My Namesake by Chloe Basch

A tangerine
Savored in juice or whole
Seldom served as a middle name.

 

Flakes of white
And a shell of supple epidermis;

 

A seed-chipped tooth
Beckoned by whispers of sweetness.

 

Round to be juggled,
Round to be prodded.

 

Titan-saffron
Under the beaming hospital bulbs
Which crackle and spark

 

Wishing to escape the confinement
Of all-knowing glass;

 

Waxen pale
Under the grit of the obstinate clementine sun.

 

Scapulas flash
In insight of their hindrance.

 

Your tongue splits its syllables
Into gelastic pairings of giggles

 

A sound never enshrined.

 

My name bears no romance,
Burdening no fame

 

Blooming from the teeming seams
Of my jaundiced-yellow veins.

 

 

Chloe Basch is a sophomore at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. Chloe grew up in Manhattan and is passionate about impacting change through the written word. Her writing has been published in various publications including Creative Communications, Poetic Power, The East Hampton Star, and Bazoof Magazine. She is the recipient of the Scholastic Award Gold Key for her poetry. She was recently awarded a grant from Riley’s Way to amplify the voices of Ukrainian teenagers displaced by war. Chloe believes that words create our world and that the ability to write freely in society is a basic human right and one that allows for connectivity and powerful change.

 

Visual Art by Anthony Johnson
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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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This Isn’t Worth The Ink

This isn’t a poem. I’ve never written a poem before. You’re crazy.
This is a duck, a mallard man with a beetle for a head. You’re holding him, this
Fowl fellow with a yellow beak, as one might hold a hoagie, ready to bite, and
You complain about his lyricism? You’re crazy. Your brain is on strike, protesting
Working conditions, a little tiny thousand-neuron black lung march
With little tiny thousand-neuron National Guardsmen on their way to break it up.
The tiny working man has thrown off his tiny chains and extended his tiny
Still-raw hands in tiny kindness, and you critique his verse? You’re crazy.
Your stomach’s in your fingers and that is why you’re holding this avian American,
Thumbs salivating, because through feral eyes this is all just
A hoagie with mayo and mustard.

 

William Bittner is a high school junior from Birmingham, Alabama. He enjoys writing absurdist and natural poetry, essays, and short stories. He has received several awards from the Alabama Writers’ Forum.

 

Visual art by Samantha Su

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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

 

Three Poems by Eric Pak

Like My Father

 

When you told me I acted just like my father, I thought it meant I sported veins deflated by tar, scavenged for some twenties to fuel hunger, prayed to the toilet every night just to collapse on ceramic tiles.

 

When you told me you took care of me like my father, I thought you would have to scrape me off the floor of a gas station bathroom behind the Indianapolis Zoo, listen to the fading oscillations of heartbeat monitors, and bite your nails until four in the morning as the doctors fumbled through the halls.

 

When you told me I looked just like my father, I didn’t know I collected abscesses injected with abyssopelagic ecstasy, studied the mazes of flushed skin for the next needle, and balanced upon thinning marrows.

 

When you told me I lied just like my father, I didn’t know I sold the family ring for another hit, sifted through the crowds of junkies at the corner street, or told myself “just one more.”

 

If you tell me I will be just like my father, my veins will siphon until the ends tie shut and the pallor in my forearms begins to frost the skin like the sleet coating the chrysanthemums behind the Indianapolis Zoo.

 

 

Broken Tides

 

When it’s Monday morning, you will walk out the house and invent new features that you do not dare show at home: gentle hands, a painted smile, anything to abandon your true self. You will think about our walks on the Santa Barbara coast. The way the grains seep through your boned toes or how the waves beat at your ankles because you cannot stand on your own. You will clutch that flask in one hand, the one rinsed by war, the one trapping your wife’s pleas. In the other, expired meds you were supposed to take. You will try to keep the flask closed ‘cause you know Mother’s cries fill dead space. But when the day grows old, you will take a swig, the sleight of hand will chip away your soul and the ferments will bloom from your mouth. You will not recognize his sunken eyes and the red florid off skin, his weighted gait or legato’d words. When he fades, you will think about how Mother abandoned you. Perhaps you will wonder why you chose her like how a farmer picks their favorite hog or how a soldier aims at free will. Maybe, you will even think about the waves on the beach, glazing her wounds as she walks away.

 

 

Heirloom Recipe

 

  1. Visit the market past the bamboo stalks where azaleas cling to thin air and swindlers grift the crowd.
  2. Among the distant chatters and leaking floors, pick out the Napa from the vendor with calloused hands.
  3. When you reach home, wash the Napa with water, careful not to let any leaves drift to the mud.
  4. In the kitchen, fan out the leaves so they resemble the crescent moon the day Appa fled the village on his tricycle.
  5. Flick the salt in the veins like how the dirt spiraled in the air as his rubber tires carved the road.
  6. When the skin around your nails begins to shrivel, imagine they are Ginseng roots: Health, Luck, Prosperity.
  7. Mix the shards of Gochugaru from the hills of Jeolla-do with the ingredients from Halmeoni’s garden, where the back gate lay open: ginger, garlic, fish sauce, shrimp paste
  8. Knead the ingredients into each leaf so they turn crimson like the hibiscus fields that Eomma fled from.
  9. Fold each leaf into the clay pot behind the Mugunghwa trees.
  10. Bury the pot in the ground and sit by the window, watching the swallows flit by and the firs flutter while you wait and wait and wait.

