Middle School Literary Magazine 2023

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STAFF Zoya A., Ridley A., Ace B-C., Eland B., Rebecca H., Anaia J-F., Frankie K., Greta L., Sparrow M., Stella O., Felix P., Tobey R., Rhea R., Anna S-R., Daniella S., Theo S., Evie T., Sera W., and Talia Y.

HIGH SCHOOL EDITORS Lucy R. and Laiali T. FACULTY ADVISORS Ashlyn Mooney and Ben Rutter

The staff would like to thank Mo Yusuf-Morales, Jen Zerneck, Yuri Velez, Liz Lord, Margie Hanssens, Ramona Edmonds, Alisha Mascarenhas, Asiya Wadud, The Art Department, the English Department, Eli Forsythe, Coleman Collins, and all those who submitted their work.

Saint Ann’s School 129 Pierrepont Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

Poems and Stories Lost & Found Myra changed... Cornflowers Back Around Again Woman from the Stars Art William II and Ellie Dark as Corners A window, a world... My Hair You and I Animal Tracks The Eighteen Blocks Basketball Like the Minute Hand The Orchestra When people think of New York... Eyes Wide Open Four Seasons A January Night The Pomegranate’s Curse Screams into Whispers Mirror Beach future Jade It really makes no difference... A Poem for Right Now The Indescribable Orange “To my parents,” I started... Boat’s Wake Moon I heard you cry... Regret is Time Plum Cakes The Person in Mirror

Evie A. Henry S. Anna S-R. Olive D-M. Durete M. Elan A. Frankie K. Bridget C. Olive D-M. Hazel B. Ruby F. Clover D. Evie T. Marlowe K. Bridget C. Agnes K. Mira S. Anaia J-F. Daphne A. William K. Rocco F. Rebecca H. Abby M. Maisie S. Endless R. Norah P. Valis S-Y. Saviane F. Zoya A. Leo M. Haddie B. Rhea R. Elena P. Maayan M. Anaia J-F.

1 2 3 4 5 5 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 25 26 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 36 37 38

Hush puppies: A True Story! Childhood might as well... Warmth The Concealed Amalie Jones Night Noise Pupils Water Water Graffiti A dandelion... The Land of the Forgotten The Story of Salma Redwood I See in the Freezes Other Hallways August There is no silence anymore... Best Night Silence The Magic of Midnight The Never seen - and Never heard... Early Morning Birds Dear Mrs. Dahlia... Chips for Cats dream. blue New York City is a place where... The Sports Car Girl Behind Me Light Flowers Strong Black Girl Title Post-Pandemic Sunrise I set a fire... Hopeful as can be... Sleep

Daphne A. Chapin N. Esme B. Durete M. Hazel B. Leo M. Marlowe K. Nora H. Jackson T. Marlowe K. Olive D-M. Bea B. Aliza B. Bridget C. Cy F. Hazel B. Rebecca H. Valentina P. Endless R. Oona M. Georgia L. Oliver K. Nailah M-R. Marlowe K. Maisie S. Olive D-M. Josiah A. Valis S-Y. Durete M. Elena P. Haddie B. Tirha H. Hazel B. Anaia J-F. Sasha K. Zoya A. Daphne A. Abby M.

39 40 41 41 43 48 48 49 50 50 51 52 53 55 56 57 58 60 64 64 65 65 67 70 71 72 72 73 74 74 75 75 76 78 79 79 80 81

Rosie It’ll Be Fine I pretend, just pretend... I walk... The Nudibranchs Story The Setting Sun

Zemi M-B. Maisie S. Rebecca H. Vivian L. Octavia R. Hadley W.

83 86 88 88 89 91

Art Walden K. Sabi N. Ginger C. Benjamin B. Esme B. Naomi D. Noah R. Oliver K. Benjamin B. Chloé P. Esme B. Elan A. Hazel B. Walden K. Giacomo d’A. Sabi N. Durete M. Sabi N. Benjamin B. River F-S. Gretta A. Bella E. Oliver K. Sabi N. Chloé P. River F-S. Saya Lawrence M. Krauser Aadi P. Oliver K.

Front Cover Frontispiece 2 5 6 9 11 15 16 18 24 27 31 32 35 38 39 42 47 48 51 54 59 63 66 80 82 87 89 90

Lost & Found I am your forgotten Coat– You lost me once–Before Will you know that I am Gone? Do you–Love me Anymore? I was our Shiny Armor–Then– We ran home in the Rain– We Raced as fast as Greyhounds– I wish we could–Again Am I upon the closet floor? Did you drop me on the ground? No! In Fact you’ll find me in– The Saint Ann’s lost and found!– Evie A. 5th grade

Myra changed over spring break and everyone knew it. She walked into school the same—but different. No one knew what had changed but everyone felt it. People gossiped about her and looked at her when she wasn’t aware. Her hair was the same blond flopping mess as before. Her eyes were still unfocused slits of ocean blue. She had grown—but not much, maybe a quarter of an inch. When she went into class, she was as quiet and bored as before. She didn’t talk to anyone, just like normal. Not because she wouldn’t talk to anyone but because they wouldn’t talk to her. As the day went on people started to grow tired of obsessing over her. Everyone just accepted this new version of Myra. When Myra was walking home she passed a puddle. Paying it no mind, Myra kept walking. But soon more and more puddles kept appearing. Finally she stopped in front of one. Inside she found herself, but looking more closely there appeared to be a distant silhouette. This figure looked familiar—but long gone. It was her—before spring break. Myra swayed side to side. Henry S. 6th grade


Cornflowers Small wintergreen petals, scattered across the earthy trail, remind me of water lilies, anchored deep, a string tying them to home. Cornfield stripes sleep beside a pebbled dirt road, glazed with gasoline melting away as blue flowers tear through the ground. Windy shadows sweep down the highway through the mist and dive into the cornfields. Anna S-R. 7th grade


Back Around Again There’s Everyone: Snow turning into rain, turning white to gray on the busy sidewalks, Tossing and turning, seasons drifting, Eyes crying. But then there’s You: Snowflakes daintily gliding down, Peacefully passing by, Tulips beginning to grow, Eyes crying, but wait— Those are tears of joy. Back and forth, back and forth, But with You, I’d go back around again. Olive D-M. 6th grade


Woman From the Stars Waking to the sound of slipping memory As black curls of night billow through the open window My thought melting into her palm as her Star fingers cool my cheek The silhouette of her bare shoulder against the moon Is my chance to join her in the stars. Durete M. 8th grade

Art When I touch my pencil I go into a different world, a world where my imagination flows like a river, my head bursts like a balloon filled to the brim with creativity. Elan A. 5th grade



William II and Ellie The first time I saw her was October 3rd, 1983. Her seat had been assigned next to mine, and she asked me for a pencil. I was enthralled by the golden flecks in her green eyes, so I did not hear her at first. “Hello?” she said, “Pencil?” “Oh, yeah, right. Sorry, here you go,” I said while handing her a pencil. She smiled and then looked up at the chalkboard. For the rest of the week, every time she got to class, I immediately handed her a pencil. By the next Monday, I had gotten her number. We started talking on the phone for hours, I don’t even know what we were talking about, I just liked the sound of her voice. After three weeks of talking on the phone, we became inseparable. I even asked her to the winter formal. When she said yes, my heart exploded into a million pieces. I bought her a pink and white corsage. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. When I would look up from the football pitch, I would see her standing the bleachers, holding up a little sign that said Let’s Go #19. When she would write, she would tell me to stay away for a certain amount of time so she could actually get work done. At the end of the time, I would show up with some tea and cakes. Back then, she was always very private about her stories. The summer before our last term, she told me her father was very ill and she had to go back home. She promised she would write to me, and she did for the first three months. Slowly over time, the letters got fewer and sparser and we grew distant. The way we ended was odd. I never stopped loving her; I just stopped talking to her. News of her father’s death spread through the papers. He had written many bestsellers in the 60s, though his last work was not received well. I drove into London to attend his memorial. While I was there, I saw Ellie off in the distance. We stared at each other, but never spoke. I went to a meeting for new students’ parents at your father’s secondary school. The headmistress spoke with us for a while and then asked us to take out a pen and paper to write down a brief overview of the year for the students. I hear an unmistakable voice and feel a tap on my shoulder. “I didn’t know we’d be required to take notes. Can I borrow a pencil?” I look over at her and smile: “You’re still forgetting pencils after all these years,” I say, handing her a freshly sharpened pencil. “Sure am,” she says as she looks at me with those green eyes I’ve always loved. And that, kids, is a story your grandmother will tell. Frankie K. 8th grade


Dark as Corners Arm outstretched reaching For something Maybe for words that hang From the ceiling and dangle Wanting— To be grasped Thrown in the room Called something brilliant Only to then disappear Voices Flooding the room Your mind. Dark as the corners That rest as they always do Sinking into each wall Unnoticed Mind Swirling Still reaching for answers Room now Silent Waiting— For someone to speak To strike the dominoes The perfect sentence forming Placing itself amongst the beige Filling the empty space Stuck— Thick inky ideas Bursting the seams Unused Bridget C. 6th grade


A window, a world— Icy and vulnerable— Not glass, but broken. Olive D-M. 6th grade


My Hair My sister’s hair Curls and curls of thick and fine Like a flower unfurling at the beginning of time My mother’s hair Blonde with streaks of deep, deep brown A queen’s hair, under a crown My father’s hair Bald with a beard, black and gray Stars in night guiding the way My brother’s hair Blonde and fluffy Like a duckling stuffy My grandmother’s hair Now short and gray Once long, soft and blonde Golden thread blessed by a fairy’s wand My other grandmother’s hair Now long and white Once a blonde, wavy bob The color of corn on the cob But my hair, my hair I love most of all Golden wheat Shimmering in the heat Autumn leaves Swaying in the breeze Golden flower At the top of the tower Lion’s mane Wild yet tame Spun gold Just out of Rumpelstiltskin hold


Thick from my mother Fast growing from my father Soft from my grandmother Wavy from my other grandmother Blonde like my brother Curls like my sister Hazel B. 5th grade


