SEPT 2016 - Teen Ink
OCTOBER 2016 | VOL. 28, NO. 2
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The media carnival • A liberal teen in Alabama •
Political mood swings • Hypnos
Kick like a girl • The herd
PROFILES IN COURAGE
Former Tennessee Senator Howard Baker
Essays about what we eat and what it means
POINTS OF VIEW
”Girl gamers” speak out • Uncensored
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
Feminism for all • Asian American identity
My mother’s cancer • Asperger’s • ’Tis a Lisp
Am I a monster? • A moment of peace • Remembering
Autumn • Dear Me • Fat and funny • Failing Noah • Heads will roll •
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Finding my story in Israel • Baggage
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Autobiography of a
Latino Urban Kid
“There Will Be Light: Autobiography of
a Latino Urban Kid” is moving from start to
ﬁnish. It tells the true story of a Latino boy
growing up in New York. Isaac describes
the struggles his family faced, from his
mother’s attempt to ﬁnd work to the issue of
domestic violence. This article is, in short,
phenomenal. Isaac’s writing grabbed my
attention and held it throughout.
This article was relatable since my
parents also moved here from different
countries. My mom worked many jobs
before ﬁnally settling down. She too had to
put up with abuse before my father left and
my parents got a divorce. One of the most
important points was Isaac’s grandmother’s
advice: “The possibilities are endless. You
can accomplish anything you set your mind
to. All you need is hard work and dedication, and you will succeed as long as you
have a plan,” which is brilliant advice, no
matter the situation.
Vivien Souvorova, Brooklyn, NY
Dear Editors of Teen Ink,
I wish to express my gratitude. Before
Teen Ink, I thought I was a good writer. I
loved to write and thought I was going to
be a famous author one day. Then I went on
There, I saw all these amazing works
by teens just like me, with writing ranging
from ﬁction to opinion pieces on the death
penalty. Yet, I saw how little of it was chosen for publication in the magazine and how
even fewer won Teen Ink awards.
First I thought, Piece of cake! I’m gonna
get published in no time! I wrote something
and submitted it, “knowing” it would get
published. When it didn’t, I shrugged it off,
thinking, Whatever. The next one’s probably
going to be published. But it wasn’t. I’m not
complaining about how hard it is to get published in this magazine – I’m thanking you.
Box 30 • Newton, MA 02461
To submit your feedback or ﬁnd the articles mentioned, go to TeenInk.com
Before, I was blind to what might be
published. I thought my writing was good
enough. I was wrong. Now I see how great
the competition is, and I’m not giving up.
I’m using this as a challenge. Now I inspire
myself through others’ stories and make
my writing better. I should have known the
publishing world wouldn’t be easy.
Thank you for creating this website.
Lydia Park, Oakland, NJ
Why I Need to
Go to College
“Why I Need to Go to College” by
“Amy” opened my eyes. It made me appreciate what my parents have provided for
me and my siblings. Amy is determined to
accomplish her goals because “too many
people have sacriﬁced their lives, family,
and time to give [her] the chance for a better
life.” I completely agree, because my parents didn’t receive the same education that
I have been able to have. So it’s almost as
if the goals I achieve in school are a present
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your experience and showing us the importance of
paying back our family’s sacriﬁces.
Fabiola Valentin, Phoenix, AZ
In “Hijab,” Aribah explained the stereotypes she experienced wearing the hijab and
the misconceptions people have about them,
like “hijabis are quiet and traditional” and
“women who wear a hijab are oppressed
and are forced to wear it.” A woman even
called her a terrorist because of her hijab.
Aribah suggests that the world should stop
stereotyping and that we must be more
careful about what we say and to whom we
I enjoyed this piece and liked what it
stood for. Like Aribah, I am a Muslim, and
my sisters wear hijabs. Luckily, they’ve
never been verbally or physically abused,
but people have called me names because
Reaching millions of
teens in junior and senior
high schools nationwide.
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of my religion. Like Aribah I just try to
ignore them. Aribah is correct – this society
should stop stereotyping and live in unity.
Mustafa Hayder, Brooklyn, NY
I found “My Mother’s Ungiven Testimony” by “Cathy” moving because it reﬂects
my father’s hard life. She writes that her
“mother’s parents were alcoholics” and her
father asserted his “dominance, verbally
and physically.” This is so similar to the
childhood beatings my father got from his
Like Cathy’s mother, “pain and betrayal
shaped … and, ironically, alcohol took
over” my father’s life. However, soon after
I was born he reawakened and fell in love
with his children, which helped him overcome the temptations of addiction.
Thank you, Cathy, for having the courage
to write about your mother’s struggles. Her
story inspired me to share my father’s.
Daisy Mendoza, Phoenix, AZ
“Marionette” by Gabriel Goodpaster is
probably my favorite poem. Every word just
clicked in my mind. The sad thing is, a lot
of people have an emotionally dependent
experience. It’s not that they want to ride
this roller coaster of emotions; sometimes
people don’t know how to escape, and ﬁnd
themselves attached to these “strings,” as
Gabriel writes. If this was what the author
was attempting, the portrayal was perfect.
I look forward to seeing more work from
Gabriel in Teen Ink.
Emmanuel Figueroa, New Castle, DE
Not that Korean
The second I saw “Not that Korean” by
Irene Park, my eyes were drawn to every
word, as if it were something vital to my
survival. The piece is a glimpse into a
Korean-American’s life as she grew up.
Irene depicts the struggles of ﬁtting in as
an Asian with an American lifestyle. When
she started school, she was mocked by her
white peers, and called a “Ching Chong
Chinaman.” Later, she was deemed by her
Asian peers as not a “true Asian.”
As I read this, it was almost like looking
into a mirror. It wasn’t just the fact that I
am also Asian-American. It is that I grew
up in almost the same situation. Many of
my relatives speak only Chinese. When I
was younger, I could speak and understand
the language. However, I have completely
abandoned it and now only understand a
few phrases, like “Brush your teeth” and
“Get off your phone and go to bed.”
A line that stood out to me most was “I
was embarrassed by everything Asian.” I
was shocked to realize that I feel the same
way. I hate traditional Chinese clothes,
as they are too conspicuous. I am embarrassed by how the Chinese language sounds
like you’re yelling. And most of all, I am
embarrassed about how I look. I hate my
hair, which is, for some reason, unaffected
by a comb. I hate my skin color, which I try
every summer to hide with a tan. My eyes
are wider than most Asians’ but smaller than
Irene’s piece taught me about myself. The
most important thing is to embrace everything. I am Asian, but I like the American
culture and lifestyle more. I am ambitious in
school and underestimated in sports. I have
to ﬁnd, as Irene states, the “best of both
worlds,” like a true Asian-American.
Gavin Zhao, Brooklyn, NY
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O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
go against the crowd
to do what is right?
John F. Kennedy Proﬁle in Courage Essay Contest
Celebrate the JFK Centennial: A Legacy of Courage and Service
First-place winner receives the special Centennial prize of $20,000.
Deadline for submission is January 4, 2017.
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O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
The Media Carnival
Ouroborus, the serpent swallowing its own
n the months leading up to the presidential electail, the coverage of the election is now part
tion, it’s been nearly impossible to turn on the
of the story being covered. Twice recently
television or go online without being bombarded
The New York Times has run stories on its
by a virtual ﬁreworks display of election-related
own reporting of the election, the ﬁrst on its
news. As stakes rise and emotions intensify, navifailure to cover misleading statements made
gating through this barrage of memes, GIFs, posts,
by Hillary Clinton regarding the investigation
and tweets can feel less like “checking the news”
of her e-mails, and the second on the unique
and more like stumbling into a carnival funhouse.
challenges and responsibilities of journalists
Sound bites from stump speeches blare over one
covering this election. Several months ago,
another and images ﬂash at seizure-inducing rates,
it was national news when CNN anchor Jake
some showing the candidates polished and carefully
Tapper asked Donald Trump 23 follow-up
posed before a backdrop of red, white, and blue,
questions about comments he’d made that
others captured from awkward, unﬂattering angles
a judge’s race deemed him
that make them appear foolish or
incapable of doing his job.
stark-raving mad. Here, in the midst
won praise and attention
of the so-called Information Age,
We must resist Tapper
for refusing to be bulldozed or
when the line grows ever thinner
between media and social media,
the urge to take side-stepped by Trump, which
begs the question, What has
between reality TV and reality, it’s
happened to truth and accountharder and harder to know which
ability when a journalist doing his job
sources are worthy of our trust.
Traditionally, Americans have
The fact is that Trump is, in many ways, a media
depended on the media to hold politicians accountcreation, and it’s worth wondering if he would be
able and keep the public informed. Over time,
the Republican party nominee if his opponents had
though, we’ve become increasingly accustomed to
gotten the same amount of coverage that he had
the subjectivity of news outlets. Most Americans are
during the primaries. Yes, a train wreck is interestaware that they will likely get a different spin – or a
ing. But when an actual train is involved in an actual
different story altogether – from FOX News versus
wreck, we expect journalists to do more than simply
MSNBC. On some level, we expect certain stories to
show us images of ﬂames and carnage. We expect
be used as click-bait or to drive up ratings. Similarly,
them to explain what happened, why, and how it
we are not overly surprised to learn that our politicould have been prevented. We expect them to show
cians have at one time or another bent the truth. And
us the story from different angles, to explore the
yet, with this election, things seem to have escalated
ramiﬁcations, to interview those whose lives will
to a dizzying extreme.
be forever changed. In short: we expect them to ask
To complicate matters further, the media has
questions and get answers.
become the subject of its own reporting. Like
High School Politics
eing a liberal in Alabama is a bit
uncommon. When you live in
the most conservative part of the
country, it’s expected that there will be
Republican organizations in high school.
But what about the Democrats? What
about those who view the world in a less
I’d never been into clubs in my high
school, but on a whim I decided to start
a chapter of High School Democrats of
America (HSDA) freshman year. No
matter what your beliefs, I’m sure the
majority of us can agree that it’s important to stand for what you believe in, even
as a teen. With that in mind, I contacted
the state chair of HSDA and began what
would be an incredibly grueling process
to establish the chapter. When my peers
heard, several confronted me saying,
“Are you joking? We’re in Alabama. Nobody is going to come to your meetings.”
In all honesty, I believed that even
before they said it. I was sure there were
at least 20 or 30 students who identiﬁed as liberals, but would they defy the
widely held beliefs and attend meetings?
Despite my doubts, and encouragement
from some of my friends and my dad, I
by Jayson Thompson, Montclair, NJ
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
Photo by Kaylee Keesler, Bancroft, MI
This is arguably one of the most important presidential elections in history. And as responsible citizens, if we expect the media to hold our politicians
accountable for their spin, their selective truths,
and their outright lies, we must ﬁrst hold the media
accountable for what and how they report.
Now, more than ever, we need to resist the urge
to take the click-bait. This is not a TV show, not a
meme. The results of this election will effect not
just America but the entire world. And so we must
require our journalists to do more than simply show
us footage and feed us sound bites. We need them
to ask hard questions and keep asking until they get
Amidst this swirl of mayhem, we need our media
not to coax us deeper into the house of mirrors, but
to guide us out of it into the light. ✦
by Julia Coccaro, Spanish Fort, AL
“I would love to be part of it, but unFinding a sponsor was the hardest step.
fortunately, I have a lot on my schedule,”
I e-mailed every teacher I thought might
she said. She recommended a tenth-grade
be remotely liberal. My English teacher
history teacher I didn’t know personally.
responded and asked for me to send the
I smiled and thanked her but waved off
bylaws to our principal. Overjoyed, I
her suggestion. I then went to the AP Bie-mailed them, then approached her in
ology teacher, who was also the captain
class and asked what was next. “I’ll talk
of varsity Scholar’s Bowl, so I knew her
to the principal and we can get things
on a personal level. “Well, I don’t want
going,” she said.
to start a war on the science
A month passed. Then
hall,” she said. She nodded
another. Then another.
the classroom next
My excitement lessened
“I don’t want to toward
to hers, where I saw in
with each passing week.
big, bold letters, “Teenage
I frequently approached
start a war on
Republicans.” She, too,
my teacher and asked
the science hall” mentioned the tenth-grade
about the process, but she
history teacher. “This
continually dismissed me.
would be a pretty controThe school year wound to
versial club, and he loves starting stuff,”
an end. By summer, all enthusiasm I had
During the ﬁrst week of sophomore
A nearly seven-foot-tall football coach,
this teacher was the last person I expectyear, I went to my former English teached to sponsor the chapter. But I trusted
er’s classroom only to ﬁnd that she had
her judgment and sent him an e-mail.
left. Disappointed, I began to lose hope
He responded quickly and told me that
of ever starting a HSDA chapter. I kept
he would be happy to do it. I couldn’t
telling myself that I would e-mail more
teachers, but I procrastinated, fearful of
Thus, the chapter of HSDA was born.
more failure. Finally, in October, I stayed
I was almost unbearably nervous at our
after school to talk to my new English
ﬁrst meeting. I didn’t know what to
expect, how many people would come, or
if just my friends would politely show up
because I had begged them. But amazingly, 20 people came! I introduced the
purpose of the club and the difference I
hoped to make. Overall, it was successful, and I was thrilled with the turnout.
Now, we have monthly meetings and
discuss current events. We’re in the
process of preparing for a debate with the
Teenage Republicans, which I can assure
you will be very interesting. In December, I was elected as South Regional
Director for Alabama High School Democrats, and have recently been selected to
write for HSDA’s blog, the Progressive
Teen. I’m going to Washington, D.C., this
June for HSDA’s annual summit, where I
will get to meet Democratic ofﬁcials and
tour the White House. In the ﬁve short
months since this chapter began, I’ve
received amazing opportunities, met fascinating people, and encouraged others to
advocate for their beliefs.
I implore you to get involved in school
or community organizations and work to
make a difference. Opportunities don’t
always fall into your lap. Sometimes, you
have to create your own. ✦
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
istorian Arthur Schlesinger described a
phenomenon where a general dissatisfaction
causes a shift in the national mood. This
occurs when our country feels a change is necessary
and mindsets switch from liberalism to conservatism
or vice-versa during a transition period, according to Schlesinger. These periods of liberalism or
conservatism are usually bookended by presidential
elections. As disapproval for a president grows, the
public looks for a candidate
from the other party to ﬁx the
perceived mistakes or shortcomings. In the runup to the election
next month, it has become clear
that many voters are seeking to
transition away from the liberal
period that began with the 2008
The national liberal mentality that accompanied most
of Barack Obama’s term was
marked by one major successful unifying social movement
and three extremely divisive
policies. The successful part
should be fairly obvious: the
LGBTQ rights movement. This
cultural shift, which 10 years
ago seemed unlikely, is now
seemingly accepted by both parties. Gay marriage is now legal
in all 50 states, and the Obama
administration deserves some
credit for this change.
However, any sort of victory
that has come out of the past
eight years will most likely
be overshadowed by three policies that split our
government in two. The ﬁrst, in the eyes of the idealist, was an attempt to make a dream happen, but
to the realist it was a poorly executed nightmare of
unbearable cost. The Affordable Care Act radically
changed the our country’s health care system for the
ﬁrst time in 40 years. The idea was to offer affordable health insurance to all people, just as dozens of
other countries have. However, since its introduction
as a bill, the policy has been considered by many
nothing more than a wild maze of red tape. Several
bouts in the Supreme Court, and a 16-day government shutdown later, this painfully controversial law
continues to be a dividing force between the two
parties. Now, in the eyes of many, Barack Obama is
Another controversy of the Obama administration has been the Iranian Nuclear Deal of 2015.
Following its announcement, it was immediately
condemned by numerous Republicans. Republican
presidential candidates slammed the deal, insisting
that they could have done better. They cited a need
for more protection for our country and the safety
of the people of Israel, according to an article in
The Atlantic. Obama was seen as far too soft in far
too serious a situation. For many, the idea of an unfriendly country like Iran having any sort of nuclear
program sounded like a death wish.
All of these may be reasons for a shift in our
national mood and leadership. After all, it would be
pretty hard to deny that the blunders of Republican
president George W. Bush made it easier for Democrat Barack Obama to take his place. Have the divisive, “socialist” policies of Obama made it easier for
by Chris Rosica, Madison, NJ
Donald Trump, a Republican capitalist candidate, to
gain traction in this election? We can ﬁnd a correlation by looking at how each new president may be
a national reaction to the last. For that reason, it is
important to analyze and understand where Bush
went wrong, and where the public turned on him.
The national shift toward liberalism stems from
three major failures of George W. Bush’s presidency following its ﬁrst turning point, 9/11. President
advisers for warning about the cost of the war
and the dangers of deﬁcit spending when it was
For all these reasons, people will always relate
their dissatisfaction and frustration from 2000 to
2008 with the Bush administration. In this time
of frustration and disapproval, it is quite obvious
why the public elected a young, charismatic, liberal, black senator who ran on the idea of “hope”
for the future.
So now, in the ﬁnal year
of President Obama’s second
General dissatisfaction can
term, will we see a migration
toward more conservative
cause a shift in the national mood
policies? Or will the need
for more social progress and
reforms cause the pendulum
to swing toward the left for
another four years? Perhaps
something new is emerging:
a general frustration with the
entire system rather than one
side or the other. The idea
that neither the Democrats
nor the Republicans hold
our best interest. This has
been born out in this presidential race by a candidate on
each side. The ﬁrst was Senator
Bernie Sanders, a socialist from
Vermont who caucuses with the
democrats. The second, Donald
Trump, a billionaire reality
television star who, if elected, would be by far the least
Photo by Anastasia Tishena, Sunny Isles Beach, FL
politically experienced person
to ever be our president. Both
Bush’s response to the worst terrorist attack on
these candidates ran on the platform that the whole
American soil was the announcement of a global
system is ﬂawed.
war on terror. As a direct result, the U.S. went to war
At this point, Sanders has left the race and enwith the Taliban in Afghanistan and with Sadddorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. What
am Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Bush used the term
will be the next shift in U.S. politics? We must only
“preemptive strike” as an excuse to start wars over
wait until next month to ﬁnd out. ✦
perceived threats. This concept would be the basis
for what was deemed the Bush Doctrine, the justiﬁcation for invading countries that had nothing to do
with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Shortly after
9/11, public approval of President Bush skyrocketed, peaking at 90 percent approval. But as the wars
I am but a thirteen-year-old girl
waged on, public opinion dropped. He would leave
I cannot change the world
ofﬁce at an all-time low of 22 percent, according to
one day I may be able to
but for now that power is beyond me
The second failure of the Bush administration
So I must look to the people with power
was the inability to prepare for and manage recovthe people of voting age
ery after one of the deadliest natural disasters in
the people who can make a difference
American history, Hurricane Katrina. Many grew
I must depend on them
frustrated when people continued to die of thirst and
But when I look out my window
exhaustion several days after the storm’s landfall,
at these people with the power
according to U.S. News. Images of Louisiana resitheir cars are running, their legs are moving
dents yelling for help from the roofs of their homes
but they are all asleep
prompted public outcry. Bush was slammed by
Sleeping away this madness
many as helpless, clueless, and racist.
unfolding before their very eyes
Bush’s third failure, and perhaps his biggest, was
ignoring the problems at hand
his very evident contribution to the worst ecobecause why not just sleep through it?
nomic crisis our nation had experienced since the
I am but a thirteen-year-old girl
Great Depression. Early in the Bush presidency, he
I cannot change the world
returned to deﬁcit spending in addition to tax cuts,
and when I look to the people who can
which ballooned our national debt. In addition, the
they are all asleep
cost of the Iraq War ultimately totaled between $1
by Tabitha Davidson, New York, NY
trillion and $3 trillion, according to Fox. Meanwhile, the Bush administration had ﬁred economic
Political Mood Swings
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Kick Like a Girl
ats down 10-17 at half,”
a Twitter user wrote, “but
the Jags kicker is a girl, so
we got this ….”
