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HEY MOON, GUESS WHAT? 2011-2012 WITS Digital Anthology


Hey Moon, Guess What? 2011-2012 WITS Digital Anthology


Contents Writers in the Schools

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Dear Reader

5

Mary Rechner, WITS Program Director

Oh What People Are You

Tamales, Love and Kidneys Calor y Frío

8

Iris Smith, Grant High School

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Ebony Brawley, Franklin High School

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Kassandra Yewchuk, Lincoln High School

Nyles Green, Grant High School

The Silent Acceptance I Am Not

Cecelia Ysasaga, Cleveland High School

10

Every Minute of Every Day Hey Moon...

6

Will Sims, Wilson High School

How to Release Other Half

Luke Meyer, Lincoln High School

Madison Rosen, Grant High School

Joshua J. Benefiel, Cleveland High School

The Tenderness of Rage

15 16 17

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Mackenzie Warford, Franklin High School

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Sticks and Stones

Brooke Thompson, Franklin High School

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Break to Make

Katie Beyler, Grant High School

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Writers in the Schools Writers-in-Residence Angela Allen, Lorraine Bahr, Carmen Bernier-Grand, Elyse Fenton, Nicole Georges, Amanda Gersh, Cindy Williams GutieĚ rrez, Emily Harris, Hunt Holman, John Isaacson, Sara Jaffe, Amy Minato, S. Renee Mitchell, Laura Moulton, Alexis Nelson, Mark Pomeroy, Ismet Prcic, Donna Prinzmetal, Katie Schneider, Devan Schwartz, Arnold Seong, Matthew B. Zrebski Visiting Authors Chimamanda Adichie,Tom Brokaw, Heidi Durrow, J. Hill, Anis Mojgani, Abraham Verghese Participating Teachers Barbara Berger, Matt Boyer, Gene Brunak, Annelise Bulow, Mike Cullerton, Jaque Dixon, Stephanie D’Cruz, Anne Dierker, Jerry Eaton, Bianca Espinosa, Stefanie Goldbloom, Kelly Gomes, David Hillis, Cindy Irby, Melinda Johnston, Paige Knight, Tom Kane, Andy Kulak, Stephen Lambert, Dylan Leeman, Dave Mylet, Steve Naganuma, Marie Pearson, Arlie Peyton, Karen Polis, Michelle Potestio, Mary Rodeback, Alicia Smith, Kris Spurlock, Henise Telles-Ferriera, Erin Tillery, Dana Vigner, Virginia Warfield, Alice Weinstein, Amy Wright, Tracey Wyatt WITS Liaisons Dave Mylet, Eric Levine, Brady Bennon, Linda Campillo, Sandra Childs, Mary Rodeback, Mike Cullerton, Tracey Wyatt, Matt Boyer, Paige Knight Participating Principals Sue Brent, Petra Callin, Margaret Calvert, Carol Campbell, Peyton Chapman, Paul Cook, Shay James, Andrew Mason, A. J. Morrison, Vivian Orlen, Macarre Traynham, Charlene Williams District Liaison Melissa Goff 4


Dear Reader, Like many of the adolescents we serve, Literary Arts’ Writers in the Schools (WITS) program is changing rapidly. Our core residency program, begun in 1996 at Grant High School, continues to provide Portland public high schools with semesterlong writing workshops taught by professional writers: poets, playwrights, journalists, fiction writers, memoirists, and graphic novelists who model the disciplined passion of a creative life and reinforce the importance of the writing process: creating new work, revising, editing, and publication. Each residency culminates in a celebratory student reading at independent bookstores, libraries, galleries, and cafes. To help teens connect the importance of strong writing and creative thinking to the “real world,” we coordinate school visits by local and touring professional authors (Abraham Verghese, Chimamanda Adiche, and Tom Brokaw). Hundreds of students attend our lecture series over the course of the season and are provided free tickets, books, and transportation. At each lecture, 2,500 adults model a passion for reading and appreciating new ideas in an intergenerational environment. Literary Arts brings The Moth, a popular storytelling troupe, to lead a weeklong school-based MothSHOP, which culminates in students telling stories to their peers. WITS collaborates with school librarians to host a city-wide teen poetry slam, “Verselandia!” WITS also offers one-day college writing workshops at several schools, pairing volunteer writing mentors with students to help them develop their college admissions essays. WITS provides extensive logistical support for all of these activities, as underfunded schools do not otherwise have the administrative capacity to take advantage of these opportunities. If you would like to join this team that makes our work with youth so successful, please make a donation to Writers in the Schools at http://www.literary-arts.org/ product/donate/.