You and I You and I I and You Follow me I’ll follow you When the sun begins to set I’ll sit with you and hold your hand On a path full of trees Don’t be scared just follow me I will be your shield, and you will be my sword Because together we can conquer the world Because I love you and you love me and that’s How it’s meant to be Ruby F. 4th grade


Animal Tracks If they were invisible ink Snow would be the lemon juice Meltable lynx or moldable goose “Oh” you say “I get it now” But have you seen them trod their paths Each pause beneath a fern Carelessly crafted by careful creatures Marks burned in to mark their return Clover D. 8th grade


The Eighteen Blocks As I see the green painted entrance with the large sphere-shaped bulbs sitting on top of posts and a yellow outlined cement step, I feel a rush of mixed relief both physically and mentally. I had been running for nearly 18 blocks, amounting close to a mile, on the notably rough and crowded New York City streets. My soles were sore from loose construction pebbles and avoiding strollers and walking canes, but I couldn’t have run faster down the F train steps. My feet follow my hands which were stretching three meters too far down the stained steel railing, flying to the turnstiles in two bounds. I don’t have the energy to deal with the crazy old lady screaming at me about my slashed skin and whatnot, so I throw the unfamiliar scowling face and some loose change I fish out of my pocket. Then as shakily as I had ever done I hop over the turnstile. I swing my legs while using leverage from my arms grasping onto the edges—as I have done a million times—but I must be so shaken by the last twenty minutes that my left foot catches onto the top steel cylinder. My already very scraped and bruised hands shoot in front of my face, protecting me from more injury. I stay sprawled on the gray floor for apparently a little too long as the strange array of subway riders’ glances awkwardly shift downwards. They surreptitiously try to pretend that they don’t notice anything, but who’s that really working for, right? I force my knees under me and push as hard as my sore muscles will allow me. Finally as I stand, I hear the train approaching. The three distinctive screeching notes are the only thing that reminds me that this city is my home and always has been. No one should be able to change that. Yet here I am being chased to death by frickin’ William Davis. It shouldn’t be possible for someone so oblivious to human feelings to be nominated “Police Officer of the Month” at Station 53. Did he never have loving parents who filled him with all those gooey childhood memories? Or the familiarity of turning the squeaky door knob after a full day of ranting science teachers and yelling English ones? How could Officer Davis try to uproot me from my borderline abusive and alcoholic stepparents? Oh, that’s why. Nevertheless, a vindictive wave of ideas (containing pranks and plots to foil his plan) swooped over me. No. He’s just trying to help. But by moving me to Ohio? Though he guaranteed a perfect life with the model foster family, I can’t help but feel some loss at the thought of not living in this city. My head drops at the mere glimpse of being in Granville, Ohio, instead of the ugly, dirty, crowded, eye-catching, glorious New York City. That’s when I notice, through the unintentional ragged hole in my jeans, the blue hand mark imprinted on my thigh leaving the remains of my permanent grounding. My fingers trace the outline of the hit while I jostle around on the baby blue subway car seat. When my stepfather (or as I am forced to call him the O’ Mighty Sir) caught Officer Davis talking to me around the bend of our shack near the overgrown vines, he permanently grounded me to the glorious smell of the bathroom—which happened to be forty feet from my house in the back of some old MacDonalds that stopped putting out napkins on the tables due to the absence of customers. We lived in Manhattan, but as glorious as that sounds, the old


shack we now owned was absolute trash. Then, the unspoken actions began. If rage could be bottled up from every single person on this earth and unleashed on one 14 year old girl, then this would be it. When he left, I couldn’t cry. The emotions inside of me couldn’t be expressed by any physical means, so I ran. Eighteen blocks if you recall were my way of simultaneously moving as far away from my old life as possible and away from Officer Davis’ white and blue car that had pulled around the bend as soon as he heard the crunching leaves under my trashed boot. The clunky train doors open for East Broadway Station, and as I try to get off I am blocked. Looking up to meet the burning stare was my worst mistake. No no no no! He caught up. Evie T. 8th grade


Basketball A ball with orange stripes, The bumpy surface in my palm. Yet in play, so smooth like a marble. You bounce it down It comes right back up, No complaining. Basketball is the world, Until we have that day, That day we ALL have, The bad day when we can’t play like ourselves Yet there is a cure: NEVER GIVE UP. Marlowe K. 5th grade


Like the Minute Hand The body is a sacred place because it bursts with life and lasts briefly In the grand scheme of time Our lives are merely seconds like watching a clock the minute hand jumping from three to eight as if the other numbers don’t exist But do we exist Or is our world just an endless pit of nothing of darkness and emptiness Why are some adults at one time and others children Why does someone who you know oh so well suddenly disappear like the hand that you looked at a second ago jumps three numbers Until it will reach twelve and start all over again We pretend there is something after death to soothe the pain of loss appearing and disappearing like the minute hand Bridget C. 6th grade


The Orchestra The orchestra is like a hummingbird, it sings, so soft and sweet. The orchestra is like the roaring fire, encaged behind the glass. The orchestra is the breeze, the calm before the storm. The orchestra is swinging, moving with the wind. The orchestra is screaming, finally free from the conductor’s baton. Agnes K. 4th grade


When people think of New York they think of busy streets and shops and traffic The sputtering sound of a car on the bridge The honk of the truck behind that car Every conversation over a meal— That is ended four hours later Construction trucks carrying fifteen pounds of gravel to and from the construction site The stop sign that has graffiti tags all over it The person who tagged it running from no one just for the fun of it The broken paper bag in the crosswalk Small children running in a park together Two girls swinging on a tire swing Best friends are everything in this city When I think of New York I think of all this but in more depth The conversation ended up in a proposal The construction truck is making a new park for the girls on the swings The broken bag was once filled with clothing It broke as a mom struggled to sweep her stroller over the curb The couple that is newly engaged helped pick up everything They walked the mom home Laughing with her all the way The tag on the stop sign is my friend I helped them develop it Through many days of hard work New York is hard work Mira S. 5th grade


Eyes Wide Open I started sleeping in cars the day I turned twelve I sat in the front seat that day And I could feel blood pooling in my fingers, My pulse in my teeth And I was excited until we stopped; Stopped so suddenly I was flung forward And I heard my bag crash into my seat from behind It’s odd because nothing even happened, my dad just realized the light was red But I was scared Scared that we would both be gone in an instant because I sat next to him And so I started sitting in the back again, Not behind my dad but behind the non-existent passenger So that if we were hit hopefully one of us wouldn’t die and it wouldn’t be my fault, And I began to sleep because I didn’t want to face death with my eyes open, Because I’ve heard that it’s a frostbite-like feeling At first a simple discomfort, But as it spreads it consumes Infinity does not stay uncountable or unimaginable It shrinks to a single point, The measure between you and death And people say that your life flashes before your eyes And when I try to understand that it scares me, Because we all have regrets we don’t want to relive And I don’t want to be stuck in a endless loop of the moment before the one I am in, I don’t want to face death with eyes open, Because then I may never die. Anaia J-F. 8th grade


Four Seasons Fall As I walk through the park and watch all the leaves turning, I think about the leaves burning with the colors red, yellow and orange like the bonfire at the beach, the prettiest one just out of reach, and suddenly the wind starts to blow and all around me leaves start to spin. Winter The snow starts to fall, then the wind starts to blow the leaves off the trees, and the pond starts to freeze. We found a big Christmas tree and all the presents underneath it, with brand new ice skates and a muff to match, the lines in the ice, the holiday lights, a perfect day. Spring The rain starts to fall, the snow starts to melt, cold and wet, dark and sad. So I cuddle on the couch with a book, the the sun starts to shine and I go on a walk and I think about summer. What a lovely day! I look at the newcomer. Summer I swim in the waves and play in the sand. I ride my bike down to the caves and search for the little glass pieces smoothed by the sea. As I listen to the waves crash, I think about the tide pulling and pushing like the seasons always changing. Daphne A. 5th grade


A January Night (read in a low, grisly voice) It was chilly that night, and I zipped up my coat and meandered home at around 7 pm. I’d fallen asleep in the library after school but nobody noticed, so I had to crawl out a window someone had left open. Though there was a blast of icy air, it was silent that night. The dogs weren’t howling. The wind wasn’t howling. The only sound on the block, in the country, in the universe was the sound of my own pulse. Ba-THUMP. Ba-THUMP. I felt thoroughly alone on the bare streets that Friday. With every step I took, I tried to distract myself from the eerie silence that enveloped me. It was foggy and sort of misty in a way that stimulated my instincts to be ready for anything unexpected. With only the streetlamps to guide me home, I was now completely reliant on their now faint glow. There was a shortcut I knew that turned a corner into an alleyway. As soon as I did, the streetlamps suddenly turned off. I could no longer see my breath; there was nothing to illuminate it. I was no longer cold; I was sweating with fright. My heartbeat would have drowned out a bugle. I tried frantically to calm myself down. That was when I heard it. The crunch of gravel. A quiet low chuckle. Well, not exactly a chuckle. It was more like a growl. I saw a faint glimmer of a hollow, black eye. I could feel its doglike breath coming closer and closer. The smell of fur was drawing near. At that moment, I realized I was standing four feet away from a werewolf. I felt silly thinking it. Werewolves were a myth! There was no such thing. Or... A deafening howl. A leap out of the shadows. Gleaming claws and teeth. There was nothing, nothing in the world more real than this werewolf. I was paralyzed with fear. This was it: I was going to die. The werewolf advanced. I winced. Then he tripped on a plant-based empanada someone had left on the ground. It gave me just enough time to escape. The rest of the evening was a blur. I got home somehow blindly through the night and fell into a dreamless sleep. But I did take away one lesson from that foggy Friday night. You should always check for plant-based empanadas on the ground. William K. 6th grade


