my brother writes to me
and in his letter tells me about stargazers,
which get their name from burying themselves
in sand. when they look up to capture
their prayer, it looks like they are gazing
at stars. i think that’s pretty poetic, so instead
of writing about the deaths and the dry, bloodless
nights, i will talk about the stars juicing
the universe’s sorrow, filling moon craters with it like champagne.
imagine this: a bond, a connection, a
sweet, sugary rope tying you together
like two matching silly bandz bracelets
signing friendship matrimony. twinning
crop tops & photo posts, reserved lunch
spots & group roles, unspoken code;
trespassed secrets, temperately wild;
bold & free. imagine this: sugar turned
sour candy, rosy links rusting on the cold
cafeteria floor. strangers turned friends,
friends into sisters, then strangers again.
A woman and a girl sat on the porch of a white house. The girl stared at her old shoes while the woman watched the cars pass Madison Street before disappearing at the curve. They were quiet and sad, and so they were speechless.
Outside it was still wet from the morning rain. Chipmunks and squirrels were buried in logs; birds hid within the black leaves of the trees and sang to each other; even the mosquitoes were avoiding the rest of the world. A pond on the other side of the street rippled from the sudden leap of a fish. The air was taken by the smell of pine needles and lily pads and petrichor.
A train broke the silence. As the whistle faded the woman checked her watch and then checked it again as if the time had cheated her.
Maybe she would be busy in the back of the shop, organizing the mugs that Brentwood’s Coffee offered to frequent customers. One after the other, carefully stacking them in their designated spots. The bell on the door would chime suddenly, breaking her out of her reverie. She would startle, almost dropping the coffee mug (but not quite because that would be cliché), and turn quickly to see who it was. She wouldn’t observe anything too specific about the man; perhaps a glimpse of green eyes or the small imperfections in his sweater.
coal cracks into diamonds.
search deep within your crevices and mine
all that is black and impure to be harvested as
our garish garnishes
until the walls of your pericardium are pinkish and raw.
probe your weaknesses and gouge them out
Joy: a feeling of great pleasure or happiness. Alternatively: a chemical reaction. Alternatively: a necessary survival instinct. Also: yellow stains on glaring white teeth, gregarious roaring in a public place, the tickle that runs down your hand when you enter somewhere great.
Depression: feelings of severe despondency and dejection. Alternatively: a chemical reaction. Alternatively: a necessary survival instinct. Seen in: written-journals collecting dust, a letter never sent, the drop in my heart when I realize I no longer love.
The etchings on the sloped ceiling feel a little lower today,
they wade above, looming like a dejected tapestry―
shrouding me, from whatever waits beyond the two doors.
I hear the first click, then wood sliding against a dusty carpet,
a second click, then the shadow stretches across a mahogany hallway.
But what if I stayed in the waiting room,
under the looming tapestry, and the ornate carpet,
the smell of lavender masking an antique musk,
the buzz of a building well-lived in,
and the creaks from below and above.
when Waltzing Alone in an abandoned ballroom
is deemed insanity
i will set myself alight
dousing myself in belladonna-infused gasoline,
perfuming my bones like death peeling back my skin
with the tulle of my skirt wet with fallen rain and
unfulfilled prophecies, words caught from northern
invention created from these newborn hands,
calluses on the fingertips.
pieces of history forced down my throat, tasting like
raw coffee beans and broken lipsticks
my character shoes prancing on marble
the statues on the wall judging my form,
why does your admiration for me drop with each inch that my neckline plunges?
femininity is a fierce thing, but surely, you’ve spit venom at more formidable women than i
does the fluorescent glint of the light off my bare shoulders blind you so?
does the fabric of my velvet mini-skirt threaten to choke, and do the loose frills of my rose-
colored cardigan murmur threats of tangling your neck in a noose?
does skin scare you, sir? and if it does, why dare to whisper to the enemy?
when treading the den of a snake, you fear her poison—do you tell her this, too?
i’d say there’s no art in losing yourself but why else am i a poet? by Jayden Thompson (14, Washington)
there’s something about the lakes
and the way her eyelids damn me
like crosses lodged in my throat
and i never believed in sacrifice
but maybe the lord was a queen
fabrics caught in our static sun
and he simply ripped apart
bloody and bare and beaten
and black eyes aren’t black
they’re like sickly peacocks
but i’m meant to be a rooster
there is a little light at the end of the street
and it flickers like a man-made love.
and revives. tall shadows of gypsum gloom
slink closer in silence, far too little left to
haunt. the night hiccups slowly, but
there is no moonlight between cupped hands.
no serene lullabies hanging taut between
lovers, between flat plain-pain of empty breasts.
you carry sandalwood in your pockets and the
entire city stinks of the forbidden. listen to me
sometime; bathtub pipe dreams cemented in
cold glass, cold whistle. i carry far too much
rhapsody in milk bottles that rot on my counter-tops.
there is no space for you in my refrigerator
but sometimes, i wish for ice-cubes that taste like
there is a little light at the end of the street
and now i'm switching it off.
the house on the hill is empty. the furors have long
let themselves out, only tumbleweed remains. the
house knows its worth. the winds sweep away fine
dust every Sunday afternoon, the house cares for
them each winter. the village folk have evaporated.
the house knows of only their existence, though it
suspects no one else remains, too. the lost people
left stitched flower petals in their wake, and it’s
strange how someone so capable is now reduced
to a few parallel threads and a masked craft person's
skill. every “i’m here and thinking of you but too afraid
to call,” has gone unaccounted for, their pencil lines
chafing till they remain no more. hundreds of cicadas
still bloom in a near perfect circle, no one is left to
cup their petals. controversies wait to be harvested.
