a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
The pearly gates were some scrap of a thing.
I found that they were not wrought from gemstones. They weren’t framed in those ornate, sun-kissed curlicues you see on Christian billboards. Rather, they’d been thrown together from that back-gate, chain link kind of fencing. The kind that creaks, digging through the weeds every time you walk by. The kind that makes your hands smell of metal, left stuck with rusty colored flakes.
you never were fond of cheap musicians
or coffee shop interludes
rather you had divine taste like
honeyed ambrosia percolating down the back of your throat
golden purity tricolating through your veins
midas would’ve envied your brilliance
The funny thing about living is that it’s both a blessing and a curse. There are beautiful sunsets and fresh fruits, but beauty is only a skin-deep game. There’s meeting souls and learning about something more than just yourself and the soil meant to be stood on. There’s the rain-kissed clothes, bags, and flowers emitting the finest of petrichor, and then there’s the raining of blood. There’s pain behind piety and sin behind demure. There are wings to fly, but bullets to shoot it down and hands to clip it too tight.
I. manic pixie dream girl:
has hair that’s fried just enough to still be polite. a porcine snort and a delicate twirl.
sparkles in his eyes, the halo so bright it creates a stubborn ring of light in his irises that activates when she appears, like mist, or like the mud that sprays on his face when a car rushes by in the city.
shines in his city, his world of grim sadness and childhood trauma and daddy issues.
inside her body stayed a country
that’s not even her country.
inside her amputated leg laid a country
that even when the leg a bleeding ghost already,
the country doesn’t leave
but plead red-iced loyalty.
inside her families stayed a country
that refused to realize
its encampment in their lineages.
Ma spoons her some medicine
she must take daily
from his seat.
[content warning: imagery of guns]
why call it a trigger
like i contain explosions
maybe a veteran would
but i’m only a student
I ran from you when first we met.
I trembled, fearing you would spring at me.
I hid behind my dad while tears befogged my eyes.
I saw you then with me, the prey, and you, the crouching wolf.
[content warning: self-harm]
What do you want me to do with your shoes? Answer me. I swear to god I’m not joking this time. See the giant recycling bin in front of me? Your tactical boots are about to go in it.
If you want me to keep them for you just tell me but don’t just lay them out like that on the window sill. It’s not like you’ve never left stuff at my place before. Remember when you left your hockey stick in my closet and had a game that day? I’m sorry I didn’t hear you banging on the door. I was sleeping with my headphones on. I woke up to your texts and ran to the courts with the stick though. You probably borrowed someone else’s stick so it worked out in the end didn’t it.
[content warning: self harm]
time immemorial was my last dream
there is no place for dreams in a body devoid of imagination
in a soul that is deviant
with usurped fallacies and broken delusion
rather my nights are empty
only to be succeeded by hollower days
the sun that rises and falls
i can at least count on that
Ubiquitous means to be appearing everywhere. Do you know what has become seemingly ubiquitous everywhere I go? My brother Kaleb’s face, which is sort of bizarre because he hasn’t “appeared” for nearly two years. Two years ago I saw him once, right before he was confined underground in a claustrophobic coffin for the rest of eternity. But I still see his face everywhere. The eyes that used to be so big I called him Bug-Eyes when we were younger, his uneven but undeniably adorable dimples that appeared when he flashed his famous smirk, his chocolate brown eyes with a warmth that enveloped you like a thick blanket. I really wish those features could be actively moving again, not just stationary stones plastered on every tree trunk, newspaper, and mailbox. He is gone, and these people just want to get our hopes up again.
[content warning: alcohol, sexual content]
Brendan made hand gestures and laughed through his teeth. You ate ice cream by the park and changed tables two times, first because of the traffic, then because of the bees. He only offered to pay half-heartedly; “I insist” he said at the counter, in a high pitched voice. Your cotton candy ice cream was freezer burnt. It cost you 4 dollars and 36 cents.
Xan with the side smirk took you to a pub. He had lazy hazel eyes and California tan, like he did in his profile picture. You drank beer from bottles and sat in a maroon booth by the corner. He hated how cliché he sounded- he really did- but he would die for some of his fraternity brothers. He stared at your cleavage and asked if you wanted to watch a movie back at his place. You walked home by yourself in the rain. You had no headphones.
[content warning: death, eating disorders]
what happened to me?
i was a rosy-cheeked girl
with a figure as thin as the tooth of a fine comb
a vehicle for hatred and jealousy
but also love and adoration
how did i end up like this
at the peak of my youth
dead and inflated on the kitchen floor?
