Poetry Festival will be held:

Saturday, April 27, 2024

2022 Winner

Corner Store

Somewhere in the overloaded streets of Japan

on a humid summer day

lies a corner store, a seven-eleven


in walks an exotic,

maybe on vacation

or perhaps lives nearby


but he does not appear like a traditional Japanese man

the complete opposite, unforgettably

he walks the aisles row by row

the clerk glares at him, Tension rises

maybe it was the shade of his skin

perhaps his sheer size,


the counterfeit smile twisted

into an assumption.

because he looked black,

because he looked American

to the clerk, surely this foreign man only speaks English,

to the clerk, he only speaks danger.


With a forged welcome

“Good morning”

“How can I help you”

his counterfeit smile,

maybe it was fear talking

Or perhaps instinct


“Are buying anything or just looking?”

disapproval bombs the store


Why am I, a black man,

in Japanese ground,

targeted like a terrorist?


Why do I, a bilingual human, feel

the unwelcomed ambush in my mother’s land?


maybe that’s just how it goes

or perhaps that’s how it shouldn’t


Markeith Hogan

Gonzaga College High School

Grade: 11


Columbia, MD

Favorite Author or Book:

Langston Hughes

Dream for the Future:

Create a legacy through art and writing.

Inspirational Figure:

Mr. Ross, Coach Young