Mary Rechner Writers in the Schools Program Director 5


Oh What People Are You

Luke Meyer, Lincoln High School Oh what people what people are you of Not of common but those who rise above Who not fame nor glory do they seek But to bring strength and happiness to the weak And though their numbers may be few Unforgotten will they be by me and you Oh you people so young without youth What has made you pursue the truth And what great price has this journey cost Was it worth the time and happiness lost It has not given you friends just made you cold It has not given you truth just made you old Oh you people so avidly wise You have taken reason and given surprise In this choice made before its time You have done to yourself a terrible crime Immortal with reason would be fair But happiness now will never compare Oh you people so selflessly kind In your life what friends did you find Only ever have you given advice Not lies but words prudent and precise None for you there ever are Not now not then or futures far 6


Oh you people so decidedly right For what great cause do you fight Where go the armies that you command Who today dies by the pen in your hand In what direction does your vision lead For which future do you plant the seed Oh you people so lost in thought Where are the smiles for which you have fought There is not happiness here I see A man not dead for the future is thee The men here who are now forever known Are my people and like me are alone

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Tamales, Love and Kidneys

Cecelia Ysasaga, Cleveland High School Mama, I need you to sit down for a minute…ESCUCHA MAMA… thank you…do you remember when I was around Dagi’s age, when you were setting up for my birthday? It was my ninth, my golden birthday, but I didn’t know anything about those at the time. Well, I was sitting on the counter while you were cooking. Your tamales smelled just as delicious as they do now. Remember, you playing our favorite tickle game with me, the “No corte la carne” one? I play it with Dagi now. You only stopped tickling me when the door opened and Tio Manuel came in. I ran over to him and he lifted me into his thick, hairy arms, the smell of stale beer, cigars and sugar cane overwhelmed me. But I didn’t care then. I was just a little girl, and I needed a father in my life. He was my best friend despite the nineteen year age difference—he still is really. But now mama, he’s dying. He’s lying in a hospital bed, DYING! Put the damn banana leaf down mother. Your brother is dying slowly and in pain while you, me, Dagi, everyone are forced to watch. Your god would not want his people to SUFFER like this. God; a true monster, creating us just to watch us die. If he’s as great and powerful as you think he is...hm...he’s just some sick fairytale we made up. Like any other children’s story, created just to teach us lessons. Look what this is teaching my son, mother, that it’s okay to sit around and watch your family DIE when there’s a cure right in front of us! A cure to save a life, but is forbidden to anyone who doesn’t want to burn in Hell? That is sick and disgusting, that God would ever do that to us! Why would he put the things we need in front of us if he doesn’t want us to use them and be healthy? You told me as a little girl that we 8


are all God’s children, but would you ever force this upon YOUR child? Just talk to Manuel mama, tell him he needs a transplant. He needs it Mother, because every moment he gets closer to death, and my heart feels as if I’m not so far behind.

9


Calor y Frío

Will Sims, Wilson High School

Cuando yo estoy enojado, mi mente está caliente. El fuego es mi pasión. Cuando yo estoy triste, mi corazón es un cubito de hielo. Mis lágrimas son congelación. When I am angry, my mind is hot. Fire is my passion. When I am sad, my heart is a small ice cube. My tears are congealment.

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How to Release

Iris Smith, Grant High School

Elsa slipped out the back door into the warm summer night. Her feet padded lightly in the manicured garden. She was glazed over, focusing on Saturn, which was shining bright, almost red. She took cautious steps through the sunflowers and basil plants, then slowed and turned. Looking over her shoulder, Elsa eyed the sturdy white house. Taking in the two floors and the windows without lights, she gazed at the swing set that sat between the house and the acres of orange trees. “I miss you,” she whispered. Her dazed expression faded, and a crooked smile took its place. A car’s headlights flashed once. Elsa scampered towards them and hopped in the back seat.

