Celebrating Whatâ€™s Important
A WITS Digital Anthology
Celebrating Whatâ€™s Important
Cover photo: Jessica McGrath, Madison High School Title page photo: Brianna Graham, Madison High School
Contents Writers in the Schools
Introduction 6 America — Max Bridges Milly — Emily Ratliff
Easy — Karissa Downard
Won’t Take it Anymore — Biruk Molla Friendship — Jaime Baldevas
Love You Now, Hate You Later — Alexis Meaux
The Adventures of Svenjolo, Hagget Bagger — Nikolai Nyschens Hunger Pang — Deborah Seraya One Chance — Riley Charlish Spaghetti! — Kaitlyn Allie Max — Zola Walton
Inspiring Piece From a Photo of the Buddha — Miles Johnson Kimaya — Kimaya Jones
Just Like the Good Ol’ Days — Jessica Gaspar Run-on Sentence — Charlie Flynn Heartless — Gabriela Perez
Mystery Artifact —Dionysus Levin In the Moment — Hannah Shilling 4
WRITERS IN THE SCHOOLS 2010-11 WRITERS-IN-RESIDENCE Angela Allen, Turiya Autry, Lorraine Bahr, Carmen Bernier-Grand, Chris Cottrell, Hali Felt, Nicole Georges, Cindy Williams Gutiérrez, Hunt Holman, John Isaacson, Karen Karbo, Jennifer Lauck, Elizabeth Lopeman, Amy Minato, Renee Mitchell, Laura Moulton, Alexis Nelson, Mark Pomeroy, Ismet Prcic, Donna Prinzmetal, Joanna Rose, Matthew B. Zrebski VISITING AUTHORS Amanda Gersh, Michele Glazer, Tracy Kidder, Wes Moore, Joanna Rose, Art Spiegelman, Natasha Trethewey, Renee Watson PARTICIPATING TEACHERS Kelly Allen, Amy Ambrosio, Kathy Anderson, Matthew Boyer, Richard Brown, Annelise Bulow, Gretchen Craig-Turner, Michael Cullerton, Anne Dierker, Jennifer Doncan, Bianca Espinosa, Kelly Gomes, Ben Grosscup, Rebecca Gundle, Cindy Irby, Glen Jacobs, Tom Kane, Paige Knight, Steve Lambert, Eric Levine, Manuel Mateo, Eve McAlister, Pat McCormick, Darryl Miles, Kate Moore, Julie O’Neill, Pam Quale, Nora Robertson, Al Rowell, Alicia Smith, Sarah Steiner, Amy Taramasso, Henise Telles-Ferreira, Trisha Todd, Dana Vinger, Kristin Wallace, Janice Wallenstein, Ellen Whatmore, Amy Wright, Elisa Wong, Tracey Wyatt, Jamie Zartler WITS LIASIONS Matthew Boyer, Linda Campillo, Michael Cullerton, Paige Knight, Eric Levine, Dave Mylet, Sarah Steiner, Dana Vinger,Virginia Warfield, Tracey Wyatt PARTICIPATING PRINCIPALS Sue Brent, Petra Callin, Peyton Chapman, Kelli Clark, Paul Cook, David Hamilton, Toni Hunter, Shay James, Fred Locke, A.J. Morrison, Steve Olczak, Frank Scotto, Charlene Williams DISTRICT LIAISON Marcia Arganbright DIGITAL CHAPBOOK STAFF Acacia Blackwell Maya McOmie Mel Wells
Dear Reader, Writers are called upon to imagine their territory, explore their obsessions, and articulate their vision of what it means to be alive in a specific time and place. Alongside the print anthology, No One Carries An Umbrella Here, these digital chapbooks provide a playful frame for a diverse collection of poems, plays, comics, fiction, and nonfiction written by high school students in Portland. In 2010-11, WITS placed 23 local professional writers to teach 49 semester-long residencies in Portlandâ€™s public high schools, serving over 1,100 students. WITS served an additional 1,500 students through mentoring, author visits, and books, as well as tickets and transportation to literary events. During a fifteen-week WITS residency, writers model the writing life, teaching students to focus first on exploring and playing with language. Our writers then teach strategies to sustain and develop a piece of writing. They share their expertise regarding the art, craft, and discipline of revision. During the final portion of the residency, students have opportunities to share their writing through public readings at neighborhood bookstores and cafĂŠs and through publication in our print anthology and digital chapbooks. After fifteen years of service to Portland Public Schools, WITS continues to grow and change to meet the needs of students and teachers. Last year more than 1,200 high school students attended a literary event at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. We also piloted a college essay-writing workshop in partnership with Franklin High School, training mentors to work with students on the essays students need for college and scholarship applications. We are lucky to live in a city where people are excited about reading and writing. At Literary Arts, our mission is to support writers, engage readers, and to inspire the next generation with great literature. Each year we raise over $180,000 to provide the Writers in the Schools program to students attending every Portland public high school, and weâ€™d love your help. To order a print anthology or make a donation, visit us at www.literary-arts.org. Mary Rechner Writers in the Schools Program Director
America Max Bridges, Metropolitan Learning Center America, the country of the free, with every American tall and proud, united as one nation; the chefs, as they prepare to cook, or maybe actors in a Halloween play, ready to spook. As we hear the bells ring and the people sing, here we are, celebrating our country; celebrating whatâ€™s important to each man and woman here and in the near future.
