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Grade
12

As the icicles grow outside her window so does her will to stay in bed.

Her skin is snow white and her fingernails purple as to match her under eyes.

And behind her eyelids a constellation of veins can be seen.

Cold to the touch, but her heart is sweltering.

 

State
IN
Zip Code
46613
Grade
11

A box in my closet 
holds the remnants of us—
our pictures,
our memories,
on a shelf collecting dust.

My mom asked about you,
and I told her that we don't speak. 
You said we'd stay friends,
but that was a promise you couldn't keep. 
Months have gone by
and the distance between us has grown deep. 

Yet after all this time,
I still don't understand 
why you won't stay apart of the past.
I thought that I was healed, 
that I had moved on.

But I still hear the sound of your heart beating in my ear,
the smell of your love invading my air, 
and the warmth of your touch lingers on my hair,
while your face in my dreams always appears. 

I can’t let you go,
you're stuck in my heart.
Even though I want you out,
you're the heartworm that I can't live without. 

State
HI
Zip Code
96813
Grade
11

I waltzed among the stars on airplanes’ wings.

Those eyes of youthful green watched cloudless skies.

Now I wait, wait— for land to which I cling.

 

Wide blazing windows showed me comets sing

And moonlight blind and galaxies arise.

I waltzed among the stars on airplanes’ wings.

 

A toppling sun—tick— governs Time as king,

While babies roar—tock— over mothers’ lies.

Now I wait, wait— for land to which I cling.

 

No brighter joy could destinations bring

Than birds of flight who journeyed into highs.

I waltzed among the stars on airplanes’ wings.

 

Late stops, and, turbulence upon me spring,

Confined on this machine (in steel disguise). 

Now I wait, wait— for land to which I cling.

 

I should relinquish fighting old Time’s ring; 

As I am fastened tight, she drowns in skies. 

I waltzed among the stars on airplanes’ wings.

Now I wait, wait— for land to which I cling.

 

State
CA
Zip Code
94582-5250
Grade
8

She crouches, nearly frozen solid.

Her knees pulled close to her chest,

as she rocks back and forth ever so slightly.

 

Her teeth as sharp as icicles,

grinding against each other, like nails on a chalkboard, 

over and over again.

 

She doesn’t speak, no, not a single peep.

She can’t, 

her jaw won’t unlock, her purple lips won’t part,

to let her release those pent up cries for help.

 

A layer of frost covers her skin,

like moss to a lonely stone.

Her body has been numbed to the core.

Poke her, prick her, prod her, 

she won’t feel a thing,

at least not anymore. 

 

Blood, 

once warm and red, now a sickly scarlet.

Skin, 

once flushed and fair, now thin, 

with an icy bluish hue.

Hair,

once thick and strong, 

now sparse and delicate. 

A head of inky black locks, now all but gone. 

 

Is there any hope?

Surely not, for who would give a girl who looks so pitiful,

a second shot? 

 

The sound of steps, muffled by frosted white walls.

She cranes her neck to face the approaching noise.

Thin hairs tickle bony shoulders.

 

No, not bony. Skeletal.

You could count her ribs, as small and brittle as toothpicks climbing up her chest.

 

She lifts a shaky hand,

throbbing blistered finger tips meet the icy walls of her prison, her cage.

Gathering up every ounce of strength she has left, she taps the wall.

 

"Tap, tap, tap."

No response.

Silence for a moment longer. 

She makes a fist, her fingers trembling. 

Desperate to make some noise. To get some attention. To get your attention. 

She knocks.

 

"Knock, knock, knock." 

Slowly at first, then a bit faster. 

But you disregard the noise.

After all, it happens quite often. 

 

Her tears won't fall, they only freeze on her cheeks, 

adding to the layers of frost that never seem to leave.

 

She's pleading, begging you to pick her up in your warm hands. 

She's no smaller than a baby doll. 

Surely you can hold her. 

 

The more noise she makes, the more you ignore her. 

She's not even a thought, her name never spoken, her presence never missed. 

 

Maybe because if you did open up that door to let yourself see her, 

you wouldn't allow yourself to believe it.

 

She can't be fixed. 

Her frozen bones are not to be warmed.

She's sickly, frail, and really shouldn't be alive.

Yet there she is, fragile,

but not dead.

 

Still, you would probably just shut the door, rub your eyes, think you’re losing your mind.

Forget, and never give it another thought. 

 

But she's in there, whether you like it or not.

In a place where it's never ever at all hot.

 

Everyone has one.

We visit it everyday.

She's in your refrigerator. 

Rocking, tapping, knocking, grinding her teeth away. 

The metal box whines, groans, creaks, and sometimes even squeaks.

 

So when that big cold machine makes a peculiar noise,

it's not the motor compressing cool air, 

it's not the ice making noise as it falls from the tray in clumps or pairs, 

it's the little girl, 

desperate and trembling, 

trying to reach out from the endless cold,

Just to find someone,

who she can hold.