The Pomegranate’s Curse The man knew they were following him. A short trickle of dry red ran down his face like the juice of a fresh cut pomegranate. Where were they? he thought to himself. He was being watched; that, he knew. His panicked tears ran down his face as he sprinted away. He looked for a place they couldn’t find him. Quickly, he spotted a cliff on which he climbed. As he looked down he could not see them, but he knew they were there. Finally after hours of climbing he made it to the top. Instantly, he collapsed under the gorgeously lush pomegranate tree. He tried to get up, he tried to run further, but soon a deep dreamless sleep engulfed him. He awoke with a start. It seemed midday; he reached above and leisurely grabbed a pomegranate. He cut into it with his teeth and everything seemed better. The juice seemed to crawl to his forehead, but he didn’t care. He put the remains in the pile next to him. He began climbing down the mountain. He looked around and suddenly noticed a house. It was painted the exact color of the glistening pomegranate he had just eaten. He made his way toward it. Inside, the house was very neat, except for the study table in the middle of the living room. Strewn across the table were pieces of paper that looked like they had been taken in a hurry. He grabbed the notebook that the pages had been clearly torn out of. Looking through the book he saw nothing, just blank paper with the occasional ripped out page. He started flipping through the pages more frantically now as he realized he couldn’t remember anything that had happened, except for one memory that was seared into his brain: the beautiful pomegranate tree. He quickly wrote down everything he could remember, but all his pen could write was a description of the pomegranate tree. Suddenly footsteps echoed through the house; they were coming from the attic. Quickly he ran up the stairs. But before he could enter the attic, a blood curdling scream grew from the room. The man was chilled to the bone. Every part of his soul was disturbed and terrified. For one brief second he was frozen in fear, then he ran as fast as he could as the footsteps grew louder. The man knew they were following him. Quickly, he looked for a place to hide where whoever was in the attic couldn’t find him. Suddenly, he came across a cliff with a red pomegranate tree at the top. He began to climb just like he had yesterday and the day before. Back in the attic, what the man never seemed to notice every time he returned was a record player skipping back to the same sound every time, of footsteps and then a blood curdling scream followed by louder footsteps. The words on the record read the same thing over and over as it crept back to its starting point over and over. And after so long the record broke and the words finally came to a stop and became readable. Printed on the record were the words “The Pomegranate’s Curse” followed by a drawing of a small man and a repeat symbol. Rocco F. 8th grade 23

Screams into Whispers The memory of us is draining Forgetting, slipping away from my grasp Loosening in my mind, as it fades into the background I can still feel The flutter of your wings sharpening into knives Scraping against my thin skin Blood dripping from my mouth Poison foaming at yours Words into weapons, fighting in the space between our sentences But fainter now, is this knowledge that once ached everytime I moved Softer now, is your gaze burning holes into the paper Quieter now, is the sound of your footsteps, pacing towards mine A subtle calmness drifts over our storm clouds A pouring rain shifts into a drizzle My head bobs to the surface to breathe Rebecca H. 8th grade


future shaking like an open eye like hell when he broke it in two when he comes, he’ll come alive they’ll try to warn you of this time when worlds will shatter, and then you shaking like an open eye he’ll only save the most divine so make yourself one of the few for when he comes, he’ll come alive and we don’t mean to terrify but when you watch heavenly blue start shaking like our open eyes and so don’t listen to those lies of death eternal, earthly cue start shaking like a broken eye for when he comes he’ll come alive

Mirror Beach

Maisie S. 8th grade

Bucket heap, Water leap. Sand row, High low. Out in, End begin, A fin Swirl twirl spin, Scuttle crawl, Little high tall. Jump leap, Shovel bucket pack, Sun slack, Asleep Abby M. 5th grade 25

Jade Pale, lulling, prism-like, hazy, dizzying, dictator. Endless R. 4th grade



It really makes no difference to me Whether it’s a broken arm, Or leg The sympathy and compassion, The easy pass through the unforgiving, Unforgetting, Terrifying world Makes a weakness worthwhile The facetious cruel people, Now asking, Pleading, To help you up the stairs or run an errand. The pain from a breaking bone Is nothing compared to the innocence Gained and collected From a broken Beaten up Exhausted limb Gullible to the results, I’d gladly jump off a tree. Norah P. 6th grade


A Poem for Right Now And because every moment is constantly changing By the time I finish this poem, it will be the next right now, Maybe even the one after that, but no matter It won’t be the same right now. Maybe by then I’ll be thinking about food, music, or a homework assignment I forgot to do, Maybe by then this’ll be obsolete. It’ll probably be daytime and I’ll be trying to get to the next place I need to go and taking the next train I need to catch. Maybe by then I’ll have lost this Or it’ll have been thrown away accidently and be on its way to who-knows-where In the garbage truck. But I’ll need to remember this time Some way or another. I remember when I was young and innocent, I used to think people dredged up the past just to make others feel bad that they weren’t there But I’ve realized now That really they try, over and over again To relive every instant Grasping for the memory until it slips out of reach Searching for the one moment when the light hits your eyes, And everything is just perfect. Valis S-Y. 6th grade


The Indescribable Orange Licking at the edges Of confinement, Hot breath rising into the night Wisps taste the air, Drawing back at cold Fierce, glowing, an Orange No one can describe. Always hungry, Consuming endlessly. Hissing at the splash Of frozen water, Misty blood hangs in the Air. The scared cousin of fog. Embers now lie, Tiny promises of a Blazing Inferno Saviane F. 5th grade


“To my parents,” I started, my gaze blurred by tears, “I would like to start by saying that I will always love you. You raised me, and made me who I am today, even when we have had our disagreements. You were–” And suddenly I was five years old again, lying in bed with my parents after I had had a nightmare. “It’s gonna be okay, honey, it’s gonna be all right,” they said softly, over and over. I turned over onto my back and looked up at the ceiling. But it wasn’t the ceiling. It was the lid on a casket, with the most miniscule gap in the latch, letting the candlelight of the church stream through. But then, just like that, I was back on the podium, staring down at the casket I was just inside a moment ago, a priest standing to my left, and hundreds of people sitting in rows, waiting for me to keep talking. But how was I supposed to be speaking when I was being drowned by the flowers, burned by the inferno of tiny candles surrounding me, stabbed by each stare that didn’t know my parents like I did? Zoya A. 8th grade


Boat’s Wake water rippling away white blue waves churn rise and fall a wind blown cloud Leo M. 8th grade


Moon Will you watch me while I’m sleeping, To make sure I’m all right? Will you dimly light the evening, But let it turn to dark? Yes, Yes you will. Will you stay up in the sky, No matter where I am? Will you glow ever so slightly, Just so I can see? Yes, Yes you will. You always will. Haddie B. 5th grade


I heard you cry It broke my fragile heart into millions Upon millions of glimmering glass Like the pieces I found all over your bedroom Last week I saw you cry Warm salty droplets racing down your cheek You curled up in a ball on the floor Your body shimmering, shivering I saw you sit up and stare Your mascara sliding down Like drips on a cake I remember you crying But as soon as you saw me You stopped Brushed yourself up Smiled to me Still shaking I felt you punch You punched me through the mirror Fell down And then I heard us cry Rhea R. 8th grade



Regret is Time Regret is weird, your stomach rumbles It sends a message to your head You feel like you want to go back in Time back to the time that you made The wrong choice back to the time When you had a choice to make But you already made the choice Now you’re in the time that you feel Regret Elena P. 4th grade


Plum Cakes My mom grew up in the snowy state of Minnesota, traveling to her parents’ home country of Argentina every summer. Her months there were spent in the sticky hot sun, sleeping in the cool terracotta house, and swimming the waves of Playa Seca. When she wasn’t doing one of these things, she spent afternoons in her grandfather’s backyard picking plums off the tree at the back of the house. She would often come in for lunch where the smell of fried food filled the kitchen and ask for her grandmother to make plum cakes. Filled with dulce de leche, these cakes would be savored for days. According to my mom, nothing beats the taste of the sweet oily cake with the jammy filling leaving a fresh fruity taste at the end. Unfortunately, everybody grows up, and the once-sweet taste of grandma’s plum cake is lost—though my mom marrying into a Spanish family meant many more plum cakes to come. My great great aunt Malen was the new queen of plum cakes. To my grandma’s small apartment in the middle of the rainy city of Bilbao would arrive boxes of plum cake every holiday. These cakes were decked with the rum-dipped caramelized plum and the dusted powdered sugar. The cake itself was spongy—still oily, but less dense than the Argentinian style, making it easier to eat much more. When my parents moved into our old apartment, my grandma would come with the cakes in her luggage. The scent of cigarettes would often taint their smell, but the taste was left untouched. Last year I walked into a Latin/Mexican deli near 34th and 4th Ave. and on the counter there was an Argentine brand, the equivalent of Hostess in the US. The bright colored packaging, all different desserts, and of course the motto smacked on the front of the package. Below that it said plum cake in small yellow letters. I had to buy it. The plum was like a gelatinized gem and the creamy dulce de leche tasted so sweet I almost couldn’t eat it. Still, I scarfed it down. It felt like betrayal to not love this thing I apparently once loved and that my mom had always loved. I agreed with myself that I could find a special place in my heart for plum cakes without actually liking the taste of them. Over the summer I took a trip to Spain and stayed with family in the small town of Congosto de Valdavia. The long days there started at noon. In her green-doored stone home, with a box-car-sized blue kitchen, my grandma cultivated the mid-day meals. There was a bar at the edge of town where just two euros could buy you four Cokes. It was there I found my plum cakes. Something that made the days feel longer and the nights feel shorter. Maayan M. 8th grade


The Person in Mirror I scared myself looking in the mirror one time. I was just a little kid, maybe five or six and my mom started laughing when I jumped. She thought it was funny that I didn’t recognize myself. I began to cry. I started to fear the person lurking over my shoulder. The person who looks exactly like me, Who talks and walks like me. I was afraid of my face. How could I know that it was my own? I felt claustrophobic, Like I was trapped in my own body. I wondered if I was invisible Forever attached to a body but doomed to never fully live in it. To scream and not be heard; To hold and never be held. Anaia J-F. 8th grade


