an open space for youth writing & mental health discussion
an open space for youth writing & mental health discussion
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.
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.
north, we stare, heading for the top
suddenly, we plummet, into the depths of our sea
and it feels, nice actually
to be able to let go, and fly, however short the ride
so we fall
[Content warning: self-harm]
She’s fighting it. She’s fighting it as hard as she can, trying to slip back into sleep, dark, oblivion, any place where she’s not awake. But consciousness is a restless visitor and the daylight pressing against her eyelids is very real. She’s still very alive.
A sharp pain spikes in her arms, hot as fire, and then everything — along with a headache — cascades upon her. Blood is everywhere. Her sight flashes black and white. She’s done it again.
Words. Words have always fascinated me. The way they flow, the way they sound, the way they look. Everything about them captivates me and intrigues me into wanting more. Words can build statues out of sentences, or they can create people out of paragraphs. Infeasible concepts that everyone says is just fantasy can come to life with the click of my keyboard. Anything can become possible. The whole world is at my hands when I have words.
It is a stubbornness, this thing that sits on my chest and pulls open my eyes to see that there are
still things here for us.
There is a home to be built.
There is bread to be baked,
to be broken with friends,
to eat while still warm.
I rinse my cold hands
on the gentle shores
of Punta Fuego,
feeling a rush
of last summer
and ebbing away.
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
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.