Milly Emily Ratcliff, Roosevelt High School Today Darrick asked me, “Why don’t you ever dress like a girl or ever wear makeup to present yourself as a girl?” Then I, Milly, blew up in his face, telling him any reason; I can’t tell him why I don’t. The thing is, I should have told him. I didn’t tell him that I don’t think I’m pretty enough to wear makeup and that I don’t feel like girls’ clothes look good on me. Well, I’ve worn jeans and baggy shirts all my life. I can’t say that when I was in elementary school; I wore, you know, skirts, dresses, and skorts. But when I got into middle school I got into sports and I didn’t feel like I could wear those kinds of things because I was playing sports all the time. When I am done yelling or “flipping out” as a boy would call it, I wonder what he is thinking. I bet you it’s something like, “Wow, that girl is crazy! She’s goin’ to blow up over a very easy question, like, ‘Why don’t you look like a girl?’ Well, she is a girl. I don’t see why not.”
Easy Karissa Downard, Roosevelt High School I wake up to an incessant noise blooming inside my ears. When I come to, I realize that it’s my alarm, beeping a million times a second. I growl under my breath and slam my fist upon it heavily. I hear the delicious crunch as the plastic is crushed beneath my hand. The beeping has stopped, and I roll over and fall back to sleep. “Raeanne. Raeanne!” My mother’s voice screeches, pulling me from my teenage slumber. “Whaaat?” I moan, muffled by my pillow. “School starts in twenty minutes! Get your butt outta bed!” I jump out of bed instantly, regretting the fight with my alarm. I am going to be late! I’m never late! School, for me, has always been as easy as breathing. I go, I get As, and have a perfect attendance record. But this could be a blemish I can not afford. I brush out my wavy hair, brush my teeth, and change clothes in record time. I’m in my car and on my way to school in minutes. The first half of my day passes smoothly. I get to class just before the bell. I’m heading to lunch with Gray when it happens. “Heads!” A male voice warns, but it’s too late, and I feel impact and pain in my upper arm. Gray and I stop and look around. “Sorry!” The voice calls, and the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever met comes up next to me. He picks up a baseball, which I realize has been the object of impact. I’m a stuttering mess by the time I realize he’s talking to me. Gray saves me by saying, “It’s okay.” And we walk off, leaving the gorgeous guy behind. “Well, he’s cute.” Gray comments and I just nod. I decide not to tell her that I’m crushing on him. She has a tendency to want what I want. And most of the time, she gets it. Not this time; not this boy. He’s mine. The rest of the day passes without further incident. I am loading up my crimson red Jeep to go home when the voice stops me.
Hey!” he calls. I turn and look around. I see him running toward me and my breath catches in my throat. I can’t look at him, leather jacket and helmet—wait, what? Helmet? Oh, hell no! He does not ride a motorcycle! I breathe in and out rapidly, trying to calm my teenage heart. He takes his helmet off and heads towards me. “Hey, I didn’t catch your name earlier. I’m Aaron,” he says, holding his hand out for me to shake. I shake it and try to find my voice. Or my brain. Well, both, I suppose. “I’m Raeanne. People call me Ray. Or Anne. Or pretty much anything you can make out of Raeanne. Oh man, I’m rambling. I’m going to shut up now,” I say. My face is probably turning a million shades of red. I hate this irritating boy who makes me blush! “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Raeanne. I have to go now; see ya around?” he asks, and I nod my head mutely. What a day! I think. I don’t see Aaron for a few days. Six, actually. When I do see him it’s at the mall, where Gray and I are buying underwear. Embarrassing! He walks in with a girl who is half my size. She is tiny, but has cleavage like nobody’s business. She’s dragging him around, asking him what he likes. He looks bored out of his mind. This thought amuses me. Gray notices my mental absence and follows my gaze. “Ooh, it’s Cutie. What’s his name? Aaron? Yeah, Aaron. Go say hi!” she demands, pushing me out into the aisle and causing me to knock over twelve racks. I cannot believe she did that! Aaron and the chick with him stare at me and then burst out laughing. Aaron’s eyes are glimmering, and I feel utterly mortified.There is underwear everywhere, surrounding me on the ground. I get up and run out, leaving Gray behind. Some best friend. I’m getting into my Jeep when I hear a motorcycle. I turn to see Aaron approaching me. His eyes are smiling and he pulls next to me quickly. “Hey. You didn’t have to leave. I’m sorry if I embarrassed you,” he says. I notice he’s chick-less. I nod my head. 10
