Joshua Weinzweig Review of Writing 2020-2021

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2020-2021

Cover artwork by Eric Zhao, Grade 12

pickering college

JOSHUA WEINZWEIG

OF WRITING

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16945 Bayview Avenue, Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 4X2 www.pickeringcollege.on.ca



THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

Joshua was born in Toronto in 1973 and enrolled at Pickering College in Grade Eight. He spent the next five years as a student at PC. At first he didn’t like it here, but—after a time—he began to thrive. He made many friends and soon excelled at his schoolwork. He was Chair of his House, made the Headmaster’s List on several occasions, and learned to love Chaucer and Shakespeare. Josh cultivated a love of language, composing short stories and poems that leapt out of his rich imagination. As ever, Pickering College would like to thank Daniel Weinzweig for his generous support, without whom the Joshua Weinzweig Creative Writing Program would not be possible.



THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG MEMORIAL LITERARY AWARDS & THE REVIEW OF WRITING

Students whose work is published in Pickering College’s Review of Writing are eligible to win the Joshua Weinzweig Literary Awards. At the end of each school year, the English Department selects three winners from each grade: one for distinction in prose fiction; one for distinction in poetry; and one for its creative literary merit, regardless of genre. Notably, the winner in each category is acknowledged in this publication, receives a certificate of acknowledgement, and is rewarded a small, cash prize. The process: all students submit writing to their English classroom teacher who considers its literary merit and degree of creative and critical thinking. After considering the quality of the submission, the English classroom teacher may forward it to the Director of the Joshua Weinzweig Creative Writing Program. The key objective is to provide a forum for Middle and Senior School Pickering College students to publish their writing. Editors try to establish a fair balance between providing opportunity to young writers and a reasonably high degree of quality for readers. At Commencement, one Graduate is chosen to receive the Joshua Weinzweig Memorial Literary Award. This student has demonstrated the highest quality of creative writing among his or her peer group, distinguishing him or herself through his or her dedication to the craft of writing and artful use of language. The winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Memorial Literary Award for 2020-2021 is Tom Dang. As a writer, Tom enjoys a unique propensity for comedy. A natural satirist and critic, he cleverly bakes a flaky crust of human absurdity overtop a sour filling of discerning social criticism; however, while his comic proclivity is evident, his range is also undeniable. He pushes himself in all directions and has also produced evocative dramas that glisten with realistic dialogue and evocative storytelling. To give you a sense of that range, three of his pieces have been featured to kick off this year’s edition: his dramatic one-act play “Vodka on the Rocks;” his profile piece “The Keeper’s Tale;” and his satirical poem “Jargon, Jargon, Jargon.” This year also marked the inaugural launch of the student magazine The Joshua Weinzweig Student Lounge. I encourage you to pick up a copy, where you will find two more of Tom’s pieces: his satirical essay “How to Save the World” and his scathingly hilarious critical review of the film Army of the Dead, entitled “The Fall of Zack Snyder.”


THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

TABLE OF CONTENTS ____________________________________________________________

Tom Dang, 2020-2021 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Memorial Literary Award “Vodka on the Rocks” ..................................................................................6 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Literary Merit Award, Grade 12

“The Keeper’s Tale” ...................................................................................11 “Jargon, Jargon, Jargon” ...............................................................................13 Sarah Asgari “Circle of Life”..................................................................................... 14 Winner of the Joshua Weinzwieg Flash Fiction Contest, Grade 12

Sarah Asgari “Grade 12: Just Keep Going”............................................................. 18 Moira Boland “Little House of Glass”....................................................................... 21 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Literary Merit Award, Grade 9

Ethan Bonerath “Lost Hope”................................................................................... 22 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Short Story Contest, Grade 10

Tyler Da Ponte “Broken Silence”.............................................................................. 24 Doga Erdemisik “Good Days of Ramadan”.............................................................. 26 Weston Foulds “The Forest”.................................................................................... 27 Harrison Frank “There Is Warmth Under Frost”........................................................ 28 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Poetry Contest, Grade 9

Sarah Golding “Playing on the Snowy Hills”............................................................ 29 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Short Story Contest, Grade 9 Published in the 2021 InCITE Anthology for Student Writing

Amy Graham “Recovery”......................................................................................... 31 Winner of the Joshua Weinzwieg Flash Fiction Contest, Grade 11

Krish Gupta “A Mother’s Worst Fear”....................................................................... 32 Kailey Houle “Les Yeux De L’Amour”........................................................................ 33 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Literary Merit Award, Grade 11

Sophia Jeffery “Scars of the Ice”.............................................................................. 35 Justin Jeong “Tear-Ridden Mask of Tithonus”........................................................... 36 Kyu Hun Lee “26th of September”........................................................................... 37 Published in the 2021 InCITE Anthology for Student Writing


THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

TABLE OF CONTENTS ____________________________________________________________

Kyu Hun Lee “Hope”................................................................................................ 40 Winner of the Joshua Weinzwieg Poetry Contest, Grade 12

Louis Li “Just Do It Later”.......................................................................................... 41 Shianne Liang “Four Blank Walls”............................................................................ 44 Alyssa Lucchese “Captivity to Freedom”.................................................................. 46 Deanna MacAlpine “Repair Your Bridges”............................................................... 48 Ella MacAlpine “Film”.............................................................................................. 49 Anh Huy Nguyen “My Odd Issue with English”....................................................... 50 Omar Ozturk “Golden Gate Summer”..................................................................... 53 Cora Pataran “Death By Blue Silk”........................................................................... 54 Aaliyah Salyani “The Bird’s Eye View ”..................................................................... 55 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Poetry Contest, Grade 10

Grace Still “A Spoonful of Sugar with a Hint of Spice”.............................................. 56 Shyam Subramanyam “The Fortress”..................................................................... 59 Thera Sze “I Am (What I Eat)”.................................................................................. 60 Isabella Tan “Mirror”................................................................................................ 63 Sophie Trussell “Protection from the Hands of Time”.............................................. 64 Tessa Veerbeek “Hey, Little Man”............................................................................ 65 Jake Wu “Unsteadiest”.............................................................................................. 67 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Poetry Contest, Grade 11

Emily Zalewski “Punishment with No End”.............................................................. 68 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Short Story Contest, Middle School

Victoria Zalewski “The Day We Visited Father”........................................................ 70 Winner of the Joshua Weinzweig Literary Merit Award, Grade 10

Beverly Zeng “Opportunities Given”........................................................................ 72 Monica Zhu “Introduction to Immorality”................................................................ 73


WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 12

VODKA ON THE ROCKS ____________________________________________________________ by Tom Dang, Grade 12 CHARACTERS: JOHN: JOHN has just turned 19. He is an honest, good kid being led on the wrong side of life. He is not very sharp, though he listens attentively to whatever he’s being told to do. MARK: Judging by his looks, MARK came from a rougher part of the neighbourhood for the better part of his life. Through his confident and cunning nature, he is someone you feel safe around and want to depend on. The BARTENDER: The BARTENDER is a dark-skinned heavy Brazilian man. He has fought through life and been through countless predicaments that nobody should deserve to be put in. This has made him a calm but intimidating man. SETTING: It’s a late night inside a semi-busy bar. The vinyl player is playing “Stone Flower” by Tom Jobim, while the bartender is by himself enjoying a cigarette by the television. The place looks like it stinks of stale beer, cold sweat and crushed pretzels. Despite the mess, it’s obvious the place is in a nicer part of its city. The customers are a mix: a few folks from labour jobs but mostly white-collared nine-to-five paper-pushers. AT RISE: On one side, three office workers with shirts pulled up to their elbows are enjoying cold beer while a couple are playing darts from across the room. There are about 15 people in total. Seated around a table near the back of the bar are two young fellas talking in a heavy Boston accent. They look rugged and out of place. JOHN: We doing this or not? MARK: R elax. We’ve gotta think about the flow. If we haven’t got a plan, how do you expect we’re gonna pull this off? JOHN: It’s always like this, every single time. You’ve always said this, you’ve always said that. I say let’s just pull it once and done. MARK: A re you outta your mind? Look, the way I see it, if you’re not careful, you’re gonna put a bullet behind your head. Bye bye college life ‘cause you’re not going anywhere but up. JOHN: What do you wanna do then? (He says sarcastically.) “OH EVERYBODY, THIS IS A ROBBERY! HAND OVER YOUR WALLET OR I’M COMING FOR YA.” That? MARK (laughs): Yea. JOHN: Well, do it then. MARK: W hat do you think we’re doing? Robbing a bank? ‘Cause that’s easier than this. See that? Look, the bartender probably has a shotgun under that table. It’s harder than you think. (MARK calls out to the bartender.) MARK: Bartender, two vodka on the rocks please and go heavy on the vodka.

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 12

VODKA ON THE ROCKS ____________________________________________________________ by Tom Dang, Grade 12 (Then continues with JOHN.) MARK: P lay it safe. (The bartender nods in agreement. He pulls out a bottle of vodka and goes off to make the drinks without breaking contact with the television.) JOHN: What a bank? You think a bank is easier than a goddamn bar? MARK: S ure John, the place’s insured. You pull out a gun, you tell them to put the money in the bag. They’re office workers—button pushers for god’s sake—probably got kids at home. Nobody wants to be the hero here, so they comply. You walk out with cash. Bing bang boom, job’s done... JOHN (cuts him off): Why haven’t you done it then? MARK (laughs boisterously): ‘Cause I don’t want 20 years on my head. BARTENDER: Two vodka on the rocks. MARK: N ow this is where the bar comes in. You see this? Go pick up the drinks and look around, John, who do you see? (JOHN walks up over to the main bar, holds the drinks and surveys the place.) JOHN: God, I don’t know. MARK: U se your brain for once in your goddamn life. (JOHN scans the bar for a moment. The place is crowded with workers in their late 20s. Receptionist, accountants, office assistants, secretaries, the complete package.) JOHN: Office workers? (JOHN hands MARK his vodka. He takes a sip and goes right back at it.) MARK: Bingo. You got it. See, this place isn’t so different from a bank. Still the same damn office workers. Button pushers. Whatever you wanna call ‘em. They come here once every few nights, play darts, order a few drinks but not too much that they get wasted. (MARK leans in.) MARK: Then they go home ‘cause their daughters are waiting for ‘em. JOHN: Right, right, daughters, right. MARK: T heir life ain’t too bad. You pull a job, and you get a couple hundred bucks but the money ain’t so good that they’re willing to throw their life away ‘cause of some knucklehead robber with a gun. JOHN: Yeah. MARK: P oint is... (MARK hesitates) It’s the same type of people. Difference is nobody cares who you are here, not even the cops. If it’s a bank, it’s a bank. You know how it goes. But nobody cares about a couple bar fights and some lads getting nicked for a few bucks. You’re practically safe to do whatever the hell you want. JOHN: But you said the bartender’s got a shotgun. MARK: You’re right John, I’m gettin’ there. Like I said, we gotta deal with the shotgun. JOHN: You want us to deal with the bartender with the shotgun? (John points to the BARTENDER with his back against the two tuning to the TV. He is

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 12

VODKA ON THE ROCKS ____________________________________________________________ by Tom Dang, Grade 12 someone you definitely would not want to tangle with.) MARK (laughs): Us? No, John, you got the wrong idea. I want you to do this. (MARK points at JOHN’s chest.) JOHN: Me? It’s my first damn job. MARK: Yes it is your first damn job. Everybody gotta start somewhere. (JOHN furrows his eyebrows and sighs in hesitation.) MARK: Tell you what. I’ll cut you a deal. (MARK gulps down his vodka.) If you pull it off right, I’ll go back and ask the guys to take you in. Properly. (JOHN silently considers this.) MARK: They’ll take care of the funds. So you just gotta worry about school. (JOHN takes his first sip of vodka.) MARK: You gotta be kidding me. (Mark laughs.) John, they’re giving you a place to sleep here. JOHN (under his breath): I got it. MARK: I’m sorry what? (MARK cups his hand around his ear sarcastically.) JOHN: I said I’ll do it. MARK (laughs): Alrighttt. That’s my boy. (At this point, JOHN is visibly getting anxious. His right foot is starting to get shaky.) MARK: Now, John. (MARK continues in a low voice.) I want you to listen very carefully because you’re about to perform something for the first time in your life that you are not allowed to screw up. I don’t wanna hear any protest because this is the life you have chosen John. This is your life. (MARK hands JOHN a .32 caliber pistol under the table. It takes a while for JOHN to adjust and grab the pistol.) MARK: What I want you to do…you stand up, you declare a robbery… (MARK sighs and hesitates. The conversation gets more tense.) Then I want you to point the gun at the bartender... and shoot. JOHN (startled): What? MARK: You heard me. JOHN: No. Screw this, Mark. I’m out. I’m not killing anybody. MARK: You’re not killing anybody, John. JOHN (shouts): WHAT THE HELL YOU WANT ME TO DO THEN? (JOHN has got the bar’s attention. They glance at him for what feels like an entire human life condensed in just 10 seconds, then Tom Jobin’s piano fills the air, and the bustle returns to the bar once again.) MARK: John, calm. I just want you to do warning shots, not kill him. You’ve got to be a man— you’ve got a whole life ahead of ya. See those guys? The hell do they know about your life? Dad walked out on ya; god knows where your mum’s been for the past three years. You think they’d get that? Buncha’ money printers with a happy family waiting for ‘em at the end of their day. You think they’d get that?

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 12

VODKA ON THE ROCKS ____________________________________________________________ by Tom Dang, Grade 12 JOHN: No. MARK: If you do nothing, where does that money go? Nowhere, that’s what. But if you do the job, it’s going into your college education. That’s charity. That’s the Lord’s work. We’re just here to carry out what He has told us to do. You understand? JOHN: Yea. MARK: So? (JOHN stares deeply at MARK and MARK stares back. JOHN is visibly shaken but after a minute of consideration he takes a deep breath and stands up, nonetheless.) JOHN: EVERYBODY. (He’s got the bar’s attention, even the bartender is turning away from his television to gaze back at him. JOHN’s hand is under the table, he is afraid to pull out the gun.) JOHN: TH-THIS IS A GODDAMN ROBBERY. (JOHN frantically pulls the gun up and aims it at the BARTENDER. Then he hesitates. The air gets heavier. Almost everybody has stopped what they are doing to watch the ongoing spectacle.) BARTENDER: Sonny, put the gun down. You don’t know what you’re doing. MARK (under his breath): What are you doing? (Low mumble is heard throughout the bar. A young, terrified lad is pulling out his phone to dial for cops.) JOHN: EVERYBODY SH-SH-SHUT UP. (The BARTENDER picks himself up and walks over to JOHN. As if to defuse the situation, he holds the .32 caliber tightly with his right hand then gazes deeply into JOHN’s eyes. The mumble stops. A phone is heard dropping onto the floor. The BARTENDER then scans around his bar only to meet an audience tensely waiting for a conclusion.) BARTENDER: Everybody get BACK TO YOUR BUSINESS. MOVE ALO (Gunshot fires. A dry thud makes its presence across the room as the body descends downwards onto the floor to the tunes of Brazilian bossa nova. It’s not clear whether JOHN shot the gun in panic or that the BARTENDER was holding onto the pistol for way too long and way too hard.) JOHN: I-I-... (JOHN drops his gun onto the body. He is visibly panicking. His hands are shaky as he fumbles to try and find the right word to say. Despite the struggle, JOHN says nothing and stares blankly at the dart board from across the room. As the blood slowly creeps out of the body, JOHN stumbles to check the body. He shakes the body violently to no reaction.) MARK: John, John, stand up, we’ve gotta go. (John doesn’t respond. MARK shakes JOHN’s shoulder but JOHN is too shocked to give an adequate response. This goes on for another few seconds until the sound of a police siren is faintly heard outside the bar. They both dart their eyes towards the entrance.) JOHN (yelling): Hell with this! Hell with this! I-I-I-... (JOHN stops yelling, starts to sob.)

