On the Sunny Side of the Lake by Willem Parker

An Astronaut’s Day-Dream

Dad is the only man on the moon.
Preparing for his solo ascent
into the cold winds and their tides, for the moon-gulls and his precious french fries
spreading his space blanket
by the pod. There aren’t any clouds
to pass over the sun. There isn’t any fire for warmth.
So he watches the stars roll, and heats up by naked sun rays.
His highschool friends get out their telescopes; ready
to tell him he’s gone too far.
But Dad’s gotten out his classical guitar
to hear the notes bounce around the system. Their calls are mute.
And he’s playing
awful slow. Every song is a sad song on the moon.

You were Parker, at Wells Fargo
escaping 2008, work was unfair
to the clients, made you red giant, sun brother. Were you
unhappy. Were you scared? You were
Jimmy to your grade school friends, playing baseball
never much uttering a word. Only saying
(to my Uncle Joe) We suck.

James to your first coworkers
you were sifting the cabinet, working the cash
driving to patients with bottled hope in an old van, blue buttons
beer belly, and armed with an unfinished degree.
It wasn’t much good. But finishing school was worse.

Parker, there’s a runaway meteor headed to you. The intercom spouts. Like a faraway echo,
you toast a melting popsicle to the sky. There’s no one to run from
and nothing to chase.
I try to jump up high, to give you a sign
but you always just nod and wink.

You are Dad
I’m held in your arms, witness fighting
to keep us from problems, like yours
dropping out, smoking, drinking and
being wholly ignored. There wasn’t much to rebel
and no rebellion for that matter. That was worse.
I know we are a war. I know we are made that way
I know we are a normal family, and now
I know we are a family star, spilling in the crowded galaxy
like green-yellow sand drifting quietly with the sea.

 

If I Were A Grizzly Bear

I’d need two seats on an airplane
a job with hibernation leave
steel toed boots
and heavy berry shampoo.

I’d work as a cook
but get sacked
for raiding the fridge.
Hanging up my long hair net.

I’d be accepted to any college for diversity, scrawl
on every page, and break every pencil.
Though academics are no use to Grizzly bears.

I wouldn’t fit under any umbrella
but walk, (two feet), claws clacking
the sleek asphalt. Thinking,
all the time, I have four feet.
I am a stranger in a raincoat,
filling in with man; unbelonging.
Too big or too tall,
house-inhabiting; wild cave completely kept from my mind.
There’s a beehive in my backyard. A strong spruce keeps
it safe, I have a fear of heights anyway.

I’d find it in a TV. Bears hunting
dancing their river dance. Eating hungrily
hopefully, saving for the winter. Holing up
and snoozing the cold away. Resting again
awaiting the sweet spring – or the rich summer.

The hive, buzzing, bumbling,
at the top of the tree; I’m afraid.
But honey is sweeter
the higher you are.
And I’m in love with
eating honeycomb

The spruce perfume reminds me
I used to play guitar
But now the wood’s scarred, and I snap strings easily.
So I leave it by the tree
escape to the woods beneath
the newly wed dress of fog.

 

I Am Mushroom Food

I won’t be buried in-case,

or protected by gray cement
meant to defend
the colorful plate I am, awaiting
my final mold.

In eastern Oregon,
below the dirt,
beneath the green canopy sky,
tangled with the roots,
there is a thing

a thing so old,
it might be the oldest

Armillaria Ostoyae
the fungus that lives
and grows
and devours

and whispers wisdoms to each other
I want to know. 

The day when I die
I will be buried
next to the oldest thing
the pinkish-white roots extending their helpful arms
around me. They dig
far into the ground; descending
to tap the wisdom wells, hoping
I’ll be full on learning and they’ll
be full of nutrients.

After I die I’ll be a new parent
sporing young hungry
honey mushrooms; I’ll be proud 
when they find their way in the spruce.
When they deal
by breaking down every
unanswered question,
familiar meaning,
cruel hand and
bring us together for once. 

