Not Coming

T.I., an incarcerated poet, brutally writes about one of the many nuanced pains of being behind bars as a young adult. His unique diction makes for a heartbreaking read.

It was a lot of events in my life
I thought people wasn’t going to show
When Amari was born
Keva, Shay-Shay, and Major was my only support in the room
I thought my mother and my father was going to show
I thought my friends was going to show
Only friend that came was Day-Day
Visits was at 7:00
But 6:59 the screen didn’t pop up
I knew ain’t nobody coming
Going in my room thinking
Who was the visit supposed to be
It wouldn’t matter
Because ain’t nobody come for me
By: T.I.
T.I. is a 17 year old who is currently incarcerated. He discovered how much he loved to write while behind bars and uses it to express himself.
Visual Art by Cristobal Alaya

A Woman at Veradero

Madeleine Quirk beautifully captures the essence of a woman in Varadero. Her unique use of imagery creates a reflection that will resonate with you.

At 15 I watch her buy Cuban cigars
and I can tell that she carries the taste of smoke
wherever she goes. Its richness hangs
about her like sleep,
a golden mist of many suns and hieroglyphs:
she reads hands and cocked hips
like they are a language that is not dead,
only resting.

When she breathes tobacco dust,
it is not escaping but returning to the earth,
to the leaf and the burnt orange field.
I think for a moment,
I should cover myself in a blanket of fertile soil
and only ever bathe in rain,

but I remember I have heaped
my bags with some sea glass
I found alone on a murky beach
and held to my eye, looking inland from the shore.
Miles away a stone-carved saint
scowls at the skyline smog.
She smacks a stick of chewing gum
and cracks her teeth on concrete.

It comes from deep caverns
in subterranean whispers
and it comes on the breath of a woman:

return.

By: Madeleine Quirk

Madeleine Quirk lives in Kingston, Ontario. She is in her senior year of high school. In her spare time, she enjoys reading poetry and singing with her choir.

Visual art by John Michael Dee

Fiction and Poetry Scholarship Contest!

Win a $25,000 scholarship to attend Idyllwild Arts Academy as a Creative Writer, and possible publication in Parallax Online!

Fiction and Poetry Scholarship Contest:

Win a $25,000 scholarship to attend Idyllwild Arts Academy as a Creative Writer, and possible publication in Parallax Online!
Submit a story or poems by May 1, 2019 to be considered.
Click here for more details.

Two Poems by Armaan Bamzai

In “Liebchen” and “Noor”, Armaan Bamzai creates lyrical narratives constructed from folk lore and his own personal experience and homeland.

Liebchen

white allegory
of woman walking through forest
redclothed, basketed, smiling
and inside the forest in Germany
from the black shadowfolds
of old trees / the sun is a chandelier
unpolished, growing yellower
& less yellow / fur coat sharp smile
and I must love this man?

and I must walk this mulch path
with his eyes my iron chains
i’ve heard it said that my body
is a renewable resource. what
that means is that it is infinite
it makes more of itself at every
touch. Dear, your resurrection
is old news / tell me about that
sofa you bought, PreLoved
white tartan cover / upholstery
bleeding medicine smell. springs
sticking out / like a brown boy
at a new school

oh, nevermind / we’re here, see
what a pretty cottage this is
in the middle of these blue woods
and what big teeth you have.

Noor

heiress of nothing
white pickup,
how many fires
in your wilderness
before you realize

your jeweled lines:

brow heavy gold
eye, sapphired

lips;
silk, silk,
silk, again.

hand on window
cigarette, trailing smoke
between pink fingers

your eyes are black
like cherry pits,
like dark dripping wounds

the women of Kashmir have faces.
translucent skins
They are stepping out of,

our women are filled full
with love.
love, and
hunger.

 

By: Armaan Bamzai

Armaan Bamzai is currently a high school at the International School Bangalore, in India, and has been unfailingly writing poetry (in whatever media he can) for the past four years now. The poem “Noor” is an homage to his Kashmiri heritage and “Liebchen” is a distorted narrative of the German folktale of Rotkaeppchen.

Visual art by Frankie Song 

 

The Sky Apnea Collection

In “The Sky Apnea Collection”, Ariel Serene uniquely paints picturesque scenes of nature. Her surprising terminology creates a masterful description.

Apnea

Spasm of noontime yellow

Atop aching valley of strawberry root.

The wafting of pumpkin sun

ribbons

across dimpled doughy green.

To collapse here,

To become just a thing

Compressed under heavy

brilliance of air.

The heart balloons as does

The oak

And sparrow.

 

Here also lays wing, broken.

Bumbling oramagmied bird hungry

For carbonated sky,

for a hushed god

In this kneeling.

This building again

Amongst red bulb berries

Dangling from shrub

Swallowing the scent of sunset.

Cartilage cocoon spools

Through and out,

Wing mends as does the

Drunken maid and

Womb.

 

Sky Junction

The ivory’s obsidian counterpart:

Minor exhale twinges to

splinter compressing grey

And red

Dripping down a spine;

Matted fur in a ruffled song.

Do we dance slower now

Or speak underwater,

Where time slips

And gurgles through a palm.

