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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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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An Elegy, Aided By 20th Century Japanese Literature

        i.        Night on the Galactic Railroad — Miyazawa Kenji

 

grandfather is rushed to the hospital

                as I wait for him to awaken

        I sit on a leather stool beside a window overlooking

        a soulless city of iridescent noise and raucous cars

on my phone, I read the book—

        the kanji are simple, easy for one like me who speaks

        broken

        Japanese

                to understand

its themes of death,

        the endless sky,

                and liberation of true heaven

make me whisper to my unconscious grandfather, fresh from a stroke,

“this book reminded me of you.”

 

        ii.        Naomi — Tanizaki Jun’ichirō

 

we know with some degree of certainty that

he will die

                within the next few days

and I go out to a nearby mall

        and buy a book— Naomi,   Naomi,        Naomi!

it is disgustingly raunchy

        borders on the pathologically inappropriate

the English translation, though, is lyrical

        yet still so hilarious.

                I can nonetheless tell how badly

        its salaryman protagonist would love

        to live again

        to begin again

        to love again

I tell grandfather over his

                wire-tangled

        bed

                in the ICU,

“you would be so disappointed if you knew

I was reading this.”

        he’s brain-dead, he won’t care what I read

 

        iii.        Dogra Magra — Yumeno Kyūsaku

 

once his body has died with his brain

        I return to the grotesque, surrealist comforts

of eclectic creatures like Yumeno

reading it online on my phone during his

fluorescent, Sprite-filled funeral with

                hopelessly slow internet

through    my   tears, barely comprehending    complex kanji

and incomplete, aberrant

        sentences that   repeat in 

        ludicrous loops

        ludicrous loops

        ludicrous loops

presenting its message of parlous life and rebirth,   the insanity of

being       alive      and being      dead      and being in the      womb

that motivate me to lean against a

                stretcher-like thing, not quite a coffin

and screech ugly, incomprehensible sounds to match Yumeno’s

        meaningless, yet so unbelievably integral, onomatopoeia

before the memory sprints away and

        all I know is the silver-scarred dust you

        return to

        you

        return to the womb

 

now I remember what to say

        “in another life,” I tell you, “we’ll meet again.”

 

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.

Visual Art by: Dawn Jooste

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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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Hymnody

Aria
When I was alive, Zerlina’s aria
rang in church, not mine.

Her voice, soft & sexless.
My voice, a bullet
ricocheting off the chancel.

They were God’s songs, beaten
into pink pavement.

Apoptosis
I brewed spirits to forget the taste 
of the Italian lyric.

Manipura became my catholicon—
a bead strung on blue tantra thread.

After prayer, each bead bitten, swallowed. 

Inside, they lived as tapeworms
spoiling the meat of the ribcage.

My appendix carried grenades.

Exorcism
In Heaven, children sing the body holy—
pretzeled legs & braided hands, cheeks 
grinding against mahogany.

I join them because God visits 
often. I want to feel Him 

around my throat, to be baptized
clean as a soprano. 

When he’s gone, we smoke at the altar.

Spirits unwind from our cigars, staining the body 
like wet bourbon on silk.

Opera
After exorcism, my lungs fermented. 
Mouth full of ashes, tongue pulled by light.

From the spaces in my bones, a new hymnody.

Children following
my voice.

 

Katherine Vandermel is a writer who thinks of writing as painting: each word imbues the world with coloration. She loves music and a good, warm croissant. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alexandria Quarterly, and National Poet Quarterly, among others, and has been recognized by Behrend College and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She edits for Siblini Art and Literature.

Visual Art by Rose Reiner

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Grace Katharine; an ode to your senior year.

Grace Katharine; an ode to your senior year.

To my eldest sister–

 

I have sat front row 

to watch the human body 

rot from the inside out

 

            because growing up, 

           my sister was overweight and had eczema,

           so the world mistook her

                  newfound small frame 

                           for a miracle diet that had cured obesity in three months, 

                  rosy patches scabbed over in grey, 

                           for the winter itchies turned cherry red by her scratching,

                  yellow fingers with divots at the seams, 

                           for the time she dated a smoker to make mom mad 

      because

                  she was eighteen, and 

                  it was her senior year, and 

                   her knees had finally stopped aching from carrying 

                  an 80-pound tire swing at her waist, and 

                  she finally had someone more than just a lunch table friend

      because 

                  a university acceptance 

                  made her hollow eyes glow

                  for the first time since she was three; 

                  after special ed classes induced by seizure medications 

                  had promised her nothing but the back door

     because 

                  she was finally happy and the world followed suit; 

                  the stars aligned and she held them tight in her hands.

