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ONE PEN THE LI T E R A R Y M A G A Z I N E O F B R O N X A C A D E M Y O F L E TT ER S SPRING 2017 I S S U E N O . X XI I


ONE PEN THE LI T E R A R Y M A G A Z I N E O F B R O N X A C A D E M Y O F L E T TER S SPRING 2017 I S S U E N O . X XI I


One Pen Staff Issue No. XXII, Spring 2017

Student Editors: Suly Alvarez Tamara Dominguez Jarlyn Martinez Michelle Matto Steph Porfil Writer in Residence and One Pen Advisor/Designer: Caits Meissner Special thanks ​to Mr. Lewis Berns for guiding and curating the beautiful student art in this issue, and to our Principal Brandon Cardet-Hernandez for prioritizing and working towards a true vision of equity and justice — in our school and beyond. And high fives to you for reading!


Table of Contents INTRODUCTION PART I: THE MORNING AFTER Edited by Suly Alvarez, Jarlyn Martinez & Steph Porfil Sharp Wind,​ Yachi Bonilla Wake Up, ​Tamara Dominguez Sexism.. ​Michelle Matto Feelings in the Air, ​Araceli Salazar Trapped, ​Aaron Saldana The Mouths Are Closed, ​Ashley Garcia The Strength of Women, ​Jarlyn Martinez Bugging Out,​ Steph Porfil 1,460 Days​, Edwin Soto Dump Trump, ​Starlin Pimentel True Nightmare of a Dominican American, ​Eileen Valerio Not Okay, ​Suly Alvarez Don’t Leave, ​Shadey Ruiz Finding Out He Was President, ​Taylor Richmond Opposite Day,​ Brandon Smith Unbelievable How?,​ Ronnie Fladger The Sharp Truth., ​Melanie Lantigua It Was Just A Dream, ​Shanice Tramble


PART II: LOVE LETTERS TO SELF Edited by Tamara Dominguez, Jarlyn Martinez & Michelle Matto Infinite, ​Tamara Dominguez A Long Way, ​Michelle Matto MOMMA ONLY IF​, Steph Porfil Climbing Out., ​Melanie Lantigua Why I Love Myself,​ Starlin Pimentel Proof of Living,​ Jarlyn Martinez The Survival of Life,​ Taylor Richmond Journey to Self​, Suly Alvarez Love Letter to Self, ​Brandon Smith Growth Mindset,​ Delquan Durham Loving Thy Self​, Isatou Jawara I Am Me,​ Shiann Brown What About It?​, Samara M. Henry The Art of Poetry, ​Diego Romero The Woman In The Mirror Speaks, ​Shanice Tramble Love Poem, ​Ronnie Fladger Finding Your Bright Place, ​Yachi Bonilla Dear Khadija​, Khadija Ali Self Love,​ Shadey Ruiz Positive Thinking,​ Aaron Saldana Pep Talk,​ Araceli Salazar Little by Little,​ Edwin Soto Love Yourself,​ Eileen Valerio


ART MADE BY ​ (in order of appearance) Election Portraits by Mr. Berns’ Advanced Art Class 2 Point Perspectives by Miranda Arroyo Jasherah Nalls Tamara Dominguez Affirmation Valentines by Ms. Caits’ Poetry As Activism Classes Coat of Arms by Imani Valdivia Jaylin Garcia Leila Dominguez Darleny Ayala Keep Your Heart Large by Ms. Caits


Introduction

We are the ones we have been waiting for. — June Jordan This special issue is written entirely by student poets in the Poetry As Activism elective (don’t fret, our summer issue will be back to normal, and open to the entire school.) It is my pleasure and honor to frame these important poems for you, and I encourage you to read a little bit about each section in this journal before you dive in.

