Aroha (pity)

Dirt roads and ragged clothes on
emaciated children, pitied by those
cut from the soil, rich with compost,
in the West.

Streets paved with potholes,
and blood pools, seeped red
with road kill, that will
find a new home inside
the stomachs of those without one.

Arms ache raw with
rotting bug bites,
dark feet scarred with
untreated gashes.
Hot nights endured
with dreams of a
modern heaven known as
air conditioning.

Houses decay under heat,
swelling feet find relief
on a stranger’s tapa cloth.
Close your eyes. Imagine
a world where the brown
dirt that cakes your skin
runs down your body in muddy swirls
that will disappear down a drain.

Wake up to the moonlight.
Sweat slick on your skin,
thick cream on your feet,
cicada’s call from the night,
and covering your body is
a white cotton sheet.

Stephanie Bennett is an Australian student currying studying Creative Writing in the United States.

Art by Florence Liu 

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Two Poems by Zahava Lior

On Size and Truth

In her dream last night
she looks inside a dusty chamber
with walls echoing
not yielding
she wants to be her mirror reflection so badly
but her voice just comes back
and again
through that glass and coated silver.

Then she hurries through the water
the antechamber and the sand
scurrying out, out of
the cliffs
and the rock face.
That image is only a small glimpse.
Mother asked: “Is it like looking at a pinhole of a sweater?”
“Of a blanket,” I said.
(Well, it’s hard to say
when you stare into absolving water and dust.)
It’s funny you mention size:
I was once predestined to marry
a man I had never met.
He told my mother fresh sweet lies
about his past
the sad fate it was to me, her precious little girl. (Sweet little good girl)
Mother asked, “How many lies did he make? A dozen?”
“A thousand,” I say.
(Well, it’s hard to remember,
they seemed so real).
It’s funny you mention

I had this itch to see you last night
when the white picket fences in Iowa take on a bluish sort of hue in the
fading light
and the birds and trees stoop down to trees–
I wanted to see all of you
when I stopped
and realized
that you were just about
as convincing to me
as the lies I told myself to sleep,
(for how could I be sure when the little holes seemed so precious?
when I loved the thought of you, not you?).


On Museums and Freesias

The MOMA guarantees
that you will see
at least one new piece
every time you visit:
I’m looking at a blue stained
miniature marble house on a pedestal
it looks like my childhood
it smells like Copper and wine

I’m looking at some nude paintings
filled with apples and pears and a tabby
I am reminded of my virginity
and the solidity of touch.

he takes me into the main art gallery
and the attendants scold us
we’ve been trying to eat French fries
where they won’t let us
we’re trying to do something different

there’s a homeless girl who just walked in
and who doesn’t know
what art is.
the man who composed “living trash”
is visiting his own installation
and volunteers her to stand
in the center of the room.

she thinks they must want her
as a part-time employee
or the janitor
but I wanted to tell her
to run out of the doors
and save herself
before they make an excuse
to call her greasy hair
a tragic masterpiece.

so we ate or fries in peace that day
out on the front steps,
not inside the museum,
we kissed and
held hands in a simple sort of way
our foreheads touched and we smiled
at the innocent reminder, because
we knew what we really wanted to see,
the Freesia smell of comfort was by my side
and it was enough for me.


Zahava Lior is a 10th grader who hails from Los Angeles and attends the Hamilton High
School Academy of Music. An avid writer, Zahava aims to pursue a singing as well as a writing career. In December 2014, Zahava released her debut album, performing 13 of her original songs, “Keriselle Box” available on iTunes and CD Baby. Her poetry can be found on her blog,

Art by Sterling Butler

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4 AM; The Wall a Headrest

Things get out of my

head, crawl back in,

toss my brain around.

I’ve got some muscle

in my neck, I’ve been

carrying a lot up there

recently. It’s too cold,

it’s too warm, i’m

too weary to adjust the

thermostat. My

feet are dirty, I’ll

wake my mother

if I take a shower,

I smell like the leaves.

I wonder if they miss

their branches or

if the responsibility

of living up there was

too much to handle so

they just let go, fell

fell fell to the ground,

let themselves become

brittle, waited for the

next autumn to come

around so they’d get

some touch again,

some warmth, something

to remind them that

they’re not as alive

as they once were.



By Tara Brooke

Tara Brooke Teets is seventeen years old and a junior at East Hardy High School. She has been previously published in Canvas, and has attended the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts for Creative Writing.

Artwork by Kate Graham

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