an open space for youth writing & mental health discussion
an open space for youth writing & mental health discussion
I sit quietly, numbly, with my legs perched off the rooftop
My legs swing like a pendulum, constantly going back and forth,
back and forth, much like my aching heart
I bite back the urge to speak through my dry, cracked lips,
but the feeling is sour, uncomfortable. What can I say?
There are no more secrets left to tell, I ruminate as I reach for something to soothe my lips,
only to remember that my cherry-scented chapstick is now ruined, much like my soul from sweet and sour flavors of beverages, cigarettes, and the occasional stench of powder,
I think I am dying, a slow, numb process as I feel myself reel toward the lines of death
Like a star about to supernova,
I’m waiting to finally crack
Lately I’ve been thinking
that the lonesome dining table chairs
and fuzzy televisions,
the ones abandoned on the side of an open road,
are just where the ghosts go to sit and to see.
Don’t they deserve peace too?
When I say that music has been moving me recently,
I mean it has packed me up into brown cardboard boxes
and stacked me up in the back of a white van
rented by a family of four for the day.
I am unleashed into a lonely, tangy kitchen,
and I sit on the floor.
[Content warning: possible suicide ideation, strong language]
cobwebs coat his mind / mine is sealed with thick swirls / ice cream / frozen like the statues downtown / drunken sobbing / echo / when will it end? / he wants to die / the kids are safe, I hope / he wants to die / the lake is right there / I’m scared / he wants to die but I’m scared / the acrid scent of alcohol floats / a bobbing ship above a never-ending sea / or is it a drug? / it goes around and turns over again / circular / he’s always the monster / he’s always the shitty fucking villain / headlights reflect in dilated pupils / cold glass / fingerprints turn windowpane / come get help / tinny stereo and the ringing in my ears / mosquito / embers mash form ball pit of dog barks and burning fear / goose bumps over coyote howls and car alarms / crying beneath sleeping bag ears plugged whisper fight / fearfearfearfearfear / he can smell it
[Content warning: hints at sexual abuse.]
My soul left my body
the night you were inside me
and my soul felt so claustrophobic
that it couldn't stay there
My soul left my body
the day I concealed
the crimson bruises you gave,
instead of acne marks
you’ll be told to caress the smirks between bloodied rivers
before you’re allowed to touch your own hips like a lover;
honeysuckle blossom, lie across ruptured statues, sighing
velvet euphonies like a newborn lake and pour into him;
but, on an eve of sweet macabre, the wary moon will sing
a spare mockingbird’s ballad; now they’ll teach you to beat
against yourself until there’s a Starry Night Over the Rhône
plastered on broken flesh; second coatings lick beauty with
a sugared tongue and they’ll say “garden like God himself”
but you know God is a loose pomegranate seed sort of lady,
birth swimming in Her endless pupils and spilling like wine
atop our salvers;
she leans back into the void,
wet hair plastered to the curve
of her u-shaped spine, eyelids
seared into her pupils. her only
company is it, the agony buried
deep in her skull. it throbs like a
lover; it hurts like a friend. she clutches
her head and claws it out / hurls it into the abyss.
Opening my eyes,
Staring at the cerulean void with half-closed eyes.
The ridge of moving cotton dune in the azure desert.
Scribbling and scrawling,
Composing my notions.
The chain breaks and there's a crack,
a crevice from which the sunlight escapes,
the blaze scorching my exfoliated skin.
Over and over again, my mount is nearly demolished
by the conceptual norms of "conventionality."
Each time an insult is spat out, I can feel myself
crumbling & my confidence gradually deteriorating.
The condemnation I face stunts any sort of determination I previously had.
Each time I discern the leers on their distorted faces,
shadows of self-doubt nearly swallow me whole.
It is then when I'm reminded of every single one of my flaws.
My internal fragility quickly becomes one comparable to an egg shell;
I can feel it gradually on the verge of cracking.
I close my eyes and rock my head
but my closet, if it were a glass ceiling
barely ever low lying
would only provide a dent
on the sideboard bed
the scorching grounds at recess
hiked up skirts and muddy fingers
you look at me and drag me by the arm
like a maverick claiming abandoned luggage at last minute
My eyes are sunbleached;
when my mother isn’t looking,
I stare directly into the sun,
because I refuse to deny something
so searingly bold of what it begs for
reborn at high noon, I’m
draped in warmth,
something organic and so utterly human.
What is time but an illusion?
Perhaps an entity made to mock me.