About Part I: The Morning After Here is what we discovered this semester: June Jordan is right. There is no savior. No one will write the books for us. We must tell history through our unique perspectives. Even if it feels like complaining to wallow in the negative, even if it feels futile, sometimes we must drum up the courage to write for a future we cannot envision yet. These poems penned just after the election capture an important moment in time — even when they felt boring or difficult to write after so many disheartening conversations. Many years from now, we hope they might serve as a warning, or an alarm, to wake a reader up, to inspire them to action, to let them know how it felt for ​all of us ​when Trump was elected President: women,

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LGBTQ folks, black and brown people, those of various abilities, Muslims, immigrants... Our fears are recorded. Our declarations shouted out. History will not be told from one perspective —not as long as we’ve got our pens ready. About Part II: Love Letters to Self While in Los Angeles this past January, I worked with teenage girls at Eastlake juvenile detention center. They wrote moving, raw and honest love letters to self. These love letters were not all gushy or boastful. On the contrary, the words worked as salve for deep wounds. In these poems the girls were forgiving wrongs, naming their specific pain, and encouraging themselves to move towards the light. In an over-incarcerated society, we often forget the power of the people who are barred from our sight. I am lucky to experience the wisdom revealed in these rooms, and often wish I could share it widely. This time, I was able to. With permission, I brought the girls' powerful poems back into our classroom at BAL, where we read them aloud and marveled at sharp lines, recognizing ourselves in their words. We wrote letters to the girls, offering praise for their work, our own words of encouragement, and a copy of a poem inspired by theirs. You'll read many repeated sentiments in this section, and I believe it is because these letters touch on what is deeply human in all of us: our insecurities, regrets, and ultimate longing for fulfillment, healing, love and acceptance. Don't tell anyone, but I cried reading them. Some of our letters to the girls are included, too, offering a taste of their work in selected lines, and underscoring the power of connection through the written word.

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This expansive, complex love is the energy that combats the negativity written about in the first section of this issue. It is a negative era, there is no denying this. Therefore, we must work to love and accept ourselves in order to do the necessary work of healing our world. We must also care for ourselves in a time of so much painful messaging. We must know our worth. We must forgive ourselves. Thank you to each of the poets in these pages for modeling what it means to feel aloud. When we can show who we truly are, we inspire others to take off their masks and live authentically. When we push back against injustice, we strengthen and fortify the goodness that exists in this world. ​You​ are the goodness in this world. Thank you for sharing it. Write on, Ms. Caits

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Part I: The Morning After

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Sharp Wind Yachi Bonilla This morning the kids won't shut up, thinking that life is over. But a bird won’t die unless you kill it, and we won't die unless were overruled. Unless we believe him. Where is his heart? Did the wind blow it away? He is so cruel. Here is America. I was sitting down, thinking, why is he doing that? This is America. It's supposed to be free. The world cannot blow a wind so bad that it turns peace into war.

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Wake Up Tamara Dominguez 1:20 a.m. 5:42 a.m 6:03 a.m., e​ yes wide open. Election day was just a few hours ago… 6:05a.m.,​ TV blares… Face of destruction pasted on the news for all to see. The room is tightened​, heat radiating. The windows are sweating, a black and blue wind tries forcing it’s way through the cracks of the window… we made a game of Duck-Duck Goose into a game of Russian Roulette, all chambers loaded. Your pick landed us on a narcissistic racist with too much power. He will destroy our lives. He has been chosen as President. Great job America. A war is about to start…

She turns off the TV. She ties her black coarse hair into a low bun. Wrapping her protection over and around her hair, then neck, covering. The cloth was the barrier from the outside. White supremacy tried enclosing in on her. Red collar grabbed her by the hijab and tried breaking the only barrier she had. She sat on the edge of the bed, the TV’s screen: static and news, both bad fortune.

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She was looking into America’s future but only saw dark. Disbelief filled the screen Like a glass of water half empty. Enclosed in the night’s room, the comfort of her bed only lasted a second until she shivered again. The anticipation kept her awake. The cold news ran down her spine.

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Sexism. Michelle Matto In 1848, women fought for the right to vote ever since we’ve been fighting for every single one of our rights. It’s 2017, we’re supposed to be growing as a community, but in reality we’re downgrading. This society still doesn’t accept us females are we are, stereotyping us on how we dress like we’re some type of art project. We can’t walk around in crop tops without being called “sluts” because it’s inappropriate, but guys can walk around with their shirts off and be praised like they’re god. The arrogant dickhead we call our “president” feels that we’re not people, just property created for males own sexual desires. In this world, we’re taken for granted like the penny on the floor that no one really cares about unless it benefits them.

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The ignorant “president� we have in office isn't even remotely qualified, nor does he have the right to mirror what happened in the past. See, the past is the past for a reason and it should stay in the past. There is no reason to put women through suffrage again.

