a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
the clack of the tracks like fingers picking at guitar strings.
“i’ve been everywhere,”
is a promise and a vow,
for every star and trail.
There’s a framed drawing on my desk
which my sister drew in the fall
of 2017, in our old Samik apartment. In the drawing,
my brother and I look at the sky,
our muddy hands on the sand castle
we were building.
She was born from the ocean on which she lived and was raised by the winds that breathed life into her. Adelaide, the girl with hair of fire, spent her days dancing along the cliffs above the waves with her face buried in the story of another world. Her feet were molded to the outline of the rocks, perfectly gripping the earth as she followed the path to the cave by the beach, which was, in a weird way, her home. Over time, she had accumulated pillows and blankets to make a bed on the sand and had gathered every book she could get her hands on and stacked them, in alphabetical order, along the damp rock wall.
We were nineteen throwing pennies into pools thinking that youth could deliver wishes to reality
Dinner dates seemed like a classic, but two strangers can hardly pass it
Park benches and plastic cups filled with ice cream is where we landed in the floral air
And I knew the date was over, felt the static taking over
Till my waning eyes were captured by yours, and lassitude left my shoulders
Because the spark in your eye told me that this night would end in magic
I wear ripped jeans,
cuffed at the ankles,
that sway with each step
along these glossed
You sigh as you hop into your bed, and think about how, after a long day of Zoom classes, you have to stare at your computer screen some more as you write college essays. On top of homework, chores, and other responsibilities at home, you also have to figure out how to write 500 words about why you want to move from the temperate Bay Area to plow through six feet of snow to attend class at the University of Michigan. You want to just write, “Because I want a college education and I want to make money when I grow up,” but you know you can’t write that, because you’ve put in too many hours and you’re too close to the end to let your frustration show now.
and at that moment,
the beasts of His making
clawed and stumbled out of the shadows
pools of darkness bleeding into every inch of their eyes
mouths upturned in a gruesome snarl, drops of saliva falling staggeredly from cracked lips
tails dragging limply behind them, leaving trenches in the dampened soil
sharpened talons bit into the earth,
like they had a personal vendetta against mother nature
or the earth upon which they stood
the leather shoes are sprawled outside
beside the poplars, cypresses,
shaded in the darkness
with trees looming over
like the grieving widows
Every nook glimpsed into
now brings unfiltered glee.
Every day, the walls inch
closer, the smell of nothing
carries all with it. Summer
storms fold like raw wool.
When her ears are roughened
like processed flax, she goes
away on her annual trip - the
one no one speaks of. Along
the cobblestone paths driving
from home are small cavities,
Along Lee Chapel Road
one still afternoon,
rests a cemetery.
St. Andrews Chapel
overlooks the plane
idling at the top of a grassy knoll.
This winter, snow drifts from the sky
Soon, all the cherry blossom trees that bloom
in the spring will winnow away. The bushes
filled with small fireflies will dim with the night
and the silly children who used to catch them
will turn into ghosts.
after Airea D. Matthews
in the garden
or the ice rink, we had praised art and
was it phase changes or pressure
[Content warning: eating disorders]
I had been staring at the yogurt for over an hour. The bowl was filled to the brim and sat a few inches in front of me on my desk. It was taunting me. I could imagine closing my eyes and sliding a heaping spoonful of that thick, cool, creamy yogurt onto my tongue. I giddily anticipated the way it would melt away in my mouth, slip down my throat, and land into my empty waiting belly; my stomach growled in anticipation.
But my arms were paralyzed. I couldn’t lift my hand and reach for the spoon. There was an angry voice in my head louder than the quiet pleading of my empty stomach.
A half-finished crochet blanket lays on the floor, its frayed ends fully submerged in last night’s pasta alfredo. My dead pointe shoes (three months overdue for replacement) are strewn against the cheap faux-leather ottoman I bought on Amazon with a gift card from last Christmas. My friend, Alec, surveys the mess and laughs. ‘You have a hot girl LA apartment, you know,’ he says.
After a few internet searches, I find an article that describes the stereotype of women with messy bedrooms, taking selfies in a mirror, fully unaware of the hurricane behind them.
Salmon rays splash onto a canvas of vapor:
altostratus streaks roll along the horizon.
They ride the foaming crests of the aether--
but under my camera lens, they still.
The clouds blush for the LED screen.
It’s all a game now.
If you wake early in the morning,
shut the door & measure the minutes before
the coffee maker beeps. Count the beats
between crashes, record the decibels of each
crack. Divide by five & forget
about miles; the eye is just inches away.
after Langston Hughes
I, too, am the future.
a young adult,
a blossoming person,
a teenager that’s taking in
the world day by day,
gaining experience and living,
learning the ways of life
Back here again.
Another day has gone by and
I didn’t even realize.
The water relaxes me,
The steam like a blanket of comfort.
Yet soon enough the panic sets in
And I’m on the shower floor,
Silently sobbing and gasping for air,
Until I can regain myself
And contain it once again.
After C.S. Lewis
Love anything and watch
the bifurcated sword cleave its maker.
Bury the child in algae. Ethanol shrinks from linoleum squares but the glass remains.
Give away a covering of cotton. Fine teeth comb the ivy as blinds for a blank slate
Ants chew on the spinal cord and no grass grows in a velvet cage. Hear
the reeds petrify.
I greet friends with a smile, laugh
To convince them I’m okay;
But then when alone, I plunge
Into my usual dark hole
Where images swarm, ridicule me
Powerless to fight back.
Tell me you're home and talk to me, love
There are pieces of me shattered on the floor
My eyes are scarlet, my skin paler
And there's grief pounding on my door
I'm tired, on the brink of losing
Either my hands
Or my heart
On the edge
Of those cliffs
The crack in the pitcher—you will say
that you do not remember it, but I do.
We both know that what you say, it isn’t true.
If it was true you wouldn’t be able
to look at it even if you tried to,
but you do, you do.
The black bus paused,
Drifted at our back,
As we walked home from school.
The smooched tire
On the tarred road --
Set our feet on the track,
Towards the bush path.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.