Delaney Ham 2019

Poem:     "Mama Bear"

Poem:     "Downtown 4th Avenue"

Poem:     "Love Is"

Poem:     "Last Night"

Story:      "The First Proposal"

After "Belief in Magic"



Mama Bear


You gave me

your wavy chestnut hair,

the freckles sprinkled

over the bridge of your nose,

your short stature.


You gifted me with

your kindness, optimism,


and love for others.


You taught me how

to bake, color inside the lines,

say “please” and “thank you,”

help others,

and write my name.


You spend hours listening

to all the things I have to say,

laughing with me at

my quirks, and hugging me

when life gets tough.


You pull my hair into ponytails

when I don’t want to do it myself

and help me with my makeup

for prom and school productions.


You come to every game to

watch me cheer, every

one act performance to clap the loudest,

every parent teacher conference.


We share our gummy bear addiction,

fear of wasps,

and hold grudges against camping.

We’ve made countless

memories together.


You’re my go-to person,

my comfort, my teacher.

You are my mama bear.


Downtown 4th Avenue


We ride our bikes over

deep brown bricks,

weaving between soaring buildings

and a rainbow of cars.

This is the place of unforgettable first dates,

Swedish days and street dancing,

lighthearted photoshoots with friends.

Vibrant music and endless conversation

fills the space.

Fireworks crackle, breaking the

constant darkness of sky;

flames of red, green, and purple dance in

deep blue.

Lightning bugs dot the blackness,

vivid lights protruding through it.

Smoke clouds the air,

a reminiscence of the bonfire

only hours ago.

The last firecracker springs up

and blooms

into the night sky.

We unlock our hands

and ride home.


Tell Me You Love Me In a Phone Booth


     Through the curtain of rain, I spot a burst of red cutting through the monotony like lightning. As I get closer, I see it’s a phone booth; I sprint towards it and throw open the door. I dash inside and hit something clothed in gray. As I wipe the rain from my glasses, I see broad shoulders, dark hair, and piercing blue eyes scanning me up and down. I stare back with wide eyes, mouth gaping.

     “Oh, sorry,” I mutter. “I’m Kara.”

     “No, no, you’re fine. I’m Nathan. I see you’ve managed to escape the storm only a little wet,” he replies, stifling a laugh. Looking down, I notice that I’m completely drenched; my ponytail is starting to revert back to its curl, my jeans are dripping, and my shoes are leaking water with the slightest movement.

     I look back up and smile awkwardly. “Yeah, just a little,” I say with a giggle.

     With the storm still raging and no signs of letting up anytime soon, we sit on the grubby floor and strike up a conversation. Nathan is currently in medical school, he has three little sisters, and is single… my favorite fact I learned about him that day.

     Suddenly, the door flies open. I realize it’s sunny again and my clothes are almost dry. A woman looks at us like we’re insane before she slowly shuts it and walks away.

     “I guess we should probably get going,” I say with a frown.

     “Well, I don’t have anywhere to be. How about a cup of coffee?”

     I light up with the biggest smile and nod. I can already tell this afternoon will change everything.


Love Is


We see love everyday.

Rom-coms, dads dancing

with their daughters,

swoon-worthy Instagram posts.

Three little words,

I love you,

mean so many different things.


Love is that hug your

mom gives you after a long day,

the “good job!” following your big game,

your favorite dinner, just because.


Love is that warm, full

feeling in your stomach,

when you feel like your heart

could burst.


Love is your boyfriend

waking up at six in the morning

on a Saturday to bring you coffee.

Notes stuck in your binder,

a simple text asking how your day was.


Love is your dog

licking tears off your face,

an unexpected thank you note,

staying up late to Facetime

your best friend

after her break up.


Love can mean so many things

in three simple words.

Last Night


“One injured, three dead,”

The hospital TV says.

You never believe

it could happen to you.


I was behind the wheel

when we saw the headlights,

like fireworks

cutting through the summer night.