I will keep inking the paper that has been presented before me until I have nothing to extract, until I have nothing. But there is everything to write, everything to know, and beyond that is what is yet to befall upon many of us in the midst of this pandemic. The deeply-rooted issue has regressed for the umpteenth time and its reactions have surpassed its limit, its patience, to the nth degree. History is repeating itself in the open, as a maddeningly viralized dimension of America has resurfaced. This year is a year we did not ask for. This year is a retelling of what should remain in the past, but has progressed and persevered to the point that society is actually moving backward. This year is an affirmation of how pronounced the problem is, and many have failed to acknowledge it actively.
Forget-me-not when I wander past you on the canal side,
When dozens of you fairies guide me on my way.
Wave me through the wind in a massive blue tide,
As you evolve into a great ocean all at once.
Let my hands run through your rosette clusters,
Soft purity that cushions me like a cloud.
Your indigo paint drips onto my fingertips,
Washing my hands in your tender faith.
melt your dreams into hard liquor,
daughter. feel it burn your throat, dance
along to the rhythm. we don’t follow
rules. not here.
trace your hands over your body, feel
the curves and crevices, taste the air.
smooth and sensual. watch the stars in
the night sky implode, you might
not see them for a while.
His shadowed eyes revealed their sky-blue irises through slow blinks. He was so close to me, and yet I was still fighting for his attention. The smell of the smoke on his breath would have repulsed me if it were dancing on anyone else's skin. But in the moments he blew across my cheek in his playful way, I could not have approved of the scent more. I was drawn to him, finding myself by his side more times than I should have. My eyes traced his square face, his jawline as it moved with his words, my fingers flexing with an urge to caress it. When I found his eyes, I noticed his inspecting gaze on the girl across from him. She was beautiful. I had to walk away.
Rich, dark purple chords vibrated from the piano and into the open air of my practice room. My arms trembled from the constant force being strained upon them, as they unforgivingly played on the innocent white and black keys to constitute an angry melody. Bursts of color sprang together to form sound waves, each overpowering the latter. A mournful black downed by a blood red sea that clashed against impulsive white streaks. Over and over. Louder and louder. Until the last measure climaxed in a climbing arpeggio of bright orange dots to confront an unfinished seventh chord. My fingers hesitated over the final note for a sliver of a second, then gently satisfied the end of its melody.
the cars flitting through the street
the droplets of rain caressing the leaves
the waiting for the stoplight to change
the glass of water translucent
the hoping for the absence of jaywalkers
the fedora etched on the surface of the table
the knowing that a road without cars comes
faster than the stoplight turning green
Moonbeams illuminate the cedar wood floors of the tiny antique shop,
The only source of light in the darkest hour of the night,
When dreamers dream, with only the bitter cold seeping into fatigued bones….
Until the horizon turns orange and gold, and the moon hides its face yet again.
A small girl with red cheeks and raven black hair opens the door,
Holding the weathered hand of father, their breaths forming fog in the wintry air,
For in the depths of the tiny shop lay a lone black violin case,
Out of place like a brick among colorful feathers in stark contrast.
tears flowing down my cheeks,
back to the wall, nowhere to go.
memories that surge and hurt,
memories that were buried.
tears flowing down my cheeks,
as I sit, alone, no one to turn to.
tears flowing down my cheeks,
as I sit up, hiding my pain.
putting on a mask, a fake smile,
and walking back out, acting
as if nothing was wrong.
as if every living moment I
didn’t want to cry out for help.
Imagine, dark space engulfs the path like oxygen smothering flames. Adrenaline crushes my chest as we wander further into the night. Roots knot and entwine themselves with one another. It is blackened and burning in my memory, never to disappear again. Deep in the archives of human history; untouched in centuries. Aphotic and abandoned for many generations. Imagine, arms reach out, tantalising me, daring me touch one. Wishing they would whisk me away to another land on the tips of their wooden fingers. Figures form and deform in shadows of the walkway.
Caves that once were rivers do not forget.
The creatures that made homes out of them still roam, swimming through the musty air in place of water, continuing their lives in the same unearthly shade of white. You might call them ghosts; they look you in the eye and challenge everything you’ve ever known. Without warning, you’re struck with an awful realization: how are you to prove that you’re the thing in this cave, much further than six feet down, that’s alive?
She fractures her soul and mixes it into pâte à choux. This is the only way she knows how to survive; baking away intrusive thoughts and feelings that take up residence in her flour-dusted mind.
70 grams super-fine almond flour.
90 grams confectioner's sugar.
Dance with me as I keep you tethered under the sycamore tree
Your coffee-soaked lips open wordlessly as you keep me tethered in your bubble of gravity
Behind closed doors and under the sheets, the stars that flicker beneath your eyelids keep you tethered to me
Time crawls and curtains fall as your late-night drawl keeps me tethered in feelings of awe
In the valley of lilies and the field of thorns, grasp me tightly as these tethered ties cushion our fall
You sway passionately for me even in droughts of mystery
Beloved, come dance with me as you keep me tethered forever to your sycamore tree