The Louine Schaufler Youth Poetry Contest – HIGH SCHOOL

The Louine Schaufler Youth Poetry Contest was established by the South Dakota State Poetry Society in order to encourage poem-making by South Dakota students. The contest is open to students in South Dakota middle and high schools. The 2023 Contest had 65 middle school entries and 13 high school entries. Contest judges for 2023 were Holly Moseley, Camp Crook poet and SDSPS Board Member, and Ruth Harper, Brookings poet and SDSU Emerita Professor.

At SDSPS, we appreciate the excellent South Dakota educators who teach and encourage poetry writing among our state’s students. We encourage young writers to continue looking for opportunities and outlets for their work, including submitting work to our own publication—Pasque Petals. And we warmly welcome all students who submitted to our 2023 contest into the community of writers in South Dakota!


Darcy Plenty Bull, Grade 11 
Little Wound High School, Kyle SD

The Different Ways of Love

Childhood relationships aren’t real.
Peer pressure, pressures you
to state who you have a crush on.
Feeling broken when you don’t
feel attracted to anyone
in the way people say they do.
Can’t be friends with those
of the opposite sex
without the consistent gossip
of liking each other in a certain way.
The way my parents talk about
the forbidden way people
can love each other of the same gender.
Play it off as close friends.  
Call each other anything but lovers. 
In fear of being ostracized and unloved
by those who they call close.
“It’s fine, they are just close friends,”
they hear all around.
But really, they just want to yell
at the world that they love each other
in a way friendships won’t allow
Longing to love and be loved, 
they say it’s obvious how they always
have heart-shaped pupils
whenever they are around one another.

They always act naïve
to the advances the other makes.
Always claiming
just to be good friends.
They never had a good example
of true unharnessed love, now did they?
Instead, they are forced
to be platonic soulmates.
No, what ifs? 
No, in another life. 
Only allowed to be
platonic—never romantic, 
and they are completely fine with that.


Dixie Knappen, Grade 12
Belle Fourche Alternative School, Belle Fourche SD

Body Love, a Dialog with Mary Lambert*
I know girls who are low rise, mac eyeshadow, and binge drinking.
As the sun set in the evening sky, 
I remembered how I wore those same low-rise jeans, 
wore makeup to cover up my insecurities, 
and drank the nights away in the hopes of feeling free.

It’s never easy to accept that our bodies are fallible and flawed.
No one is perfect, but I know countless girls, 
including myself, who wish they were that girl, 
who everyone craves to be.

Our bodies deserve more than to be war-torn. . .
I replay horrifying memories of me 
mutilating my soft warm body. 
To then gaze in the mirror at my soft warm body, 
and hate myself even more.

I only know how to exist when I am wanted…
To be wanted is to want to be alive, 
to feel beautiful in the eyes of others, 
and to feel loved by all of the prying world.

Girls like us are hardly ever wanted…
Unbearable loneliness creeps in as I realize,
I’m not the girl that boys always want.
I have my flaws that happen to be seen by anyone
looking for a girl so beautiful and lean. 

We’re used up, sad, and drunk…
An endless cycle. Falling head over heels 
for a man that lies. Lies about how he loves me so, 
and how he says he would never let me go. 
I sit on the floor, feeling myself drift away.  
For I spilled the bottle that drowns my sorrows. 

 I once touched a tree with charred limbs, the stump was still breathing
but the top was just ashy remains.
I pull and rub the scars, stretch marks, 
and bumpy skin on my naked, imperfect body. 
Even though I’m still here,
taking in the air that fills my lungs 
knowing deep down I’m still alive 
is a blessing in disguise.

Love your body the way your mother loved your baby feet. 

In the eyes of my mother, she sees me as perfect, 
So I will take her love and give it to my mind. 
In hopes that it spreads like venom down my spine. 
To be able to see the love my mother has given to me.

