The Western New Mexico University Undergraduate Creative Writing Contest provides students across all academic majors the opportunity to practice the art of the written word and be recognized for their nonacademic writing. A committee selects the top work in two categories: poetry and prose/play. This year’s winning poem by senior elementary teacher education major. For #NationalPoetryMonth and in honor of those taking refuge in lands foreign to them, we’re sharing an excerpt.
“Morning Serenity No Longer” by Atlantis Lopez
Yesterday the rain fell upon the desert land
Misty morning serenity as Kabul awoke
Sun bright in the sky, radiant home of my heart
I wonder when the rain turned into a river of tears and blood
The children who used to play with kites
Soaring above the souks, now lie
Asleep in the river, eyes closed forever
Today, the English sea, a dark opaque kind of blue is angry
waves lapping violently on the shore
It reminds me of the water I had to cross
Unkind and cruel, swallowing those who fell off the makeshift boat
I come to the sea to listen for an answer
To know if the world will stay broken, if it always was?
But it doesn’t talk to me, at least not of what I want to hear or remember
It makes me think of things from a past life
Atlantis Lopez grew up writing. The Albuquerque native remembers writing songs and poems in journals when she was just seven years old. “Classes have taught me about the rules of poetry, but I didn’t like following the rules, a script. I feel like that puts me in a box. Recently, I took a college poetry class and that helped me push my boundaries,” she said.
Lopez wrote “Morning Serenity No Longer” a few years ago. “I had this idea of a narrative poem from the perspective of a refugee,” she said.
As an aspiring teacher with dreams to publish a book of poems eventually, Lopez thinks poetry an important thing to include in the classroom, even for the youngest students. “Songs and lyrics — very basic forms of poetry — are underrated and underrepresented in education,” she said.
After completing her student teaching experience in the fall, Lopez plans to teach kindergarten somewhere in her home state. “I love New Mexico. My heart and soul feel such a deep connection to this land,” she said. “I could never leave the sky and the mountains.”