One day I wish for it to hurry;
Another I wish it to slow down forever--
A constant source of worry
For the three assignments I have due at midnight,
Or the fear of any time being the last minute I have.
What pain isn’t related to the humble clock?
What tragedy isn’t related to timing?
[Content warning: death, drowning]
They know they have died, and they
crouch down on the floor of the
bright golden room, their long white
gowns dangling behind them,
sprawled across the wet floor. It’s been
six years and their bodies still float
through the currents, inside this wrecked
ship. They talk about the days back home,
[Content warning: alcohol]
the dinner party looks like a scene from a movie:
grappa splashes into shot glasses, then into little
flower-painted espresso cups over a laugh track.
how hilarious, the silly forgetful american hostess
forgot to count her guests before her shopping trip
at the grocery store, the one set to "mambo italiano."
after “ever fallen in love” by the buzzcocks
speak now or forever hold your peace,
the pastor warns. speak now or forever
hold your tongue. forever is a long time;
forever is death and taxes, inheriting the
family recipes and spending money on
diapers instead of flights to switzerland.
ever fallen in love with someone?, the
buzzcocks ask. ever had to reckon with
that night, sparks flew
the pages breathe in perfume,
as her fingertips soak through
the edges of paper, interlocking
smudged words incited to be read
sharp stings on my tongue
and a mouth full of blood
her lips moving softly with words
coldness seeps from the pages
as she pencils within the margins,
yet another life she has forgotten
i. the silent night
moonlight from windows
painted blood-stained glass
casting shadows intertwined
on the white concrete wall
her dark silhouette i can’t erase
stone-paved road under the
bleeding soles of my bare feet
left a trail as red as her lipstick
leading to where quiet skies
kissed the drunk waves of the
sapphire ocean under a whisper
[Content warning: childbirth, domestic abuse.]
step 1, let the midwife's hands
map the expanse of your courage
let your courage crumple
beneath her fingertips till
it dusts her palms
step 2, spread your legs and
let her fingers trace a map
into your womb
a map with entwined roads
and dusky forests and silent seas
The sonamu branch criss-crossed
the sky resembling barbed wires.
Under the trees, on their formica
countertop, the neighbors were baking
kneading dough while we lit the stove
and sautéed japchae on the pan.
Marble corridors draw, magnetic, to her steel-plated soles. Bare feet
click across enameled halls, tines of heavenly jurisdiction rising,
falling, each a ringing edict. Her toes are sheathed in blade, assassins, hidden
by an ivory silk and fallen, in artful drapery, shrouding her heels from view.
Couriers bear witness to more than a delicate script on scroll, though
if they know, delay cannot be tolerated. Striking will be quick, dual wield
a proverb on each leg, and the corpse will be imbued
I. strike a match against swollen flesh, inhale
there is something melodic about the way she sips lethargies like wine : sanctimony & sorrow & serendipity never did go hand in hand but tonight you spread them on your body with burning fingers. there is something holy about her flushed fervor, her knotted forehead. you tell yourself you've won the lottery, claimed tickets at the gate of hell, and is this is this a fever dream? amongst dissonance, ebony sheets taste of the forbidden, rasp at your bare collarbones, paw at curled toes at ungodly hours. there is a certain something that keeps you alive at night, perspiring & praying. it is her. it is her.
My comrades, listen.
Never once dismiss the
Forest within whose bramble
Cradles the embers of
Within labyrinthine twigs flickers the
Burgeoning fairytales cloaked in embryo and
stark white marble walls
stare back at me blankly
the paint’s peeling off
and is crumbling down
(it settles in the corners).
the air smells of faith.
beads of sweat line my forehead
(i wipe them away with the back of my hand)
and happy tears line
my mother’s dark eyelashes.
(she doesn’t wipe them away)
1 / you remember when you would drink levity mixed with gatorade and juice boxes
2 / and when curiosity would fizz with carbonated fountain sodas [free refills; try sprite mixed with cola]
3 / and you dedicate your vigils to warding off boredom and desperation [and god forbid you’ll ever drink black coffee]
4 / if you have enough of anything, the taste evaporates on your tongue
5 / you hope that existence has a long shelf life; that living won’t grow stale
Inquires the capricious heart to the voice of reason:
I gaze at dazzling dreams dancing on clouds, promising possibility,
Saturated with the hope of love and passion,
Humming to me, sweet as stardust,
But I am shackled to the dead, silent earth
Like a fallen angel forever separated from the light.
Why must you torture me so?
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.