Hush Puppies: A True Story! Thinking about the south makes me hungry for hush puppies. So I will tell you about them. At the 4th of July we visit my grandparents at the beach in North Carolina. We is me, Henry, Mama, Daddy, Nana, Grandpa, Uncle Jeff. I should probably explain what a hush puppy is. It is a deep fried cornmeal. It is a cross between a tater tot and cornbread and is best eaten slathered in butter. The best place to go is the Sanitary Fish Market. We arrive there and the first thing we do is order a big plate of hush puppies. One time when I was six, I went to the bathroom and forgot how a dress works. I just took the whole thing off. So that’s embarrassing. I came back to the table and ate a whole plate of hush puppies. We went back to my grandparents’ condo and started the festivities. First we got out the sparklers and my brother tried to build a fire out of sparklers by stacking five or six on top of each other. Most of the night I was running around waving a sparkler in the air. The end of my night was spent on the lap of my grandpa watching the fireworks go off. Earlier that day was the 4th of July parade. We saw a big red tractor and they threw us candy. It was so much fun. There was a marching band with jolly music. It was the most wonderful day. Daphne A. 5th grade 39

Childhood might as well Be equal to fire trucks. Short lived and alarming. Slow, but fast after you Live through it. Children are useless When it comes to emergencies Unlike fire trucks. Did you know that Someone got killed by A speeding fire truck once? I guess they are Alike in that sense. Chapin N. 8th grade


The Concealed Hate is my forcefield, and you are my blanket. You warm me with your laughs that echo through my mirrored walls, The raft that floats inside my heart of pity is where you sleep. I keep you in my eyeballs, so that once I weep you are there to water the weeds in my throat. You heal my wounds with your jokes as you rest on my tongue, and watch as I chew my jealousy. My body is your chore, while life is mine. You are my blanket. Durete M. 8th grade

Warmth I feel a thump, a weight, a chest, a dog’s upon me as I rest. A warmth stretches out to me, my feet reach out, out of curiosity. I feel a leg, a chin, an arm, but no matter I am warm. Then I feel a jump, a pounce. The warmth is gone, he left not an ounce. I think, tomorrow I’ll use a hot water bottle. Esme B. 4th grade



Amalie Jones It’s been one year and four months. One year and four months have passed since my mother and fathers shop closed down. It was a dumb bread shop on the corner of Ariel and Lobster. It was called Frank&Jules and they would always put the ‘Frank’ in big block letters and the ‘Jules’ in nice cursive. They had a typewriter that would do the fonts. Then we had to sell it. I have brown and auburn hair, brown eyes. My name is Amalie after where my father was born. Charlotte Amalie. His mother said that one day he’d make it big. Now we’re living in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of town in a two room shack. Mama always said, “As long as we’re together we’ll figure everything out.” But I’m not stupid. I know that that means we’re going to have to sell everything we hold dear, just to have a roof over our heads. I loved Frank & Jules. Its delicious aroma and dark blue countertops. And most of all I loved the way my Mama’s curly auburn hair would bounce around while she was rolling out the dumb bread dough, and the way my Papa’s brown eyes would sparkle every time he’d place the dumb breads on the pan, and how sometimes they would let me help. Mama would hold my arms and rock them slowly back and forth until I finally got the right rolling motion. Papa would help me place the breads on the tray. And, after a nice dinner of fish kallaloo, Mama and Papa would bring home a dumb bread, sprinkled with brown sugar and filled with coconut, still warm. Now the only things we eat are stale johnny cakes and limp okra. I go to the public school at the other end of the island. We can’t afford to take a taxi to school, so I walk ten miles everyday. My school has five rooms. One is the English and history classroom, one is math, one is the lunch room, one is the teachers’ lounge, and one is the principal’s office. And the yard. The English and history classroom has plastic-that’s-trying-to-look-like-wood desks, a chalkboard, the teachers chair, and, Missus Newt added this herself, a ’Bad Child’ chair. I get put there a lot. Our math classroom has the same trying-to-look-like-wood desks, chalkboard, a teacher’s desk, adorned with books about calculus and square roots and whatnot. Our yard is concrete stones, with grass popping up in between, an oak tree, and an old swing set and slide. The slide has stairs up to it and is a faded red color. The swings are black and the chains going up are so rusty that if you even put your hand on them, they turn a faded, dirty orange. I’ve never been in the teachers’ lounge, but I think that it’s the place where Missus Newt gets other teachers to do her bidding. I’ve only been to the principal’s office once, and that was when I was little. I tried to help a dying robin. I brought it inside and hid it in my desk. Missus Newt got so mad and I was sent to the principal’s office. She gave me a long lecture about how it’s good to care for things but I should never put myself in danger. The robin had rabies. Every morning I get up, put on my only pair of clothes, do plaits in my hair and get out the door. As I pass town, I see the clock still says 4:00 am. I do the math in my head. It’s a four hour walk. If I hurry, I hopefully won’t be late. I get to school, nearly missing the bell. “Class,” says Missus Newt, which is what I decided to call her since the first day of school when a


newt stepped into the classroom and she decided to evacuate the whole school. She has slippery hair, because she irons it every morning. Everyone keeps talking. “CLASS,” she yells. “Please settle down,” she says in a mockingly sweet tone, like that makes it better. The rest of the day goes as usual, English, math, and history. When the last bell rings, at 2:00 pm, they let us out, and I begin the walk home. Every night, my mom gets home from her job, cleaning. Next my dad comes home from selling our stuff at local stores around Saint Thomas. Sometimes he doesn’t come home. It’s because he sometimes has to travel to different places to sell stuff no one wants here, like the lovie I got when I was a baby or the necklace that my mom said would be mine when I was older. Next we have dinner, stale johnny cakes that were 50% off because they were baked yesterday, and brown tomatoes that my Nana likes to call ’rubbish’. After, I get undressed and head to bed. The bedroom that me and my parents share. They sleep on one mattress and I sleep on another. We have our clothes under our beds. My dad has his collared shirt and pants, and a normal outfit. My mom has her maid outfit and her normal dress. I have my uniform and my nightgown. That night I had a dream. I’m twisting and turning all night long. I’m running, then I trip and fall into a dark tunnel, surrounding me with all the things we’ve sold. My mothers necklace, my lovie, the dress I wore for my aunt and uncle’s wedding, our typewriter. Finally I can feel both feet on solid ground. I open my eyes. Everything looks familiar, dark blue countertops, the aroma of brown sugar and coconut, all the memories swirl together and cause my eyes to water. I can’t help feeling like it’s all my fault. I’m the reason we lost Frank & Jules. I’m the reason we’re living in a poor neighborhood in the outskirts of town in a two room shack. I’m the reason. All of this is my fault. It was a school day like any. I was still at my old school. It was my birthday. It was like any other birthday I’ve ever had, except that this year I was having a party, a small party. I needed my parents to be there. It was selfish of me. At that time, my parents were working for a man who had a bunch of restaurants around Saint Thomas. I made them skip work to come to my party. The man got mad and told them they had one week to make one thousand dollars or he would take their shop away. They only made $70. It’s been two weeks since my dream and I finally know what to do. My Nana always said I’m a good artist. I’m going to sell my drawings to people at school. Now the question is, how will I get the paper and markers? Well, I can always “forcefully borrow” our school’s resources. Next English class I’ll borrow some paper and a pen. I start that night when I get to the house that I’m staying in. Not home. I head into the room me, my mom, and my dad share. I start to doodle. From my pen flows birds, tree tops, and clouds. After I draw for about 50 more minutes my father gets home. He looks distraught and like he hasn’t slept for days. He’s sitting in the living room, which is actually just a give away chair that he couldn’t sell. I come over to him. He blankly stares at me. “Hello,” I say. He doesn’t respond. I go back to the bedroom. I can hear the door creak open as my mom comes home. He tells her the number he made this week. She starts to cry, tears of deep, deep sorrow. I peak into the living room. I can see the sadness on their faces. I’ve got to make it up to them.


The next day, I talk to Aster, my best friend. I think. Also she’s my only friend. Aster is everything I’m not. She is pretty, smart, witty, and those only begin to describe her. The next day I tell her about my plan. “I have a plan,” I say. “Okay,” she says. She’s used to this. “I’m going to sell my art to earn some money,” I tell her. “Why?” she asks. “No reason,” I say. Maybe I haven’t told her the whole truth. She has enough to worry about already. “Okaaaaay, anyway let me see your drawings.” I pull them out of my bag. “Wow,” she says. I can’t tell if she loves them or hates them. “Do you like them?” She put one hand on my shoulder. She lifts the other one up, like she’s going to slap me. She brings her hand down to my shoulder. “I LOVE them,” she says. I sigh with relief. “Now help me sell them.” “Okay.” She draws a diagram in her notebook. It’s a diagram of our school’s yard where everyone eats lunch. She draws where the nerds sit, by the swings, where the sportsy kids sit near the slide and where the popular, rich people sit, on the slide steps. “Lunch,” she says. It’s our best bet. We can go to the populars, and see if they want to buy them.” Did I mention smart? I take a deep breath. “Okay.” I used to be best friends with the queen of the popuLIARS, Ashely Caroline Hibiscus Thomas. That was before she was QUEEN Ashely Caroline Hibiscus Thomas. We lived in the same neighborhood, and every Wednesday she’d come to Frank&Jules and we would play ponies or princesses or cowgirls. Then she became obsessed with boys and makeup and her glorious beautiful locks. At lunch. we approach the popuLIARS. Aster begins to speak. “Excuse me, we were wondering if you’d want to buy this art?” “Pass it here,” Ashley says. “Well, it’s a little bland, but mother would like it. I’ll pay $50.” “I’ll pay $70!” a girl chimes in. “$90!” “$100” “$120” “$250, cash, right now,” Ashley says. “SOLD!” I say. She gives me $250 and I give her my art. “Pleasure doing business with you,” Aster says, then we walk away. When we’re back at our oak tree, we start to squeal like we’re nine again. $250! Cash! That’s enough to buy a year’s worth of half-off johnny cakes! I take out thirty dollars to buy supplies. After lunch, Sadie, one of the people who placed a bid on my art, comes up to me. “Amalie, right?” she says. “I was wondering if you could draw me something?” “Uh,” I say. “I’ll pay you $200, now.” “Yes,” I say, stunned. She gives me the cash. That’s $520, minus the money I took out for supplies.