Or

is it the heart allowing it,

A caven cry and leap

In love, I do

The birdwatcher and stargazer

Find mirrors under athick curdling sky

In adeafening dance with liberty,

beheading of gravity

30 feet above

A blistering suburb

Plagued and shredded into sun

And cement

Waiting for return of yesterday.

 

 

Summer’s Sister

Everything new under a young

Blue shadow.

Gasoline rainbow

Cracks under rubber boot. an

October lays her head heavy

Upon sharp wet road,

The brittle dead

Succumb to weight,

Gasped into swirling

Rust and orange.

Fold into the

courtesy after summer.

A quieter bomb, shaggy

And burrowing. the

Frothy atmosphere

Licks bare arms.

Night bites further into afternoon and

sun yolk drips quicker,

Heavy and crumbling with submission.

 

Ariel Serene is a 17 year old aspiring poet and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Although new to the poetry scene, this determined young writer quickly fell in love with the art and is currently applying to major in English at UCLA.

 

Visual art piece titled “Looking Through The” by Meicen Deng.

Adultolescence: A Money Grab for a Social Media-Crazed Generation

Delany Burk takes a look at Adultolescence, and why the poetry collection isn’t worth picking up.

Gabbie Hanna, Adultolescence, $16.99, ISBN 978-5011-7832-0

Adultolescence by Gabbie Hanna is a playful and childish book of poetry, paired with Hanna’s own simple and beautiful artwork. It explores the mentality and struggles of the new adult generation, as well as the influence of social media on mental health and real life relationships.

The book depicts grueling subjects such as breakups, the struggle to find oneself, and even depression and suicide. However, despite the subjects, Adultolescence remains sarcastic and immature. The childishness of Hanna’s poetry has its charm, and follows the newly developed “Twitter-speak” form of poetry which derives its language and audience from the short, cynical style of the new social-media-crazed population. However, this style does not serve the subject matter in an effective way.

Some of the poems follow a rhyme scheme, yet are too short to fully carry it out. The poem HIDE (15) for example, follows an AA rhyme scheme, and explores the effects of hiding depression and other mental health issues. But this poem is too short to have an important or influential message of any kind. It seems that these subjects, which are common topics among teens and young adults today, are only there for the reader to relate to. In addition to falling short in the linguistic department, the shorter poems deal with heavier topics like mental health issues, even addressing death and the desire to die, or wanting someone else to die; yet the poems seem to trivialize these issues. For example, POUT examines these issues in an immature way, saying, “life sucks. be grateful, you woke up this morning. that’s the worst part.” (8-9) This type of language is often used by teenagers today; they joke about these feelings in conversation in order to mask them, using humor as a coping mechanism, which is not often a positive message for someone to be promoting. These short anecdotes are paralleled by longer poems and anecdotes which seem repetitive and dry, devoid of the sarcasm and wit that is present, albeit misused, in the shorter poems.

The art is interactive, often incorporating the poem into the drawing in one way or another. At times the art pairs well with the pieces, but ultimately does not help readers obtain a meaningful takeaway. Hanna is clearly artistically inclined, as her drawings are impressively detailed, while still sticking to a line art style. The realism of the drawings may take readers by surprise, as the people in them are easily recognisable, and often appear with Gabbie in her YouTube videos. All of these positive traits, however, do not make up for the writing, some of which is worked into the drawings in rather disappointing ways. One example of this is a poem titled “K,” which is an blank page, except for a text bubble with the letter “K” inside and a read receipt underneath.

Adultolescence follows a common thread, which seems to have stemmed from the Milk and Honey phenomenon, and follows the same pattern of good artwork paired with–at best–mediocre writing. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur was one of the highest grossing poetry books of 2017, and was Number Two on Amazon’s Best Seller list. It is widely loved and cited as an aesthetically pleasing and relatable work by many teen readers. That being said, Milk and Honey shows a pop-culture side of poetry, rather than the traditional style which uses beautiful language, and images found in the work of poets like Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson. This new and vulgar style is now simply being accepted by readers without much thought, due to its easily interpreted, relatable content.

Adultolescence–along with Milk and Honey–represents a new idea of “money grab” poetry, which stems from social media influencers, and the new Internet-focused generation. These influencers write books in the anecdotal style of Twitter and other word-space-limited social media platforms, and then claim them to be artistic and poetic, when really it is a way for an already well known celebrity to make even more money. People like Gabbie Hanna, who could be considered second tier influencers, and have a smaller audience than other big-name YouTubers, often share their financial situation with their fans and may have a lower income than larger influencers. This somewhat justifies the “easy money” of writing and selling books, as it pulls in readers from a smaller fan base, and expands the writer’s brand.

However, this does not justify the claim of “art.” Adultolescence does not represent what poetry really is to most published poets. The claim of poetry and art should be reserved for beautiful, intelligent, and playful works, and should not be applied to collections of on-trend, relatable, and sarcastic content, which sells more copies than authentic art, due to the popularity of the writer rather than the quality of the work.

By Delany Burk

Baptized in Fire

In “Baptized in Fire” Cole Kissam contemplates the self through religion and music.

