a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
a space for youth writing & mental health discussion
[content warning: imagery of guns]
why call it a trigger
like i contain explosions
maybe a veteran would
but i’m only a student
[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: 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: internalized homophobia]
Grace stares out the bus window, watching through lazy eyes as the buildings whir by, their cement walls hazy with unfocus. Dotting the sidewalks are street lights that refuse to dim, despite the creeping up of the Sun through the clouds. The last few determined moths buzz around the bulbs with fervor. Grace can’t help but wonder what they hope to find there. Her gaze shifts to the shadows under the trees, and she is transported to a different time.
[content warning: self harm, eating disorder, mentions of sexual assault, internalized homophobia, OCD rituals]
1. i practise folding myself into a matchbox. keep an hourglass in my bathroom to remember what to become. and now: i am always out of time. my hair falls out before my body falls in; i broke a mirror with my edges and my skin broke too. know this: i was someone before i was my unmaking.
f orks, swords. spoons, distorted mirrors. there is
i rony in saving yourself when it hurts. i try to
r inse my mouth of hunger. (someday i won’t flinch when i
[content warning: suicidal ideation, depression, death]
Shattered glass scatters the passenger seat. My window is smashed in, now an empty hole letting in the cool breeze of spring and the smell of flowers. The bass from my radio still pounds through my speakers. Loudly. I slam my hand down on the volume knob, wanting to shut off the melody that seemed so comforting only seconds ago. I hadn’t heard it in the moment, but now the crushing of metal and the screeching of tires skidding against asphalt seem to ring in my ears.
I just sit there. Maybe I should get out. Call 911. Do something. But my body is frozen. Time is moving faster than my thoughts, I see the shattered glass, I know what car accidents look like. But this doesn’t feel like one.
I’m sorry, Ethan.
Burning flames – a heart, itches like salt on scar.
Buried fears inside the chambers of eyes,
red-roses, ash, ashes reside.
A shining sunshine replicates a daunting landscape,
and whizzing crickets swallow poison pills.
Insomniac blankets wrapped around the empty scalp–
I'm sitting on the seventh storey bathroom floor. I blow smoke rings on the collar of the boy who tells me he loves me. There is sawdust between my nails, and the boy tries to say something but takes a sigh instead. My lovers have learnt not to make a burning woman bleed more ash. Ma messages. She says: come home. And maybe this is falling apart.
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.
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,
Grip the neck and adjust the pegs
set the bow down
upon the strings.
[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 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—
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,
isn’t it funny how i was promised that paper memories were invincible, but yesterday they wilted in the summer heat? how promises made in youth don’t last? how grandma gave me origami cranes and simpler things, fairytales, metaphors, carved into asphalt & strung in intervals along the lining of my cranium—one, two, three—
My limbs feel cold, soggy, like half-
raw oats. Grumbles should claw
from my stomach, tugging at shirt
and skin, but there’s only silence.
Her body bled into the ground,
I’m told, crumbling like run-over
(waves crashing, wind whistling, sound of ocean spray, collision with midnight)
I would be lying if I said I didn't miss it. The unraveling. The scorned breath of the ash tray, the pooled black dripping from its sides like god, broken-hearted in the almond tree mistaken for a movie theater. But this is how we danced, our teeth born to sea, bodies sprawled against the wet part of the sand, singing the song of our mothers' broken heels.
you know, it eats away at you feet first
slowly I’ve stopped wanting to dance in my room
I used to bite my hand to stop the crying before my
mother rounds the corner my birthmark like a tooth
[content warning: self harm, blood]
and the Lord said
i want to bleed out at the
corner store. deathly pallor under
He consummates this affinity
she has for disposable razors —
they’re wedded now, as though
a shock of weeping red gashes
renders them any less mismated:
This is the kind of rain that falls down in sheets, the kind that makes the sky into a blank, crinkled sheet, torn by jagged bolts of lightning and ripples of thunder. The light flashes across my textbook, and I think of the way it mimics a flickering flashlight. My father’s eyes dart between the smudgy road and the cars that are but blurs of red and blue and black with windows melting like ice cream.
We take and we take until there is nothing left. And now, we have broken the world with our selfishness.
Because the sky is shattering.
Because the sun is too hot.
Because the sun is too hot and the rain is still falling. And it’s falling and it does not stop.
Because God is angry with us, with the world.
Because by the time I step out, the leaves will be on fire and it will be too late.
Because the world is coming to an end.
Because the world has come to an end and I’m still here.
The small city houses with dusty floors and visible pipes and wirings are where children are told that their flesh and bone are borrowed. Where people sing “you are our blood” as a lullaby to their children and their simple, innocent minds imbibe these words. These houses are factories where every person moves with the emblem of their company engraved in their souls. The rats and ants and cats and birds are witnesses of the auction where someone’s daughter was packed and wrapped and was sold off to someone’s son, for twenty-five lakhs and a car and some land.
My mom tells me of ancestors
who blister & burn: blazing glory
then charcoal corpses collapsed under
dirt and soil, under torn and sewn roots
like stiches in skin, under memories
soaked into the ground through eons
of rain and blood.
“And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.”
-Rainer Marie Wilke
the waterfall slips through the cliff’s jagged peaks and pools at its base. it looks the way it feels to enter a used bookstore, tiny and suffocated between slabs of brick and buildings. or a museum, in a marble room of marble statues, at dawn when nobody is around and the sun comes through the window and hits the statues in such a light where you can’t help but think that this, this is how they were supposed to be seen. it’s the moors where the poets write and the moon you see when you look out your window. the cliffs are the bracing ribcage to the lake below. it’s the beginning and end of everything.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.