 

But the night emergency room doctors said, 

           “Ma’am, this is not right.

           The patches are not eczema 

          and the needles in her bones 

          are not from running too far too fast.”

 

I knew. 

     Her lilac-lacquered lips 

     were not from

              the lavender bags mom tied at our bed posts or

              summer nights when our bedtime remained 7:30 or

              the year we moved coast to coast or

              the time we broke the neighbor girl’s nose or 

              midnights when we drove to corner stores for candy corn, or

              from a lavender bushel with petals decaying in her pockets,

              left to reminisce on our summers in the cherry belt. 

 

My sister once told me

beautiful stories 

are the ones where 

tragic things happen to beautiful people 

and yes, our hearts may have broken 

but they will grow again.

 

 

 

Sophia Robles is the winner of the 2020 Parallax Poetry and Fiction Scholarship.  She is currently a junior at Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy (SASA) in the Creative Writing Concentration.  Sophia’s work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing, Michigan Youth Arts Festival, Theodore Roethke Foundation, Perspectives Literary Journal, and more.

Art By: Heidi Songqian Li

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Two Poems by Vera Caldwell

Diagrams of Knots

                                                                          My eyes are lopsided like used tea bags

                                                      and my fingernails are picked into grey, upturned crescents

                                           by the time the sun has set.

                                   I reach into my deep blue sheets to find:

                          what-ifs like diagrams of knots,

                    abandoned requests for wisdom I don’t have,

              acres of misspoken wit,

          an elaborately constructed fantasy

      in which things are infinitely vibrant

   seem warped as if through a reflection

  in a mall fountain—I am haunted.

 In the light of this paraphernalia,

 I cannot sufficiently engage

 in anything of use.

   I recline in the yellow lamplight

     like a tiger head rug,

       conscious that my mouth hangs open,

           issuing myself correctives

                 that turn over every minute like paperwork

                        boring my eyes into the pictures on the walls

                               as if I could find some respite in them

                                        and hazily marveling

                                              at how I’ve ever been able to handle

                                                                                               the morning.

 

Evening With West Texas and Alzheimer’s

 

Oma stirs her melted ice cream,

spills a little on her plastic placemat:

 

Daddy, Lolly, and I got these bowls in Alpine at a tiny store just down the road from our house, during a stormy afternoon, when the sky had turned purple and the trees were trembling. We’d just taken the Thunderbird for a drive around the mountain and we wanted to do something special. Daddy saw these bowls and loved the blue enamel. I put the bag between my feet for the drive home, as the rain was starting, and they began to shine in such a beautiful way, with many different colors, that at first I worried the enamel was made of some sort of poison. I’ve never seen them shine like that again. Daddy said the altitude was so high and the atmosphere so thin that we got more radiation from the sun than other places, that it must have touched the bowls somehow that day.

 

with shaky hands she picks up the blue bowl from Costco

puts it by the sink

and disappears out the front door

to sweep the driveway for the fourth time that day

a few minutes later, we see her looking up at the dark sky

broom forgotten loosely hanging from her hand

her figure now smaller and shrouded by trees

 

Vera Caldwell is a sophomore at Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. As well as writing, she plays guitar and composes songs in her band, Nobody’s Daughter. Some of her favorite writers include Mikhail Bulgakov, Stanislaw Lem, Patti Smith, Ocean Vuong, and Fleur Jaeggy.

Art by Sherry Huang

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Composition of Columbus

A.
This is a beginning
under the oak trees

where midwestern
boys burned their throats

with their father’s liquor
bottles. Girls came to

kiss at night, leaving cigarette burns
to scatter the ashes of their innocence.

This is a beginning in the quiet town
where we know real architecture

and real sounds of bullets. Both arch
over our heads and we embrace

these strange halos.

B.
This is a resolution
that we’ll leave the soil

where southern twang top
sour songs like syrup.

where everyone knows how to
strum a guitar,

and every girl sings Dolly Parton
for the elementary pageant.

This is a resolution
that we’ll fly to great cities

where skyscrapers make
us feel minuscule.

Magnificent things will seep into our minds,
all the urban ideas and emotions.

A.
This is a return
to the town where she never

thought she belonged. But
mother’s hand grew feeble,

fingers like brittle bird bones.
Father drove off into the

southern night years ago,
gone when the midnight ink

drenched his silverado.

Sarah Nachimson is an emerging writer with only a small scattering of published pieces. She hails from sunny California and is currently a sophomore at Yeshiva University Los Angeles Girls School. She is a reader for Polyphony H.S. and an editor for Siblini Journal. Her writing has been recognized by numerous organizations, including Scholastic, and published in the Los Angeles Times and New York Jewish Week, among other places.