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I mumble. Then I add “nice bike,” to which he blushes. “Thanks. She’s my baby. Maybe you’ll get a ride sometime.” Then he takes off, leaving me in his dust, literally. I pick my jaw up off the ground, and get in my Jeep. I drive away, Gray-less. “Did u srsly leave me here?” She texts me. I laugh to myself. I’m in my room, listening to music and doing pre-calc homework. I shoot her a text. “Did u srsly push me into my doom? Get ovr it.” She’ll be pissed, but that’s life. You reap what you sow. Or something like that. I push my school stuff off of my bed, deciding that I’m tired of working so hard. I need a nap. With that fleeting thought, my mind drifts to unconsciousness. I’m woken by my cell phone vibrating. I unlock it, and see that I have a new message from unknown. I open it eagerly. “Sorry abt ur embarrassing mmnt earlier,” it says. My heart beats faster. “Who is ths?” is my reply. I get a response immediately. “Aaron. Can I make it up to u?” I nearly faint. “Depends. Wht u have in mnd?” I respond. I cannot believe this! “I want to take u to a movie. U busy tnght?” I know I have homework to do, and a test to study for… “No. Meet me at Pete’s Pizza in fifteen,” I reply, and I know I will regret it… But I don’t. We meet for pizza and talk about everything, from music to culture to aspirations. I get to know this curious, infuriatingly attractive guy, and I like what I find. He is the cliché bad boy, only not. I wouldn’t mind taking him home to mom, just because he is very much goal-oriented and can talk about being a criminal justice lawyer so raptly that I end up thinking maybe I wanna do the same thing. And then, I take a risk. Or, more specifically, a ride on the back of a seventeenyear-old’s motorcycle. It’s fantastic! So when Aaron asks me to skip sixth period to hang out with him, I do it. Even though I know I have a midterm that period, and I can’t make it up, and it will forever scar my perfect attendance, I skip sixth period. 11
Then I skip the next day. Then I skip whenever he wants me to. Pretty soon, I’m failing most classes. I’m addicted to nicotine. And I’m powerless against Aaron’s evil powers of persuasion. Gray has tried to talk to me. My parents have tried to talk to me. But being bad…just feels too damn good.
Won’t Take It Anymore Biruk Molla, Madison High School DR. SHUTTLE: I don’t get it. I can’t believe they are accusing me of fraud. I have done everything in my power to help them get their heath back. I don’t know who to blame. It’s not my fault that these medicines didn’t work. Those creatures are evil. I don’t make them, and they know who makes them. Why blame me? Why me? All you care about is money. I face them every day, and tell lies about how good you and the company are. It has been nightmare for the past four days. I get called every second. I am sick of it. If this doesn’t stop in next two days, I am packing up and leaving this town forever. As a professional I shouldn’t say this, but you really disgust me. Why take innocent people’s money? Why? If I were you, I wouldn’t be sitting here. You’re this cheap. You don’t know how it feels to walk in my shoes, and tell patients they would be okay, but the reality is far from that. Why are you laughing? You are a disgrace. What do you teach your children? They wouldn’t be happy if they know they have a father like you. George, tell the world what you did! They might forgive you. But in my case, I don’t think so. You’ve put me through hell, and deceived me! I have dedicated my entire life for this community, and this how you pay me back? I am telling the media if you don’t make a move by tomorrow. I hope God forgives you…
Friendship Jaime Baldevas, Jefferson High School The fence that sometimes makes things easier sometimes just complicates, made of wood or metal depends on how you get it because sometimes you can see through it, but sometimes you canâ€™t. And sometimes the fence is close all around you and somtimes it makes you go to another, better place if you jump over.
Love You Now, Hate You Later Alexis Meaux, Roosevelt High School I love your smile I love the way you look. I love how you act the way you talk to me, when you walk past me your smell is so sweet. If you love me, then I love you too. When I am hurt I know youâ€™re always there for me. Our love becomes even stronger. After awhile everything changes. Hate starts to come between us. I hate the way you smile the way you look at me. I hate the way you act towards me the way you talk to me. When I am hurt I hate the way you ignore me and donâ€™t care how I feel. Our hate against each other is more hate than ever.