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 12

VODKA ON THE ROCKS ____________________________________________________________ by Tom Dang, Grade 12 I’ve got a goddamn college life, Mark. My school starts next Monday you know that? (Despite the shock, JOHN makes an effort to carry himself across the room into the middle of the bar. He kneels down and puts his hand over his head. JOHN becomes the spotlight. This gets on MARK’s nerves.) MARK: I know but we’ve got to go. Get up John. GET UP. (MARK slaps JOHN. JOHN takes the slap like a man for the first time in his life. The spectacle completes itself as JOHN surrenders himself to the bar and whatever that was to happen that night. His fate, JOHN believes, belongs to himself no longer. And as he readies to let himself go, the lights start to fade.) MARK: GET UPPPP. GET UUUPPPPP. Cut to black. ____________________________________________________________

artwork by Jack Li, Grade 12

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

THE KEEPER’S TALE ____________________________________________________________ by Tom Dang, Grade 12 What lurks at the dead of night, when life is truly silent and all you can hear is the crackle of busted light bulbs and the rustle of late spring? Lately, after hours, the walls ached their silence even louder. The hallway reverberates, stretches and creaks. Every once in a while, though, you hear the gentle echo of keychains, followed by footsteps and the dull sing of a television faintly in the background. There is life. It’s ominous and doesn’t want to show itself so easily—not out of malevolence, but of a certain kindness from a guardian. There is life. One that seems less a lion lying in wait, but rather a keeper of a rusted kingdom. As I continue to sit in the wavering sounds of those silences, the door opens. In comes a woman of rather small stature, with frizzy hair and a grandmother-like smile. “Hi,” she says. Her name is Wendy Keegan. She is from Belleville, Ontario, and currently works as a facility staff member at Pickering College. She likes to listen to Michael Bublé, Old Crow Medicine Show and rock bands like AC/DC and Queen (but never the Rolling Stones). Sitting across from me, she emanates a sort of soft-spoken atmosphere that envelops you in a soothing manner and, though small, her age and character makes people feel like they’re in the presence of a gentle giant. We strike up a conversation and as it deepens, Ms. Keegan nostalgically reminisces about her childhood in Belleville. “We didn’t grow up in a rich family, and I had six brothers and sisters, so it was a lot. In our time, you could go [out] on your bikes and not go home until dark. We didn’t have a lot of restrictions, so it was a lot of fun growing up because you could more or less go wherever you wanted. We also spent a lot of time swimming, because in the Belleville area, there was Lake Ontario and all the rivers and everything. It was all we could do, and nobody would stop us from doing anything. You know, freedom!” She was free-spirited and never liked school. If she had to write a book on the subject, she would probably described her time studying akin to a survivor’s guide more than anything else. “I went to school. I didn’t love it or hate it,” she laughs, before promptly adding, “but I did well. And because we were not well-to-do, school was just school.” (As she explains, she can’t help quietly mentioning her dislike for English.) Fast forward many years later, and Ms. Keegan has since become a staple staff member at Pickering College. She has guarded the chambers of Roger’s House for 23 years and plans to continue many more. “My sister worked here, and they needed a staff member quickly. So, they asked me to help come fill in until they could find somebody; and here I am 23 years later,” she says, then heartily chuckles. “I still can’t believe she left after my first year.” Though it has been a two-decade-long ride, the work hasn’t always been easy. “In our department, you’re involved in everything,” she recounts. “Everything that happens within school could become more work for you. Whether it’s in the residences or in the school if the teachers [ever] needed something. The hardest part are the unknowns everyday, the unpredictable,” she pauses, then continues. “You know, when you guys ask us to open the gym, well, we gotta’ stop doing what we’re doing, come down four flights of stairs, unlock it, then go back up four flights of stairs. All just to open the gym for you guys. Then there’s busted

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

THE KEEPER’S TALE ____________________________________________________________ by Tom Dang, Grade 12 toilets and dealing with people who are sick...” Yet, she’s always been content with her work. When asked about the most fulfilling part of her job, she hesitates, then smiles—all while looking off into the distance, as if wiping off the dusted toolbox of her memories looking for answers. “I really enjoy talking [to] and meeting the students and knowing at least a few of them—not all of them—but to have a relationship with them, especially the parents here.” When she says it, she really does mean it. If you catch her on the off-chance that she’s going on a break with a box of donuts, strike up a conversation. She’ll likely give you a donut, then go above and beyond and do the unthinkable: she’ll insist on asking about your day. Ms. Keegan is lighthearted and friendly. If she ever had a gripe with the modern world, it would be the advancement of pocketed entertainment. When talking to her, remember this: rule #1, engage in real conversation; and rule #2, never, ever, pull out your phone. Currently, she has no plans of leaving the school. In an ironic twist of fate akin to any Greek drama, the place she wanted to escape is now the home in which she resides. “I’m staying here,” she smiles wistfully. “Well, I got a few more years, then that’s another age thing where I’m not young and gonna’ start a new career… I don’t know. I’m just content, I’m content with who I am. I don’t dream big; I don’t want anything more. If you can manage your own life and be happy, then that’s great.” After that, she’ll retire to spend time with her family. She prefers nothing but to stay at home. In a few years, her journey as the night keeper of Roger’s House may end, but her tale will live on. Over those quiet nights in darkened halls, she’s made noise within the walls of Pickering College. “Make the most of what you have,” Ms. Wendy Keegan’s voice echoes, “because when you don’t come from much, it all means a lot.”

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

JARGON, JARGON, JARGON ____________________________________________________________ by Tom Dang, Grade 12 Conspicuous, turgid vernaculars, Blatantly pompous and heinous writings. Why write hard when few are plenty favoured? He who wrote his lines, gazingly concurred: “Decadent abuse corrodes feeble minds.” Conspicuous, turgid vernaculars. Hiding behind stale hints and metaphors, Definite thinkers praise not what it brings. Why write hard when few are plenty favoured? Crooked men birth rhetorics that linger Defenselessly within those unthinking, Conspicuous, turgid vernaculars. Epic tales turned saggy literature. The wary and wise shall mockingly think: “Why write hard when few are plenty favoured?” When one faces needless thesis, refer Acutely these aforementioned warnings: “Conspicuous, turgid vernaculars. Why write hard when few are plenty favoured?” A Note from the Author… “Jargon, Jargon, Jargon” is a satirical villanelle that criticizes the usage of nonsensical and confusing gibberish in poems and the English language in general. The poem itself is written ironically in a way that incorporates the same writing style it is criticizing—the “(c)onspicuous, turgid vernaculars” and “(c)rooked men birth rhetorics that linger,” for instance. The “(d)ecadent abuse [that] corrodes feeble minds” is written by people who do not think before they commit to writing, and therefore are fooled by their own jargon to think they are smart; on the contrary, the sentence itself means that further abuse of the language rots the mind. The poem further criticizes writers who use jargon and certain “rhetoric” to fool “those unthinking,” yet, when analyzed by his peers, is found to be fraudulent and empty: “Crooked men...unthinking… (d)efinite thinkers praise not what it brings.” Although critical, the poem lightens up with the repeated rhetorical question “(w)hy write hard when few are plenty favoured?” This is written intentionally simple to humiliate these authors with a short but meaningful sentence. Satire is utilized extensively in the fifth and sixth stanzas with “the wary and the wise,” meant exaggerate and intentionally praise those who write proper English; while the sixth stanza is meant as a lighthearted parody of a serious series of instructions with the first two sentences bearing a grave tone in contrast to its obvious over-exaggerated satirical content. By writing this poem, I satirize the usage and writing of confusingly long poems that ultimately bear nothing in weight and hope that others will follow in my steps in a war against confusing English jargon. (As a final note, I sincerely wish that, by reading this poem, readers intentionally avoid this analysis since a long-winded, wordy and nonsensical poem is not meant to be analyzed, and those that are committing to reading this paragraph are fooling themselves into digging out meaning from an already dug-out grave.) –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G F L A S H F I C T I O N C O N T E S T, G R A D E 1 2

CIRCLE OF LIFE ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Asgari, Grade 12 It all happened beside a volcano, but that wasn’t the most interesting part. Now, depending on your perspective (and maybe even life experience), the interesting part may vary. It could be the fact that an expectant mother was soon to be expecting no longer a few feet away from where I was standing. It could be the fact that an elderly woman seemed to be engaged in an avid, albeit unnerving, staring contest with an iguana whose—hand?— appendage with not-quite opposable thumbs?—was slowly creeping toward her purse resting next her. It could even be the fact that the tour guide, who was leading us on our volcano expedition the day of December 21st, 2012, was frantically running around yelling about the Mayan apocalypse and humanity’s day of reckoning. There was a common thread among all these unseemly events: and that was the volcano’s untimely eruption, which also acted as a catalyst for the ensuing chaos. The day started out just fine, if not a little bit disorganized. But it was the trip itself that did the most psychological damage. My parents (who were in the midst of a mid-life crisis) decided that an impromptu vacation to Mexico was the way to go. And who better to subject to incessant torture for seven days with no escape and definitely no surrender (I must never let them win) than their 31-year-old last-to-be-not-yet-wed daughter? We met at the airport ready to go the morning of December 20th. My parents were hauling what seemed to be multiple grown men in their suitcases, if size was anything to go by. The worst, however, was yet to come. I was wedged between both of my creators on the plane. The seating arrangement was so horrendous that my lingering trauma from the flight superseded that of the volcano expedition (childbirth is no miracle). On my left was my mother’s owlish eyes peering at me through three-inch-thick lenses, and on my right was my father’s gray and black Gandalf-like beard tickling everything from my face to my wrist. Then, the interrogation started. Let me tell you this: since the CIA needs to waterboard their interrogees to wrestle information out of them, they are not employing the right individuals. They can look here for my parents’ home number: 555-357-9004. It started with my mother: “Gretch, I really don’t know why you’re single. You’re a gem! Nice thick hair, green eyes, fantastic cheekbones. You look like Julia Roberts! You know how rare it is for a Jew to have green eyes?” Your sister and all seven of her kids have green eyes. My dad put his two cents in next. “And stick thin, I never see you eat. It could be that you’re single because you’re too thin; men like them a little heftier.” The last part he muttered. You told me last week that I was gaining too much weight and that “your metabolism isn’t what it used to be,” then proceeded to shovel four meal’s worth of food down my throat, then asked me why I was eating so much.

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G F L A S H F I C T I O N C O N T E S T, G R A D E 1 2

CIRCLE OF LIFE ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Asgari, Grade 12 “All three of your siblings are married with kids. And you’re the oldest one!” My mother added. Thank you. What would I do without the reminder? “Your uterus is going to dry up and fall out like a shriveled date by the time you decide to get married. You have one year at best, before expiry. Why don’t you meet someone through Rabbi Malaiov?” My mother finished on a high note. Definitely something to think about. I don’t think I do want my uterus to plop out. “Bu—” I opened my mouth in a (what I now see was a) futile attempt to try to get a word in. “Martha, maybe we shouldn’t push her too hard.” I let out a much-needed sigh of relief. “We need someone to live with when we’re older, and God knows I’m not going to a retirement home. Gretch makes good money, and our other four mongrels have their own mini-mongrels to care for. I don’t want to live with them in 10 years. I can only handle the little bastards in small increments as it is.” TEN YEARS?! “Albert, our grandchildren are not ‘little bastards.’” TEN YEARS?! “Not just the grandchildren dear, our offspring as well. As children, Ethan never stopped trying to see how much of his face could fit into my mouth— by shoving his literal face into my literal mouth. Poor guy. Not the sharpest tool in the shed. It went on. It went on for several hours. It went on for what seemed like several days. Our arrival in Mexico was punctuated by a wave of humidity that hit me right in the hair. It frizzed almost instantaneously. We exited the airport and were met with a bustle and energy so unlike Ohio that it felt draining. We headed to the hotel in bumper-to-bumper traffic, admiring the mountainous views, then promptly retired to our separate rooms—thank God for small mercies—for the evening. The next five days passed in a daze of pain and fatigue. My parents were doing their best to recapture their “waning youth” by cramming in countless adrenaline-filled activities: zip lining, skydiving, bungee jumping, hiking, swimming in caves enmeshed underground. We also visited the ancient Aztec pyramids and learned about the upcoming Mayan apocalypse, due to occur the day before we left. Supposedly, human civilization would be completely wiped out. We heard about it everywhere. All of Mexico and the greater population was talking about the impending doom. Finally, the day of the hike dawned. My parents and I were booked on a day-long expedition where we would be hiking up the volcano Popocatépetl. We were assured that it was 100% safe. The expedition included a group of us. On first impression, we didn’t look like much. And this first impression would be correct. We were reminiscent of a slightly more modern group of goonies. There were my parents, who looked a little peculiar right off the bat because of their bohemian attire and excessive facial hair (yes, my mother, too). Then

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G F L A S H F I C T I O N C O N T E S T, G R A D E 1 2

CIRCLE OF LIFE ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Asgari, Grade 12 there was the lady with the withering glare that she seemed to have perfected during her (at least) 70ish years roaming the earth, and which was amplified tenfold through her magnifying lenses. Sorry, glasses. She seemed to be wearing a homemade frock created from “crocodile skin, dearie.” There was the heavily pregnant woman with ankles the size of a six-year-old’s head and her husband who came for “one last adventure before the little one arrives.” And finally, our pretentious tour guide, Juan, who spoke broken English and would not shut up about the stupidity of the Mayan apocalypse. “I cannot believe people so not smart. Believe in God, ha! An apocalypse!” “I cannot believe half Mexico chose to prepare for impossible!” “I cannot believe…” And so the hike began. As I mentioned before, it started out fine, if not a little disorganized. We trekked across barren plains the colour of black granite and took stock of our minimal surroundings. We encountered some trouble about a quarter of the way up. That trouble being an erupting volcano. Immediately following the ground-shaking rumble and deep plumes of smoke the volcano emitted, Gracie—the pregnant woman—produced a peculiar and wretched sound. I hesitate to categorize it as a shriek, since it somehow resembled a squeak, bellow and moan all at once. “My water broke!” she shrieked. Gracie’s fright had induced an early labour. “Is anyone a doctor?!” her husband—panicking—yelled. My parents rushed over. “We are.” They were dentists. Our tour guide was on my other side, and Juan—who was earlier discrediting the Mayan apocalypse for all it was worth—was now in hysterics over the “end of the world.” “We die here today! Death coming!” Juan moaned in his imperfect English. Then he started calling out to different deities in various religions and mythologies for aid. “Please Jesus, please Shiva, Allah, Waheguru, Zeus, Poseidon....” For a man who was ridiculing the spirits a few hours ago, he seemed awfully informed on religion. Each prayer that Juan uttered was punctuated with a scream from Gracie, in the throes of childbirth, and a deep shaking of the ground. It was hard to tell whether the shaking was coming from the volcano or Gracie’s bellows. The old woman, in the meantime, was locking eyes with an iguana. While the ancient one seemed to be contemplating what style would best suit her next item of clothing (which would undoubtedly be made from iguana skin), the iguana was eyeing her purse as if it possessed a tantalizing reward. I looked to the scene of the birth, and heard my mother speaking in soothing tones to Gracie. I was reassured Gracie was in good hands. I turned around and just caught the tail end

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G F L A S H F I C T I O N C O N T E S T, G R A D E 1 2

CIRCLE OF LIFE ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Asgari, Grade 12 of what my mother was saying: “…God, I wish you were my daughter.” I looked back to Juan who looked to the pregnant woman and seemed to be struck with an idea, his whole face lighting up. He pleaded to the Mayan gods… “I will sacrifice the newborn! Save us, and I will give you fresh baby!” It seemed to me that child sacrifice was a ritual that transcended religion, age, and geographic location. I looked to the old lady. She dropped her purse as the iguana’s front left limb reared back and forth. He eyed the purse and she eyed his skin. They launched at each other and became a mess of green and brown tangled together, fighting for their prizes. Finally, the rumbling stopped. Gracie gave one last shriek of agony and my mother held up a disgusting mess of blood and mucous, wrapped the creature in her shawl, and handed it to back to her. Gracie’s husband looked at the scene with a fondly alarmed expression. My father looked at my mother in admiration. Juan the tour guide stopped crying and briefly motioned toward the baby, as if still thinking of offering it to the gods, then seemed to think better of it and retreated, sitting down with his head between his legs and taking deep breaths. The old lady and the iguana parted in a hesitant truce until, at the last minute, the reptile darted into her purse and retrieved a chocolate bar before scurrying away, victorious. The lady made to follow but settled on her trademark glare at its retreating body. After a significant stretch of awkward silence, we called an ambulance for Gracie. While Juan and the old lady stayed with her family, my parents and I headed back. We had an early start the next day for the real torture and what I consider the actual child sacrifice.… The seven-hour flight home.

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

GRADE 12: JUST KEEP GOING ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Asgari, Grade 12 Grade 12 has not been a fun year for me. Any last vestiges of joy that potentially lingered have long since been leeched away by university applications and their impending due dates looming over my head. If it’s not the applications I’m worrying about, it’s the question: “What am I going to do with my future?” (This question should obviously be answered before applying to any program whatsoever, but when would I ever find the time to answer it?) This steaming pile of dung also comes with the expectation that, to be successful, I have to obtain a career in: engineering, law, business or medicine—and make a handsome income in those respective fields. “You have about six options for university, Sarah: Western Ivey, McGill, U of T, McMaster, Waterloo and Queens for the aforementioned career paths,” my parents, grandparents (who don’t even speak English by the way, it’s just that somehow matters revolving around career choices tend to transcend language barriers), aunts, uncles, cousins and distant family friend I met once, all say. Those are just the people who have opinions. Opinions they feel entitled to voice, because they’re family and they know what’s best because they’re old experienced. The thing is, I know my relatives come from a place of kindness. I just don’t think they understand that they also come from a place of superiority (not to mention the notion that they have a claim on my future and how it progresses). The pressures they both knowingly and unknowingly inflict on me by voicing their vision of “the right path” confuse me to no end. I don’t even know myself well enough to understand what subjects I enjoy, and I’m starting to think it’s because I was only ever surrounded by—and exposed to—careers in medicine and business in my familial circle. Will it ever end? The view from the bottom of my deep, dark pit of despair and self-pity makes the answer to that question seem like a very firm, resounding “no.” It’s not just the pressures from family and university that make this year dismal, it’s the feeling of alienation. Both to myself and my classmates. A couple of days ago, one of my peers received early acceptance into a business program, and all I could think to myself was: Are you JOKING? It didn’t get better from there. My second thought was: I haven’t even filled out my applications. My third thought was: Why am I thinking about applications when I have no earthly idea what I want to do with my future? My fourth thought was: How am I supposed to apply to places when my sense of life direction is so skewed that I can’t even tell which subjects I like! My fifth and final thought was: I’m seventeen. How am I expected to pick a potential career path? Last week, my mom yelled at me for harbouring a bunch of towels in my room. That’s literally what my life experience is limited to. Towel harbouring. Evidently, my thoughts came full circle. Okay. So, I spiraled hard after I received Tam’s fantastic news. But I got over my feelings of intense jealousy pretty rapidly. They were a thing of the distant past. I smiled through my clenched jaw and congratulated my peer. My dentist (thanks Mom) fit me for a mouth guard a week later; I chipped one of my teeth from grinding too hard.