Visual Art by Audrey Carver.

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Two Poems by Amelia Van Donsel

Eyes Adjusting to Dark
 
I suppose any work that is done is yet to resurface.
It’ll bubble up,
I think,
As though it is made of
Cloudy little spaces.
Rise
A little sloppy, even.
The busking bodies’d stretch, next
Tucking into the cots of sidewalk,
Hunkering down for that wind that could ruffle ships.
But brave swallows, swallows
Tell all with such a temper!
Don a pace
Of sky and skin and hungry mouth.
The light crescents which dote on this day
Are bilious, all things considered.
To keep the man who grew me
Is to be told that heaven really is just bathtubs of fog.
Clawfoot or drop-in?
Yet the crested firmament has begun
Greasing under my fingertips 
Please don’t touch 
Touch
Don’t 
Don’t touch please
Please.
An ignorant abstention.
 
Calliope
I.
Calliope tells me
That light holds
Too much mercy.
She has not seen the
Barefoot and blessed.
It’s a miracle minus the blood.
I implore her to watch
The silk gowns fill new torsos with light
Pressed all the way through.
The balding monks murmur
Of the interstitial planes of consciousness
Between the hairs of spider legs.
The young are blue-lipped in the luminous waters
That lift skirts of pallid light.
Their skin must smell like petrichor, I think,
O, Christ that cinnamon perfection.
In the basement I am told
I must read them stories
That have teeth big enough to gnaw on God,
About how scenery will be seen,
How fish will be fished,
How gardens will be gardened.
All will be satisfied.
I dropped a seed into pot a week ago.
It didn’t spring yesterday.
Instead I’ll probably find a baby
Growing in between the sidewalk cracks 
The place where bodies crush bone to skin.
Blueberries molding
Under my mother’s refrigerator.
The fields the farmers used to walk
Their market horses through
Weren’t mowed yesterday.
For a moment the sun would blind them
As they crossed that distant yellow haze,
That dust suspended in gas.
They could watch the grass crystalize as
The sun tried to kill the moon.
I long to see that ratty hair thick with sun,
Clouds on backs,
Boots sloshing with gold.
Now their unfinished chapels
Entomb the wants of things
That were once alive.
I can’t tell the difference
Between cold tiles and cold foreheads.
Amidst crooked night voices,
Junk food television,
And picture tube slumbers
I dreamt of us cooking shrimp tempura
As we argued over something I couldn’t see.
You swelled and reddened,
Tongs raking apart the hot pink commas
Until you hauled the wok over your head
Like Goliath and threatened
To pour it down your body.
My knees, my face melted into the floor.
Steaming oil cascaded down my neck,
Bubbling summer exploring my back,
Crawling in a searing, gelatinous wake.
I feel no pain.
Your kitchen body waits there
Until the wallpaper turns to sun,
Then I wake.
The feeling of the empty house
When you return to retrieve something.
Was it waiting for you with bated breath?
Did it miss you?
Calliope, I have met the American people They’re pretty standoffish.
I’ve learned that my handshake
Will never be strong enough
And that there is too much sky 
The world must end somewhere.
The GPS god on my dashboard
Tells me to run with highway packs of beasts
That roam and scavenge as one great machine,
Raking their claws through the earth.
Moon hammers off the hood,
Shoots diamonds into my eyes,
Traps me in a lightbulb of rumpled red leather.
Yellow foam froths at the mouth
Of the upholstery’s wound.
From behind, a thousand bloodshot eyes blink open,
And red spider legs ascend
The cobwebs of forest,
Scissoring them into diamonds.
From ahead, gold lanterns
Sway with gob-eyed goldfish.
They kiss at plastic rest-stops.
Wild men with their thick beards swarming with sun
Stop at gas stations and squeeze out
The dark spit-up beside me, and
A moment suspended between us is forgotten.
Soon it will be blown apart by bildungsromans
Swept off the butt of a flatbed truck
And all that’s blazing and embedded with teeth marks.
I do not care that you are someone who believes
The sun is a golden carriage
And that the moon is an extinct tusk
Dangling over a pounding fire
Or a spotlight loud
Upon millions of pale, upturned faces.
You show me the wet piles of clouds where
Ribboned veins palpitate in bodies in planes
Beating over our heads like red hooves.
You want your heart to be warmed sometimes,
Don’t you? you remind me.
How these little words ring.
You show me how terraces
And sun-butchered landscapes bleed white
From the wide pores of the earth.
Its sweaty legs spreadIn all its ravenous impulses.
No secrets yielded.
You leave a yellowed trench of a bed in the mothy dark
Where just yesterday the topmost layer of the sheets
Had grown with the unnaturalness of pointillism blood.
Maggots have been feasting their way
Like sunken teeth through the molding mound,
Cloaked in a gangrenous white,
The last of which I killed breaking glass bottles.
You had to call the poison-skinned exterminators
In vans who promised you your home would become a tomb.
Since then these breaths of mine endanger the ability to kiss,
To feign slumber while your shirt exposes
The outline of your ribcage when you lean over,
To grasp with filthy fingers and dusty hands around my throat.
This must be what life is.
A sun drying out like an apricot.
Between the crumbling hours
White dinner plates are now clean shaven.
Dusty fan blades remind me of the planet’s panicked whirr,
Remind me of buoyancy
And abyssopelagic breathlessness,
Of bodies circulating a great wrist.
I’ve never caught my childhood friend’s father naked.
I’ve never had seafood finer than hair.
I’ve never argued with those skittish horsegirls on the street
Whose skin is made of trash and spoiled milk
Which I guess you could call trash.
When I walk past tired homes
People hide in dark windows.
In always-yellow cafes I expect people to comment
On the uncomfortablenesss
That all whicker chairs possess.
Instead they comment
That their creamer looks “bombly.”
Above I wonder why one light bulb is lit differently.
One must have droppedFrom the ceiling one night
The released fist of God
And smashed against the cafe floor,
Just glassy cocaine to be snorted,
Whether anyone was there or not.
Maybe: when a light falls
And no one’s there to hear it,
Does it make a sound?
They drag their knuckles
Through pools of milk
As they try to counteract
The fade of their enamel,
Their nostrils to hot steam,
