How to Ride the 14 Mission Bus

1.
Avoid the loopies; if a nearly naked man
begins bathing himself in milk by the folding origami doors,
run. Or if a ravenous lady bites into your shoulder
for a mere morsel. Or if a man with RDA (resting drunk attitude) and
a skullet, enveloped in a power puff bathrobe,
describes his tumultuous love life
with the most unneeded details.
Or if a guy playing air guitar in a cascading cream ball gown
offers you a lollipop from deep in the flounces around his crotch, say no.
Or if a man cleanly removes his shirt and begins slathering himself
in slickening lotion. Avoid all eye contact.
They’ll just start talking to you more.

2.
Ignore the irrational, irritating teens,
infesting the back of the bus
like the stench of bubblegum vape and piss,
chucking half-open bottles of neon Gatorade at passersby,
tip-tapping random folks like woodpeckers
on a tree. And if they profusely repeat
“Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday,”
when you know in fact it is not your birthday, or when
they chuck bouncy balls at you, and even
though it shouldn’t be unbearable, you have the urge to punch them.
Instead, flip them off and run, knowing full well
they are much older and much stronger.

3.
Don’t be a dick. If a triple sweatered old lady
heaves herself onto the bus, and lurches towards your seat,
freighted with torn pink plastic bags
bearing broken bok choy and broccoli,
then you must stand. Especially,
if the bus is like a can of stewed tomatoes,
all mushed together, practically red sauce.
Or if a life-sapped mother trails by
clinging to a stroller, a boiling tea kettle of sorts
delicately adorned with lavishly looping leaves
and inside a ceaseless screeching,
then quickly make way.

4.
Escape.
Plow through piles of people rushing in
like ants to the nest before rain.
Dodging elbows, backpacks
and deafening debates
as you hurdle to the shit decorated sidewalk
shout ‘Thank You!’ to the driver.
This is non-negotiable.
Stuck in an endless loop
of bathrobes, tossed gatorade and screeching,
this simple courtesy might do them some
good.

 

 

Jude is the product of his Chinese, Indian, Native Hawaiian and bi-national US and UK heritage. Jude’s unique background and multicultural perspective enables him to contribute to the broader conversation on race and diversity. This background deeply informs his poetry, written while a Junior at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Creative Writing Program in San Francisco. His work is influenced by writers he greatly admires, Frank O’Hara and George Saunders. He is working on a novel that he hopes to publish before turning twenty-one. 
Visual Art By: Sherry Ruohan Huang
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what the ear did not

a wisp of wind stalks the air. 
off the edge of suspicion, 
the ear complains 
in solemn impatience: 
you, give up your games. 
Mystery leaks a grin, 
knowing what the ear did not. 
It breathes again 
this time, enough 
to push an ant off a cliff. 
It touts Truth’s treasures 
teasing the ear 
to the point of eruption. 
in Violence’s disapproval 
haymakers fly all around 
catching nothing 
but dead air.

 

Michael Nguyen is a high school senior in Sacramento, California. Aside from writing, Michael enjoys playing chess, tennis, and reading classics. 

Visual Art By: Lea Bronnimann

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Of Dead Dreams and Elegies

Midnight of my
Eighteenth birthday, I
Rippled into a foreign forest,
Water-drowned, rebirthed
Myself as a haunted
House.

Seven times, I
Submerged my head
Beneath the patchwork
Quilt of decaying leaves, holding
Prayer within the gums
Of my teeth.

I had hoped for something
A little less
Hollow.

On nights, when
The moon dripped light, aged
Paper lanterns hung
From wire constellations, lost
Dreams played hide and seek
In the caverns and creeks.

Three months, I
Hinged the corners
Of my bloodied mouth on the edges
Of a violent river, allowed
Fish needles and molded
Iris petals to soil
My organs
In hopes of drowning
The small things within.

But in the water,
Their call echoed.

 

Lydia Bae is a high school senior in Bellevue, Washington. She writes primarily poetry. Her writing has previously been recognized in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Foredge Review, and the Apprentice Writer.

