A collaboration with Left2Write Inc. and Clara Barton High School for Health Professionals
CB HS YASMEEN GOMEZ/ANGEL GREENLAND/EMILY DELORMES/PILAR JOHNSON/SAMUEL OJO/ELIZABETH CALDERON/ TEA TASH-SHANA JOHNSON /CHARA LYONS
Profuse gratitude goes to Ms. Esther Sapan for welcoming us into her classroom and sharing her fancy camera and photography skills.
MASTHEAD PUBLISHER: Left2Write Inc. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Melissa Bouganim PRINTER: Flatbush Copy Center COPYRIGHT: April 2018
PUBLISHER'S LETTER I would tell you that my time at Clara Barton wasn’t all tea parties and wonder—but then I wouldn’t be telling you the whole story. The past six weeks of Left2Write's Writer's Workshop program, at Clara Barton High School for Health Professionals, flew by. Our students dived straight into memoir, fiction, and poetry, filling their notebooks with humor and heart. These authors write admirably: never straying from their unique voices, they tell stories of their Brooklyn streets, their Island roots, their journey to now; unfailing in their ability to find rhyme as they seek reason. In six weeks and twelve sessions, these students wrote, revised, and submitted their writing for publication, scholarship, and this literary magazine. The pieces that have been curated do not finish their journey here. We will continue to submit them for scholarships, throughout the rest of the year. Once a students of Left2Write, always a student of Left2Write: our program offers outreach and college and career-readiness opportunities to all of our writers, long after we leave. In this group, we built warmth from even the coldest days: It has been such a joy to spend afternoons with this group of talented, thoughtful, thorough, writers. I hope, in this magazine, you feel the spirit of our impromptu tea parties and the spark of creation. Left2Write Inc. was birthed from a want to bring free creative writing workshops into New York City Public Schools: to celebrate the brilliance that begins when students are left, with inspiration, to write. Read, peruse, and enjoy! Melissa Bouganim Executive Director Left2Write Inc. 1
Noun, Verb, Advctive An all-purpose Clara Barton word, interjected often and with varying emotions.Â
JUST 'CAUSE Pilar Johnson Just ‘cause I’m black doesn’t mean I lack knowledge, I’m not unpolished, or slang crack, I wanna go to college Want them to acknowledge I’m not a burden. They have to save us, disasters made us I’m not a thug, not a drug dealer. Feel a type of way when I hear them say that, I hate that Just cause I’m black doesn’t mean I’m shackle and nooses, read them books where the proof is, where the truth lives: Shouldn’t be prey for cops, that’s ruthless. Dead where I stand, I’m not a Emmett Till, Sean Bell, or Sandra Bland I can’t stand it, being black, I never planned it. Can’t be categorized into one class. You don’t know us, If you want, give us reparations, You over owe us The world hasn’t showed us or even told us they understand, we’re not all Meek Mill or Young Thug fans, Or singing 10 bands, 20 bands, 100 bands, Selling our soul for 100 grams. Or an Amadou Diallo, But I’m the same shade. Guess they want me to follow, they minds are hollow I was never meant to follow the pack, Whips and chains, I don’t aspire for that. But y’all don’t see, Until you open your eyes, Don’t come close, b, please back up, cause I don’t really think you know me.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT Angel Greenland
What are we afraid of? we live but don’t say much. Families and friends don’t even stay in touch, and we have the audacity. to call it love. love-- it’s something I can’t evision. It seems non-existent, I don’t wanna sound like a cynic, but if it’s there then it’s staying at a distance. Too far for me to feel it. Like God gave us the structure of love but we forgot to build it. Like it was too hard to deal with. Now we’re inhaling stress and it’s building, up so much, you can even see it in the children. Maybe we’re all just children in love, left defenseless. This ain’t life; I feel like I’m serving a life sentence. Like every fairytale we’re all waiting for that ending. Moral of the story, I feel we’re all pretending. Will we ever wake up? Well that’s all depending, if we ever become conscious that we’re following the wrong direction. It’s hard trying to send a message, when our values have faded, even the social systems tainted. Picasso, this isn’t the perfect picture we painted. We’re searching for love but evidently it’s been outdated. Imitated, watered down, fabricated. What are we afraid of? we live but don’t say much.