 

 

Will lives in Hamden, CT, a student of Hamden High School and ECA. He has received two silver keys from Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for his writing. Will aspires to be a full-time poet and singer songwriter, and spends most of his time on his guitar, reading, doodling, walking or thinking.

 

Visual Art by Anastasiia Terekhina

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Daughter

my mother is cursed. she sprouted from evil roots, gnarled and marred by the sour sting of expired love.

when her tendril emerged from wicked soil she was all bones, disjointed, already a skeleton.

leaf and leaf grew between paper cut parents, their verbal scissors poised to sever every smile.

she was five when she split her skull on the couch corner. hairline fractures blossomed with her stolen screams.

no blood, no telltale thorn, no silent sign of something. only a pain she forgot as swift as her mind shattered.

her branches were born from nothing, a lucid stalk scarred and sallow. the bark scratched like her fathers hands,

calloused and cracked and freshly rotten. every edge seemed wrong, too much like a memory.

she choked on sun, on this dewy fear of growing too cruel. her bike leapt over crumbling asphalt and her foot fell apart.

she didn’t realize for two days. the ache felt mute, dull, all too small to mean a piece of her was broken.

wearing her cast, toes sticking out the front how she hated, she still rode her bike into the wilting sun each night.

her stem ascended when foot touched frozen plane, a tangle of bloodstained vine. she never bloomed.

now she stumbles over her road blocked dreams. her palms kiss clouds. she tastes her own spoiled history.

steady as red ribbons, she laces her child with venom. poisoned daughter poisons family. she waters another cypress tree.

she is absolutely cursed. cursed to a life she has watched unfold. one shriveled, withered, ready to crumple.

she is a life sick mother. she is lonely. she screams until her throat is raw and her lungs weep and breath becomes a gift.

she still has not flowered. so far from the earth that gave her life, she feels it splintering her evergreen skin.

and unraveled from wish corpses and rusted hearts, dressed in fool’s gold, locked inside another woman’s mirror,

my mother believes she’s a lovely ghost.

Gia Bharadwaj is a dedicated young writer hoping to share her work with others. To enrich her craft over the summer, she was selected from a large pool of applicants to participate in GrubStreet’s YAWP Fellowship for emerging teen writers. Her poetry has previously been published in the Blue Marble Review. 
Art by Yuga
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Fateless

In Rio de Janeiro,
empty hands grasp broken promises.

Saturated unfamiliar languages travel in blind eyes,
collects like rivers in unnamed faces.

The tiredness of wanting is palpable and heavy,
scalding sacrifices in the plastic yellowed sand.

Spirits as quick as the desperate shootings that cross
the sky, dissolve into beings we cannot see.

In Rio, no one remains the same. The bodies are
caramel-colored — oily melting flesh, burning

into the ever-rising, drop of light. Invitation in the
form of pulsing mountain curves,

edible tights and uneven crooked teeth. Lilac
stagnant spots carve sanctuaries on their skin

recondite into its own deep. No one sees
the resentful taste on their mouths,

bitterness eternally whirling on closed tongues.
In the sky, dead constellations need no mourning,

no words collapsing into the beam of Ipanema.
The sputtering shooting became noiseless to all of us.

We chain ourselves to our beginnings
and that is all we can be.

 

Luiza Louback is a 17-year-old Latin-American Brazilian emerging writer and high schooler. Her work has appeared in national anthologies and has been recognized by the NY Times Summer Academy. When she is not writing, she teaches English to low-income students and advocates for literary accessibility in Latin America.

Visual Art By: Florence Liu

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Two Poems by Serena Deng

Day Six

Remember that our hands do not belong to our wrists

nor our wrists                                       to our bodies nor we                    

to each other. Black sheep take                     themselves into the fold

unknowingly and never run again. Perhaps blinded, perhaps

at night we mistake white wool for                  open air.

We do not choose                              ourselves or each other.