“Tonight’s the night.” Elsa beamed in a rare smile, taking her mango smoothie from the blender and setting it on the kitchen table. Elsa had amber hair that fell in waves to the middle of her back, her skin was sun-kissed and she had a beauty mark above her left eye. Elsa passed a handmade mug of smoothie to Kayla and took a seat. “Finally. You better actually do it.” Kayla sat still in her washed-out shorts and cotton tank top. Her short hair was pulled back so her dark chocolate eyes were hard to miss. “She would want you to,” Kayla added quietly. “Yeah… I know.” “You can’t push everything away.” “I don’t,” Elsa replied, her tone turning sharp. 11


“Sure. You know it’s going to be just fine, right?” “Sometimes,” she responded. Elsa’s voice was soft and she looked away again. There was silence in the sunlit kitchen. Then Kayla hopped up and dragged Elsa out of her chair, shaking her shoulders. “Elsa, listen. You go have a good time. Do it for me if you need to.” Kayla’s piercing stare was impossible to resist. “Fine then. I’ll do it for you, and for her.” Elsa’s face was calm again as she twisted the sterling friendship ring on her third finger. Inside, the car was packed with excited bodies. The Corolla fit four comfortably and Elsa was the fifth. The boys scooted over to make room, laughing and taking swings at each other. The door closed and the car was put in neutral to roll down the gravel driveway and into the street. It was stuffy inside the car, but the windows were rolled down, letting in the warm scent of night. Once on the road, the headlights were flipped on and the music was turned up. “Elsa! My girl!” Josh exclaimed. His smile was genuine but obscured by the darkness. “You gotta do this tonight; it’s the best.” “Oh, I know.” Elsa squinted at him but shook her head. He didn’t know her secret. He was just being Josh. The driver slowed and pulled up in an empty parking lot with a trail leading into the dark grasp of eucalyptus trees. The boys were out of the car and Elsa was left to follow their not-fullydeveloped shoulders with the help of the starlight. The trail led to a quaint river with a short, one-lane bridge spanning it. “I got this,” Liam shouted into the night. He tore off his shirt and kicked his Nikes away, not bothering to remember where they lay on the ground. Liam bolted up to the bridge and vaulted 12


over the protective railing. He paused, looking down at the twentyfoot-drop to the leisurely moving water. Then he was gone with a screech and a splash. “You’re next, Elsa!” “I don’t know,” she muttered, pulling her arms across her chest; she embraced herself. “We brought you. You gotta go.” “We’ll do it together,” Josh offered. Josh grasped Elsa’s hand, pulling her towards the arched bridge. The warm touch sent goose bumps up her arm. Elsa pulled her shirt over her head and stepped out of her shorts, leaving them in a neat pile with her sandals on the bottom. In her sky blue bikini, Elsa stepped over the guardrail. “Just close your eyes and jump.” Josh’s instructions were clear and simple. Elsa eyed the other boys who were staring back at her, resisted the urge to bite a fingernail, and then sized up Josh. He was just under six feet tall. The muscles in his broad shoulders were visible even in the moonlight. He was a good guy, but this was Elsa’s to do on her own. So she stepped off the bridge. Images of simple happiness and raw pain flashed through Elsa’s mind in the second it took to fall twenty feet to the water below. She saw a childhood where two sisters played on a swing set in an orange orchard. She saw an encouraging face coaxing the little sister into the water. She saw the same face riding a bike over the arched, one-lane bridge, then a car speeding by, not noticing. The cyclist was gone in a splash, never to take another breath. Elsa saw her sister’s short life flash and disappear. Then there was nothing, just the water’s forgotten embrace washing away the grief. 13


Other Half

Ebony Brawley, Franklin High School

My heart weeps in sorrow, now that he’s gone. What am I to do? How am I supposed to feel? What is life going to be like without the other half of me? I would only be half of me, I would not be myself, without the other half I am nothing. I am an empty vessel going to waste. When is he coming back? Incomplete is what I am. Lost with no soul is what I’m going to be. Without him, I am no longer me. I only want to be me, with him is where I’ll always be. Where are you my other half? Come back to me.