Shoulder blades to cool metal jaws.
Somewhere
A man in front of a fire chuckles,
His front to heat, his back to cold.
If the fire could cavort
And in a breath take the field,
The shrieking trees,
Sending the wildlife out,
Would I remember in the morning?
Caffeine, sweat, and corrosion
Weaken me. 
II.
We are in the same sleep, you and I.
When I ask you, Please,
Would you hold my soul, gaunt and wrinkled,
As you might your purse
While my blood goes curiously about my body?
You oblige.
When Calliope tells me the moon is not in tonight
 Would you like to schedule an appointment?
Would you like an Email alert when it returns? 
You point to the circle of jeweled orphans
It has left behind.
O, give me Atlas’ swarthy–armed constellations,
His sweltering vaults of peppermint comets
That are hurtling towards me crowned!
With malfunctioning fingers I wrap
Round your hair those burning burls of curlicues,
Those messy neurons and droplets of chains,
That polyphonic network
Made of tinseled buds
Made of reverberating rungs
Made of unbreakable knots of fingers,
Skin as hungry as mouths,
Tireless clenching,
Busy work, busy-work, busywork.
People garden signs that tell me
No homes for the homeless
No roads for the roadless
No gods for the godless
While my unemployed wheelbarrow
Slumps in the corner
Growing a stubble of rust.
I pour out its dirtwater, a mosquito brothel,
That swirls tightly, suctioned into a thin black hole,
Reduced to strands of liquid.
I think the scientists call it spaghettification.
All things considered,
They are just massive graves.
The scientists have not found
Which god is us.
They have not seen
The swaddled moon-faces that suckle
From little fat drops of milky sky,
That are caught in the bleach-white snow
Like mammoths awaiting ablation.
It is so bright!
So bright.
Too bright.
They have not seen the hermits,
Refugees from the engine,
With granular spectacles and nebulous bodies of hair
Who watch the world as though they are lighthouses in the desert.
The tarlike oceans too still to be alive,
And docks humming, floating in bluelanternfloodlight,
Suspending wind-up kayakers,
And fishermen who dangle their treats
And await in gossamer beds
Like dark spiders of the water,
And birds white as candles
Who buckle themselves up and dive in streaks,
Who are small enough to nest in eyes.
The dead Nevada sky where
Cartwheeling sparrows spit out dust,
And every man with his dog, gun, and truck
May be scraping plump bodies off of highway strips,
And deadbeat beatniks and tan vigilantes,
And tongues slick with fire fuel
That makes an escape down chins,
And the sun an asterisk teething
On chipped mountains,
And the stupid calm of earthsky folded in half,
And the rictus of yellow skulls burning into the body
Which our automobiles gore and slash,
And sunflowers loud and rupturing,
Palms yanking wide apart
To grasp at the fleeting light,
Already stiffening with night dew,
And sunburned freshslapped faces
That shrivel and crumple
Into a pinpoint
Like a television screen.
The thick people draped
Over fire escapes like rags,
Hot bellies skyward,
Eyes dripping like oiled vegetables,
And dirty artists’ tormented in nirvana,
And snakeskin plastic bags uprooting trees
Into hot air balloons,
And the overbite of the forsaken sun smudge
That lifts grimy and untouchable,
And high offices bare and bright beside
Wooden libraries suspended in dust,
And smoking manholes on the vomiting Vegas sidewalks
Swinging with the incarnation of the soup of jazz,
And jaws that crank open with bleak bonegrindings,
Catching coindrops on their cigarette ash tongues,
Bits of sun crawling from their lips
In cities of asphalt and glass and what have you.
All the little golden teeth
Fall the same. 
O, how I’d like to sleep now!
 To lie with you in early Denverdesert mornings
Where the vitreous world clears like a Polaroid picture.
Only sleep has crusted together my eyelashes
So they are the tiny twisted wings of sparrows.
Beneath them my eyes are turning to salt.
Sun cracked and is spilling all over the place.
My arms drip with yolk that is
Gurgling up from a ground made of crackers.
That may I rest in the dark rhombi of train windows soon
Where grainy films jitter past each other 
Two heads nodding on the street.
The world pulls itself forwards
To each steamy purgatory
On its knees, tender flesh aching.
The receding howls and wails of whistles 
The way things ring when you strike them,
Notes that surely will never fade.
It is not so in the pain of life,
Rather in the pain of our routine days.
How many kneecaps will bruise  
Until my body loves me?
But how joyous, you say to me.
What else should it be but illustrious?
Perhaps mornings made of crows
That lift together the same way heads turn together
To meet an open door,
And leaves hugging themselves to death and
Curling up like cinnamon cigarettes,
And swampy ghost forests by New England highways,
And fraying ghost faces behind counters,
Heads condemned to eternal dragging,
And neighbors just for show
With bones of yarn and
Photos of warm houses to share
Between fingernails of sleepy pretty pink,
And all those dozing buggy roses,
And places where rain comes like a dial tone
Spangle in your eye.
Such things,
Such hard cries of the sheltered.
When will you call for me?
Callouses are entombing my feet now
Under which the enigmatic engine gallops
In obedient pulses.
This white paint of bird shit
Plays connectthedots on my windshield.
Wipers fall like axes.
Somewhere those last gobs
Must have been so holy.
I pass children’s rainshine rubber boots,
Stroller families strung together
Swaying through parks like plush caravans,
And babies strapped into those strange cloth lungs.
How it might be to be unfurled into a cottony mist,
To be hushed and folded into a void.
Love is a language to which I am growing deaf.
Now I hear with my fingers,
Guiding the horns of the knobbed,
Thin-skinned steering wheel
As light deflates with a hiss.
Now I see with the brightness of street steel
And the weak strands of headlights,
Like a miner’s helmet through the tunnels of night.
Machines glide head-to-tail
As though they are floating fish masses
Fanged with light and
Sliding from or
Propelled by
Something I cannot see.
O, tell Calliope I wish not to awaken
In those long gray aisles
As if we migrate on a death march
Just to fill the time,
Golden beams of our slithering automobiles
Touching at one of those ruddy specks
Of ticking tollbooths,
At some gilded destination.
 
