Crop from

2022 Coastal Art & Poetry Contest Winners


Coastal Art & Poetry Contest Details









Wilderness in My City

I hear the leaves whistle.
                     The palm trees shake and rustle.

I see the waves crash.
I see nature...cactus blooms,
                     salty ocean.

I feel the sand, rocks bumping against
my feet, crabs pinching my heels.

I hear cars racing, people talking,
trains rumbling.

                     There's a lot of wilderness but
                     also city all around us.

I'm here where I belong,
                                        you and me are

Wyatt Thompson
Grade 1, Encinitas


The Pacific Ocean

I love when the waves touch my toes.
It feels like I am home.
The sand in my toes fills my heart.
The seashell close to my ear.
I can feel the ocean in my heart.
Blue ocean.
White sand.
I am happy.

Zoe Corona
Grade 1, Poway


A Busy Day at the Beach

The Sea...I love the Sea...
The shells, the sea glass,
The Sand dollars, the kelp,
  I love it all so much!
I sway with the waves
As they crash on my feet
And I watch it sadly as it goes back
  I already had a busy day
It is time for me to go home
  As I go home in the car
I wave at the waves
Just as another one comes back.

Kavya S. Iyer
Kindergarten, San Diego



Whale Journey

On our journey along the California coast
We stop for snacks but have to keep moving because time is precious and seasons are changing.
Onward we go to find a warm haven
So many sea creatures around me
starfish, jellyfish and even sea anemones

We don't go close to the seashore
But when I look down it's sand galore

Water in my fins, jumping up with the winds

The waves crash on the surface as I glide through the water
I shoot up and then down it makes a big splash all around.
But before I disappear I fan my tail to show that I am a whale!
The sun is going down as I settle into the warm current.

Adelaide Harrison Cook
Grade 3, Santa Barbara


I Want to Live in the Ocean

I know you all have
Lots of fun,
You play there deep down
And come up
To get heat from the Sun.

I know you all are,
full of colors
Red, yellow, white, green
Pink and cream.

I know deep-down there are,
Sharks, starfish and giant whales.
And flocking fluttering,
Octopus, lobster, fish with sails.

I want to live with you all,
Would love to go deep down and become small.

I really wish, I could be a fish
With just one thought, don't get caught.

Kavisha Gupta
Grade 2, Irvine


Hermit Crab (at Buckhorn Cove)

Hermit crab in his shell,
like a little wishing well.

and very shy,

to see him
you must spy.

Julien A. Mecum
Grade 3, Sebastopol


Loved ones are always there
But when they've passed
It feels like the world has left without you
The only thing as vast and deep
Is the ocean
Which feels when you weep

Saoirse Tien-Rickard
Grade 3, Sebastopol



Go With the Tide

The ocean is calling,
calling to me,
it speaks of treasures,
hidden in the depths of the sea,
it speaks of ships, buried under
millennia of sand,
it speaks of things only it knows of,
of hidden islands, of a secret land.

The ocean is calling,
calling to me,
it speaks of the moon,
pulling the tide.
It spins the story of those alive,
it remembers the ways
of those who have died. The ocean is
dangerous, and yet so alive.
It brings me serenity,
and reminds me to go
with the tide.

Bony McKnight
Grade 5, Arcata



Tears are sad
Are cold
Are mad
The clouds are crying tonight

I see their tears
They hit my ears
My eyes
My body
My mind

My waves, they splash
High and low

My waves, they splash
And they know

A storm is brewing

The clouds are mad

The moon is sad

Clouds angry tears
And Moons sad gaze

Together will they stay

And I the ocean
Sway and simmer

I the ocean, am the spectator

Anusha Garg
Grade 5, Dublin


The Ocean

The waves crash down on me.
The blue water engulfs me as I dive deeper and deeper into the murky liquid
The ocean pulls me as if it wanted to welcome me.
Friendly sea life circles me like they knew who I was.
The seaweed creates a bed of green as if it was expecting me.
A cloud of sand emerges as I thud on the bottom of the sea.
Shells and stones greet me on the seafloor.
A crab scurries past me like it had somewhere to be.
  Faster and faster.
I looked up and saw a blurry image of the sun.
The water swayed from side to side.
A small fish intercepts my view.
Then it dashes away.
I was all alone in the ocean.
  All alone.
With only the sea to guide me back.

Emytis Keyhan
Grade 5, San Jose


My Magical Place

My favorite thing to do is to go tidepooling.
I like it better than video games and ice cream, I'm not fooling.
Although the crashing waves are impressive and fascinating too,
It is the shallow pools, the crevices that amaze me most as I wander through.
Stepping from the millions of grains of sand into a slippery, rocky world,
Gently treading forward, I almost step on a sea snail, its shell swirled.

Crouching, I look into my first large tidepool. What do I see?
I spy a striped fish, two sea stars, and a mint green anemone.

Turning to the pool behind me, water splashes as my eye catches a blur.
It is a shy, maroon octopus retreating into darkness, I'm sure!
Pulled forward by excitement, I encounter more watery nooks and crannies.
Carefully stepping over limpets and barnacles, I see many fish families.
Ancient chitons and purple sea urchins add more delight.
I also see two tiny crabs having a friendly fight.
I leave this magical place feeling enchanted,
hoping that my wish to return here soon will be granted.