“Lol,” replies Savannah, a senior.
The Jaguars beat the Wildcats 24-14
an hour later.
Standing outside the ﬁeld house in
her workout clothes, Savannah gives
the impression that she’s given an
interview a few times before. And in
fact, she has.
As she lists the myriad sports she’s
played, she understandably pauses to
think before she answers.
“Soccer I started in second grade.
I started playing church basketball in
kindergarten, playing AAU [Amateur
Athletic Union] in ninth.
“And I’ve lettered in, I think, hold
on … I’ve lettered in ﬁve varsity
sports. It means you’ve played that
Like horses of a herd,
we move together, feet pounding the dirt
in unison. Sweat
rolling over skin like the tears
of burning muscles. Our eyes captured by the path
ahead, our minds lost within the Dream.
In my dream
I see a winding mountain path:
twenty-six miles of dirt
under beloved tennis shoes. The herd
behind me, sweat
burning my eyes like tears
of victory. We do not stop the tears;
it is a rule of the herd.
The salty bitterness of a broken dream
mixing with sweat
to pour down our faces in a warm path.
We embrace – our disappointment mixing at our
feet in a pool of dirt.
Our hands sit ﬁrmly on the dirt,
our arms pump up and down, glimmering with sweat.
The pain is not important, we think only of
of leading the herd,
of leaving behind tears,
of being the ﬁrst feet to break the path.
My feet race down the path.
Around me runners vie for position, like horses
in a herd.
Our legs are streaked with dirt;
spit lathers our cheeks like the tears
of burning lungs. Our minds dream
of the hard-earned solace of drying sweat.
The sweet odor of crystallized, left-over sweat,
the comfort of hugs warmed with tears,
the sticky grit of dirt
ﬂung into hair by shoes tearing up the path,
the willingness to sacriﬁce everything to the Dream –
these are the marks of the herd.
by Sierra Ross Richer, Goshen, IN
by Sumona Gupta, Tuscaloosa, AL
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
season. Like, I played varsity soccer
my seventh grade year, varsity softball eighth grade, I played varsity
basketball ninth grade, tenth, eleventh, and I’ll play varsity basketball
While this may be overwhelming to
most, Savannah comes from a family
of athletes. Her father and grandfather
were both football kickers.
“She’s kind of a third-generation kicker,” Savannah’s father,
Travis, says. And from the beginning, he says, Savannah showed
“She was a very active little
kid. It was hard to get her to sit
down for even a second. One of
the ﬁrst things we did was put her
in a gymnastics class for toddlers,
and she loved it. And it sort of just
went from there.”
At this point, playing football
seems almost like an afterthought
to her. Savannah’s start in the
game did come much later than
the other sports, and she didn’t
plan to play.
“She grew up playing soccer,
and every once in a while I would
mention, ‘You would be kind of
a good kicker in football,’ but she
brushed it off because she knew it
was a guys’ sport,” her father says.
However, opportunity came
in Savannah’s sophomore year,
when her high school football
team needed a kicker. Her father
suggested she go for it, and her
mother posted a video of her practicing on Facebook. Word of the
video spread, and about a week
later, she was asked to try out.
Savannah played for sophomore
year and half of her junior year
before moving to Alabama. She
immediately began playing soccer
again, but come football season,
she began raising eyebrows. After
seeing football interest sheets
posted in the cafeteria, she approached the head coach, Mike.
“When she said she wanted to
try out, I shooed her off,” Coach
Mike admits. “But then the guys
showed me a video. She’s the best
[kicker] we’ve had. Time will tell
if [she’s the best] ever.”
the country who play football, whom
she can relate to.
“The ones that I’ve met have been
from Oklahoma. I think there’s one
from Pennsylvania, one from Arizona.
They’re all spread out,” she says.
She doesn’t go looking for them;
they usually ﬁnd her.
“It’s pretty cool. Because all the
ones I’ve met have the same personality: really competitive. They don’t
Photo by Megan Corbly, Norman, OK
think of themselves as a girl going
out for football. They aren’t really
intimidated,” she says.
It doesn’t matter to Mike that
“It’s pretty cool because you meet
Savannah is a girl. He says she does
girls like you who understand what
the same work, and in turn, he treats
you’re doing, and you can talk to
her the same.
them about whatever you need to.
“I yell at her like I do at all the
Because with boys,” she laughs, “you
other guys,” he says. “She carries
don’t … it’s a little different, they
her own load. She helps out with the
don’t really care about whether your
team. She runs with the team. She’s as
hair has a bump in it or where the
much a part of the team as anybody.”
pads go. Yeah, it’s kind of confusing
Savannah’s teammates agree.
sometimes, but I’ve gotten used to it.”
“She’s just like any other person
Savannah especially enjoys the
on the team,” says a senior. “There’s
attention she gets after
nothing wrong with havgames. “I have had girls
ing a girl on the team.”
come up to me and say,
“She’s a girl. She’s a
“Being a role ‘Hey, we think what
good kicker. Out of all
the guys I’ve seen kick,
model for girls you’re doing is awesome,’
and it’s a good feeling,”
she’s one of the best,”
is pretty cool” she says.
says a senior.
Her father feels this
Savannah doesn’t try to
helps fuel her drive for
hide it; she is, of course,
success. “She’s not always the fastest,
a girl. She makes a point to wear a
not the biggest, but she has that ﬁery
braid with a bow for every game.
spirit that helps her thrive,” he says.
“It’s kind of superstition,” she
“It’s not all about the sport and
explains. “I wore it my ﬁrst game,
winning games,” Savannah says. “Of
because I was a little, you know, incourse, I love to win. I want to win
timidated. I didn’t want to be thought
every game, but football is a sport
of as a boy. And now I’m an athlete.
that can really impact people’s lives,
I can compete here and contribute to
whether they are playing or have a
help them win, so I don’t really care
role model in it. And to think that
as much if people think I’m a boy.”
I could be a role model for girls is
Rather than going easier on her,
pretty cool.” ✦
Savannah says that opposing teams do
the opposite. “They’re running harder
because they don’t want
a girl to score on them. I
don’t see it as a bad thing.
I take it as motivation.”
Some things are just
different for girls, and
Savannah says that she
noticed this when trying to
put on her uniform for the
ﬁrst time. Made for boys,
it was uncomfortable and
“I had no clue how to
put it on. My dad played,
so he helped me, otherwise, oh gosh, I would’ve
probably come out looking
crazy,” she says.
To ﬁnd peer support,
Savannah takes advantage of what launched her
football career in the ﬁrst
place: social media. There
she ﬁnds other girls across
Photo by Catherine Liang, Santa Rosa, CA
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
2016 Winning Essay by Zhen Tu, Eagan, MN
n September 7, 1977, Presiing up the canal, while merely 8 perbetter off ratifying the treaty in the
and April of 1978, the Panama Canal
dent Jimmy Carter and Panacent supported the idea (Annis 123).
hope that the Panamanian government
treaties with the amendments were
manian General Omar Torrijos
In Baker’s home state of Tennessee, a
could be our friend and ally” (Univerpassed in the Senate “with one vote
signed two Panama Canal treaties,
majority of citizens were also strongly
sity of Tennessee). He further added,
more than needed to enter the twoone of which eventually led America
against the treaties (Culvahouse).
“The country is [now] genuinely our
thirds threshold” (Ornstein). President
to relinquish control of the Panama
Being the moderate Republican
friend… so I think it was the right
Carter lauded Baker for “being so
Canal. After exhausting debates, the
that he was, Baker devoted his time
decision.” While Baker essentially
courageous in a time when it was not
Senate ratiﬁed the treaties the followto investigating both sides of the
sacriﬁced his political career, he made
easy” (qtd. in Beasley). Of the 20 sening year. During the months of debate
dispute before making his decision.
the right decision and achieved an
ators who voted for the Panama Canal
in the Senate, many senators and
The turning point came when Baker
important moral victory.
treaties and were up for reelection in
American citizens alike were strongly
traveled to Panama with colleagues.
Howard Baker embodied the true
1978, only seven returned to the Senagainst ratifying the treaty. RepubliWhile meeting
soul of a courageous man, from
ate the following
can Senator Strom Thurmond echoed
with “Panamasupporting the Voting Rights Act of
Theodore Roosevelt’s sentiment: “The
nians from all
1965 to alienating his fellow conserto say, Baker’s
“No politician in
canal is ours, we … paid for it and
walks of life,”
vatives by advocating for the Panama
support for the
modern times has been as treaties cost him
we should keep it” (qtd. in “Moments
Baker saw the
Canal treaties (Rudin). Columnist
in”)*. Given the staunch resistance
chaos that could
Albert Hunt said it best: “Perhaps no
qualiﬁed to be president the opportunity
from the majority of Republicans, it
erupt in Panama
politician in modern times has been
to obtain his parbut never made it”
is difﬁcult to imagine that Republiif the treaties
as qualiﬁed to be president but never
can Senate Minority Leader Howard
made it than Howard Henry Baker”
for president in
Baker tirelessly led the ratiﬁcation
(Hunt). Howard Baker’s act of polit1980 (Hunt).
process because he believed in biparAmerican commanders warned that
ical courage is still recognized and
In the years after the U.S. gave
tisanship to advance the best interest
rejection might very well lead to
honored today, serving as testament
control of the canal back to Panama,
of Panama and the United States. His
“further [anti-American] sentiment
to his legacy that will unequivocally
Baker believed that the “canal is
actions were seen as political suicide,
and propel sabotage against the canal”
inﬂuence and motivate many people
doing well, doing better than it ever
especially since he harbored hopes to
for generations to come. ✦
did when we had it” (qtd. in Beasley).
gain the Republican nomination for
After returning to the White House
In an interview at the University of
* For the complete essay, including
President in 1980 (“Moments in”).
on January 16, 1978, Baker notiﬁed
Tennessee in 2005, Baker reﬂected
the bibliography, visit the Proﬁle
Yet, similar to the senators in Proﬁles
Carter that he would support the treaupon his actions in the 1970s, saying
in Courage Essay Contest at
in Courage, Baker’s action of political
ties if some amendments were made.
that “the United States would be
courage kept “alive the spirit of
Before making his ﬁnal decision,
individualism and dissent which gave
Baker talked with his staff, seeking
birth to this nation” (Kennedy 17).
to predict the implications his stance
One may wonder what caused a
would have on his presidential hopes
Republican Senator from Tennessee
for 1980. He was informed that the
to jeopardize his political career
Republicans would never nominate
by espousing the ratiﬁcation of the
him. Baker replied, “So be it” (qtd.
Panama treaties. Baker, a moderate
conservative known for his willingUnsurprisingly, Baker’s decision
ness to make compromises, acquired
was met with a torrent of criticism
the powerful art of
across the country.
compromise from his
He received 64,000
go against the crowd
letters in two months,
Everett M. Dirksen,
98 percent of which
to do what is right?
who gave Democratic
from those opposing
career, he made
and Johnson invaluthe treaties. Twelve
able support and
the right decision House
advice during the
requested that Baker
years he was in ofﬁce
abdicate his leader(Kenworthy). One of
ship, writing, “You
Baker’s family members likened him
have no right, to use that ofﬁce as
to someone who was comfortable
a means of advancing the treaties
while ﬂoating down the middle of the
against the wishes of our party and
Tennessee River (Hunt). Indeed, it
the American people” (qtd. in Annis
John F. Kennedy Proﬁle in Courage Essay Contest
took some time for Baker to deter131). The backlash Baker received
Celebrate the JFK Centennial: A Legacy of Courage and Service
mine his ﬁrm position amid the bitreﬂects Kennedy’s statement that
First-place winner receives the special Centennial prize of $20,000.
terly divided political scene regarding
“the courage required of the Senator
the Panama Canal.
[to defy] the angry power of the very
Deadline for submission is January 4, 2017.
Although he had agreed to considconstituents who control his future”
er President Carter’s plans in 1977,
is perhaps the greatest political test
For contest information and the Centennial-Year essay topic,
Baker knew that his decision might
of all (Kennedy 222).
hinder his reelection prospects (Annis
In February 1978, vociferous
123). Consequently, he told Carter
debate over the ratiﬁcation of the
that he needed to inform Americans
Panama treaties ﬁnally began on
of the political situation concerning
the Senate ﬂoor (Annis 131). Baker
the canal before the Senate hastened
worked closely with Democratic
With support from
to make a decision. An August poll in
Senator Robert Byrd from West
1977 indicated that 78 percent of the
Virginia to produce the Byrd-Baker
American population objected to givleadership amendment. In March
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
proﬁles in courage
Howard Baker: The Great Compromiser
• Teen Ink
New Year’s Dinner
bones are scooped out of the pot and placed on the
he water goes third, from the silver spigot
cutting board, where my dad picks off the meat, still
above the stove, after the chicken stock and
steaming, and plops it back into the broth.
the turkey from Rosh Hashanah dinner the
I kneel on a chair and pour my diced work into
night before. My dad grips the heavy pot in both
the pot, everything congregating with a plop. A
hands, bearing the weight as my sister stands on
timer should be set, someone once said, so we know
a chair, controlling the ﬂow. Eventually, he sets it
when to add the matzo balls. Instead, the youngest
down on the burner with a gasp and a soft clang, and
is assigned the task of watching the boiling pot and
the water splashes a bit. My sister hops off the chair
calling for someone to poke a potato or carrot every
and drags it to the table, backwards with two legs
so often to test doneness.
off the ﬂoor, while my dad sparks the ﬁre with a dial
Finally, it’s time for the matzo balls. We take turns
and puts it on the highest setting. There is no time
ladling the tan clouds into the broth, watching the
to watch the ﬂames wet the pot – blue and orange
soup swallow them before they ﬂoat
waves like goldﬁsh in a pond –
to the top – proof of ﬂuffy success.
because there is too much to do, too
Now, the kitchen ofﬁcially smells
many days of repenting for this to
be relegated to the one before Yom
The kitchen smells like autumn, like the High Holidays,
like my dad’s house. We wait at the
like autumn, like scratched kitchen table
Next, the peeling. Carrots, potacelery stuck to our
toes, parsnips, turnips, and celery –
the High Holidays with
socks and carrots smoking
grandmother be damned. My sister
in our mouths, anxious to
cuts her ﬁnger, and a bandage is
get our own small bowl
applied before any blood drops onto
of Home. The rest will be poured into
the raw vegetables. She is referred to matzo ball
assorted containers with faded names
duty, mixing the egg and spices into the dry matzo
written on the mismatched tops, to be
and molding it into balls with her hands, which will
frozen for nine days. After the ninth day
be pink from cold before long, crusted with salt and
– a day of promises and books of death
egg and oil. They are laid onto a wax sheet with
and uncomfortable ﬂats and dresses and
care, far enough away from the stove to stay chilled.
synagogue and fasting, we will sit down
As my dad peels, I slice and quarter. The potaand chant the HaMotzi, the Kiddush,
toes and turnips are cut into brick-like squares, the
and whatever that prayer is that ends
celery into crescents, everything else into circles. A
with “shel yom hakippurim.” We will eat
carrot “cigar” hangs out of the corner of my mouth.
the challah and drink the Manischewitz
“Ehhh,” I say, crunching loudly. “What’s up, Doc?”
(or grape juice) and serve ourselves
My sister giggles and my dad starts quoting “Blazsalad and brisket and kugel. We will say
ing Saddles,” “My Cousin Vinny,” and “The Princess
the HaMotzi once again because Stuart
Bride.” After the vegetables are chopped, the turkey
hat is a grain of rice to
you? What is its worth?
In the afternoons, supper
may be a little lonely. My brothers
will be doing their own thing – homework or gaming. My grandparents are
older and kind; they no longer have
big appetites and believe the food
should go to the growing children.
I sit at the table with sun spilling
orange through the shutters. It’s
quiet and surreal. Gentle snores and
excited conversations reverberate
through the air.
Sometimes I become tired of the
routine and question why everything
is as it is as I go through my meal.
When I’ve had my ﬁll, I want to throw
away the rest, but I stop when stories
resurface in my mind. I stop because I
hear my mother’s lectures. She taught
me that those precious white grains
are a blessing from the blue sky, the
earth, and the hard labor of farmers
on the rice paddies hunched over the
Those stories are eloquently retold
by my tired mother on nights when I
by Alexandra Deutsch, Verona, NJ
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
was in the bathroom, and we will all wait for our
bowls to be summoned by my dad into the kitchen,
where he will ladle broth and two matzo balls into
each (two and a half for the kids and his motherin-law). As soon as we get our bowl, we rush to the
dining room and sit down and eat half of the soup
before he is even ﬁnished serving.
We will eat the soup for four days after that, for
breakfast, lunch, and dinner, until all the matzo balls
are gone and there is one lonely container left in the
fridge and three matzo balls in the freezer that we
will watch forlornly as they are heated and brought
to Russ down the block, who will kiss cheeks and
give out candy that was made before 1985 and
smells like starch and his dog, who is even more
blind and deaf than Russ. The ﬁrst mitzvot of the
New Year. ✦
Photo by Aria Lowe, Vancouver, BC, Canada
by Cindy Ly, Austin, TX
My grandmother’s philosophy was
feel like a child again or I can’t sleep.
to embrace your meals because you
Soft sheets gather moonlight like
never knew when the next would
the leaves drink morning dew. She
come. Grandma was and still is not
tells me quietly, stroking my hair, of
good with money. She spends it
the intricate magic of her birthplace,
easily and still smiles even if she is
broke. Back then, she couldn’t save,
The doors of each house were open
especially with three kids begging for
and welcoming. People gathered
something to ﬁll their bellies. They
wood to light their ovens. The smell
were young, but they
of fresh seafood and
noticed that their mother
buttery calf meat grillwas only eating their
ing wafted in the air.