The Adventures of Svenjolo Nikolai Nyschens, Benson High School
Hunger Pang Deborah Seraya, Roosevelt High School A girl who was born in the country of poverty, where there is no mom or dad, only her and her younger siblings. A girl who never knew how life is like outside poverty, All she knew was waking up in the morning around six oâ€™clock getting her brothers and sisters ready for school, not knowing what her brothers and sisters were going to eat for the day Crying for someone to help her and her younger siblings. Hungry, crying, dangerous A girl who lived in the neighborhood where it was dangerous, various, gang related, and voodoo going on in her neighborhood. Hungry, crying, dangerous Walking in the dangerous sun, where it burns and painful walking on the dirt She cried out loud hungry, tired, and painful Hungry, crying, dangerous Outside, leaves are green like Portland Hoping her life changes. 18
One Chance Riley Charlish, P.O.W.E.R Academy at Roosevelt High School Shoes squeaking. People panting with loud sighs. “Five, four, three, two, one, and time!” A mass rush for the water bottles. This is a part of everyday basketball practice. Playoffs are coming up so coach is making sure that the team is prepared. Everyone is too excited though. We talk about it endlessly. Making plans for things to do with our free time and, in case we win the championship game, plans for the celebration. It is all we can think about. Nothing else matters but to win these games so we can be the state champions. Nothing in the world can distract me from these next two weeks. My mind is constantly filled with going hard at basketball practice, find time to get extra basketball work in because, to me, there is no such thing as being over-prepared. In fact, I think no one can ever be prepared for something this huge. I also make sure I am keeping up with my schoolwork so my parents won’t kick my butt if my grades are not good enough. If I can describe how it feels to be in this situation, this moment to show that we, as a team, are the best and that nobody is better than us, I would, but the feeling has its own greatness that I can’t describe. A moment like this can bring so many great memories to tell the grandkids at a family reunion that I probably won’t want to be at, to opening up great opportunities like a scholarship to college. What makes this even greater is that I get to share it with some of the guys that I care about the most: my basketball team. I believe that people looking from the outside may think that we grew up with each other since birth, like brothers. Our friendship is that strong; it’s like an unstoppable force moving that immovable object. Game one of five games to win the championship starts on Friday. The feeling of anticipation and excitement for this first game feels as if just resting on my shoulders but with a heavy weight to it, like carrying a backpack that holds every book for every class in it. The only thing that can lift this weight off of my shoulders 19
is to go play basketball. After school I drive to a gym where I can be by myself. I know that if I put too much pressure on myself for this game, I will probably not perform to my best ability. That is what it seems like in all the sport movies, at least. I need to build the mindset that says this is no different than any other game. It’s like having the base for the structure but now needing to complete the building. Once practice at the school starts to roll around, I head back to the school gym. Practice intensity picks up because we know that there is barely any room for mistake. It’s win or go home and no one wants to go home. Going back home would be like going back to a place where people are just waiting to take anger out on us and give us hell and definitely no one wants to go back to that. Friday finally is here. I wake up in the morning with butterflies in my stomach. As I’m putting my team sweatsuit on, it feels as if the largest butterflies in the world are piling into my stomach. It’s about to explode! And this is only the morning. The game is still twelve hours away. I can’t imagine what the feeling is going to be like when seven o’clock finally comes around. I have my usual game-day breakfast: a bowl of Cherrios, toasted bagel slightly burnt with butter lathered on, and a strawberry-mango smoothie to drink. It has not done me wrong this year so far so I am hoping that it doesn’t fail me today. I listen to my pre-game warm up music in the car in the same order that I have listened to it for every game before. I believe in doing the same things I did before that had helped me play a great game. I get through my first two classes and now it’s lunchtime. I head to Fred Meyer to buy four chicken strips, a liter of Canada Dry ginger ale, a stack of Lay’s Barbeque chips, a pack of Gatorade to share with my team, and a large bag of sour flavored Jelly-Bellys to snack on before the game. After my last class, I go out to the front of the school to get picked up by my dad. We go to the gym where I know I will be by myself. Then my dad helps me get some pre-game shots up, about seven hundred of them. I am making sure that I’m getting into my game mindset where nothing else in the world matters but winning this game. 20
“Remember, catch your shot in the middle of your body; do not bring it back down, and keep it in the middle as you’re shooting the ball,” my dad says to me. He says this to me after every shoot around. “Yep, I got it, Dad,” I reply. “I know you will. You are going to be great. Just remember what got you here.” We have this conversation after every shoot around when driving back in the car. It feels as if reading a script for a movie in which we can never get that part right, so it has to be done over and over again. I get to the school gym and find the rest of my teammates heading to the lockerroom downstairs to get ready, so I join them. Coach opens the lockerroom door for us and we head to our usual spots. I like to sit on the right-hand side bench about two spots away from the door. I unzip my large Nike duffle bag and grab Nike Pro padded shorts and basketball shorts, and change into those after taking off my sweatsuit. I then put on my jersey and tuck it into my shorts and finally put my long, black-sleeved warm-up over that. So far I have followed my pre-game ritual perfectly. Coach comes in, dressed up in a dark grey polo with a dark-tan jacket and pants to match. “Well, here we are fellas. We are in a great position to win this game. We know we are better than they are. But now you guys have to go out there and play like it. You know they are just as hungry as us for what we want, but let’s go out there and leave them starving. Get back on defense and limit them to one shot. We’ll do that; we will have the game won by halftime.” Smiles light up across the room that express all the excitement everyone feels. We line up, shortest to tallest, me in the front. Behind a door leading to the court, we wait for a team manager to start the pre-game CD. The opposing team is already out there warming up. All of us look at them and think, “piece of cake.” No way this team can beat us. Almost the entire team but two players look like they have never played basketball before. They don’t have that look to them as people see us. We hear the music start and I swing open the door and dribble a basketball as I lead the team in a run from the opposing team’s side of the court to ours, along the line underneath the basket and back up the court until I reach the half-court 21