I’m going to make it up to them after all! That night, I draw Sadie a forest, exploding with trees and foxes and flowers. I place the money on the table. That night when we sit down to eat, my mother and father gasp at the sight of the bundle of cash. “Sweetie, did you…,” my mom asks. “I was about to ask you the same thing,” my father says. “Then who did?” they say at the same time. “I did,” I say. They both stare at me, their look saying, HOW? “I sold one of my drawings, and I’m making another one,” I say. “This is $520!” they say in amazement. They look me straight in my eyes and say, “Thank you.” Then they give me a long, long hug and I go to bed. After a couple more sales, and my parents’ jobs, we bought a new house, near school, and we adopted a new baby which we named Pom. We bought a new dumb bread shop, which we call “Pom, Amalie, Frank & Jules.” Everything is perfect. For now. Hazel B. 5th grade



Night Noise There is an ambience of cicadas chirping and chattering like static on a radio filling the air with their noise a tsunami of sound a clamoring cacophony Leo M. 8th grade

Pupils My pupils are as small as a molecule My pupils are as dark as a black hole My pupils are as sad as a person, With a heart, but still no soul. Marlowe K. 5th grade


Water The silver sheen covered the rocky bed Moving forward occasionally back The small green flecks scattered A fish gracefully swims It takes a gulp Above a smudge of color Down D O W N It goes till I see it A bird readying its talons Hooking the fish The fish swims for its life Pointlessly Then it is over An instant past I move on Nora H. 7th grade


Graffiti I was painting a new wall I used my Kobra cans I had to film for Instagram I do it for the fans But then I saw some flashing lights— “Oh no it’s the cops!” That means I need to do parkour And flaunt my insane hops I needed help from my graff crew And so I sent a text I tried parkour but then I tripped You know what happens next... Marlowe K. 5th grade

Water A drop of thanks, Relieving the tension Hope rising The moon glimmers over the fallen drops Don’t give up... yet Golden emotions Silky strokes of water, Rain greatness Jackson T. 4th grade


A dandelion Floating away still— Wisps of cream-colored pieces. Olive D-M. 6th grade


The Land of the Forgotten The journeys of the waves and the people are written in the sea. The ocean’s stories are hidden beneath the white tops on the waves. But what would happen if the stories were washed away, onto the shore, onto the quick sand. Washed down a tunnel. Landing in the dirt that the forgotten landed in. Greeted at the door by the simple words: The land of the forgotten carved deep into the grainy dirt. Meanwhile, the sea, dried up into nothingness, clueless, without its stories. Bea B. 7th grade


The Story of Salma Redwood Salma Redwood did not think about things other nine-year-old girls usually did. While others thought about those weird rubber things known as Barbies, Salma thought about how to bring your ancestors from the underworld and communicate with her cat, Dark Soul, through telepathy. This was because Salma was a witch. She lived in a cottage with her parents, brother and a cat in a strange place called New Jersey. It was a very cozy out of the way house with wooden shingles and a clay exterior, with a brick chimney jutting out of the roof. Salma’s mother, Sarieka, was a witch too. Salma always thought her mother much more beautiful than herself, with skin the color of a palm tree trunk and black hair that flowed and curled down her back like a river. Salma herself had skin the color of dark creamy chocolate and dark brown hair that always got knotted at the ends. She and her brother, Oberon, were the spitting image of their father except for the fact that they had the eyes of their mother, the color of spring pine needles. Salma’s parents told her that she must always be careful with her abilities in the human world, for if they were found it could result terribly. If their identities were found out their enemies could kill them. Salma vowed she would never make a mistake. But in life you make mistakes. Sometimes they are really big and can damage everything. Sometimes they’re small, something like forgetting to feed the cat. Salma’s was big. Aliza B. 6th grade



I See in the Freezes I go out before dawn to check Venus on my birthday Venus is always there Her hand reaching out Dawn is my time The time of light and dark waiting I like to wait Most people only want to do And see But I see in the freezes the breaks The moments where everything pauses And waits That’s when I see clearly Venus feels the same It’s why she stays awake through dawn She visits me often I used to have a friend named Venus She hated her name I loved the way it curled And fell flat against my tongue This Venus loves her name She tells me everyday And when I’m lonely and tired I go outside and wait Bridget C. 6th grade


Other Hallways Do you remember our mud cakes, and how my mom yelled at us for eating them, and how we cried when she told us that eating dirt can give you cancer, and we thought we were going to die, so we wrote our wills using crayons on cardboard? Do you remember how we tried to run away and live together, in Paris, but we got tired after walking two blocks, but we still had to go from New York to Paris, which we thought would take hours, which is too long of a walk, so we went back to our houses instead? Do you remember when we swam in that freezing lake your dad told us to stay away from, but we went into it instead, and we came out with black seaweed on our legs that we thought were leeches, and we thought we were going to die, so we dug two graves in the grass together, so that even when we’re no longer in the world we’d still be together? Do you remember when we hiked up that mountain for hours, and how you tripped and I caught you but I lost my footing on the moss and fell, and we both landed on the grass face first, but that didn’t stop us, because we kept going and we got to see the sun at its golden hour from the rock’s highest peak? Do you remember the first day of school, and how much we cried when we saw that we weren’t in the same class? Do you remember how I told you to come over to hang out at my house, but you said you were already hanging out with someone in your class; I asked you what you meant, because we’ll always be together, just us forever? Do you remember how you yelled at me when I ate cookies in your pantry, which I thought I was allowed to eat, and how you told me how ungrateful I was, because your mother had bought them for your birthday party that I don’t remember getting an invitation to, even though you said I had been invited? Do you remember the first day of school, and how strange it was to not see you in these hallways, but only imagine you in other hallways, passing notes to other people? Do you remember that winter night—I wasn’t there but I saw it on the news, and the piercing sound of the sirens of the ambulance outside my house, and my mother frozen with her jaw open and face pale like in the movies, and my father looking at me like I was an alien? Do you remember the streets filled with shocked neighbors, and barking dogs, and the chill of the setting sun? Cy F. 8th grade


August salt water splashes burned out matches sandy toes ice cold hose sunburnt faces swim races diving through waves exploring caves lifeguard chair jumping hip bumping purple seashells o’clock bells boardwalk deer happy tears Saltaire, FL Hazel B. 5th grade


There is no silence anymore Sinking into the deep blue Swimming inside of your gaze I do not see them anymore Pulling my arms into your lap Tracing over my soft skin with your coarse hands Whispering praise I am trained to long for your voice Laying out on the splintered wood floor Floating in pools of sunlight Painted like gold over my body I don’t need you to say you’re sorry Never mind the tear brimmed eyes That ripple fear throughout my bones Shaking and shivering because I fear the end Don’t make me leave so soon When our time has just begun Return to the soft smiles that melt my heart Into a bloody sea of veins and arteries Don’t slash knives through the busy nerves Stabbing gashes that sever every emotion Let me trust you Let me love you Let me love who I want you to be Who I imagine you to be And let you do the same for me Rebecca H. 8th grade



Best Night I went to the only middle school in my tiny village, Warwork. My school’s name was Warwork County Middle. Right now I sat in my math class reciting square roots. “Who knows the square root of thirty-six?” Ms. Manger asked the class. My hand shot into the air, a fly escaping my hand. I stared into Ms. Manger’s eyes pleading, for her to pick me, but she seemed to be looking EVERYWHERE but me, barely escaping my gaze. “Anyone? Come on, you guys know this,” she said, looking around the room with a smile that said ‘I can’t wait for the weekends.’ I stared, and she avoided me by looking at Doodle Danny in the back of the room, drawing some cat thing on the table. Then at stupid Justin Roberts, who loved calling me “Nerd” and who apparently loved picking his nose, too, because he was staring obliviously out the window doing just that. I added my other arm to the raised one to hold it up as my arm grew tired. She even looked at Luna Meyers who was always inviting me to sit with her at lunch and grinning at me in the halls. Everyone loved her, except the teachers. Unfortunately, she was pretty stupid. Finally, she sighed and turned to me. Yes! “Elena,” said Ms. Manger, picking up her marker and getting ready to write. “The square root of thirty-six is six,” I said, no brag in my voice whatsoever. “Yes, the square root of thirty-six is six,” she said, squeaking her dry blue marker across the gray whiteboard. Justin snorted. I rolled my eyes and started to gather my things because class ended in a minute. Ring, ring, ring. The bell broke into an end-of-the-day chorus. “Everyone remember the building project for next week!” Ms. Manger yelled over the stampede of children desperately trying to get home so their weekend could begin. I worked my way through the clusters of kids and teachers. “Hey Nerd, nice job in class today!” shouted Justin over the loud buzz of after school kids chatting. His friend broke into a barrage of laughter as I bent my head and kept walking. “Ignore them,” said someone from behind me. As I turned around and saw black haired Luna glare at them and then turn back to me. “Hi,” she said. Oh god how can I talk to her? What do I say? I’m totally gonna embarrass myself! Just don’t say anything. I managed a muffled hi and kept walking. She grinned and said, “Ya know, Helen Sami is throwing a party tonight. You should come!” We pushed through the school’s gum-encrusted doors and were outside. “Um…” Think, Elena, think! Mommy would never let you go to a party, and they’re filled with crazy weirdos and you have to do your homework. Plus, tonight Skulls and Roses is on and those episodes only come out on Fridays. It’s an Ortega family tradition! “M-math building proj-ject,” I forced out. Great, now she thinks I’m an idiot. Just stall long enough that you’re not invited then say you have to leave. “Don’t be silly!” laughed Luna. “You have all weekend to finish, and you are an A-plus student. I think you’ll figure something out.” What could I say? You can’t say no to Luna Meyers, but you definitely can’t say ye— “So it’s settled then!” she shouts. “You’ll come! I’ll come over and pick you up at 5:30 and


