2016 Sidewalk Poetry Contest

2016 Sidewalk Poetry Winners and Runners-Up

The City of Cambridge is pleased to announce the winners and runners-up of the second annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest. Winning poems written by Cambridge residents were imprinted in City sidewalks during the fall of 2016. This year’s submissions came from Cambridge citizens from ages 4 to 86 – a wonderful representation of creativity from every neighborhood.


Susan Blanker

Today is the day
And this is the spot.
To dance a little
Or to dance a lot.
Just try it this once
And see how you feel.
If a smile breaks out
When you take this chance,
Then you’ve been touched by
The power of dance.

Kelsey Cole

Mostly I don't think about you
and mostly I don't mind.
But sometimes I do
and I start missing you
and it surprises me every time.

Chris Thibault

First Try
Give yourself a break
Don't be so hard on yourself
First tries often fail
and it's your first time living.

Benjamin Tolkin

I used to wonder why
they didn't build secret doorways
into every home.
Now I realize they do;
some of them are just harder to find.

Molly Lynn Watt

Jazz Riff
I want to write a poem
the way a jazz man
composes on his feet
sways in rhythm
taps a syncopated beat
I want to howl and growl
to a bottleneck slide
pulse with rage and heat
rap a wild wind run
blast injustice to the gutter


Chloe Cunha

Cinquain for the Setting Sun

As day
drifts to dusk, keen
for sun's warmth, I sigh. But
soon, you smile-- ignite the sky, light
my night.

Doug Healy

So Good To See You
The traffic roars the sirens scream,
I wake from a troubled dream,
And oh, it's so good to see you.
How I love your perfect face,
Antic smile and dancing grace.
And oh, it’s so good to see you.
Painters dab and poets dream,
To find out what love really means,
But I, I’m just glad to see you.

Linda Larson

9 Below, Valentine's Day, 2016
We didn't want to go to a shelter.
They parted us, men from women.
You and I were caught in unforgiving ice
looking for an unlocked car to save us.
We found one, yet it was clear
we would not survive the night.
By chance we found an open hallway
It was heated. Together we slept.

Hannah Mahoney

day moon
among cirrus clouds . . .
so much is still possible

Sara Nelson

I push the door
And see my grandma's hand
Same knobby fingers, same veins
Always cool to the touch
The scent of Vaseline Intensive Care
I memorized her hands
As she hung laundry,
Hooked rugs,
Held my hand
Past, present, future entwined

Cesar Neves

The killings must stop.
Not cops, not blacks, nobody.
When will horror end?

Mary Sullivan Walsh

Between Here and There
Here on the sidewalk outside my house
I drew a tree with my colored chalk
Here I cartwheeled along its green-gray
Branches and skipped from leaf to leaf
Here I jumped from blooming bud to bud
Until I tripped on a cement crater
Here I dreamed about tomorrow and
The next day, between here and there
And the rain came down in a steady hum
Like heaven was crying—and singing.

Vinton Wong

Spaulding Rehab Stroke Ward

There is no light - only darkness.
Gone the joys of moving:
Biking, Walking, Swimming.
Maybe I get by with a cane.
Gone are the joys of eating.
Left side numb, can’t feel mouth.
Gone in short is all passion.
There is no light - only darkness.

Paul Yager

A Glimpse
I let you glimpse my new pajamas,
Still neatly wrapped and pinned,
Ever so sedately toned
in tattersall and piped—
Enough I hoped, to take your breath away
Not, perhaps, so splendid
as a peacock's fan,
And yet the finest plumage I could offer