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

GRADE 12: JUST KEEP GOING ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Asgari, Grade 12 Congrats Tam! Nothing but love and support coming from here! Maybe it will get better. Wrong. It will never get better. I am a changed person because of university pressure, and let me tell you, it is not for the better. In fact, I can confidently say that this negative transformation has not only transpired in myself, but also in my classmates. What is this change I speak of, you may ask? Well, only that we have turned into absolute savages. We are completely unhinged. We beg our teachers for grades. We pick apart their brains with incessant questions about marks and useless inquiries about the smallest, most irrelevant details. Grade 12s have come to resemble parasites, and teachers, their defenseless hosts. We slowly torture them by sucking the life out of their bodies and wreaking psychological warfare until they die. Then we abandon their bodies and continue on to the next teacher victim. Last semester was especially brutal. I had a Politics class with Mr. Schneider. There were about twenty of us in that course. I remember, after every test, we would swarm Mr. Schneider like a bunch of unwanted germs. I could’ve sworn I saw his hand attempt to peek out from the masses—as if to grapple for some sort of rope to lift him from the throng of grade-hungry students. And I wish, I wish I could say I was an exception. But I was so not. I went over one particular test with him, and he said, “I think I could give you an extra mark”—boy, do I bet he came to regret that—and I looked at him, with unshed tears in my eyes, and in my head thanked God for his merciful aid. I then proceeded to hound him through various online platforms (because there was way no way I could maintain eye contact and do this) for a week until he changed my mark. My only solace was that this occurred at the end of the semester, so I didn’t have to face my indignity and shame for another four weeks. And you know what? That’s not all I did. Two days ago, I had an oral expression test in Spanish, and I looked my teacher right in the eyes—no, right in the soul—before we started, and I said, “You carry my future in your hands right now, Ms. Suters. I just wanted you to know.” I read somewhere that saying someone’s name personalizes you and makes individuals more responsive to pleas of desperation. I added the desperation part. If you’re reading this, Ms. Suters, I’m really sorry. These pressures have actually been extremely challenging for me to manage. For the first time in my life, my actions have concrete consequences on my future. I have to study and get an adequate amount of sleep and focus intently in class in order to get results. Moreover, I find that my productivity plummets drastically when I’m stressed. I can’t pay attention to tasks at hand and I procrastinate until the last possible minute. This only emphasizes my unpreparedness for adulthood. It’s painfully apparent that I don’t take well to responsibility. Even though Grade 12 has been full of challenges, it has taught me so much about myself. Firstly, I learned that I don’t need to know where I’m going or what I want to do. I’m sure I could even learn to deal with homelessness. Adapt, change, overcome. Secondly, I realized: there is no point too low for me to sink to get the results I want. Thirdly,

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

GRADE 12: JUST KEEP GOING ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Asgari, Grade 12 disappointment is in eye of beholder. Unfortunately, if the beholder is important to you, then disappointment is actually contagious. We don’t hear that advice often, but they’re important words to consider. Finally, I realized that I am woefully unprepared to face the imminent reality that comes with independence: responsibility, decision-making and adulthood. ____________________________________________________________

artwork by Yina Song, Grade 9

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 9

LITTLE HOUSE OF GLASS ____________________________________________________________ by Moira Boland, Grade 9 I spent my life in a little house of glass, Caged further than my hopeless eyes could see, Leaving specious illusions that I was free. Apparitions, ghostly reflections of me. I’m left blinded by clear walls. Raindrops pour down like piercing knives, But bounce off my invisible roof. It was god-like protection. Yet I still lay, haunted. Shielded from the rain, But I still lay rusted, Panes of glass guard my pain. The thing about glass: You can peer in, And I may glance out. Forgotten barriers. Glass lets me be trapped but still seen. Not here, not hidden, but a dangerous in-between. Now I lay wishing I had seen great glass gates, To know what I was crossing before it was too late. What did Alice see… When she peered through the looking glass? Gold rings turned brass? Empty promises like my barren house of glass? I never found Wonderland. My whole life, I’m told to strive for the title of man and wife. Glass doesn’t hide anything. Only magnifies indifferent love.

To become “man and wife,” The man remains. Woman turns wife, But at a grave price. Will I be worn away like sea glass? When the cost cuts me to the bone? Do you dare visit my headstone? Lay flowers at my first place of rest. Maybe roots will finally grow. My world folded in on me, Gracefully as a love letter. Creases formed by cruel hands, To hide harsh words. Never-ending solstice Offered no solace. Glass shattered; fingers bled. Pristine glass house, stained red. Perfect treasures lay dead. All you did was protect me from the rain. To save me from their “piercing blows.” But I was a flower dying of thirst. Water drained my heart of its sorrows. My rage, once a neat cup, Finally spilt over enough To drown out your voice And to walk away. Now I wish for the memories to fade But the lessons to stay.

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G S H O R T S T O R Y C O N T E S T, G R A D E 1 0

LOST HOPE ____________________________________________________________ by Ethan Bonerath, Grade 10 On a warm summer day, Makwa lounged under a willow tree listening to the sound of the distant birds. The pungent aroma of smoked meat flooded his lungs from the nearby smoker. The air caressed and carried his long black hair. Makwa loved picking blueberries and sweetgrass with his siblings, which his father sold. He often joyously ran through the woods barefoot, feeling free as a wolf. He loved exploring and learning new things from his father’s travels. He loved his family dearly and would often play and venture with his siblings, cook with his mother and hunt with his father. Later that day, his father returned from trading and sat down with Makwa. He told him about the meaning and importance of his hair. “Your hair has great value, Makwa,” he expressed with intent. “It is a sacred piece of who you are. It is of great pride and meaning. It is a connection to your culture, family and creator. You must take great care of your hair.” Makwa held this lesson deep in his heart. That afternoon, Makwa swam in the gleaming blue lake, gliding through the water like an otter. As he got out to dry himself, he heard a caw. The call of a raven rang out through the forest. Makwa enjoyed the song of hope and freedom. Later, Makwa’s mother gave him a beautiful new pair of moccasins. He loved his new pair of shoes. When evening arrived, he smelled salted salmon and wandered inside his family’s quaint home for dinner. After dinner, all the children gathered around their father’s log chair to listen to another one of his famous stories. The children loved hearing stories. Storytelling allowed their father to teach them important lessons and pass down deep values as well as ideas. His stories went on for hours, and yet the little ones stayed fascinated throughout. Makwa went to bed imagining the stories. As hard as he tried to keep his eyes open, he drifted into a deep sleep. The next morning, Makwa was awoken by loud thumps of men’s feet at his family’s home. “Do you have any kids?” one of the men asked hastily. The men looked at Makwa with malicious intent. “You have the lucky privilege of having your son taken away to attend school,” another said to his parents condescendingly. The next thing Makwa knew, he was whisked away, pulled out of his mother’s arms. His parents stood dazed—almost lifeless—as though he had been snatched by the jaws of a falcon. Makwa was thrown onto a train for what seemed like days. He was starving, scared, sad and lonely. He worried about his family and where he was going. He thought about his father’s stories about school, he pondered what school would be like. The once-vast forest and nature that was home turned to fields of cattle and grain. He finally arrived at a bustling bus stop. People exited the train like cattle from a barn. He was guided to a concrete castle, where rows of children were lined up against the wall, funneling into the “school.” “Name?” shouted a woman in a black robe at the door. “Ma-k-wa,” he stated. “Oh. Jim, okay?” said the woman, whose eyes wore fear. He was rushed to another line and

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LOST HOPE ____________________________________________________________ by Ethan Bonerath, Grade 10 waited nervously. The moccasins that his mother made him were taken away and tossed into a large pile. “Next!” shouted another cloaked woman, holding what looked like sheep shears. Makwa was pushed into a chair. His hair was cut from him. As the strands fell onto the cold ground, he was filled with sadness. “My hair, my name, my pride,” he thought. With two snips, his whole being and connection to home and self was torn from him. Why he didn’t act or speak up, he didn’t know. He felt as if he was a fawn inside a wolf’s lair. He couldn’t act. A feeling of immeasurable dread filled him. “No speaking your language, no expressing your culture,” said the strict nun. Everything Makwa held dear was gone in a flash. He missed his family immeasurably. Every so often, he would hear the familiar call of a raven. Its voice would spark memories in Makwa, but the hope and freedom it once represented was no more. The raven’s voice went unheard, like lost shoes. A year later, Makwa was sent home, yet the pain he felt changed who he was at the core. He no longer wanted to speak his language. He felt separate from his culture. His hair began to grow back, yet the pride that had been previously stripped from him wouldn’t regrow so easily. The connection and joy he had wasn’t returned by new trips with his father or eating with his family. His mother gave him another pair of moccasins yet they couldn’t replace the ones that had been stolen. A year passed since his return, yet no change had been seen. The joyous boy who once ran through fields and picked blueberries and sweetgrass with a smile on his face had not come back. He had returned in body but not in soul. They crushed the once free-spirited boy into a shell of his former self. Over that year, the “Indian” and soul in him was erased. They had purged his heart, spirit and culture. When will he return to the times before? These questions were in vain, as the scars on him were deeper than a year’s fix. His soul was broken by a thousand belts, by a thousand screams, by a thousand cuts deeper than flesh and a thousand lost shoes. The year at that school had created an irreversible scar that wouldn’t be healed for millennia. This scar would last longer than the body that would age and wither with time. *** Now, row after row of shoes sit quietly on the stairs. The shoes dance in colour and cry in sorrow. Lonesome shoes lined across concrete long for a home. They call out, but no one acknowledges them. Sadness fills them. Shoe after shoe calls out for hope, but their voices go unheard. Alone on the concrete stairs, the lonesome shoes sit, waiting for kindness. Colours fill the ground: blue, red and pink—so bright you can hear them call out to you. “Will anyone come for me?” they cry out. But like a raven’s call in an empty forest, their voices go unheard. Their hope dwindles with every unanswered cry for help. As night approaches, all become quiet. The darkness drifts. The colours that once filled the stairs with hope and light fade away. Darkness wraps the shoes. No longer do they dance or cry. Their voices disappear into the void.

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

BROKEN SILENCE ____________________________________________________________ by Tyler Da Ponte, Grade 10 The town remained eerily silent as the two walked at a leisurely pace, confident that the enemy wouldn’t want to enter this seemingly empty space. Not even the wind was present. The only sound that they could hear was their muffled footsteps in the sand that lay between the dusty streets, their occasional huffed breaths, and the slight creaking of weary buildings barely standing. The gear they carried was heavy and walking was beginning to become difficult, even at the slow pace they’d set. “Hey, let’s sit for a minute,” said Jones between laboured breaths, clearly in need of a rest. “Is this already too much for you?” Adam replied in his typical, snarky demeanor. “Come on man, just a few minutes, then we can keep going.” “…fine.” They came to a bench that stood in front of what appeared to be a small church. Putting their weapons down, they sat for a few moments in silence. Without their footsteps, the town once again fell into a state of complete stillness, uninterrupted by any inside or outside force. Finally, a voice broke the silence. “Hey, uh, do you—” asked Jones, sheepishly. “What is it? Spit it out.” “Do you... think there’s a God?” Adam looked almost shocked, confused that Jones would ask. “Why the hell would you ask me such a heavy-handed question?” Adam retorted, clearly uncomfortable. “Well, you know, where we are—it’s like it’s some sacred ground. The centre of this town is a massive church or mosque or something. Where we’re sitting right now is in front of another one. Seems like these people are–were–pretty religious.” “I… don’t really know how to answer that. You should know better than anyone that I’m not exactly that much of a believer.” “I’m not asking for your theory on the meaning of life, I’m asking for your personal beliefs.” Adam took a moment to think on the surrounding area. On the situations that had led to this scenario. “I’m not really one to slam other people’s beliefs, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone… Here’s what I think. These people based their whole lives around religion, right? They prayed every morning and night. They said grace or something before eating. But in the end, when the time came, did God come to save them? No. They stayed in their homes and prayed, to no avail. So what I think is that either God doesn’t care about his subjects, or he doesn’t exist at all.” “But maybe they were praying to the wrong... God?” asked Jones, trying to wrap his head around Adam’s logic. “That’s another thing that annoys me about religion. Why the hell are there so many variants? What’s more, each branch claims the other is wrong, that God only offers salvation to their variant. Doesn’t God supposedly love everyone?” “I mean, I see your point. But what purpose do we have if there isn’t any… higher being,

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

BROKEN SILENCE ____________________________________________________________ by Tyler Da Ponte, Grade 10 pulling the strings?” “Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that if God really loved everyone, this conflict our country is in right now? It wouldn’t be happening. All those people in this town that were bombed to hell? They’d still be praying daily, given the greatest fortune of all for their belief. That’s why I can’t believe in God. We’re here because of science, biological evolution, and a cosmic amount of luck. All the corruption in this world is probably the greatest indication of the absence of God.” “I… let’s get back to moving.” “Sure thing.” The two got up from their seated positions and retrieved their gear. As they set off, the sounds of their muffled footsteps once again echoed through the empty streets, and an awkward silence filled the air where lively conversation had once rested. ____________________________________________________________

artwork by Sasha Au Yong, Grade 12

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

GOOD DAYS OF RAMADAN ____________________________________________________________ by Doga Erdemisik, Grade 12 Under the grey, humid sky, The city screamed through the hallow streets of my hometown. Although the first day of Ramadan, Not a soul was out until dawn. This exact pavement That children once played soccer on— Now in isolation. Hasty eyes searched To catch a glimpse of the gypsy Who dances around bears And pulls kids from their neighbourhoods. Though the street hadn’t heard laughter for a while, Street lamps shone stubbornly In the afternoon light. This year came With a bag of candy in my hand, But absolutely no one to give. People did, indeed, fast, Yet on the streets The long iftar tables had disappeared. The hungry Stayed hungry. The practice became the privilege. Only the rich had a full meal On their table After a long day of hunger. Let us celebrate The holy month of all. The days in which we once came together As a community Has met its downfall.

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

THE FOREST ____________________________________________________________ by Weston Foulds, Grade 10 Alone in the forest, He sits very still. Alone in the forest, Full of harsh chills.

Alone in the forest, His vision is fading. Alone in the forest, No time for debating.

Alone in the forest, He thinks of his wife. Alone in the forest, Did he live a good life?

Alone in the forest, It’s the cycle of life. Alone in the forest, Pain, sharp as a knife.

Alone in the forest, It’s time to let go. Alone in the forest, I just do not know.

Alone in the forest, I have to let go. Alone in the forest, Simply—yes or no?

Alone in the forest, Up high will feel good. Alone in the forest, Maybe we should.

Alone in the forest, I exit his head. Alone in the forest, He falls, and is dead.

Alone in the forest, How much remorse? Alone in the forest, I’m just his life force.

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G P O E T R Y C O N T E S T, G R A D E 9

THERE IS WARMTH UNDER FROST ____________________________________________________________ by Harrison Frank, Grade 9 Candlelight: Illuminating the painful beauty Of my torn heart strings. I am alone.

I shall not play God And quench his thirst, As I am not, nor will I ever be, both mother and father.

Like a bird perched on a branch, I ponder my future. My mind may wander Like a traveller on its own.

Dear John, Crouched in the cold, Frozen under ice. Still burned, but now from frost, Piercing skin all over any living soul— Needles of suffering and hatred— Meant for pain, not pleasure. But it is I who adore its attention.

Not unlike the cruelness of summer, The joy of play is greeted by a blaze of sun. The heat of life stares down with a plan of its own. What might have been, had you not left? Dear John, A swipe of the pencil’s end, Rough against paper. It is as though you wished to be erased. The sun has been seen from every angle since your departure. Like crows surrounding a corpse, thoughts circle in my head and I search for you like I search for a purpose. Dear John, When are you to return? Born, more beautiful than a flower in blossom, Though unloved without all its roots, Grasping at the soil for nutrients That I could never give. It craves your love and attention, For it is your son, and you, its father. The drought that has come Of love and of hope. Our flower may be newly born, But all the same, flora needs both light and water.