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Feelings in the Air Araceli Salazar I woke up on November 9th waiting to hear the worst news , feeling an oppressive humidity in the air. My mom's facial expression showed the twin towers collapsing again. First week was an emotional wreck. It was talked about 24/7. TV’s and radios were jumping out of windows. Felt like a reality show. It was like waking up in a coffin. Just thinking about how an orange flame could swallow the world in fire — in and out of the country. My heart dropped to my stomach.

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Trapped Aaron Saldana

I opened Instagram in my house. The posts of people’s feelings and thoughts showered me like a violent snowstorm. The friendly Arab greeted me by the door, like every morning, as I come in to order a bacon, egg and cheese, and I thought about the fact that he might be affected by our representative of America. In school I just saw the loss of hope. In kids comments, everything was negative. Trump is the water that is poured over a helpless anthill as they float away, while the pourer smiles in satisfaction. It’s crazy, ‘cause my immigrant friends came here to get a better life. Little did they know it was all a trap from the beginning.

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The Mouths Are Closed Ashley Garcia Eyes pinned open mouth zippered shut TV volume was turned up as if I was bumping A-Boogie in my sauna-hot living room sofa packed me and mine didn't care who took over — until we did. I overthought, "what if I'm not safe?" I'm a light-skinned Dominican. Oh yeah, I'm worried about race. I turned over and seen tears running down my pop's face. Mama was adopted by a shadow, so what about my grandmother? Would she be okay? Puerto Rican with lips like Kanye, face dark like Dr. Dre. The leader we trust or must in order to live, the blue in his eyes matches the blood on my wrist, the uneven skin tone reminds me of the inequality of my life. I am white colored, but not white minded.

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How can you allow this? Trump took over and now your words are silent. We all fought to stop the violence. Opening my closet of depression everyone was shut, emotions flying to my bed as my feet followed. Another four years I will be drenched in sorrow. Do I have to accept him? It took years for our acceptance. The clothes I wear, the gender I like, this whole world is one fight. The night is awkwardly moody. The room is filled with tension. I dropped everything and left. Goodnight, coffee mug.

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The Strength of Women Jarlyn Martinez Picture a single mother with a whole lot of pressure pinned against her, voices in her head saying she will not succeed:

Give up young lady, you’ve birthed his seed. Give up young lady, you don’t have what it takes. The aggravation towards herself puts future plans on the line, head full of thoughts thinking her life is at stake. Obligations formed as a human holding a gun to her head,

You’ll never be like him, it’s 2 in the morning, might as well go to bed. Single mother, oh single mother, you raised a child on your own. Despite what you’ve been through, the child was crawling before he was walking, kind of like you. You were crawling ‘til you were walking and fell back on your knees, saying, “I'm giving my baby everything I couldn't be.”

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Don't tell me a wise woman doesn't deserve something as simple as a career she's worked for. We are left and thrown to the side. Completely underestimated but they’re feeding the hunger within that’ll thrive for greatness. It won’t only be said, but become heard, and the invisible statistics will become visible. Those numbers will increase and be the platform for the next hundreds of generations. Don’t tell me I can’t do something, because I’ll end up doing it. Don’t tell me I’m not worthy, Because I’ll show you a king in a dress. I’ll show you superiority in the hands of a mother, a sister, of a woman with the history of hard work and dedication.

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Bugging Out Steph Porfil Cold night stomach tight feelings not right Trump won how can this be undone? Channel 5 feel more pain then a person not alive bugging out more than when a baby cry tears drop heart stop popped like a pimple over, just like that but ain’t simple exploded when I needed to get reloaded burnt me so hard thought I was toasted had to let it go but I was frozen will America

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ever be great again the world will never know but these four years will kill me slow

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1,460 Days Edwin Soto The TV sounded like Martin Luther King's nightmare the white man wins again Whispers linger in the air, smacking the faces of women who were offended Trump became president and it rained four days straight leaving a dense tension in the air The cheers of KKK polluted the air The sound of the white man’s whip cracks in the air Dylan’s shooting of nine black people echoes Bible verses through church walls — they hang in the air The number 41 still flies through the air Is it us against them or them against us? Are you more scared or are they? We will not stand for bigotry I wish I could erase Trump’s calligraphy I felt that the world was falling down instantly and we all feel that the earth is failing miserably we knew about Trump from the start and we can see the future visibly

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Dump Trump Starlin Pimentel our color and race / doesn't really matter you should worry about your head ‘cause it’s getting fatter / you crush souls empty hearts in empty bowls it would've been better / if you never existed we are warriors / but can't really resist it

