a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
stars collapse into palaces of gradual ash; / darling, oh, darling, please do go on; / smile at me with the moon plastered to your skin and your mouth full of teeth. / take me by the hand in fragile slices of moments as shadows collide in our footsteps. / guide me past dawn and sunset but nothing in between but emptiness; / the world will carry on as we vanish into nothing. / darling, oh, darling, take me into the twisting recess of our minds- / you and i as one- / build me mighty cities of bleeding rain, towers of aching beauty. / darling, oh, darling,
please pluck my eyes from my skull so that i may see the inky
midnight pooling in your hands / rip my f em u r from beneath my skin so that i may
traverse time on une ve n legs / searching for your trail of
stardust / steal the br eat h
from my lungs so that i may / choke every time that my heart inhales the wretched ash on
lips / darli n g, oh, d arli n g,
We strung together the sweet scented lilies with perfection
and created an infinite symphony while playing your favourite melodies.
After all, they were the reason we met, and lived together for all this time
and the lilies--your lilies—had the scent of the countless nights
and mornings we spent with each other under the spotless sky.
The red, blue and green lines on the screens fluctuated freely
tirelessly racing rhythmically—as if creating their own music.
The aroma of light-yellow coloured lamb soup escaped from the bowl
as if racing to reach the square white ceiling of the hospital first.
It contained pieces of what used to be alive, now slipped far away;
isn’t this the story of what was unfolding beyond the surface of your eyelids?
Words hold power. And words of power often begin at an individual's roots - heritage, ancestry, descendance. Yet there is an irony in that the same words that hold power, if not clear and obvious, can be rendered useless.
As an adolescent, ‘identity’ was a word that lingered with me. It’s important. Being true to yourself was emphasised and hammered into me - and those around me. A true emphasis on striving to become a name with a face, not a face within the crowd. Yet each time I'd write down ‘Who am I?’, unending blue lines stared back at me.
I was neither fair or dark - somewhere in between. Born and bred on Australian land and soil, yet on my back lay the weight of distant, cross cultural ancestry. My father's side is a clash of European and Aboriginal descent, my mother, Maori and Maltese.
when the dark eats up
all your peace and pleasure
through its gritted teeth,
and lets you fall prey
to your self-made grief,
Time just slowly turns the page
of this book
like a good reader.
Tonight there’s a bloodbath of stars & the black
disemboweled sky. The naked corpse of moonlight desecrates
everything we could ever touch. You’re begging me to hang up
but I only open my other palm, slathered in red.
I’m waiting for you
to hold my hand or my heart but either way you just won’t
let go of the phone. I’m so scared that I can’t hear what you’re saying & I want you
to promise me that you’re still there, darling, are you there?
what if I tell you –
that the lighthouse towering
on the seashore
with a painted chest
and square shaped eyes
is nothing but
a well written poem
it all begins in the crook
of my elbow – this storm
brews on, flaring, its chest
pulsating with fallen stars
that seem to be on a silvery fire
the clouds are thick
their black threads heavy
with sharp, glassy rain
that blooms on my cheeks
like unsuitable, wayward flowers
that know not where to go
She sits in the bathroom stall, for her a land of milk and honey.
Knees to chest and arms the same.
The tiled floors—a rink of her wetting salts.
Salts which drain her weakness, shame.
Burden squirms her body, hands shaking
like a jolted sky.
He strips himself completely and turns the shower up as high as he dares. Closing and locking the door behind him is almost an afterthought.
While he waits for the water to heat up, he taps his fingers on his bare thighs, looking anywhere but his body. He doesn’t notice that he’s digging his nails into his legs until it’s too late, until there are four red streaks running up and down his pale skin, and he just barely suppresses a sigh.
[12:01 AM: “One year ago, today” notification]
Dear past self,
Can you help me down here?
Can you see how thoughts of you are a sickness?
I am trying to find sunlight, I am trying,
But kaleidoscopic souls ebb and flow like waves unsure of themselves.
(Tomorrow is a parrot of today and yesterday).
I wish to paint my eyelids fuschia
Or glaze my lashes with maple and honey.
Everyone around me is falling.
Everyone around me is a candle
Caught in a storm.
The earth is graying
With little white lights flicking the sky.
Trees are heaving down;
Rain is flying upwards;
The sun won’t rise because we no longer see it.
