a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
for my 母亲, mǔ qīn, meaning mother
Sitting before the bathroom mirror, you once told me that blood is like memory. The veins, you said, tether hindsight from one generation to another, a thread of instructional chapters meant for nothing but motherhood. My grievances are yours to relive, you explained. I hope you only see them through me, in passing.
[Content warning: self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and references to emotional abuse]
the concept is easy: my mother is
a smoking gun, lying on the worlds
she bought and kept, keeping her
eyes steady on my slow climb down
to her. when we talk, it is in jokes,
in which we are introduced to a flesh/ gathered in gorges and islets/ and the cherry bloom of blood/ as if to remind us that a small wound is yet/ a wound. feel/ the dull touch of scar tissue pooling under/ bruises and remember pain/ loses its efficacy the longer it stays./ see/ how the body that sees too much/ blinds itself.
Begonia petals shift across the garden,
eloquent like cursive
on the page. Spring’s sweet
release. I ride the west wind. Air knows
no bounds. Root -less. Like this body.
I am told that is poetry. But I yearn for
an anchor. A hand that fits mine.
A trellis to home this vessel
[Content warning: racial violence]
Hanging abandon, testament of life
look away we don’t see colors. The stench of
summer forces air into branches, rustling leaves,
up from what remains. Look towards it. Look up.
Isn’t it funny
how things never go according to plan
like how not all dandelion seeds will take root,
but wasn’t it beautiful
the way they rode the wind’s hand
and landed so far away?
Stuck in a world of our own,
Humanity was always a world away,
It was just the sea, my mother and me.
I should have listened,
The sea has destroyed us.
i find abysmal and cataclysmal solace in your solemn
beauty and revel in the sweet song
you sing to me as you perch on my
windowsill. your affections are weathered and feathered and we have become
tethered to one another, your winged embrace
constellating us into an indelible oneness.
Dishevelled low pony because an Ariana one hurt.
Eyes bald, though smoky with caffeine-sedated circles.
“You’re not like the other girls,” I muttered by your ear,
and we gagged, for we sounded like that couple.
i am sitting on the tightrope of september’s last stand
it is precarious, that the endings have unwrapped themselves
again and again as we hurtle down the quiet bus routes
down screaming highway centres that glide away in a moment’s notice
My dad teaches me to be a rock
in the sea of ravenous scissors.
but paper rises as quickly as the lemon sun
i. treading on clovers, rich in birdsong / the sink of a second system & seeing / the aftermath of a starful non-existence. / we crawl back to our senses, pardon / the touch of feathers, the dew-light / flutter of their wings / soft / like the dreams we (should have) had. / now i am your broken mirror / & your hands fiddle— not / knowing where they belong / this is the start of my antagonizing / a multifaceted beauty, because / a pen & two colors are my only way / to you.
Seawater clings to my soles as the voice of life
ripples through the trickling rivulet that leads to the sea --
the sound of the suburban coast reverberates in my cochlea.
A narrow fellow slithers against my ankles, winding
My mother pretended to be asleep beside me,
Hiding her face from mine.
But still I felt her tremors run through the bed, covers rippling
With quiet grief.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 29:11).
[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.
[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.
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,
Salmon rays splash onto a canvas of vapor:
altostratus streaks roll along the horizon.
They ride the foaming crests of the aether--
but under my camera lens, they still.
The clouds blush for the LED screen.
It’s all a game now.
If you wake early in the morning,
shut the door & measure the minutes before
the coffee maker beeps. Count the beats
between crashes, record the decibels of each
crack. Divide by five & forget
about miles; the eye is just inches away.
After C.S. Lewis
Love anything and watch
the bifurcated sword cleave its maker.
Bury the child in algae. Ethanol shrinks from linoleum squares but the glass remains.
Give away a covering of cotton. Fine teeth comb the ivy as blinds for a blank slate
Ants chew on the spinal cord and no grass grows in a velvet cage. Hear
the reeds petrify.
The crack in the pitcher—you will say
that you do not remember it, but I do.
We both know that what you say, it isn’t true.
If it was true you wouldn’t be able
to look at it even if you tried to,
but you do, you do.
Prayer pools like drool on my pillow, like fresh rain gone quiet.
Summer’s heat, dusty feet, sweating sunset frog song,
swallowing my own suppositions until I become pregnant with myself.
I took a plunge at midnight. I tossed my body into the sea,
and I watched the black water pour into my drought punctured soul.
I sincerely believe passion keeps us sane.
Lying dead in a bathtub, wet washcloth over my mouth,
I wanted to see how long I could endure torture.
We are beautiful because we are temporary, oppressed and pressed by mortality.
But I was not really dead, just struggling to breathe, to believe.
[Content warning: allusions to suicide/self-harm]
you fall from the stars with your soul light as soot and your mind heavy as a black hole. / your heart wanders into exploding galaxies / inky nothingness. / you lose yourself in the tangled remains of your ribcage, / twisting in on itself, stabbing at your lungs. / you look at me with blood smeared across your cheeks and constellations winding themselves over your skin; / my heart aches with inexplicable pain at the embers that howl in your eyes. /
“you only live once,” they say, but really, truly, that is not quite correct, is it? / we live countless times, in all of the forgotten moments that ripple through us. / we live in the whisper of the tides as they kiss the sand of the shore / live in the low rumble of the earth beneath our feet / live in the breath of the wind against all corners of the weeping sky. / we live in sunlight pooling molten gold in corners and shadows waltzing against the walls of midnight. / we live in gentle clouds and the arbitrary song of the rain as it drips against us, / live in wandering souls and drifting worlds that collide in bursts of sound and light; / all the things that words can never truly explain and humankind shall never quite comprehend crashing together to create what life holds dear to our bones. /
Tonight there’s a bloodbath of stars & the black
disemboweled sky. The naked corpse of moonlight desecrates
everything we could ever touch. You’re begging me to hang up
but I only open my other palm, slathered in red.
I’m waiting for you
to hold my hand or my heart but either way you just won’t
let go of the phone. I’m so scared that I can’t hear what you’re saying & I want you
to promise me that you’re still there, darling, are you there?
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.