Visual Art By Lea Bronniman

 

Unpublished

Our heads were meant to be upside down 
but instead, we published our brains to the moon.
I rejected the softness
of blonde moss sprouting from my scalp,
let it land like drizzle
upon my warped toes. 
I was the clock as your shell developed
inside our reddish walls, the way they stirred us
into each other. Into ourselves. 
My fingers like beheaded worms
newly learning to squirm on their own, 
trying to stay alive 
when they cannot yet live –
We scolded my morphing body
for I was not ready to be upside down.

We are no longer in the womb 
I am reminded daily. 
My head is now buried in blue moss
like a weighted saddle on my spine,
as I emboss my teeth into my knees
spitting myself into puddles, enough blood to breed mosquitoes.
Your shell sighs as you hobble beside me
under the moon who’s still editing our brains. 
The moon who critiques our fetal language,
the slouching of our sentences,
the wasting of our words.
We have permission to squirm slowly now
and remain blissfully unpublished. 

 

Hazel Fry is a sophomore in creative writing at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco. They have work published in Synchronized Chaos, The Weight Journal, and Tiny Day, the smallest ever newspaper, and have performed their poetry at the Youth Art Summit in San Francisco. When Hazel is not writing, they can be spotted cuddling their three cats, holding their python, feeding their tarantula, or rescuing insects from being squashed. 

Visual Art By Victoria Han Nguyen

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Three Poems By Caroline Rubin

Superstition

 

Because I am young

I secure a mirror tightly to my bedroom wall

 

But I still see shadows cut fragments,

Fractures form in the dark of twilight, where stars hide

 

Themselves beneath this cloth we call universe.

 

Through heavy eyes, the glass begins to sway like

A grandfather clock, my restless mind begs for sleep,

 

Or begs for dreams, or begs for dreams to bleed

Into reality, to wake once more in a better dream.

 

I’d like to say I trust the universe. I hold her hand

 

Like my own mother’s. My age holds no

Significance. I am afraid of separation, drifting

 

Somewhere lonely, in some empty sea.

Destiny is seductive.

 

It points to a place and commands you go there.

And so, you do.

 

My life-line diverts as I wake, wandering

Towards some heaven I can’t pronounce.

 

Illumination

 

Vermeer, did you fall in love with the woman or the painting of her?
Amongst your subjects’ delicate features lay softened shadows.

 

I see a spirit in every fierce brow, in every blotted complexion. An imprint:
your life in those malachite paints and burnt sienna shadows.

 

Your reflection mirrors in every brushstroke, every gentle unfurled curl.
Did you desire the sun for warmth or required light to erase the shadows?

 

We share common ground: art is our oxygen. Without it, we wither and wilt.
Teach me how to uncover the beauty of a world stained with shadows.

 

I wish you could paint me. I cannot think of a lovelier way to be memorialized
than living through a masterpiece. Fragment my soul, remnants of past lives shadowed.

 

If you could paint me, Vermeer, leave the title anonymous, I don’t want them to
know my name, but the woman I could have been.

 

The Poet Warrior
an ode to Garcilaso de la Vega

 

You listen to the music of your own beating heart underneath
medals and insignias. Hear the swelter of the lyre trapped in the heavy breath

 

of war, watch your men fall and pray for mercy.

 

Between the rush of blood and anguish,
you whisper verses
through
trembling lips
as you draw your sword.

 

A fragile balance between two souls:
grounded by the cold reality of death, eternalized by the fire of poetry.

 

There is a fiercer battle persisting in your heart.

 

Fate always seems to take the ones who
understand too much: the tapestry of the man you were,
unraveling at your feet as you fall into the arms of a saint.

 

Holy, holy like the strum of your lyre, silk chords settling

 

into your veins. They fade out into silence against the toll
of church bells.

 

Caroline Rubin is a 16-year-old poet from Naples, Florida who is currently attending the Community School of Naples. She has been published in the American High School Poets National Poetry Quarterly and has been recognized by the Scholastic National Art and Writing Awards. Through her poetry, Caroline aims to explore the existential questions that keep her awake at night.
Visual Art by: John Michael Dee
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Kido

First Encounter

 

That skinny boy darts through the hallways of our apartment, switches our intercom on and off,presses all the buttons in our elevator, circles about each floor until he has touched every doorknob, humming a single note throughout. Hooooooo. I follow close behind at the request of my mother, who doesn’t want him to get lost. Each time he peeks back at me to find that yes, I am still there, he giggles behind his palms. “He’s never been invited to another person’s home before,” his mother confesses. I am no less bewildered.

