Valentine’s Day Poetry Contest 2023

In this year’s Valentine’s Day contest on our Instagram page at @nushjournalism, students wrote and submitted poems in line with the prompt “Through the Thorns of Love”. Below are the first to third place winners, as well as the honorable mentions and other entries. Congratulations to all winners!

first place

Kaarneka (M23607)

My mother breathes life into fireflies
A reprinted page, only misaligned
The sting of her love screams a lullaby

The blood of the womb scents a sea of smiles
grotesque in hopes for a pityful mind –
My mother breathes life into fireflies

A match to the lip, a seal as a price
To speak is war, silence is dignified
The sting of her love screams a lullaby

Is it wrong to wish a miracle twice?
Her map is uncharted , she quells the tide
My mother breathed life into a firefly

“We” spans only a quiet, putrid sigh
over platitudes, and all they implied
The sting of her love screams a lullaby

These penstrokes (for a legacy I defy)
In loving memory, ” Thatha’s* favourite child.”
My mother breathes life into fireflies
The sting of her love screams a lullaby

*Thatha meaning grandfather in Tamil

second place

Vernon Jude Pui (M23605) & Tan Cher Hean (M23607)

If you should come upon a thorn,
Do not caress it; for I bled
And over old wounds, I still mourn.

A petty bandage should be worn
Upon the cut; that much is said
If you should come upon a thorn.

Please do not treat your scab with scorn,
For I picked at it, and it shed
The thorn inside; and thus I mourn

The loss of once a burden borne.
Subtract only what was added
If you should come across a thorn.

And fear not hurt but hope forlorn,
For the journey through the rosebed,
The absence of which I would mourn.

And scratches, slashes, scars adorn
A withered crown upon my head
If you should come upon a thorn
Wear it with pride until the morn.

third place

Neo Wee Zen (M23404)

Rose in my hands

I’ve held your rose for a week or two
I don’t want to give it away
don’t want it to go to waste
don’t want this rose to

But what can I do? I picked them from
Your well-planned garden, on
Your clean kempt porch, for
My selfish enjoyment,
Savouring slowly till I’ve sucked the scent

Through the thorns of your love
I could bleed
I could bleed out
I could see my life trickle out
(the rose, a mere placeholder of)

You would have thought it was creepy
That I plucked one of your roses
And you would retrieve it
By stealing out of my corpse’s hand

And the tighter I grip my rose,
The more I hurt,
The more petals fall,
So before lesions succeed,
And terminal torment takes heed

I’ve pruned the thorns
And kept them in a glass jar
So I woefully watch
As the thorns outlive the flower

honourable mentions

Eliora (M23607)

through the thorns of love
upon His head
i was breathed back to life.

through the throes of love
as He cried to the heavens
i was bought and paid for.

through the triumphs of love
as He rose again
death was destroyed.

and so today through the trials of love
i hold you
and remember:
i love because He loved me first.


Why did you abuse me?
” I thought of you as the perfect child”

Matter of fact tone,
like tiny thorns
tearing my heart.
No guilt,
no remorse.
“I just thought of you as the perfect child”

My every flaw deserved abuse
because I was less than perfect
They wanted me to be perfect
They only loved me because I was perfect
They wouldnt settle for worthless trash

16 years and I still wonder
If I would ever recover
or will the thorns of “love”
tear my life to shreds


love is like a rose.
petals wilt
seasons change
all’s left is a thorny stem.

weren’t we meant to be?

i’m all alone
clasping the stalk of our past
a million pricks.
as i lie, staring blankly, weeping for a better time.

other submissions



mellow nights, moonlight
dahlias swaying in the rain
yet none as beautiful as
the epitome of grace,
miss hussain

the love of my life;
when shall we meet again?
as i venture the lands and sail the seas
the tender memory of you will remain

you bring me pain,
miss hussain
as your elegant, slender fingers
run through my hair, your touch lingers

soul meets soul
as your lips meet mine
i have longed for you for years
will you be mine until the end of time?

Kew Cheng Feng Timothy (M23505)

love is lost on those with closed eyes

doubters may say that love is childish, foolish
that you will always be pricked by the thorns after savouring the scent of roses;
yet the ones that get to smell that sweet fragrance
are the ones who are able to take the thorns in their stride.
only fools dont observe
the folly of their ways

love is lost on those with closed eyes

one should have their eyes open to take in
the tapestry of sight and sound unfolding in front of them in a lover
the way that their eyes gaze shyly, full of longing; darting away once they meet yours
how their cheeks seem to blush slightly even without any prompting
or the way their voice contains a slight lilt and change in cadence and pace
when they speak in kind to someone that they love

love is lost on those with closed eyes
in any case i would despise
them who talk
and always balk
but fail to see that they’re blind

Charlize (M23607)

roses, holly, blackberry

i picked a flower, i stole it,
from the walls around your heart.

i kissed its petals –
vibrant, pleasant, soothing, delicate
and embraced the bristles –
in the shadows, sharp, painful
(but does it not belong to the flower the same?)

i picked a flower, i stole it,
and put it in your hair.

i kissed your petals –
joy, passion, kindness, peace
and i embraced your bristles –
flawed, tempestuous, conflicted, pained
(but does it not belong to you the same?)

when you pick a flower, you learn
beauty comes with a pain
but it does not mean
that i will not love you the same

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