 

State
CO
Zip Code
80016
Grade
8

They Forgot how to say my name. They forgot how to say it. They forgot the way my name slurs off their tongue, like the slurs that they'd use to the dark obsidian that'd hope crack. They forgot sight. They forgot colors. They forgot colors would soon fade away. They'll never forget that I'm colored but black isn't a color; it is absence. Our Fathers are absent. They forgot to come back. They say once you go black you'll never go back, everyone tries to escape darkness. The system must have forgotten that. They forgot we were free, we forget that we are free, sometimes I too forget that we're free. I forgot my tongue. I forgot the bitter taste it'd leave in my mouth after every smile, every laugh. Oh! I forgot I left it next to my rage. The rade I contained after every smile, every laugh. Sometimes we all forget. We forgot how easy it was to sip on a drink and let the pain slip away. Or maybe we didn't forget. Maybe I remember the pain. It's next to my rage. Which is next to my tongue, trailing behind the bitter taste of defeat it once left in my mouth, after every smile, every laugh. Near the prisons they built around our mind, yet we built them. You know, the ones we live in. Only for the time being, until they remember we're supposed to be free. Like our fathers. They're free, from the families they forgot about. They just forgot to come back though. Because once you go black you never go back, unless you forget that your black. But they'll remind you. They'll never forget. Because you haven't faded away, yet. Like the colors, they can't see because they forgot sight. They forgot my name. They forgot how to say it, how it slurs off their tongues, like the slurs they'd use against obsidian... But what if they didn't forget? What if we didn't forget? What if I didn't forget..? But just didn't care enough to remember... 

State
RI
Zip Code
02895
Grade
10

stretch like a cat in the sun, 

watch your bones turn to rust slowly,

count the folds in your skin, 

remember where you got them and how they move,

watch as blood fills your canyons and valleys until your veins 

pulse on the outside.

 

watch a rat be born and die, 

be born and die

like a blooming flower like a wink

sleep under transparent eyelids

you do not watch nor look but you see

dust and sand grits and stars

 

camels are meant to be

in the dunes, followed only by camel-shaped footsteps,

just as you are meant to be

right here.

 

caress a map like you do someone’s skin,

trace rivers across their back

follow them and 

do not look away

from our earth’s body

don’t be ashamed of your vegetation and growth.

 

of all the odd things and peculiar people,

if i wanted to find someone, 

(you)

where would i go?

 

State
CA
Zip Code
94070
Grade
10

A flash of light

Bright colors

Dancing 

On the surface

 

A snack!

 

I flick my tail

And swim

To the tantalizing corn

And glitters that float

 

Opening my toothless moth

I swallow the corn whole

It’s sweet

And a little bit sharp

 

I feel a tug on the roof of my mouth

A needle piercing my skull

Flighing me upward

Faster than one should ever swim

 

Then I’m flying

Freedom

Comes at the price

Of the hook in my mouth

 

The air 

Is hot.

 

I can’t breathe

 

I swing 

Back and 

Forth

 

My

Head

 

hurts

 

And

 

 

Ca

n't--

 

State
CA
Zip Code
94070
Grade
12

His love was cotton candy at the circus 

The first boy I thought I loved

It came bagged and artificial

But its sweetness numbed all other senses

 

His cotton candy devoured me

I lost myself in his sugar-sweet words

I let them wrap me up in the fairy floss

Only to fall through when it dissolved on his tongue 

 

He left me to clean up the trash 

When our cotton candy ran out

The circus left and so did he

But I still waited for him with the clowns 

 

His love was cotton candy at the fair

The second boy I thought I loved

It came bagged and artificial

But I fell harder and faster for this one

 

He only let me eat it at night 

The darkness hiding us from anyone we knew 

I devoured so much my mouth turned blue

And he got scared my tongue would give us away

 

Each ride took us up and down 

Cotton candy churning in our stomachs 

It came right back up after we got off 

Seeing his face still makes my stomach sick

 

My love was cotton candy at the candy store

For the first boy I ever loved 

When I fell in love with you

Nothing ever felt real

 

When you’re cotton candy dissolved 

You showed your love with other sweet treats 

No one had loved my like that before 

To try and give me all I could ask for

 

All I knew was cotton candy love

So I gave you that kind of love in return 

I tried to care with sugary pinks and blues

But it all dissolved in your mouth

 

His love was cotton candy anywhere 

The boy I used to cover the hole of your love

He didn’t care about me

Or about who knew he didn’t care

 

He took me to the fair and the circus 

All for cotton candy love

And when he thought I’d had enough to eat

He fed his cotton candy to other girls

 

I let his love dissolve in my mouth 

And I let him keep feeding it to me 

All the while I kept my eyes closed 

And I imagined he was my candy shop lover

State
New York
Zip Code
14715
Grade
9

Moments. Years. Laughter. 

All meaningful and meaningless words, left unspared as the merciless departure of life looms on. 

“Honey, I’m sorry. Your friend who has cancer-” 

My head hurts, my soul hurts, 

“...the doctors made a mistake, she died just last night” 

She finished her sentence, unaware and heedless to my inner turmoil that is begging, pleading, shouting for her to stop, just stop.

I did not want to know.

After all, things were just so much better if they were left untold.

Ignorance is bliss, they say.

And bliss is something we all need, sometimes.

