a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
Sel sent me a postcard from Paris, made a phone call from Montevideo, and mailed a package from Nepal.
I wrote back to her - my fingers wrapped tightly around the wooden colored pencils she sent me last summer, the ones engraved with poorly translated Romanian phrases in gold.
And you said you wanted a house.
I was not sure what you meant by the house. I have a lovely, two-story house with potted vines wrapped around the fence. Sometimes you went to buy flowers to put in our home. And every time you came back with a bouquet of flowers, you cried.
silky ripples pool up beneath the nape of Liberty’s neck
under this characteristic Arizona blend
of heat & spice & dust & song;
she covers artificial canvases with bloody opposition
i turn to the sky.
Each word you spoke, each thorn you flung
Used to pierce my fragile heart
Each string of happiness hanging on
By the force of dreams in the silence
Yearning for more stillness and delusion
Before carving ( yesterday / Monday morning / this moment
but one year later / the curtains
where dust &
shadow stop waltzing ) into
birthday party / the Autumn breeze
from Greek κάθαρσις, the notion of ‘release’ through drama (catharsis (sense 1)) derives from Aristotle's Poetics.
the gods speak of me in whispers
say I am selfish
because I cannot
hold this unfettered
tongue (it is a dangerous thing / child / to be this loud)
These days I roll out of bed with an innate weariness that stretches back to the beginning of time, back to the creation of humans, though it is always with a sense of individuality that this funny feeling takes up space in my mind, and it seems as though I’m the only one who has ever felt low. These days I listen to classical music to remember that it is autumn: Bach, Beethoven, Chopin. There are the newer composers, too. Marianelli. Alexandre Desplat’s Little Women. Bluebird. These days I feel a different kind of loneliness, the loneliness of watching things go by and by, like tracing the blurry outlines of buildings through a moving window.
There is this one line my dad would always sing
After spending hours under the glistening Florida sun
Sand in my hair, salty air, running into the water just for fun
He told me that the waves knew every thing,
They were full of questions and answers to anything
last week, i sat on the curb between our two houses
i lit a red and thought of
you and summer and my brother’s crashed car and everything
else that once lived right there where i sat.
Time and again I find myself fascinated by the falsehood of memory. It seems that each detail of the past is blurred and indistinct in my mind, without a solid form to cling to, regardless of my continued determination to take a particular moment and press it precisely into the various folds of my brain.
there is an old man
who drags his lute
up to the mountain, sits
under the temple roof
and plays his heart out:
strained chords, from the
of his fingers and string
as we walk past and wince.
[Content warning: child abuse, violence]
You could have felt safe in your own skin.
Razor blades in your throat and nowhere to go,
dragged out by the collar
squirming and unhappy,
from the cardboard box in which you used to hide
inspired by that SpongeBob episode:
thirteen. your street is one of the longest in the heights, but my parents take a different route this time and pretend it’s any shorter. we turn the corner your house sits on, smooth-blue and gated, and i see a flash of your loose grey dress caught in the dimness of early evening. the sky is a little lighter than your house, giving me just enough to watch your bare feet play lightly over the street and your tan fingers raise a camera to your eye. in this moment, i don’t want to go on your lake trip or even go into your house. i could sit here and watch the way you move when you think i’m not looking, the way you carry yourself like your camera solidifies your spine, all weekend long. we are a secret, but right now i let myself stare. you really are beautiful.
The familiar hand that
wraps around your throat,
pins you flat and pushes
breath from your body.
Even if you are
A God, there is still eternity before daybreak.
There is still no way to tell your flesh from mine, coalescing into a cityscape of
The forgotten; their children cry in your bosom and young girls fuse themselves
They say the fairest thing in life is death
but it’s a lie, isn’t it? Like “I did my
homework” or “I’ll be home by dusk”—
he was seventeen,
In the frothing marsh.
It has grown tiring to avert my gaze from dead men on bank notes;
Restraint upon casting a weightless name into the dusk,
Have three syllables swallowed by the horizon and eviscerated by a mulberry sun.
At least bathed in silt and muddy waters a broken body is validated by dregs of a forgotten sea;
I am made one with the bog, sealed by the sedges’ kiss
When the twilight melts at the tip of your
violet, you gulp
The reflections of oaks in the water
Like a greedy animal sucks at the teat of its mother
I saw it there.
Perfect on the
paper skin. Red fade to
yellow fade to
"Hey, Lamar, what do you think you're doing?" Daniel Clements leaned over Elias with a sneer. His slicked-back blond hair and piercing green eyes shone against the bright fluorescent lights of the classroom. In a flash, Elias’ computer seemed to materialize from his hands to Daniel’s. Daniel let out a strident laugh that echoed around the classroom. "Who learns Algebra two in tenth grade? I learned this three years ago!” Daniel leaned in and whispered, "You’ll never amount to anything in this world anyway." He tossed Elias' computer back onto his desk and sauntered out of the classroom.
[Content Warning: Parental death]
From the other side of her parent’s bedroom, the mirror glittered with possibility and promise. Eve knew she couldn’t resist her curiosity any longer and she was tired of trying. Without a moment's thought, she slowly approached the beautiful antique. Yet as it got closer, Eve noticed something peculiar in its crystalline surface. She couldn’t see her own reflection, rather, the glass omitted a cold mystical fog, shielding something in its depths. Suddenly, a cool breeze swept the room and blew her hair back over her shoulders. Eve couldn’t take her eyes from the alluding surface. At the same time, an invisible force urged her to come closer. Eve raised a hand, gently, seeking to stroke the mirror’s polished glass. Upon contact, she felt a dark shift beneath her fingertips, then, everything went black.
The silences were growing longer. He was eating breakfast. Two slices of bacon, and an egg. He stabbed his fork into the yolk and made it weep.
In the living room, his wife watched TV. The presenter’s nose was too small for his face, and he was swamped by the folds of his chin. She wore baggy clothes and no make-up. The midday sun cut soft lines across the table. It was April. It was Sunday. There was a war on. The birds were coming back out, slowly, shaking off treads from a long winter.
She came over for the first time
in the dead of winter. When I turned
my hair dryer on hot and high in
anticipation (of my expectations) (of
her expectations), the lights shut off.
I muttered a prayer to Eve, will femininity always
make a fool out of me? I painted my face
in shimmering shades of pink
[Content warning: sexual assault and sexual harassment]
You had a dream once. You were four years old, in preschool three times a week. You still cried when your mother took you to a new classroom and inevitably left you.
In the dream, two men were smoking cigarettes next to a shiny red car. They smiled at you when you came up to them. “Do you want to play with us?”
You shook your head. Mommy told you not to talk to strangers, to run when they gave you candy.
“Come on, it’ll be fun. Why don’t you join?”
it seems like all the ways
the world could end have.
sent my body screeching through
a stop sign & here i am speared
into a volcanic sky unfolding
clouds popping balloons of battery acid
streets gushing sludge stuck to my knees
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.