What is poetry? Does it have to rhyme?  Care Center students discover that poetry is a kind of self-expression that can take many forms. The most important thing is that it express something authentic about the writer’s life, perspective, or perceptions.

We developed a poetry program in which students study contemporary and classic poets, and then create their own poems in response. While this form of creativity feels like a welcome contrast to core academic courses, students learn important writing skills. The experience of fun, challenging, creative writing is often the path that leads to a love of reading and writing.

Every year, a student-led editorial team produces Nautilus II, an anthology of student art and poetry that has received critical acclaim.


I remember us playing in the park in the fall.
I remember you pushing the boys in the swing.
I remember me sitting on the bench
watching you playing with my kids.
I remember hearing the swings, the smell of leaves,
the taste of dirt, and the cold wind blowing.
I remember us jumping in the pile of leaves, laughing.
I remember the day you turned your back and walked away.

—Yasmin Figueroa
Nautilus II, vol 10, Spring 2012

Praise the Young Mother

Praise the young mother with the short brown hair and the
eyes that see her growing daughter.
Praise the young mother that sacrificed her childhood early
to raise her won.
Praise her for leaving an abusive home to move out on her
own and bring her daughter up the right way.
Praise her for giving her all, and giving her daughter
everything she needs.
Praise her for going to school every day, trying so hard to get
an education.
Praise her for being so mature at 17, all grown, living for
every day.
Praise her for being independent.
Praise her.

—Samantha Gouvan
Nautilus II, vol. 10, Spring 2012

Sleepy Pen

Inside this pen
there is sleepy ink
ink that is dreaming
dreaming about importance.

—Marissa Rivera
Nautilus II, vol. 2, Spring 2004

When Things Were Perfect

The cool spring breeze flows through my
mother’s hair. The sound of dad’s tools in
the garage. The smell of my brother’s room:
a strong whiff of Axe. These days were so
perfect, un-noticed. The days lasting forever,
unappreciated. Now a strong, beautiful,
independent woman all grown up. No family
other than her child, missing the past wishing
she could go back to when daddy loved her.
Wishing mom was still only a room away.
Missing arguments about her brother eating
the rest of her favorite food. When life was perfect.

—Michelle Lariviere
Nautilus II, vol. 8, Spring 2010

Think About What You Think

If one times one is one
then why is one plus one, two?
Should I think of my life as multiplication,
or addition to make my life easier?
Since when is the sum not the answer?

—Jailines Cuevas
Nautilus II, vol. 11, Spring 2013

Thirteen Different Ways to Look At Me

I am like a dark shadow when
passing by you, you see a person with
two eyes that cry. And in silence, I
suffer. You may look at me as
something precious but that’s not how I
feel. I am like a closed capsule, dying
slowly and slowly. Anxious for someone
to find me. I am like rain, non-stop and
clear. Just imagine my flowing tears. I
am like an angel with broken wings.
Desperate to go to heaven so I cannot
feel no more pain. I am like a dead rose
wanting to be alive. Anxious to be able
to breathe again. I am like the color red,
the color of blood pouring out of my
broken heart.

—Betsy Franco
From Nautilus II, vol. 1, Spring 2003

Sing the Song

(inspired by For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange)

Sing the song of her confusion.
Sing the song of her pain/ her anger/her stress.
Sing the song of her, who wants to make a change.
Phrases of motherhood (only 15) with no baby daddy to
a motherhood of hell.
Sing the song of her, who wants to give her boy a better chance.
Sing the song of never living in a good environment.
I’m dancing on top of the world, telling myself I can do it.
A song of you telling me you love me,
A song of your lies, a song of our children.
She can’t hear anything except him in her ear, existing over
and over.
She can’t hear anything except the bad influence in the streets.
She can’t hear anything except violence, the screaming and
She doesn’t know the sound of the truth, the birds chirping,
playgrounds, parks, kids playing, running around.
She doesn’t know the sound of love, joy and happiness.
Sing the song of your life. Of your experiences. Sing the song of
your fears.
Of making a change for our people, for our world.

—Rhondesa Hoheb
Nautilus II, vol. 9, Spring 2011


Summer had just begun.
An old life was ending
A new one just beginning
Side by side, you stood
By me
Holding my heart between
Each hand
Taking my dreams with
Every kiss
Discovering each wonder
Of my hidden body
Enlacing love, and creating
Life without any conscious
You created life inside, but
Then walked away, like death
Walks away from life.

—Tania Caraballo
Nautilus II, vol. 8, Spring 2010

My Story

Young, friendly clueless girl.
happy, satisfied, helpful girl.
My story:
Mother, sister, daughter, friend.
My story:
Holyoke, why?
My story:
Thank God for a chance
in life.
I have a story.

—Ivelisse Correa
Nautilus II, vol. 9, Spring 2011

I Am…

I am the shadow
Of my child…
I am the brightest star
In the dark sky…
I am the roaring of
The rain that comes down…
I am the reflection of the moon
In the lake…
I am the flame that lights
Your fire…
I am the light that
Shines through your darkness…
I am the kiss that poisons
Your lips…
I am the mother
Of two intriguing children…
I am a golden child
Who’s been touched by angels…
I am a playful child
That plays along the river…
I am the music
You hear…
I am an algebra problem that
You could never figure out…
I am Carmen…
I am what I am
I am what hides behind my eyes…

—Carmen Cappas
Nautilus II, vol. 8, Spring 2010

The Sun Rises

The sun rises
But the storm
is still
Passing through
The dark woods
The pathway
The sun rises
Impatiently waiting
For the
You say
You’re present
But how come
The wind feels
As if you’re not here?

—Sharika Rivera
Nautilus II, vol. 8, Spring 2010


Talk about me…
But when you enter my room,
Here’s what you see…
A soul survivor that’s been set free.
As soon as you walk into my world,
the sink and mirror are there.
You should wash the filthy finger you’re pointing at me.
I’m more than a woman, more than a girl.
I’m a mother, daughter, sister, and friend, and you’ve
entered my world.
On the right wall, you see two beds
with pink and purple covers.
Two beds my daughter and I use to rest our heads
where we go to dream, where we go to sleep.
But you can’t get past the thought of judging me
‘cause I live in a shelter
with smarts from the street.
On the back wall there’s a window
that I look out often.
It’s not like the view will change,
but the thoughts in my head do.

—Christina Peckham
Nautilus II, vol. 10, Spring 2012

Her Mona Lisa

As she gazes out,
Out of reality,
She watches as time moves forward;
So much melody in the sounds of laughter,
So much harmony in their success —
With the small glimmer of fulfillment.
The premonition was as vivid & beautiful
As the Mona Lisa.
As time slowed, moving back…
She just stood there,
Embracing the vision.
Slowly the images began to fade
and she was back to an earlier time.
She heard a voice repeat itself.
“Where do you see yourself five years from now?”
She just looked in the direction of the voice
and smiled.

—Johanna Santiago
Nautilus II, vol. 10, Spring 2012