I taste love,
leftovers. She would say,
Children sold lottery
tickets for a living and
magic, and home “Don’t worry about me.
already eaten, but
vendors sold foods –
in every grain I’ve
don’t throw that away.
everything from ﬁsh
It’s still good!”
sauce to fruit to sweet
My mother said she
liked living like that better than when
My mother, as a child, was fatherher dad came back. My grandpa was
less until she was seven, when my
a sensible man who saved the small
grandpa returned from the war. My
income they made from working
grandmother raised my mom, my
odd jobs. My mother said they had
aunt, and my uncle on her own. My
something to gobble down, but it was
mother recalled days when they ate
not appealing to their mouths. Rice
until their stomachs were packed full
was precious, and she hated potatoes.
with delicious “expensive” foods, and
They ate wild potatoes that grew in
others when hunger was grasping her
their yard, mixed with enormous
so tight it hurt.
amounts of rice.
Now, my mother and father work
diligently to provide for our family.
My mom’s hands develop red rashes
that don’t heal well. My dad’s forehead looks like a crumpled paper full
of crinkles. I wish I could erase their
dark circles and worries, but each step
I take into the future is another burden
on their backs. As my siblings and I
grow, we need more and more.
So when the sun has given a kiss
to its parent, the sky, and retired for
the night, and its siblings light up the
arching heavens, I know I’ll be able
to see my own parents. They offer
smiles and beautiful, ringing laughter.
Their weary voices ask one another
to get utensils or to come to the table
for dinner. Golden steaming rice is
served along with creamy ﬁsh and a
I taste tears, love, magic, and home
in every grain of rice that not only
ﬁlls my tummy but my heart. Every
day I eat with a happiness that can
only be contained in each ﬂeeting
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
by Mia Xing, Toronto, ON, Canada
gent mixed together. And shopping carts
hen I was a newcomer to Canada, the only
that didn’t work well.
place I would need to open the MandaI guess you could say supermarkets
rin-English dictionary on my phone was
are palaces of the mundane. But here
the supermarket. Margarine. Provolone cheese.
in Canada, living a new mélange life of
Whipping cream. Shoehorn. I would happily pick up
North American culture and the Chinese
these words from my screen, tuck my phone back
culture of my family, I started exploring
into my pocket like a Mission Impossible spy and
supermarkets and found many interesting
call out to my parents with surprise when I spotted
things in the mundanity.
If words, breath,
I ﬁnd the vocabulary of supermarsneezes, and scents were
kets fascinating. Not just the names
solid things that took
of the items on the shelves, but
I was standing
up space, Costco would
also the people, the way different
in the Palace of
be too packed to even
supermarkets unfold themselves
– Loblaws, Costco, Metro, T&T
Mega Consumerism enter. Recently we went
to Costco – my ﬁrst time
(a magical place that offers more
to this wholesale paradise.
Asian products than supermarkets
Since it was Sunday, it was
Back in China I wasn’t keen on grocery shopping.
crazily hard to navigate in any direction.
All our fellow shoppers were trying to
When I was little, I would go with my parents to a
harness a cart just like us.
supermarket called Auchan from time to time, but
When I walked in, I naively suggested my mom
only for the beneﬁts thereof – Oreos, popsicles,
not use one of the gigantic trolleys. “We’ll only need
fruit jello, beef jerky, and the joy of having my dad
a basket,” I claimed. After 30 seconds of searchurge me to “take more, take more.” Other than that,
ing, we realized that there were no baskets, and I
supermarkets to me meant free air conditioning and
stood behind the huge mountain of discounted Ritz
the smells of seafood, vegetables, and laundry deter-
The Avocado Man
by Lindsey Goldin,
across from me. I wondered absently what he
t 8 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday
planned to do with them. Then he began to
summer morning before my senior
peel the avocados and eat them with a spoon.
year of high school, I dealt with
I stared at him for 10 minutes, paralyzed, as I
hungry people. These mean and impatient
watched him consume both avocados.
folks were the worst. They came stumbling
After he ﬁnished, he calmly got up,
into the restaurant I worked at, demanding
oblivious to my shock. It was then that I felt
coffee with squinty eyes and scowling faces.
inspired. This random man
After gorging on greasy
reminded me that humanity
breakfast food and the
I too had become a is kind of awesome and that
mimosa, they waddled out
grumpy, hungry person I should take time to appreciate my fellow humans.
rubbing their bellies with
People can do anything
contentment, opening up a
we set our mind to, and nothing is impossitable for another group of rude and impatient
ble. Dos Avocados man inspired me to look
hungry people. As much as I enjoyed my job
beyond the surface and cut people some slack.
at Sabrina’s Cafe, I usually left exhausted,
Dos Avocados man dared me to see the value
grumpy, and smelling oddly of ketchup and
and capability in myself. But most importantpancake syrup.
ly, Dos Avocados man inspired me to think
To save money, I would often eat at Saoutside the box, which in turn, inspired me to
brina’s after my shift, but one rainy Sunday
tell his tale. ✦
afternoon, I decided to treat myself to some
vegan grub at Whole Foods. Unfortunately, the store was packed with
families stocking up for the week.
Everyone sported furrowed brows
as they examined the overpriced
food. I realized that I had ﬂung
myself into another situation with
grumpy, hungry people, which
provoked me to scream mentally. I
too had become a grumpy, hungry
After 30 minutes of waiting to
pay, I ﬁnally sat down with my wrap
in the store’s eating area. Between
bites, I spotted a peculiar-looking
man with two whole avocados
Photo by Katie Clancy, Skokie, IL
The Vocabulary of Supermarkets
Photo by Chloe Linder, Madison, NJ
breadsticks, jumbo Rice Krispies Squares, party-size
bags of M&Ms, and Fruit-O-Long while my mom
scurried to get a cart.
That was when I ﬁnally became aware that I was
standing in the Palace of Mega Consumerism.
Costco is the place you see middle-aged women
in old-fashioned jumpsuits venturing through the
aisles like heroines faster than anyone else. Costco
is a place where you may see two people yelling and
swearing at each other just because one was walking
“too slowly,” causing the other to bump him/her
with a cart. Costco is a place where you marvel at
the ridiculous size of everything while pretending
you are a veteran shopper.
It is interesting how in the most mundane of
places, philosophical questions can strike you like
a giant cereal box falling off a shelf. On Facebook I
came across this wonderful college application essay
that got a girl into multiple Ivy League schools. She
wrote about how Costco gave birth to her ponderings on life and her sense of exploration. I kept
ruminating when I was in Costco: If there exists a
33-ounce jar of Nutella, do we really have free will?
Since I’m not sure if I have free will, I am not
going to further explore that question. Nor do I want
to start ranting or praising modern consumerism, or
put a label on Costco, like it does its items. An economist may condemn the “Costco effect” (when you
walk in planning to just grab some Kleenex but end
up spending a hundred dollars). A poet may whine
about how Costco makes everything overﬂow and
thus takes away the essence of life.
But for me, Costco isn’t good or bad, but it
somehow makes one feel very North American. And
on top of that, for me there is that particular joy of
strolling around and learning the names of the items.
Then there is the ultimate perk of Costco: that
moment you’re almost walled in by shelves of huge
boxes, when you watch your fellow shoppers dig
through pools of infant-size clothing, and you can’t
help but imagine the story behind this inventory of
life. Who invented Nutella? What was the magical point in history when people started needing
gigantic boxes of palmiers? What about gargantuan
tubs of sour cream? Who was the ﬁrst person to buy
jumbo-size Rice Krispies Squares, sit down every
morning at the breakfast table, and feel good about
himself/herself for having so much that it doesn’t
seem to run out?
Oh, Costco, you are so much more complicated
than the “all beef” excellence of your cheap hot
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
The Picky Eater
t looks like vomit. I push the beige
mass covered in a sappy maroon
sauce around my plate with a
fork. Tentatively, I begin to cut into
it, cringing as my forks sinks into the
center, hitting slimy black specks. As
the pungent scent – a mix of onions
and peanuts – seeps out, I try to hold
back a gag. Vegan “meat” – this is
exactly why I don’t eat dinner at
Taking a deep breath, I lift a piece
to my mouth and chew, my eyes beginning to water. Turns out the slimy
black ﬂecks are pepper. I hate pepper.
I reach for my water, and, closing my
eyes, quickly down the entire glass.
Looking up, I realize my friend’s
whole family is looking at me.
“What do you think?” Her mother
ﬂashes a pearly smile accented with
bits of vegan meat.
“Delicious! I just wish I hadn’t
eaten such a big lunch!” I reply, wondering if they can hear my stomach
rumbling. I scoop up another beige
pebble from my plate, but I can still
feel the remnants of the ﬁre I just put
out in my mouth. Setting down the
fork, I tune in to the conversation.
Our lives revolve around food like
Earth revolves around the Sun. In this
nation dominated by all things edible,
I’m somewhat of a culinary novelty:
a picky eater above the age of 10. My
tongue must have been built as some
Godly joke; the blueprints for a fence
rather than a welcome mat. It’s a long
row of ﬁckle taste buds that revolt at
by Molly Laninberg, Jacksonville, FL
Don’t like something? “Picky eater.”
the mere sight of unfamiliar foods.
Choosing something from the kids
Fruit and chocolate seem to be the
menu? “Picky eater.”
only items welcome to pass through.
Accepting this label was so much
Every day is a war. I lay siege with
easier than explaining that certain
shrimp that seems to be coated in
foods turned my stomach inside out
an entire ocean’s worth of salt and
and made my eyes water. At least the
sprouts that look like they belong in
fence in my mouth was a whitewashed
my backyard as my tongue and entire
picket one, a welcomed barrier. I
body ﬁght back. Three times a day
didn’t have to worry about not liking a
the challenge is getting food into my
dish or attending some stuffy function
stomach before my tongue gets a
I didn’t want to. “Picky eater,” the
chance to taste it. My only weapons
label that sat in my back pocket, was
are long sips of water and dozens of
an excuse I gladly used.
ketchup packets to combat a hair-trigThen I would rememger gag reﬂex and pure
ber its indestructibility
My tongue is a – Superman without
kryptonite. I was stuck
fence rather than in the cramped backrewards, and even
funerals – everything
a welcome mat yard. It was when I
heard about sushi dates
is tied to eating. Food
and friends going out
is the socially acceptfor coffee without me that I would
able addiction that I can’t fall into.
feel something worse in my stomach.
My tongue becomes a barbed-wire
Friends would say that I didn’t like
fence that I’m afraid to climb because
that type of food anyway, but I still
I don’t want to bloody my hands. I sit
felt a sort of craving deep inside. I felt
at a table with an empty plate listenmy tongue tripling in size, ﬁlling my
ing to raving compliments on the ribs
mouth and my lungs. The fence was
with the thick, orange sauce and the
getting closer and closer. I couldn’t
scent of rotten citrus. I bite my lip as
breathe. I seemed too full of “I’ll eat
I read my friends’ irritated texts after
before I go,” “No, thank you, I’m not
I begged them to go anywhere but the
hungry,” and “I’ll get something later.”
seafood place. I shrugged when faced
All to the soundtrack of my rumbling
with the look of shock from my pre-K
teacher when I announced I wouldn’t
I would pore over any informaeat the graham crackers because they
tion on pickiness I could ﬁnd. I’d try
were too sweet.
mental tricks, pretending I liked a food
“Picky eater.” A label quickly acor simply stufﬁng it down quickly,
cepted by me – embraced by me.
Italy vs. USA
but nothing worked. I wondered what
endorphin I was missing as everyone
else drooled over bacon. I wondered
what I was losing as I peered through
the cracks in my fence at the birthday
party next door.
Therapists will place the blame
on bad parenting. They’ll analyze all
of the things my parents did wrong.
They’ll say I wasn’t fed the foods early enough or often enough. They won’t
take note of my adventurous siblings.
Doctors will say sensory issues and
genetics. The fact that I don’t have
sensory issues will be skipped over.
Adventurous eaters will say I’m just a
product of a nation gone soft. Just another child who wasn’t forced to clear
her plate. Don’t mention the times I
forced myself to. A lot of people will
call it a phase, saying that one day I’ll
just wake up and eat everything. I like
to accept all of those answers because
they don’t place the blame on me.
They say that I didn’t build this fence
in my mouth. I wasn’t the one to nail
the boards and paint the sides – something I want so desperately to believe.
Guilt ﬁlls me as I dump the leftover
food on my plate into the trashcan.
The aftertaste of … whatever that
was remains in my mouth. I know I
could never have made myself eat it.
My friend comes up behind me and
whispers, “We have some pizza in the
fridge. I’ll heat it up for you after they
ﬁnish the dishes.”
I know that my cheeks are red, but I
smile and nod gratefully. I am hungry. ✦
by Cam Lind, Evanston, IL
In Italy, even in the smallest, most
ince my return from Rome and
humble restaurants offer many pasta
Umbria, in central Italy, I’ve
varieties to choose from, all cooked
limited my pasta to just pad thai,
to perfection. The portions ﬁll you up,
and haven’t eaten a single piece of
but not to the point of bursting. You
pizza. This is not a health kick. Now
are expected to clear your plate: not
that I’ve tried authentic Italian fare –
doing so indicates that you didn’t like
in all its homemade glory – I can’t go
the dish. There are no takeback to the Americanhome boxes.
ized versions. Even the
Pizza, too, has been
fancy Italian restaurants
I can’t go
completely transformed in
in my hometown can’t
its translation to American
draw me in.
back to the
culture. U.S. customers
Here in America, the
standard is dry, boxed
Americanized have all the power when
ordering pizza, dictating
pasta, so we never learn
toppings, cheeses, and size.
to appreciate good,
(Deep dish pizza is an enhomemade pasta, hand
tirely American construct.)
cut and left to dry
hanging over the backs of chairs. In
In restaurants in Italy, pizzas are designed by the chef and handmade with
an American restaurant, al dente pasta
care. Even in the most fast food-like
– soft on the outside and not quite
restaurants in Italy, pizza is cooked
fully cooked on the inside – is rarely
in a wood-ﬁre oven; it’s common
achieved. A typical American pasta
knowledge that this makes the crispiplate is overpiled with overcooked
est, most delicious crust. I remember
spaghetti or ravioli and smothered in
looking for the slice lines on my pizza
red sauce or pesto.
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
Photo by Ryan Gibson, The Woodlands, TX
in Italy, and realizing I was meant to
use the fork and knife by my plate to
cut it myself.
Though restaurants in the States
make an effort to mimic true Italian
fare, they don’t come close to matching the authentic quality and style.
Italy remains the best food experience
I’ve ever had. ✦
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
by Indre Zalepuga, Bradenton, FL
my grandma and I were cooking, and the
gripped the handle of the oven and
language we spoke, connected me to my
braced myself for the worst: a black,
burnt, rock-hard kugelis inside. SurI reached for the onions and peeled off
prise, surprise. For the fourth time since
their ﬂaky skins. As I sliced the ﬁrst one,
summer, I had failed to re-create my
my eyes started to sting. My vision begrandmother’s specialty. Kugelis, a gratcame blurry, and my nose started to run.
ed potato pie, is a traditional Lithuanian
Finally submitting to the ﬁery sensation,
recipe that my grandma always prepares
I reached for a napkin to wipe the tears
during my stays with her. I vividly
and blow my nose. I sat on a stool and
remember the day she agreed to teach me
watched my grandma expertly control
how to cook this dish.
the knife. As she chopped she didn’t
Making this “welcome back” dish
wince once. Perhaps when I am her age I
is my grandmother’s way of showing
will have steel-strong eyes
her love and joy for my
long-awaited visits to
my grandma sauLithuania. Eager to learn
The traditional téedWhile
the onions, I asked,
how to cook kugelis as
well as she does, I began
food connected “How did you become an
expert in cooking kugeto empty the bags from
me to my heritage lis?”
our trip to the market:
She replied that during
small potatoes, onions,
the Soviet occupation of
and fresh eggs. Since I
Lithuania, there was little variety in the
was clueless in the kitchen, I followed
food they had access to. Potatoes were
the master chef.
a staple. “My mom would cook many
My grandma started to peel a potato
potato meals. Kugelis was my favorite,”
with the non-blade side of a knife. When
I tried to imitate her, the potato slipped
I asked what life was like when she
out of my hand. After many unsuccessful
was 17, like me.
attempts, I managed to peel two, while
“It was the end of World War II, and
my grandma had downsized the hill of
the Soviets had attacked again,” she
potatoes to half.
began. “I frequently hid under bridges
A grin spread across my grandma’s
to avoid getting killed or deported to
face. I couldn’t tell whether she was
laughing at how inept I was or just
She sighed, recounting the time she,
enjoying our bonding time. Nevertheless,
as an adult, turned on the TV only to see
she encouraged me: “Bandyk. Jau gerithe station lose connection. “Apparentau.” (Keep trying. You’re doing better
ly, that night, on January 13, 1991, the
Soviets tried to reoccupy Lithuania. They
We then switched to grating the
attacked the TV tower and killed 14
potatoes. As we prepared the dish, I
thought about how the traditional food
An Aroma of Reminiscence
Photo by Alicia DeMott, Roanoke, VA
I ﬁnally understood that her stories
were not just her sharing past experiences of struggle and success, but a way for
me to connect with an important part of
our history. Since Lithuanian culture was
suppressed during my grandmother’s
childhood, I feel grateful to be able to
freely celebrate my heritage and proud
for what my grandma overcame.
I opened the refrigerator and took
out the raw milk, which I knew had a
stronger taste than the pasteurized milk
I drank at home in Florida. My grandma boiled the milk while I grabbed the
frozen bacon and cut it up. I scraped the
bacon bits into the onion pan and poured
in more oil. Slowly they became crisp
and turned a deep burgundy. When hot
oil landed on my hand, I yelped
in pain. I reminded myself that
my grandma would have ignored the pain, so I mustered up
the courage to take the spatula
After combining the boiling
milk, grated potatoes, eggs,
bacon, and onions, I poured the
mixture into a glass dish and
put it into the preheated oven.
While it baked, we prepared the
sauce with fried bacon, sautéed
onions, and sour cream. When
we opened the oven, to our
delight, the scrumptious aroma
of kugelis ﬁlled the kitchen.
My grandma carefully cut a corner
piece for me and a middle one for her. I
poured sauce on top and garnished with
parsley. As I took a bite, the silky sauce
meshed perfectly with the bits of bacon.
My grandma and I nodded at each
other in approval. I thought about how
much effort had gone into making this
dish, how much patience my grandma
had acquired in her 84 years of practice
perfecting kugelis. I admired her greatly;
I knew that I wanted to grow up to be a
persevering woman like her.