Fluffy cotton balls have stopped dripping from above and retreated to the sides for the sun to shine. The tiny puddle of fresh rainwater in the middle of the unevenly paved path reduces to a darkened patch on the cement, leaving behind only an earthy scent that permeates the air. Stripped of its bath, the snail draws its head up in slow motion, scoliosis cured. Antennae perking straight up, he scans the gigantic world around him like a lighthouse looking for a lost ship in the blue abyss. Except the snail is lost in the lethal dosage of a sunbath. To the left, the snail picks up the quiet odor of a friend. The safest way home is to trail a road already taken.
What is there to lose,
when you are behind bars
even when innocence is all you feel,
your soul ripping apart,
your heart shattering
to shards of glass, bleeding
the nerves in your brain. You beg
for forgiveness, wait for their answer,
My life can be described as an indescribable monotony. Each day I wake up and leave my soft bed (my sleep never lasts long enough.) Each day I do tasks that seem to regenerate. Each day I take a nap at 3:00 p.m. Each day I engage in simple and meaningless conversations. Each day I eat, but I retain no sustenance. Each day. Each day bleeds into the other like the blood coursing through my veins, traveling to my heart and my lungs and my brain.
no longer a package deal with the twinkle in your eyes.
no longer a mood lifter with that magical spark.
lack the flashing green light atop the screen.
lack the revitalising comfort of your voice.
withering into the loudest silence.
I do not have anxiety. I don’t. I swear. Anyone who knows me will surely admit that I am just an average teenager. At least, I think they would. Well, so what if they think I’m weird? I guess maybe that would mean they secretly hate me. And that they’ve been lying to me this whole time about what they think of me. And that I would have no friends left. And… am I overthinking this? It’s probably apparent now, but what I said earlier was a slight lie. I might have anxiety. But what exactly does that mean? The word “anxiety” can have many different meanings depending on who is saying it and the situation.
a halmoni's recipe
one with withered paper
a dilapidated polaroid
i see as an ember of burning reels of film
boyish and coyish boy
flitters like an amorphous shadow
that is half as dark
because the light that shines
is only half as radiant
[content warning: sexual abuse]
I look down at my phone and I freeze.
My legs still hurt from last night.
My stomach drops, but I know what I have to do.
“Can I go to the bathroom?” I ask as my leg bounces. “It’s an emergency.”
The teacher nods, and I shoot up, shuffling towards the door.
He’ll get angry and hurt me if I don’t meet him.
[content warning: self harm]
my parents said
that I’d be the next Michelangelo.
dancing on the pages of my sketchbook.
[content warning: death of animals]
The school calls late Sunday night. It is an automated voice, emotionless, giving me and my brother Christmas morning in the middle of January: no school the next day. Even if they had not called off for the imminent snow storm, we wouldn’t have gone in for the trouble of attempting to get down our long gravel driveway.
Mama still puts us to bed on time, but I stay up for hours, watching the snow roll in and slowly begin to pile up and up and up. I picture myself trudging through it all, a hero on her way to save her kingdom from monsters hidden in the dark.
[content warning: death, alcohol]
What do you think it felt like,
to die all alone on that snowy road?
Was he scared? Did he know what was coming when the cars collided? I think the oblivion of it all would be preferable. I hope he wasn’t frightened; I hope he was calm. Alcohol will do that to a man.
I don’t want to know what Grandma thought. She was only forty-three, only two living boys at home after losing two more. Four births to only bring home two of your babies will rob anyone of their kindness. At least Momma reminded me of that anytime Grandma was spiteful towards her. At least Momma got to take home all four of her babies.
[content warning: blood, implied suicide]
please, keep talking. i unfold the future, spoon blades of light to dry lips
sword-swallow joy, choking on the bones of your hollow smile.
heart, calcified & quiet, we’ll live forever, the ocean
in our palms. through moonlight, reflecting the sea salt streams
on our faces on the water’s edge sour taste of past tense
[content warning: death, depression, minor sexual content]
My mum once said that ‘a house is constructed but a home is crafted’. Within these years of my life, I have tried to knit, sketch, ramble or even clatter my words, my version of it with different yarns on the same piece of cloth having this line pre-inscribed. I feel that by the day I would die, I can find that cloth as a stone over my head, as a resting structure with plants growing all around supplying me with fresh oxygen, which I won’t be alive to inhale! Plants are my mom’s love. They have occupied almost every nook at the corner balcony. I wonder how they cook their own food there, when sunlight during every part of the year is so dim. Perhaps the rains aren’t scanty enough. They don’t get disturbed by the constant trickling water from the old cooler and the grunting sewerage pipes, their offensive smell.
The ocean breathes, her surface rising and falling with rhythmic ease
The shore is order and chaos, the land and ocean meeting one another as they please
The ocean as waves of blue-light move over unmeasured horizons
Seashells bloom upon the shore in the sweetest of caramel curls and twirls.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.