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True Nightmare of a Dominican American Eileen Valerio the keyboard just keeps on and on searching for new answers any other answer that will not only satisfy but comfort me my mind kept working while my eyes were closed no sleep, just thinking cold, not even the covers can make this shiver go away disadvantaged as women what else is to come as a Hispanic light skin, natural curls wide hips, big thighs nice bump below her back will this ever be accepted or will it have to be white as a blank slate with blue eyes and blonde hair America had its welcome mat right on its front door once a country that allowed all cultures now it's like someone came in

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and robbed all of our values placed chains on our locks I was dreaming of my safe place nice palm trees, amazing weather not too hot or too cold then suddenly, winds, lightening now I wish my safe place was no just a place to fly to, to visit, no longer temporary, but my ​home

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Not Okay Suly Alvarez When I realized Trump was president the first person I thought of was my aunt and her children, daughter’s only 9 and her brothers 6. Then I asked myself, what if my mother would've never got that citizenship? She held my hand and looked me in the eye as she told me everything is going to be okay.

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Don’t Leave Shadey Ruiz Mom, just stop. “I'll take you with me to Mexico, make bean sandwiches, like how Papi made them when he had one too many.” She tried to put a smile on her face but it didn’t really work. My little sister drowned in her tears, crawling with fear.

You better not even dare try and take the only parent she has left. The heat going through my hair, I was trying to listen to loud aggressive music. Couldn't really, as my little sister’s fear sounded louder. We might be fragile, but we are strong. Shy, but moving. My family is my biggest pain but my best motivation. Ears trying to avoid the chaos, head wanting to run to find its distraction.

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Just the night before I went to sleep, believing in another night without fear. Knowing immigration was Trump’s worst enemy, the greyest of grey hit Mother Nature's soul. Leaving a storm to drown us in disappointment. Smiling through my day as teachers asked — what were my thoughts on Trump's victory? And all I wanted to do was yell — yell and tell them my greatest fear: I AM AFRAID TO LOSE MY FAMILY.

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Finding Out He Was President Taylor Richmond Was like a nightmare nobody was ready to hear Just thinking about how our lives would change with him bring president All the negative he talked & he still ends up winning Walking outside felt like I was the only one there It was just really quiet Not how it normally is We just have to hope and pray for the best But knowing him who knows what we will get

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Opposite Day Brandon Smith The sky is gray. My eyes are dark. Echoes of chaos. Shout from the engaging radio. Our public has forsaken us from good. A man has ran and won for election. My mom more angry than sad. Praying — why? She’s saying he won't win. I feel like she forgot herself. Here is our prize: a fake winner and a liar that pampered his way to the top. “A small loan of a million dollars,” he says. Talk about a typical rich. Shopping for discounts is where I have to stay. Hoping to make others happy, like a president delivering a good speech. Sometimes the weather is gray. But like this news, the weather had an expression as if it was shocked into a gruesome thunderstorm.

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Unbelievable How? Ronnie Fladger

my heart stopped standing frozen in front of the tv screen asking what happened knowing I couldn't be calm in the moment I laid down but I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that the punk won thinking how life will be for the rest of the year life isn't over but it will be harder from here on next morning still in shock no words left just thoughts

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The Sharp Truth. Melanie Lantigua The Algebra teacher told our whole class. Tears filled in his eyes like water filling a glass. The first day was a blur of emotions. Weird vibes came upon everyone as if a tornado was brewing. Everyone was just down, as low as the ocean floor. I imagine a group of people waving a rainbow-colored flag. I imagine a group of Muslims bending to pray. I imagine mothers holding their children. I imagine African American teenagers with their fists up. Trump is like Hitler’s son. Suffering, suffocating, miserable It is not the “land of the free” anymore. No one will save us.

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It Was Just A Dream Shanice Tramble

Her Hijab suddenly disappears. He slowly walks back into the closet. They are again packing their clothes into luggage. She suddenly can't find her birth control. Her lifeline is now based on her color of her skin. Children are stuck on repeat, re-learning their ABC’s. We keep dreaming about the American Dream. But it is ending in American horror.

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Part II: Love Letters To Self Inspired by & in conversation with poems from young women at Eastlake juvenile hall in Los Angeles.