As my mom called my name I snapped
back to reality. I had burned the kugelis. I scraped the pie into the trash and
resolved to try again. I took a bag of
potatoes from the pantry and began to
peel, not with a peeler, but the way my
grandma had taught me. She was the one
who encouraged me to persevere through
life’s challenges, just like she and the
generations of Lithuanians who came
before her had. ✦
by Ashley Huynh, Huntington Beach, CA
and the sliding of a red tray on the counter. The
arlem’s Kitchen was a fast food stand in a
appearance of food would quiet all our demands. At
food court located in the middle of a grocery
my father’s cue, takeout boxes would be opened and
store. It was a hole-in-the-wall shop, kind of
chopsticks would ﬂy, each held in tight examination.
run down, with a greasiness that promised cheap food
They would glance over the soaked, crunchy noodles
and good taste. It had metal chairs that groaned when
and steamed ong-choy, and graze against the fried rice
you moved them, and a blinking sign that ﬂickered in
peppered with onions, peas, and bits of beef. Chewing
a mixture of bouncing English and Chinese every time
renowned Chinese donuts, savory wonton
soup, and walnut shrimp, we’d forget about
My father always took us to Harbeing tired and lonely, and enjoy the little
lem’s Kitchen when he came home late
The holetime that we had together. This simple meal
from work and was too tired to cook.
would erase all the stresses of the day.
He’d drive us to the stand, sit us in a
ratty booth, and speak to the woman at
restaurant that A 100-yen store selling cooking utensils and household items has replaced the
the counter in rapid Cantonese. She’d
arcade my brother and I used to ﬁght over.
respond even quicker with a ripping of
The chairs that we used to play on and drag
paper and a tack on the wall.
around are now solidly bolted to the ﬂoor.
As we waited, my brother and I
The walls are newer, the TV screens are bigger, and
would jealously watch kids playing in the arcade next
overall, the food court is brighter. But after all these
door. We’d discuss games we wanted to play, prizes
years, the hole-in-the-wall restaurant that I loved and
we wanted to win, and devise secret plans to smughated still remains. Harlem’s Kitchen is the same as it
gle coins in, each ﬁghting the other for my father’s
ever was, with the same owner and the same muttering
attention. While we fought, my father would ignore
our cries for money and games and stare at the foreign
lady at the counter. It looks almost archaic compared
dramas blaring on the hanging TVs.
to the bustling shops that have sprung up around it, yet
it’s still the most popular place in the square. Small,
The torture of waiting ended with a woman’s yell
Photo by Celena Dong, Gainesville, FL
crowded, and dingy, it draws lines of customers that
snake around the food court. I like to think of it as a
stubborn relic of my childhood that refuses to be swallowed up and forgotten by time.
Even the taste of the food is the same. And when I
leave the tattered booth and empty plates of my childhood foods, I am stuffed, just like always, with happy
memories and simple, savory satisfaction. ✦
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Peanut Butter and Jelly
by Monique Sammut, Steubenville, OH
Our meal was silent, except for his sporadic
ne summer, I met up with Joseph, one of my
comments about how delicious the jelly tasted and
out-of-town college friends. We decided it
how nice the weather was. I was far too focused on
would be nice to update each other on our
trying to keep the jelly inside the sandwich to speak.
summer vacations, the semester ahead, and life in
Despite my efforts, large, gooey blobs oozed out and
general before school started and chaos set in.
stained the table purple.
It was a Tuesday evening, and we sat outside in
After we ﬁnished, Joseph began absentmindedthe cool breeze. The campus bells had just ﬁnished
ly playing with the plastic spoon. He twirled it in
ringing out 5 o’clock, but neither of us had menhis ﬁngers and stuck it in his mouth,
cleaning off the jelly. Then the spoon
We had been talking for about half
dipped back into the peanut butter,
an hour when Joseph asked, “Are you
“Are you hungry? was
licked clean, and re-dipped in the jelly.
hungry? Do you mind if I eat?” I had
This procedure was repeated several
not even ﬁnished replying when he
Do you mind
more times. I could only watch as the
plunked down his duffel bag on the
if I eat?”
white spoon was covered in brown, purwooden table we were sitting around.
ple, and purple once again. He casually
Silently, he proceeded to take out a
spoke of school and going abroad as he
loaf of bread, a plastic spoon, a jar of
licked and re-licked the spoon.
peanut butter, and grape jelly.
With practiced ease, he twisted open the bread
Then, as if concluding some unique ritual, he
suddenly twisted the lids onto the jars, closed the
bag and pulled out a slice. He liberally smeared
bread bag, and returned everything to his duffel
on the peanut butter, then topped it with generous
bag … along with the plastic spoon. Once he had
blobs of jelly. The bread was then folded in half and
removed all traces of our meager meal with the skill
placed on the table in front of me while he made
and speed of a magician, he closed his eyes, leaned
another sandwich for himself. Not a word was said
back, and sighed.
as I watched his hands ﬂy from bag to jar to bread to
We sat at the table, breathing in the evening air. In
table. Yet, despite his speed, a certain delicacy and
the comfortable silence, I began to replay the image
care went into the preparation.
Durian: Dangerous and Beautiful
hen my aunt visited us in
Guangzhou, China, a few years
ago, it was durian season.
Walking on the streets, the scent embraced
us. Like a witch who tempts her victims
into a trap, durian seduced us to the market
stalls. As my parents and I stood in front
of a pile of durians, enjoying the heavenly
smell, I heard my aunt’s voice. “What are
these stinky things? Can we get away from
here?” When we coaxed her into trying
one, her dramatic expressions were amusing; they turned from extreme disgust, to
surprise, and then pleasure. “Can we have
another?” she asked the next day.
We ate durians every day for a week.
When my aunt was preparing to leave, I
suggested she take some with her. At the
time, I didn’t know that durian was on
the list of items forbidden on airplanes,
along with knives, bombs, and explosive
chemicals. We tried to conceal the smell
of the fruit every way we could think of,
but nothing worked. In embarrassment, we
watched as security guards unwrapped two
layers of newspaper, three layers of cling
wrap, and opened a Tupperware container
to reveal the durian my aunt had stowed
in her carry-on, which they threw into the
Famous for its unmistakable smell
(which some enjoy and others ﬁnd
repulsive), durian is virtually unknown
to Europeans but zealously pursued by
certain Asian populations. This mysterious
fruit is both dangerous and beautiful, but it
is losing its unique beauty due to efforts to
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
of the spoon in my mind. I could clearly see it dancing in Joseph’s ﬁngers. I saw it dip into the peanut
butter and glide to his mouth. I saw it dip into the
jelly and into his mouth again. Dip, glide, repeat.
“What are you thinking about?” Joseph asked,
breaking the silence.
I hesitated. His dark eyes penetrated mine, and I
wanted to tell the truth. The only problem was I had
no idea how to explain that for the past two minutes
my mind had been replaying what the spoon had just
been through. More than that, I was wondering how
many times that spoon had been through those antics
before. How many times had it dipped and glided
before it met my piece of bread? How many times
had it been cleansed somewhere besides his mouth?
How could I explain all this without sounding ridiculous? I didn’t want to lie, but at that moment, lying
seemed better than the embarrassment that would
have accompanied the truth.
“Nothing,” I replied.
Sometimes, I regret lying to Joseph that day. I
wish I had quelled my fear and answered truthfully.
Since I did lie, I am forever doomed to wonder how
skilled that spoon was at dipping and diving in and
out of jars and Joseph’s mouth – and onto the sandwiches he shared with his friends. ✦
by Zhiying Ren, Guangzhou, China
status as “conquerers.”
Though durian may have its dangers, it
The dangers of durian can hardly be
is also beautiful because of its contribuignored. Durian trees can grow very tall,
tions to health. According to an article by
so a foot-long mature durian fruit hanging
Ben Tesiorna, it contains a lot of sugar,
at the top of a tree is like a bomb that can
vitamin C, potassium, tryptophan, and raw
explode at any time. Additionally, it is a
fats. In Southeast Asian regions such as
common belief that consuming durian with
Malaysia, the leaves and roots were used
alcohol or coffee will cause your blood
to reduce fever.
pressure to rise and result in a generally
The most charming aspect of durian
unwell feeling. “A Japanese study found
is its association with Southeast Asian
that the high sulfur content, thought parculture. The seasonality of durian means
tially responsible for the durian’s strong
it is only available for a few months a
smell, interferes with aldehyde dehydroyear. In Malaya, aboriginal families would
genase – the body’s process of processing
“leave their houses, reach the
toxins when drinking alcodurian trees in the forest, clear
hol,” according to the article
the ground in order to ﬁnd
“Interesting Facts About
Southeast Asia’s King of the “What are these more easily the food … for six
or two months, they eat
Fruits.” In addition, modstinky things?” weeks
nothing but durians,” writes
eration is important: eating
Andrea Montanari in “The
too much durian can cause
Stinky King: A Social and
dehydration. A preferred way
Cultural History of the Durian.”
to mitigate the risks of this “king of the
However, the wild beauty of durian was
fruit” is to consume “queen of the fruit” –
sacriﬁced when it was introduced to the
garcinia – at the same time.
rest of the world. Since durian needed to
Durian has also carried dangerous culbe eaten as soon as possible and was hard
tural connotations. When the Dutch took
to transport, the international market for
over Malacca, Malaysia, in 1641, they
the fruit was not possible until recently.
adapted quickly to the taste of the ethnic
Extensive breeding propagated select
food, including durian. However, adapting
specimens, and scientists have manipulatto the food of the natives implied that it
ed the ripening to extend the shelf-life and
would also be easily to assimilate into the
limit the undesirable smell. These changes
“uncivilized” societies. Therefore, Eurohave facilitated the transition of the durian
peans felt the need to reject durian, as it
market from rural to urban areas. Conrepresented the native tribes. Surprisingly,
sumers can now eat durians without shells
the colonial elites loved the taste but had
or overpowering odor. But these changes
to eat the fruit in secret to preserve their
destroy its wildness and mysterious beauty. I’ve always considered the process of
opening the thorny skin of a durian to be a
We forget that the beauty of the durian
cannot exist without the danger. How can
durian be considered “the king of food”
when its crown of thorns is removed
and its majestic odor is concealed? The
once-powerful king is now more like an
ordinary commoner who does not stand
out in a crowd. However, for me, durian
will always be the king of fruits. ✦
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
Art by Michelle Ma, Farmington, CT
by Natasha Kossovsky,
ince I joined the gaming community
– sexual remarks, insults based on gender, and
three years ago, I’ve learned that it isn’t
the pinnacle of rude comments: “How about I
just about playing FPS games and bathandle this and you make me a sandwich?”
tling OP dragons. In the gaming community, I
Male gamers aren’t the only ones to blame
have been subjected to blatant sexism the likes
here; the gaming industry plays a role by proof which I have never encountered in my daily
ducing misogynistic games. The objectiﬁcation
life. I wasn’t prepared for the personal attacks,
and sexualization of women can be seen many
solely based on the fact that I am a female.
video games. A game I play a lot, “League of
I had no idea that I would be rejected by a
Legends,” depicts highly sexualized female
community that never saw me as an individual
characters with very little clothing or armor,
who wanted to play video games, but instead
even though the game revolves around ﬁghtdecided I was there to impress guys. I learned
ing. Many games still feature the overused and
that female gamers are treated like Luigi by the
outdated “damsel in distress” trope. Princess
gaming community – always second to Mario.
Peach is kidnapped in 13 of the 14 Super MaLuigi goes unmentioned, despite making up
rio games, while Princess Zelda, who appears
half of one of the most famous character duos
in 14 of the Legend of Zelda games, must be
in video game history, due to his outdated label
saved by Link in 12 of them.
as “player two.”
The lead characters in video games tend to
Girls, it’s time for us to take action; it’s time
be male, with their female companions being
for us to challenge our label as “player two” to
either sexualized, cast as the damsel in distress,
our male counterparts and show that we are an
or both. So what’s the argument supporting
important market for video game producers;
marginalization, sexualization, and objectiﬁwe are valuable teammates and vital voices.
cation of women in games? A popular one is
We need to remind the gaming community
that men are the ones who play video games,
how much of it we represent! Whether it’s the
so games are created for them. However, a
objectiﬁcation and sexualization of female
recent survey from Entertainment Software
characters or the cruel treatment of “gamer
Association Statistics shows that 45 percent of
girls,” it’s clear that equality in
gamers are female. While it’s an
the gaming community is an
issue that the gaming community
achievement yet to be unlocked.
doesn’t realize its own demoEquality in
For female gamers, the
graphic and therefore assumes it
gaming is an
gaming community sets many
is okay to objectify women, the
requirements that must be met
achievement yet sexist portrayals of women lead to
in order to be considered a part
a much more dangerous problem.
to be unlocked According to Professor of Gender
of the community; the only
requirement for male gamers is
Studies and Philosophy Sandra
to enjoy video games. FeLee Bartky, sexist portrayals
male gamers have to prove their knowledge.
of women in video games exist “because
Whatever game they play, they must know the
revealing images of their body parts lure the
names of all the weapons and characters, and
audience … When a woman’s body or body
be familiar with the lore.
parts are singled out and separated from her as
If it is known that a gamer is female, male
a person, she is viewed primarily as a physical
gamers question her about every detail of the
object of male sexual desire.”
game – through the game chat, Tumblr, or
Sexualization and objectiﬁcation of feanother platform. If she is unable to pass these
male characters can have a dangerous effect
ridiculous, arbitrary quizzes, she is declared
on real women, even outside of the gaming
a fake, which makes it very difﬁcult for her
community. According to Canada’s Center for
to build a reputation or have a standing in the
Digital and Media Literacy, “When women are
gaming community. This is not a process male
consistently shown as sex objects rather than
gamers have to endure.
agents, consistently depicted in demeaning
Female gamers can’t act too “girly” or
and degrading ways, and consistently shown
“manly.” However, these gender stereotypes
as submissive, the result is to condone and supare deﬁned differently by each male gamer,
port violence against women, and anti-woman
which leaves female gamers even more unsure
of what they must do to be accepted. They
Enough is enough. It’s time for the gaming
must refer to themselves as “girl gamers,” not
community to acknowledge the large popula“gamer girls” and they can’t seek attention,
tion of female gamers and treat them the same
whether through community forums or sites, or
as male gamers. Lots of people love video
just Tumblr, even if they just rekt the monster
games, and the number of supporters is almost
in a boss battle. A players who doesn’t comply
equal when it comes to gender. Game develwith these “rules” will be targeted through
opers need to start making games featuring
social media platforms and gaming community
strong, not sexualized, women in leading roles.
platforms with barrages of hurtful and someAs a young woman playing video games, I
times threatening comments. This is done to
want to know that the community respects me,
remind her of her place; she is not a welcomed
that game developers no longer make games
member of the gaming community, but she
for men, but rather for people. So many labels
may be tolerated under certain conditions.
have been thrown around – male gamer, female
Once female gamers get past all these faux
gamer, gamer girl, girl gamer. Once we accept
rules and regulations, there are more hurdles.
that the community isn’t divided into two
Many hate using the chat feature, which is key
groups, male and female, we can become one
for planning complex strategies, because of the
group: people who love video games. ✦
comments they receive from male teammates
I am not a category
Not a position
A meaningless statistic
On your fancy chart
I will not be put in a place
Told what to do
What to make
What to speak
My words are my words
My love is my love
One or the other
Or none of the above
Don’t put a censored bar
Over my heart
Don’t bleep out my declarations of love
Put a tax on my artistic endeavors
Rufﬂe your feathers
Trigger warning over my soul
My language is foul language
I am an artist
My art is my words
Don’t put a censored bar
Over my heart
Entitled you have the power to a riﬂe
Put a bullet to my art
I’ll show you where to start
Your target is my heart
Because my work is my art
My art is my words
And I love my work
I take pride in my art
And my words are a reﬂection
So take your riﬂe
Take your bible
For the day
When the art goes away
The moment the bullet hits
My heart and my brain
And my work
You’ve ﬁnally put a censored bar
Over my heart
points of view
Sexism in Gaming
by Matty Mendez, Kissimmee, FL
Photo by Kate Young, Union City, OH
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
pride & prejudice
What Is Feminism?
by Sophie Consorti, Wilmington, MA
The more I venture out into the world, the more I
eminism: “the theory of the political, economlearn that this is true. Here’s an exchange I had with
ic, and social equality of the sexes.” Yes, that
an older man at church:
is straight from Merriam-Webster. No, I am
“So you want to be a nurse?” he asked.
not a crazy, man-hating lesbian. I just believe that
“No,” I replied, “a doctor – a pediatrician.”
men and women should be treated as equals. I’ve
Again he said, “You mean a children’s nurse?”
grown up with strong women surrounding me: my
I just shook my head and walked away, unwilling
grandma, my mom, my aunts. They all call themto argue. Every time I’m asked why I want to be
selves feminists. I wasn’t always comfortable identia doctor, why I think I can get into an Ivy League
fying as a feminist; it took me a while to realize that
medical school, I am even more determined to prove
it doesn’t mean I have to hate men or burn my bras.
It means that I want and will ﬁght
I have realized that as a woman,
for equal rights.
I need to take extra precautions to
It wasn’t until the beginning of
I pretend I don’t ensure my safety. At a gift-wrapping
freshman year that I began calling
event at Barnes and Noble, I was
myself a feminist. I was working at a
care as a male
persistently pursued by a middle-aged
grocery store and realized how some
man. After a couple
women were treated there. I was,
of hours of politely
and still am, one of those women.
but dismissively anWithout fail, I get called one name
swering his invasive
or another by the time I clock out.
questions, I decided that enough
It doesn’t matter whether the man is still in college
was enough. I excused myself and
or lives in a nursing home. “Sweetie.” “Honey pie.”
talked to the store manager, who
“Darling.” Never “miss” or even “ma’am.” I have
told me that he’s bothered women
to pretend I don’t care as a male customer calls me
before. With this information, I
“Sugar” and refers to my bagger as “Sir.”
was thoroughly frightened, and by
I’m glad that this is all I have to deal with. I’ve
the end of the night, was happy to
heard horror stories from other women about their
escape my favorite bookstore. As
work experiences. I talked to my mom, and she
we left the parking lot, I glanced
shrugged and said, “Boys will be boys.” But these
in my rear-view mirror and saw his
aren’t boys. They are grown men referring to a teencar following us. I’ve never been
age girl as their “Sugar darling.” I’ve been told that
more terriﬁed. When I alerted my
this doesn’t end in high school. It doesn’t even stop
mom, she went into protection
when I get a degree or a fantastic job.
mode; she drove to the police station and pulled in.
We watched his car slowly drive by, his eyes never
leaving mine. I’ll never forget the fear I felt.
To me, feminism isn’t something that should be
debated; it isn’t something people should be against.
Feminism, simply put, is the belief that men and
women are equal. I don’t think that men should be
hated or have their rights taken away. That’s the
opposite of what feminism is about.