line and run across. We divide into two groups and I pass the ball to the first guy in the other line; he passes it back and I complete the play with a lay-up. We have twentyeight minutes to warm up. We go through our usual routine, but something seems different. Some players don’t seem as focused. I think, “Nah, we’re all good.” The buzzer sounds and both teams head to their benches. We stand for the National Anthem and sit back down. The announcer presents the five players for the other team who will be starting. Their friends, family, and school cheers, letting them and us know they are there. “And now for your home team!” A loud burst, like a balloon striking a needle, of cheers and screams comes after. “A 5’8” guard, number threeeeee, Zach Peterson!” I run through our teams tunnel, high-fiving everyone along the way and reach a teammate to do our special fist handshake. My fist goes top, his goes bottom, and we bring our fists together so that they are stacked, and then we do the same thing but start opposite from before. Then we hit our fists a third time but going in a horizontal direction, two high fives with our fingers pointed at each other come after, we pound our chest twice and then do a salute. I jog over to the referees and shake their hands and then shake the opposing coaches’ hands. Four other teammates repeat the process but each has their own handshake. We take our black warm-ups off and huddle together. “Win on three. One, two, three, win!” I yell to get my teammates pumped up. Onto the court we go to meet up with the opposing team to get the game started. I finally find an ease of mind from all the excitement and stress that has built up from the morning. I am ready to play! Our tallest player and their tallest player stand in the small circle that sits in the middle of the court and wait for the referee to throw the ball up into the air. They try to anticipate each other’s movement and the timing of the referee. He throws into the air and our player has the better anticipation and tips the ball to me. A huge roar of cheers fills the gym. I hand the ball off to our point guard, the player who has the role to control 22
everything that is going on the court for our team. He calls our first play. “Triangle! Triangle!” A teammate and I run into the corners of the court to provide spacing for what is really happening in the play. DJ, our point guard, has our two biggest players on the court come up in a parallel line to the three-point line, a large semi-circle that creates an area where, if a player makes a shot from behind that line, it is worth three points rather than the usual two points from the area inside the three-point line. The two players get into a standing stance with hands covering their essentials to set a screen for DJ. DJ chooses which player he wants to use, the player he thinks will provide the best advantage for scoring. Aaron, the player DJ chooses, sets a perfect screen. DJ’s man gets caught behind Aaron and DJ has an open lane to the basket for a super easy two points. When we think the cheers can’t get any louder, after DJ scores they do. The loudest we have ever heard that gym get and it feels good to know that it is for us. The first quarter goes by. A solid eight minutes of basketball is behind us and we are very happy with the performance we had in that first eight minutes. “Great start you guys! They can’t keep up with us. We are too fast for them and they cannot last as long as us,” says our coach. “Here we go guys. Let’s repeat what we just did to seal the deal!” I say to follow coach. The buzzer sounds for the second quarter to start. We go back onto the court with a solid thirteen-point lead. The opposing team starts the quarter. We know that their player’s shooting skills are not very good at all. We dare them to take a shot that is fifteen feet away from the basket because we are willing to take our chances that they will miss that shot more than fifty-percent of the time. So far the plan is working. They are taking the shots we want them to take, and they are missing them what seems like twice as much from what they are making. And like coach said in the lockerroom before the game, we are only giving them one shot. No secondchance opportunities. We keep building our lead. Within the first five minutes of the quarter our lead has doubled to a twenty-six-point lead. They call timeout. We are on a roll and it feels like there is no one that can stop us. “Just keep 23
playing hard. The game is not over yet” is what our coach says as we rest and refuel ourselves with some Gatorade. That is not what we think though. We feel like we have this game in the bag and there is no point in trying anymore. Not knowing what their coach has said to them, we look at each other and must have told each other to stop lying, because when the game starts, that’s exactly what we do. The other team starts to get the shots they wanted, close to the basket. It’s like our brains have shut down. It looks as if we didn’t want the basketball. We are giving it to them, like it is a hot potato and we can’t take its heat but they can. We keep turning the ball over and when the quarter ends, our lead has drop from twentysix to eight. We head to our lockerroom and coach is hitting everything that he can as we walk down the stairs. Hanging our heads low, we sit on the benches to listen to coach yell at us at the top of his lungs. “What the hell happened out there! I mean, what the, what the hell happened out there! You guys were up twenty-six points. You had them where you wanted them. Stepping on their throats. But for whatever reason, you let up like a bunch wimps and let them back into the game like you felt sorry for them. You don’t know these guys. There is no reason for you to feel sorry for them because you shouldn’t like them! Unbelievable!” He leaves on that note and we sit there in silence not even looking at each other. Aaron is the first to speak. “I know that I am not ready to lose to a bunch of sorry-ass losers that never deserve to beat us. Let’s go get this win and show that we are the best!” A sense of desperation fills me and I know I am with Aaron. I’m not sure about my other teammates, but I will do whatever it takes to win. We go back up to the court. Cheers fill the air. “This is our time! I don’t feel like going home,” I say to my teammates to build that same sense of urgency that I have. The same people that start the game for both teams take the floor again. Now it’s our turn to start with the basketball. But we pick up right where we left off. 24
If we don’t turn the ball over, we can’t make a shot. Everything is going wrong at the wrong time. Before we know it, we are the ones that are down. Our lead is completely gone and we are down six points by the end of the third quarter. We have gone from playing our best basketball to just quitting. Everyone’s attitude is just to quit because we can’t believe that this team is beating us when it seems obvious that we are the better team. Three, two, one, and the last loud buzzer we will hear for this basketball season. We lost. People break into tears while everyone from the other team is jumping with excitement and hugging each other as if they’ve won a 100-million-dollar lottery. Not wanting to be around anyone, we go downstairs into the lockerroom. Anyone who is able to hold their tears in has let them out. Even our coach is in tears. He is so upset that he can’t even talk to us. That just piles on to the mound of guilt that is already making a tower on our shoulders. We feel we have embarrassed the school. We are supposed to represent the school but we let it down. We take off our uniforms for the last time this year and people head their separate ways. No one talks to anybody. I come to realize that not only is my last basketball season over, but now I have a very slim chance of making it to college basketball. It feels as if everything is over. Like I was sent on a mission to complete something but I have failed and now there is nothing else to do with life. The one chance I had is now over.
