a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
Limbo by Christ Keivom (21, India)*
Vivian, like any God’s loneliest creature; a queer mixture of memory and forgetting, out of place everywhere, at home nowhere. Awakens on this downpour morning with dreams disturbed by the arrival of the dumpster truck from the city’s trash removal and for a length, he stares in confused remembrance towards where the window opens to the sky which has slowly changed color from dianthus-pink to hydrangea-blue.
I think the moment it fell apart was when I realised there was no God. And if there was a God, he died the moment Cain’s stone hit Abel’s head. He’s all knowing, so merciful. I can (and I do) write essays and essays on the glory of God. I’ll see him in hell though, even in his misery, I’ll see him relish in the splendor of his capabilities. God, if you’re so great, why do you need to be worshipped? My mother says God doesn’t need us, we need him. But the creator of the universe, He (capital ‘H’ in ‘He,’ always a capital ‘H’) who made us, made us to need him, so doesn’t he need us too? I have no one to turn to when my forehead burns up and palms get sweaty, no one but him. If God’s real, that one thing, that need to be needed, makes me want to be his friend. Is there no one left on earth?
Boating by Evan Chen (New Jersey)
I was wearing my ten-size-too-big trunks.
My brother Eddy walked beside me,
slapping my back every now and then.
The water smelled like something dead and decaying.
I wanted to puke, my face as pale as a glass of milk.
I never liked the story of Poseidon.
Jovian Marble by Dana Song (New York)
A Second Look at the Fifth Planet
I have always been of the firm opinion that Jupiter is made of marble.
One need only glimpse this stunning planet—with its eddying colors, its mottled swirls, the patterned stripes that make it look as though someone took a paint-dipped brush to a bowl of water and swirled it around inside—to get this impression. I am told that Jupiter is made of gasses, similar to the composition of the sun, but that just does not seem right to me. Its surface is far too intricate to be made from something as simple, as incorporeal, as a concoction of gas.
Tigress by Ashley Kim (California)
Without warning, the sprinklers on every floor, every room of the Tannerin Hotel rained freezing water. As the marbled floors increasingly blanketed with gloss, people slipped and scurried to the nearest exit only to find them all locked shut. Families bordering on sleep after rich dinners escaped their rooms with the TVs still on and suitcases left open like books, just catching in the soak until the fake rain bounced off the folded clothing. Some left their rooms in bathrobes with hair towels.
Lotus Seeds by Madison Xu (New York)
of the beetle that
from the windowsill
writhing spindly legs
on its broken back
on hardwood floors.
Dear Alana by Saya Shamdasani (19, Maine)
The desk wobbled as I set my forearm on it. It always did. Alana said it added character to the
wooden desk. I found it frustrating. We were different in that way. I hate winter because the cold suffocates me, Alana loved winter because the cold liberated her.
I leaned over and pulled out my ink pen, the one my father bought me for my twenty-second birthday. It was a sad birthday. The first without her. I reached into the side drawer of the desk and found a piece of paper. My ink pen grazed the surface of the parchment and I began:
Creaked the door, humming it made a sound
contemptuous it roared
as the flip floats thundered on the cob-web streaked stairs
Oh here comes the nightmare!
Bivouacking in the disdain-filled room that you split with your ma,
Your limbs woven
unable to detach
Every winter break, our family would go back to Korea. We never missed a winter trip there, and we would always visit Grandma’s house a few kilometers south of Seoul.
A few years ago, we arrived at Incheon after a four-hour flight from Manila. The December evening in Korea rested just over zero degrees, just some clouds floating by in the sky. The air was dry, my nose slightly hurting from the cold. I wore a thick sweater and some gloves. I had changed into these clothes during the flight, from a short-sleeved shirt to a long-sleeved one
Across my grandma’s house is Manseok Park, where, every morning, butterflies would circle the hedge bush that flanked the gardened paths. I would go there every other day to walk around the park reservoir and I would always hear the ducks quacking on the water surface. Often, I would see joggers along the pathway and office workers spending their lunchtime by the waterfront. Boxwood and bunchberry surround the outer ring of the path. Some daisies sprout out of the bushes, around which a lone butterfly circles.
When the throne falls to the conquering crown,
Where the greatest of kings, to his knees is brought down,
The war surges forth to desperate rounds,
On familiar but twisted battlegrounds.
We roamed together through heaven, until-
the frontline left a million still.
Cold from a pestilence we couldn’t face,
Abandoned in Thanatos’ embrace.
(strange) by Keyi Wang (14, China)*
If I were honest, I would prevent my tears
from being prevented to fly. Stepping in & shutting
my eyes, I sneeze. Too much dust.
Always too much dust
on tissues. And I
stand in them, stained with them,
MYTH by Alaa Maher (17, Egypt)
Each tree is in
love with one star.
“-but loneliness is still the time spent with the earth.”
I can see it from my garden overlooking the buildings, the green bushes blushing with spring flowers. I see it creeping through abandoned hallways of some school where the sunlight leaks through the roof and the day yawns open in an awakening. Sooner or later, I know, like everyone, that the houses will sleep in the embrace of darkness in the pitch-black night.
I hope I haunt you.
When you turn a sharp corner,
I'll float in your peripheral vision.
Incredulously, you’ll turn your head.
It will be a nameless girl,
with the same-colored hair
and a similar stance.
Your gut will wrench.
My apparition is not shakable.
Into the rain, tiptoeing
Amongst the fallen leaves
And flowers. The air, eager
Lover, clings to me, infatuated follower
Of LED suns and stars.
Grip the neck and adjust the pegs
set the bow down
upon the strings.
She’s on her way to pick me up and I think she should be here soon. Maybe she’s running late, perhaps because of Jonathan. That boy can get lost in his own little world of play sometimes, a consequence of being an only child. I do wish they would have more kids. I think that would help Jonathan get out of his shell a bit. He’s so shy and I know he has some trouble with the other boys at school.
did you know the world revolves
around a glass lighthouse, illuminating
Did you know we live to roam
within the archives of double-
[content warning: self harm, abuse, bullying]
“Write her a note and she will hear
Under her umbrella, your thoughts are safe
Burn the letter and it will be clear
As the paper disintegrates”
[content warning: mentions of blood]
staring in to the dwindling twilight
like an unavoidable traffic signal at the crosswalk, I feel
bandaged to the side of the bed, a petty fetal semicircle
with a heating pad enveloped in lumpy, pandemic ballooned- fat chunks.
She lived in her own world. It was less of a world though, and instead seemed to resemble a shadow more. She lived in a shadow. It followed her around like a puppy-eyed dog would to an owner. It lingered in the corner of every classroom she would be sitting in the back of. It would watch her as she got into the back of a car after a tiring day of school. It would question her as she got home and barged straight to her room in a clear state of distress. It would stare at her as she stared in disgust at herself in the mirror. It would judge her as she crawled into bed and slowly started her soft weeps of the night.
Eyeglass by Connor O'Ryan (19, Oregon)
Is an empire of spirit
Her kerosene spilled on my sheets
I lost my eyeglass in the ensuing flames
As it melted
I thought of last night’s sunset
Maybe the sun will disfigure my memory
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.