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Infinite Tamara Dominguez The ocean is as calm as a soft kiss from the wind in mid-April. It’s wrath strong enough to drown you with no remorse. A force that magnetizes a bond between two opposites. Sometimes it feels like the faith of others infiltrates my waters. And still I am fooled by their faith and ignorance. I am an ocean, storms brewing and overpowering my senses and emotions. But they say that less than only 5% of the ocean has been unexplored. Only 5% of my life have I shown what I’m capable of. I am filled with potential, overflowing with momentum, I am an ocean. So much of who I am: undiscovered.

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A Long Way Michelle Matto I've come a long way from what I was as a child. You know that depressed-suicidal child, taken to therapy because her mind wasn't set straight. People thought of her like a bear gone wild, killing everything and anyone in her way because she didn't think like other children her age. As the night would rise she would question life: What was my purpose? What was I meant to be? Would they actually care if I were gone? I've never really learned how to love myself. I was like a thorn on a rose that everyone hated. Trust me, I've tried but I've always failed. Everywhere I turned there were constant reminders that I wasn't good enough, I didn't fit into society, I didn't belong anywhere, unlike the sunflower who could always look to the sun.

Is it necessary for me to keep going on in this life? I’ve always believed in reincarnation. Maybe I would reborn as a koala or a giraffe. I would always think to myself,​ maybe if I died I would be reborn as something greater. Something that is able to reach the highest leaf on the tree.

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But I have grown as an individual, my mindset has blossomed, I’ve learned how to shut myself out from what society wants me to be. Whenever I do find myself slipping away from reality, I try to pick myself up from the depths of the earth. Take my advice my child, just blossom like a white rose in an open field, because my darling, our guardian angel is looking over us.

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MOMMA ONLY IF Steph Porfil Only if you could understand being gay was harder for me than it was for you. I’ve been gay since I was eight. I wanted to come out the closet but what would I say? That I’m not straight? That I don't go that way? You would would probably smack me in my face and say, ​do you even know what it is to be gay? I wouldn't even know the answer but I know if we did A-Z I couldn't C me picking the D, only the V. You still think being gay is a phase... only if you could understand I’m staying this way. G - is for girls A - is for always Y - is for Y I gotta change

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But ​lesbi-honest m ​ om, if only you knew that being gay is harder for me then it is for you. But it was about me and how being gay was all I wanted to be. Momma, only if.

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Climbing Out. Melanie Lantigua Dearest Melanie, Who’s really down for you? You realize you’re all you got. Blood ain't really blood anymore. People who you call your family don’t really deserve that title. They are not really there for you as they say they are. It makes you trust people less, to go back inside your shell like a turtle. Inside it is velvet and navy blue, as dark as the ocean and warm as laughing with your loved ones, you voice high as a flute. This is where you can appreciate every moment and memory you have until you are calm as a sunset, independent as each light in the lampposts, and the light in each window when you step out of the shell, climb to the roof at night and look out over the whole Bronx.

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Why I Love Myself Starlin Pimentel My smile is like the melting cheese on a yaroa so good it brings more smiles to other people especially the ones that I love My heart is so bright like the sun shining on a blue cloudless sky My whole body like lights that we’ve never seen in the galaxy This is why I love myself because is good to stay positive beauty comes from the inside out My body, inside my body I have a castle with a king that's always protected and a lifestyle that sometimes can be effective

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Proof of Living Jarlyn Martinez Dear Jarlyn, What does it mean to love yourself? What does it mean to accept yourself? It means when everyone leaves you, you still have yourself. Everyday there is a fight between me and inner self. I don’t agree on most of my actions, but my heart and brain merge into what I might’ve thought was the right choice. I’m not short but I can’t look over everyone. I’m confident but I’m not better than anyone. I never felt real love until I began to love myself. I appreciate all my flaws, my happiness is massive, I’ll be smiling from ear to ear. But then my mood changes drastically. I’ll be dead silent, head full of gloomy thoughts, looking through old pictures. My hair is like a bed of flowers, such a colorful transition. My body is my sanctuary, I decorate it how I want to. My piercings and my tattoos have nothing to do with what impresses you, everything I do to myself is validated and accepted by me. This isn’t my mother’s body, his body, her body. This skin I live in is not perfect. I love it, though. Scars, stretch marks, bruises, tattoos, all signs — proof that I was living.