Remember that all our joints pull in different directions

and wish to be separated and one day 

the sheep outlive                                 the shepherd.

We roam free over hill and gully, forgetting

safety, company, how we fit against the other.

Still our names stay                          tacked to our ears.

Remember that God makes Adam with His own hands

and the red earth sticks to Him like second skin.

There is a moment, I think

when Creator and creation                               lock fingers and

never forget it.

 

 

This is the Summer

This is the summer we prayed for

mercy, strung ourselves out like laundry

sighing to the sun. This is the

summer our knuckles learned the grooves

of a washboard better than they

knew each other. We worked this tin machine over and

over and over again, five times,

six times,

day into night,

blisters pouring back into horizon.

This is the summer we prayed for

blood to wash us clean:

starched white cotton,

sparkling water droplets,

chlorine bleach.

This is the summer we prayed for

a new body, prayed to

turn our skin in on itself

and start again.

 

Serena Deng is currently a senior in high school. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing awards, the NCTE, and Temple University, and can be found in Invisible City and Ricochet Review. She lives in NYC, where she drinks water straight from the tap.

 

Visual Art by: Elaine Zhang

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when i talk about the moon

i do not mean/ the sweet crescent-shaped thing in the sky/ from the cartoons we used to watch on channel twenty-four/ that glowing thing the princess drifts to after she swallows the magic pills/ and becomes immortal/ after the bad guy breaks into her home and gravity breaks/ like window pane/ i say moon and mean the moon the old poet bids his brother to look at on the nights they are not together/ the nights the moon cracks into two faces and falls out of/ old vending machines/ i saw the moon hanging by the skin of my heart the second time i broke it in the sink/ trying to make it paler than it is/ in the stranger who watched me watch him flit in and out of the subway window/ as it shudders and tilts to one side & there’s one night every year when my mother does not cook dinner/ she stays in her room with the door closed and watches the moon rise and set on the back of her eyelids/ i imagine it must look so peaceful/ and so white like my grandfather when he entered the room in an expensive suit/ and came back out in a metal ashtray/ i saw the moon sitting cross-legged on his femur when they pulled him out of there but nobody else did/ because there was so much water in their eyes/ dandelions bloomed from their sockets & i watched them get smothered/ by hands on which their carnage left an endless trail of ruined tutus/ i wrote a poem on my hand today and/ it too blossomed to the size of the moon so i/ get it if you don’t want to hold onto my hand anymore when the subway/ shudders/ i promised someone i would miss them today you see/ but i’m not sure what i mean when i say these things/ like when i say immortality i do not really mean the one who hogs all the seats/ who chews with his mouth open and gets off one stop too late/ anyway it is getting late in the station now and gravity/ is snapping each femur as the sidewalk/ bends/ so here/ take my swollen hand and what fingers you can still find while/ i hail a taxi and pray that it arrives before the streetlights come on/ and i explode into one thousand dandelions

 

*Cultural note: The beginning of this poem references a Chinese folktale. A princess and her husband are gifted with pills that make them immortal and enable them to fly to the moon. They promise to eat the pills together someday. One day, a jealous man breaks into their home and forces the princess to hand over the pills, but, in the moment, the princess swallows all the pills so the man will get none. She flies to the moon where she lives forever without her husband.

 

Henie Zhang is a high school senior from Shanghai. She is the editor-in-chief of the Zeitgeist Literary Magazine and can often be sighted fiddling with a camera or trying to keep her plants alive with debatable success. 

