Undrawn Self Portrait

Sara Cao writes a self-portrait that deals with belonging, the mind, and the body with powerful and visceral poetic skill.

Undrawn Self Portrait

  1. The heart cracks into yellow yolk & white as it throbs through Instagram.
  2. The body walks to its reflection and squeezes itself shut.
  3. The ears tuned for sourness savor silence before they turn on & the mouth groans at
    the loudness of the world.
  4. The brain breathes out a sigh as yesterday’s burdens are borrowed again.
  5. She mumbles about the crumbling capitalist cycle, tasting silence in return.
  6. She peels the banana & she wonders if one day, she’ll shed her skin & be silent.
  7. She consumes Radiohead’s Nude & the heart shatters at “you paint yourself white, and fill up with noise” as she imagines herself with an invisible paintbrush.
  8. In a family of scientists, the creative one chokes on the wrong genes.
  9. In her skull, there’s no more space for the pulp of afterthoughts.
  10. In the dark, she silently cracks herself open until she’s all shell and no yolk, again & again & again.

 

Sara Cao is a junior at John Burroughs School in St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently involved in her school’s newspaper, literary magazine, and Science Olympiad team. Outside of school, she is passionate about social justice issues, writing, drawing, listening to music, and eating Shin Black Ramen. Through her poetry, Sara strives to heal and inspire people who relate to the overall messages of her poems. 

Art by: Diana Ryu

Town

In her winning piece for Parallax’s Horror Contest, Eleonora Beran-Jahn takes us into the world of a mysterious small town where the night brings more than just the moon out. Also congratulations to Hannah Hardy whose art won first place in the Visual Art – Parallax Halloween Horror Contest.

This is a town whose colors crawl from the shadows
Of nicks and corners.
Dust rolls up
The encapsulating outer walls of the town every other Tuesday,
The walls are 100 feet tall and there is no wind here
Ever.
Peter and Lee are getting married
In the Jonsons’ inn on the west side of town:
Date, unknown.
I have never met Peter, Lee or the Jonsons,
Nor have I ever been driven to count
The number of rocks that make up the city’s walls.
The graveyard is very beautiful
When the sun peeks through the angry gray brushstrokes
That people call clouds,
All of the flowers are the same color.

The town holds a meeting every year
To determine how many people live
Within our protecting walls,
I do the headcount, the number is always
25.
No one really knows
What their neighbor’s face looks like;
No one really cares
To try and paint portraits around here.
There are just as many alchemists
As there are mercenaries in this place,
There is no jail,
And both services cost the same.
The Jonsons open the inn at 7 am and close at 12 am,
Just in time to prevent Richard from walking in
Pushing an empty stroller.
The bar is open 24/7.

Scratch that,
There are 26
People in this town,
James lives down in the well,
He gives us water and we breathe him air.
The church’s people have had to move the chapel
12 feet East every year
To make more room for the cemetery.
Its been 70 years since I tried to leave this place,
I am the sheriff,
Business here is slow, the undertaker gets more business than I do.
There are always 26 people,
Everyone else
Never stays “around” for long.

Sometimes I can hear ‘everyone else’ sing,
Their monotone pitch of pain gives roses their rose.
It is January when they gain strength
And melody turns into the screeching
Of nails drawing against wood.
It must be beautiful what they do
In their tortured years bellow the dirt.
Once James murmured me to help them,
He said their noise was making him cold.
I told him I couldn’t
For shattered throat moans are not considered my jurisdiction.

By Eleonora Beran Jahn

Artwork by Hannah Hardy.
“Self Portrait,” Parallax Horror Contest Winner