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The Survival of Life Taylor Richmond

Why does the bad happen to the good? I guess we will never understand. What does the future hold? I guess we have to wait to see. I would have told myself life has ups and downs like a broken elevator. Maybe if I knew that, I would have been prepared like I was going on a camping trip. I learned to keep my mind open as I continue to work hard. I allow myself to get inspired by things others can't see. I love myself with everything I got. I became more clear on who I want to be and realized no one can define me but me.

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Journey to Self Suly Alvarez I thought I wasn't good enough to be a protector, ‘cause when you think about mom and dad, the first thing that comes to mind is a Cinderella story. But at five years old the arguments turned into fist fights and at nine years old I got bullied. Being a Hispanic, dark skin didn't fly, which I find so insane ‘cause no one Understood that the rhythm of our mother’s native tongue was the same. But at nine I realized I wasn’t strong enough to stand up for myself, the tumor inside my chest had to escape, and at thirteen the doctors told me my scar would be permanent, but what they never told me was the after effects, how I would never be able to look at that scar in the mirror face to face. And I realized I wasn't prepared enough to fight. At 15 I thought I was in love with a guy who didn't love me, not realizing that I couldn't take back those minutes he dug up from under me or the nights I cried cause I wondered what my parents would think of me, or did he understand that I no longer felt beautiful enough.

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At 17 I realized what love felt like and I also realized the true meaning of heartbreak: that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you try to hold back tears, or when you’re hungry but no longer want to eat, how everything can go fine ‘til someone looks you in the eye and asks you what's wrong and the only thing your lips can part and say is, ​all I wanted to be was enough. I look at myself now and I know I wasn't meant to protect my mother, and she did everything to protect me. I wasn't strong enough to fight for myself but I was strong enough to never let words break me down. I fought to fullest and my scar no longer defines me. He didn't deserve me, so I can make myself feel beautiful. I realized I’m more than enough: I'm f@cking amazing.

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Love Letter To Self Brandon Smith How does it feel to be you? For all the times you think of the regrets: FORGET ABOUT IT!!! Think of regrets as a step to being more of a person. Dear self, be inspired by your own curiosity, to pick up the questions that aren't answered. Realize the task that you told yourself: that you have a dream, something only you can accomplish. Dear self, This last note, when you leave this world and ascend into a suicide dream that has no bounds, remember the arrogance of those who can’t dream. Remember how it feels to be you.

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Growth Mindset Delquan Durham They say my bravery could shock a bull. Look, I don’t wish I did anything differently. My life has splattered my personality creatively over the page, even my body is a canvas, hair as colorful as a box of expo markers, tattoos to signify my pain. If I find my young self I will warn him about the future obstacles that he will eventually face. I will tell him to not feel regret, it’s senseless, everything happens for a reason. To be as organic as conserving energy. I would tell him he deserves the world, for his gravitation is as strong as the earth’s.

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Loving Thy Self Isatou Jawara Dearest Isa, As you begin to love yourself, you begin to stop craving for a different life. As you begin to love yourself, you notice how much it offends someone. How they roll their eyes when you walk past. Wishing you’d made better choices. Hoping you would’ve thought, then reacted. Now realizing wishing & hoping is a waste of time. Loving the idea of living with no regrets. As free as waves in the ocean. Happiness is what you live for. Loving thy self is your main prerogative. You worship your body. You crave your own company. Your honey-brown skin tone glowing. Full-yet-false brows that draw everyone’s attention like ​yes ma’am, may I help you? Grow your own set of arms to wrap around your inner harms. Hug yourself and squeeze tight

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as much as you feel alone at night remember, you are right here. Treat and hold yourself dear. Early morning & late night, The mirror stares. Makeup or no makeup, you’re BOMB babygirl! Don’t ever forget that. Walk fierce within every step. Feel like you’re on top of the world. As high as kites that fly high. As bold as athletes who never give up or question their ability to make it.

