By Sofia Celli
6th grade, Village School, MA
Honorable mention

With lines from “In a Famed Game Park Near the Foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Animals Are Giving Up” by Georgina Gustin and Larry C. Price, a Pulitzer Center reporting project

there is

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            no plants
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                no mud
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            no leaves
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       on the worn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           but worst of all


which means
no splashing
no drinking
no food


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i haven’t

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                since the grass

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              since the hyenas

but now
deceased wildebeests litter the


the scorching
burning their backs
as if their demise
had been choreographed.
they will never
feel the





momma says
the rain
smelled fresh

i can see
through her hide
she told me
she can see mine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            it hurts.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              the hunger pierces my

i can see
      the sorrow in
            my mother’s eyes.
i’m sorry, she says
she can’t take care of me
                  or herself
and there is
                        that I
                             can do

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i have seen the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mother and baby
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            side by side

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           but i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    they are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 are giving

momma told me
i was born
the rain.
but i
do not

the danger
is taking
of us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    we have
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               to live for.


Sofia Celli is a rising 7th grader in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She enjoys reading, writing, sketching, painting and biking. She also takes pleasure in other forms of art such as dance and as a violist in her school's orchestra. She hopes to inspire other young readers and writers with her pieces.

Read more winning entries from the 2023 Fighting Words Poetry Contest.