Spaghetti! Kaitlyn Allie, Portland Night High School My taste buds just blister, my mouth waters with saliva, and my eyes just get so big when I smell the wonderful aroma of my homemade cooked spaghetti, I just want to scream to the world in excitement that I love spaghetti! When I see the noodles start to boil I light up knowing what is for dinner. The hot boiling water hits me in the hand and all I can say out loud is “Wow, that’s extremely hot!” The taste of the spaghetti is just amazing, it’s like a rocket that is blasting into your mouth and explodes in an instant. The sounds of the boiling water, the popping from the hamburger frying, and mixing in the sauce is just thrilling. I love the taste, sound, aroma, and the touch of this remarkable food; I just feel like I’m all alone in my own spaghetti wonderland.
Max Zola Watson, Cleveland High School White hot drug. Adolescent guitar chord. You are the fox prince; When they say you slink away They thought you meek. Who knew that you swam yet Beneath your eyes of ice?
From A Photo of the Buddha Niles Johnson, Lincoln High School The picture is from above. The Buddha is sitting, but you can only see his right knee with his hand resting on it and his right foot below. On the far side of the Buddha you can see where the mountainside was cut into in order to carve the structure. There is a small switchback staircase going up the cliffside with various huts and amazing views. The area is very green and lush, even though the photo is in black and white. The reason I chose this photo is because I love being in places that are off the beaten path that not many people get to experience. I also enjoy hiking in the outdoors and the feeling of reaching a personal spot of Zen is unbeatable. I like the feeling of accomplishment and the statue of the Buddha definitely resembles the feeling.
Kimaya Kimaya Jones, Roosevelt High School Kimaya Honest, clever, easygoing Sister of Anthony and Kameron Lover of food, family and money Who feels loved, brave, and excited Who gives peace, hugs, and positive energy Who fears, spiders, snakes, and dogs Who would like to see Hawaii!! Resident of Portland
Just Like the Good Ol’ Days Jessica Gaspar, Roosevelt High School I climb the old ridged tree Smelling its fresh aroma Of bark, spring leaves, and The cycle of photosynthesis. I hear the rustle of leaves Whispering the remnants of my childhood. I’m drawn closer to the familiar home Of the big oak tree. As I get closer to the top, I see my luxury suite. I walk around the miniature house, Keeping from bumping my head. The creakiness doesn’t surprise me, The last time I was here, Parker and I were having fun. Now, As I look out the carved window, Feeling the cool spring breeze On my face, I remember how those times Are now gone. I sit down, Feeling the splinters, Just like old times. I crawl to the corner, Lay on the dusty yellow carpet. 30
Touching the 15 year old dust, Accumulated on the rug. I grab a crispy bag, And I clutch the bag of expired Cheetos. I saved his favorite chips after he passed, Never to eat them until he came back. Â
Run-on Sentence Charlie Flynn, Cleveland High School When Iâ€™m happy I sing, I dance, I play, I listen to Beatles music while chewing gum way too fast, and I ride bikes, take hikes, jump over puddles, and sometimes into puddles, and keep the thought and try to unravel the mystery about why the chicken crossed the road.
Heartless Gabriela Perez, FOCUS at Madison High School No one can see what I can. No one can feel what I feel. No one will ever take as much pain as I have, throughout the tears. Pain, that humans have been shoving down my fucking throat. You will never be me. The anger and sadness that no one can ever see. That’s your fault. I’m done with you. No one will ever know what it feels to live everyday without a heart. Because I’m not human, I haven’t been since the beginning. Call me heartless </3
Mystery Artifact Dionysus Levin, Roosevelt High School “I cannot let you do this, Jock,” Rafael said. “It’s far too dangerous.” “Nonsense, Rafael. You know perfectly well that I can take care of myself,” the Count contested. “At least take me with you,” Rafael almost begged. “I have made up my mind, old friend; you would grow tired of Spain too soon for my liking anyway.” A pleading look on Rafael’s face said it all, but the Count faked obliviousness and simply lit his cigarette. “Come,” he said, “let us enjoy my last day here.” Rafael reluctantly followed the Count as he wandered past the tall hedges, cigarette in mouth, wine glass in one hand and cane in the other. They turned the corner of shrubbery and came upon an extravagant fountain of marble and porcelain. The Count was a broad man with long, confident strides, the type of person whose presence entered a room before their body. Rafael looked up to him like a father. The Count had rescued Rafael from a house fire when he was just a child. Since he had no family left after the fire, Rafael spent most of his time with the Count Jock Mumfraud. However, the Count never technically took responsibility for the child. Rafael was now roughly twenty, which would place the Count at fortyfive. As they walked along the fountain they ran into a man with an easel. The Count insisted that they strike a pose for the artist, and so Rafael began to straighten himself up, though he was not in the mood. The Count reassured his young friend that he would come to thank him someday. Rafael and the Count spent the rest of the day sipping wine, swapping stories of battle, and playing music. They drank and sang until the sun came up. When Rafael awoke the Count was gone. He spent the next few days lounging about the chateau, and going to the 34