we can walk to Helen’s together!” Say something you blundering fool. Don’t just stand there! “Bye!” Luna skips around the corner, smiling. Why didn’t I say anything? What am I gonna tell Mommy? I run into my apartment and slam my bedroom door shut. I curl up on my bean bag chair in the corner of my room, a tight knot in my stomach while I start on my history homework about World War II. All of a sudden it’s 5:20, and Mommy knocks on my door. “Can I come in love?” she asks. Now she thinks I’m sad. What do I tell her? “Baby, you haven’t come down to help me make popcorn for Skulls and Roses yet. Are you okay?” She stares at me with a sympathetic puppy look. “I’m just not in the mood,” I say, completely lying. “Since when?” she says, eyeing me like I have a purple nose. Sigh. “Luna Meyers invited me to go to a party with her at Helen Sami’s house, but I didn’t tell her no, and she’s coming to pick me up at 5:30!” I blurt out. I couldn’t hold it in any more. “That’s great!” she says, unexpectedly. “Wha...?” Now I’m looking like she has a purple nose. “You should go! Make some friends, have fun for one night!” “But mommy! Skulls and Roses!” “I’ll watch it and fill you in on EVERYTHING!” Mommy grins. “Come on, I’ll help you get dressed.” Before I know what was happening mommy had slipped me into a long green dress, her favorite leather jacket, and some brown boots and was shoving out the door and combing my hair at the same time. I looked great. But was I ready for this? Mommy gave one big kiss and me and Luna were in our way. Luna looked extravagant in her long gold dress and lightning blue lipstick, with a black and white scarf and a confident smile. “You look amazing,” she says, grinning at me. I smile. “You do too.” I pull my phone out of my purse and check the time. 5:40. “Skulls and Roses ought to have started by now,” I whisper to myself. Except apparently Luna heard me and let out the strangest squeal I’ve ever heard. “I love that show!” she cries. “I didn’t know you were into it!” Say something. “I, uh, watch it with my mom on Fridays,” I say, a little more confident now. “I’m missing it today so she’s gonna fill me in.” “Same here, except I watch it with my sister Janie. She’s gonna fill me in,” replies Luna, in the same high spirits as usual. “Oh, we’re here!” There were only about 20 big houses in our small town, and Helen was one of the lucky people to own one. For some reason, I felt ready. Inside Ηelen’s house, loud music blares, blinding pink disco lights flash, and tables filled with snacks and drinks get crowded around by tired dancers in need of energy. I’d lost my sense of readiness. Everyone was either talking, dancing, or trying to find the bathroom. It was a big white living room with Victorian curtains and plain gray furniture with gold


painted wood. I don’t know why it all worked together, but it did. Helen had set up the snack tables and cleared away the furniture, making way for ravers and glow stick people. Helen had also put out the pink disco lights which were blinding my eyes like a morning sliver of sun through the curtains. All of a sudden I heard squealing and a girl with braided red hair and a blue wavy dress was running towards me—or more like Luna. She grabbed her into an all out hug and they both started squealing. Some girls have really weird welcome customs. The red-head girl let go of Luna and grinned at her. Luna saw the confusion in my face because she said, “This is Helen, it’s her party.” I nodded and looked at the snack table. So much sugar; that table sure could use a salad. In the background I heard Helen squealing again. “I thought you couldn’t come cuz’ Skulls and Roses was on!” she wheezed. A paper cup flew over her head and landed in the garbage can. “Nice shot,” someone yelled from behind her. “Nah, Jamie’s gonna fill me in. Ya know Elena watches Skulls and Roses too!” says Luna. Oh god. Helen turns to me and grins and then squeals. What is with the squealing around here? “I LOVE that show! I watched it all when they showed it last year!” Helen exclaims, “My favorite character is Laura. How bout’ you?” Actually, I like Fauna. “Actually”, I say, “I like Fauna.” Her grin gets even grinnier, if that’s possible. “Hey wanna go get some snacks?” Helen leads me to the salad-less snack table and scoops a pile of chips and cookies onto a plate, takes it, and hands an empty one to me. I look at the table. So many unhealthy choices! But it’s just one night, right? I aim for the mini hotdogs and definitely over do the chips. After Helen, me and Luna finish our snack, Luna hands me a glass of fruit punch and asks if I wanna go dance. Oh brother. “I’m not much of a dancer,” I say silently. “Humbug” Helen says. “You don’t have to be a pro. I mean look at Barney!” She turns and points to the middle of the dance floor at a guy with slicked back hair who is probably still in 7th grade doing a mix of the Irish jig and a hip-hop dance. Geez, he’s terrible! I let a little giggle slip from my lips. All of a sudden, Luna and Helen grab my hand and pull me to the center of the dance floor. Oh heck no. I can’t do this! I can’t stop picturing people turning to look at me and yell, “Looks like Barney’s not the worst dancer anymore.” And then they all laugh. Luna and Helen are dancing side by side, pointing up and then down and back again. But I don’t have the guts to join them. “I don’t think I can,” I say to Luna. I start to walk away, when she grabs me by the arm and says, “You’ll never be as bad as Barney.” I smile and she grabs my arms and starts moving them up and down for me. I shut my eyes and wait, but no one laughs. The music plays on, the pink lights keep on flashing, and Luna and Helen are still there smiling and encouraging me. Maybe, I can dance just a little. I shake Luna’s arms and take two steps away, to make it look like I’m leaving. But then I turn and burst into an 80s-themed dance blow out. Helen and Luna exchange an OMG look but start dancing right along with me. By the end of the night I’m completely exhausted. I’ve had my fill of donuts and mini


hot dogs and dancing. I stay a little later to help Helen and Luna clean up. I hug them both and thank them for the wonderful night. As I walk home, I look up at the star-lit sky and the shadows dancing across the clouds, cast by the street lamps, and I smile. That had to have been the best night ever. Valentina P. 6th grade


Silence Earsplitting, all shifts of movement, all rustle of leaves, all cars beeping, gone. Endless R. 4th grade

The Magic of Midnight Midnight as the sun sets and the sweet cool wind washes over As darkness engulfs the city calm comes in slight waves Muscles relax, deep breaths of cool crisp night air As eyes flutter into the endless possibility of sleep Darkness menacing yet reassuring, cold but we can find warmth In the vast realm of midnight, secrets lie forever hidden from humanity Quiet cool and calm darkness rest over the city like a watchful mother over a child like shining eyes and a slim smile And the wandering night will always come home to the restless town to bring the only hope of sleep As darkness comes, do not fear because light will come, she’s almost here Oona M. 4th grade


The Never seen—and Never heard But still—You are Aware That Clearly—Something lurked outside And did Not—leave it Bare. ‘Twas like—a Gleaming wedding Gown A Long—and Shiny Train Or like—the Interrupting things That Weave—right Through our Brain. The Armor—Harbors a Tender—soul Within—A Spiral Cave They Smell—they touch—they do not See Their Guard—their Home—their Grave. Georgia L. 5th grade

Early Morning Birds Early Morning Birds, Chirping of Joy, chirping of Pain, In their nest, In the woods, They do their call, gathering around, While the sun goes down, The Birds leave the group and hide, and sleep, Tomorrow, they will gather together again. Oliver K. 5th grade



Dear Mrs. Dahlia, I couldn’t complete this assignment because the American education system is stupid. Why should we be required to write about ourselves in 9th grade when no one cares about anyone but themselves? If I’m being honest with you, in a hundred years no one will care about what some dopey 9th grader wanted to be when they grew up. We’re not kindergarteners. Respectfully, it makes no fuckin’ sense. All the best, Carniellia A. I stared at my computer for a second and pressed send without a second thought. Sure, I would probably get a call to the principal’s office tomorrow, but hey, I’ve been in worse situations for disrespecting authorities. Why should I respect my teacher if they don’t respect me? What did they expect me to do, lie to them? Mrs. Dahlia is my favorite teacher, the only one in this school who I think of as a friend. Not like we’re super close or anything, but that’s why I was honest with her: Because with someone I like, I’ll always tell them the truth about what I think about something. If I liked you, but I thought your outfit was ugly, I would tell you. Even if it did hurt your feelings. If I didn’t like you, and you asked if I liked your outfit, I would tell you that you were the next fashion icon. You were flawless. But obviously, that’s not true. I would just let them keep thinking that they’re the hot shit. Because why burst their bubble? I’m not that mean. Suddenly the screech of my sister’s voice from downstairs snapped me out of my thoughts. “CARNIE! Geddown here right now or I swear, Imma beat you!” Prudence was—well, a prude. No shit. I opened the door and calmly strolled downstairs, ignoring Prude’s upturned nose, clumpy mascara-coated falsies, and overlined lips, messily stained red. I didn’t understand how she had gotten a boyfriend. She was probably the prettiest out of the ugliest for a whopping five guys to like her, but hey, I can’t talk. In my defense, most middle school girls have way higher standards than middle school guys. Except for my best friend, Frank. He wants to make out with someone who at least has good outfit taste. I took my sweet time strolling down the stairs until I saw what my brother was gripping in his hand. “Get down here right now or he gets it.” Joshua gripped my stuffed lion, Growly, by the neck over the garbage disposal. I felt like I had been stabbed through the chest by a hot poker. Are you serious? My lion? The only thing that kept me stable after— “Give it back!” I yelled, skipping three stairs at a time to punch him in the face. “Ah, ah, ah,” he said in a sing-song voice. “You only get him if you get ready to go to school right now.” I nodded vigorously. The last thing I felt like doing was telling my Spanish teacher, No estudio para el examen porque llore y golpe la pared de mi dormitorio, but that lion was one of the only memories of her I had left… Pulling on my ratty red Converse, I scrambled to the door. As I yanked my backpack out of the closet, pencils and pens spilled out, but I didn’t