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I Am Me Shiann Brown I am me I will not pretend to be something I'm not Not for my mom Not for my grandma Not for anyone I will not be pushed around like an old toy that's been outgrown just for being gay For being me All the hate All the beatings that left me looking like stepped-on gum All the negativity I feel like I'm in a terrible dream You know? One of those bad dreams that feels like it will never end A dream where something bad is about to happen and you usually wake up from but this time you don't the bad dream just goes on and on But nothing in the world can change me I'm in love with myself Honestly, I'm smart, funny and go for what I want

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I don't care if my mom and grandma don't see the greatness and potential in me If no ones sees it in me, I do I will become something great and I know it As beautiful as a growing flower As ready as a runner in a marathon Why does me being gay have to stop anything? It's sad the things I've had to do to be myself and be happy but I will always be gay Catch me in a couple years marrying the girl I'm fighting for in the ring with my loved ones to be with her now I will be great as I am So I'm sorry to my mom that I hurt so bad I just have to be myself I just want this bad dream to end

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What About It? Samara M. Henry What is one that doesn’t make mistakes? Simply inhuman! Regrets come with life and somehow, in a weird and twisted way… I’m learning to appreciate some of my mistakes and regrets! I appreciate the mistakes and regrets that I have because they got me to the very place I am today. They made me accept my feelings and appreciate them as my own! My feelings are valid. My tears are valid. My happiness and well being is deserved! My mistakes have helped me to be confident and accept responsibility. However, I do cry daily about the regrets I have made… but sometimes, I even smile. Weird, right? Well, life’s kinda weird.

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The Art of Poetry Diego Romero I question life question our rights wonder why kids don’t come home at night, not realizing coming to a family is living light taking a little bite of the big apple that shines real bright risking my life rolling the dice prepared for any fight not caring if I pass to the other life not caring if I haven't been polite ‘cause all feelings should be put aside buckle up ‘cause life is one crazy ride, worried you’re not going to survive not me I know I’mma make it out alive looking at suppliers that have nothing to provide don't wanna pass and say I never tried, wanna be a legend that was full of pride

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stopping any kids from committing suicide lead them through the lesson like a tour guide questioning which path should we decide we looking outside the box when we haven't finished the inside

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The Woman In The Mirror Speaks Shanice Tramble Are humans born to do good or bad? Stop asking questions you already know. Your biggest wish is to accept yourself. Know yourself. Know your worth. It's okay that you disappointed your mom. She forgives you. Empty space is useless like the holes in an umbrella. You never look at yourself in the bathroom mirror when you wash your hands. Why? People tell you to toughen up and become the person you are not. They are not used to seeing a genuine nice human being able to forgive so easily just like a gentle breeze that moves the past, so they tear you down joyfully. But you're a peaceful person so when in doubt, chill it out.

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Love Poem Ronnie Fladger Love an intense feeling of deep affection, stronger than the thought of self-rejection. Gratitude in your attitude can be used a lot, unlike platitude your attitude determines your altitude. First love yourself before you love anyone else ‘cause remember, who can love you more than yourself? And for that I believe love is essential, ‘cause without love some go mental. Love: the single most important emotion. Do you believe in love like that song love and motion? Don't let love affect your health, ‘cause the best love is the one that makes you a better person without changing you into someone other than yourself.

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Finding Your Bright Place Yachi Bonilla Dear Yachi Marie, Why do people hurt people that have a good heart ? If I could call him by his name, Markis, he hurt me so much that words cannot explain the pain. Why do people hurt people that have a good heart ? Yachi, I counted the days you left me, thinking you would be back. Why can't we go back in time to fix the mistakes & regrets? He taught you so much in life & you fell into the trap. He used you as if you were nothing but acts like nothing happened. When you see him with someone else, memories just flood back in & the walls seem to be broken down, dreaming about when he told you he wanted to have your kids. But everything he said became a lie & you always tried to be happy with every lie, every time he cheated. After all that happened, you found your way out & now you find your bright place of happiness.

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You love yourself the way you are, the way the moon is happy with stars, you love the fact that your heart still pumps blood through your body, so just know you will always love you & even if you fall, you will never let yourself down, always see the brightness in your life, and even when the walls fall, stand up.

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Dear Khadija Khadija Ali Do you remember the good times? The times you were laying on the warm sand in the hot sun, relaxed? You did not give a shit about the world. Remember your grandmother in the kitchen frying chicken that popped and snapped like the jokes she made. She told you, ​Stop focusing on these young boys and focus on building yourself as a young woman. You listened and thought about becoming one of the greatest authors, writing books to empower women. You dreamt about becoming a social worker, helping homeless children and single mothers in need. You promised yourself that you would achieve all those dreams. So why when you go through hardships and difficult situations do you get frustrated, cry and just want to give up? Well listen up! Don’t. Because you are as strong as a powerful wind passing by on a stormy day. Keep positive, play life like the piano and let it fill you with desire. Go on and inspire women to take over the world, to move mountains and to aim for the stars. Because that is all you ever wanted to do.