cabaret every so often. One morning Rafael woke to the sound of the maid’s voice. “Mr. Parian requests your presence in one hour, Monsieur.” “Very well, Naydeen,” Rafael said. Rafael tumbled out of bed and began to get dressed. In forty-five minutes he was reaching the block where the meeting was to be. Count Mumfraud had introduced Rafael to the alliance when he was nine. They had mixed feelings about the boy at first, but all that changed when they saw him handle a sword. He was not but eleven when he first repaid the Count for saving his life by decapitating a man who was attempting to blindside the Count. His skill with the steel would prove helpful for many years to come since he was accepted into the alliance. The alliance was an organization created in order to uphold the King’s honor and protect him. France had suffered much since the disbanding of the Musketeers and the alliance was appointed to take their place. The main difference was that the alliance was a completely secret organization. When Rafael entered the main hallway there was a beautifully nostalgic piano piece wafting through the doorway of the boardroom. Rafael entered and noticed that a few heads turned his way. He didn’t think much of it, and so he took his normal place, the closest seat to the door he came through. “I have some unfortunate news,” Mr. Darian, the chairman, began. “Some of you may have heard already, but we have had a death among our ranks.” Rafael’s heart stopped. “He was attending business in Spain.” With this Rafael’s heart sank deeper into his chest than he knew it could. The rest of the words spoken tumbled through his mind, far too quick and misshapen to make any sense of. The faces around him seemed to have no definition either; he was in some foggy place in a distant corner of the universe. Suddenly one word came out clearly and Rafael refocused on the world. “Jaquel wants to talk,” said his friend Galton, “you know where to find him.” “Yes, thank you friend,” Rafael replied as he got up to leave. He then stopped and realized he should say something. 35
“I am leaving on an investigation,” he exclaimed. “What is there to investigate?” asked Mr. Darian. “The cause of death has already been determined; he was stabbed by a robber.” “Le Comte de Mumfraud does not die at the hands of a thief,” Rafael barked. “I have witnessed the Count impale twenty men without a scratch returned to him!” Rafael roared from the back of the small auditorium-shaped room. “I am leaving to discover the true cause of his death. Will no one join me?” A reverberating silence answered his question, and Rafael stormed out of the room. Distraught, Rafael made his way down the street with more of a downhill stumble than pace. He reached the store nearest his house in what seemed like seconds. He wandered through the door and emerged a few minutes later with a bottle of Pinot Noir. Another few minutes later Rafael and his bottle broke the threshold of his small second-level apartment. Rafael began to ponder his situation. “The alliance has refused me assistance and advised me not to leave. If I am to leave, it must be now. I cannot allow them to restrain me here with some useless assignment. I must be on my way before the end of that meeting.” Rafael ascended the stairs to his room in what felt like a single bound. He came into the room like a bull, eyes fixed on the matador and ready to face his challenge. As Rafael made laps around the room, he left a trail of flying objects behind him, all of them landing neatly packed away in his backpack. This frantic mayhem went on for maybe ten minutes before something brought Rafael’s tornado to a screeching halt. He stood in front of a portrait, the only one on his wall. Rafael’s breath slowed and he took a seat on the bed. “Ah, that last day at the chateau,” he recalled as he leaned over to pour a glass of wine. “Just as I suspected, the Count wore a smile that was usually not so forced. He tried to hide this from me, but Jock knew his fate before he left. Your death will not be in vain, my friend.” Rafael finished this thought, followed by his glass of wine. With just about everything packed, Rafael took a dark cloak from the closet and disappeared into a sea of Parisian shoppers. A few hours later this cloaked figure left his homeland on a boat slicing 36
through the fog atop the Celtic sea as the shore of Brest was left behind. When Rafael touched land again it was on the shore of Ireland near the city of Cork. The fog was thick that morning, sweeping through the streets like a tidal wave. Rafael imagined he must have seemed a bit odd. The place had feeling of possession to the citizens. Rafael felt like he had walked into someone’s living room. He was well-prepared for this feeling though. Rafael had been there before and knew just where to go. Amid the great clouds of fog, Rafael found the soothing comfort of an old friend in the sight of a large wooden sign that read “Pub.” Rafael entered riding a high wave of determination that a gray morning can sometimes produce. It didn’t take him long to notice Jaquel, a dark-skinned Spaniard with a black bushy beard highlighted with wispy white hairs mixed into it. He was a sharp contrast to our young swordsman, who had fair white skin, black leather boots, cloak and pants that stood against his blue shirt and white skin. His hair hung down in black wavy locks. As the two men shook hands, the other patrons eyed the swords that hung at their sides. “Greetings, old friend,” Jaquel’s raspy voice pronounced. “We have business to discuss in the lounge upstairs.” “Lead away, I’ll follow,” said Rafael. When they got to his dark lounge room above the bar, Rafael took a spot on a couch near the door. His eyes fixed a questioning look on those of Jaquel. “I am very sorry about the Count, Rafael, but we have little time to mourn if we are to act. You and I both know this was no accident, nor was it a back-alley mugging.” “So what are we to do? Have you any leads, Jaquel?” Rafael asked. “Yes, I received this letter from the Count a few days before his death.” Rafael took the letter. His eyes devoured its contents for a quick minute before they returned their attention to Jaquel. “Why have you made me come here, Jaquel? We are wasting time we do not have. We should be in search of this artifact,” Rafael said. 37