 

I can still picture her poise, her grace internally and physically, 

her natural confidence that drew people in. 

She always had been surrounded by people, 

Said she couldn’t stand the emptiness of being alone. 

Alone. Alone to face her fears? Her worries? 

She hadn’t had anything to fear or worry about. It was elementary school for goodness sake. 

Too early. 

Much too early

We all failed her, didn’t we?

Failed because in the moments when she was left all alone,

She became no more.

 

The chorus concert came a month later

We sang Count On Me, for her,

Until tears overflew and we could sing no longer

Because she counted on us and it was all that we could do to treasure her memory.

 

But cancer seems so inevitable,

So darn irritable and selfish and overwhelmingly headstrong

We are just chess pieces in the game of life, aren’t we

And we plead for mercy, no more, no more,

But more pieces are knocked over, down, d o w n 

 

Not a year later, another one leaves.

Death, it seems, is ever more ruthless when it battles the strongest people.

 

I hadn’t liked her very much at first. 

She had taken my bracelet away,

Said it was distracting me in class.

I hated her for it.

What right did she have,

To judge whether or not I was being distracted in class

And yet perhaps she was right, my teacher, that is

Within a month, 

She understood me and I, 

She came to my Carnegie Hall concert,

Sitting at the front row, with her young sons, (oh god they had been so young, and she as well)

Beaming, clapping, right in front of me and my piano.

 

In her life, it was all about explosions

She loved to spin tales about a frightening hornet,

A terrible monster threatening to sting and fight her mind and heart

And we would all listen, entranced

As far as my memory reaches, I’ve been

obsessed with noise&fire&laughter

Her stories, needless to say, had never been disappointing.

and it was everything,

noisy, lively, filled with laughter, in her class.

She told jokes, weaved stories.

Anything.

as long as everyone was laughing.

 

Ironically and improbably, 

cancer took her the same way as it had claimed my friend,

Silent. On a hospital bed.

A l o n e

 

Alone and yet 

not alone because,

because these memories, 

these brilliant sparks of something bigger, something brighter than death,

They can’t be destroyed,

Not when the sturdiness in our minds and stubborn hearts within us remain strong.

And we all remember.

We all pray and cry and laugh and remember

Because people like them,

They don’t disappear,

They glow

Forever in our souls

 

“Honey, what are you carrying?”

Mom smiles at me, as I stumble with an armful of book out of the library,

The Anatomy of Hope

 

State
NY
Zip Code
10583
Grade
12

i could write about Your last days 

days, where You were no longer 

The Boy Made From Stars, or

My Best Friend, but 

A Corpse, corrupted

from years of breathing and believing in false hopes.

 

i could write about Your eyes that couldn’t shine

like they used to, those silver mirrors, 

suddenly a desecrated cathedral, 

no longer a calm village—

no longer my safe haven, no longer Home.

 

i could remind this grieving soul once more: 

i would’ve done anything to stop You.

 

i’d walk into the waters with this withered, cement heart.

let my worst fears swallow me whole in one cerulean colored gulp.

i’d face the monsters of our past with a crooked smile and open palms 

with nothing but You and these words to save me.

let temptresses cut my enchanted locks; fly to the skies just to drop to the seas.

apologize for every word i breathed which convinced

You i wouldn’t give every planet for Your contentment.

 

but i can’t pretend these will bring You back—

these actions won’t fix the world You left too soon,

won’t unring the dissonant bell

won’t heal leaking wounds, won’t soothe these tears

or convince me that an offering of chicken bones and broken promises can help You now;

none of this will stop me wondering if You left as an attempt to test my incredulous beliefs,

or if You handed Yourself over to these 

Capricious Gods,

promised them every beautiful masterpiece 

in exchange for the promise of calm seas.

 

instead of asking You why—

why You couldn’t offer a written explanation

why You left that whirling winter night

and abandoned ship before anyone had the chance to throw a vest

why You let the Vicious Thoughts win,

—ignore fancy adjectives that’ll sell You short.

refuse to call You anything less than

A Dreamer, 

whose curiosity, not his pride, 

flew him too close to the sun.

 

instead of mourning freshly torn graves 

or mumbling archaic verses, assuaging No One’s grief,

i’ll read with raw throat & blurry sight

the poems we feared reciting, 

proclaiming Death as no cloaked figure

but a buzzing fly, a wanderer’s countenance, 

a passing friend.

 

i’ll read the books You left unfinished,

take the risks We were always meant to take.

speak the words You never got to say.

justify all questions that never had

The Right Answer.

 

instead of burying Your name with Your young broken body,

i’ll write eulogies for the better times in bright, blaring letters.

transcribe every quote, every epigram and unheard poem, and

 

scream them from The Precipice You were never meant to climb,

with tear kissed cheeks and 

a gurgling roar:

MY BEST FRIEND DID NOT DIE IN VAIN

 

i’ll do this all to remind the world that

You will never be forgotten like yesterday’s rain.

 

Best Friend, made from stars and shimmering dreams

i promise You these things and so much more,

for though You came from dust, 

and to dust You have returned,

Your Glory will never fade.

Your Glory will never die.

 

State
MI
Zip Code
48073