14


Every Minute of Every Day

Kassandra Yewchuk, Lincoln High School

He’s black, so obviously he’s good at basketball, right? And she’s disabled, so I have to make fun of her, right? Wrong. People are people. Period. People have emotions; we see things, hear things and feel things. No two people on this planet are identical. We as individuals are all unique. What makes you better? No one can choose what family they’re born into, or what body they’re given. Some are luckier than others, but luck can run out. We all need to learn a little something called empathy. Try walking in her shoes for a day—it’s not easy. Sure, stereotyping and making fun are two different things, but when it comes down to it, they are really not so dissimilar. Why? Because they both can hurt others. They have the power to change how others act. They are powerful enough to cause that pang of pain in your chest that prefers to linger there for awhile. The truth is, we are all guilty. But just remember, stereotypes can be brutal assumptions, harsh and cruel judgements. And the disabled and mentally ill did not choose their fate; it could have been any one of us. We ought to think about these things every minute of every day.

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Hey Moon...

Nyles Green, Grant High School Hey Moon, guess what? There are a bunch of stories telling lies about you: like how the craziest things happen when you show your pale pimple face. But we all know that’s not true. The truth is you’re the best part of the day. You brighten the night with your shining light and faithfully safeguard the sacred midnight.  You’re the catalyst to nocturnal creatures creeping with constellations. Hey Moon, you forgot to introduce me to your friends. It’s a pleasure to meet you Orion, Hercules, and Draco. Moon has told me so much about all of you. I’ve never noticed any of you until Moon finally stepped out of the limelight. I hope I get the chance to know you guys better. Hey Moon, can you do me a favor? Please forget to fall down. Your company eases those sleepless nights. Your company wisps me away to a dreamland. Your company lets my dreams run wild. Your company holds my mind’s sublime eye. Your departure brings me back to reality. Your departure brings the arrival of your hotheaded twin. Your departure makes me look forward to our next meeting. Hey Moon, can’t wait to see you again. 16


The Silent Acceptance

Madison Rosen, Grant High School Jane was a girl who was known for being sweet and devoted to school, but quiet. Nobody knew her outside of those three positive attributes. The truth was nobody knew Jane for who she really was; Jane didn’t even know who she was. She was certainly all of those things. She went to all of the social events and did everything to fit in: an ordinary high school student just like everyone else. She was physically around people, but emotionally alone. Jane never got emotionally close to anyone after her father died. The death of her father felt as if someone had ripped out a piece of her, taking it away and leaving a void that never seemed to fill. She desperately wanted to collapse, cave into depression over the loss, but her mother had already taken that position leaving her to be the collected one.  Her mother couldn’t stand living in the same state, let alone city, where her husband had died. Everything reminded her too much of him and she couldn’t live with the loss. She took all her sadness and tucked it away, deep down, making sure she would never remember the pain his death brought her. It was the last real act she ever performed, before closing everything up. Sixteen, fatherless, and starting high school in a new state was more difficult than Jane could have ever imagined. Fitting in and acting like nothing happened became a goal of hers. Becoming a girl who gave just enough information that wouldn’t intrigue others 17


into asking about her life before moving. While her mother went deeper and deeper in depression, Jane lost her own sense of identity, becoming just a vague picture of who she used to be. The only way for Jane to express emotions was through writing. Writing for hours became a daily routine; it was the way that she could think about her father without breaking down. While she wrote in her journal, she would write letters to her father. Part of her felt that it was pathetic to feel connected to her father by writing letters to him, telling him about her day and what she was worried about. But every day after school she would do it again, repeating the process she looked so down upon. Yet it was the only way she could connect with anyone. The charismatic mother was no longer a mother who raised her daughter. She was just a woman with sorrow in her eyes. Their relationship was strained to say the least, but Jane tried desperately to create some type of relationship so she would have somebody to talk to besides her dead father through letters. Jane tried to see any sign of a normal, proud mother; one day as a last attempt she showed her report card that was covered in As. The only reason she worked so hard to achieve was to test her mother, really seeing if she was right, that there was no hope. Jane was right: only the permanent residents of sadness appeared in her mother’s eyes. Jane was involved in sports and she tried her hardest, becoming a star. Winning competitions ever since she’d moved, the only reason why she won was to make her dad proud, that was all she ever wanted. It was never her goal to make her mother proud; in Jane’s eyes her mother didn’t deserve it. Jane 18


