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School Year’s 8-10 Category Winner Brotherhood and Dice by Siddarth Lakhiani

The boy rolled dice
his brothers found unworthy.
The boy moved pawns
his brothers thought too slow.
The boy raced for affection
his brothers concluded too desperate.
So in board games and cowardice,
grew compliance and avoidance.

The boy rolled dice
his brothers judged weighted.
The boy moved pawns
his brothers saw inappropriate.
The boy chased the love
his brothers withheld too harshly.
So in board games and boldness
grew competition and resentment.

The brothers rolled dice
he found unworthy.
The brothers moved pawns
he thought too slow.
The brothers raced for affection
he concluded too desperate.
So in board games and acrimony
grew a fractured understanding of brotherhood.

The dice were left dormant,
unrolled and untouched.
The brothers left each other unspoken,
unheard and unexpressed.
Their branches separated far from games
and towards ambitions far from home.
Their solaces were found in malcontent,
their dissatisfaction born of ungratefulness.

It wasn't until the brothers were older,
speaking in honest tune with one another,
they realized that equals never became them,
and humility was accepting loss as breath-inevitable.
Their pride flew them into each other,
bolstering their stillness and altruism.
The boy and his brothers rolled the dice
and found a welcome brotherhood in acknowledgment.

Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:

“The central motif of this very clever poem is how the relationship between brothers is likened to a game of chance where moves are dictated by a roll of dice. Pawns make us conjure up a complicated game of chess or draughts, but the dice point to board games where there is always an element of the unpredictable. Likewise, the brothers’ affection fluctuates, sometime binding them together, sometime leading to a ‘fractured understanding.’ There are moments when the players are probably cheating (the boy rolled dice/his brothers thought weighted); they also abstain from playing, estranged from one another. The subtle game reflects the vicissitudes of brotherly love until, with the coming of maturity, honesty and humility, altruism becomes the mainstay of their relationship. It is the ever-changing nature of the brothers’ feelings for one another that gives the poem its emotional impetus. A very sophisticated poem and a worthy winner in this category.”

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