weight,
Lifeless soul and a body as a host.

Moans of pain, screams of anger.
No one knows when these will end.
One may hate to know the answer,
Possibly they will be eternally condemned.

Que sera sera, my dear;
Rid yourself of all these chains;
Soar away from every fear;
This will be the start of your days.

Unleash the beast that lies within,
Viciously waiting, with will pumped.
Waiting to take out the wicked twins,
Xeroxed versions of your road bumps.
Yell out loud that you will make it;
Zoom in on your prize and you shall take it.

Kingdom Falls

Hails, shouts, and cheers commence. The rise of glory personified and hence, we have a new leader of men. Righteous and powerful with inspired vision, careful in our provision, careful in every decision. Let the bells of freedom ring, let the birds of peace soar, the time has come to close the door on poverty and oppression, and live once more.

With steady feet he climbs the steps to the throne of his majesty. Rest in pride our lord, rest in ease and order us all. Speeches here and speeches there, with no armor he stands bare, fierce and loyal; he’s a testimonial for us to bask in; he’s worthy of meeting his asking, as king.

Through the chaos that often spreads, his boldness would overbear it. Overcame the obstacles to better days, or so his promises would say. Supporters claim it to be true. Doubters know it to not be so, but days will come to show us all, except to those who would stall. Rumors flew as truth fled, then sectors part and a change of heart changes numbers.

In times of hardship, advice is sought for. And kings, although high, must stoop down for a scoop of aid. King to advisors, complaints uttered, “They no longer fear their master; they are wise no more.” Words replied by silence and escaping eyes, “Answer me! Why do they object to my provision? My decisions and my vision!” Answers the wisest, “How do you expect your army to grow, if you only keep killing the opposition?”  

Initiatives take the lead and make the change, following the leader of arms, hoping for the end of harms. Roars settle as decisions are made; calmness sets but is it preceding a storm? Hours prove it to be so, as decisions deepen the sectors parting. The truth is disguised as doubts, and lies are disguised as truths. Confusion spreads throughout the streets and treats of rumors are served abundantly.

The search for truth is a failed endeavor, so it seems to a lot of men. “The villainous of a party means not the innocence of the opposition,” preached the wisest of the crowds. Words not heard, rumors followed, judgments passed and punishments sentenced; violence committed. Chaos erupts amidst the loss of truth, the loss of wisdom, and the death of youth; the murder of innocence in a world of oblivious conscience. The betrayal of supporters follows the change of faces in a phase so frail. But some are not fazed by the lying phrase of a traitorous face, as others face the unfaithfulness of hope against the strength of misfortune.

Words manipulated, twisted by knaves, and stabbed with like knives. It crashes slowly, it crashes surely, and it falls apart as hearts part further than the start, too far for a scar to heal. It was not fated but they made it inevitable; lies made it inevitable, fog made it inevitable, the lack of vision made it inevitable. Kingdom poor of principles wealth; kingdom hit, but not to death; kingdom falls.
Kingdom falls, but after falls come springs.


Second Runner Up Flash Fiction by Mariam Elsherbini

Burnt Roses

In the forest where none may pass but you, you are being dragged by your beloved through the earth. Your feet hanging above you as he pulls them like a cart. Your hair is caught in vines and fallen branches, tearing apart its gold, filling it with soil.

In the magic forest where none may pass but you, you are hushed as the waterfalls of quiet tears flows downwards through your tilted head and hair. Your neck is being torn by rocks, your head bumping on jagged things you can’t see, and your back injured from thorns that once belonged to enchanted roses.

In that forest he hasn’t realized that you are the forest and the forest is you. And as you bleed and your body grows weary, the trees, too, wilt, lacking power, bowing in shame. The sun’s light is growing dim. And you can’t stand looking into that suffocating purple of sunset that brings back memories. Your arms and hands are being dragged above you. The same hands he once held and caressed. They’re scraped and raw, being kissed by the cruel ground.

In that forest, a cold dark fire is licking through the green. A poisonous tongue promising terror. Your body is stiff and broken. You think you’ll die of pneumonia. Or maybe of a fractured skull. But as your lover pulls so mercilessly at you, you know you’ll only ever die of a broken heart.  In the forest that’s ceasing to exist, you remember his words. You remember how his gray eyes sparkled with excitement at the sight of you. Like color was momentarily being restored to them. You remember his arms being wrapped protectively around you. You remember the sweet taste of his lips. And you feel it all in you. You feel it in the shaky beating of your heart. You feel it in every bone’s crack. You feel it in the pulsing of your head, the tingling of your numbing feet. You feel it in the sky that’s pushing down on you like an upside down gravity.

All the unkept promises, the lies he burned so beautifully in you, they’re sending tremors through your nerves. And you’re no longer serene nor silently weeping. You’re shaking fiercely in his hands. Your eyes have gone dark as has the world of this forest. He’s still pulling at you but you’re harder to maintain.

Birds cry in the distance. Cries of dread. He hears it too.  He’s screaming at you, at himself, at the forest.