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Eyes of hazel will never gaze upon the surface again. In the frost, I am untouched. I can breathe for seconds at a time. And finally, free my mind. Dangerously, I revisit the ice at every chance. Comforting, warming. Not feeling scorched, but welcome Like an addiction, I will always return. My love, John Our pearl of the Earth, Safe in your roots— The roots of your nurturer. He will never feel the sun, My sun, the scorch of life. Nor will he be greeted by ice In my untimely frost. It is not the end that comes for me, It is my growing impatience That leads me, to it. For one final breath under the surface.


W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G S H O R T S T O R Y C O N T E S T, G R A D E 9 PUBLISHED IN THE 2021 INCITE ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WRITING

PLAYING ON THE SNOWY HILLS ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Golding, Grade 9 My fondest memory occurred a year ago today. Beautiful flurries of snow nipped at my cheeks, leaving behind a tingling sensation. I stuck out my palm and watched the droplets melt. I admired the shrubs—the snow protected them from harm like a shield. Even I, Death, cherish a nice, snowy day. I progressed to a narrow basin in a clearing of the woods where I was to pluck up the soul of a teenage boy. Another young life taken too soon. He had short golden hair that stretched down, framing his narrow face and defined check bones. He had detailed, intricate grey eyes filled with wisdom, kindness and sensitivity. I heard his cries, felt his pain as he begged me not to take him. He banged on the ice sheet that lay overtop him, knuckles bleeding. I felt his suffering and grief, his head getting weaker, his spirit waning. He tried to hold on, begging for a miracle. Oh, how I wish I could save them. Remove them from my deadly clutches and place them back on their miserable, destructive, magnificent world. I’ve always been fascinated by humans and the world they constructed; I could never decipher how they’re capable of so much unpleasantness, yet so much beauty. I felt, as he gave up any hope of surviving, his lungs filling with swampy water as he lost consciousness, sinking deeper and deeper into the water. In his last breaths, he whispered, gurgling underwater, little promises of how he would change, what he would do differently. Oh, how many times I have heard: “Please, I promise I’ll be nicer,” or “I’ll be a better friend,” or “I’ll never swear again,” and “I still have so much to live for.” Despite what humans believe, it saddens me to see people die—children most of all. What they think of in their last breaths, who they’ll miss, what they regret. I’m not cruel. I don’t decide who lives and who dies. I just lead them into their so-called afterlife. “Please God, I’m too young, I don’t want to die. There are still so many things I haven’t tried, so many places I want to go.” I must admit, he sounded genuine. They often do. I was now at the edge of the basin, peering down at the figure at the bottom. In their ultimate moments, I send them memories of their past or their lost future. Frequently, it’s their happiest. Or saddest. Or the moment they regret the most. For the nameless boy sinking to the bottom of the lake, it was the image of his mother’s grief. She was curled up in a ball against the headboard of his bed with the new, darkblue-and-green duvet cover that he so proudly chose himself to match his grey walls. Beside her, a pack of white and orange pills. She looked devastated. Salty raindrop-sized tears boiled up in her eyes, ready to spill over. She reached up to his bedside table and clutched a photo of him, his mother and father, who were all making silly faces at the camera. Her face in immense pain as she painted a finger across the dusty oak frame. No words were needed. I understood. He was all she had left. The only thing preventing her from giving up. Rarely does the image I show change the outcome of someone’s death;

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G S H O R T S T O R Y C O N T E S T, G R A D E 9 PUBLISHED IN THE 2021 INCITE ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WRITING

PLAYING ON THE SNOWY HILLS ____________________________________________________________ by Sarah Golding, Grade 9 however, with his final burst of energy, he pushed off the bottom like a bullet fired from a gun of hope. Ice shattered above his head. He took a huge breath, like a marathoner crossing the finish line, and pulled himself up to safety. His muscles ached, his teeth chattered, his breath, timid. He had never been that cold in his life. He couldn’t stand, left paralysed. I collected his soul that cold, deadly, gorgeous afternoon, and as I did, he looked up into my featureless face and whispered, “Please, tell my mom I love her. I’ll always love her, with all my heart. Tell her I died with a smile on my face, that I was brave and tried to get back to her. But I just couldn’t fight anymore. Please, tell her I’ll be fine. Tell her I’ll see Dad soon.” The boy was terrified, as much as he wanted to look strong. I nodded my head in compliance and carried him into the light. Now, a year later, I’m back in his bedroom to greet his mother. I sit on his cold, bathroom floor beside his mother’s colourless body and meet her soul. She’s happy to come with me. In her final moment, I share with her the image of her son’s death. How brave he was, how much he loved her, how hard he fought for her, to get back to her. She smiles and imagines seeing her beloved son playing on the snowy hills with her family again. ____________________________________________________________

artwork by Jack Li, Grade 12

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G F L A S H F I C T I O N C O N T E S T, G R A D E 1 1

RECOVERY ____________________________________________________________ by Amy Graham, Grade 11 I woke up to the nurse hovering over me, needle in hand. She didn’t say anything as she took my arm and started taking blood. I was terrified of needles before this experience, but I don’t mind them anymore. Like flying in a plane: it can be terrifying at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. I slowly pried open my eyes and immediately felt the beginnings of a day-long headache as the fluorescent, white lights flickered above. I heard the muffled beeping of the huge machine next to me and a little girl crying in the room across the hall. I looked around my prison and studied the grey-blue curtain—the one they often used to isolate me even further—tucked in beside my bed. There was an old, grainy TV across from me, but it didn’t have a remote. Whatever came on was what I watched, and it was almost always on because I was unable to get up and turn it off. Sometimes those pointless shows like Family Feud would come on—that’s when I would get annoyed and finally call a nurse in to turn it off. To the left of the TV, there was a small window overlooking the corral. If you looked far enough, you could see cars on the street, like tiny ants rushing to get home. In the distance, there was an ancient church that I would look at each day. The old stone was covered with bright-red Virginia Creeper vines that climbed all the way to the steeple. The stained glass was faded and cracked, but still colourful. I remember wondering why it was the biggest building in the area; what had given it the right to be the most beautiful and significant building there? I felt a sharp pinch in my arm, ripping me away from my thoughts. The nurse was finished. “Thank you,” I said to her. There was no reply. I wondered what was going on in her life to make her so miserable. She looked to be in her late 50s, her short, silver hair tied back in a tight, low bun. Her face, once youthful and full of life, was covered in stress lines and wrinkles. Her eyes looked tired, like she had been awake all week without any time to focus on herself. After she left, I was alone with my thoughts again. I knew she would be back soon. She came every three hours to shove food down my throat. She would stay 30 minutes after just to make sure I didn’t throw it all up (it was protocol—we both knew I wasn’t capable of doing that to myself). I closed my eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep. Today, a year later, I walk out of the elevator on the fourth floor of the hospital. The receptionist isn’t here yet, so I walk over to the waiting room. I see the church, still standing confidently. There are even more vines sprawled over the old stone, and the cracks in the windows are worse, making me wonder how long it’ll last before crumbling to the ground. That’s how life is, I think to myself. Nothing lasts forever. Eventually I’ll leave the sorrow of this place and never look back. The nurse walks down the hall and calls my name, snapping me back to reality. Her silver hair is now so short it won’t even fit in the low bun she used to wear. Her sunken eyes look tired and pale. She looks ten years older. I’ve been doing my best to recover from my eating disorder so I can be healthy. So I can be done with this place forever. I think this will be my last visit.

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

A MOTHER’S WORST FEAR ____________________________________________________________ by Krish Gupta, Grade 11 I stare outside the window of the car while the air conditioner pushes a gentle breeze of cool air against my face. I look outside at what seems to be a never-ending road. The ground trembles as each car passes by. As the sun rises, I sense the morning rush. The lake below the bridge is peculiar—the brownish-coloured water is covered by filthy trash. My attention focuses on a black, beaten up Pepsi can almost fully immersed in the lake. “Mom, are we close?” I turn to my left to see my beautiful, brave son. His bright, blue eyes sparkle with beauty, while his messy, brown hair and contagious smile express his happiness. “Yes, please be patient, Joshua,” I say, smiling. However, that smile quickly fades away. I hate the word “patience.” Ever since he’s been diagnosed with diphtheria, all I hear is “be patient.” I am tired of waiting. I’m afraid this may be our last chance. When I wake him up in the morning, I’m afraid to look him in eyes as I fear he may see my swollen and red eyes. “Ma’am, we’re here,” the driver announces, interrupting my thoughts. As I exit the car, my gaze suddenly swivels towards the corner of the street where an ambulance rushes with flashing lights. Several doctors quickly scurry from the entrance and sprint toward the vehicle. Holding my son’s hand tightly, I try to ignore the scene and swiftly enter the building. An antiseptic, bitter fragrance quickly overtakes me. Although the halls are dead and plain, it is overcrowded. After a few minutes of waiting, an older female receptionist blankly looks at me. “Name?” she asks. “Uhh, Bernice.” As she starts typing on her keyboard, her phone starts ringing. To my surprise, she answers it. After what seems like half an hour, I shriek, “Stop!” She slowly puts her phone on the table and I continue to scream. “My son and I did not travel over 500 kilometres just to be met by your incompetence!” After a second of hesitation, she asks, “What did you say your name wa—?” “Bernice,” I sigh. What happened? I’m not the screaming type. Exhaustion and fear are eating me away. “Your son, Joshua, has an appointment in two hours to get treated,” she explains. “Unfortunately, his surgeon is absent for the rest of the week because of a personal issue. Would Saturday at 3:00 be fine?” Broken-hearted, I look down at my son. I notice his tears welling up. For the first time, through all his hardships, he finally cracked. After years of non-stop trying and endless faith, my baby finally has given up. I feel like a dirty can in a lake. No matter how hard I try, I’ll inevitably drown. *This story was inspired by a CBC article entitled “Health System Neglects Northern Patients by Design: Doctor,” 5 Mar. 2018, featuring a mother, Bernice Boyce, and her struggles.

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 11

LES YEUX DE L’AMOUR ____________________________________________________________ by Kailey Houle, Grade 11 A weather-beaten bus shelter stands withered in the middle of the town square; an old, three-walled structure. A piece of paper flutters in the corner like a bird stuck in a cage, singing to be released, to spread its wings. Words flow along the bars in a steady, rhythmic sound. It has no purpose here, but perhaps a treasure if found. A middle-aged woman sits beside it. “Should I pick it up?” she wonders to herself. She decides against it. Gripping it with her greasy fingers would feel like a sin. A bus pulls up, brakes screeching like nails on a blackboard, filling the air with its fumes. She sits patiently while tired travellers exit the bus. A young man angrily marches into the bus shelter. His shiny dress shoes click against the sidewalk. He looks at her briefly before absently swiping the top of the bench clean and taking a seat. The paper flutters to the ground. She watches it land in a shallow puddle. The murky water quickly stains the clean, white paper as if trying to erase the words. An anchor of sadness sinks in her stomach. She sighs heavily and rises from the plastic bench. She walks slowly up the steps, finds a spot at the back of the bus, slumps down in a seat. Her body rocks with the movement of the bus. As time passes, the gloomy clouds drift away, exposing a radiant blue sky—a circle of fire that warms the earth. The heat quickly dries the ground, leaving the paper stained and creased in place. A busy, young mom on the phone enters the bus shelter with her toddler wandering not far behind. She plops down on the plastic bench, laying her grocery bags down while the child explores the shelter like a new treasure box. Peering in the corner, the child discovers the paper. He franticly waves it in the air, desperately trying to get his mom’s attention. She ignores him and continues her conversation. The child traces his little finger across the page, following the note’s pattern. The bus arrives. The mother aggressively ends her call. She quickly grabs the child’s wrist, pulling him to the door of the bus, but he secretly holds the paper behind his back. She notices it: what she sees as trash, the child sees as a treasure. She forces the paper out of his hand and tosses it to the ground, freeing the paper before loading the bus. The boy looks out the bus window, heartbroken, and watches the paper twirl in the wind and float over the bus. The last time the boy sees the paper—it is gone. Across the street from the bus stop is a lush, green park filled with families sharing picnics and kids playing on the swings. The paper soars into the park and lands on the ground like a bird. A young girl notices the paper land. She picks it up, crumples it into a ball, and starts tossing it around with her friends. Meanwhile, an elderly man sits down heavily on a wooden bench to rest. He notices the kids laughing and recalls a time when he was their age. He ponders the moments of his life that he did not savour. Everything flew by so fast. Pictures of his family and friends appear in his mind. But one picture is clearer than all the rest. A picture of him and his wife in a wedding photo that he remembers from an old album. The special moments of their time together. The sweet sounds of a classical song play in the background… he holds the love of his life in his arms, they twirl around the freshly polished floor of a church for the first time as a married

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 11

LES YEUX DE L’AMOUR ____________________________________________________________ by Kailey Houle, Grade 11 couple. Even surrounded by loved ones, it feels like they’re the only two people in the world. This picture in his head was the last one taken before she passed. A tear rolls down his wrinkled cheek as he smiles at the memory. That memorable song continues to play in his mind as he watches the families laugh and play together. It’s been so long since he heard that song… it brings an ache to his heart, but the name escapes him. He watches the group of kids toss around a ball—just a crumbled-up piece of paper. One of the boys misses his catch and the paper ball rolls to the old man’s feet. He slowly bends down, his back straining, as he reaches for the paper ball. Something in the universe tells him to reveal what the paper holds. He unravels a sheet of music. He reads the title: “Les Yeux de L’Amour.” He can’t believe his aging eyes. He rubs them just to be sure. The song played at their wedding stares back at him. He glances to the sky, a knowing smile crosses his lips, as if his wife had sent him the sheet of music from heaven. ____________________________________________________________

artwork by Sophia Jeffrey, Grade 9

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

SCARS OF THE ICE ____________________________________________________________ by Sophia Jeffrey, Grade 10 “Are you ready?” She steadies her breath, trying to calm her thoughts. They hang over her like a small child’s mobile. Always there, just out of reach. Her heart pounds, her brain feels like it might explode. She looks out into the sea of empty faces: children crying, deep conversations, arguments, others on their phones. Every emotion possible fills the air. Playing with the hem of her skirt, she takes a deep breath. She feels the cold air enter her lungs, like a glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day. She looks back at her coach. “Yeah…” she hesitates. She puts on her best smile, but her coach looks skeptical. “Don’t worry. You’ll do great,” her coach assures her. She thanks her coach silently and looks back at the ice. It’s sitting there, urging her to come over and skate. The ice is beautiful and bright, each mark tells a story. She hears the scrapes of past skaters, blades gliding gracefully. She sees the jumps, spins, and… the falls. Her fear comes back. Like a wave, drowning her in its salty, blue water. “And now, let’s welcome 17-year-old Mabelle Sanders!” the commentator roars. The applause booms in her ears. She steps off the rubber mats onto the hard ice in front of her. She pushes her thoughts to the back of her consciousness, closing the genie back into the bottle, supressing them for now. She warms up and makes her way to the middle. The twinkly, light piano and sweet, long violin start. She glides across the ice, turning left and right. Her arms move up and down in perfect time with the gentle melody playing in the background. Her costume sparkles like a thousand diamonds in the light. She can see everyone in the audience has their eyes on her. Unknown faces, watching. Waiting for something to happen. Something interesting—no matter if it’s good or bad, just something they can go and talk about with friends. Laughing, applauding, scrutinizing. “Opening up with the triple Lutz…” the commentator begins. She jumps up and lands perfectly, the sounds scraping on the ice. Again, she jumps and lands nicely. “…And the triple toe. Nicely executed.” She skates away and starts to spin as the audience applauds her. “Now a camel spin, good speed,” the commentator remarks. She spins gracefully; they would look clean to any audience member out there. She can’t see any of them now though, they all blur. She prefers this. No worried faces, no happy faces, no faces at all. Only the thing that has been her entire life for as long as she can remember. Beautiful and relaxing yet nerve-racking. Almost menacing. Spinning around. She’s building up speed for the next jump when something in the audience catches her eye. She feels a strong jab in her chest and starts to tear up. Don’t look, don’t think, don’t look, don’t think. She looks away and continues. She begins her jump, and feels a sharp, agonizing pain throughout her body. Crack.

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

TEAR-RIDDEN MASK OF TITHONUS ____________________________________________________________ by Justin Jeong, Grade 12 Vibrant this nature, the beauty she poses Wake up and grab the roses The blood, I accept.

Masked, our voices, the accord they decree Awake and forced on our knees This irony, we must accept.

Joy I seek, the boredom I appease Wake up and climb the trees, These bruises, I accept.

Vaccinating our liberty, the risks they push beneath Awake and merely breathe These dreary eyes, we must accept.

This chilling present, the future I aspire, Wake up and conquer the fire, These burns, I accept.

Distancing our souls, the spirit they put aside Awake and abide Soulless, we must accept.

The life I desire— We have it, sire. Dead, this flesh but alive, this soul Such is life, I accept.

The life I desire… What have we, sire? Alive, this flesh but dead, this soul Such is death, I accept.