care. I secretly hoped that one of the writing implements would stab one of my siblings in the foot. That thought made me feel slightly less miserable, but to be honest, the only thing I cared about was getting Growly back. I know you’re probably thinking, Ha! You’re nearly fifteen and you’re still attached to a silly stuffed animal? What a loser. But don’t act like you don’t still have a stuffed animal from when you were a kid stashed in your room somewhere. “Okay! I’m at the door. Toss him to me. Now!” My voice shook more than I wanted to, but I guess Joshua got bored of taunting me and tossed me the little plushie. “Fine, since you’re being such a crybaby about it.” He laughed cruelly, but I sensed a hint of regret in his voice. Sometimes I think that just maybe the loving brother I knew is still in there. But then he pulls out shit like this. I caught Growly in my arms, stroking his mane lovingly. Then my sister’s voice shrieked in my ear. “Come on, you little brat! You’re late! Get in the car, now!” I hauled my ass into the car before we woke up any more of our neighbors. I rushed through the doors of Stadmont High School, home of the Detroit Tigers. Let’s see, what would my excuse be? Lo Siento, Senor Rafael, Yo soy muy tarde porque mi hermano y hermana acosan a mi? Nope, not nearly believable. I’d figure something out. I just tried to focus on getting to class, until I saw her. Her wavy, chocolate-colored locks of hair were tied back in a bandanna with the pattern of the Costa Rican flag. She was wearing an oversized t-shirt from Sabrina Carpenter’s “emails i can’t send” tour and a pair of jeans that flattered her hips incredibly well. And of course, to finish off the look, she was wearing her coral-colored Nike Air Force Ones that she had been rocking since the sixth grade. “Sup, Carnie!” She grinned, which made her dimples show. Every little detail of her, her freckles, her moles, her eyes, felt like something to be analyzed. I felt like I was stargazing, every group of freckles on her face a different constellation to explore. “Enjoying the first week of 9th grade?” “Yup. Never been MORE excited to have guys staring at my ass and my sanity being slowly depleted during research paper season,” I replied smoothly. Definitely without sweaty palms. Or heart palpitations. God, that felt so fucking stupid. Then the unexpected happened. She laughed. Like, a genuine laugh. To be honest, one of the most real laughs I’d ever heard, and it fit her perfectly. Sara and I bolted down the hall to our classroom. A few minutes later, we burst in, panting and sweating as we took our seats. Senor Rafael raised an eyebrow. “Now, Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Andrews, ¿por que vosotros tarde?” With everyone in class staring directly at me, I reached peak anxiety. My breathing got shorter; my palms became even sweatier than before. Luckily, Sara answered for both of us. “Nosotros en el baño. You know, girl problems.” I let out a sigh of relief and mouthed a silent “thank you.” She winked back. I prayed silently my darker complexion would help hide the blush on my cheeks. God, she would be the death of me…. To describe the rest of my school day, bad would be one hell of an understatement. Because of the events this morning, I hadn’t eaten breakfast and I had forgotten my lunch


money, so during most of my classes I nearly passed out. I didn’t want to go home because when Dad’s home…It’s never safe. I decided to go to my safe space: The nearby library. Before I got there, though, Brock and his goonies stepped in front of me. To be honest, even though Brock’s six-foot-two figure was intimidating, I had never seen him throw a punch at anyone. With his blonde hair in a crewcut and his baby blue letterman jacket, he was your typical popular jock. “Hey, Andrews.” He stood so close to me that I could spit in his face. So I did, which made him flinch but he didn’t back away. “I know you’ve got a thing for my girlfriend,” he barked. “Yeah. So what?” I smirked, sort of pleased he was pissed. “You’ll beat me up? Is that why you have your little goons here?” “You stay away from her, you—you freak,” he yelled. Then he socked me in the face. Even though I was expecting it, it was a sucker punch, too quick for me to block. The next few minutes were a blur. As I blacked out and regained consciousness simultaneously, I heard my mother’s voice calling out to me, her face bloody from the shattered windshield…. “Run! Run, mija, and don’t look back!” I said, “But mama, what about you?” She winced in pain. “Don’t worry about me! I’ll catch up with you. Just run—” Then the car exploded. After that, I promised myself no more running. No hiding. And what am I doing? Letting myself get beat up? My body felt like a plastic bag filled with water. I took another punch to my stomach. I coughed up blood. My life had been hard enough, and now these high school cliches had to beat me up the first week of school. They could’ve at least waited a month. Suddenly, I couldn’t take it anymore. I screamed, so loudly that I’m pretty sure those boys lost their hearing. Suddenly, they stopped beating me. When I turned around to see why, I nearly passed out. All three of them were knocked out on the floor. Were they…dead? Then I noticed the strangest thing: Their ears–they were bleeding. There’s no way I did that. Right? The sight almost made me want to scream again, but not because I feared them. Because I feared myself. Nailah M-R. 8th grade


Chips for Cats Inside the bag of weird cat chips, there is a strange small world. It’s run by cats who love to play— But they sometimes are bold. The sky is pink, and they have blue eyes, and all they eat is rats. They know Kung-Fu—they can fight you, just typical stuff for cats. No dogs, no noise, no water, no boys, just things that we cats like. Catnip, rats, boxes, hats, Just things for our delights. And don’t forget about those chips, for you can have some, too. All the flavors that you want, will be there waiting for you. And oh my gosh! Did I forget To tell you one more thing? The cats that live inside the bag also wear cool bling! Marlowe K. 5th grade


dream. if destiny were not enough well, i believe that will would be. what if it could be us? (wake up!) illogical yet honest bluff would disprove our strongest theory if destiny were not enough and trimmed and tailored, cut and stuffed all others fade with history what if it could be us? (wake up!) and “love,” to say a thing so rough would be acceptable to me if destiny were not enough if nothing comes to interrupt i’d never again need to see what if it could be us? (wake up!) oh, even when the sun comes up know not to wake from dreams so sweet if destiny were not enough what if it could be us? (wake up!) Maisie S. 8th grade


blue too cold, too soft, frozen blue blue is how she feels every day as she stares out the window driving home just a little bit, but enough blue is how I feel as I sit still and think just a little bit, but maybe too much sometimes she is turquoise as she smiles, other days her tears fall indigo to the floor she is blue i am blue just a little bit, but enough. Olive D-M. 6th grade New York City is a place where Thousands of people live on top of one another, Like building blocks at pre-k Plastic bags roll along the curb like tumbleweeds, Giving the trees leaves in winter, Garbage cans stay empty While trash makes a ring around it. The same homeless man you walk by every day Looks extra helpless So you give your bagel, And the next day you see it on the street, And finally notice the cigarettes Nearby the place he sleeps. Police sirens are like lullabies, Playing when you sleep. There’s another delay on the train, I guess I’ll be late again. And I love it. Josiah A. 6th grade 72

The Sports Car It sat in the driveway, gleaming and sparkling in the sun in all of its red, majestic glory. It was brand new, so clean and shiny you could see your reflection perfectly in the fender and on the doors. You just wanted to take that car for a spin and drive away forever. The grownups said, “Don’t touch it!” But Chris was fifteen and wanted to drive it so badly, and Molly (who was twelve) said, “C’mon Chris, take us for a ride!” So Chris, Molly, Peg, and Jordan piled into the red sports car when no one was looking, and took off. It was a perfect day, the clear blue sky and the birds, oh the birds, soaring high in the air in their glorious, grand formation, beautiful as ever. And the four siblings felt the wind on their faces, and it was great, no, it was perfect: just them, and the red sports car and the wide open freeway. They drove for so long, until they stopped at an old gas station called Ken’s, where they sold chips, burgers, bubblegum and candy cigarettes. The sign on the door read: “Discount For Kids and Dogs” and “Happy Tuesday.” (It was Saturday.) And in the parking lot, people played a song on their guitars that the children had never heard before. Chris, Molly, Peg, and Jordan spent all their allowance and crossed the road to the big hill on the other side of the freeway. The sun was shining, and they laughed as they trudged upwards. “I bet this is the best view in all the world!” said Peg, gazing across the landscape and thinking just how wonderful it all was. They lay there for hours and Jordan saw a cloud that looked like a duck, and one that looked like a ship, and Molly and Chris saw a big fish and a dinosaur. And they all decided it was perfect, the hill, the red sports car, the rolling fields... And the people below playing: “Spring has come, spring has come...” Valis S-Y. 6th grade


Light Without light, light wouldn’t be light light would be dark The world would be black the world wouldn’t be the world life wouldn’t have life there wouldn’t be life Nothing would be the same Our life wouldn’t be the same If you looked outside you wouldn’t see anything if you met someone you wouldn’t be able to see them If you were to look at anything there would be no paint in it, It would just be black That would be life without life Elena P. 4th grade

Girl Behind Me Small shaking hand Protrudes silently into the air, Solidifying uncertainty, thick In her arm, The calloused long finger pointing at Her small chattering chest She’s gone, Lost in the wind, Big eyes water Cheeks flush Hair is static Mouth opens… All stays quiet. Gone is the wind. Durete M. 8th grade


Flowers a luscious garden pastel petals peel apart the light calming smell Haddie B. 5th grade

Strong Black Girl I work until my blood runs out of my fingers. Tired and weak but I can’t stop. I need to prove to the white society I live in that I’m a strong black girl. That I can live up to the women and girls who came before me. I need to show them that I can survive without support or help. That I won’t fall, but I’m human. I need help and a break and comfort and help. That I don’t need to be a strong black girl. But I do. No matter if that means burnout or sleepless nights or raging headache or hours spent crying or no socializing. I need to work and work and work till my blood drips from my body because I need to be a Strong Black Girl. Tirha H. 8th grade


Title Flowing across The cover A dragon Soaring through the star-dappled sky On the wing of Hope The hope only a Title Can bring A beautiful Elegant Title Gold Letters The straw that Was once spun To gold To keep one Alive As alive as a Title Auburn Leather A princess’s Hair A princess Who lost her Clear True Glass slipper Glass as true as a Title Bold The Knight in Shining Armor Braving It all


Fiery Fierce Knight As fierce As A Title Important A king On his Throne of pure Gold Jewels Kingly as a Crown, a crown Only a title Can wear A Shimmering Regal Title Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover. Judge It By The Title. Hazel B. 5th grade


