a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
i've always been taught that positivity makes a good day
but i’m positive that i’m down right now;
i'm positive i want to lay on the ground so at least i can catch my breath
but then i'm positive people will trample me and i’m already hurting;
we are dead stars
a unified glory / a pre-ordained tragedy / an exhalation of grief / and the taste of sorry is familiar
in / our lips
Babylon by Ash M (15, Canada)*
i am sitting on the tightrope of september’s last stand
it is precarious, that the endings have unwrapped themselves
again and again as we hurtle down the quiet bus routes
down screaming highway centres that glide away in a moment’s notice
My dad teaches me to be a rock
in the sea of ravenous scissors.
but paper rises as quickly as the lemon sun
i. treading on clovers, rich in birdsong / the sink of a second system & seeing / the aftermath of a starful non-existence. / we crawl back to our senses, pardon / the touch of feathers, the dew-light / flutter of their wings / soft / like the dreams we (should have) had. / now i am your broken mirror / & your hands fiddle— not / knowing where they belong / this is the start of my antagonizing / a multifaceted beauty, because / a pen & two colors are my only way / to you.
hush by Leo Palta (14, United States)
it echoes through the room as you
try not to cry because
they never listen
but why would they listen
Seawater clings to my soles as the voice of life
ripples through the trickling rivulet that leads to the sea --
the sound of the suburban coast reverberates in my cochlea.
A narrow fellow slithers against my ankles, winding
I can’t speak to you in the way I used to
Because I don’t know how the words
Should come out and in my head they
Sound perfect even poetic but they dry on my
Tongue harsh fragments that grit against
My teeth and peel back my dry lips.
Oh, Cruel World
Your thorny shell cracks my head with
Thundering wrath of gods
Quiet Mind by TM (16, Vermont)
He follows me everywhere I go. I could walk, run, or skip down the street and he would follow. There’s no discrimination between dark alleys or busy thoroughfares. The only thing that has meaning is his need to occupy my head, spreading the buzz up and down my spine and through every channel in my brain. I can’t remember what it's like to go a day without his nasally voice just behind my ear. His presence is an annoyance that bothers me daily but also doesn’t affect me at all. The buzz might impede my ability to think clearly, but it’s also unnoticeable. His leash on me creates dialectics that even I don’t understand.
Caught by Isabelle Lee (17, California)
In one hand I hold yours
While Fear grips my other.
You gaze at me without judging,
But she curses you for it,
Distorts your gentle laughter
So I hear a heartless shriek.
in the hollow cradle of night
i sit, splintering on the living room floor
and pick apart my flesh with my teeth
begging you to glance my way
In high school, the first day of school always made me nervous. Would any of my friends be in my classes? Where would I end up sitting? In my imagination, confident, popular students glided into the classroom and straight to a desk surrounded by admiring friends. Then there was me, standing by the doorway looking stupid as I searched desperately for anyone that I knew. It seemed that where you sat on the first day and who you knew set the course of the whole semester in stone.
When the world crashes around me
I tend to think in anniversaries and anniversaries only
It becomes one month since it happened
It’s been a week more that I’ve lived with it than without
I’m not sure why I do it
I don’t know why I do most of what I do
Asleep by Anonymous (17, California)*
My mother pretended to be asleep beside me,
Hiding her face from mine.
But still I felt her tremors run through the bed, covers rippling
With quiet grief.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 29:11).
childhood, innocence: i was young and you were hollow, a plastic heart
in a ghostly figure. you tasted sour, bitter, you tasted like blood.
i didn’t know that you were supposed to taste sweet: mint and pears
on a summer afternoon. i think i know better know; i’ve tasted
lemonade and cherry blossom smiles and now i know the truth.
now i know you were corrupted and you were desperate to corrupt me too.
We were 13, two star- crossed lovers but we didn't know it yet,
As we skipped rocks and watched them dip into the crystalline waters.
Close our eyes, count to ten, twin smiles dancing across our faces as we raced to find our friends with the sun setting.
And the lake house with the pink sweet pea vines was my second favorite place to be,
I would say the first was whenever your arms wrapped around me.
[Content warning: police brutality, racial violence]
“The angels in heaven gon’ sign your name if you book your ticket for the Freedom Train. HALLELUJAH.”
I heard Grandma Lottie singing in the other room. I knew what day it was. When I heard those eerie, raspy words, strung together like an elegy, I always knew exactly what day it was. But I asked anyway as I walked into the room.
[Content warning: body horror]
Pinned to this metal plank, stark white fabric scratching your skin,
your matchstick limbs are twitching like dying bugs.
Beep, beep, beeps the monitor machine. Beep, beep.
Scorpions are convulsing through your blood vessels.
You gaze/stare in fascination/disgust at your bulging body.
Asexual Apology by Anonymous (18, Texas)
I’m sorry that the feeling is mutual
That we may die alone together
Two halves of different wholes
The lost puzzle piece and eternally lonesome sock.
Maybe I can give you a hand the right size to hold
If nothing else.
[Content warning: alcohol use]
For around five minutes every day in Summer, a narrow shaft of light filters through the window and reflects off of the heart you made me in middle school. Usually around four-thirty. It’s made of clay, but when it shines it looks like it would crack like glass. As I watch it glow, my phone vibrates in my pocket.
Unknown caller. Arizona.
Don’t wait for death to come to you or it will advance on you quicker than you could dream of; make your amends before its too late; rekindle friendships and fallen relationships; this is how to not waste time; don’t waste time; this is how to prepare your house; this is how to prepare your family; don’t forget to turn off the stove before you go; look presentable; this is how to straighten your hair - your mother will want your hair to look nice; this is how to iron a dress; don’t waste time; make sure you have planned out your will; believe in Heaven so that you won’t end up in Hell; forgive others for their wrongdoings before it’s too late; this is how you say goodbye;
Panic ambushes me like a rogue wave:
Its roar racing toward sparkling shore
And rising to tower over seashell beach.
Panic hits me on the shimmering sand;
It fells cherished sandcastles within,
Transforms dreams into twisted turmoil.
My black fallen angels stumbled towards the captivating golden liquid that you had poured.
The night turned into months as I followed your deceiving voice.
And you knew that too, which buttons to press for me to unravel for you.
Eden was tantalizingly in view, begging me to claw through my Asphodel fields.
Who said we both couldn't be racing to see how far your con of forever would escort our souls?
With shaky breaths and heavy heartbeats,
I find myself in an abyss and
Frantic, forage for something familiar
To ease my rising fretfulness.
I strain to move my anchored legs
Yet cannot escape this chasm.
Caught, I cry out with scorched throat
But hear only a pathetic echo.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.