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PUBLISHED IN THE 2021 INCITE ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WRITING

26TH OF SEPTEMBER ____________________________________________________________ by Kyu Hun Lee, Grade 12 The year was 2014. It was the 26th of September. The time was 10:23 p.m. The wind blew against a small home in the town of Fryazino, Moscow, on a freezing night. The moonlight glittered across the snow. Stanislav Petrov, former lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, sat in a chair with a bottle of wine in his hand. The rough noise of an antiquated television dug into the wood of the walls. He took a sip of his Sibirkovy as he closed his eyes and leaned back into his chair. The creak of the aged wood momentarily cut through the voice from the television. “Now, some of y’all might not know, but there was actually a pretty big incident quite a while back, you know… uh… you know, when Soviet Russia was still a thing. There was a nuclear—” The television cut out for a moment as Petrov thought of the things he had done and the things he had ordered. The world was suddenly still for Petrov. The wind stopped blowing and the wood stopped creaking, if only for a second. He let out a sigh and took another sip of his Siberkovy, one of the few joys left in his life. As he got up with a grunt to turn off the television, the memories flooded back. Things he did not wish to remember. The year was 1983. It was the 26th of September. The time was 10:23 a.m. The wind blew against the jacket of Stanislav Petrov, lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, as he stepped out from his train and into the brisk air. Petrov took out a cigarette as he walked through the rough, stone-cobbled pathway. Every now and then, he could hear calls from boys in oversized clothes handing out Pravda newspapers, the perfect thing to read if you needed to trick yourself into ignoring the Union slowly dying in front of your eyes, or if you needed yet another reminder of how evil the West was. His cigarette painted a streak of grey against the blindingly white view. It was a Cuban import brought in under the noses of bribed guardsmen. He entered the command centre for the system of protection created for the betterment of the Union. The seeing eye, Oko. The greatest representation of Soviet superiority over the world: a wonder of surveillance technology that would protect the nation from assaults that may threaten her, created by the finest scientists and researchers the Soviets could muster. Or at least, that’s what the Union always told Petrov. As long as he kept his family fed, Oko could be a capitalist god for all he cared. “A good day to die, eh? Working hard, I see.” Petrov greeted his colleague as he poured himself a cup of brown coffee, a pleasant drink that rejuvenated his weary body. A drink hard to get for the average citizen—but pulled string here and there was enough for a box or two. His colleague looked at the cup with wistful fatigue. “Hardly a good day, Petrov, but death isn’t something I would reject right now. My back is going to be the death of me long before those idiotic Americans will.” Petrov chuckled as he went back to his papers, glancing over them quickly while finishing his drink. Today was going to be a good day.

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PUBLISHED IN THE 2021 INCITE ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WRITING

26TH OF SEPTEMBER ____________________________________________________________ by Kyu Hun Lee, Grade 12 The year was 1983. It was the 26th of September. The time was 1:52 p.m. Today was not a good day, after all. Stanislav Petrov, lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, stared with his mouth gaped open at the disheveled courier now gasping for breath. “The Eye has reported five missile launches from the west, sir. From the Americas.” Upon the courier’s words, the entire command centre fell silent for a brief moment, then exploded into Russian speech, like a silent flash of lightning before its roar strikes the world. “There were no sightings from our scouts? No reports?” Petrov put his head in his hands, trying to think. “No, but there was direct confirmation from the Eye that the missiles had launched, sir.” There were sombre murmurs among the uniformed personnel as indistinguishable voices carried throughout the command centre. Petrov knew that they would have to retaliate. Each second reaching for the phone felt like another decade. The year was 1984. It was the 26th of September. The time was 8:21 a.m. Beady eyes stared at Stanislav Petrov, lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, as a drop of sweat rolled down the side of his face, his expression anxious. He stood before a man of rank so high he wasn’t sure if he was permitted to even breathe the same air. General Yury Votintsev, Commander of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, looked at him with burning eyes. “Lieutenant Colonel Petrov, I understand you know the reason for this meeting.” Petrov gulped in response to Yury’s raspy voice. The general’s medals clinked against each other on his uniform. “I’ve called you here today to discuss the consequences of the actions you took on this very day one year ago, Colonel. We are not here to discuss your innocence, this is simply a trial.” The year was 1983. It was the 26th of September. The time was 2:03 PM. In a building in Moscow, one man was frozen in time. This man had the power to end the world with one word. Stanislav Petrov, lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, put down the phone. He leaned back with his eyes closed as uniformed men looked at him with nervous eyes. “Sergeant Anatoli.” He called the name of an aged man, a good worker. “Yes, sir?” The man’s voice quavered. “Would you trust your fellow man here with your life?” Anatoli’s eyes flooded with confusion, unsure of the intent behind Petrov’s words. “Say, for example, would you trust Dmitri over here to catch you if you were falling? Could you trust him to save you from imminent pain?” Anatoli stuttered, “I-I, uh—” “Well, hurry up, now. This is important!” Petrov snapped his fingers, the click reverberating through the air and cutting through the murmurs. “I—” yes, sir. I suppose I would.” Anatoli blinked with confusion. The man never did like talking in front of everyone.

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PUBLISHED IN THE 2021 INCITE ANTHOLOGY OF STUDENT WRITING

26TH OF SEPTEMBER ____________________________________________________________ by Kyu Hun Lee, Grade 12 Petrov heaved a sigh. He walked back to his desk as he gave what he hoped would not be his last order. “You heard Anatoli. I trust every man here feels the same. I will trust every single one of you right here, at this moment, and every single one of you will trust the work of our comrades.” Petrov’s back strengthened. He stood taller as he continued, “There will be no retaliation, and there will be no missiles. I ask you to trust me when I say that no missiles will arrive. Everyone, back to your duties.” As he sat back down, Petrov muttered to himself. “Let’s hope they truly can catch a falling man.” The year was 1984. It was the 26th of September. The time was 8:31 a.m. Today was going to be—hopefully—a good day. General Yury Votintsev, commander of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, chuckled as he motioned for Stanislav Petrov, lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, to sit. Petrov exhaled as he sat down. Yury poured Petrov a cup of tea. He’d never really been a tea man. He accepted anyway, he felt it would be rude not to. “You and I both understand that what happened then cannot leave this room, for the sake of the Union’s reputation.” Yury’s grim expression slowly curved into a sly smile as he poured his own cup. “On paper, of course. Stopping that nuclear retaliation, I don’t know what would have happened if you’d have let it go through. The Eye turned out to be quite the mess, eh?” He chuckled, gesturing towards Petrov with respect. As Yury took a sip of his tea, Stanislav Petrov, former lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, opened his eyes. The year was 2014. It was the 26th of September. The time was 11:01 p.m. Petrov opened his eyes, the aged wooden ceiling stared down at him. Glancing right, Petrov gave a click of displeasure at the empty bottle of Sibirkovy beside him. Tonight would be a long night. The wind blew across the town of Fryazino, Moscow, on a freezing night. The moonlight glittered across the snow. Beneath the snow and hazy smoke lay a cabin that was home to a man who enjoyed his coffee and cigarettes.

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G P O E T R Y C O N T E S T, G R A D E 1 2

HOPE ____________________________________________________________ by Kyu Hun Lee, Grade 12 Hope is the essence of life, they say, Lets those without freedom fight against lock and key That it’ll happen one day, if not today That it’s a flash of gold in an ocean of gray That it’s a guideline, a beacon in the sea Hope is the essence of life, they say A whisper to get up, day after day That perhaps today would not be the past three That it’ll happen one day, if not today A soldier’s will to keep death at bay To—against all odds—not stand up nor flee Hope is the essence of life, they say The allure unto men who gamble away Its whisper, reassuring, to pay fee after fee, That it’ll happen one day, if not today Its insidious appeal turning all into prey Stopping them from giving up and being free Hope is the essence of life, they say, That it’ll happen one day, if not today

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JUST DO IT. LATER. ____________________________________________________________ by Louis Li, Grade 12 Shouts of “Do not procrastinate!” echo in every high school hallway. As students, we are frequently warned about the dangers of procrastination. The dreaded P-word always keeps us company, but only affects us when we need to complete an undesirable task. If you’re one of those few people who work at one hundred percent efficiency one hundred percent of the time, then I’m jealous. Great work on already getting your oil changed. I hope you, Dorothy and Scarecrow get to see the Wizard soon. For most people, procrastination is a bad thing, but for others, it is the road to their best work. During that time of procrastination, we avoid negative emotions created by the required task. By procrastinating, our bodies facilely accomplish unnecessary—yet productive—tasks outside of daunting drudgery with detrimental deadlines: Is procrastination as awful as the adults make it to be? Do they procrastinate, too? What if my room is dirty? How can I do anything in this pigsty? I really should clean my room first. Procrastination is defined as “the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadline” (Cherry), while also undertaking tasks that are lower on the list of priorities. It is not synonymous to laziness. Cleaning your room, folding your clothes or creating next week’s schedule (instead of doing a work or school project) are not lazy tasks. These actions of productive procrastination take effort and should be commended. If not for our dear friend procrastination, these tasks may never be completed at all, since there is no deadline for them. If these chores had one, I would bet my left pinky that we would procrastinate them, too. The deadline is the insurance that it gets done. The unproductive procrastinators walk a thin tightrope. Nothing gets accomplished until they slip and fall into the valley of anxiety, stress and fear of failure. What saves them from hitting the ground is the safety gear: the deadline. Their methods of procrastination must change. Refresh your mind instead of your Instagram page. Check your emails instead of your TikTok. Recharge with a nap instead of the brain-candy on Netflix. Since procrastination is inevitable, we might as well do something productive while avoiding the task. As due dates draw near, productivity increases. The mind that was filled with countless explorations (or no explorations at all) can now concentrate. The urgency to meet the deadline creates a state of panic and urgency. Keath Low, a therapist and clinical scientist who specializes in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), claims that some people with ADHD use this state of panic and urgency to “propel” forward and complete the assigned job. This strategy may be the only method for some to finishing a task, whether they have ADHD or not. So is procrastination really as awful as adults make it out to be? American writer and humourist, Mark Twain, said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” Putting it off until the day after tomorrow allows

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JUST DO IT. LATER. ____________________________________________________________ by Louis Li, Grade 12 that much more time for ideas and information to formulate. When a task of upmost priority is assigned with a deadline, it makes us focus on said task only. Other thoughts become irrelevant. They do not help us escape the mental prison that we have been placed in. But the unrelated ideas are what drive innovation: creations in the face of procrastination. The pressure from a target date cannot create diamonds, but it can create other gems the likes of which haven’t been seen since Leonardo Da Vinci and Mozart. Historically renowned artist and engineer, Leonardo Da Vinci, was guilty of procrastination. Da Vinci’s most famous works, The Mona Lisa and the Virgin of the Rocks, took him sixteen and thirteen years respectively to complete (Chegg). He is the definition of not rushing perfection. It was not as if he was free from the chains of a time limit; in fact, “(o)ne benefactor threatened to bankrupt him in order to get him to finish a commissioned piece of work” (Chegg). Da Vinci was not lazy. Instead of painting, he filled his notebooks with doodles of “inventions such as the helicopter, a metal-rolling mill, and the wheel-lock musket, plus sophisticated designs for bridges, a moveable dyke for Venice, and highly accurate maps” (Stodola). If he had heeded our teacher’s warnings and fought the urge to not doodle, the innovation and genius of Da Vinci would be limited only to his paintings. The stigma that a rushed, last minute concoction cannot be a masterpiece is false. A more than sufficient product can be created. Classical composer, Mozart, wrote a first-rate overture for Don Giovanni the night before the premiere (Esposito). That feat seems reasonable for a sober mind. Except… he was not. According to Esposito, Mozart had gone out drinking with friends that night and hadn’t started composing until midnight. Sound familiar? I’d love to test Mozart’s method, but I’m underage. For those over 19, alcohol may be your potion to success. Despite having an average over ninety percent during my high school tenure, I confess to being a chronic procrastinator. Let it be specified, however, that I am the productive kind. After the first time I tried it, I became unable to work under any other conditions. The closer the deadline approaches, the more my focus sharpens. Birthing my homework and assignments closer to when the teacher wants it is no different than choosing bread that is fresh out of the oven. When I procrastinate, my thoughts and ideas flow freely and unfiltered. My room is the cleanest when deadlines loom. Even as a procrastinator, I still produce work good enough to please my teachers. Sure, some hours of sleep were bargained. But the satisfaction of completing it in that short amount of time beats the long preparations. Our teachers and parents often caution us away from this smelly, mole-like rodent. A pest digging through our time, its nose following the scent of productivity. They say we should avoid this creature and exterminate it if we can. But Leonardo Da Vinci, Mozart and I have instead taken this mole and lovingly made it our pet.

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JUST DO IT. LATER. ____________________________________________________________ by Louis Li, Grade 12 Works Cited Chegg. “Famous Procrastinators in History.” Chegg Play, www.chegg.com/play/life-hacks/productivity/famous-procrastinators-in-history/. Cherry, Kendra. “What Is Procrastination?” Verywell Mind, 30 May 2020, www.verywellmind.com/the-psychology-of-procrastination-2795944. Conradt, Stacy. “8 Things Mark Twain Didn’t Really Say.” Mental Floss, 4 Sept. 2019, www.mentalfloss.com/article/29372/10-things-mark-twain-didnt-really-say. Esposito, Eric. “Mozart’s Midnight Masterpiece: The Composition of ‘Don Giovanni’s’ Overture.” CMUSE, 27 Jan. 2015, www.cmuse.org/mozart-midnight-masterpiece-don-giovanni-overture/. Lieberman, Charlotte. “Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control).” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/ smarter-living/why-you-procrastinate-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-self-control.html. Low, Keath. “The Relationship Between ADHD and Chronic Procrastination.” Verywell Mind, 25 Aug. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/adhd-and-chronic-procrastination-20379. Stodola, Sarah. “Procrastination Through the Ages: A Brief History of Wasting Time.” Mental Floss, 11 May 2015, www.mentalfloss.com/article/63887/procrastination-through-ages-brief-history-wasting-time.

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artwork by Helen Liu, Grade 10

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FOUR BLANK WALLS ____________________________________________________________ by Shianne Liang, Grade 8 I think I just murdered my mother. They calmly carry me out against my will as if it’s their daily habit. They’ve become accustomed. I don’t put up a fight. I let them drag me out, my soul left behind in the process. I’ve lost the desire to fight back. I’m outside now, shivering relentlessly as the winter frost bites into my skin. They tell me I’m free from myself now. Lies. Liars. I couldn’t be farther from free. There will never be another day where I’m not haunted by the act I committed. I dread waking up another day to the four blank walls that surround me. I’ve been in confinement for what feels like decades, removed from society. I heard stories about being a menace to society, but I really can’t recall what I did to make them believe that. Nevertheless, it’s been ingrained in my brain permanently, and I can’t deny nor claim my past actions. I’ve forgotten them all. It’s a shame, all these blank walls, and not a single memory to paint onto them. You may think one might go crazy trapped in here. Well, you’re not wrong. Today, I hesitate to wake up. I don’t open my eyes. I want to remain a corpse, lifeless and still. Distant from the horrors of the day. Suddenly, a warm voice envelops me. “Good morning, son.” Silence follows, but I feel an itching sensation louder than a bomb. “What the hell?” I think to myself in denial. I keep my eyes closed. This can’t be true. I haven’t heard a human voice in ages. No, I have to reject this. I can’t let myself out, can’t be free. I’m a hazard to civilization. I must heed the last words I heard before I was placed in isolation. “You are dangerous. You must not exit these boundaries, for you will put the human race in jeopardy. Freedom is not a choice for you. It never will be.” Regret soaks up my body. How I long for human compassion. My body aches to run into the tender embrace of my mother. To feel the heat of her exhales as she coos me to sleep. To cry out desperately and feel the tears trace down my barren face as I do so. I peel my eyelids open. I don’t recognize this woman. This is not my mother. “Come on, son, let’s go. We’re going outside.” The desperate need to escape these white borders overwhelms me. On a whim, I rush out with this unknown woman, not considering what lies beyond. I must escape. The day is beautiful. Blue skies, with only a few clouds accompanying the sun, which is shining brightly, glistening on my face. I feel the warm gusts of air brushing through my hair. The four walls that have restrained me for years expand and flood with colour. My ears tingle, hearing the gentle chirps of birds fluttering effortlessly. I take in the newfound scenery in its entirety, running along the soft grass and breathing in the fresh air, scented of lilacs. I’m free. My soul has found its way back to me. It feels as though that missing part within me has returned. My humanity has been regifted. I forget all that’s haunted me in that box that has jailed me for years. In this state, I realize that the woman who led me out of my misery has vanished. I don’t panic. The feeling of freedom triumphs, blocking out any worry that may appear. I lie