Post-Pandemic I can’t write poems like I used to. Words don’t flow like they used to, The world doesn’t shine like it used to. It doesn’t capture my attention, distract, like it used to. People criticize, they didn’t used to, Now I feel like a failure, I didn’t used to. I don’t learn from my mistakes, I used to. This fear and humiliation, not what I’m used to; I don’t know what to say like I used to I can’t say what I feel like I used to Or say what I think like I used to. I can’t express what I feel like I used to. So now I’ll say what I see, though I didn’t used to, And I’ll write what I hear, though I didn’t used to. And maybe this will be bad in a way it wouldn’t have used to, So I’ll hope, though I didn’t used to. Anaia J-F. 8th grade


Sunrise as the moon falls down and loses the war. You come up with a champion sword armored with gold you cross the sky and soon you will call, “I’m not down anymore so you shall be UP!” Sasha K. 4th grade

I set a fire Lit a match Dropped it onto the— Wait That wasn’t literal? Maybe that’s why I’m here Staring through these metal bars They’re cool to the touch Ice Countering my fire Zoya A. 8th grade


Hopeful as can be Of a warm glass of The most wonderful drink Chocolaty goodness Humming in the air Open the lid of the Cup—what a wonderful smell Overflowing with a warm sensation Late at night Amazing the whipped cream at the Top of the most amazing drink Elation at the first sip of hot cocoa Daphne A. 5th grade


Sleep Silent thoughts Lingering light and dark Escaping from a cage of reality Entering a dimension of possibility Pouring suddenly like pine sap into nothing everything blinding overwhelming scared relieved breathless into the limited world. Abby M. 5th grade



Rosie I can’t think, I never could. I always had a permanent empty-head feeling. But today is different. It’s like there are too many thoughts, a neverending cascade of them. Like a waterfall, beautiful but overwhelming. The last time I heard her was eleven months ago. Her quiet little footsteps were always one step behind me. Now as I sit in my empty home, the December chill sinking in, I hear her. Her footsteps sneak up the stairs and into my room. “Daddy?” she says directly behind me. “Yes, love?” “I’m very thirsty, could I have some water please?” Her voice is a sickening sweet note of pure kindness. “Of course.” I turn around to see the shimmering opaque ghost of my dead daughter, Rosie. I grab her pale hand and take her downstairs. Her little feet go one-two on the big pink stairs. She never did get the hang of them. Once we get to the kitchen I pick her up and place her on the counter. I start to pour some water into the brightly colored sippy cup that is Rosie’s favorite. I screw on the lid and hand it to her, but she’s gone. She will probably come back, so I place the cup in the fridge to keep it cold. For myself, I don’t pour anything. I just grab the bottle of wine that is already opened. It’s probably a few days old but it will do the job. I take a nice big gulp, and rest my head down on the crook of my arm. I try to think about her, Rosie. I think about her long red curly hair, and her quiet brown eyes, the way that her tinny high-pitched voice has a squeaky raspiness in the morning. Then I hear a poof, and my heart flutters. There Rosie is, sitting on the counter as if no time has passed. “Oh good, you’re back,” I say. “Of course, I never got to drink my water.” I walk over to the fridge and grab the sippy cup and hand it to her. “Thank you, daddy.” “Of course.” Ding-dong, ding-dong. The muffled sound of the doorbell cuts through the moment between my daughter and me. “Oh no,” I grumble under my breath. I watch as Rosie fades away and leaves her cup to fall to the floor. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The ringing gets louder so I grab the cup, put it on the table, and go over to the door. I’m careful to check the peephole and see my wife, Katie. I unlock the door and open it. “Sorry, I just forgot my keys again, but don’t worry—next time I’ll take them,” she says in her low-pitched London accent that always seems to get on my nerves. We both move into the kitchen, and I pour her a glass of water as she sits down at the table. “How was work?” “Good.” As the silence builds, Katie slowly moves her eyes down to the table where Rosie’s cup is still sitting.


“Oliver?” She says in a questioning tone. “Yes, Katherine?” I say, mocking her. She instantly has a look of disappointment on her face, knowing exactly how this conversation will go. “You know we talked about this, you can’t continue pretending like your daughter is still alive.” Her voice is doused in condescension and sweetness. “Ok, Katie, I am not going to do this again, you can believe what you believe and I will believe what I believe—” And she cuts me off, like always. “But this is not a normal thing. All I’m saying is that you should get some medical help because this is not normal!” Her voice is on the edge of yelling. “That is not true. People see ghosts all time, and I’m telling you this is real, and I don’t need some shrink to tell me otherwise.” “Ok fine you win. I’m going to go out with my work friends, and have fun talking to yourself.” She grabs her coat and heads out the door. “Wait, Kate, you forgot your keys.” The last word is quiet as I notice she already has left. The image of Katie’s short hair, rushing out the door, fills me with emotions that I can’t contextualize. Why did she run out so fast without even listening to me? Why was she acting like this? Her daughter had died a little over three years ago! I can’t take this, so I try to focus on the good. Memories of us all together—me, Rosie, and Katie. That night I sleep next to both of them. I wake up in a beautiful field of knee-high grass. I feel the hot and humid air pressing down on me from all sides. Pressing down on my chest and flooding my senses. I look around to see if there are any signs of life. In the distance, I see a little red barn, so I start walking toward it. My limbs are heavy and I can’t walk, so I use my arms to lift my legs sluggishly, moving on like that for what seems like hours. Finally, I reach the barn. There seems to be no one outside, so I go in. Katie is sitting at the kitchen table in the barn. It’s a big barn with hay all around and around fifty chickens maliciously walking around. I walk over to her and sit down in an empty chair. “Why, why Baby, why child, happiness,” she says mumbling under her breath. “Honey, are you ok?” I ask. “NO. Why?” At this moment she turns to me, yelling now. “NO BABY WHY SELFISH BABY PAINFULLY,” she yells at me, her face shifting through the people I fear most. First my father with his smearing eyes. Then my older sister with her fake laughter. Then my wife with her insistent mumbling about family and children. Then Rosie, my lovely daughter. Except at this moment, she looks like a more hollowed-out version of herself. Her face is pale, not a ghost pale but a sickly green. And her beautiful hair is wiry and gray. She is laughing and smiling. Over and over and over again. I fall over in my chair and onto the ground. I sink onto the earth falling, falling, falling. I can still hear Katie.


“Mother why Children why why. Rosie!” “Honey, Oliver, honey wake up!” I can barely hear Katie, still thinking it’s my dream. “What, what happened, what’s wrong?” I get up, startling Katie, drenched in my own sweat. “Nothing it’s just—” and she brings her hand forward and shows me a small pregnancy test with two red lines on it. “Is that?” “Yes!” “And are you?” “Yes, I’m pregnant!” The look on her face is halfway-happiness. “Pregnant!” At this moment my happiness blends with anger, leaving a terrible taste in my voice. “How far along are you?” I try to keep my voice calm but I’m almost yelling. “Umm, about two months.’’ She gets quiet now, her head dropping and her eyes sagging, getting ready for what’s about to come. “But we haven’t slept together in over six months!” She’s quiet now, opening and closing her mouth multiple times but no words come out. “Well, say something!” I’m shouting. “I’m leaving you,” she says with such confidence that my only response is anger and not hope. “How could you do this to our family!” “I know this is hard for you, but it will be better in the end. Having me around doesn’t help you with Rosie.” “Rosie, Rosie! This is where all of this is about you can’t take it.” I start pacing the room, truly I look a little crazy but Rosie—sorry, Katie—is the one who’s making a crazy claim. “You don’t want to deal with me!” “That’s not true. I simply am in love with another man. Process that however you like, but don’t use anger.” Now I’m still pacing. I can’t process the words that she’s saying. They come in one ear and out the other. Leaving ME! Well looks like I’m just going to have to play the game with her. “Well, that’s OK.” I stop walking and sit on the bed and stare at her, making violent direct eye contact. “You can have some fun, but I have to get some work done. We can talk later.” I rush out of the room not letting her have the last word. A few weeks pass and me and Katie barely speak during that time, nor does Rosie visit me. A month later Katie packs up her stuff and moves out. I don’t know what to make of myself after that. I spend time drinking, working on my novel, and talking with the only person who never left, Rosie. My image of her starts to solidify in my mind, and I get to see her grow up as I grow old. The time I miss slowly starts to make its way back into my life. That’s how I die, writing, drinking, and doing the little things with my daughter who died over thirty-five years ago. Zemi M-B. 8th grade 85

It’ll Be Fine a classmate coughed on my hand on me coughed she said don’t worry it’s just a cold JUST A COLD that was my fear that it was just a cold I assumed that she was choking or something not that she was actively passing pathogens I could die from that cold that she just gave me I could die she didn’t even apologize if I coughed on someone I would apologize at least

I think I would my classmates said that I was overreacting they are condescending and rude they make me feel like I’m an idiot when they can’t understand what I mean Maybe they’re the idiots because they can’t understand what I mean no offense some taken I’m too busy to get sick I’m too stressed to get sick there’s too much to do I can’t get sick All she had to do was cover her mouth It’s fine I’ll be fine probably Maisie S. 8th grade



I pretend, just pretend That we still exist That my memory is hazy I dream at night That he comes to talk to me That he tells me everything is ok He gets me more than you ever did Yet he does not exist I pretend, just pretend That I am surrounded by water That your hand pushes on my head That I take my last breath And you smile from the surface Rebecca H. 8th grade

I walk I stop I breathe in I breathe out I think Pineapple Crocs in a red race car with a N on the license plate I think A void of blackness I think The color tan climbing a white rope Vivian L. 5th grade


The Nudibranchs Story Nudibranchs wash up on the shore Flamelike branches now sag Vibrant blue body now limp Once free now constrained Bound by the sand and the weariness Poison runs through you No one could hurt you Except the ocean which has now betrayed you Left you to die But then again the it is the one that granted you life As I sit down in the sand A wave comes in Frothing and see-through, slightly aqua Frantic like a puppy Coming to bring you home Deep down to the bottom of the ocean I wave to you As you swim away Swirling, frolicking A tiny fire in the ocean Octavia R. 6th grade



The Setting Sun Sitting on a bench I am Watching the sun set In my bean body Split pea body Watching the greenness Of the world overflow My own greenness Watching the sun set Together Hadley W. 4th grade


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