You are worth more than who you attract, 
you are worth more than a waistline, 
you are worth more than beer bottles displayed like drunken artifacts. 
I remind myself of who I am. 
A human being who was made in God’s image. 
I cannot let myself be discouraged by others on how I look 
because I am perfect in my Fathers eyes.

You are no less valuable than a size sixteen or a size four.
There’s no price you can put on me, because I’m precious inside and out. 

You are a holy tree stump with leaves sprouting out. 
Even with the scars and bumps that line my skin,
I have come to love the body that has stayed so strong, 
for the bloody and cruel battles within.

No longer lost, I have found myself.

*This ekphrastic poem was inspired a song and was written as a dialogue with that song. Mary Lambert is a singer/songwriter. Italicized words are from her song “Body Love.”


Katie Rae Bortnem, Grade 11
Brookings High School, Brookings SD

When Am I Safe?

I feel Paranoid
And Lost in a sea of potential threat
The Ordinary
In fear that one of these students around me
Will snap
Or worse
I’ve always been overprepared
Worried about need
But this is a new level
I act like a marine
Snapping my neck to look and see
If someone will do the same to me
They build this glass prison
And cram us all in
A 2,000-head feedlot
Ready to gas
Gun down

Or stab
You aren’t allowed to leave this hell
Filling your senses with noise and movement
The constant threat of one of these hunters
Hunting me down
instead of my namesake
I am not a scared little Doe
Caught in Headlights
I am scared

I will fight
I’ve been trained
At least I’ll try
I’ll try and stop
at least one life
from being lost
My Brain is like a ring of mice
Circling itself
Scrawling out
But getting nowhere
This is no game
I know they think like it is
We all survived, It’s not a big deal
Even though I thought my life would end
Thought I would see blood splatter out of a child
So I ask
When will I ever be safe
If this fear is


Poe Haugen, Grade 12
Belle Fourche Alternative School, Belle Fourche SD

Mothers Eyes and Mine 

Our matching eyes, Green in the spring
Representing a new cycle of new life
I wish for you to sing.
Chartreuse in the summer
Representing the worlds Life and Growth
I, a dopamine hunter.
Hazel in the Fall
Representing another cycle ending
For you I call.
Sea Green In the winter
Representing the quiet of our world
Contentment is not hindered.
These seasons represent the times we have spent
Together as one
Our love has no end.


Poe Haugen, Grade 12
Belle Fourche Alternative School, Belle Fourche SD

My Minds’ Monsters

Haven’t I given enough?
This land I create is painful
Without you, dear mother, to even me out
Who am I?
I look for my reflection in the water
Upon the murky water are two emeralds
I only see my eyes
They are tired
They are in pain
Those weary eyes demand to dream

Haven’t I given enough?
My brain is not my own
This land of familiarity and sorrow–
I grew up here
But something else grew too
That monster that eats away at me
I’ve lived with him.

Haven’t I given enough?
The monster tortures, while the winds heal
the monster corrupts, while the water cleanses
the monster burns, while the grass reclaims
This monster is part of me
So is this land
Together we all hold our home’s essence
We hold our lives’ essences 

We grow and we learn
We are human
Haven’t I given enough?

Monsters are not made in the light
They come from the dark
The sunlight warms the water
The sunlight grows the grass
The sunlight heats the wind
But there is no place for monsters in the sunlight
They are broken down by the light
Like how the monster breaks me
So, the stars shall comfort me
The constellations holding me tight
The moon being my light
Cause the night is where everything rests
Even monsters.
And I have given enough.

I have feed the monster
I have felt the wind
I have touched the waters
I have lain within the grass
Yet here the monster resides
Within this field I look to the cloudy sky
My, oh my,
Mother, why won’t you let me fly?
I have given ENOUGH!

I have been tortured
I have been corrupted
I have been burned
The sunlight has not helped
The moonlight is my only comfort
It has taught me peace
Here I lay tonight
Looking into the cloudy sky
My, oh my,
Mother, I think I no longer wish to fly.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top