 

My Mother Says

 

He is ten years old, he is in my younger brother’s grade, his classmates pinch him until bruises bloom across his arms and legs, they tell him to go back to special ed, he considers them his friends, he is invited to our home to make real ones, his name is Kido. Not “kiddo,” but “kee-doh.”

 

Rain

 

The rain comes suddenly, spilling over the glass, blurring together the red tail lights and street signs and road ahead of us into indistinct shapes. Kido’s mother stiffens and asks Kido to bear what’s coming for just a little while, and when the window wipers start swishing back and forth, Kido shrieks and howls for so long that I cover his ears and eyes with my hands to blot the world out. He throws up.

 

Navigation

 

The second time they visit, my mother asks me to wait for them by the elevator–our hallways are a maze to navigate. Kido leads the way instead. “Over here,” he says and stops at each corner, making sure that we are still following him. Making sure we haven’t lost him. When he pushes the intercom, a familiar tone rings through the air. Hooooooo. Later I ask his mother if he has perfect pitch, and she is surprised that I noticed.

 

Beauty

 

Kido teaches me and my mother which jams to spread over the crackers and assures me that there is no sesame in anything, he has checked. I can’t recall telling him that I have a sesame allergy. As we eat in silence, his mother, winking at us first, asks him why he is acting shy.“It makes me nervous to be around beautiful people,” he says, then bites into his cracker. I laugh because the only other person who calls me beautiful is my grandmother.

 

His Name

 

When I tell Kido’s mother that I wish everyone else would hurry up and see what they were missing, a strange glimmer sets in her eyes–the expression of one remembering something forgotten long ago. Kido, she finally says, is a Korean name. And in Korean, his name means “prayer.”

 
 
 
 

Miye Sugino is a seventeen-year-old who grew up in Tokyo and now lives in LA. Her work is published or forthcoming in Parallax OnlineCathartic Youth Literary Magazine, and HS Insider, among others. She will be attending the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop this summer.
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Two Poems by Ellie Elrod

to myself, by well bucket. 

 

i want to be gentle right now,

coax the coal burning down your

throat out with sweet tasting bait,

words like “it’s okay that you didn’t

complete your assignment tonight,”

“it is fine to not have eaten today,”

“i don’t hold this against you,”

 

but please know, i do;

not like a knife to your neck,

but like my hand on your back,

because when hope seems out of

stock, locked tight behind the

confines of your body, 

i will build and be the factory, 

shipping straight to 

your fingertips’ home address, 

though i know they don’t hit like home right now, 

but trust me, they are, 

because they are my home 

too.

 

you are my blood, my best thing, 

i will stop what seeks to kill you, 

and that includes yourself.

 

so when every step towards the bathroom 

to shower feels like it’s ploughing 

through the thick mud of gutless life,

 

when the water in your eyes 

reflects off encouraging words like 

the ceiling of our atmosphere,

 

when you are too tired for poeticism, 

 

know that this is not the first time

you have met rock bottom, 

and that does not mean you are friends, 

but we both know the freeze of that floor

too well to sleep now.

 

i have been your mother and your father, 

tucked your body into the crook of my elbow, 

carried you out of caverns far sharper than this one,

and all you have to do for me, right now, 

is breathe.

 

fill both lungs with all you can take, 

and when it comes time to exhale, 

know it is only to make room for more.


portrait of a burning manufacturing plant, or a tribute to the trans women in my community

the woman swaying down the sidewalk

does not like to be stared at. she likes to be

known, and to be understood. in

the sunlight, you would know that eyeliner

is more golden than yellow and the tar

they tried to stick between her fingers

is thicker than any blood, but not thicker

than the skin she’s grown in the time since they left

her. they would say the womb has walls, not wings,

that the body has bounds it must fit in,

that she is anything but herself. yet there is

nothing permanent about the flesh, nothing

so lively about it but the sweat, the words.

the salt on body that comes from belief in action.

the syllables screamed over crowds of unbelievers until

someone heard. heard sylvia. heard danica.

heard a breath louder than the insults.

she stands out, her style a crown, a shield,

and a sword all in one. her flair, unlearned, is born

of things that predate and outsmart the old world

schema. she is the new world in a hot pink dress

and blue pumps, built from by-law breakers, makers

of space, long nights that seemed endless for people

with the wrong clothes and the wrong heart,

covenants of culture, painting the colors

flying above our heads, and when i look

between her smile and the flag,

i can see the resemblance.