Visual Art By: BaS

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Roots

i.

uncle used to climb mountains.

he was a lion: the king who emerged

from unnatural mountains composed

only of gunpowder and the orders

of one man against another.

his skin is a map composed of ghosts

and places and ancient stories-

it is older with this knowledge,

but the strong golden of his hands

still holds remnants of the old summer’s striking sun.

ii.

grandmother was a pearl right out of the sea

when she stepped onto the land of the free.

grandmother sowed the seeds of the most beautiful

flowers. she planted them in crevices where light

was a stranger; she wove them in her hair.

i carry grandmother’s flowers, i keep the seeds in my heart.

i know she watches me by the sea where she stepped.

iii.

my father runs through smoke. through the dusk

he dodges ghosts and the cruel tongue of fire-

and leaves; a hero to the glass children and their mother.

father made castles out of autumn leaves and music out

of thunder.

father finds light in the dark: he chases the sun as

he carries me on his strong back.

i feel him as he holds his kind hands out- i

think of father’s golden heart.

he echoes grandmother. they both plant flowers

in the core of dark soil; a new beginning.

iv.

the canyon that is my skeleton,

the pang of my copper heart

preserved against the tough rock of my rib.

it is a song for them.

Katherine loves to write because it serves as both entertainment and a learning outlet for her. She currently serves as the editor of her school’s newspaper and literary magazine. Katherine’s writing focuses on her family, her favorite places, and anything else she finds interesting. Her favorite form of storytelling is poetry because she loves to experiment with all of its different styles. When she’s not writing, Katherine is either watercolor painting or reading a good book.

Art by Garfield

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Undrawn Self Portrait

Undrawn Self Portrait

  1. The heart cracks into yellow yolk & white as it throbs through Instagram.
  2. The body walks to its reflection and squeezes itself shut.
  3. The ears tuned for sourness savor silence before they turn on & the mouth groans at
    the loudness of the world.
  4. The brain breathes out a sigh as yesterday’s burdens are borrowed again.
  5. She mumbles about the crumbling capitalist cycle, tasting silence in return.
  6. She peels the banana & she wonders if one day, she’ll shed her skin & be silent.
  7. She consumes Radiohead’s Nude & the heart shatters at “you paint yourself white, and fill up with noise” as she imagines herself with an invisible paintbrush.
  8. In a family of scientists, the creative one chokes on the wrong genes.
  9. In her skull, there’s no more space for the pulp of afterthoughts.
  10. In the dark, she silently cracks herself open until she’s all shell and no yolk, again & again & again.

 

Sara Cao is a junior at John Burroughs School in St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently involved in her school’s newspaper, literary magazine, and Science Olympiad team. Outside of school, she is passionate about social justice issues, writing, drawing, listening to music, and eating Shin Black Ramen. Through her poetry, Sara strives to heal and inspire people who relate to the overall messages of her poems. 

Art by: Diana Ryu

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(un)reality – Three poems by Allison Stein

liquid state of matter(being)

let’s go swimming, you say, 
a heat-scorched dragonfly
(who goes in memorable movements to sip the fresh sunlight

beneath the softlapping surface the lake shines wild green
and your ears are whorls of precious jade.
you burble through the delicate-draped light,
             (diving to wrap yourself in the dim)
down here our skin looks wondrously unnatural as we link pinkies
                          and trail our heels through the silt.

               pulsing storms in the eddies of our slippery bodies.
               how grotesquely powerful we are here
                           where no gravity exists
                           and we do not recognize the silken moss growing from our scalps
                                                                 and lingering behind us in the tepid water.
we are alien, perfected by unrepentant green,
vivid things tiptoeing on the rim of a boundless heaven.

i run out of breath faster than you do 
and drift to the surface like a film in reverse:

                                                 lips spit out clear water and hands brush hair back from shining 

                                                 face–
          back rises through the membrane into forgotten air–
slowly up up with hands grasping for the bottom– 

let’s drink, you say
dirty shoes off exposing ripped sock, 
your head sparely haloed by string lights
(but you are less iridescent than ever)

lovely you hands me vodka in red-knuckled, apathetic fingers.
        clear like tap water, smelling of bare collarbones and average late nights
                       and through it i see the everyday pink of your cheeks
                       and the places where your cheap earrings have scarred your lobes.
you and i are no lake creatures and no gods.
here we are, natural beings, sipping nothingness.