BE A LADY, WHATEVER THAT MEANS Yasmeen Gomez
They say be a lady because I’d rather wear pants than a skirt, because I’d rather pick up a ball than a spoon. They say be a lady because I’d rather sit with my legs up than folded, because I’d rather wear braids than curls. Be a lady because I’d rather watch the game than a fairytale. Be a lady because I’d rather sip root beer than tea, or rather be a cop than a chef. Be a lady because I’d rather use slang than proper english, be a lady because I’d rather slouch than sit up straight. Be a lady, because you’re a lady and that’s all you’ll ever be... But I never look at myself and see a lady; I only see me. 5
ROSE BEAUTY Emily Delormes If you measure beauty to a rose, you might get cut tripping over the thought that a flower is capable of being better than you.
Pretty girls will never be pretty enough until their skin is wrapped around their bones to keep from falling apart. Not pretty enough until their waist is skin-tight, crushing their windpipe with silicone to please the world that never knew them , and to make a necklace swinging from the loving tree, because pretty is just not pretty enough; and maybe pretty will be pretty; when you’re lying in your bed, take your last breath watch it puff up in dust.
Never once that you could be beautiful too, because that's unbelievable, anyone can call themselves beautiful but being someone else is always so much better than the thought of being you. Who would want to be you? Who would want to be you, when others are trying so hard to disguise themselves with the image of you, desperate to inhale every breath you exhaled to feel like you; but the thought of you can never be measured to the beauty of a rose, and you will never be satisfied.
Will Rose be proud of her empty, hollow stomach, the acid eating away at her, at first place? Because home is where the heart is--, and the best way to the world’s heart is through its stomach. But she will pretend that it doesn’t hurt; like she doesn’t feel a thing. Place a rose on her as she sleeps in the bed she’s made; because dead girls are better pretty anyway, but she’ll never be satisfied because she is beautiful, and she will never know it.
Standing in a beauty pageant, a Rose is capable of winning because of how beautifully it stand alone. With elegance, it stands so poised, never slouches when the world is watching, never trips at the slightest touch: not a petal to fall, not a color to fade. But you see a Rose, this Rose has won many pageants, awarded for her muchness, her image, but she will never show you her thorns. She will never tell you the ten cotton balls she eats before dinner just to fill her up, and the eight diet pills she takes like food, because pretty girls don't get fat. She will never show you her before and after together, just the after or her expenses on plastic surgery, because pretty girls aren't ugly.
BEGAT POEM Tea Tash-Shana Johnson I opened my eyes and out came vision I opened vision and out came aspirations I opened aspirations and out came dreams I opened dreams and out came Â happiness I open happiness and out came positivity I opened positivity and found courage I opened courage and saw creativity I opened creativity and found peace I opened peace and found unity I opened unity and found friendship I opened friendship and found love I opened friendship and found love I opened love and found god 7
INSPIRED BY BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS
CONCRETE JUNGLE Pilar Johnson
Darkness has come in my light, I'm an eagle, with clipped wings, that can’t fly Walking Wakanda in gentrified Bed Stuy, But somewhere...Somewhere, the sounds of bullets penetrating flesh and screams of agony are considered Lullabies. , And has changed my day into night, mothers with populous bellies relinquish their kin into a world on fire, ignoring it’s scorch, this child morphs into a nameless soul. Knowing nothing of the battlefield in which it was left and knowing nothing of the war at all. Where is the love to be found? The bright city lights, storefronts and the speakers that illuminate our nights cloak this battlefield: Cloak those eviction notices, dress these vagrants in imagination, make them believe that this battlefield is their home. Make them believe that heroin in their bloodstream is like the perfect remix to a love song, knowing nothing of actual love. Where is the love? Somebody tell me cause life(sweet life) must be somewhere to be found. Instead of Concrete Jungle, where living is hardest.
SIGNIFICANCE Angel Greenland
LULLABY FOR STARRY EYES (A PANTOUM)
What is your purpose? And are you certain these answers aren’t derived from the surface? Are you certain that you mean it? That this is your purpose and you’ve already seen it? It’s no secret, the way we live our lives is our desperate need to be accepted, taking in everyone’s dreams but keeping ours neglected. I’m tired of listening to life lessons from people who followed a road of false direction. A call for help is present. How can we waste valuable seconds discussing issues like ‘who’s gonna be the next president,’ when kids roam the streets sick and hungry with no food or medicine? I can sit here all day and talk about Obama and his wife-but what significance does that have on my life?
Emily Delormes Her eyes burdened with lust for galaxies and stars. A heart too bruised to trust, stolen nights and chasing cars. For galaxies and stars: the sky’s forgotten kiss. Stolen nights and chasing cars, might it bring her happiness? The sky’s forgotten kiss, her eyes burdened with lust, might it bring her happiness? A heart too bruised to trust.