 

 

Eric Pak is a 17-year-old Korean-American living in Thailand. He has lived in diverse countries around the world and aims to share his experiences through his writing. His works have previously been published in K’in Literary Journal, The Paper Crane Journal, and The Cathartic Literary Magazine.

Visual Art by Nahyun Sung
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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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Migraine anti-lamentation

Something here will not survive. Yet somehow I feel like
I’m going to live forever. A gentle tingle pulses in my skull
letting me know I’m swaying through a moment of diseased
euphoria. Have I fallen? Do I remain standing? My feet seem
to float above the ground. Ache in the back of my head like an
axe signaling my death throes. I don’t know what I did, God,
but for Your forgiveness I extend my eternal gratitude as I falter
with my knees readying themselves, bending toward the ground
like sunflowers that face their master, the sun, my knees, my knees
just knowing, knowing, knowing they’re going to collapse any moment.
My lips are the purple of a rare, majestic butterfly I’ve only
seen in stock photos. My bare toes are soaked in foamy water I
can’t see as I trip over wooden chairs that deteriorate on the
floor with a spectacle of clangs. Yet somehow I feel like I’m
going to die today, right now, immediately. I don’t know where my
bed is and the columns of light that filter in through the blinds
never seem to be enough through the blunt force trauma that
comes solely from within. Mother would be proud of my ability
to describe my pain, boycotting the scale of one to ten. My next
reunion with her will likely have me under a white sheet the entire
time. I think I’ve found the bed through the confusion and apparent
darkness in the confusing space between blurry vision and seeing
nothing at all. Wounds speckle themselves on my body like a toss
of dizzying turpentine on a perfectly pastel wall. And when the abysmal
joy subsides I notice that when the sunlight strokes the floral
bedsheet at the golden hours of the day, the butterflies tiptoe through
the window. If only a butterfly could ask my mother to help me stand.
I am stuck on the floor with my knees bleeding and perhaps broken in
an orchestra of convulsive agony. Something here has refused to survive.

 

CA Russegger is a high school student from OB Montessori. CA loves visual art, writing, history, and literature very much, and spends all day with these things. Can be found with many, many stacks of books of many, many genres—Shakespeare is always a guilty pleasure.

Art by Lee Jessica 
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Witching Hour

The ceiling smelled like old lace and the sigh of a dying star. Hovering there, I peered at the nun who glowered at me the same way an ancient, grizzled tiger eyes a young hyena. I threw my head back and cackled with the lubricated mirth of my cynical father’s lauder. My gaze travels to the lush forest of palms and cedars on my desk. Beneath their foliage of entwined fingertips and toes, a meticulously groomed garden of doorknobs, seashells, and Abbey Roads overthrows its gardeners and cracks beneath the pressure of a violet spotlight. A city, bedecked in the afternoon-kissed tears of ancient pearls, rises from tangled vines. The gates at Babylon Fall to children with water pistols and all around them, the baseball stadium erupts in a chorus of that forgotten anthem of constellations exchanging words in passing. The crowd departs, babbling beneath the sea of dried rose petal confetti. They return to homes of spun sugar and formaldehyde. They fill their goblets with diet pineapple juice and something from an angel-shaped bottle. Everyone is more palatable when they are sedated, and I am no different.

 

Caroline Adams is an eighteen-year-old high school student living in New Jersey and going to school in New York City. She’s studied creative writing at Columbia University over the summer of her sophomore year and is currently finishing her senior year at Loyola School.

Visual Art by Yuga 

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this is summer

the lady has the rugged streets of my mother’s
          hometown and my hometown carved
in her skin. arteries drawn across generations
          and people spilling like seas. imprint
the curve of my shoulder to theirs. mouths match
          rhythms of inheritance. glow like
manmade moonlight. thick oil slick against
          the ridges of my patchwork tongue.
we eat bingsu and i taste shavings of the city
          and sand slipping through my shoelaces.
we bury ourselves at haeundae fossilized into
          scratch marks. my father prays
hamburgers from the grill burnt just right
          with redwhiteandblue.
we plant flags in our backyard and they
          whisper to the wind words of
belonging. firework shadows curling
          behind us. pulsing sea pulsing salt
in my neck in my crumbling wrists. paper
          wrapping my bones. humidity
like my first skin. fingers linked we sink
          together into grass we grew. we let
ice cream carve seasons into our throats.
          tattoo the sun into my inner thighs.
every year i shed on the last day of may.
          my cousin trips on the sidewalk
buried in my pores in the grooves of my
          orchid veins i follow. we do not
hold hands. this is summer to me. this
          is summer. this is my egg yolk
sun. this is my peeling white paint. this is
          my dear halmeoni and grandpa.
this is my two-faced heart. this is summer. what is
          this.

 

bingsu (Korean) – shaved ice
haeundae (Korean) – a beach in the Haeundae district of Busan, South Korea
halmeoni (Korean) – grandma

 

Jeannie Kim is a high school junior from Chicago with a love for poetry, reading, and playing the flute. She is a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards gold medalist, and her writing has also been recognized by the Genius Olympiad and the It’s All Write Teen Writing Contest. In her free time, she is usually editing submissions as an editor for Polyphony Lit or listening to music.

Art by Saki

 

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