a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
pull, prod, pinch
squeeze and squish--
The day she starts tearing roses out of the flowerbed, I take her down to the river to watch the cranes. She asks me why the sky is blue and I tell her to skip a rock across the water. The cranes scatter across the surface, dissolve like seafoam, ash-white, stark against the marshy shore.
Caution by Sadie Cardenas
I wish humans came with labels.
Not labels like ethnicity, or sexuality- but the things we really care about. The things you can never uncover in the first meet.
it felt like getting ripped apart
like every molecule in my body
was tethered to you
by some invisible force
One Breath by Kai (16, Massachusetts)
[Content warning: panic attacks]
Then one more
Each breath takes me closer to the edge
Between surviving and drowning
I take three more breaths and I’m there
I find myself stuck for a moment
There are monuments built
In the name of our youths
For the chapters that fit
Neatly within a straight-edged frame
Midnights by Anushka Maity (17, India)
12:00 AM: When I was younger, I called myself a princess
I would put on the pink dress with the frills, pink of the flamingos
And father placed a paper crown on my head, stapled together with tiny pins
The same ones that mark the raw skin on my thumb now I hate everyone, but I hate her the most
She stares back at me, her eyes overflowing with judgement As my abused fingers skim over my arms, belly and thighs
If only I could pick up a knife and carve off the flesh there, unnecessary and unattractive
Maybe then she wouldn’t be so disappointed in me, maybe then I could finally look into the mirror with the lights on.
in the cold dank space
of a rundown, long-abandoned basement room, she sat surrounded by the echoes of previous lives,
[Trigger warning: sexual harassment]
i wear the apple foam wrapper around my fleshless wrist; because my mother jumped into the
village well with the family chandi bangles after
she could not release herself from her benadryl addiction;
or the role of a mother. she said ghosts haunted her. she
slaughtered me everyday before
i learnt the role of a silent daughter.
i cut holes in used amul kool cans and stick the circles to my earlobes with sap of a
decomposing banyan tree leaf unchosen to be devoured by an army of fire ants. i let
termites scavenge my body;
my body is not my body but their nutrition.
TODAY by Kendall Rhee (California)
I see a man shape memory
with his hands, like a bruised god.
But Not Forgotten by Rory (California)
they say only the good die young
but I’m saying they’re only good
because they left us too early
but I’m saying that too early
can’t be early enough
Strike at the dead of night
The apex of twenty-four hours
This town will sink as you smile
like a dimple would do
Eyelids rise and fall
with tears, but our chests stay put;
Trans Joy by Kai Peters (16, Colorado)
Joy sprouting from a needle, injected into my stomach
Joy found in going through puberty a second time
How did we get here
The creek, with its moss adorned rocks
Never seemed quite that slippery until I fell headfirst
Into the water deep as you, shallow as me
Sugary as my hopes, lemony, caustic as the truth
Dark as the future that is evitable
So it now seems, at least
It’s no fun being the ugly duckling
With a face that’s sure to make
Sore eyes inflamed
Because once you look at me
And my pitiful predicament
And my syndactyly toes,
My image makes an intaglio on your mind,
Don’t do it, please don’t do it
I have nothing left of my former self
I was never blessed with fingers, kneecaps, or toes
Just a thin, squamous flesh casing around the brain
And muscles you throw back to my brethren
Trigger Warning: Depression and Anxiety
he says we all have anxiety and depression at her age–perhaps it is normal that nothing makes her happy anymore. it is a normal day as she struggles to wake, a robin chirping cheep-cheep on the telephone line
Joan by Keya M. (New York)
[Trigger warning: minor mentions of death, suicide, self-harm and substance abuse]
Let me tell you about the day Joan died.
It was calm. Quiet.
Fat droplets slid down glass. Foggy friends spun around.
Little red boat.
there is a lion in my head and it is eating away at my memory
this predator prowling through the hallways of my mind
[Trigger warning: domestic abuse]
We are walking through the city tonight, just you and me
watching stars unfurl under a blanket of ebony.
The buildings are aglow with light:
bodegas cramped with cheery customers and
opera music streaming from hidden corners. At night,
the city overflows with opportunity, drawing people
out of their apartment buildings and into the dark.
stereotypically, time really does slip by like miniscule granules of sand through my fingers; regardless of how vigorously I clutch my hand into a fist or how firmly I press my knuckles
the steel house hummed with sweat.
I could see my body, pink and tulle,
not drunk but dizzy,
hit a slate of blue air.
I’m used to tall boots, so I stutter in silver.
But I clung to the way you said
like a horse's neck.
[Trigger Warning: sexual assault]
it starts with the circuits, with the matchbox, with a hiss
(your mother calls you a slut, makes fun of the straps
on your tank-top and)
roars the gears, spurs the engine. electric crackle as dust
(he whistles when you walk, the curve made from hip bone &
pigtails, born from cribs crawled out of bars and)
settles. bit of oil alights a wheel, wipes a windshield, scrapes
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.