BROKEN Elizabeth Calderon These shards of glass, they make my past. This broken mirror represents what I see as my reflection. That silly surgeon said they canâ€™t fix me., That's what's funny, there is nothing to be fixed. I was made broken and that is all I will ever be.
THE OTHER SIDE Pilar Johnson This room is what it feels like before the parting of the Red Sea although this, you could not see in those eyes of yours But you saw her, and him, and this consumed you to the point that you forgot who I was. The soft snow, the light breeze, the apple that dangled from the tree though I feel you saw me more as strange fruit, a withering willow, when I couldn’t be more than alive-- and here... which was my biggest mistake. I didn't belong there, with you. Even when we were together in a well lit room it seemed as though we were strangers and although we stood together there were roads between us, So I vowed that this would be the last time,
I lied to myself. I came back and came back only to be an outsider looking in. When you told me that you loved me, I looked around to see who you were talking to. It couldn’t have possibly been me. You pushed me so far I’m on the other side of the sea, What did you see in me? Why did you bring me there? If it wasn't your intention, why didn't you tell me to leave? I can only take so much, you lost yourself in him and her and forgot who I was in the process. You pushed me aside, pushed me to the other side, and that's where I'll stay. And when Moses came to me, offering to part the Red Sea and return me to the other side, I said no.
WRITING SCARED A poem by the writers in Room 223
I know this to be true: music heals. The sky is black and only changing itself to satisfy us (that's why, at night, it reveals its true colors). Life is a riot where even the silence sings I love to sing--but I can't--I know this to be true. The last thing you hear when you die is whispers. . I'm writing scared, I know this. There are a lot of things that I don't know, won't ever know, I know this to be true.
E. S apa n 12
안녕하세요 엠이리 입니다 AIGOO Emily Delormes
아이구 I'm constantly thinking: at the break of dawn, the hint of sunset, what to do today? How should I breathe today? Where did my head go? 아이구 It's 8:13 And I’ve already missed my routine I'm running late I'm running late I'm running late 아이구 I arrived and everything was just like yesterday. I’m early and I have nothing to do 아이구
In San Francisco it was empty there was no note no gesture everything so utterly fades--a magic trick.
IN SAN FRANCISCO
Chara Lyons Properly grown in nothing, I spend my time gone perhaps my refusal-my inability--to leave is waiting for things to become clear.
So we divide our time.
WALKING PICASSO Pilar Johnson How dare you tell a walking Picasso that it doesn’t know what it’s like to be broken? Do you not see me? Sleeping under the feet of the lynched girl with scratched records for eyes nesting on Amadou Diallo’s shell casings. This is where I landed after falling from Martin’s cloud.
I don’t think I made a sound, there was no one to hear the massive thud when I fell I hear everyone else’s sounds though,the sounds of the gushing rivers released from those eyes when he told you that he didn’t love you, the sounds of the Red Sea pounding against the floor while you cut the umbilical cord of the life that you never wanted, Time and time again, this walking Picasso has been here, shattered- like some of the best pieces. But are the best pieces the really the best pieces?
GETTY GETTY NUH WANT IT AND WANTY WANTY CAN’T GET IT DEDICATED TO MY MOM
Tea Tash-Shana Johnson To the rich woman who complains about not having enough jewelry that she will never wear. To the girl on the street with no food to eat. To the father who lost a child. To the mother who had an abortion because she didn’t want to get fat. To the poor boy who tells his mother he got a perfect score, when complains about wanting more. To the rich parents who beg their kids to pass. Getty Getty nuh want it and wanty wanty can’t get it. To the girl on the bench who complains about her hair. To the girl in a hospital room battling cancer, wishing she had some. To the bus driver who lets the children on the bus for half the amount--and they still complain. To the boy who saves all his lunch money for a month just to buy his mother a birthday present but can’t because he's short one cent. Getty Getty nuh want it and wanty wanty can’t get it. To the boy who is in an alley who smells like smoke because his dad is a drug dealer. To the girl who can go home to a nice bed but refuses to respect her body, so she finds herself in the alley. To the woman who has anorexia but forces herself to eat; to survive. To the woman who starved herself because everyone calls her fat. Getty Getty nuh want it and wanty wanty can’t get it. Everything we have, and everything we own, someone else is deprived. Throwing food away while the homeless starve, clothes that cost more than our rent so we have to pass them by, while neighbors with wealthy parents stand in line to buy. Life can be unfair; be grateful for what we have because Getty Getty nuh want it and wanty wanty can’t get it.