Seatbelts were forgotten,

abandoned in the moment.

“California Girls” blasted from

the radio, windows rolled down

to make room

for the warm summer air.


Empty beer cans,

drained only minutes before,

clattered in the back seat.


Even after the crash,

you could still hear Katy Perry’s voice

playing through the stereo

crumpled on the street.


Head-on collision, they said.

At least the other car’s passengers

were wearing seatbelts, they said.


Here I lay,

in my hospital bed.

“You were the lucky one,”

my doctor disclosed.


He has it

turned around.

Death would be a sanctuary

compared to the guilt

that sleeps beside me.


It was just one night.

We were dancing, laughing,

just eighteen.

Headed to college tomorrow,

this was our last night together.


Our last night of all.


The First Proposal


     I wander over cream colored bricks, paved smooth in some places and uneven in others. Hundreds of vibrant flowers cover vendors’ carts, lining the path with picturesque beauty.

     I try to forget it all, try to let the stress blow into the sky like orange blossoms cut loose from trees.

     Worry invades every step I take as I head back to my hotel room to get ready for supper. Adam is proposing to Eleanor tonight; I can’t tell my best friend that her boyfriend is flying in to surprise her. Which is great… except she told me today that she’s going to break up with him. And he’s already on the plane.

     I run through the options in my head. I can tell her so she can prepare herself, or I can just let it be, honor my word to Adam, and save her the stress. Ughhh.

     I push the thoughts aside and go to dinner with her, to the restaurant where her life is about to be changed.

     We walk through the beautiful archway, draped in deep green vines and pink rose buds. There he is. I scan Eleanor’s face, but she hasn’t noticed yet. He’s down on one knee and holding the ring. Eleanor sees him; her eyes go wide, her jaw drops, she freezes.

     “Eleanor.” Adam begins. “You’re my best friend. I love all of our memories we’ve made and I can’t wait to make so many more. I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you. Eleanor Elizabeth Brown, will you ma-”

     “I just- I- uhhh…” she stammers, cutting him off.

     Adam’s smile slowly begins to fade. “E-Eleanor?” he squeaks as his eyes beg for a sign.

     She pivots towards the arch and makes her escape, wiping away the tears that stain her face.

     Adam stares where she once stood, dazed. Then, his eyes wander up to find me.

     “Wha… what just happened?! What do I do?” he asks me, worry working its way from the top of his head to his toes.

     “I don’t know.” I reply. “But you can start by going to find her to figure this out.”

     He runs off like Prince Charming chasing after his Cinderella.

* * *

     I go back to the hotel after buying two cartons of gelato from a small shop across from the restaurant. Eleanor returns a couple hours later.

     “So… how’d it go?” I cautiously ask.

     She trudges over, throws herself down on the couch, face plants into a pillow. I go and sit on the coffee table across from her, brushing some hair away and tucking it behind her ear.

     “I’m confused,” she sputters into the pillow.

     “Here, sit up. Want gelato? I have chocolate peanut butter or strawberry cream cheese, take your pick,” I coax her. When she props herself up, there are tears streaming down her face, taking her mascara with it.

     Prompting her with an understanding smile, she starts talking.

     “I just don’t know what to do,” she begins. “Adam is such a great guy. When I didn’t say yes, he came after me and found me by the river, and we just talked about it. We talked about how we haven’t had an actual conversation the whole time you and I have been gone, I told him that I’d been thinking about breaking up, and he said that he decided to come down and propose spontaneously, which was probably a mistake. He said I should take my time and think about it, and that we can take it slower if I want to. What do you think?” she asks me.

     “Elle, if you’re unsure, it means you must still feel something for him. Take it slow, and if it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out.”

* * *

     Tears fill my eyes as I watch Eleanor walk down the aisle, three years after she turned down the first proposal. She looks gorgeous; her white dress glistens under the lights and roses adorn her manicured hands.

     After saying “I do,” she shoots me a glance and kisses her husband, knowing she made the right decision.