“Almost there!” He yells and pulls with all his might. “I’m almost there,” he says through clenched teeth. He’s struggling. He sees the world of his dreams, a land of magic at the parting of the trees where the forest ends. And you know he will destroy it. He will kill the dreams and the love and glory. And he only needs you to get there.

You won’t take him there. Even if it means you have to die.  Your hair is tangled, pulling out of you like roots. Your bones are long functionless. And your body is trembling, feeble in this smoldering cold. But somehow, your willpower has you up again.

You’re floating up, up, above him. He’s wild and helpless, trying to get a grip on you. But you’re still up there: an angel’s corpse.

Your eyes are still dark but you can feel the light engulf you. You feel yourself rise. Your heart is beating slower, weaker, but you’re growing stronger as you rise. The sun is shining, bright, blinding him. The trees are rising. The leaves, the fruits and flowers and this earth, they all rise at your command.

Then you’re gone. Your soul disappears back to its home land of magic and angels and your body falls back to earth with a loud thud. Your heart has stopped. Your sea green eyes stare lifelessly into him; dangerously.  And as your body turns blue and dead, the light dies and the forest crumples into itself, eating him and his cries forever to nothing.


Third Runner Up Poems by Hoda Elsayed

Societal Damages

It damns me ever so softly
That sadness is romanticized
And unfortunates idolized
That skin is proudly flaunted
As the people beneath it taunted
Oh so many care too much
Yet still millions don’t care enough
And not only does it damn me
But it damns you
And him
And her
Because the world we live in has become a burden
Or maybe that’s just because it used to be so golden?


she wore sundresses
and sandals
on sunny summer days;
that were sweaty but sweet-

she wore trousers
and baseball t-shirts
in third grade
when all the other girls dressed in twirly skirts–

she wore the secrets she kept in a jar, on her face
and a jumper
every June morning
even at the pool parties she wasn’t invited to—

she wore a black dress
and brand name heels
when she put her self to bed;
because she wanted to look beautiful the last time she did.

The Dark

There will come a day
Where there is no day
Because the dark has eaten more than its share of time
And it wants a taste of something new
Like a soul
Or a mind
Or a heart

And you’ll feel it ponder
And hear it wander
All around your clueless walls of silence
That will scream at the burning of their flesh
Or their souls
Or their minds
Or their hearts

But all you can do is sing them to their deaths
Because you know you’ll be next
Because this wasn’t just any darkness
For it was the darkness that would end everything
All the souls
All the minds
And all the hearts


Fourth Runner-Up Flash Fiction by By Malaka El-Gammal


Another bottle is chugged down. Yet the memories are still there. The glass falls with a piercing sound and more come flooding back. The screams of the innocent, the shots of the guns. Me, indirectly ordering the deaths of a thousand brave, noble soldiers. My hand shakes and the whiskey spills. I take a glance and the picture of blood all over the battlefield is envisioned in my mind. The familiar smell rises into my nose and my shoulders tense. My reflection in the mirror looks back at me with anger and despair and I choose to take another swig. More memories come flooding back, pouring themselves into my brain. However much I try, they will not go away.

Regret is a dangerous thing. It is something which can suffocate and drown you. It takes over and poisons your mind. It makes you always want more, yet, somehow, just a little bit less. It leaves you to ponder on what could have been. The things you could have changed. An agonising sound escapes my lips. A noise, which through the years I have come to recognise as my own. A melancholy song that I have begun to familiarise myself with. So many wrongs I could have righted. I raise another bottle to my quivering lips and I feel a burning down my throat.

My hand twitches and the whiskey spills again. Blood. So much blood. Enough to fill a lifetime and enough to end one. Three bottles left. Too many memories. Men running towards the enemy, being shot down one by one. Their insides spilling everywhere. Their families mourning somewhere. I had such a brilliant life and one small order, a tiny mistake with a huge impact, made all the difference. It’s like a game of chess. You move the pawn and they could take the queen. Life is just that. A game. And I lost. Another bottle runs through my system. Killing it.

Messages, so many messages telling me what I have done wrong and how I should live my life. Telling me that I should hang. I deserve to. Did I not kill thousands of innocent lives? The window bursts open and the cold, crisp air of the winter morning rushes onto my face. The wind surrounds me as I watch the brutal deaths of the heroes replay in my mind. A lone tear trickles down my cheek and it reminds me of myself. Lonely and full of sorrow. Nothing but sorrow and regret. It’s always the innocent that die. Always the innocent. A sob catches in my throat and I attempt to wash it down. Along with the memories.

I’m already dead inside. Much like my men, except for the fact that they died with dignity and honour. Remembered by the nation as brave and noble heroes who were murdered by me. Another similarity between my soldiers and I . The same murderer. Different methods and reasons, but nonetheless, the same killer. I take one final look at the bottle as it is washed down my throat. It rushes through my body like poison. Like my regret, it is poison. The battle is remembered by me once more and my entire body shakes violently and I suddenly realise that I do not want to go. But I have to. I look at my reflection for one last time.

University Runner Ups

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