Regardless of gender, equal rights are essential to
a well-run society. For someone to call themselves
an anti-feminist doesn’t make sense to me. By saying this, they are saying that they don’t care about
equality. Equality is something I will ﬁght for for
the rest of my life because we are not even close to
reaching it. ✦
Photo by Stephanie Shen, Lake Hiawatha, NJ
Am I a Banana? And Other Identity Crises
by Katherine Ong, Alamo, CA
here is an epidemic plaguing the
nation. It causes millions of Asian
Americans to feel as if they are
“yellow” on the outside and “white” on
the inside. This dichotomy can only be
described as musa sapientum ﬁxa languore, or banana disease.
Many Asian Americans who grow up
in predominantly white America tend
to adopt certain aspects of American
culture to better ﬁt in with their Caucasian peers. Listening to American
music, watching American movies, or
enjoying American sports helps make
Asian Americans feel less “other” when
hanging out with non-Asian friends. On
the contrary, assimilating into American
society also causes Asian Americans
to lose some contact with their cultural
roots. They may participate in fewer of
the Asian cultural practices brought over
by their parents and become, as many
call it, “white-washed.”
If I received a banana for every time
I’ve been called “white-washed,” I would
have enough to give to every Asian
American I know as a friendly, potassium-ﬁlled reminder of the identity crisis
they’ve probably faced at some point.
I’ve lived in predominantly white
towns my whole life. The schools I at-
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
I laughed. “What do you mean?”
tended had few Asian kids, so, naturally,
“Like, I forgot I was Asian,” Wendy
most of my friends were white. The
said, peering at her reﬂection.
movies I watch, the artists I listen to and
Puzzled, I looked at my reﬂection as
the places I shop are mostly American.
well. Though I was not startled by the
My family speaks English at home, for
Asian face staring back, I was taken
even though my mother hails from Taipei
aback by the fact that I suddenly underand ﬂaunts trilingualism in Mandarin,
stood what Wendy meant: being Asian
Taiwanese, and English, my father is
in a 72 percent Caucasian high school
from Detroit and can only boast ﬂuency
means you sometimes have to “forget”
in medical terminology.
that you are Asian in order to ﬁt in.
So how can one blame me for being
Banana-ism causes Asian
a bit “white-washed?” I
Americans to sometimes feel
live in an English-speaking
and “act white” to be socially
household, grew up having
“I forgot I
accepted. This brings about a
mostly Caucasian friends,
and am deeply immersed
was Asian” slew of identity issues. First,
Asian Americans still will
in American culture. These
not be seen as white enough,
conditions are unequivocaldespite all their efforts; they
ly conducive to Stage IV
simply do not look the part. Second, they
musa sapientum ﬁxa languore. Somewill not be seen as Asian enough, either.
times it’s easy to forget how sharply my
Speaking English with an American acexterior appearance contrasts with my
cent, raving about the newest Hollywood
internal “white” feelings.
movies, or proclaiming a love for sweet
My Asian friend, “Wendy,” perfectly
potato fries does not put one in the highdescribed this conundrum one day in
est regard of one’s Asian elders. (Salty?
the restroom. We were scrutinizing our
Who me?) The duality of the Asian
reﬂections in the mirror, me violently
American identity can make us feel as
raking my ﬁngers through my hair and
though we don’t quite belong anywhere.
Wendy briskly re-styling her ponytail.
What can a banana afﬂicted with musa
She suddenly gasped and whispered,
sapientum ﬁxa languore do? Embrace
“Oh my God. I look so Asian.”
yo-self. Stop trying to mold yourself into
this or that. Recognize that being Asian
and American is a gift. It’s okay if you
don’t ﬁt perfectly into white society or
Asian society because, quite frankly, life
is more interesting when you can enjoy
aspects of multiple cultures.
You are exposed to languages besides
English, which not only allows you to
communicate with relatives but helps
you make connections in the social and
business world. You can participate in
your family’s various cultural traditions
and gain insight into how people live in
other parts of the world. You are exposed
to foreign sights, exotic scents, different
cuisine, boba. You can experience so
So, friends, remember that it’s okay if
you’re called “white-washed” or forget
you’re Asian sometimes. These are
not permanent conditions, and you are
simply ﬁnding a way to recognize the
American side of your Asian American
experience. Espouse the duality; it adds
depth to your life.
As for my other multicultural friends,
whether you’re a self-proclaimed egg,
Oreo, coconut, or whatever, the same
rule applies: embrace yo-self. Life is far
more interesting when you do. ✦
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
f all of the things that I have
ever been afraid of, my mother has terriﬁed me the most.
She isn’t a scary woman at all. She
has a warm smile and bright green
eyes, and is friendly and empathetic –
a wonderful mother and woman.
I wasn’t afraid of my mom; I was
afraid because she was changing.
That’s why I waited nervously outside
of room 109 of Residence Inn on a
cloudy August day. My dad had taken
my siblings and me to visit her, and
while they were eager for the reunion,
I stood biting my nails and considering running back to the car. What was
wrong? Why was I so afraid of my
At last the sound of the door
unlatching rang through the hallway
and the round, red face and strawberry-blonde hair of my grandfather
appeared. He had come to take care
of Mom while she was unable to live
“Hi,” he greeted us.
He was hit with a series of questions from my siblings.
“Can we come in?”
“Is she here?”
He held up his hand and an expectant silence fell over us.
“Now, I’m going to let you in, but
you have to listen,” he instructed.
“You can’t touch your mother. She
can’t handle that right now. Try to be
quiet. Also, this won’t be a long visit.
by Hannah Clark, State College, PA
to my emotions; I had been really
Your mother is tired.”
struggling since her diagnosis.
We nodded solemnly. He opened
“Hannah, how are you?” Mom
the door wide, and we tiptoed in.
There she was, on the couch, head
I snapped out of my thoughts and
propped up with pillows. We had visreplied with the patently untrue, “I’m
ited her before, but today she looked
frighteningly different. She barely reMy disobedient eyes wandered
sembled the mom from a month ago.
to her head. She must have noticed
Trying to focus on anything but her
because she said, “It’ll grow back.”
head, I studied her face. Although she
“Can I?” I asked.
was smiling, she didn’t look well. Her
She nodded, and I reached my hand
green eyes were bloodshot from the
out. Her hair wasn’t completely gone;
medications the doctors were using
a short, wispy layer still
to try to keep her alive.
clung to her scalp. Her bald
Because her immune
head was soft, but not in
system was so weak, she
Why was I
a good way. Nothing was
had to wear a medical
mask to minimize her
afraid of my wrong with how it felt, but
that my mom had
exposure to germs. She
own mother? Inohated
hair. I hated that it had
had almost no eyelashes
been stolen by a heartless
or eyebrows, and her skin
disease that had planted its
was much pinker than
ugly ﬂag and taken over our lives. It
I considered healthy … not that she
Mom looked so different without
A few weeks before, my mom had
her dishwater-blonde hair. I could
been diagnosed with leukemia, an unonly talk to her like a stranger to
forgiving form of cancer that attacks
avoid breaking down. For a few mothe very essence of life: the blood.
ments we made small talk, and then
She had recently started chemothermy siblings interrupted our exchange,
apy, a treatment that could save her
and I moved aside to give them time
life but would extract a high price: her
strength … and her hair.
We didn’t stay long.
A lump formed in my throat, but I
As soon as we were home, I
refused to break down in front of my
cried. The strongest person in my
family. Everyone else was happy to
life had just appeared in front of
see her, so I shouldn’t cry. If I talked
my eyes in a helpless state. It was
about myself I would cry. The past
a long, relieving cry. All of my
few weeks had been a relentless bully
No Less Human
anger and grief released in a violent
wave of tears and emotions. I was angry at the doctors for not trying hard
enough, angry at cancer for existing,
and angry at every person in the world
with a healthy mother. It wasn’t fair.
For 10 years I had looked up to my
mom as she endured every trial and
climbed every obstacle that life threw
her way. She was weakened for the
ﬁrst time, but this was not the end of
For another year I watched my
mom slowly gaining strength. I
watched her sleep for hours upon
hours. I watched her swallow enormous handfuls of pills. I watched her
laugh more every day. I watched her
take off the medical mask. I watched
her climb stairs again. I watched her
defy the doctors’ predictions that she
wouldn’t live. I watched her hair grow
Watching her overcome cancer
gave me emotional and mental
strength, and it was during that year
of healing that I looked up to her
the most. As she endured needles,
radiation, pain, loneliness, and loss of
her normalcy, I knew that by following her example I could conquer
Fear and Anger
by Devereaux Frazier, Baltimore, MD
give a ﬁrm handshake, can’t look people in the eye,
once heard that “it’s not enough for you to be able
can’t do any of the cool dances, can’t play sports.
to communicate verbally, you have to communicate
I can’t make myself stand out to a girl, and I
well in writing. Otherwise, you’re half a person.”
wouldn’t know what to do even if one did happen to
That didn’t upset me at ﬁrst, but after some thought, I
like me. Heck, I wouldn’t even know she liked me. I’ve
came to a very mortifying conclusion: It described me
never gotten it, and I don’t get it, and I probably will
never get it. It makes me furious sometimes that I can’t
I have Asperger’s syndrome, a subtype of autism
be like other kids. I can’t be “cool” or have all
spectrum disorder. It may be less
the girls by my side. I’m the last to answer a
physically debilitating, but it’s quite
question, even if I know the answer.
emotionally taxing. Asperger’s limits
If I can’t
Sometimes, I really hate life.
my ability to communicate – particuLooking inwardly, if I can communicate
larly in verbal exchanges and nonsucceed,
well on paper but fail horribly face to face, I
verbal subtleties. I see this, feel this
must only be half a person. I can only do half
every day. I can write very well, but I
what’s required of a person in a complex
struggle to understand the intricacies of
become of me? of
society. If I can’t succeed, what will become
even simple social exchanges.
of me? Will I be forgotten because I was too
I don’t like to talk. I take a long time
timid to say my name? Will I be passed over
to get comfortable with people. I like
to hyper-focus on a topic. I’m not a very good converbecause I was too slow to put up my hand? Will somesationalist. I get rigid when a situation is stressful. I
one be chosen instead of me because I was too shy to
don’t say what’s going on or how I feel. I have frequent
If I can only do half of what I need to do in order to
mood swings. I don’t smile. I don’t laugh. I can barely
succeed in life, that must make me half a person. If I’m
grin. I don’t understand sarcasm, jokes, or subtle cues.
half a person, does that make me … less human? ✦
Sometimes I loathe the days I have to go out. I can’t
Photo by Isabella Elwaw, Miami, FL
‘Tis a Lisp
Cramped in its cage,
Pining for release.
When allowed a
Rebels against my words.
S or C
Into an impediment.
by Grace Miller, Easley, SC
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Teen Ink • October ’16 • Page 18
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in this directory and on TeenInk.com
Teen Ink • October ’16 • Page 19
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~ Poems by teens who have mastered the craft ~
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by Conner Green, Williamsport, OH
ll my life, I’ve been an outcast
and a freak in my community.
Why? Simple. I am being myself. They tell me to be myself, then
they treat me as if I am an abomination. What makes me a freak in their
eyes? What makes them think that I
am nothing but a horrible creature?
I have always acted different from
who I am. When I was a preschooler I
would hang out with the boys instead
of the girls. Despite that, I wore dress-
Art by Corissa Gessman, Fort Collins, CO
alive?” I guess I knew I still had a lot
es and skirts, liked being pretty, but
to live for.
it never felt right. Deep down, I still
Middle school got better in a way.
think I am more of a boy than a girl.
People mostly just ignored me, but a
When I started elementary school,
few still bugged me about my beliefs.
I hung out with girls. In third grade
I started reading books about myths
I pretended to have crushes on boys
and monsters. When I told people
because I thought that was what I was
about them, they would stare at me
supposed to do. In fourth grade, the
like I was crazy. “Why do you believe
girls I called friends drifted away and
in monsters but not God?” they’d ask.
I started hanging out with boys again.
Want to know what I liked the most
But ﬁfth grade changed me the most.
about monster stories?
That year, I told one
The monsters themselves.
boy I thought was my
I felt a kinship with them.
friend that I did not
If they were bloodthirsty
believe in God. Instead
you believe in and murderous, I adof reacting like a friend,
them for it. Those
he treated me like a
monsters but mired
monsters embraced the
monster, a freak, an
dark nature in themselves
abomination. After that,
instead of hiding it as we
everyone treated me
humans do. In the stories
differently. They would
where they were hunted by humans
make their ﬁngers into the shape of a
just for not being human, I knew how
cross, hoping that it would make me
they were feeling. I knew what it was
like for everyone to hate you and
Soon everyone was bullying me.
want you dead just because you are
First it was about religion, then it was
about my hair, saying that it never
In myths and fairy tales I was
looked brushed or clean, or that I had
drawn to the villains. In Egyptian
lice. I felt alone.
mythology, I liked Set, the god of
I never went outside or even left my
chaos, who killed his brother for the
room. I sat in the dark playing with
throne of Egypt. In Norse mythology,
my toys, talking to myself and hating
I liked Loki, the god of mischief, who
my life. My classmates asked, “If
was chained to a rock and had a snake
you hate your life, why are you still
A Millisecond of Peace
by Brianna O’Shea, Wilbraham, MA
from college in a year and already has a job at Apple.
put on an oversized blue sweater and my black,
He has everything in his life planned out and will
mud-covered Vans before running down the stairs.
drone on for hours about it.
I catch a glimpse of the time: it’s close to 11 p.m.,
I’m not paying attention to their conversation
and Michael and Shannon are waiting by the door. We
because I am concentrating on trying to ﬁnd the Big
start walking down our steep driveway and go left.
Dipper among the crowded stars. I stop and take off
The bridge on Red Bridge Road was closed last year
my shoes to feel the smooth road under my feet. I have
because it started to deteriorate and was not safe to
to run to catch up with them.
cross. Since this town doesn’t have the money to ﬁx
We get to the barriers with a sign that says STOP.
it, it’s closed indeﬁnitely. My neighborhood doesn’t
We climb over the roadblock and continue onto the
mind because it’s peaceful without cars racing by our
bridge. There are pebbles and potholes
everywhere, so I feel sharp
My family takes advantage of our quiSometimes you pains in my bare feet whenet road by going on walks late at night
ever I take a step. I put my
in the summer. This night, my siblings
have to stop
shoes back on. Spray paint
and I are walking while the moon shines
so brightly it’s almost like day time, and
and not think on the right side warns you
to avoid that part of the
there are too many stars to count. It is
about what’s bridge. The water rushes
a warm night with a breeze that makes
below and splashes against
me glad I brought a sweater. Going on
the cracked cement.
a walk with my siblings feels strange
Suddenly I’m quiet;
because we rarely spend time just the
everything feels still. For a second I feel
three of us.
calm with no anxiety about school. I start
My brother, Michael, is ranting about his current reto think about how I am going to regret
lationship, while my sister, Shannon, lights a cigarette.
going to bed at one in the morning.
She’s leaving soon for AmeriCorps, and is panicking
This year I will be a sophomore,
about being on her own. I know that this will be good
which means I am that much closer to
for her since she doesn’t know what to do for her
my future. In my mind I am already
future. Lately we all just try to avoid that conversation
preparing for tests – MCAS, PSAT – that
with her because she gets nervous and acts like a turtle
are coming soon. I don’t know what I
hiding in its shell.
want to do after high school, which terMichael is the complete opposite. He’s graduating
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
constantly drip venom on his face. In
Greek mythology, I liked Hades, god
of the Underworld, who is often seen
and treated like a villain, and Athena,
goddess of wisdom, who in one particular myth was never meant to exist.
I admired the monsters in those
tales because they don’t try to hide
their savage nature. I pitied them
because they were always seen as
villains. I pitied them because people
would rather they die and disappear. I
loved them because they were treated
like I’d been most of my life.
High school began last year, and
I acquired a new interest: writing.
When I write I feel happy, truly
happy. I write the truth of how I feel. I
write what I could never say because
nobody would listen. But when
people read what I write, they are
disgusted because what I write is not
nice. It’s not pleasant or happy. What
I write is full of sadness, ugliness,
Now that you’ve read this, what do
you think? Am I a freak that should
be hidden or destroyed, or am I another person who’s been treated unfairly
because I am different? It’s your
opinion, your choice. And I do not
care what it is. This is my choice, my
decisions, my life. Call me a monster
if you will. ✦
riﬁes me. Some of my peers claim they have the next
10 years all planned, while I’m just getting through
the week. My relatives and guidance counselor keep
questioning me about college and work while my head
is spinning so fast it’s about to pop off.
But standing on this deteriorating bridge on a
calm, warm night, I feel content with everything for
a millisecond. I feel a little hope about my future.
Sometimes, you have to stop and not think about what
is coming and appreciate the moment you are in right
Art by Li Han Zheng, Markham, ON, Canada
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
never met Autumn. I never spoke to her. It took
an entire day for me to ﬁgure out who she was.
You may already hate me by this point. I know.
Why would someone who never met her be writing
about her? I have to because no one else has. No
one at my school, at least. I think it’s important that
someone write about her, for her. If no one else
will do it, I will. Because I loved Autumn. Not in
a creepy way or a stalker way or a romantic way. I
said I didn’t know her, and that’s the truth. I simply
loved her for being different.
I ﬁrst saw Autumn freshman year. I would pass
her in the halls and watch her. I wanted to talk to
her; it was her difference that drew me to her. I
never got up the courage, though. I’ve been told
that she was shy too, but I think she was brave. She
was brave because she wore dark eyeliner and red
lipstick, and her ears were stretched further than
anyone I’d met. I didn’t know this until after she
died, but she was brave enough to stay in school and
work alone on a day that every other senior skipped.
I wonder if she was brave in those ﬁnal moments
when her car skidded on the snow-covered roads.
Did she realize at that moment she wasn’t going to
make it home?
I didn’t have any classes with Autumn, and I
didn’t know her name until after her car crashed.
She was a senior my sophomore year, and she had
a special place inside of me. She was the person I
forgot about until the moment I saw her, and in that
space of time she would take up my thoughts.
She never wore the uniform; not once did I see
her in compliance with the dress code. Autumn wore
shades of brown and paisley scarves. She always
seemed older, almost motherly. I thought it was
because of her clothes, but I understand now. It was
because she had lost a mother; she was overcom-
I loved her for being different
Letter to Myself
All the days you spend ﬁling and
bleaching and plucking,
All the nights you sleep naked, curing
under thousands of gas lamps,
Waiting to be smoother and whiter
but not too white,
Waiting to be just a little bit cleaner
but not overdone,
Why do you try so hard to be hairless?
Why do you wrap your body around
an iron conveyor belt,
Shredding your skin and nails under
the rusty bite of a razor,
As if your monsoon heart could really
be extruded through size 00 jeans?
If you should have a daughter when
you are older,
Tell her how beautifully her hair is
spread across her pillowcase at night.
Remind her how her toenails are shaped
like tiny chips of ﬁne china,
And the way her lips turn bright red
from the water in the bathtub.
