The Marshmallow


PURE is this sweet, and pure confection

Powdery, spongy untainted white

Blissful bundle, and now finger’d fare,

Ah, this tasty marshmallow square.

Thou know’st that this cannot last

A form reformed by fingers without a past;

How this heat changes you

And swelling, insides oozing goo;

And this, alas! chang’d through and through.

O dark unsightly, unwelcome crust,

Coating caked, white, no more.

This marshmallow harm’d and, I am changed

Our skin scarred, jutting bones rearranged.

Crying uncontroll’d, as I bear witness

And the creepy black brown crust of this.

Now burnt, scathed and impure,

Misshapen sweetness now obscur’d,

And life and death and pain endur’d

Cruel cancer, hast tumors multiforme

Glioblastoma, mass surgery deformed?

Wherein could this marshmallow be,

Except in this molten middle that comes from thee?

Now finish’d, consum’d, no more blacken’d crust

Not pure sweet, but bittersweet, chalky remains and dust.

Memories of her without tumors last;

Just good and bad, now chang’d, time pass’d,

Sweet tastes of life, pure and innocent, burnt and beautiful.


Halsey Lilac Hutchinson was born in June 1999 on a cold, windy evening as the fog crept across the Golden Gate bridge along the corridors of California Street.  Soothing her mother’s cries, the room smelled of lilacs, delivered by the hour from a fearful father to whom women still seemed to be a mystery. Now at the age of sixteen, Halsey is a junior at the acclaimed San Francisco University High School, known for its unique interdisciplinary approach to art, history and music. She spends weekends at SF Botanical gardens finding creative inspiration among the vibrant purple hydrangeas and never misses her annual trips to Pacific Grove to observe the colorful orange and black monarch butterflies in the shimmering eucalyptus trees.

Art by: Sterling Butler

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Two Poems by Zahava Lior

On Size and Truth

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

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

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


On Museums and Freesias

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Art by Sterling Butler

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