The streets are littered with what used to be;
In the air, bits of debris flit around like snowflakes.
seaweed around my ankles
bubbles of my voice fading
like the light from above.
blackened soul to
I walked across an empty Road
The Road walked across Me
My head spins Round and Round again,
Carousel never seems to Cease
Three birds fly by, One says Hello!
And cuts the long, red String--
My Eyes, they fall and hit the ground
A crying violin
The night is silent, you can hear the stars rise
forget. forgone. forgotten. forty forbidden lies
there is a darkness between two stars.
there is a star between two darknesses.
Dear love, I have always wanted to understand you more,
But first of all, you must know you are the one who I most adore.
Dear love, will you stand by me through the most rugged journeys of all?
Dear love, as years pass by will you be there still standing strong?
When there’s solitude that surrounds like the charcoal darkness of night,
Will you be there, like a solid rock strong by my side?
once a little girl asked me
what is your least favorite word
to this i said
and why is that, she asked
well… i said
5 is pink
5 is pink. Well, that’s not exactly true. It’s soft and fluffy, like a cloud torn straight out of the sky. It’s marshmallows and candy all rolled into one. She’s looked at thousands of shades of pink and hasn’t been able to find the right one. None match the 5 in her head. None match that glorious color.
She sees the 5 on her class schedule and automatically smiles.
I didn’t want to leave the womb when I came out screaming
But when I did I was saying loud as a baby can
Love Love Love
The word was my obsessive compulsion
In my mind to make sense of things I turned my IV bags into plastic veils
And I sewed the wires into a big ol’ wedding dress
In the back of my mind I was screaming
Love Love Love
It was silent today. No hurried footsteps. No sound of tearing silk. No cries of anguish. Payton wiped at the dewy glass. She sat and watched.
The cast of the shadow of the oncoming cold, bitter winter surrounded three figures. There was only the slightest hint of physical intimidation from the aloof stances but the verbal intimidation was obvious. Inside the circle, sat a woman, hair draped in white fabric, eyes downcast. Her body kept upright- afloat almost- by her arms, secured around her waist like a safety jacket. As the sharp dug at her hijab, her face tilted. The movement revealed her face. Payton’s breath halted. The window seat instantaneously tight, suffocating in the vast space of the book shop.
They call us visionaries. Sorcerers who tailor statues with a flourish of the hands, weavers who stitch dreams with gold gossamer thread, virtuosos who sleep in the skies and marry the clouds. They call us adventurers. Voyagers who foray through unmapped territory and chart the paths for others on crisp scrolls. Daredevils who juggle knives and speak in tongues of flame. They call us nonconformists. Rebels who cannot be bound by ropes, chains, or promises.
Guard your roving thoughts with a jealous care, for speech is but the dealer of thoughts, and every fool can plainly read in your words what is the hour of your thoughts.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
The images flickered. Stilled. Continued. Flickered. Stilled. Continued. The pull of the cassette tape like a vacuum, endless yet unmoving. Its dull hum synchronous with the movement of a dangling mobile above. Once, vexing. Now, welcoming.
Dear Younger Self,
I think I don’t hate my past versions anymore.
I learned to love and respect myself. Learned everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Learned what really defines someone’s personality... and other things as well. With the information and capacity you had, you did what you did.
The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live –Confucius
If Confucius was right, then my mother lived delicately, treading a tightrope as thin as the slices of her twice cooked pork.
When she ate her first American hamburger, she had complained. “Ai ya. Why is the meat so big and thick? Where is the Americans’ refinery? With a hulking piece of meat like this no wonder they all in debt. Americans cannot save.
On the other side of my tiny town is one of the most well respected poetry presses in the country. I have been told I have what it takes to make it all the way, the whole seventeen blocks. But seventeen years have come and gone. And even the three blocks to the grocery store feel like an odyssey of epic proportions.
It’s funny how we measure life in blocks. We turn even the most mundane measurements into vertical distances, towers and poems. Civilization has always been very dense. Ancient Ur was only .27 square miles. And stacked precariously high, the Encyclopedia Britannica occupies less than one square foot.
At the cash register,
I clutch color correctors and pennies
and a fistful of stray dollars
and a “Good, how are you?” that
lolls in my mouth, wet and empty
like the oranges and greens I hold
so I will not have to explain anything
if they ask
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.