One day she too will paste together
a crooked body
From the shrunken pages of a magazine,
She will cut it out and tack it to her
Art by Jacinth Fang, Milpitas, CA
pensating for herself and her family. I’ve never lost
a parent, but I understand what it is like to try to
become the person who is gone. I wonder who will
compensate for Autumn’s absence?
The plugs in her ears were what fascinated me.
They were huge. I thought they were cool, but a
lot of people found them gross. I thought she was
strong to keep them in. I thought she was stronger
when she decided to heal them to a “normal” size.
I don’t think she chose to do that because of other
people, and that’s what made it so signiﬁcant to me.
About a month before she died, Autumn took out
her tunnels and started wearing tiny, dangly pearl
earrings. I wonder if they were her mother’s. Those
earrings hanging from her stretched lobes are what
I see when I think of Autumn. I’m angry she never
got to see her ears heal around them. She never got
I keep checking Facebook and the local news
stations for pictures of her. I expect the world to stop
and become a shrine to her any moment. I know it
won’t. That frustrates me. Everyone either cares or
doesn’t, and I wish they would all choose one emotion together so that I could either hate them all or
feel part of a community. Instead, I have mixed feelings as the world keeps moving. I want everything
to be replaced with her. But it hasn’t happened, and
it kills me that no one will stop and remember this
girl with the big holes in her ears and the tiny pearls
hanging from them. Not even me.
I miss Autumn. We all miss Autumn. ✦
by Claire Wang, Farmington Hills, MI
scrapbook of impossible almosts.
She will tug at the skin around her
knees and hips and the back of
Dear 15-year-old me,
Let me ask you this:
by Amarynth Ruch, Summit Hill, PA
of a question mark,
Eyes spinning in their swollen pockets,
Searching for a place that she may still
She will bend over backwards in the
But when she is convinced that she will
never ﬁnd her home in this red rock,
To see if she can ﬁnd her rib cage in
Before she falls asleep under the
pointed sneer of a scalpel,
Remind her that there are other ways
Tighten a string through her spine
to cut herself away from
and tie the knot around her ankles
So she may walk the way
She carries like wrecking
models do, like they are
balls strapped between her
You are not
For someone to time the
rhythm of their steps
the promise or That there are unread poems
to the broken beat of
the curse or the dressed in her name,
a bass drum.
Words she has yet to scrawl
in spray paint
The same six-foot
Across broken boulevards
scientists will teach
And freshly poured asphalt.
her how to live
Off nothing but black coffee and
Dear 15-year-old me,
cinnamon-ﬂavored chewing gum.
You run an epilator down your chest
They will introduce her to men who
will want to tuck their hearts
Do not want them to know what really
Into the crook of her elbow,
covers your heart.
Eager to press their sadness into
the side of her neck,
Forty tweezers lined in rows of ten,
So she may sit with her legs doublerotating in tandem,
crossed under the kitchen table,
They will leave scars one day, you
Her spine curled into the cochlea
know, tiny purplish specks on
From where the hair grew inside instead
Curling itself against your sternum
As if to remind you that it is still there,
That it is just as much a part of you as
your heart or lungs or skeleton.
But know this:
While you are trying to write your blurb
in the tome of the universe,
Know you were not born a bronze statue
So people would want to rub ﬁngertips
against the sole of your lucky
You are not the promise or the curse
or the reason why.
Some day you will love elbows the way
you love hands.
You will love the footprints across your
cheekbones the way you love
Walking your ﬁngers down the spine
of a notebook,
The hushed fervor of the ink,
The puckering pages
That kiss your palms as you write:
Dear 15-year-old me,
Let me ask you this …. ✦
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Fat and Funny
was always known as the class clown. I am hilarious – so hilarious that I should consider a career
as a stand-up comedian. My humor creates a
ﬁsh-eye effect that magniﬁes my personality and
forces my physical appearance to the periphery. At
least that’s what I thought.
Since the age of nine, I have struggled with my
weight. Even at nine I knew I was overweight, knew
it was unhealthy and wanted to combat it. I shared
my struggle with my parents, who worked to help
motivate me. At the same time, I was a sensitive
child, so my parents would leap hurdles to keep
Art by Emily Parente, Cooper City, FL
by Arin Forstadt, Merrick, NY
took to lose a considerable amount of weight.
away the insults regarding my appearance that tore
So, from January to April, the Atkins guidelines
me apart. My meals felt spotlighted: I can clearly
were my bible and the gym was my sanctuary. I
remember them observing my plate of penne alla
lived by my highly regimented diet and exercise
vodka or warm chocolate chip cookies and censorschedule, and it worked. In those four months, I
ing themselves, sighing in sympathetic frustration.
lost 60 pounds! It’s true what they say: nothing
But outside the walls of my home no one paid much
tastes better than skinny feels. I began receiving
attention to my weight.
compliments on my appearance, and no one seemed
It was not until freshman year of high school that
to think I was less humorous. I continued to walk
a peer directly confronted me about my size. While
through the halls with my contagious smile and irrewaiting for the bus after school one day, I jokingsistible laugh, only I was a bit thinner, a bit lighter.
ly stated that I was going to join the winter track
That May, when I scarfed down a bowl
team. My classmate (who shall remain
of pasta at my friend’s birthday dinner,
nameless) announced loudly that I
I decided to let go of my diet. Nothing
shouldn’t engage in any school sports
Was it my
made me happier than carbohydrates, not
because “you wouldn’t be as funny if
you weren’t fat.”
weight that even smaller jeans that ﬁt for one glorious month. Indulging in willful ignorance
I had become a professional at using
and turning a blind eye to my former
humor to soothe and comfort myself,
but this came so unexpectedly, so
humorous? bible as it collected dust in my room, I
began to gain back the weight.
suddenly, that I was unable to laugh
I experienced contrasting feelings of
the pain away. Mentally paralyzed and
disappointment in myself while also acknowledgtemporarily defeated, I tried to let her comment roll
ing that perhaps such a restrictive diet wasn’t the
off, but privately, I couldn’t help but wonder whethanswer. Even if it’s difﬁcult to remember at times,
er it was my weight or my personality that made me
moderation serves better than extreme limitations. I
humorous? The last time I checked, being fat didn’t
had also proved that I could be conﬁdent in myself
equate to being funny. My fat keeps me warm in the
regardless of my weight.
winter, and that’s about its only advantage.
In a society that proﬁts from self-doubt, liking
On the bus ride home that afternoon, I decided to
yourself is a rebellious act. I guess I’m rebellious,
conduct a self-experiment. Somehow, some way, I
because I love myself, regardless of my weight. And
was going to lose weight; I wanted to see whether
as for my experiment, the results were indisputable:
others observed a difference in my humor.
my weight might have had a signiﬁcant bearing on
After countless hours of research, I settled on the
my jeans selection, on my scale, and on my underAtkins diet. I was willing to abandon carbohydrates
standing of myself, but it had no effect whatsoever
(roughly as torturous as living with an ex-boyfriend
on my humor. ✦
you’re still in love with, I imagine) for as long as it
by Jacob McCoy, Flower Mound, TX
of each other’s lives since ﬁrst grade,
still visit the small locker room.
Noah and I were hardly friends. Of all
The three aisles are still littered
the boys on the team, I knew the least
with Degree deodorant, Axe spray,
about him. And I had no idea how he
white towels, and homework packets.
felt about me.
I’d walked those aisles countless times,
One cold morning in early Decemstepped into those showers, opened
ber, in that aisle of lockers, bulky and
those lockers, sat there, almost started a
skinny boys were leaving the showers
ﬁght there. And then came the memwith towels around their waists. Right
ories of my teammates – the rebels,
then, the ﬁrst ﬁlthy word spilled out of
the cheats, the trash-talking guys who,
Noah’s mouth, smooth as
back in the day, pushed the
water and unwaveringly
boundaries of rules, race,
and competition. The boys
I had the power sincere, the way he always
who ﬁlled two long, hard
to change his
years of my life with misI stopped whatever I was
chief. And I was among the life, but I hadn’t
doing and looked over my
best of them, having broken
naked shoulder. Several
the weightlifting record for
other boys did the same, and after the
squat in eighth grade.
longest moment of silence in middle
A locker in the lower back corner
school history (one or two whole secbore a stranger’s name now, but it used
onds), a lineman said, “Don’t say that,
to read NOAH. Noah was a tall, paper
Noah … It’s a bad word.”
thin, paper white, weird-looking boy
Suddenly it dawned on me the inﬂuwho’d suffered severe bullying in this
ence kids have on each other. Many of
locker room and elsewhere in school.
us had started cursing in sixth grade.
Noah was autistic and had a stutter. He
But we never thought we’d hear the
was weak even with his red, C-team
kindest kid we knew curse, and later
football pads or his black workout
insult other kids.
clothes on. And in that ﬁrst year he was
Halfway through eighth grade, Noah
subject to more verbal abuse than I have
pulled me aside in the locker room and
seen anyone take. In spite of being part
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
told me he was moving.
He said he wanted me
to know ﬁrst, from
him. At that moment,
I realized my “friendship” meant more to
Noah than I thought.
Suddenly I felt responsible. Responsible for
him – as I should have
been all this time he
was looking up to me
and considering me
his best friend on the
team. I had the power
to change his life, but I hadn’t.
Others hadn’t worried about the possibility that they could have a powerful
impact on their peers. But me? I was
Noah’s best friend in the mix of his
teammates, my brothers.
I felt desperately obligated. I defended him twice before my peers. These
were kids who knew better but picked
on Noah’s stutter, his nasal voice, his
snow-white complexion. But when I
confronted them, they made me out to
be the unreasonable one. There was,
they said, no real harm done. I shrank
back with embarrassment and let the
next dozen hits fall upon Noah. That
Photo by Cassandra Horness, Beaverton, OR
was how impenetrable these insults
were. They were hurtful jokes disguised
as fun, and shame was cast over whoever opposed them.
I spent most of that morning thinking
about what Noah had told me, carrying
it on my back like grief weighing me
down. Not long after, Noah was gone,
and the weirdest thing about it was
we hardly noticed. That empty locker
carried his name until the end of the
Today, as I visit our old locker room,
Noah’s locker demands a long glance
from me. It demands, now, this undeﬁnable expression of love, pity, and lost
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
by Angelina Lee, Naperville, IL
I kept my own head down until I
was sure the PowerPoint had changed
to something else; by the end of the
period I was tired and humiliated.
Not all instances are like this. There
was a time I was scrolling through
Pinterest late at night, and the look
alike of the “boy king” Pharaoh Tutankhamen came up.
I stared at the young man, shot next
to a head bust of his ancient doppelganger. King Tut’s sculpture was so
poorly restored that half of his face
was shifted upward. The signature
Egyptian guyliner framed the simple
eyes, and before I had realized it, I
had been staring at the picture too
long and could now see it wherever I
looked, even if I closed my eyes.
I looked up from my phone, smugly
warm in my hand, and into my shadowy room. The indistinct shapes drifting around in the dark only helped
found myself staring at it in the
beginning of the period. As one
of the ﬁrst to arrive in my second-hour class, I saw it as soon as I
walked through the door.
There seemed to be a skull on the
board. It was a skull, actually, and I
told myself it didn’t bother me. At
ﬁrst, it didn’t. But I couldn’t stop staring at the dessicated, decapitated head
that looked increasingly ﬂeshy and
rotten. It was disgusting. I couldn’t
look away. All the while, my memory
was working to memorize the image
that was causing me so much trauma.
Later in the period, the SmartBoard
above the image was playing a ﬁlm
that our class needed to watch. I had
up to use my hand to cover the skull
image in order to watch. And whenever my tired arm began to sink, I would
ﬂinch as the edges of the head came
by Grace Dubravetz, Akron, OH
y favorite season is autumn. I especially like the mornings.
The wind is nice, a cool breeze, sharp against my skin, like
ice; goosebumps. I often venture into my backyard, and
cutting blades of grass whip at my ankles, yet are so soft against my
feet. Sticky dew clings to my heels.
My favorite song is the string of notes from a bird’s beak. And
the brush of leaves as the wind blows through the trees, like nature’s
hand through its hair. The sun is soft against my skin. Its light dips
on my face and dances on my cheeks.
That makes me smile.
The afternoon is just as soothing, and the evening soon follows.
Dry leaves crunch under heavy boots. Blunt shrills of the zippers of
freezing pedestrians echo as the sun sets and the air cools. Chirping
confetti falls from the trees ’til the last breath of wind hushes the
I can imagine, now, the moon claiming the sky, as shy stars, eager
to play, dance in the night. I can only imagine it, though. I can’t see
it. I am blind.
I like to envision the sunset, too, a watery canvas of warm, velvety
hues. Oranges and pinks dipped in between a thin skyline of homes.
A shimmer of purple and a yellowed haze; a sherbet of colors.
That makes me smile too. ✦
Photo by Jessi Malley, East Longmeadow, MA
to constrict the tight
area around my chest.
Fear had replaced the
nutrients in my blood.
I couldn’t believe what
I had seen. I put the
dumb phone down and
ran to my mom’s room.
After I breathlessly
described what had
happened, my mom
reassured me that I
was ﬁne. I returned to
my room. Surely some
music would calm me
down. I chose the ﬁrst
song on my playlist and
put in earbuds.
A picture of Marina
Photo by Rebecca Salina, Amherst, MA
and the Diamonds appeared on screen. And
probably a body. And the shadows in
for a moment, the singer looked just
my room continued to dance.
like the infamous Egyptian prince,
I ﬂed to my mom’s room again. I
rich black kohl lining her eyes, her
remember worrying I wouldn’t last
portrait so bright that her white skin
as long as it took me to run down the
With a gasp I quickly chose the
And when I arrived, blubbering and
next song and turned off my phone to
incoherent, I suddenly felt enormouscancel out any visual input. I couldn’t
ly humiliated. Instead of confessing
breathe. The lilting guitar and vocals
what had happened, I asked her to tell
from my right earbud seemed familme something I could think about.
iar, but something was off. The music
Anything but what I was thinking
seemed to be moving faster, then
right then, which was scaring the
entirely too fast, without any rhythm
living daylights out of me.
and horrifyingly out of control. Kina
Later, I would look back at these
Grannis and Daniela Andrade had
episodes with a startling lack of emnever sounded like this
pathy. What I remembered
before. I usually loved
and what my imagination
their little acoustic duet.
seemed to have conjured
I ripped the piece of
seemed too pathetically
replaced the up
plastic out of my ear and
horrible to be true.
began to turn round and
I didn’t know a soul on
round, because a thought
earth who acted like this. I
had occurred to me:
There is something beEvery day I am increashind me. I kept turning,
ingly aware that I live with
and I saw nothing, and had to turn
pharaohphobia, or the fear of mumagain to make sure the same was true
mies and dead humans in general.
for the other side. I was convinced
I thought I would feel a bit better
something was going to fall on me
after I wrote about my phobia a year
from behind. A dead body maybe.
ago. And while I would like say I’m
As I spun around in my room, probchanged, I remain at the whims of
ably looking as demented as I was, I
the Web for peace of mind. I see a
began to break down. I was furious
disgusting image and am reduced to
and terriﬁed, crying tears that were
pieces. And if the image itself isn’t
angry and sad, but mostly furious
enough, then the imagination to
that I wasn’t even 18 years old and a
which I owe my writing talent does
writer and a musician and somebody
the rest. It can stay with me for days.
– somebody quiet but sometimes bold
I don’t know what to do, other
who mattered to her friends and famthan to stop thinking about it, but that
ily, and to herself – and yet I seemed
hasn’t worked. After all, my daytime
to be losing it. Pinned down by an
ego seems to be suffering consideroutbreak of phobia, I had become so
ably less. Whenever I’m outside the
sensitive that my favorite artists were
kill zone, which is most of the time,
making me panic.
lamenting my lack of a social life
I looked up, and the violin case I
seems to keep me plenty busy.
had been hauling to the bus stop for
Fear does not control me, but
three years looked like it contained a
sometimes I feel like I can’t control it,
body. The covers on my bed looked
either. And that really scares me. ✦
like they were hiding something –
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
Heads Will Roll
• Teen Ink
All Creatures Great and Small
by Jacqueline Vollucci, Irvine, CA
meat industry is deceptive. Some factory
magine you are stolen from your mother at birth,
farms claim their animals, and specifloaded onto a truck, and driven to a ﬁlthy, dark
ically their chickens, are “free range.”
warehouse. In this place you are stuffed into a
So, you might picture chickens roaming
tiny metal crate where you can hardly move while
in green ﬁelds. That is exactly what
you are fattened up with oats, corn, and hormones.
they want consumers to think so they
You never see the outdoors or have the freedom
to experience natural behaviors; therefore your
feel good about their purchase. Unfortuphysical and mental health is poor. Those charge of
nately, the label “free range” most often
the facility abuse you. Then, after a few years of this
means that while the chickens are not
torture, you are hung upside down, fully conscious,
kept in cages, they are packed togethscreaming in fear. Your throat is slit, and your blood
er in warehouses so tightly they can
drains out. This is the life and death of a cow in a
barely spread their wings, often trample
each other to death, and rarely see the
Over the past 25 years, factory farms have been
growing. Small farms have transformed into large
When animals are conﬁned in
industrialized factories where raising
and killing animals has become
that do not allow them
Photo by Savannah Whitney, Joliet, MT
faster and more efﬁcient, designed to
participate in instinctive
In factory farms
produce the biggest proﬁt possibehaviors and interact
for 18 percent of our greenhouse gases, which is
ble. Factory farms, however, have
others, they expeanimals are treated with
more than the exhaust produced by the transportaenormous drawbacks, including
rience extreme stress. Pigs suffer
tion industry, according to the U.S. Food and Agriinhumane treatment of animals, risks
as nothing more horribly in factory farms. “Each
culture Organization. Livestock and its byproducts
to public health, and abuses of the
year millions of pregnant sows are
account for 32 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)
kept in cages that are referred to as
year, according to the Worldwatch Institute. In
Most people are unaware of what
‘gestation crates.’ These crates are a
addition, agriculture uses 80 to 90 percent of our
goes on in factory farms. We don’t
cost cutting measure that keeps the
water consumption, according to research by the
like to think about how food gets onto our plate; it
pregnant pigs immobilized,” writes Alanna Ketler in
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
would detract from our eating enjoyment. Howev“Collective Evolution.” This practice is so inhumane
People are so concerned with decreasing their
er, it is everyone’s responsibility to understand the
that it is banned in countries including the United
footprint and reducing the amount of
journey of the food we eat and its impacts.