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FOUR BLANK WALLS ____________________________________________________________ by Shianne Liang, Grade 8 down, keeping my eyes open, wishing this moment will never leave. I’m convinced that this picture will remain for as long as I live. Forever at peace. Islands away from the confinement that’s preyed upon me for the last 4,194 days. A distant yet soft voice whispers into my ear, “Freedom awaits,” and at last, fatigue takes over. I give in, slowly closing my eyes, not even trying to block them from doing so. I know my place in society, I should return. I hear a blaring voice. “Patient #42, please come get your pills.” I walk up to get the tiny capsules that treat my hallucinations and return back to the empty confinement of my four, soulless walls. Freedom is a dream that will not be achieved. ____________________________________________________________

artwork by Yolanda Jin, Grade 11

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CAPTIVITY TO FREEDOM ____________________________________________________________ by Alyssa Lucchese, Grade 11 Another day. Another dreadful one. This frigid, damp, hostile, exhausting, draining and deprecating building—yes, that’s my high school. My mistake: it’s more of a prison. Through these dull grey walls, towering and intimidating students, cafeteria food that tastes like metal grinding against the roof of my mouth, and classroom scents that compare to toxic cleaning products or death, I continue to ache. Enough with the chatter, Mia, you better rush right into school before you’re late or worse, taunted! Alright, alright, I’m going! Please, I honestly can’t handle this for another second! Oh, please! Enough with your nonsense! Woah, hold everything! You can’t step on that crack in the sidewalk. What were you thinking?! I’m here to set you straight to make sure that every —single —little —detail isn’t left uncrossed in your mind. In a split second, a harsh and heavy gust of wind knocks me in the intestines as I struggle to push open the impenetrable front doors of Crestview School. It never seems to get easier. Whether I’m writing an exam or peacefully sitting on my bed, there is this constant urge sitting and churning inside me to refine every minor detail in my life and to make sure that nothing falls through. I remember, years ago, coming home from school in a panic, fretting over whether I had insulted my teacher that day. “Ms. Carrie, why do you always sit by your desk?” I asked her. I immediately regretted my decision. I was five. From then on, my fear of upsetting others—along with plenty more inescapable terrors—developed. Mia, you must pray every night, or else you may endanger your mother! Do you want her to get struck by a truck? Oh my, Tristan in the ninth grade just threw his lunch everywhere! You have to go to the washroom to wash your hands, but make sure that you apply soap precisely four times! Oh my god, you didn’t tap each of your fingers twice. Repeat it! Repeat it in the correct order, or else you may fail your chemistry test next period! My mind feels so congested, as if my nose is constantly running. Nothing seems to make sense anymore. As I transfer from one class to the next, my heart races. More disturbing thoughts abuse me. Oh gosh, Mia, your algebra textbook isn’t in line with the others. Fix it quickly! Now shut your locker the right way. That way, your sister Melanie won’t get cancer. Damnit, you didn’t do it right! The next thing I know, I’m on my way home to make sure that twelve-year-old Melanie is all right. The anxiety eats away at me, piece by piece. I can’t bear the thought of hurting her. It is another day, and I barely make it to my fourth-period psychology class. As I stumble into the frigid, wooden seat, the word “OCD” blatantly appears on the projector up front. It mocks me. You just wait, Mia. Oh boy, has Mr. Blake got it in for you! Questions swirl through my mind… We are learning about OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD? It sounds like Greek to me. I scan through the textbook, my eyes meeting peculiar and somewhat familiar terms: repetitive, intrusive thoughts… sensations… lack of self-control… doubting oneself… self-harm… perfection…

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CAPTIVITY TO FREEDOM ____________________________________________________________ by Alyssa Lucchese, Grade 11 A light bulb flickers in my brain, then, suddenly, clicks. OCD is, in every respect, what I’ve been dealing with since I was five. The bubble I’ve confined myself to pops, releasing a crushing weight. After eleven years of psychological and emotional abuse, torment, and neglect, I’m ready to take charge and seek help. What an eye-opener it is, to realize that all along I was the obstacle preventing my own recovery. *** Five years later, studying in the Department of Psychology at McGill University, I’m striving to become a psychologist. After four years of strict Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy to treat my OCD, it finally occurred to me that my passion is precisely this: to guide unstable, vulnerable teenagers and children towards overcoming OCD, just as I once did. With hope, others can learn that sometimes doing what frightens you the most will liberate your mind in the end. OCD isn’t the enemy. Unless you choose to make it one. *This creative non-fiction piece was inspired by the true story of Julie Burnfield, from her article entitled “Living With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” in The OCD Stories, 20 Oct. 2015.

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artwork by Jason Shao, Grade 12

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REPAIR YOUR BRIDGES ____________________________________________________________ by Deanna MacAlpine, Grade 12 They say all good things must come to an end. It’s set in stone, you cannot disagree, So bridges we burn, we must try to mend. Things started off great, I met my best friend. A shiny new ring he gifted to me… They say all good things must come to an end. Throughout life, with love, we might overspend. You will lose people—they die or they flee, So bridges we burn, we must try to mend. “Don’t hurt those close to you,” I recommend. I cheated my love; love then set him free. They say all good things must come to an end. These bridges, burnt, I can no longer mend. A shiny grey gravestone waits here for me, So bridges we burn, we must try to mend. Our lives have a timer, and a dead-end, So make the most of it, love is for free. They say all good things must come to an end— So bridges we burn, we must try to mend.

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FILM ____________________________________________________________ by Ella MacAlpine, Grade 10 Alone. I stand alone in a room, a projector rolling film before me. It’s so cold in this room. All I hear is the projector mumbling as the film plays, a quiet ringing noise humming along. Where am I? What am I doing here? Who am I? Why do I feel such fear? I’m tired. I remember sleeping well, but that hasn’t prevented lethargy from swallowing me whole. My heart feels slow, no, it’s not beating at all. Everything is quiet. I am paralyzed, and I can’t break free. Where am I? What am I doing here? There’s nothing I can do. “Nobody would notice if you were to disappear.” ... What am I to say..? Everything falls into silence; A song I know well, yet it suffocates me so, wrapping and winding around my neck like thorned vines that just won’t go. It’s so cold in this room. Maybe it would be warmer if I were gone. The ringing continues. The film rolls on. A Note from the Author… My poem was written in response to Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. In Wild Geese, Oliver touches on the beauty of the world and letting your mind run free. My poem was written about detaching from reality when you let the small details of your thoughts consume you. It also talks about depression and feelings of hopelessness that some people encounter. These feelings can overwhelm you, causing you to disassociate and spiral into depression. It is a vicious cycle than can feel impossible to get out of. The feelings one experiences when this occurs is what I try to capture in the poem.

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MY ODD ISSUE WITH ENGLISH ____________________________________________________________ by Anh Huy Nguyen, Grade 12 At first glance, it is ironic to me that I was one of those people who had more trouble with English than with computer science (CSc)—the subject that many see as among the hardest subjects in the world. Upon further inspection, however, I realized that both of these subjects require a different kind of mindset, since a computer program is not like an essay. Not at all. But first, let me explain the general mindset you have to take in order to study Computer Science, from the perspective of a newbie in the field. Only then will you understand my trouble with building the Lego set that is English. Since coding can be hard to understand to people not in the field—what with its technical lingo and mathematical terms and all—here is my attempt at explaining what programming is in layman’s terms. Coding is about writing instructions to a computer, and algorithms are a set of instructions to the computer. Code can be written in different programming languages such as Python, C++, Java, etc., each of which are a unique set of tools. Because computers operate on binary operations (0s and 1s), these tools are designed to translate what you write in accordance with the language’s human-readable rules (or its syntax) into such operations so that the computer can understand. In essence, writing code is similar to teaching a toddler how to do a task, except that the toddler will interpret your figures of speech as entirely possible. In CSc (and its cousin, software engineering) one must be able to develop algorithms for many problem sets. In order to do so, one must dissect such problems into multiple pieces. Then, they have to find appropriate algorithms for each of those pieces and combine all of them together to get a theoretically functional program for that specific problem set. After that, they can revisit it to see which part should utilize a different algorithm that has a better performance in their coding language. In the event that the program is beyond salvation, they might as well recode the whole thing and put the previous mess on Reddit in “r/programminghorror” or equivalent for those sweet karma points. In the worst-case scenario, Stack Overflow (SO) is your friend—the one that would give you answers without explaining what they are; unless the challenge is an assignment in university where code plagiarism can incur severe consequences. In short, coding is all about divide-and-conquer, separating each problem into highly specific but simple and smaller ones that can be easily tackled using the base knowledge or just yer good ol’ Google and SO. So, now that you’ve heard my brief explanation of a coder’s mindset, you should also be brought up to speed with my English essay woes. You see, English essay topics, unlike programming challenges, can be interpreted in multiple different ways. This can be explained by what I call the LEGO vs Gunpla (Gundam Plastic Model—basically model kits of cool robots from the Gundam universe) analogy, with writing essays and programming being LEGO and Gunpla, respectively. (They do not require glue to assemble and are awesome to play around with, so why not?) Also, LEGO is highly versatile and Gunpla is highly specific, regarding the way to build an object. But both of them require some degree of rigidity, similar to how essay arguments and algorithms require a solid logical structure.

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MY ODD ISSUE WITH ENGLISH ____________________________________________________________ by Anh Huy Nguyen, Grade 12 Take LEGO, for example. Say you have to build a cup using LEGO pieces. The first thing you will notice is that there are multiple variants of a cup; a coffee cup, mug, or even a bucket (if you are lenient on the definition), similar to how an essay topic can be interpreted in many ways. Furthermore, a cup can be made using different piece compositions. Those compositions can either be complex combinations of various kinds of pieces—like the L-shaped plate, the regular 2x4 brick, etc.—or, you can just keep it simple with the ol’ reliable 1x1 and 2x1 plates. (These are the ones you are most likely to lose when building a LEGO set.) The finished LEGO product can have different shapes, sizes and colours, but in the end, they all fit the criteria for a cup: an open-top container used to store liquids for either storage or consumption. Likewise, the written result is an essay that is extremely unique with different styles, elements and structures. Now, as for Gunpla, the task for you is to build a Gundam Astray. It must be a Gundam from the Astray line; it cannot be the RX-78 Gundam nor the Unicorn Gundam: it must be an Astray Gundam. Likewise, there is only one interpretation of the criteria of a typical problem in programming. Even though the requirements are strict, there are multiple kinds of model kits following the same criteria: Astray Red Frame, Astray Noir, Astray Blue Frame D, etc. There are many different types to choose from that still fit the criteria for a Gundam Astray, yet there are a limited number of choices to do so. This is similar to how there are many different possible solutions to a coding problem, yet the number of such answers are rather finite, since they have to obey the strict rules of that problem. Back to the models. Although their main body parts are all extremely similar to one another, the different equipment and colours make them stand out from one another at the same time. Also, the pieces comprising those body parts are unique to the Astray line; and even then, some parts can only fit on a specific part of the robot. For instance, parts for assembling hands will not fit the leg without glue. In comparison, each solution’s characteristics can be different: one algorithm may use a different syntax or even another coding language. Like building any model kit, the steps to construct it are clear-cut: cut the pieces off the plastic grid, assemble the frame, then the armour and equipment. Similarly, coding must follow an order: the program will not work properly if the input receiver is executed after the algorithm that processes those inputs. Along the way, you can improve your model multiple ways: from simple things like strengthening the joints, to more complex stuff such as painting it or even creating new fitting pieces. Comparatively, you can make the program run faster via implementing different solutions (changing the base frame) or improving it further (customizing the kit to improve its durability and/or its looks) or even creating a specialized algorithm just for the problem. In the end, within that strict definition, your result is definitely an Astray Gundam—the one with that recognizable, eponymous frame (and possibly a ton of swords and guns put on it to satisfy your inner child). No one can argue otherwise unless they design the model themselves. In the end, you get programs with narrow criteria that solve the same problem

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MY ODD ISSUE WITH ENGLISH ____________________________________________________________ by Anh Huy Nguyen, Grade 12 with variations in areas like how fast they are executed or how much memory they consume. Upon studying my analogy, I hope that you can now understand my frustrations. There is a structure to an essay in response to a topic, so I keep wanting to apply my programming mindset. If I keep on stubbornly using that mindset in English, my brain essentially suffers from a stack overflow: thinking through all the possible aspects of an essay topic too many times so that my brain gets overwhelmed with a million different topics to write about. Take this very personal essay, for example. The topic is to write about anything that is non-fiction. There are millions of topics to choose from—such as “the Canadian experience” or “why procrastination is good for your life”—and thinking about the possible scale of EACH topic can be exhausting. That’s why, in my opinion, English is a harder language than Python—one of the most beginner-friendly programming languages—or even the dreaded Assembly–that one language that talks almost directly with the computer’s binary. Code can be concise and beautiful because its syntax depends not on grammar or expression, but on the discrete logic of the coder. Even though it can be hard to understand (especially the infamous one-liner), it is mostly due to a lack of knowledge in a language’s syntax or specific algorithms—those are discernible things to possibly rectify and improve. In contrast, in essay writing, there are possibly countless numbers of ways to express arguments that fit the given topic, not to mention all the debugging that comes when dealing with concepts such as abstract “flow” or the rationality of the non-binary nature of arguments (nuance is king in English). But at least it is not all futile, since the mindset of programming, like programming itself, is modular; it is possible to pick and choose what aspects of that mindset are applicable to English to build an essay.

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GOLDEN GATE SUMMER ____________________________________________________________ by Omar Ozturk, Grade 12 Exams are done, we’re set free today We can go to the beach, swim in the brine Why stay inside? Consult the San Fran Bay On the way there, we’ll listen to Kanye Good morning, Golden Gate City sign Exams are done, we’re set free today Lombard produces incense blessed from Frey, The street flows down like the river of Rhein Why stay inside? Consult the San Fran Bay We’ll walk the sideroads till we find our way We’ll taste and cringe to Dionysus’ wine Exams are done, we’re set free today We’ll lay on Baker Beach and speak hearsay. We’ll giggle, gazing at the stars inline Why stay inside? Consult the San Fran Bay The oxytocin stings, we hug all day Disparate colleges... We will be fine Exams are done, we’re set free today Why stay inside? Consult the San Fran Bay

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DEATH BY BLUE SILK ____________________________________________________________ by Cora Pataran, Grade 9

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Fair lady of blue silk With skin of milk, Speak with words so brash. ‘Round my neck rests your blood-red sash. Such beauty I admire ‘Tis that I desire.

Fair lady of blue silk With skin of milk, I look up at you from the Earth And ask of you to step forth, So I may touch your heavenly face And feel your collar lace.

Fair lady of blue silk With skin of milk, Dark hair of night. You lead me from light. Your eyes are wild; Yet, your love is mild.

Fair lady of blue silk With skin of milk, Your nails trace my skin As you whisper stories to our kin. As I lay on the ground and bled, You took me to wed.

Fair lady of blue silk With skin of milk, Such authority over my heart— I feel sadness when we part. How I long to feel your lips Underneath my unworthy fingertips.

Fair lady of blue silk With skin of milk— Your kiss, like poison, So quick to imprison— Wrapped ‘round dainty fingers Where I shall forever linger.


W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G P O E T R Y C O N T E S T, G R A D E 1 0

THE BIRD’S EYE VIEW ____________________________________________________________ by Aaliyah Salyani, Grade 10 Gliding lightly through miraculous skies Gliding peacefully, as if no one can hear the cries. You charm me in, when bragging about my beauty, Gliding, I rip my wings open, so you see the true me. Listening to you talk in circles all day, squawking doesn’t have much say, Always judged by the eyes of the world, Always making sure he’s kept the way we found, Setting fires to keep the human existence alive. Meanwhile, the luscious green trees and unbounded stretch of the prairies slowly die, Don’t you see the pain you are causing him? Tear and repair may not always be the resolution. Like a broken heart, the past is never forgotten. One views a crystal-blue sky— Meanwhile, I lost direction, by the fumes in one’s eye. We see the actions from a thousand miles below us, Yet he sees it a thousand times a day. Going home, going afar, One should never feel this world’s pain. Lonely, crumbling down—do not feel damaged; Cry to him while you feel a connection, as you both feel vain.