 

Ellie Elrod is a Charleston-born poet and movie aficionado who’s currently attending Berkeley Center for the Arts as an 11th grade Creative Writing major. Their works have been published in The Post and Courier, The Maze 2020, and Desk Gum (Goose Creek High School’s Arts Magazine), as well as being awarded by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and MUSC. A lot of their time is spent attempting to learn French, Korean, and Guitar.

Visual art by: Sebastian Bateman 

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The Wrecked Classroom

They were on a field trip.

They sat still in the cabin as in the classroom.

‘Stay still, stay still’

 

The children were still as ordered,

like screws waiting to be assembled on a conveyor belt.

Wearing their life jackets, they waited.

But it was a factory form of capitalism.

‘Move, move, move’,

If someone had said this,

if only they had opened the doors and windows,

that classroom would not have become a grave.

 

They were on a field trip.

Name tags and bags,

floors of shattered classrooms

all floating in waves.

Each child had a beautiful name,

but for those who wanted to keep the ship,

it was a name of unknown existence.

They had parents who loved them,

but their ends were the same, all the same–

a cold, broken, dead body.

The three words they would have urgently

spat out, which became bubble letters.

“I’ll miss you.”

They were locked in the water jail,

wearing the shroud with a fake name;

‘life jacket.’

 

They were on a field trip.

But you taught them death

There are still children in the classroom.

The legs that cannot escape from

under the desk, under the chair.

Fingers found broken.

Nails scratching the window.

Now I wonder

Whose hand holds the axe to break the window?

 

I–Death

 

They ask children to stay still.

‘You’ll be safe,’

they reassure them.

Children joke

Titanic,

their final traces on this very world.

 

Laughter fades to uneasiness,

selfies become keepsakes,

phones record voicemails,

jokes give way to necessity,

fingers lock between hands,

teeth clench in silence,

water replaces air.

 

Waiting. Worrying. Confusing. Grasping. Fearing. Trembling. Panting. Shrieking. Struggling. Stumbling. Pushing. Hurting. Moaning. Groaning. Clutching. Choking. Shoving. Bellowing. Banging. Smashing. Scraping. Breaking. Wailing. Gasping, gasping, gasping for air,

then silence.

Stillness.

 

II–Rescue

 

Birds fly over the wreckage.

They send men on a mission–

to punish the sea with oxygen.

Underwater Santa Clauses

carry gifts of theurgical breaths,

and nectarous lullabies of singing bubbles

for lost children to follow in the dark,

and dive into the blue,

where the rampage of evils

has just ended.

The sea, frightened by the men

stops its singing of death’s prelude.

 

Hands seek hands.

Heavenly prayers–the luscious song of bubbles

flow through cabin and aisle mazes,

calling the lost souls of innocence.

Rooms camouflage into water jails,

souls forever to be imprisoned.

 

III–After

 

A sad butterfly sits on the chest of politicians,

a sad butterfly who has lost its place and cannot fly.

I cannot bear to place that ribbon on my chest. 

 

 

Yunseo Cho is a junior at Branksome Hall Asia, an international school in Jeju, South Korea. She has been previously awarded a Gold Key for her writing in Scholastic Art and Writing 2020. She wishes to further her passion for theatre and literature in the upcoming years. 

Visual Art By Rita Ruan 

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Two Poems by Mollie Schofer

2wice

So I’m looking at you and you seem like the kind of person that likes to do things twice. Your eyelashes furl like a shivering sundew–no, Sundew. Your Sundews furl then unfurl and catch only the flies low on serendipity, serendipitous–serendipitously they fly higher and higher, out of the reach of the sSundews feeding on the serendipidless.