Micah Yao
Grade 4, Sacramento



My Home

You can have
Your Hawaiian beaches
You can keep
Mexico's bays
Florida's seas
Are all yours
Just leave me
West coast waters
California oceans
Icicle waves
Sinking sand
Jagged cliffs
My roots
Are in this dusty dry dirt
Beneath my bare feet
My family
Lives where rain
Is a celebration
My people
Have a tan
All winter
My weather
Is 70 degrees
Never snow
My home
Is California
Where the hills are pink
As the sun sinks down
Where the ocean
Is never too far away
Where people live
Elbow to elbow
'Cause who wouldn't want to live
In my beautiful home
Of California

Emily Mattea Hembruch
Grade 7, Fremont


Beach Therapy

Sometimes, I like to stand alone here, at the beach
Listen to the waves rolling and hitting the rocks
The sound is loud, but I reach, reach, reach
Reach for the peace that I cannot box
Because, to me, war is fated
It comes and it goes but it never stops
And I'm not talking about the times war waited
I'm saying that there are times when my heart just drops
Because I'm not anyone, I'm just a kid
And I can't do anything that I want to do
I'm not extraordinary, I'm just mid
And so, I just feel blue
But the beach helps me a lot
It helps me realize who I am
It's always there for me, and it doesn't have to be bought
It's pure and innocent, just like a lamb
And so unlike me, so unlike everything
It's calming and it's soothing, it doesn't pick a fight
The water helps me realize that I'm not nothing
I'm my own person, and I have my own light
Time goes by, and the ocean never ages
While I age, age so much
Perhaps I'll come to the ocean again, let out my rages
Come to the ocean, let myself have a crutch
It was there for me when no one else was
I'll always remember you with a fond smile
And just like the Tooth Fairy, Tinkerbell, and Santa Claus
You helped me get through every trial
You were really a part of my childhood
And for that, I'll never be able to thank you the way I wanted to
And you're not just the word "good"
You're the epitome of everything perfect in the world, and you helped me push through

Kyomin Kwon
Grade 7, San Jose


The Ocean, Our Home

We were born of seafoam and ocean tides,
Nourished by the warm sand.
We spent our childhood listening to the hum of the waves,
Hearts beating in time to the seagulls' cries.
We danced in the light of the full moon,
Searching for a pirate's lost fortune.
We sung by the edge of the shore,
Shrieking as the ocean tried to pull us in.
Hearts of rolling tides,
Seashell eyes,
Ocean water flowing through our veins,
We are more ocean than land,
More mermaid than human.
Now we live a life of traffic lights and office suites,
The melody of clanking keyboards on repeat.
Our hearts pump blood to the city's ever-present band,
We are polluted in accordance with our homeland.
As the plastic kills the animals,
We lose a little more of our soul,
Surrounded by blaring lights and the din of the city,
We forget our universal Mother,
The ocean, the world's natural beauty.

Jessica Liao
Grade 8, Pleasanton



Night approaches. A dark being enters the sea
Spreading through water, like a wildfire
Staining fish scales,
Silencing the whales' soft songs,
Casting darkness through the soft currents
Wrapping sea life in the reaper's cloak.
Born of mother nature, altered for our uses
The faith of our reality depends on this dark and unruly substance

Aarav Parihar
Grade 8


The Sands of Time

I can remember how it was,
smoke thick in the air, choking my lungs.
the waves crashing, multicolored, a murmuration of plastic.
I tried to find something, a piece of hope, in the rough desolate sands,
but all there was was the weight of collective failure.

Did I forget how the days used to be,
shining bright in immortal youth?
Splashing in the turquoise surf, carefree, unaware?
All I could think of was how broken the world was,
and not of how broken it had been, in my childlike naivete.

Can we fix it, I wondered?
A challenge it is to turn sand back into a stone.
A ray of light took me to the broken waves and we reached,
down into the water, to where the sand touched time.
When we are gone the sand will stay.
Swaying in the lukewarm water, living the California Dream.

I didn't know back then, what would happen.
Neither do I now.
As the walls around me crumble to dust, I realize.
I do not matter.

Viola Seda
Grade 7, Point Reyes Station



Black Girl Surfing

Dedicated to the organization Color the Water who works to make the surfing community a more diverse and supportive one

Wetsuits that smell like rubber and salt
Pinching my body, in a web, caught
Brown skin getting darker from the sun
Staring at the waves, itching to run because
My place in the lineup is unknown
When no one's skin matches my tone

Paralyzed by my fears and doubts
Big, dark waves crashing and roaring
Shivering even though it's not cold
Not having the privilege to be confident and bold
Dolphins and sanderlings and pelicans, floating
Graceful and calm, so sure of where they're going
And me questioning why I'm even here
If the waves that I'm supposed to ride
Are the ones that I fear
Me questioning whether I belong
When I feel so thoroughly alone
Smiling men with a kind "good morning!"
Them chasing waves I want to, flying high and soaring
Like catching my dreams in a jar
While I sit on my board from afar