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A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR WITH A HINT OF SPICE ____________________________________________________________ by Grace Still, Grade 12 I’d just turned thirteen and for what I lacked in mannerisms, I made up for in misbehaviour. Each Sunday, my parents would send me to Grandma’s house for a visit. They’d leave me there at 10:00 and pick me up at 4:00, hoping, somehow, I’d gain even a teaspoon of her wisdom. It was a grey Sunday, reflecting my happiness of having to get out of bed before 11:00 and ditch my clique for someone six times my age. The car ride there was filled with silence. This was supposedly due to my “attitude” reflected in my clothing choices. Somehow, in my parents’ minds, the invention of Doc Martens and dark clothes catalyzed teenage rebellion and angst: the ultimate upgrade to an outcast’s outward appearance. When I wasn’t at Grandma’s I was a reckless rebel, attempting to gain an ounce of attention from anyone or anything. Looking back, I never had any true friends. I had a clique who also dyed their hair unnatural colours, wore dark clothing and had perfectly worn-in platform shoes. My new Doc Martens were, like me, outsiders in the rebel realm. I wore those boots every day, yet I could get never wear them in. And for good reason. I’d been ditching classes, sneaking out of the house, and began talking back to my teachers. A’s went to B’s and B’s to C’s, then letters home. After months of moulding myself into an off-brand “cool-girl,” I was asked to do something that pushed my moral compass. “Go rob the register at Kenny’s Convenience,” the leader of my clique demanded. “I bet you won’t do it,” shouted another. “She’s too scared about what Mommy and Daddy are gonna do!” Each comment flooded my outcast fears, pushing me further from the shore of innocence. I was drowning, suffocating from solitude. I knew that I, like those boots, would never wear in. Every day, I was shedding my skin as I crammed my feet into those leather layers of lost identity. I finally felt exposed, empty and unvalidated—there was nothing left to conceal. I ran home, rushing through the door, tearing off those pretentious platform boots, my feet never feeling so free. Painfully, I still squeezed into those boots for days afterwards, petrified of portraying myself without them. Ultimately, it took a surplus of Sundays at Grandma’s—and many, many band-aids and bruises on my heels—to accept my authenticity. Weeks later, it was my first of many Sunday visits to Grandma’s. It felt like an eternity before we turned onto Rose Street, a glimpse into a cinematic masterpiece in old-school Hollywood. Polished, put-together, white-picket fence houses. Flowers blooming. Plastic green grass cut and watered twenty hours a day. Even if it was a gloomy, upstate New York kind of day, the thought of “if only my life was this picture-perfect” crossed my mind each time I drove by. Mom turned around in the car. “Now, Rosalie, be good to Grandma today, she’s looking forward to seeing you,” she said, wide-eyed. It was the first and last thing she said to me since leaving home. I got out, rolled my eyes and responded with my most common reply: The “I-hate-you” look. Honestly, my thirteen-year-old self was a rule-bending rebel. I emphasize rule-bending rather than breaking. I only tip-toed around the rules when I slipped on those

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A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR WITH A HINT OF SPICE ____________________________________________________________ by Grace Still, Grade 12 Docs, doubling as my deviant disguise. Grandma’s front door was twice my height, a dark chestnut brown, with gold-plated door handles and details. I rang the doorbell and her white Yorkie, Callie, barked straight away. “I’m coming, I’m coming, Rosie!” shouted Grandma. No matter how much anger I threw at my parents, the sound of Grandma’s voice always painted a smile on my face. She unlocked the door, extending her embrace as the smell of vanilla, spices and her strong Chanel perfume greeted me. Grandma lived alone, so her house was pretty classy. There was never any dirt, clutter or chaos. More often than not, something was baking in the oven. On my birthday, she made me a vanilla birthday cake. Christmas, peppermint brownies. Thanksgiving, the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever tasted. And that day’s special: chocolate chip cookies with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Truly, at the age of thirteen, Grandma was the only person who understood me. It’s almost as if she knew. She knew that my disguise of backtalk and black clothing was just a cover-up for my true self. Grandma’s two most notable traits was her ability to empathize without explanation and, of course, her capabilities in the kitchen. I would come here and Grandma would just get me. She knew that I hated who I was trying to be. That day, she began to remind me that “life experiences make up our existence,” while pouring some flour into a red ceramic bowl. I sat on the pink corduroy couch and listened while she added in a teaspoon of baking powder, which, like flour, is needed for the cookie to expand. “A negative encounter often creates a positive outcome,” Grandma explained. I thought she was referring to the acidic reaction in baking powder. Only now do I recognize that my newfound reputation as a rebel reject was the reasoning for who I later became. Next, her favourite part of the recipe was the sugar. “Sweetness is vital, but make sure you enjoy it in moderation, or you’ll never appreciate the rest of the cookie,” she said. I smiled, wondering why my life couldn’t be filled with more sweetness? “A little goes a long way,” Grandma replied, sensing my question. “If you eat too much, it may have negative side effects, but enjoy it while you can.” I sat quietly, watching her combine everything together, knowing that each ingredient was, in fact, a recipe for the perfect cookie. For the perfect life. Of course, we never forgot about the chocolate chips. They were the perfect addition, but Grandma always ensured quality over quantity. “Pick your chocolate of choice, and don’t add too many! Otherwise, the dough may fall apart,” she’d say. I wish I would’ve been more choosy with my chocolate when I was younger. If I were to bake a batch of cookies when I was thirteen, they would’ve crumbled apart. Finally, you’d be surprised what a little bit of spice can add to your cookie. “Sprinkle the desired amount on top. Trust me, it makes the cookie all the more original,” she exclaimed. Truly, adding spice was unique. It added something that no other cookies had. That’s what

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A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR WITH A HINT OF SPICE ____________________________________________________________ by Grace Still, Grade 12 made them daringly distinct. Coming here on that Sunday—and for each Sunday after—was an escape. The clash between my wild child cover-up and her gold-plated life of glamour made our visits all the more captivating. All it took were several visits before I finally began to admire Grandma’s stories and cinnamon-sprinkled cookies. She saw me for more than the girl with pink hair and dark clothes. Rather, she saw me for who I am today: the blonde bookworm, fueled with a passion to follow those recipes she taught me. Those cookies were delicious, but they also provided me with the fundamentals I’d need to become my true self. This recipe, in particular, was one of her best. I still keep the aging sticky note stained with ink pinned on my fridge. As the years passed I enjoyed the cookie recipe more and more. It’s the one I most often share with my kids, guests and neighbours. Some days, when I’m feeling particularly down, I pull out that crumpled piece of comfort, and it takes me back to Sundays at Grandma’s. Possibly it was her wisdom that challenged me to change, or maybe it was those cookies that kept me coming back for more. Of course, I didn’t turn out perfect. But with time, age and experience, my hair turned back to blonde as Grandma’s became a smokey silver. I began wearing all shades of the rainbow. And I ditched the Docs for shoes that wouldn’t make my feet blister.

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THE FORTRESS ____________________________________________________________ by Shyam Subramanyam, Grade 10 This existence, This sentience, Takes on only once, not twice. Take care of being human, This being human is a fortress. A depression, a jealousy, a sadness, May attempt to penetrate your veil of security. Creeping and crawling in the corners and crevices. Like virus and disease, these guests take into your home Like factories burning trash, these guests pollute this being human. Shun and ignore them all! Fear the murder of sorrows, For they wreak havoc in the sanity of your home. Treat their existence with dread. For if you do not barricade thy doors, ‘twill be you who is dead. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, Congregate at the footsteps of your door, They laugh like amused children. Do not invite them in! Like a tornado flying through your home, they will uproot your security. Furniture coated in plastic and dust, bolted to the floor. Windows barred and locked is the door. A life untouched, left alone for millennia. A life in isolation—a mariner lost alone on sea— Lacking a guide from beyond.

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I AM (WHAT I EAT) ____________________________________________________________ by Thera Sze, Grade 12 Since the beginning of my dull holiday in March (thanks to COVID-19), I spent nearly twelve hours every day double tapping my screen or scrolling past boring videos. What shows up the most on my feed is fitness and food. Sounds like a contradiction, right? I watched food bloggers trying these chewy, fudgy, gooey, double-chocolate cookies—they’re the best— topped with extra chocolate chips and a pinch of kosher salt. I wondered how to master these fluffy, jiggly, captivating soufflé pancakes—super Instagram-able—with a drizzle of maple syrup and a swirl of whipped cream. Oishii! But (there’s always a but), at the same time, multiple fitness influencers like Chloe Ting, Lilly Sabri and Pamela Reif passionately welcomed me to join their fitness community. Their torturous workout videos remarkably transform girls and empower them with self-confidence and self-admiration. Pictures of 11-line abs, tiny waists, lean arms and slim thighs popped up on my page like popcorn in a microwave. It was at that moment that all these conflicting thoughts incongruously mingled at once, like adding soy sauce to ice cream: I want Timbits. But I want to be skinny. I want to eat cheese pizza. But it has 300 calories. I want to drink boba milk tea. But water’s the better option. I’m hungry. But I don’t want to gain weight. Food or body? I chose the latter, and I regretted it. I’m obsessed with food. I’m sure you are, too. Everybody is. Our bodies need it. Eating is part of our daily routine. It’s scientifically proven that food is essential for our physical health. But how does food truly impact us mentally? According to multiple calorie calculators on the internet, I should only be eating 1,000 calories per day in order to lose 1kg per week. This may sound like a lot, but it’s not. Reading nutritional fact labels became part of my daily routine. Whenever I grabbed a snack, a pack of noodles, or even an apple, I looked at the back of the package before opening them. Amount per serving… calories… 200 calories? Nope! I couldn’t eat that. I’d gain weight. I’d be fat. I’d feel sorry. I put all the food back in the pantry and just took a cucumber back to my room. Was I full? Certainly not. Was I happy? Maybe… for my determination of skipping a meal or eating less than usual. I was oddly proud of my diet that I wanted to continue. My future seemed bright and beautiful when I foresaw the numbers going down on the scale. But things started to change after three days. Every day I had the same meal: boiled chicken breast, plain salad with no dressing, and a glass of lemon water. Tedious. Sometimes I’d sneak a treat for myself: a teeny, tiny bite of a donut or a 1x1cm square of chocolate. I had no energy to work nor focus on study, let alone exercise. All I could think about was food. Adelle Davis, an American author and nutritionist, suggested the following in her book Let’s

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I AM (WHAT I EAT) ____________________________________________________________ by Thera Sze, Grade 12 Eat Right to Keep Fit: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” So I chose to skip dinner and starved myself at night to save calories. Without food, I felt weak and fatigued. I could only lay on my bed. What did I do? I watched ASMR eating videos. Why? Because my body craved it. The more I restricted myself, the more I thought about food. Psychologist Carl Jung long ago proposed his idea that “what you persist resists” to explain the relationship between resistance and resolution. According to the law of attraction, humans subconsciously undermine our goodness by concentrating on things or experiences we don’t like (Bcstarks). Since I unduly focused on the limitations of meals, I was more attracted to mouth-watering food shows. As a result, even though I was consciously aware of my hunger, it didn’t stop me from envying YouTubers biting into crispycrunchy caramelized Dakgangjeong (Korean Fried Chicken) or imagining myself slurping on creamy, cheesy chicken carbonara. My stomach was growling and snarling like a lion declaring its territory. I, however, chose to ignore it. This decision ultimately ended with depression and insomnia. According to research by Polaris Teen Center in 2018, 4% of adolescents aged 13 to 18 suffer from various eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating. Not only do these teens develop a distorted body image, but they also experience body shaming and intense stigma. Furthermore, the same study shows that half of the victims underwent depression. An unhealthy eating diet can cause unstable physiological changes that affect emotional regulation and mood. Your personality is unique, so is your body. Some have faster metabolisms, some have stronger muscles and some have smaller appetites. Nobody else can tell you your state of hunger or fullness. You are the only one who understands and has full control over your body. So listen to your body and let it guide you. Stephanie Dodier, a clinical nutritionist who hosts the podcast Beyond the Food Show explains how the diet culture negatively impacts our relationships with food. “When you were a baby, you’d cry when you were hungry, and you’d be fed,” Dodier explains. “You knew when you needed to eat.” Eating intuitively is innate in all human beings. Food shouldn’t make you feel guilty, weight shouldn’t define your self-worth, and your body shouldn’t change who you are. So why can’t we do the same thing we did as kids when we grow up? Because we choose to listen to other voices rather than our own. Fashion industries consistently prefer thinner models in their advertisements as many designers think clothes look better on them. A flawless illustration is the “one size fits all” approach from Brandy Melville, which mostly sells female size 0 or 2 clothing that doesn’t commit to size diversity. Additionally, some fitness companies wrongly advocate the purpose of exercise. Instead of highlighting the health benefits of physical activity, they portray thin beauty standards. These forms of media improperly justify the “ideal” body image, establishing a false definition of beauty. Thus, diet culture has risen in popularity in recent years. I, myself, dieted because I wanted to be one of those “Brandy girls.”

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I AM (WHAT I EAT) ____________________________________________________________ by Thera Sze, Grade 12 Fifteen chips have 100 calories, a Boston Cream donut has 210 calories, and even healthy-sounding foods like avocados have 250 calories each. In order to keep track of my 1,000-calories diet, I mastered calories estimation. I didn’t have to read the labels nor search them up online anymore, but this skill took away my joy. For every single bite, a “friendly notification” would show up in my mind, and remind me: “700 calories remaining.” Anxiety, stress and self-criticism all flooded in at once, as if eating more would cause complete life failure. I didn’t want to cope with that pressure anymore. Luckily, I’ve recently been introduced to intuitive eating. Two dietitians, Evelyn Tribolle and Elyse Resch, created a self-care eating framework that integrates instinct, emotion and rational thought. I’m learning to honour my hunger and accept the biological and psychological need for food. Another intuitive eating counselor, Michelle Cordeiro, also inspired me to “recognize the voices” of food cravings and “let these thoughts go” before they become uncontrollable. I’ve started to give myself permission to eat and enjoy the “cheat” foods. Instead of starving and tormenting myself with eating vlogs, I genuinely listen to my body’s cues and feed it with the right nutrition. Most importantly, I understand the importance of selflove and try to fill myself with joy and enjoyment. I feel stronger, healthier and happier, both physically and mentally. I feel like myself. Are you ready to embark on this journey with me? Don’t let the apparel and fitness industry disconnect you from your appetite signals. Start to appreciate what your body can do, not the things it cannot do. Let it guide you to both fullness and happiness. Next time, when you’re hungry, grab a snack and a smoothie. If you’re full, put down your fork and take a walk. If you feel like having a cheat day, go for it. And enjoy the food. You deserve to eat a cookie. Or a cake. Or even a cookie-dough cake.

Works Cited Bcstarks. “What You Resist, Persists.” Medium, Thrive Global, 2 May 2017, medium.com/thrive-global/ what-you-resist-persists-7bf808f5672c. Centerpolaristeen.com/articles/author/aribrown/, Polaris Teen. “Teen Eating Disorders: Statistics and How to Help - Polaris Teen Center.” Polaris Teen Center: Premier Adolescent Treatment Center in Los Angeles, 28 Mar. 2019, polaristeen.com/articles/10-statistics-of-teenage-eating-disorders/. Cordeiro, Michelle. “Eating Empowered.” Eating Empowered: Three Steps To Take Today, file:///C:/Users/ tsze21/Downloads/Eating%20Empowered_%20Three%20Steps%20To%20Take%20Today%20(2).pdf. Davis, Adelle. Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit: Adelle Davis. New American Library, 1970. Dodier , Stephanie. “Intuitive Eating: 8 Evidence-Based Health Benefits.” Stephanie Dodier | Intuitive Eating Expert, 8 Mar. 2020, www.stephaniedodier.com/intuitive-eating-benefits/. Tribole, Evelyn. “Definition of Intuitive Eating.” Intuitive Eating, 17 July 2019, www.intuitiveeating.org/ definition-of-intuitive-eating/.

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MIRROR ____________________________________________________________ by Isabella Tan, Grade 11 My finger follows along the gap between my ribs. “One, two, three…” My finger stops. The end of my rib cage disappears under my skin. My smile is overtaken by fear: I ate too much at lunch. I rush to the washroom, kneel down by the toilet, and stuff my hand into my throat like I’ve done hundreds of times before. Nothing comes out. My hand digs deeper. I can taste blood in my throat—I have to cut my nails, I think. The vomit comes like a storm. After a storm, things become brighter and lighter. I look down in the water, but only see some minced apple. I caress my flat stomach. I feel perfect. It doesn’t feel good when the gastric acid sticks to my throat. I stand up, coughing severely. As I turn around, I see her standing still, right in front of me. The washroom is narrow and damp. A small dome light fills the whole room. It casts a shadow under her sunken eye sockets. She gazes upon me, so I stare back. She seems familiar. But if I’ve ever met such a walking skeleton before, I would recognize her. She is as thin as a lath, a bag of bones. Her rib cage protrudes from under her skin. She is pale, as if she hasn’t been exposed to the sun for a long time. If she dares walk outside, she might be arrested by mistake—she looks like a perennial drug addict, or worse. She leans forward, staring at me. She gives me an exhausted smile, showing teeth that have turned yellow due to gastric acid corrosion. She is gasping badly, as if escaping from a monster. Her eyes are red, her tears hanging from her lashes. “You did a great job, kid.” Her eyes trace mine. Closer and closer, her hand reaches out to my face. Then, my fingertip touches the mirror. My pupil shakes. Before I realize what’s going on, I punched the mirror. It shatters. Every piece of glass reflects. One piece of me roars, one piece of me shakes, one piece of me laughs. “Stop, stop!” I cry. I break a piece of mirror apart, but the laughing doesn’t stop. I look down at the two pieces of glass in my hand. The sharp edge of the glass cuts through my finger. On one piece of mirror, the blood drops on my unwinking eye, trickling down my cheek. On the larger piece, I see myself counting my ribs. “One, two, three…”

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PROTECTION FROM THE HANDS OF TIME ____________________________________________________________ by Sophie Trussell, Grade 9 The final product results in A magnificent art piece: Wood moulded into seamless drawers, A glossy topcoat, Lathered overtop the red oak that lays beneath, Submerging into the precise Grooves and channels— Creating an elegant pattern That patrols the perimeter. The measurements, Meticulously finalized, Produce a composition Lasting decades to come. Art from the past Obliterates into thin air, Depriving a life they once possessed. No traces adhere Without the cultivating glue of preservation. Tick. Tick. Tick. The clock speaks in class. New, now old. Blackboards, now smart. Pencils, now markers. Notebooks, now laptops.