Kingdom and Sweden.
waste, but what they fail to understand is
In factory farms, animals are taken away from
Why are factory farms so widespread? The reason
and dairy products they are buying are
their mothers at birth. They are packed into small
is simple: their massive proﬁts. These farms can
of damage to the environment. The
cages and bodily abused. Meat and dairy from cows
produce food at a much faster rate, which increases
numbers vary widely, but it is well documented that
makes up a huge percentage of the American diet;
proﬁts and makes food more inexpensive for the
beef requires a huge amount of water to produce:
more than 29 million are slaughtered every year in
consumer, driving demand and sales. By conﬁning
between 442 gallons and 8,000 gallons for just one
the United States. In factory farms, cows face many
animals to small spaces, factory farms are able to
pound of meat.
abuses, for example, “when still very young, many
utilize space cost-effectively. Furthermore with the
These numbers are almost as depressing as the
cows are branded (burned with hot irons), dehorned
growth of factory farms it takes less time for food
of animals inhumanely caged. But what
(their horns are cut or burned off), and castrated .... –
to be ready for market. These facilities are efﬁcient
– a single consumer – do to change that?
all without painkillers,” according to People for the
because they operate with minimal manual labor.
quite easy to decrease your ecological
Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an organiFactory farms, besides being inhumane, also pose
footprint. Eating a plant-based diet for just one day
zation that advocates for animal rights. This daily
threats to public health. Due to the unclean living
will save “1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of
cruelty is unnecessary and immoral – done only
conditions and the high stress of animals, disease is
grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds
to increase proﬁts at the expense of the animals.
rampant and easily transmitted in these close quarCO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life,”
Animals are treated not as living beings, but rather
ters. As a consequence, meat and eggs
according to the documentary “Cowas nothing more than products for proﬁt.
can become contaminated, endangerConscientious meat eaters may seek humane
ing our health and food supply. The
The USDA allows spiracy.” As for improving the welfare
of meat and dairy animals, it’s simple:
alternatives to factory-farmed meat and dairy, but
spread of disease is increased because
don’t buy meat and dairy raised in facit’s important to read labels carefully because the
these farms use the dead animals into
tory farms. Instead buy from farmer’s
food for the animals. This practice
to be sold for
markets, meat CSAs, and alternative
makes sense for their bottom line,
grocery stores that responsibly research
saving money for disposal costs and
the sources of their products (such as
feeding costs simultaneously.
However, it is the consumers who
are a universal problem that has
pay the real price for this unsanitary practice. Each
animals, public health, and the
year, on average, one in six Americans – 48 million
responsible individuals and
people – are sickened by a food-borne illness, and
stand up for all creatures, great and small, and stop
3,000 of them die, according to the Centers for Disthe mistreatment of animals. Quality of life should
ease Control. In large part, these outbreaks are prealways come before the value of money. ✦
ventable and could be stopped by improving health
standards. However, shockingly, the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) “explicitly allows diseased animals to be slaughtered and sold for
human food, because excluding these animals would
What environmental issue
result in ﬁnancial losses for agribusiness,” writes
is most important to you?
Gene Baur in the article “Factory Farming Is Not the
Best We Have to Offer.”
Sadly, the costs of factory farming don’t end
there. Factory farms are the leading contributor to
global warming, water depletion, deforestation, and
species extinction. These practices are responsible
Submit an essay!
Photo by Megan Brawner, Ledyard, CT
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
U N I V E R S I T Y
by Alexa Kravitz, Parkland, FL
New Orleans, LA: At the mention of
in 1847. In 1884, Paul Tulane donated
the city of New Orleans, one’s mind
real estate for the support of educacan’t help but picture the tragedies
tion, creating the Tulane University of
that occurred there 10 years ago.
Louisiana and privatizing the school.
Hurricane Katrina was one of the ﬁve
Located in uptown New Orleans
deadliest hurricanes in the history of
opposite Audubon Park, the campus is
the United States, in which hundreds
embellished with huge oak trees (one
of thousands of people were left withholds a surplus of Mardi Gras beads),
out homes or jobs and almost 1,250
lush green grass characterizing the
people died. In the face of calamity,
school’s “Green Wave” nickname,
though, the people of New Orleans
and over 100 buildings in a gumbo
were resilient – a quality
pot of styles.
that has allowed the peoI expected the campus
ple and the culture of the
tour to go just as any
region to rise from the
other I had endured: a
rubble and rebuild.
university like PowerPoint
I touched down in
the school’s 30 percent
New Orleans with
acceptance rate, 3.49 GPA,
expectations of jazz
1870-2130 SAT range,
music, crawﬁsh, and
and #41 spot in US News’
Mardi Gras beads. I had
ranking of 2016 Best Colheard of the magical allure of the city,
leges. Then a Q&A session revealing
the colorful charm, the melange of
the school’s 9:1 student-faculty ratio,
people moving at all hours of the day
65 percent enrollment of out-of-state
and night, the “there truly is no other
students, undergraduate population
place like New Orleans …” all of the
of 6,750, and 16 NCAA Division I
things that need to be experienced
varsity teams. Finally, a tour of the
ﬁrsthand to fully understand.
university’s 110 acres, 92 buildings
After my family and I arrived in
– including the School of Medicine,
downtown New Orleans and dropped
School of Public Health, and School
off our bags in the hotel, we headed
of Social Work, and a top-tier teachto the madness that is Bourbon Street
ing Medical Center located just 12
for a taste of what was to come. Just a
minutes from campus.
quick right from the iconic St. Louis
Instead of the run-of-the-mill tour,
Cathedral, one will undoubtedly be
I was pleasantly surprised to learn
overwhelmed by all of Bourbon’s
about the school’s Service-Dog Trainsights and sounds. With seedy palm
ing and Education Program, which
readers and voodoo shops, interacallows students to raise and train
tive street performers, and even a
puppies, a real plus for aspiring veter70-year-old woman dressed as Santa
inarians like me, the school’s multiple
Claus blasting rap music on a bicycle,
festivals, such as Mardi Gras, Jazz
Bourbon Street is what would result
Fest, French Quarter Fest, Barkus
if Times Square and Las Vegas had
(a dog costume parade), Po-Boy
a baby and then fed it Cajun food.
Festival, and Crawfest. Tulane is one
Though Mardi Gras was months
of the most geographically diverse
earlier, rowdy hotel guests stood on
universities in the nation. Thirty-three
balconies ﬂinging brightly colored
percent of students receive non-needbeads onto unsuspecting pedestrians
based ﬁnancial aid.
below, while beads that missed their
Another draw is the 200-plus
targets lay draped across rooftops and
student organizations, such as
Dumbledore’s Army of Tulane, whose
Jazz bands in each bar seemed to
description reads, “The purpose shall
engage in an unspoken battle for the
be to enjoy Harry Potter as thoroughtitle of loudest, while iconic restauly as possible.” There’s also Tulane
rants basked in the alluring insanity of
University Pre-Veterinary Society,
Bourbon Street. Although many New
Humans vs. Zombies, the Slam Poetry
Orleanians and local college students
Team, Student Government, religious
claim that they avoid Bourbon Street,
clubs, and many more.
I returned four more times during
Tulane is truly a university like no
my short visit. New Orleans without
other, and its unmatched nature is
Bourbon Street would be as incomonly magniﬁed by the distinctiveness
plete as Paris without the Eiffel Towof the city of New Orleans. From
er; a visit would feel empty without it.
countless beignet trips to Café Du
The next morning, a short trip on
Monde, a jazz show at the historical
the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line
Preservation Hall, photo-ops at the St.
later, we arrived at Tulane University.
Louis Cathedral and the “American
It was founded in 1834 as the public
Horror Story: Coven” mansion, a
Medical College of Louisiana, the
tailgate at the Tulane vs. Tulsa footsecond medical school in the South
ball game, a sightseeing bicycle tour
and the 15th in the United States.
through the city’s historic neighborThe state legislature established the
hoods, a ridiculous amount of good
school as the University of Louisiana
food, and so much more, it only took
me three days to fall in love with this
city. I can promise with utmost conﬁdence that I will be back.
In a time when neighborhoods
across the city were quite literally
being uprooted and dispersed, leaving
behind little to nothing, New Orleanians uncovered a hidden blessing
disguised in all of the tragedy. Hurricane Katrina rid communities of what
would otherwise senselessly separate
its people – the size of one’s house,
the price of one’s car, the manicuring
of one’s lawn – and instead revealed
the connection that the people of New
Hurricane Katrina revealed the true
jambalaya of cultures that knit this
city together, laced with a pride that
prospered despite all of the devastation. This is the city that I, along with
thousands of others, continue to visit,
fall in love with, and long to return to.
Learn more at tulane.edu. ✦
Art by Brenna Costello, Louisville, CO
U N I V E R S I T Y
Philadelphia: Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel has a 96-acre campus and an amazing student-faculty ratio of 9:1. The population is mid-sized,
with approximately 14,000 students. Drexel has 15 schools, including education,
engineering, law, and medicine. There are over 80 full-time majors, and the
study abroad program gives students the chance to explore 10 countries.
Campus residency is mandatory unless you’re a ﬁrst-year student living with
your parents; dorm life is a big part of the college experience. Each residence
hall has its own layout and themes. The cafeteria is all-you-can-eat and contains third-party cafés such as Starbucks and Creese
Café. You don’t need to leave campus to get a coffee,
which is an advantage during the snowy winter
An experience months.
With the campus conveniently situated in an urban
of a lifetime
setting, there are many dining and shopping places
nearby. There are also museums if you have free time
and are interested in learning outside the classrooms.
Bus stops at almost every block mean transportation is not an issue. Life at
Drexel is exciting since there’s always something going on.
The cost of attendance is roughly $67,400 (including room and board, tuition
and fees, books and supplies, and other expenses), but the top-notch education and the city life are well worth it. Attending Drexel is an experience of a
lifetime; there are many people to meet, places to see, and fun things to explore.
You won’t regret it.
Find out more at drexel.edu. ✦
by Toni Nix, Newport, NH
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
travel & culture
Finding My Story
by Soﬁa Friedman Sausalito, CA
t is 2008. A young girl with a
colorful candies. She sits on a cliff in
perfectly pink outﬁt and a Dora
the Judean Desert alone, listening to
haircut steps off the plane. Whinnothing but the songs of birds and the
ing about the heat, she yanks on her
blowing of the wind, and struggling
father’s sleeve as they enter the arrivwith herself in the very place that
als hall at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel
her ancestors did thousands of years
Aviv, Israel. Minutes feel like hours
before her. She sees the country shut
at baggage claim. She and her sister
down before her eyes in observance of
grow restless, and a tantrum begins.
the Sabbath, attends a prayer service,
Just in time, their father collects the
and lets the words of the Torah warm
luggage and hails a cab.
her heart and ﬁll her soul. She has
The girl gets her ﬁrst glimpse of
never felt so happy and inspired.
the country. Green trees, glistening
But this amazement is too good
Jerusalem stone buildings, and warm
to be true, she soon learns, comsunshine roll by the cab window. At a
ing to recognize an enigmatic and
red light, she sees a girl about her age
unforeseen struggle. She plays at a
walking hand in hand with four sibpark where every structure doubles
lings. Behind them walks a beautiful
as a bomb shelter. The thought of a
woman with a head covfear-stricken child running
ering and a baby nestled
for cover during what was
in her arms, and a man
supposed to be a fun day at
She sits in the the playground makes her
with a full beard, suit,
and tall top hat. The girl Judean Desert, heart ache. Before rafting
watches as the family
on the Jordan River, she lislistening
enters a synagogue with
tens anxiously as her guide
smiles on their faces and
warns the group against
G-d in their hearts.
provoking those of differFive years later, the same girl steps
ent heritage who line the banks at
off a plane; she is a bit taller and
every turn. A pit of fear grows in her
sports a long ponytail that is messy
stomach as these people throw water
from the 14-hour ﬂight. Her T-shirt
and words at her small boat, as if to
is identical to the ones the 60 kids
defend their streamside territory. She
around her wear. Butterﬂies ﬁll her
tucks her Star of David necklace into
stomach as she enters the same arrivher shirt, naively hoping it can protect
als hall. This time, teachers replace
her. The words of Matisyahu’s “One
parents and anxiety replaces curiosity.
Day” echo in her mind as she prays
As she peruses the hills, shops, and
for the day when peace will prevail.
streets with classmates over the next
She feels pain in her empty stomtwo weeks, she takes careful stock of
ach as she fasts in honor of Tisha
the citizens. She spends a night in the
B’Av, remembering the destruction of
desert with Bedouins, drinking tea,
the Second Temple. She sees the tears
eating meals on the ground, singin her counselor’s eyes as he tells the
ing and dancing beneath a colorful
story of how he watched his friend die
tent, with the vast Judean desert as a
in a bombing, then risked his own life
backdrop. This is their purpose, their
to recover his friend’s body.
country, and their story.
She speaks with a sobbing mother
In Jerusalem, she notices a woman
at Israel’s most respected cemetery.
roaming the streets in a navy green
It is her son’s birthday, and she sits at
uniform, a machine gun strapped to
his gravesite asking why a knife had
her chest, and a contagious grin on
to penetrate his heart. The girl holds a
her face. The girl asks for a photo,
rocket in her arms, an object created
pleasantly surprised by the soldier’s
for the sole purpose of terrorizing
warmth. As she walks away, the girl
those like her, but one that was thankis awed by the soldier’s sense of
fully stopped by the Iron Dome.
purpose, her dedication to her country
She goes to the country’s Holocaust
and her story. The girl vows to some
museum and sees a cattle car used to
day ﬁnd a story of her own.
carry Jews to their death, stands by
Three more years pass. Once again,
a pile of shoes from those gassed at
she steps off the plane, now a young
Majdanek, touches the rough wood
woman. She is ﬁlled with overwhelmof an Auschwitz bunk bed. Finally,
ing excitement that surprises even
she goes to the Western Wall, her reliher; a deep hunger for learning and
gion’s holiest site. She walks through
belonging penetrate her core. She is
swarms of women to press her hands,
on a quest to ﬁnd her story.
forehead, and ﬁnally lips to the warm
She ﬂoats in the Dead Sea and
Jerusalem stone that has been softfeels the oily water sting and soothe
ened by the billions who have begged
her skin. She explores the windy
for the wall’s assistance. She weeps
maze that is Old Jerusalem, buys
and smiles, and with G-d all around
cheap T-shirts, inhales the delicious
her, she ﬁnally understands the parasmell of freshly baked challah, and
dox of this country, the beauty and the
gets hypnotized by the cornucopia of
pain, the hope and the struggle.
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
But alas, her six-week daydream
comes to a close. She is going home
but also leaving home. She arms herself with story after story after fact,
not at all ready but forced to defend
herself against those who will tell
her she should not exist, her country
should not exist. And in this moment,
she ﬁnds something: a purpose, a
home, and a story. And this time, it is
not that of the Orthodox family, the
soldier, the Bedouin. This time, it is
all hers. ✦
I’m 7, and
In my lunchbox, my mom has packed me kimbap.
My eyes widen as I take it out, each roll like a vibrant full moon –
Flaky black seaweed and white rice, wrapped around colorful carrots
and egg and ﬁshcake.
The kids crowd around me as I take out my chopsticks. They say,
“That smells gross. Are you eating dog?”
My mouth dries up. I don’t want to eat anymore.
66 years ago,
My grandmother is also 7, and
In a small North Korean household, there is no backpack, no lunchbox.
Instead, she reaches into a tattered knapsack,
Searching for any food she might have missed, anything,
The bag is empty.
And with war on the horizon,
With smoke billowing from nearby villages, with the Reds looming
over their every move,
It is likely, she knows, that this knapsack won’t be full any time soon.
I’m 11, and
We learn about the Korean War in school.
It’s funny – when you’re a kid,
There’s always got to be a “good guy” and a “bad guy.”
So when I raise my hand
And tell the class
That my great grandparents had once worked for the North Korean
I suppose I had to be the bad guy.
The next day, someone scrawled obscenities all over my locker.
I blink back tears and reach into my backpack,
Take out some tissues and start to scrub.
62 years ago,
My grandmother is also 11, and
She fumbles as she reaches into her bag to ﬁnd her ticket,
Her hand trembling as she holds it out for inspection.
She boards the boat and stares into the ocean.
It is gray and silent and cold, much like the hum of her own heart.
She doesn’t dare turn back. She doesn’t want to see the smoke anymore.
The boat drifts off in silence.
The long journey to Seoul begins.
Today I’m 15, and
Whenever I tell people about my family’s history,
Whenever I empty out this bag I carry, full of stories, of struggles,
of a pilgrimage across an ocean,
All they can say is, “You’re North Korean?”
No, I say. I was born in Chicago. But –
My North Korean family, my North Korean heritage,
my North Korean blood,
That is who I am.
That is what I’m carrying.
So I close my bag.
58 years ago, my grandmother closes hers.
We hoist them onto our shoulders and keep walking.
And although sometimes it is heavy, sometimes it is inconvenient,
Sometimes it feels like it is carrying the world,
We refuse to be ashamed of our baggage.
by Isabel Lee, Vernon Hills, IL
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
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O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
he odds were stacked against it.
In a world where reality television
permeates the airwaves, and in a format
so heavily contesting the popular
opinions of Americans, “Cosmos,” was
green-lit. Under the funding of “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane and
the brilliance of author/astrophysicist
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, one of the most
unlikely shows came to be, or rather, be
The original “Cosmos” was a
13-episode miniseries produced in the
late 1970s by physicist Carl Sagan.
The show’s goal was to instill wonder
about science into the hearts of viewers.
The format was simple: each episode
introduced a scientiﬁc or philosophical concept such as “Who Speaks for
the Earth?” and explored how people
viewed this concept through history
– whether spiritually, scientiﬁcally or
otherwise– and what answers modern
science has given us.
Sagan introduced the concept of a
“Spaceship of the Imagination” – a
literal spaceship he is inside for the
majority of each episode. The spaceship
could go anywhere, be any size, and
was shaped like a dandelion seed. It
represented mankind’s desire, through-
Clearly, the creators of “A Spaceout history, to explore the world, the
time Odyssey” followed the original
lengths taken for knowledge, and
to a T. How ﬁtting is it then, that the
how easily we can achieve this now
new narrator would be Neil DeGrasse
by comparison. To say the original
Tyson? In his youth, Tyson submitted a
“Cosmos” was successful would be an
résumé to Sagan based on his interests
understatement. It won two Emmys
in astronomy and physics, spawned by
and a Peabody Award, has 500 million
Sagan’s show. Sagan, so impressed that
unique views, and was called “a watera 17-year-old would follow his work so
shed moment for science-themed TV
closely, replied, asking to meet Tyson.
programming” by The New York Times.
In one episode of “A Spacetime OdysThat is a lot to live up to. So how does
sey,” Tyson describes
“A Spacetime Odyssey”
meeting his hero, and
genuinely gets tearyWell, if nothing
else, “A Spacetime
In “Cosmos,” Tyson’s
Odyssey” follows the
soothing voice and
format of the original
charismatic characseries. Each of the 13
ter guide the viewer
episodes addresses a
through history and
different science topic.