THINGS I CARRY
t doesn't know how to stay.
It keeps pounding, like heathens. We beat steadily;
I carry my heart in my head
in this fast moving body,
but sometimes it hurts
with fast moving lips,
because I think too much
and it takes too much space.
Where will my heart stay? I carry my heart in my head My head will lie and say it doesn't hurt
because I think better where my heart
but if you look, you'll find my heart is heavy it carries the words falling onto my lips. Watch it spill out like the blood from my heart,
where my brain can't stay.
QUEEN LUPITA MAKES ME FALL IN LOVE WITH HER Samuel Ojo I love black people. No, no, no! I really do, but there’s just something I don’t like about the same melanin that flows through my veins, It’s the hair. I don’t prefer black kinky hair I like the longer, curly light skin people hair, which black people don't have because of this shrinkage curse. Those were the thoughts I had after my mother just told me I had to marry a Nigerian girl. As I walked back to my room, Lupita Nyong’o grabbed my arm from behind and led me to a room of women. A woman with the same face but different hair textures-each texture revealing the history and vision associated with its people. Lupita walked me past each one, acknowledging the history that came with her hair. Then I faced the woman with the kinky, black hair, I saw the history of full of oppression and endless struggle. A history of chains tied against her hands, of success and power. Superman whips lashing against her back, like it was made of steel, ropes wrapped around her necks to crush her beautiful, fervid voice. The white man has turn her truth backwards: She knits, but they all say that she stinks. She lived and for that, they say she’s the devil. She’s a star, yet they treat her like a rat. She’s a god, yet they taught her to act like a dog I was snug in her arm, but they got guns their arm knits...STINKS lived...DEVIL star...RATS god...DOG snug...GUNS
Now you see! Itâ€™s all backwards. I saw the vision of her future, a city of God and the Queen sat upon her throne. Queen Lupita wearing her kinky hair as her crown. She told me that shrinkage is our blessing, So that we keep our culture and secrets hidden, so that the vultures will have to pick, cut, and burn to steal our treasures I woke up on the couch, not realizing when I fell asleep I went to the bathroom to wash my face and scoffed, Treasure! What treasure? I look at my hair in the mirror and dug deep through the thin vines. I looked at my fingertips and saw liquid gold dripping down, like the history of everything that came before me and everything that was to come.
Ia m ob the j pu ect mos of t int in th t co ma o t e w mm gi rls ny he h or on th . W bo an ld; er y d i wh e is thou s an s f I a or m ich noth t me d i th e p m dr ost s ha ing, t r I f of in age agg o th d e l i , k th icke . If unt d a nk. e s r, yo il I cro ra oun (mo u c run ss st n li d th ks, ) if pe ck m out int e cr I th ute ople e, mo o t ow ink nsi h I'd ls h ate st he n! wi ski ha I am ho eld ll n t no hou ful i ds o pu ld ll t t t f sp hing me ustr the a t pa ac pe e a but here tors ab e , r ou . Fu nd b mp is t t n n y la If eve it is ny t nk I'm r e -yo hi Yasmeen Gomez I f cl ras u c ng lic ick e m an ke ed e is r, w , th . pe why hich en o ha ple t me e
UNSOLICITED ADVICE (NOBODY ASKED YOU) Pilar Johnson Answer questions that nobody asks Do not lock yourself in this world that you created, When all of the mystical beings of your subconscious fade, it will only be you: You are getting a second chance Do not aspire to be a star- aim for the universe, Stars will get too full of themselves and eventually crash into Earth, do not ask the world of someone when you know that you will not even receive a continent: You are getting a second chance When you call your father 27 times and get his answering machine, do not leave a message saying that you love him. When you are abandoned and left in the rain do not crythe sky is already doing that for you. When you forget who you are, where you where where you have been and everyone knows except you- donâ€™t feel sad, those memories are gone for a reason: You are getting a second chance Start over.
Angel Greenland Moments like this, I wage war with my conscious: we fight worlds that would be better unacknowledged. The more I pay attention to the unimportant things, the more space they take up, my mind slipping into darkness clouding me in illusions of pain. Itâ€™s a mind trick because if I can let it go, it disappears.
My mind creates a world of unnecessary issues: it plays a twisted game, stealing all my hope. Until I just want to give up-but I try to remember these dark emotions these dark feelings can be deceiving. It is moments like this, I fight my inner demon.
Left2Write in Collaboration with Clara Barton High School for Heath Professionals.