Winner: Nikolina Rokic, 'Beautiful with a Question Mark'

Winner: Nikolina Rokic,

‘Beautiful with a Question Mark’

Nikolina Roki’s poem ‘Beautiful with a Question Mark’ is the recipient of a 2020 Newcastle Poetry Competition Young People’s Prize.


Beautiful with a Question Mark


The daisy chain dips gently over your eye

It looks like a crown

A badge of honour worn like a halo

Listen I know your country’s history

Your arms yielded swords fighting for the stretch of skin over your stomach

Your legs ache from escaping the wildfire

Your thighs splashed with blood

An abandoned battlefield

The soil restless and upturned

Stretch marks are trenches where soldiers slept and prayed

Came from under the covers of your kneecaps to shoot bullets at your shins

Bruised knees remains of fallen empires

Razor bumps protesting for peace

Paper cuts the innocent civilians

And lemon juice is the bomb

Fingernails and eyelashes give handouts on street corners

I guess acne is socialist reform

Your body is what’s left after the war

There are blown up governments nestled in your brain

And your heart is a scrapyard for fighter planes and air-raid shelters

Please salute your veterans

But remember their violence wasn’t pretty

Their bloodshed a romantic novel

Or a self-insert fanfiction for your flashbacks


Look I’m just worried about you

You’re still beautiful

I don’t really mean the question mark


Nikolina Rokic, 15