a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
I’m a brewing hurricane,
miles off the coast of the world
full of emotions
the injurious one
that winter night, your voice sent the sky into flames
when you asked about the smears of dirt on my arm
city lights, acid rain, wishing you didn’t believe a word
when i told you it was to feel alive now that it’s all gone
my scraped knees are tinted with the primary colored paint
of the schoolyard. the memories have cheapened but they hurt
still, sepia-toned yet somehow fresher than morning dew.
i scrubbed at them with the bristles of dollar-store toothbrushes dipped
in rubbing alcohol, secretly relishing the burn. the scratches on my
palm disappear in the daylight, simple wounds of self-protection.
time glided through us quickly
and the memory of you began to vanish
like a coffee stain i kept rubbing away for years.
enough for you to not recognize me,
but i imagine you are still the same.
when i met you, you were a garden of
bounty where nature reigns superior and, around
you, i could lose myself in the skies kissed golden
and trees intermingled with the stars above, i could
melt into a tornado of rose petals and stars
divine; i could sink into the throes of savage passion.
He is a knotted mess of nerves
limping under the full moon.
Plans have bloomed behind his eyes
for him to fall back with the tide.
for the longest time, the years after i left us
things changed: the sweets jar was always empty.
hollow. it was a curse--every candy i tried
would taste like headlights that evening
it’s been six years since my
parents have read my writing. my
mother doesn’t mention my
poetry anymore; she hates my
selective memory. she says that i
Why can't I see you? My vision is clear.
You're standing in the distance, close yet far.
The grand door that leads to you is ajar,
But the road that leads to you is obscure.
I must blindly footslog to your frontier.
They Say by Ilana Drake (17, New York)
they say life goes on
after you get knocked over
after you fall down to the ground
Human by Madeleine Benson (18, Texas)
What is it to be human?
Is it flesh and bones,
And the blood that courses through your veins?
Is it the process of thoughts and emotions?
My trembling hands pick up the phone,
A game of roulette in her tone,
Will her sour grapes distress me?
Or will her sweet nothings caress me?
Her mind is an enigmatic flame.
What starts as dark quickly evolves into sparks,
induced by the submergence of her true feelings.
The waves knock against my back leaving a slight sense of burning
It becomes a rhythm of pain and a burden against my consciousness
The clouds start to spread until the sky turns an ominous gray
Waves get larger and their foamy white tops turn into sharp daggers stabbing the water
I forget the last time
I set foot in a park
I forget my old friends
Their laughs and smiles and mannerisms
I forget what my grandfather looked like
He exists solely in sepia tone portraits
Melted by Tanvi Nagar (16, India)
[Content warning: self-harm/suicide attempt. Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255]
“Get out of our way, weirdo!” they shouted.
I felt like I was being crushed under a mountain,
My heart pounded in my chest, tears came next,
I felt lonely, fallen and devastated.
[Content warning: depressive/anxious thoughts]
no one wants someone so broken they can’t pick up the pieces of the wreckage
everyone wants someone who’s made it through the dark
has harrowing stories about how they faded until there was nothing left
then found a miracle hidden in shadow
I see myself abandoned in infinity.
there'll be glass there,
glass where the raindrops will race.
an unending, ethereal solitude
an abandoned existence.
dragon by Emma Chin (14, New York)
i remember my father
talking in the kitchen
about the chinese dragon
as he prepared his lunch.
“it’s a symbol of power,”
he told me,
orange skin between my teeth,
the smoke-sweet flavor still remains;
on my shirt are orange stains,
the table holds a citrus wreath:
drops of juice wet underneath
while I sit with a rotting brain.
the tree splits open
and I see every pair of open arms
I’ve ever known
some innocent most
decaying, they skulk
towards the version of me that
asked for a glass of water. opaqueness
[Content warning: mentions of self-harm, depression]
there is a mermaid in the bathroom, and her alabaster heart splays moondust on the tiles.
i find iridescent tears clogging the drain / unconsciously, my fingers reach out to clutch / beauty in its final moments, reveries / fluttering like decaying butterflies to a sky / with opened arms.
In the photo my father took last year,
my grandmother and I stand on the shaved
grass in the front yard of her house
in Gonjiam. The sweet and fruity aroma
of Mugunghwa flowers wafts across
the garden. I see the watercolor sky free
of clouds and pigeons graze over
i wonder why girls have to be broken to be beautiful
and why boys wait to be fixed
by hands that can barely hold their own weight
he calls me at night and i can hear the candied, the crushed, the syrup
dripping from his lips
slurred words that shouldn’t feel this soft
but they do, and there will be time to repent when the sun comes up
Ah, one day
I will look deep into your eyes
In the depths of your black pupils
And I will say that you planted sunflowers on me.
They grow and curl up in my guts,
The long green stems go up to my throat,
They blur my vision,
Steal the air from my poor lungs.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.