Amelia Van Donsel is a seventeen-year-old Waltham High School senior of Waltham, Massachusetts whose work has been displayed at the U.S. Department of Education, published in American High School Poets Just Poetry National Poetry Quarterly as a national winning entry, The Best Teen Writing of 2015 and 2016, as well in an anthology and numerous magazines. As an English tutor and the editor-in-chief of her school’s literary magazine, she has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards with multiple national gold medals and regional awards. 
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By The Sea

Above, dark wood planks;

Slats, sticky with resin, below;

Sky and sea beyond;

The sun moving away, around;

Shadows playing behind its back,

Dancing in the gray half-light of dusk.

 

Dark fuzzy shadows growing above;

Below, a creaky chair rocking lightly

On two curved feet;

Two luminous green eyes,

Wicker groaning under four paws;

Darkness dancing on a porch

Half-hidden in the gray-black cloak of dusk.

Gray light rippling on the bay;

Glimmering on its silky surface,

Soft and cool as smooth satin.

A boat’s rhythmic light throbbing:

White, and lonely as an owl’s hoot, and

Night looming behind gray fur,

Growing to consume the pale dusk.

 

Francesca Ciampa is a junior who is a fan of all music styles, and is continuously writing snippets of poems late at night. Her poetry and art have been published in the Glass Kite Anthology and the Cicada Magazine. 

Art by Yixuan Luo

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