a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
It began at the base of your navel,
a lonesome twinge, a subtle ache for something more.
But you refused to grant it nourishment,
to feed the monster you dubbed
a hindrance against yourself. So call it
pathetic, call it unstable, turn your back
and do your best to forget.
I’ve stopped trying to get out of bed, and I rest my laptop on my stomach. Water droplets form on the screen, hairline cracks creep up the sides. The glass melts into a sludge onto the keyboard, and I shut my laptop and pull the blankets over my face.
[content warning: domestic abuse]
911 what’s your emergency?
‘he is going to kill me; he is going to kill me’
Then one-year probation,
just like O.J Simpson.
Daddy was my hero; I never said a word. none
of the screaming and shouting I had heard,
Scratches not like falling in the playground, just
ones that kept her bound.
she sat at the bank of the sea, gasping like an athlete. her face, like a flour in an oven, swollen as water dripped down on her dress.
If a portrait can sit comfy
on a pleated seat
placed at the top of your heart.
Drinking the pelt, by the smooching
and caressing your cold lips.
in the ruck of my fault,
fighting the croaks
that lurks around my ears;
while my shadow
sits on the rustling brook
by the sideways.
If your life flashed before your eyes,
What would you remember?
What your first kiss felt like
Sloppy and full of possibility
As you stood beneath a sky of stars
Open to the world
You're ashamed of what you dream at night
pour out like
the pockets of my
On the table was a vase of roses. Big, fat roses with coffee cream petals, just about dripping onto cloth. They sank into baby’s breath, all of it blooming through the glass.
Beside it was a cloth-covered basket.
Around this, little saucers formed a ring, each displaying a rose-shaped pat of butter. One for each of us.
The whole table was a pearly, silver-studded array of about ten thousand forks. Even water goblets wore diamonds, glinting in chandelier light. Every table was the same. Only a skewed piece of parchment, ‘table eleven’ inked in calligraphy, distinguished ours from everyone else’s.
So I guess I’ll introduce us now. It’s only polite.
[content warning: self harm]
Our arms bulged, grotesque muscles in just-visible chunks.
Our veins danced with each push of the dumbbell,
like shovelling into panting earth.
We imagined snaring grey, jiggling worms in the dirt of the earth.
We imagined letting them crawl up the molding handle,
up our faded button ups, and down our sweat-soaked stretch marks
[content warning: eating disorders, self harm]
your ribs, fingering the clinging
meat rack by rack, selecting a prime
cut for picnic lunch, still
raw, bouncing with fleshy aliveness of a
She saw blue.
The girl’s head was under the vast lake, her eyes tracing light that glimmered like watery rays around her. She was sinking to the bottom—her arms splayed out, reaching for the surface, as her brown hair rippled against the tides rushing around her. The bubbles of air that escaped her mouth and floated to the surface gleamed with the last ounce of sunlight—of life—before darkness suffused her vision.
And she closed her eyes.
[content warning: eating disorder]
i’ve emerged into the town
you might call death,
of cold and austere aspect:
the clapboard houses
sewn in rows of needling teeth.
there is no excess here except
the acrid second scents of cookies,
second cake returning from sojourn
animal of an overbalanced body,
a worthless, grunting ballast.
you see this, how the poet abjures
his naive lark in eden:
a lockpicked safe—
voyeurs tucked in reflections
to turn on me my eyes,
to pin a mirror
to the lid’s inside—
[content warning: body dysmorphia, eating disorders]
Twelve jellybeans. One hundred and thirty-one point seven pounds.
Three and a half squares of dark chocolate. One hundred and thirty-one point eight pounds.
(It’s alright. I’ll let myself go to one hundred and thirty-two if it makes you feel better.)
The first time I looked at the scale I gasped, a flashing one hundred and twenty-seven staring me down.
I grabbed rolls of squishy fat, grabbed them until they turned blue, purple, red, picking at the skin until it bled red, purple, blue. It’s still no use.
I rise from the kitchen stool, staring out
into the woods where leaves swirl down
from the maple trees. Winter dangles
from the sky, growing ice on the Hydrangea
flowers I’ve watered and grown. Above me,
the sun blurs between a misty cloud, casting
shadows around the house. Brown boxes
wrapped with duct tape crowd the floor,
My halabeoji’s urn was marbly
like a flower vase. Days before he died,
when he needed to stand,
umma and I helped him up, umma’s cheek
against his skinny arm while Aunt Jiyoo
told me to stay outside his room.
She said he had lost half his body weight
and he looked as light as a child,
how she bathed him in warm water.
after magenta skies
there was only twilight
you called out a name in the night
and my sincere self answered it
then came the rolling storms
twilight tears of hurt pride
moths burned by the flame
fireflies no longer aflame
Sweat festering on my neck
The red of the track glazing into my eyes
Shameful numbers on my Fitbit stopwatch
God, I just want to sit on the bleachers
[content warning: suicide, blades, implied abuse]
I know of a boy who wrote a poem titled "question innocence like you'd question a lie". It was about his girlfriend, the one who lived down the block. She wore too much makeup. So, when he kissed her in the empty playground, under the slide, he wanted to cough in her face. But he kept on kissing her. He knew - if he stopped, there would be a hell of a price to pay; he would be less of a man. His teacher gave him a strange, steady look and marked his poem with an A.
It was the air that blanketed over
me that reminded me of geometry,
carving me into terracotta,
I discovered my new talent for withstanding the
clashing of dynasties, then
forsaken in the tombs.
[content warning: self-harm, sucide]
I tell myself to breathe in and out. My fingers tap the desk - steady and fast like the sound of my beating heart. My left leg shakes like it always does when I am anxious as if there is a rumbling earthquake happening right below me. My parents stared at me with glassy eyes, looking at me without recognition. It was like they forgot I was their daughter, and I was instead replaced with some foreign alien from a different planet. This broken, red-eyed monster sitting in front of them could not possibly be the daughter they raised. I wait for the doctor to tell me their plan of action like a defendant on trial, waiting for sentencing. The air is thick and heavy with unspoken words, unshed tears, and a million questions.
Every morning he wakes up before dawn in a world being dilapidated by a mere microorganism that is invisible to the naked eyes and drinks water from the brass urn kept on the table beside the bed.
Everyday he offers the same variety of marigolds to the effigy of Lord Krishna standing on top of the wooden cabinet where he keeps his books.
Day after day he makes his own toasts, sprinkling sugar on top of the brown crumbly crust and eats it, following it with a cup of lukewarm Darjeeling tea.
[content warning: mentions of death]
i could end the world
if i had to & end the world for the people i
cherish the most people that stabbed me
with their broken shards almost as much as
i choke them with my words
[content warning: sexual abuse]
He comes to you, hungry.
The first time he comes to you, he’s smiling. It’s painted on tv as he stands a country away from you in some Hollywood studio. And everyone laughs because he’s making a joke. But you don’t see anything funny about him. No. He’s lovely serious.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.