neglected her mother in her races just like her mother neglected her in everyday life. With Jane’s hard work she got into the school of her choice. Jane chose the school farthest from her mother. She just couldn’t handle the constant reminder of a destroyed family any longer. The worst part was watching her mother disappear into a non-functioning human being. It tore Jane up inside to see such a drastic change, but it was a reminder that she never wanted to follow the same path. Graduation was over, her bags were packed, but there was one person she still didn’t say goodbye to. She never got to say goodbye to her father, but she will say goodbye to her shell of her mother. Looking her mother in the eye telling her goodbye, not really knowing if she knows her daughter is leaving, maybe never coming back. Walking out the door, knowing she is not only closing a door on her mother, but also the fact that her father is dead and she doesn’t have to be alone anymore. Living with accepting the truth, both parents died, when a car on the way to work hit her father, but she doesn’t have to.   

19


I Am Not

Joshua J. Benefiel, Cleveland High School

I am who I am. If you don’t like it, I will politely invite you to shut up. I care not what you say, and I’ll say what I’m not, and that’s who I am, to say the least. I agree with people who disagree, because it is much more fun to Laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. If you want to know who I am not, then I leave you to do the math. I’ll be your best friend and your worst until the day you give up. My name is not Perfect, because there is no such thing as Perfection. My name is Trouble. My name is Josh.

20


The Tenderness of Rage

Mackenzie Warford, Franklin High School

I’m talking, words spew from my mouth, heedless of my warnings. I’m warning my words to stop! Stop before you get yourself into trouble. They don’t understand, they are sprinting into the air. Once they’ve come to a halt, not soon enough, I’ve gotten myself into a fight. My mouth runs mindlessly and is now being acknowledged. What have I said? I was smoldering hot; blood ceased to pump through my fingers. I was angry. Scanning the battlefield, I see the damage done by my voice. Are you happy now? Now that you’ve made everyone resent you? Looking into my victim’s wounded eyes, I know that I am not. I try to explain myself, put back the pieces of a broken window. It wasn’t hurting anyone, just sitting there. But I had the impulse to run my fist through it. This is the time to apologize. I walk through the cloud of hasty words. I walk past the fog that remains after the battle. I step gently over the glass to the person I have hurt. My lungs rise with anticipation and fall with a thud. If there’s one thing I struggle with, it’s saying I’m sorry. The victim’s eyes have an expectant glow. I release my breath and embrace my friend, because I believe my words have done enough.

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Sticks and Stones

Brooke Thompson, Franklin High School Who says sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you? Words are more painful than a slap or punch, Even more so from the lips of a person whom you love. I’m a tree and your words are axes cutting me down. You can’t take back that strike to my base and bark, Can only wait for it to heal with a patient heart... Retarded Ungrateful Selfish Bulimic Liar Weak Ugly Bitch And more. These strike through my heart to the other side of my bark and... TIMBER! I’m down. But don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because every time I get knocked down, A new sprout rises from the nurse log of my heart, And motivates me to prove them wrong, To rise above and beyond the expectations of those who oppose me. And to show that I am so much more than a mere emotionless meatsack, as you would portray me to be. Come on, I’m your stepdaughter... But appearently you don’t think of me as anything more. 22


Break to Make

Katie Beyler, Grant High School

There’s only so much stuff for stuff to be made of, There’s a set amount of anything available to use. If it’s already gone, there’s only one way remaining: To break something to make something is the lone option to choose. Some groups work well, but maybe others work better. To find the best grouping, breaks must be made. If one wants to improve, then old habits must alter. If you can’t move on, then you’ll just stay in place. Things fall apart, and things fall together. Old things will fracture, and new things are made. To open a door, you must first close another. Because breaking and making are two sides of the same.

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925 SW Washington st. Portland, OR 97205

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Hey, Moon, Guess What?