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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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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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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