a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
At dusk on Manila Bay, I watched as the Sunlight
dyed the canvas of the sky with its orange hues,
just like how a bowl of spilled boiling Sotanghon
Soup slowly fritters away.
So yellow, so parched, so wrinkly
The aftermath of an envelope after you’ve torn open a letter.
Dry, like lips in the dead of winter, but it's July.
She emerges from the plains of the Serengeti.
I’ll call her Zuri.
This cheetah is so free in her gait and gut
A freedom I thought I had.
“Ow, why would you do that?!” I exclaimed angrily, tenderly rubbing my stinging red cheek after getting hit.
Gio loomed over me, his shadow towering over mine as I stumbled to the ground, my hands behind me pressing against the cold oakwood floors of the house. My eyes widened as I saw his right arm raise once again, and I immediately squeezed my eyes shut while shielding my face with my hands and arms, bracing myself for the impact.
[content warning: self-harm, suicide]
for years i felt it lurking,
the constant pressure.
whenever the demons came out to play,
i coaxed them back,
back into the abyss.
Ma, you could braid my hair in the most intricate possible ways, adorn them with lilies and rosemary,
paint my nails with the prettiest shade of pink
- but I will never be beautiful.
Lilies, rosemary, braids: They’re all too fancy for me.
Pretty pink’s too pretty.
And your stunning hazel hair has translated onto me as this pitch black, frizzy mess.
My limbs feel cold, soggy, like half-
raw oats. Grumbles should claw
from my stomach, tugging at shirt
and skin, but there’s only silence.
Her body bled into the ground,
I’m told, crumbling like run-over
my brain is a slaughterhouse, home of a monomaniac serial killer
and i am made of a destiny to sing elegies for the souls of words lost within
its crevices. i tally the deceased with a weighing scale--
the days left that my name can still be tolerably defined as “human”.
(waves crashing, wind whistling, sound of ocean spray, collision with midnight)
I would be lying if I said I didn't miss it. The unraveling. The scorned breath of the ash tray, the pooled black dripping from its sides like god, broken-hearted in the almond tree mistaken for a movie theater. But this is how we danced, our teeth born to sea, bodies sprawled against the wet part of the sand, singing the song of our mothers' broken heels.
I do not need a muse
To write about my dad
Because hurt is enough
Less is more
But not with parents
Distance makes the heart grow fonder
But not mine
(Mine grew bitter)
I am trying to make dinner for you, your favorite sinigang, which breathes smoke dust and vinegar brine, fruit skins in musty bone broth:
I. I add a scoop of fish sauce, for every time you come home with a gourd on your elbow. The molasses brown melts into the caserola, sifting through slabs of bone.
[Content warning: self harm, pills, blades, suicidal thoughts]
I’ve been like myself for some time now, so long that mom thinks I’ve been cured
and maybe I’m just faking it again, like they say
I don’t remember when it began,
but I know I heard them whispering
and I know they sharpened their gilded onyx daggers, glittering in the shadows
and I remember now, that unbearable agony painkillers won’t do away with
I’ve tried trust me
to hurt and heal and die
There is a thread in my head
tangled, knotted, tight.
Not for splendid apparel.
Not for mending a cherished shoe.
Not for a life-saving surgery.
mother’s cooking never quite matches the original
no imported spice
cool new recipe
or branded batter
will compare to mother’s mother
“And who’s this?” my friend’s friend inquired shortly after chatting with my friend. “This is my friend! Introduce yourself, Daniel,” my friend responded, gesturing his hand to me.
The simple sentence “Hello, my name is Daniel Son,” was a jumble of gibberish in my cloudy thoughts.
Every inch of me wants to twist
out of the hold these pretty walls have.
They appear like a dainty prison cell
made to lock in all the ineffable thoughts
that now threaten to spill out of my pores.
[content warning: anxiety, depression]
For six months I lost my best friend. Or at least it seemed like that. The long conversations we once had about the shows we watched and music we listened to quickly turned into aimless messages that mostly included a “How are you?” answered by a simple “I’m good.” And that was it. For months I would question what I had done wrong, why I was losing the friend I held so dearly. Quarantine did not help the situation and, if anything, made it worse. The “How are you?” and “I’m good” became nothing at all. But nothing had happened - no big fight, no breaking of “girl code,” no rumors being spread. Our once perfect friendship was now void of anything that could make it one.
you know, it eats away at you feet first
slowly I’ve stopped wanting to dance in my room
I used to bite my hand to stop the crying before my
mother rounds the corner my birthmark like a tooth
[content warning: self harm, blood]
and the Lord said
i want to bleed out at the
corner store. deathly pallor under
He consummates this affinity
she has for disposable razors —
they’re wedded now, as though
a shock of weeping red gashes
renders them any less mismated:
the ocean tickled my feet and i tried to laugh. but i couldn’t.
the city did not welcome me anymore. i sold my heart as bait to the fisherman who haunts the outskirts of the dark, dense place, and i cannot hold my feelings within my feet anymore.
One morning in summer, I wandered along the entrance of Sudi Causeway, which the poet Su Shi from the Song Dynasty built across West Lake. A scent of fried dough drifted from the entrance, beside which stood a small restaurant named “Cong Bao Hui”, the main dish that it offers for breakfast.
a vision of heirlooms is spread across
the grand piano, history aplenty,
photos a touch away from disintegration
and trinkets made from sterling silver.
Let the stone hear you. Let it wash away your apology and walk under the sands your beach used to love and want. Listen to the rumble, the music of the waves, and stand over the iron beams that glance into the concert that unfolds.
[Content warning: death]
Is today a good day to die?
I ask myself this question every morning after getting up from bed and every night before retreating under my comforter and falling into a disturbed slumber. I am asking myself this now as I sit at the supper table passing the green beans. My brain is tired of this question but it still won’t shut off due to all there is to think about and I can’t take the chaos anymore.
[content warning: anxiety, panic attack]
The world spun around me. It was swallowing me, burying me in a deep, murky hole. I couldn’t breathe. Wiggle your fingers
Count from 100, counts of three
No. None of it made sense. All the overwhelming thoughts jumbled around. I
needed air. 100. 97.. 94..9…
It’s been four years. I linger around the sweet shops we once used to call home and take a whiff of the cold, succulent air of warm bagels and decadent pastries.
Won’t we always have a life like this?
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.