Anaisbely Franjul is a seventh-grader at M.S. 118 William Niles in the Bronx. She wrote this poem after taking last week’s state reading exam, whose scores will count when she and other seventh-graders apply to high school next year. Franjul hopes to attend LaGuardia High School for Music and Art & the Performing Arts to pursue her passion for writing.

20 minutes on the clock.
My brain is sweating.
My pencil’s racing through pages.
My hands are crying
“I can’t take it anymore.”
My eyes cry onion tears
Oh no! 10 minutes left
One passage blank
One response half done
The pale chalk
In my teacher’s hand
Mocking my pain
As she erases the numbers and says
“Two minutes left”
Smoke is coming out of my ears
What does “dismal” mean?
I need an ambulance
My heart is going to come out
My hands have a cold
It’s shaking as I circle
The letter B
I am drunk
I’m shrinking
And the room is getting bigger
HELP!
5,4,3,2,1…TIME’S UP!