 

 

 

half an instant of light

we paint cities on the palms of our hands / and press them feverishly along the edges of the sky / knowing they will wash away in building hurricanes. / (we can hear their eyes blinking, their weight heaving through wet air) / fragility smells like crushed lavender, don’t you think? / how lucky, how cursed we are to be minuscule                  (timewise). / if you are a baby mayfly and i am the corner of the briefest cloud / can we ever hope to last longer than this holy-handed present? / and if we are so sweetly fleeting can we ever be anything but lovely? / we climb to the tops of cherry trees / until we can no longer see earth or sky. / (just the smudges we left with our chrism-oiled hands) / really there is nothing before or after us. / this you say to me with your fingers in your ears, / smearing skylines over your blushed cheeks. / (darling darling i long to hang streamers from god’s front stoop with you.) / (darling my darling i will stay with you forever / until we blink our eyes and the world erupts into empty—– / how awful and beautiful it is to stretch time ragged / breathing hard and fast to fit infinite life into half a second. / your head so cleanly haloed by tangible wind. / the sun rises and sets while we eat one overripe cherry. / is this not life? / is this not the span of the universe? / are we not occupying all the time that will ever exist? / look at us choking on luminous air. / our bodies burn out, quickly, quickly. / for the slowest of seconds we wind our fingers through the shuddering void.
darling, darling.  it is time to go

 

 

 

photo album, with you everywhere

here is me squeezing the last toothpaste from the tube
          hoping that when i slit it open, i will not find you
          sleeping on the silver foil, a neon, too-familiar thing.

here is me slicing an apple into messy eighths,
          hoping the overripe nectar will cover the taste of you: 
          stardust (which is all just heavy metals).
 
here is me peeling off my eyelids and soaking them overnight in contact lens solution
          praying that when i stitch them back on,
          your face will no longer be etched in this most fragile of skin.
 
here is me staring at my wall from which all lavender has bled out
          trying to rub my neurons raw enough
          that this will stop being your brain, too.

 
here is me losing my balance as i walk along the curb

here is me waking up to a tree burning scarlet in the yard. 

here is me trying to forget you.

                              (here is me wishing i had said goodbye.)

 

Allison Stein is a 17-year-old student living in Pennsylvania. She has been writing stories and poems since the age of two or three. Her work has previously been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and published in the Ralph Munn Literary Anthology as well as several smaller publications.

Visual Art by Liia

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Layers of Self

The marks of my creators surround me
With no inch left bare
My soul carved by sculpted hands
A dichotomy of pairs

In the sea of my skin
Mother and father leave their mark
My every feature blurred
A rendition of art

Two variations of the self
Devoid in common thread
Have woven an artful piece
A testament to words unsaid

I am molded in the image and likeness
Of those who came before
My very visage and limbs
A shadow well worn

My gown of paint and clay
Is a shroud to the truth within
For although my self be old
It remains my very own

 

Lauren Kim is a writer of both poetry and prose and resides in New Jersey. She draws inspiration from small nuances in the world around her and aims to magnify them in her writing. She is a junior editor for her school’s two literary publications. An avid reader of classical European literature, she melds the literary voices of past and present to project her voice on themes of importance.

Visual Arts by: Yixuan Luo 

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Fish Magic

Based on a Paul Klee’s Fish Magic

It is the mirk of stained glass that glows by a slice
                                                                                                                        of moon.

Gaunt elegies speak of a desolation beyond the edges
                                                                                                                        of era.

Generation upon generation–genealogies betray the birth
                                                                                                                        of seed.

The ambiguity of a barren clock transfixed at IX:
Even the fish await the tearing of the veil.
Hands clasp dust. Ash taints scale.
Threads of exile weave into a silent cloak.
Only time will tell.

 

Lynn Kong is a sophomore at Cary Christian School. She is co-president of the Holocaust Literature Club there. She adores Dostoyevsky and Flannery O’Connor, and just about every line of epic poetry. Part of her is always lost in Amsterdam.

Visual Arts by Rudy Falagan

 

 

 

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