The results of Student Life’s first ever Poetry Contest are in!

Your First Place Winner: College sophomore Bennett Ostdiek!


I am a dolphin.

When people look at me adjectives like

Sleek, powerful, majestic

Spring unbidden into their mind.

You might go to the aquarium and see me swimming around and around in circles

Patrolling my waters, ruling my fiefdom

And think to yourself “That guy doesn’t f–k around.”

They say I’m the most intelligent of all non-human animals,

Self-aware and capable of complex emotion.

It’s no big deal, but basically I possess the cognitive abilities of a three-year old.

But you know what that means?

It means I’m smart enough to know I’m in a cage

But not smart enough to get out of it.

Since I’m self-aware and capable of complex emotion I like to take advantage of it

By looking around at all the other sea creatures

And noting how much easier they have it than me.

Jealously is a complex emotion, right?

Take the goldfish. He has a memory span of only three seconds

So every moment is a brand new adventure for him.

Not me. I cannot escape my past, no matter how sleek and majestic I am.

To quote Tennyson: “I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch… whose margin fades when I move.”

And check out those electric eels.

You can watch them for hours and they will never move.

Not to overuse the Tennyson, but sometimes

I just want to shout at them “Come my friends,

Tis not too late to seek a newer world. For my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset… until I die.”

On the other hand, when it looks like I’m going to die

Before I sail beyond the sunset (and let’s be real, that’s most of the time)

I think they have the right idea.

On those occasions I want nothing more than to go out to the woods for a year

Or maybe disappear into Africa.

But I know I never will, because I’m a dolphin

And dolphins live in shallow seas located on continental shelves.

At least according to Wikipedia.

Besides, someone has to patrol my waters.

You want to know who knows what’s up?

It’s the sea otters. The sign above their tank

Says that they are the ‘Protectors of the Sea Kelp.’

How awesome a title is that?

The Protectors of the Sea Kelp. Man, I could say that all day.

And the crazy thing is, they aren’t burdened by their responsibility.

They’re too busy frolicking and chasing and wrestling and napping

To be bothered by any of it.

I can almost hear them quoting Tennyson to themselves:

“That which we are we are.”

Of course they don’t actually quote Tennyson

Seeing as they aren’t self-aware or capable of complex emotion.

But I like to imagine them quoting Tennyson anyway.

Because when people look at me they think to themselves

“That guy doesn’t f–k around.”

And when I look at the sea otters,

The Protectors of the Sea Kelp,

I can’t help but be jealous.

I’m sure they have their own s–t too, but as far as I can see

All they do is f–k around.