The 2004 winner of America magazine's poetry contest was an unbelievably bad poem. The 2005 winner describes an imagined slave ship tossing its human cargo overboard. Its quality is improved, but still awkward. The Jesuit editors must have a taste for mediocre moralism.
The poem's unfortunate comparison of school buses with slave ships makes the theme break from strain. It recalls a ditty of mock-profundity I wrote in high school, its first line having appeared to me in a dream:
All Hail the Mighty School Bus,
That fiendish yellow beast
Which carts away childhood
Like bandits in the night.
Yet some congratulation is due to John Hodgen, who has surpassed the admittedly low standard of Tryphon Tolides.