Prometheus shaped us from the Earth,
but I have one rib fewer than my mother. My hidden
self cuts me open to look for what is missing,
finds my energy too precious to sign away.
Still, I sign in spit. In spite is how I spread
my words: paranoia, betrayal and loss.
There is no difference in what I say, only
how I say it. I learned this from the burials
and burnings in my nightmares keeping
me from closing my lids. They say we all seep
back to clay one day, but I see Cudi in the flames.
His muscles hardened, his skin pink and luminescent.
Baptized in fire. He crashes from a high place,
splinters into a million particles, blessings
spilling from him, a now broken pot.
The fire that once contained him blesses
over my skin. Then, I shape myself.

 

 Cole is a student who learns as much from failing as he does from his teachers. His favorite poets include Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum and Reginald Dwayne Betts.
Visual art by “Yuga” Yujia Li.

Solitude

In “Solitude”, Lu Yuan uses images of nature to explore the solitude of the self.

Waves strike against cement of solemn water.

One solitary seagull pierces through the clouds,

Slices sky from the sea without bound,

Watching it rise and rise out of sight

Like a balloon from a careless child’s hand.

Will the sky, too, pop,

If it climbs too high?

 

Sunlight crawls on snowflakes so purely warm.

One solitary nightingale sings among thorns of ice

And shatters the clear crystal with voice alone,

Its image flickering in ice shards,

As they dive into deep snow

Like dandelion seeds taking root.

Would the ice, too, grow,

Into a snow-draped forest?

 

Shadows retreat from the burning candle in haste.

One solitary raven trips over a bottle of ink,

Dips its wings in a pool of spreading black,

And drags the feathers across the parchment,

Composing poetry with such grace, an instinct –

How like a coffee mug rushes towards the ground.

Would the ink, too, drip so fiercely

That it wounds the floor?

 

Lu Yuan is a junior at Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the school’s literary magazine, Chimera. Her poem has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. 
Visual Art by Audrey Carver

Two Poems By Asha Marie

In “Dinner” and “Blue,” Asha Marie uses powerful imagery to explore family and the self.

Dinner
is served on a picnic blanket
in the garden.
 
The wind comes
with some weary wobble,
caught in some savory sulk
and turns the air sour
and thick
             grandmother’s marmalade
sordidly unabashed
and I rush to take cover inside.
Sister sits through the slew
and pinches at honeysuckle
collected earlier.
She sips on its sweet slobber
and absentmindedly
swallows an ant.
 
She smiles
and I imagine
she feels the tickle
of its little ant feet
running along her taste buds,
toppling down her throat
trying to catch a grip
on her insides,
before boiling in the slop
of her stomach acid.
 
Sister is placid,
somewhat jaded,
              I suppose
through this tantrum
and eventually,
the wind gives in
and leaves
in a fit of pique.
 
In this moment,
I feel a knot of jealousy
jumbling in my belly.
             I long to sit as comfortably as her.
 
Blue
 
I rise with
the hum of car engines
outside my window
and wood creaking
beneath heavy footsteps
in the hall.
 
Did you know
the crickets
chirp and groan
in the morning
the way they do
when the sun sets
and streetlights flicker on
as fireflies flitter
tracing glowing
breadcrumb trails
through the grass?
 
A cricket’s symphony,
(a child’s missing music box)
plays through the night
breaks at midnight
and resumes with dawn
and morning dew.
 
I cup my breasts
with my hands
when I am cold,
in bed,
bent slightly at the hip,
cast like a cicada shell,
molded from clay–
 
This morning is cold.
 
I tuck my arms,
folded, into paper cranes
under my belly
& feel my nipples
cold, & hard
less like diamonds
less like glass.
 
Today,
when the car engines
turn over & hurry off
into the distance,
& the crickets
strike their final
hum, I do not
unfold myself–
not in the blue
of the morning,
not with sputtering
engines nor footsteps
groaning along
because today
I am cold,
saturated blue
and hollow inside.
 
Today, my nipples
cut along my palms,
diamonds cutting
against glass
& there is no
warming me.
 
Asha Marie is a senior at the Fine Arts Center, a competitive magnet arts high school in Greenville, South Carolina, where she studies Creative Writing and Digital Film. Her work has been published in the Chautauqua Literary Magazine and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is the Social Media Editor for Crashtest Magazine (crashtestmag.com).
 
Visual art by Rudy Falagan

Akimbo

Lily Sickles provides the reader a rush of images and movements centered around the word “Akimbo.”

You onomatopoeic multisyllabic beat

I wax akimbo out of my bathroom door

Post shower, clogged with pores and hair and

Pledge! Glasses a top my face (and wait)

To see them clearinga test of endurance

Some dilapidated trust,

Waiting for an occurrence

A feat of seeing! or, unexpectedly,

Akimbo? When one day I finally trip

On my

Extraterrestrial bathroom tryst of

Akimbo, pesky

Innumerable, my limbs that flail interminable

 

Lily Sickles is a junior at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. She is an editor at her school’s literary magazine, Guildscript, and attended the Between the Lines writing program at the University of Iowa.