 

There is a third kind of heartbeat, you know. It sounds like a terciopelo’s warning: do not sink your calves into my teeth. Unfortunately, people neither listen to terciopelos nor heartbeats. Only the hollow inhales of veins and fingers, and the subsequent feelings of vivacity.

 

So you turn to look at me, with those sunSundews. You turn to look at me and I see, through the curtainous coverings of your corneas (those capitalizing congregates of copious concealment), your reciprocals of light and not darkness. Your reciprocals of light and not darkness ask me: how do you feel about velvet. And I reply: it’s soft. And they say: thread some through your ears and let the rasps of rasping scales hide your heartbeat. So I threaded some velvet through my ears and let the rasps of rasping scales hide my heartbeat. But to my astonishment, the scales didn’t rasp one bit. They sounded like cotton, and I knew they were imposters. I must get them out, I must! So I ran to the water and dunked my head in. It soothed the rancid itches in my ears. It soothed the rancid itches in my head and throat and pupils.

 

My eyes filled with water and it backwashed through my tear ducts, and I was clean. Resurfacing, the velvet in my ears turned to seeds and I shook them out and I was free. Running, the water left my body and sweated down my cheeks and thighs and I was

empty.

Breathing, the beats in my heart rattled around my diaphragm and tendons and I was

full.

Stretching, the teeth in my calves fell into the mud and the core of the earth and I was

alone.

 

Honestly, it was energizing.

 

So you’re looking at me and I seem like the kind of person that comes out on top: clean, free, empty, full, alone, energized. But empty and full cancel each other out, and so do free and alone, and energy is null unless you have strength, so I’m just clean.

So you’re looking at me and I’m looking at you and we really don’t see each other at all,

do we?

No, I think we’re both wrong, in the end.

 

2 Much Toad

 

When I die, my body will be warm for just a few seconds

In that time, an old toad will lay her eggs in my mouth

And they will hatch into tadpoles

                and tadpoles

Which will swim in my saliva

And live off of the bacteria on my teeth

 

And reproduce, as toads do.

Generations will never know of a world without teeth, or esophaguses.

They will pass down the stories: first there was tongue, then there was wet

              Always tongue first, then wet.

After religion, they will create art

And paint the insides of my cheeks with the juice of the spinach stuck in my teeth

Soon, everything will be green.

 

Everything will be green, everything will be soft and salivating

They will write on my cheeks with spinach script:

               Don’t be such a stickinthemud

They are of course referring to me, their god

However it is inevitable that one young tadpole will get bored and curious

And stare into the depths of that cavern that always stares back

And dive in, down down down

 

It will boil in my stomach acid, but that is what martyrdom entails.

Others will follow, and they will succeed where the first did not

They will colonize my throat, my stomach, my intestines.

 

I will be thoroughly toaded.

And they will smile, and write on the lining of my gut:

               Tomorrow will be even better

And they will forget

That everything must end eventually

And they will be warm for just a few short seconds.

 

 

 

Mollie Schofer is a young writer from Southern California. Their poetry was most recently published in Inkblot Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, and Orange Cat Review. They are currently a student of creative writing at Orange County School of the Arts.

Visual Art By: Jiwon “Lily” Nam

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Aquarius Rising

Blades of grass douse your socks

in cold, mud-filled water

 

Moonlight pours over the sea,

waves dancing in the spotlight

 

Your eyes follow the moonbeam

up to its origin and you stare, bewildered

 

Arm stretched, you trace Orion’s belt,

Cassiopeia and Ursa Minor too

 

You become entranced as you

piece together the story of the stars

 

Lungs fill with air but you stop,

unable to articulate the sensation

 

Shocked by the familiarity

you immerse your senses once more

 

The reminiscent feeling permeates

it bathes in each crevice of your fist

 

You begin sinking, submerging yourself in

what was believed to be unknown

 

And as ambiguity saturates your soul

the droplets caress your skin

 

Strung together by magic, by history

a story told by time

 

Kaylee Morris is an 18-year-old senior in high school at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences who plans to study Environmental Analysis at Pitzer College next year. She is a passionate jazz vocalist, dancer, actress, and artist. Morris has always enjoyed creative writing but just began focusing on poetry this year while taking a Creative Writing class under the instruction of poet Lauri Conner.

Visual Art By: Cherry Guo 

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