Cheers and calls of support
Laughs and "how are you's?"
Afro curls popping up on a wave
And bouncing all the way to shore
Me watching the pros and playing copycat
Finally feeling brave because
I know if I fall on a wave
My people will still commend me
Light refracting on the water
A rainbow with all the colors
No longer trapped in a web
But held up in one
My feet off the ground

Zora Hollie
Grade 11, Los Angeles


American Pipit

There is a songbird living on the coast
Who runs along the rocks and speckled sand—
With feathers brown and tan just like fresh toast,
He dwells beside the cobalt ocean grand.
As he walks, the pipit bobs his tail and head
And looks for swarms of tasty bugs, and then
He catches ones that have not run away or fled.
The little footprints mark the places he has been.
The plover seems to be the pipit's twin:
See how across the sand both creatures run—
And yet the pipit is not plover's kin—
Instead his family is a different one:
Like brighter cousin finch, the pipit sings
A joyful song exalting northern spring.

Ethne Anders
Grade 11, Stockton


Oh, How the Waters Live

the waves hush
           dawn sands cough at my feet
           and the strip of footprints molded into the shore, vanish like a breath
                                 i am the coastal phantom of South Ponto beach
           but broken masks and shattered bottles
face shields, latex gloves—all once needed, then discarded

the waves seethe
           invisible organisms lurch and writhe and roar
                                 Her tides are speckled red with life
                                 i shudder in apology
                                            in awe
                                            in ardor
                                            the joints of Her waters, clogged with trash and polymer scraps
                                 Her saline blood, tainted with oily fingerprints and omissions
                      She lunges, only to stagger when She hits the shore

the waves glister
           dusk salt sprays the shores like pearls
                      hear Her healing
                                 as the sun sinks under the horizon night spotlights Her inner-workings
                                                       Her subjects
                                                       Her nanoscopic inhabitants
                                            oh, how the waters live!
like a pulse, swirls of ghostly plankton barrel through the waves
           with soft cyan hues
           bioluminescent dinoflagellates—teem at the lack of a human shove
                      Her tides glow blue
                                 and circle back to Her depths

Sophia Cho
Grade 10, San Jose


Rainbow Trout

The sun hasn't even set eyes on this side of the shore yet.
Sleepy town. Fingers of fog closing in like a fist about to close.

In the midst of it all—the mist settling into its seat on the horizon,
the sea gently nudging the sand awake—a distant splash.

It slips under and over the swells, laughing.
Belly flashing in the sun like a purple burst of silver lupine,

Crashing froth catches its reds in California Fuchsia and
Creams of Black Sage. Fins sweep into bows.

Spin a thousand droplets down a field of
Cattails in the morning air's current,

Skittish in the streets. Breaths whirlpool 'round lampposts,
Churns—hungry—under park benches.

Daybreak tails each inhale.

A trick of the light, you think,
Starting back to the pier.

Emma Keas
Grade 10, San Jose


I Could Dance on the Seas

i'd always been taught to stay away from the waters,
that they were wild and coarse and turbulent,
that they'd drag me down if i ever gave them the chance

but now i'm dancing through the waves like a myth
like a nymph, a naiad of the stories and songs elders sang
i couldn't tame the waters and all its wild
i couldn't tame the sea, in all its shimmering glory
beneath the midday sun
but that was okay, because it wouldn't be half as beautiful
if it bent its will to me

and it's not hard to envision
the rose colored corals that adorned my hair
strands of beaded pearls hanging from my slender wrists
as i weaved between the waves each time it crashed,
and then receded again
leaving only the imprints of my sea glass slippers on the honeyed sand

and in all honesty, i found it marvelous
that the ocean waves were alive, that they could breathe
and i was alive too, more alive than i'd ever been
as i laughed and twirled and breathed along the rhythm of the sea
and in that moment, i was a fever dream

Christina Li
Grade 10


Last Night I Dreamed of Huntington Beach

after Rita Dove

The sand was streaked black with oil. Dead crabs,
birds, and fish were washed ashore, by the ever
           rising sea.

Bright yellow sunlight lined the clouds which
           poured blood rain.
The water looked like iodine, as if God was trying to

           disinfect the Earth. Seashells were scattered everywhere
           creating a rainbow of stars,
only to be washed away, leaving an imprint in the sand.

the sun disappeared and moonlight colored my
           black body blue.

Lighting painted the sky and I heard the wind start

Clouds burst into flames, melting the sky like wax, I ran into
           the sea,
still rising — it consumed me. In the ocean's blue darkness
           I could see everything:

Wailing mermaids bleeding oil and glowing seashells forming
dancing white coral grinning at me, and seven angelfish blowing
whale carcasses singing with teeth made of plastic and
           eyes made
from a thousand carpenter bees. The cacophony of their noises
           creating a symphony.

With a slack jaw, I listened to the ocean's beautiful orchestra,
I swallowed water, plastic straws, shards of glass, and broken
           seagull wings.

Dilinna Ugochukwu
Grade 12, Lancaster