“The artifact has been found,” Jaquel interrupted. “I have instructed Galton to keep an eye on it while we are meeting here. It is to go on auction in Barcelona five days from now. You see, I could not risk the wrong ears finding our conversation. Not to mention, it will only take us three days to reach Barcelona, so I figured we could take this day to drink some of Ireland’s finest whiskey in our friend’s honor.” With that Jaquel leaned over to the small coffee table in front of them, where there was a bottle and two cups with ice in them. Just then they heard a thundering crash downstairs, followed by screams. Both men jumped to their feet simultaneously and drew their swords. As they opened the door to the stairs they were able to see hooded swordsmen at the bar for just a minute before three swords fell upon them. Their quick reflexes enabled them to parry two of the strikes and sidestep the third. Rafael quickly escaped his opponent’s blade and slid his into the man’s ribs, puncturing a lung. Rafael leapt over the railings and landed on a table of the bar. He found himself cornered by two more swordsmen. He looked up at Jaquel just in time to see the decapitated body of his opponent fall as Jaquel engaged another that had reached the bottom of the stairs. Just then, Rafael sensed a blade heading for his neck and was able to block the attack seconds before it would have pierced his skin. Rafael landed a kick to the other hooded figure’s chest, knocking the man to his back. This gave Rafael enough time to spin and duck his opponent’s next swing. With a swift thrust he impaled the swordsman, up through the bottom of his jaw. With another quick turn he sliced the neck of the hooded swordsman who he had knocked to the floor. When Rafael turned to see how Jaquel was fairing, he beheld his friend standing triumphantly over another corpse. “It appears we have been discovered,” Jaquel bellowed jokingly. “So it does; we must move fast now,” replied his young companion. “I have a boat waiting at the docks.” The two men left in such a hurry that the bartender and the other patrons had no time to thank them. The two reached the boat within the hour and were well on their way in no time. The next morning their boat reached the shores of 38
Spain and they set off on the highways. In another day the two companions found the streets of Barcelona beneath them. They booked themselves into the first hotel they could find and ordered a meal. The next three days were spent in the hotel, laying low, drinking to their friend, and laughing at the current state of things. On the day of the auction the two men ordered an early breakfast and set to the streets majestic in their serenity. A gleaming sunrise lathered their surroundings in purple and orange. They found the auction house without incident and settled in at a diner across the street. After a few hours of waiting in silence, a carriage arrived in front of the house, a few minutes before the set time of the auction. A man got out. He looked around as if to see if he was being followed. Unable to find any suspicious figures, he followed two larger men with swords into the building. When the man left, he held an object wrapped in velvet, and got into his carriage with the same caution he had used getting out. The two bodyguards got in after him. The carriage set out at a quick pace. When the carriage was about ten minutes outside of Barcelona’s walls, the man began to relax. “I would have expected them to at least attempt to stop us!” the man laughed, his grey moustache making an odd slant as he rested his face in a smug expression. A steady approaching of horses startled the man and his hair stood on end. He heard a whomping atop the carriage followed by a yelp and a thud. Suddenly the door of the carriage swung open and Rafael leaped in from his horse. The older man’s face, stricken with terror, was frozen. Rafael blocked an attack from a large bodyguards and grabbed him with his free hand, tossing him out of the carriage. Rafael’s other opponent’s face soon found the hard dirt of the highway as well. Rafael took a seat. “Ah, Mr. Darian, you leave your tracks about like a wounded hound,” he chuckled. “What do you think you are doing?!” Mr. Darian retorted, “I am your chairman, you can’t kidnap me!” 39
“You are not being kidnapped, chairman, you are being placed under arrest for murder.” “And where do you intend to find this evidence?” Mr.Darian growled. “You hold the evidence in your hand,” Rafael said, eyeing the object in the chairman’s grasp. Defeated, Mr. Darian slumped into back into his seat and didn’t speak for the rest of the ride to Paris. When they reached the palace Rafael dragged Mr. Darian up the steps as Jaquel left the driver’s seat and followed them. The two companions left, their opponent in custody, proudly wearing accomplished smiles. “What should we do with our rewards?” Rafael said, admiring his bag of gold. The king had bestowed a bag to each. “Well, we never had that whiskey,” Jaquel said as he glanced over at his young friend. “Ahahaha, you never grow tired of travel, do you Jaquel?” Rafael laughed, and the two set off once more.
In the Moment Hannah Shilling, Cleveland High School When I am happy, things just start flying, words, rocks, chairs, socks, flying across the room at other things, sometimes people too, and these people scream, duck, run, then laugh until all of the sudden everybodyâ€™s doing it and not one person can control their giggling self and not one human can even think about stopping until we all hear the voice screech, â€œWhat the heck are you kids doing?â€?
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