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Self Love Shadey Ruiz Ever wonder why the mind remembers what wants to be forgotten, but forgets what wants to be remembered? Creating nothing but a fog through my body and veins as my worth poisons itself with insecurities and doubts drowning with chains. Always felt lost and wanted to find inner peace. Couldn't find my way, I just wanted to released. I wanted to leave. I felt life was never really for me I can keep writing of how I cry every night, but what's the point? Lemme talk about how I’d rather fight. My mind thinks it's a joke, laughing because it can, as each problem goes away in a blink of an eye. I am wanting to stay positive, but with a push — knowing sometimes I can't learn self love. Running through my childhood, thinking it was just right. Wanting to tell my mom and sisters I love them. Hoping to see my older sister create a better life. But can't really tell them how I truly feel, for I am the one who holds my tongue against the knife.

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In reality I'm just as soft as the little girl who used to cry to go back home to mommy. Hope one day I'll let my guard down. When all I want to say I love you. But I need to still learn to love me, too.

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Positive Thinking Aaron Saldana Dear Aaron, I know life hasn't been as soft as fur so far‌ but I promise, if you listen closely, you will hear the tune of a piano playing in the distance and the sweet smell of pine so close. Just take it day by day, I know it seems complicated like solving a Rubik's Cube, but if you close your eyes and don't have regrets, you won't feel sorry in the future, as long you make the best of the short time we have on this planet. Don't worry about the barriers ahead, break through them with your wrecking ball of confidence and courage. Try not to think too much about your decisions, they are just opportunities to be pursued like dog waiting for you to pass by so it can chase you. After you pass this part of your life, I swear you will be happier. Until then, work hard: harder than concrete. Harder than that math test that you studied all night for.

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Harder than a toddler trying to dunk. Just remember the work you put towards anything will reflect the outcome. Just work towards making your life what you want it to be and you'll be happy, I promise you...

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Pep Talk Araceli Salazar Dearest Araceli, What you need to do is focus on your work, follow you dreams and nevermind... Just be selfish, don’t think about anyone or even think about caring because you’ll just look soft and get stepped on like the sidewalk. You need to trust your gut because it's your life support. You need to build your self but have patience like the building of the new twin towers. What you need to do is... nevermind. By the time you read this you probably already figured it out. Do you still care as much as you did? I don’t think so… Just remember to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Don’t follow your heart until you are ready and remember

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to trust whatever you choose to do. You only live once so what you need to do is write your own story.

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Little by Little Edwin Soto I'm a late bloomer, a person that grew up alone, who flourishes little by little. I’m outspoken. Managed to get myself together, although I grew up broken. I'm like one of those stars in the sky that you can't see. But wanna be like my civil rights leaders who stand out more than the stars. What if your heart beat can tell your fate? I am looking for something that flourishes little by little, something beautiful. I want to be like Muhammad Ali but instead of a fist, my voice will sting like a bee.

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Love Yourself Eileen Valerio Y​ear’s Long: There's a beginning but no end to this adventure. Only one way out. 7 feet deep. Black hole. No consciousness. O​bsessive: It's like an addiction; easy to get hooked like a fish on a worm. Once you’re on, tough to be reeled back into reality. U​pclimb: Told you this was an adventure. One day you're in the nice feeling of a summer’s day. The next you're like our present weather always changing. Climbing further up the mountain, the temperature drops as you attempt to grasp the thin oxygen, hopeless. R​efixing: You soon realize your mistake and decide to tackle it down like your past addictions. Accusing yourself for thys fault. Now comprehending that this no longer will happen. S​acrifices: Unhand the wheel and release the hostages on board. Begin to allow yourself to sustain permit your body to become a mosque, where it can protect itself. E​nsure: Firmly hold your conviction and don't allow them to be relinquished. Your unbreakable labor will then be rewarded. L​arge: Your spirit’s immense size will allow it to be uncontrollable, it will not bend.

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F​ocus: Don't authorize your cerebrum to lose control. Allow your heart to become the nucleus of your life. You'll see the difference and fulfill your ambitions.

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One Pen Literary Journal, Issue XXII, Spring 2017  
One Pen Literary Journal, Issue XXII, Spring 2017  
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