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Time gallops by With no intention of halting. The past collapses with every tick. The feeling of isolation While being circled by peers, Asking themselves constantly, “Why don’t I belong?” The world advances At a rapid pace, At an uncontrollable rate, Leaving one behind: The person at the desk. This desk, which was crafted With such preservation in mind, Shielding the child From grasping hands of time.


THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

HEY, LITTLE MAN ____________________________________________________________ by Tessa Veerbeek, Grade 11 Imagine finding it at the bus stop. Who would’ve thought there, of all places, she would find the light of her life? An infinite veil of pale blue shone overhead, keeping watch over the planet. Periodically, white orbs could be seen floating in the atmosphere. The air smelled of pollen and wet grass. It smelled like spring. Trees covered with small buds of green that will grow to create a green canopy of leaves could be seen all around. The intense sun gleamed down on the bus shelter where a tall girl, no older than sixteen, stood. Strawberry blonde hair fell softly on her shoulders, small knots forming in her wavy hair throughout the day. Freckled skin, illuminated by the artificial lighting of her phone, held reminders of her daring adventures. Honey eyes darted across the screen, skimming the options before them, attempting to find the perfect song. After a lot of scrolling, she finally found what she had been looking for, even though she had had no idea what this something was when she started her search. A thumb, adorned with a golden band, tapped the play button and the music started. The music boomed loudly through her headphones. She realized she should probably decrease the volume, but hey, what’s life if you don’t take risks? Her hair danced across her features as she swayed to the rhythm of the melody. Not paying attention to her surroundings, she didn’t notice the liquid chocolate pools staring at her in desperation. The silver ball of fluff had finally amassed the courage to make its way toward the young woman. Clumsily, the animal closed the distance between the two, one small step at a time. The girl had not yet noticed the approaching entity looking up at her, too focused on the music bellowing in her ears like turbojet engines. Her eyes continued to lay upon the screen, lazily scanning her Twitter feed as she eagerly waited for her bus. The blonde girl wanted to return home, where she could cocoon in as many blankets and throw pillows as possible. As she mindlessly surfed the Internet, she finally noticed something moving out of her peripheral vision. Turning her head so she could identify what was making its way into her personal bubble, her eyes were met with the sight of a small animal, an adorable grey puppy. Her honey eyes met its chocolate ones, and she fell in love. Ever since she was a child, she had loved all animals. Even to this day, she prefers the company of animals to that of people. Her eyes quickly focused on the small ball of fur, analyzing it. She noticed its fur was dirty and matted. The puppy resembled a skeleton; it was so thin, it seems like the critter hadn’t eaten in days. But what had saddened her most was the puppy’s eyes. They held an indescribable sadness. She felt a dull ache in her chest when gazing down at the puppy. Ever so slowly, so as not to frighten it, she slipped her phone into her pocket and crouched down. She held out her hand for the dog to sniff, showing that she meant no harm. Cautiously, the sad-eyed animal

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HEY, LITTLE MAN ____________________________________________________________ by Tessa Veerbeek, Grade 11 approached her outstretched hand and brought its nose down to her fingers. Realizing she had no malicious intent, the dog gently and lovingly nudged its snout against her knuckles. With the softest voice she could muster, the teen attempted to comfort the dog. “Hey little…” she whispered, realizing that she did not know the sex of the animal. Delicately, she placed the smooth hands under the front limbs and slowly lifted the puppy off the ground. “S’up, little man, what are you doing out here all alone?” she questioned, as if she didn’t already know that the pup had been abandoned. The little pup let out a high-pitched whine as if trying to speak. The girl brought the puppy closer to her chest, cuddling him like a baby. “How would you like to come home with me?” she cooed. She didn’t care if her mother complained about the stray living in their home. She couldn’t bring herself to leave her new-found love on the streets. She decided she would keep him. Give him a warm, loving home that they both deserved. ____________________________________________________________

artwork by Kevin Yu, Grade 11

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UNSTEADIEST1 ____________________________________________________________ by Jake Wu, Grade 11 Eons ago, over a land far away, The kingdom Emacira2 held the sway. The mightiest army in the world it owned Countless money to the allies it loaned.

New laws were issued, old ones were changed, Solely to make him no longer be hedged. Finance and education… he cared none. Yet is more powerful than anyone.

A realm of opulence but not tranquil— The revolutions were continual. At last, the monarchy was overthrown. People purged each single heir to the throne.

Then, he tore up each single agreement. Declared war to the countries in the east. Clearly, he had fallen into madness. Hence, he brought an end to the alliance.

Then, the new republic was formed ere long, Tyranny and oppression were all gone. Senate and magistrates shared the power. Elections were held to pick the leader.

But these misfortunes never come alone, A great plague befell this gloomy zone. Thousands were killed by a disease unknown. Throughout the country were the sounds of moans.

An eminent merchant called Daltum Prond3— Who was well known for the fortune he owned— With fame and wealth, he started a campaign. Ambition told him it’s time for his reign. He gave speeches to the old and the young. Made empty promises with his forked tongue. Through his presentations most euphemistic, People saw a future for the republic. Some were drawn by his “great charisma.” Others thought his fame an enigma. Lastly, he was elected to power. Thus starting a horrifying nightmare. Business and trading were what he should do, Meddled in politics that he’s doomed to rue. The knowledge of governing… he knew none. Yet is more confident than anyone.

People were all gathered near the palace. Protesting Daltum with renewed malice. The pestilence and riots, he solved none, Yet is much healthier than anyone. The restless revolt forced him to resign. His one-year-rule reached the end of the line. Soon he was banished from Emacira Which concluded that harrowing era. The once-richest man couldn’t tame this frontier. Forsooth, so much can happen in a year. Truth becomes stories when stories are true; Fiction, perchance, is the truth we pursue. _____________________________ 1. Unsteadiest – anagram (United States) 2. Emacira – anagram 3. Daltum Prond – anagram

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PUNISHMENT WITH NO END ____________________________________________________________ by Emily Zalewski, Grade 8 “Everything you do will be seen. Everything you say will be heard.” The words ran through her head. Although only attending the Education Centre for six months, the daily, cold, monotone voice over the intercom was engraved in her memory. “You must be prompt, and we expect full focus on education. Proper uniform is mandatory. We will run a further uniform check at 12:00. Read the Education Centre’s book of regulations.” Of course Nora read the book. Well, it was read to her. She never learned to read. Every child had to know the rules. Every child had to be “formed into a proper adolescent” with formal manners and etiquette, and attend an Education Centre. Breaking a rule meant punishment. Nora had broken rules before, but they were always small. Silly regulations such as not wearing her hair in the correct two braids. The smaller the rule broken, the smaller the field, and the easier the task of finding the pin on the blade of grass. This time, it was different. The field was 8,016,000 square feet large, 167 times the size of a football field. Nora had broken the most valued rule. “Do not defy the Government.” Any act of defiance or disobedience of the Government would result in prodigious punishment. Only when you place the lost pin into a rectangular compartment on the right side of the locked door is your punishment complete. Nora had been alone for over two years. Her only contact were the meals served to her three times daily. No one to talk to, nor to learn from. She was behind her whole class at the Education Centre, who’d be starting the third grade. If Nora ever completed her punishment, she’d have to start from the beginning. All of this torture, and Nora sat wondering what she’d done to deserve this. After the first year of attempting to complete her punishment, she’d given up hope of ever escaping. Now, every day, she would scream out for help. “Please let me out! THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!” The memory of her last day with civilization was starting to fade. One second, she was talking to her friends, and the next, she was being dragged by guards into the largest field she’d ever seen. “I’m sorry,” she would say in between sobs, in an attempt to breathe through the tears running down her face. “I don’t even know what a hoax is. I’m sorry for calling you a hoax. That’s what my dad said. Please let me out.” That night, she cried herself to sleep, and in the morning, found catharsis in sprinting full speed at the forcefield around the grass, hoping her rawboned body would break it. She tried at this for an hour. Once again, Nora started to run, but came to a halt dashing towards the ground, overgrown grass breaking her fall. At first, there was a scream of pain, followed by tears of joy after Nora realized she found the pin. It created a small wound in the sole of her right foot. With no moment to waste, Nora ran towards the door. It was only a mile away, but it took her what felt like an eternity with the burden of her leg slowly bleeding out. It throbbed with pain

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W I N N E R O F T H E J O S H U A W E I N Z W E I G S H O R T S T O R Y C O N T E S T, M I D D L E S C H O O L

PUNISHMENT WITH NO END ____________________________________________________________ by Emily Zalewski, Grade 8 and stung as she took each stride. But she could finally leave. Her excitement took over and the tears in her eyes fogged her vision as she scrambled to the door to place the bloody pin in the compartment. The lock to the door clicked open, and she fell to the ground. She lay there, uncaring, as they restrained her. The guards injected something into her arm, and she was knocked unconscious. Nora was finally free. The following day, Nora was put directly in her old Education Centre again in the 1st grade. She sat taller than all the other kids and felt out of place. For years, she hoped to escape the field of endless grass. Now, she missed the silence, the freedom. For all those years, Nora thought she would find happiness in her old routine, but one day at the Education Centre changed her viewpoint. Nora hated the same schedule every day. She hated this world she wished so much to rejoin. Nora realized she was in an even bigger bubble than she was trapped in before, and this time, there was no way out. ____________________________________________________________

artwork by Alisa Wang, Grade 9

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 10

THE DAY WE VISITED FATHER ____________________________________________________________ by Victoria Zalewski, Grade 10 “Think it’ll rain today?” Liam shuffles the dirt as he walks. I doubt he’s particularly interested in the state of the weather, but I think on my answer. It’s funny. I’d wondered the same thing this morning. My red sweater was suitable for everyday late winter but would do nothing to shield me from pelting raindrops. Then again, if I picked my green rain jacket and it didn’t rain, I’d be left with a flattened sense of self-esteem and sweaty underarms. It was a complicated situation. Pressured by Mama’s impatience, I’d chosen the red sweater, though I still didn’t know if I’d made the right decision. So far I am doubtful—the sky not having darkened for the theatrics, and the air smelling thick, earthy. “I dunno,” I say, and Liam’s shuffling takes up our quiet. We’re stalling behind Mama, which I’m glad for. She would have a fit if she saw the dust covering Liam’s sneakers—barely a week old! It’s strange, she hasn’t scolded us for dawdling, and strange for us to be so slow. Perhaps it’s the accumulating smell of ozone clouding our minds. Perhaps it’s because we’re visiting Father. Until I find whether I’ve made the correct wardrobe decision, both are equal competitors in the running. This dirt path behind the house runs long, long, long. It seems to run even longer today, if that’s possible. Last time we’d gone to visit Father, the corn stalks grew to the left of the path—tall, swaying, packed in tight. I’d trailed my hand along their lined leaves, growing generously in return for my murmurs of encouragement. Now the ground is barren, still halffrozen with the memory of last winter. It’s fun to hop on the spots of ice. They crack sharp, spider webs running through the frozen water and wetting the bottoms of my dress shoes. I take the opportunity now to do so, but Liam doesn’t. I offered to drag the wagon behind us, me being stronger and older and all. But he’d taken offense to this. Oh well. I’d rather have my hands free anyway. When we visit Father, the ants are especially restless. They’ve lived inside my chest for some time now, and when they wake, they crawl over my insides, hugging my lungs until I can’t breathe. I pull my hair band around my fingers tight, tight, tight. I learned that if I distract the hurt to other places, it stills their marching. My toes bump into Mama’s heels, and I turn my face down to dodge her scowl. We’ve stopped near a brown patch of field, much the same as every other brown patch of field, and Mama bends over, searching. For one. For two. For three. She looks up and gives a curt nod. “Will it be long?” The words slip out. Mama says nothing. Her back stays turned to me, her shoulders broad and broader—with every gust of wind she manages to puff up even more. She waits, a scouting bird, as I help Liam take the cloth bundle out of the wagon and lay it upon the half-frozen ground. Our trowel is first to be unravelled. Then the baby wipes, the clothespins, and the small container. Our simple toolkit. Our unsuspecting toolkit. “We are testing the soil!” we’ll say to passersby, with our dirt-covered hands and our sweat-covered foreheads, “Harvest wasn’t what we hoped for last fall.” The whole walk here, my shoes have touched the ground heel first. Heel-toe. Heel-

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WINNER OF THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG LITERARY MERIT AWARD, GRADE 10

THE DAY WE VISITED FATHER ____________________________________________________________ by Victoria Zalewski, Grade 10 toe. Heel-toe. As I sit, I’m deliberate not to let a speck of dirt ruin their shine. This very quality was why I’d noticed them two days ago. They were on display in the nice section of the store, away from where Mama was searching through the clearance bins. The afternoon sunshine bounced off them like diamonds. Of course, I was dying to have them! It didn’t even take much to convince Mama. I think she feels bad for the ants, for the nightmares Father visits me in and how he twists up my memories. She told Mr. Anderson to put the shoes on our tab and I’d walked all the way home in my flats. Heel-toe. Heel-toe. Heel-toe. “Liam, go sit with your sister.” “But Mama, can’t I help? Please!” I hear a pause, silent save for the wind, before the trowel clatters soft onto the dirt. Liam slumps beside me. He’s pouting. What a baby. I hand him a clothespin, which he clamps onto his nose. We probably don’t need them. When we buried Father, nothing could block out the smell. His rotten scent seeped into our clothes until Mama gave in and burned them. After a half year, the smell must have escaped somewhere deep in the earth, deep as the roots of the corn stalks. But we clamp our noses anyway. My ears are straining so hard that when Mama starts digging, I jump fifty feet in the air. Shcchh. Whispers the dirt as it is pushed out of the way. Shcchh. I try to be a good look-out, fixing my eyes on the stretch of road across from the corn field until it tangles with the horizon. But my mind drifts off without permission, and I see Father’s watch deep down in the dirt. Shcchh. I imagine his unmoving face, pale skin, still fists. The golden watch waits for us, expensive and encrusted in soil. We need the money, Mama had explained. But the ants say we’re stealing. I twist the band tight, tight, tight. Slam. In the distance a car door shuts behind a man in an officer’s uniform. I just make out his face, his furrowed brow, tight lips, before he starts approaching. The hair band breaks against my skin.

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

OPPORTUNITIES GIVEN ____________________________________________________________ by Beverly Zeng, Grade 12 Everyday we are given, Given something that is everything: Given chances, given opportunities. Is it easy to take when so much is given? Will you grasp at the infinite, fine, frail sand, Next to the vast sea with the fresh salty breeze, Spreading further out than eyes could possibly see? Could you mould that frail sand into strong glass? Or will you let the sand slip through your hands, Scattering away like ants without purpose? Will you take what is given? Flash a bright smile. Go ahead. Take. Can you handle the weight of what’s given? What to do now? What to do with what’s given? Will it always be a given That these givens are positive? You might even be given a punishment Given to teach a lesson. Will you find yourself giving into pressure That crushes fresh silt into quicksand? No longer among the free grains of sand at the open seashore, But trapped in the paralyzing jungle Where you’re no longer sun-kissed, but scorched In the restrained wilderness of life. Will you lose your support and give in to the weight? Will you escape? Or will you be left to submerge? Grasp at them, your givens, feel their worth and use them well. As you build up, the opportunities will feel lighter. Will you use this high-pressure to form tough glass, As you learn to use what’s given? Give it a look, as you have given your best, In your turn, could will be your given?

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THE JOSHUA WEINZWEIG REVIEW OF WRITING 2020-2021

INTRODUCTION TO IMMORALITY ____________________________________________________________ by Monica Zhu, Grade 12 Here, wing flaps are idle, nectar is plentiful, the aura stretches and straightens. Her neck twists by sudden infatuation, the curved tendons straining against their bindings. The chin tilts upwards, towards the rose with the heaviest blush. Eyes crinkled in cordiality, she gazes but does not see. Fingertips hover and buzz above the powdered buds, as the head falls over heels into the pit perfumed of petals, drugged and drooling from honeyed beckonings. Bother not to halt her wander into the fae’s enshrouding mist. Thick, muted vines slither soundlessly, slurping their tongues slathered with saliva. The thorns shrouded under simper with glee, they engorge their fangs into her soft petal skin, drawing the rubies that flow steadily within. The whites of her eyes strain against their casings, to find a promise of heaven above. Heart blinking heavily, soul at a standstill, she prays, prays, prays. Until her irises are glossed over and grey, the house of God shining within.

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artwork by Josie Beth, Grade 9

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spine

2020-2021

Cover artwork by Eric Zhao, Grade 12

pickering college

JOSHUA WEINZWEIG

OF WRITING

spine

16945 Bayview Avenue, Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 4X2 www.pickeringcollege.on.ca