Animation is used to
It had to be perfect spacetime to explain
our world. He is careful
show how scientists and
never to discount an inphilosophers explained
correct idea in history, because he wants
phenomena, or how they failed to. The
viewers to realize that people didn’t
idea of a Spaceship of the Imagination
have the resources we do now.
is used here too, and through beautiful
Certainly, “A Spacetime Odyssey”
CGI it travels through space, time, and
is an incredibly well produced and
dimensions to aid the narrative. The
thoughtful show, but it had to be. While
effects are incredible and instill the
same wonder that Sagan tried so hard to many praised the show’s narrative,
beauty, wit, and engagement, it must be
achieve in his original series.
by Ryan Oboryshko, Hockessin, DE
Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace
standable, I felt that I would do the same in their
ampo Kitan: Game of Laplace” felt very
circumstances. It was hard to decide who to root
unique to me, though I’m not that familiar
with the horror-mystery genre. This series is based
The voice acting is hands down amazing. The
on several books by Edogawa Rampo (known as
voices ﬁt their characters perfectly, and the actors
the Edgar Allen Poe of Japan), most notably The
express joy, grief, desperation, and insanity very
Human Chair, The Fiend With Twenty Faces, and
Strange Tale of Panorama Island.
The art is incredibly gorgeous, from the charIn the ﬁrst episode we meet two middle school
acters’ eyes to the horrifying mannequins littering
boys, Kobayashi and his friend Hashiba, who
Panorama Island. The terrifying
join forces with Kogoro Akechi,
parts are even more torturous
a 17-year-old genius detective,
because of all the detail. There is
to solve crimes. In the episode
so much symbolism in the images
“Twenty Faces,” the boys devise a
plan to catch a vigilante killer. The
One drawback of the show is
story is intriguing and surprisingly
that the pacing can seem strange
dark. A lot of symbolism doesn’t
at times. Some crimes span
make sense at the beginning, but
two episodes, while others are
once the series reaches its midpoint,
Based on books by resolved in half an episode. And
the tragic and emotional meaning
is revealed. The plot is creative
the “Poe of Japan” while events after the big reveal
near the end seem a little rushed, I
and ﬂows well. There are no ﬁller
enjoyed the results.
episodes; each helps explain and push the story
This series is excellent; I laughed, I sobbed,
forward. And while some aspects of the plot are
I ranted at the TV in anger, then I sobbed some
unrealistic, they’re executed in a way that makes
more. I have rewatched certain episodes over and
you believe they could actually happen.
over, and they never fail to stir my emotions. It’s
All the characters are unique and terrifying in
even more enjoyable the second time, because you
their own ways. From major to minor, they each
notice new aspects and understand even more of
have individual quirks and are very well develthe symbolism.
oped and easy to get attached to. Even though
This series is an emotional roller coaster, and I
most commit horrendous crimes, the writers make
loved it. I give it a 10/10. )
it hard to hate them. I cried several times for the
“villains” because their motives were so underby Justine Hightower, Flower Mound, TX
mentioned which network hosted it –
Fox, which is considered the most conservative network on television. Many
Christians were upset that the show had
an episode that detailed the work and
persecution by the Catholic church, of
Giordano Bruno. Bruno developed the
idea that Earth revolved around the sun,
contrary to ideas presented in the Bible.
For this, he was burned at the stake by
To even get the show to be considered by Fox, Seth MacFarlane’s funding
and support was crucial. MacFarlane is
an advocate for the public knowledge of
science; he stated that this project was
personal for him, since he was inspired
by the original “Cosmos” in his youth.
He and Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow,
worked tirelessly to promote the show.
So, you see, “A Spacetime Odyssey”
had to be good. To be anything less
than perfect would give opposition to
the show enough power to cancel it.
Additionally, it had to be perfect since it
was created by individuals with strong
emotional connections to Sagan and the
original, and they wanted to preserve its
excellence. Fortunately for us, against
all odds “Cosmos” came to be. )
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
f you are looking for good anime with a bit of blood, gore, and
drama all mixed together, “Tokyo Ghoul” from Funimation
(“You should be watching!”) is for you.
Based on the manga series by Sui Ishida, the animated show
(which has two seasons and a third on the way) is considered a
dark fantasy series. When a young man becomes a legend, he has
to ﬁgure out how he ﬁts into the world. Is he a ghoul? No, and the
ghouls he meets are quick to tell him so. Is he human anymore?
His desire to eat ﬂesh seems to point to no as well.
I had avoided this series
because of how bloody I heard it
was. But the gore wasn’t nearly
as bad as I thought. I like that
the series sticks to the original
plot and includes relatable issues
(which sounds hard to believe
based on the premise of murderous, ﬂesh-eating monsters). I was
Is he a ghoul
One of my favorite parts is how
each of the character has a ﬂaw or
dilemma that I wanted to explore more. The main character, Ken
Kaneki, has a problem ﬁguring out where he stands in the world;
this impacts his relationships, which, in turn, brings out interesting
qualities in other characters. These characters are also interesting
and relatable, even if they aren’t all human.
“Tokyo Ghoul” can be found on Amazon for a reasonable price.
Although I loved this series, there are some disturbing scenes,
so I do not recommend it for younger viewers or those who are
squeamish. But, if you are looking for something a bit out of your
comfort zone or some dark fantasy, I suggest “Tokyo Ghoul”! )
by Amanda Marcus, Landing, NJ
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
his ﬁlm’s tag line is “the most terrinot mix. At all.
fying ﬁlm you will ever experience.”
I am not here to glorify violence. All
It’s weird how accurate that is. “Evil
I’m saying is that the violence in this
Dead” is the 2013 horror remake directﬁlm made it a much better, more intense
ed by Fede Alvarez, starring non-big
viewing experience, especially since the
names like Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernan- rest of the ﬁlm isn’t perfect.
dez. Levy plays an innocent girl named
The lead actors aren’t great, but they
Mia. And by innocent, I mean hardcore
serve their purpose as cannon fodder that
drug addict. Her brother, David (Fernan- we’ve come to watch die. We don’t care
dez), brings her and some friends to a
enough to hear their back stories. Jokes
rickety cabin in the woods so
aside, this ﬁlm contains
Mia can detox. But, like any
some pretty scarring images
good horror movie, they ﬁnd
that may stay with you long
a book that releases a demon
after the ﬁlm is over. If you
that terrorizes the young
tend to get queasy or are senadults in the most brutal
sitive to violence, this movie
fashion. Now, apart from rare
will not be your cup of tea.
gems like “The Ring,” horror
As amazingly graphic as
remakes tend to be terrible.
“Evil Dead” is, it’s not as
This, however, is another
scary as it could have been.
example of a pretty good
A lot of scenes shown in
remake of a horror classic.
the trailer weren’t in the
Pretty good ﬁlm. Also, we really don’t
The imagery in this movie
is incredibly disturbing.
care about the main characremake
While not super spooky or
ters. They aren’t developed
scary, there are some scenes
enough, and the dialogue is
where the setup is scarier than the
sometimes terrible. Some of it is chillpayoff. The environment itself is even
ing, but other lines are really clichéd and
spooky; the producers used dark lighting delivered with too much cheese.
and sinister designs for things like the
In the end, “Evil Dead” does what
book, the basement they ﬁnd the book,
it set out to do in a gruesome fashion.
and the forest.
While not super scary, it is truly disturbIn addition, this ﬁlm is horrifyingly
ing, dark, and a good example of a really
graphic. When you see a father aim a
good horror remake. )
shotgun at his possessed daughter’s head
by Ayinde Roberts,
and then see her face explode, you know
Owings Mills, MD
what kind of ride you’re in for. And it
only gets worse. Spoiler alert: demoniThis ﬁlm is rated R.
cally possessed people and nail guns do
A Series of Unfortunate Events
magine you are alone when a smiley, happy clown appears. The
clown hides itself and reappears with a frown. The clown is moving
closer and closer … then it isn’t a clown anymore. It’s a demon.
Based on the book by Stephen King, “It” is a horriﬁc creature
truly worthy of nightmares. This is a great movie for those who like
suspenseful, scary, and realistic terrors, but also for people who like
Made in 1990, this two-part miniseries was directed by Tommy Lee
Wallace and stars Tim Curry. The premise is a demon that takes the
form of a clown and feeds on children. The plot focuses on ﬁve children: Mike (Tim Reid), Bill (Richard Thomas),
Ben (John Ritter), Eddie (Dennis Christopher),
and Beverly (Annette O’ Toole). They form a
group called the “losers club” and face the demon
Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The story takes
place in Derry, Maine, in 1960.
Although now more than 25 years old, the
graphics are quite good. It includes graphic
scenes of oozing blood and gore. There are
disturbing scenes where Pennywise turns into
a giant hairy spider, a vicious werewolf, and is
revealed in his clown form to have fanged teeth.
Suspenseful, People who like getting goosebumps will enjoy
Pennywise’s ability to change forms. Anothscary
er thing to keep in mind is that the technical
elements are not as advanced as today’s. However, the special effects involving torrents of fake blood and lighting were high tech for that time.
Overall, “It” is an enjoyable movie. It has realistic situations, like
Pennywise enticing the kids with balloons and toys, but also has many
ﬂaws. For example, in one part, a little girl is looking into the camera
and frowning when she sees Pennywise. Today, you don’t usually see
characters look into the camera. Also, scary background music plays
in certain scenes, which takes away from the bone-chilling experience,
making it feel cheesy and clichéd.
Stephen King’s “It” is good for anybody who likes horror movies. It
will deﬁnitely keep you on the edge of your seat. )
by Katherine Wolfe, Lewes, DE
This ﬁlm is rated R.
Can you caption
in the care of Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall) of
t is rare to hear a voice within a movie advise you not
Mulctuary Money Management. Though
to watch that movie. Logically, deceiving the audience
the banker means well, the Beaudelaire
with a happy little elf giggling and frolicking through a
children would have been better off with a
tiny village of singing ﬂowers and critters, then stopping
jar of mustard as a temporary guardian. Mr.
the scene to apologize for the wrong movie is only going
Poe spends more time coughto make people turn to the person next to them
ing into his handkerchief than
with smirks on their faces, right? Especially if
speaking to the orphans. And
the audience is then forewarned that the movie
he easily falls for a greedy and
they are about to watch is extremely unpleasant.
despicable plot by Count Olaf
The audience is then introduced to three
(Jim Carrey) to take custody of
children recently orphaned due to a terrible ﬁre.
the Beaudelaires and steal their
After all this, the viewers are told that there
are probably still seats available in Theater #2.
I typically don’t enjoy movies
By this point, you might infer that Theater #1
that are sad. And it’s true that
has cleared out. Maybe in some cases it would,
Illustration by Haley Welliver, Seattle, WA
the three Beaudelaires enbut when the audience is told this by Lemony
counter nothing but a series of
Snicket (voiced by Jude Law), it only peaks
$50 PRIZE FOR THE WINNING ENTRY!
unfortunate events. But in the
Go to TeenInk.com to submit your caption
end, though what lay ahead for
Based on Lemony Snicket’s ﬁrst three A
Series of Unfortunate Events novels (The Bad
uniqueness the Beaudelaires may be unclear,
Winner randomly chosen from the entries
they are reminded that as long as
Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide
they have each other, they have a family.
Window), this ﬁlm follows the miserable lives of siblings
Violet (Emily Browning), Klaus (Liam Aiken), and Sunny
I think that little piece of assurance ignite
not to watch it, yet still draws you in. I would recommend
Beaudelaire (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) as their lives are
a glimmer of hope in the three orphans, and thus give the
this to anyone willing to go on a bit of an adventure to ﬁnd
movie’s mood a lift.
forever changed for the worse.
goodness during bad times. )
I give this ﬁlm ﬁve out of ﬁve stars for uniqueness. It’s
After their parents are killed in a mysterious ﬁre that
by Katherine Teets, Okeana, OH
not every day that you see a ﬁlm that literally advises you
destroys their home, the children are temporarily placed
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Milk and Honey • John Lennon
This Is Acting • Sia
ohn Lennon is a name that will always be etched into the hearts of millions,
young and old, across the globe – and rightfully so. His musical prowess was
obvious during his lifetime, but is there proof that his legacy continued after his
assassination in 1980? The artist’s posthumous album, “Milk and Honey,” suggests so. After his death, Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, spent three years ﬁnishing the
album. Released in 1984, it peaked on the U.K., Swedish, and Japanese charts at
Lennon was known for being a poetic disaster; speaking his mind and encouraging others to do the same through “bed-ins” and controversial interviews. He
spoke to listeners through raspy, tight vocals and lyrics that almost always revolved around two themes: love and society. Ono
and Lennon each have six songs on the album,
taking turns sharing their innermost thoughts and
feelings. Ono has her own unique way of singing … or howling. Her tracks gave the album an
authentic Asian twist that few listeners cared for.
Ono’s relationship with Lennon always sparked
criticism, but by the time this album was released,
most fans tolerated it.
The ﬁrst time I heard a song off “Milk and
Honey,” I was sitting in my room under the
ever-so-cliché fairy lights, listening to Spotify’s
“John Lennon Radio” station. The song was
“Nobody Told Me,” perhaps the best known from
the album. The single was incomplete when he died and was originally recorded
for former band mate Ringo Starr. Like most of Lennon’s lyrics, the words seem
a bit nonsensical at ﬁrst, but the more I listened, the more I understood. The line
“Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed; most peculiar,
mama,” is in contrast to the saying “My mother told me there’d be days like this.”
With the exception of some nearly incoherent parts by Ono, the album is a legendary Lennon work. I ﬁnd myself playing the vinyl record often, letting my mind
take its own path for the 36 minutes. I fell in love with it the ﬁrst second I heard
a note, and I continue to fall in love with everything written and sung by Lennon
– no matter how many times I’ve heard them. He had a way of getting you to shut
up and pay attention, all while remaining charming during his gentle yet aggressive rants that he put to a tune and sung his heart out to. )
by Kate Fortenberry, Easley, SC
Smoke and Mirrors • Imagine Dragons
opular music today typically extols the joys of love, challenges of relationships, and
agony of heartbreak. Many songs deserve airtime, but the themes are overused. While
listening to the band Imagine Dragons, my objections to common lyric choices were refuted.
It quickly struck me that lead singer Dan Reynolds wasn’t groaning over his latest girlfriend.
Instead he reminisced about personal trials and the demons he faced. This alternative approach was quite refreshing, and I started paying attention.
At the ﬁnal concert of their “Night Visions” tour, Imagine Dragons announced that they
were going to hit the studio and create a second album. I was stoked! It did not disappoint.
“Smoke and Mirrors” takes the theme of personal struggles
and combines it ﬂawlessly with engaging rhythms. There
are no unnecessary words or overdone guitar solos – just
simple songs expertly executed. Most have a driving pulse,
and I constantly ﬁnd myself tapping my ﬁngers and feet.
“Smoke and Mirrors” starts with “Shots,” an upbeat, energizing song that captures the listener’s attention. A personal
favorite, “Polaroid,” has a train-like beat while the singer
talks about being a freight train out of control. Another great
song is “Dream,” an eerie piece with a steady piano riff. The
coolest part is that the music ﬂows like a dream: quiet action
at the beginning, building melodies until the ﬁnal chorus of
Packed with meaning the dream, and a fading out as the song ends.
Throughout the album, the music doesn’t overpower the
vocals, or vice versa. Instead, they build off each other and make the experience exponentially better. I absolutely recommend purchasing “Smoke and Mirrors” because it is packed
with meaning. With its deep, personal stories, invigorating rhythms, and alluring melodies,
“Smoke and Mirrors” will captivate and thrill you. )
ia is no stranger to the music
Sia’s voice wears just a tad thin, but
scene. Having written chart-topthis adds a sense of realism, as well as
pers from Rihanna’s “Diamonds” to
ampliﬁes the song’s raw beauty.
Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts” to three
“Reaper” is my favorite. Sia sings,
songs in the movie adaptation of the
“So come back when I’m good and
musical “Annie,” the Australian singold/I got drinks to drink and men to
er-songwriter has proven that penning hold/I got good things to do with my
lyrics is not a challenge, regardless
life.” It ﬁts in ﬂawlessly in an album
of musical style. And she certainly
that extols the individual overcomsucceeds with the electropop genre in
ing negativity to realize all the voids
her seventh album, “This Is Acting.”
inside her are actually cosmos. The
One of the most iconic aspects of
minimal, steady beat is a plus, as it
Sia is the way she deliberately hides
allows the listener to focus on Sia’s
from the public eye. Even during perincredible vocals.
formances on “Ellen” and interviews
One track that must be noted is
with “Nightline,” she hides behind the “One Million Bullets.” It’s the only
long, straight bangs of a wig, which
song Sia wrote without another artist
often confuses audiences. But the
in mind. Her strong, soaring voice
reason she prefers this obscurity is
is the dominant element in all of her
simple and unfamiliar to most stars:
songs, and especially this one. It starts
she wants to avoid the spotlight.
softly with a lulling beat but gradually
When asked about it, Sia confessed,
fades to emphasize her voice. The
“[The spotlight’s] ugly. It makes me
song examines the conﬂict of what
feels right in the
“This Is Acting” is
moment versus what
a unique compilation
feels right in the end.
of rejected songs Sia
Although the chorus
wrote for other artists.
is a cliché (“I’d take
She did not write
one million bullets”),
them with herself in
there is so much pasmind – except for one
sion, your heart aches
– so she never had
along with hers.
to worry whether the
lyrics were something
tracks like “Move
she would actually
Your Body” and
say. This is the founLyrically and vocally “Sweet Design” bring
dation of the title; she
the album down.
must act out the stoThese deﬁnitely
ries that go with the
should have remained
songs. Regardless, Sia sings with such rejects. Originally written for divas
passion and emotion, it is impossible
like Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, the
to categorize her as anything other
suggestive, bold lyrics and fast beat
than bona ﬁde.
don’t work for Sia. Her voice is better
The 12-track album opens with
suited for soulful ballads, not ditsy
“Bird Set Free.” Sia’s voice is absodance songs.
lutely gorgeous, complemented with
One of the greatest aspects of “This
a catchy drum beat. In typical Sia
Is Acting” is that none of the tracks
fashion, the lyrics are thoughtful and
are reminiscent of the mainstream pop
charged with emotion and evocative
songs we are so used to and tired of.
metaphors. She confesses, “There’s a
Sia doesn’t dwell on topics countless
scream inside that we all try to hide/
other artists wallow in: love and sex.
Oh, it eats us alive.” The message is
Her challenges are humble ones that
relatable, and the emotions run deep.
everyone can relate to: ﬁnding bravery
Originally written for Adele, it’s clear and the things in life worth living for.
Sia drew on her own experiences with
The album includes just the right
drug and alcohol addiction, as well as
amount of diversity – brilliant enough
bipolar disorder. However, she got so- to satisfy even the most fervent of pober and clean and has been ever since. ets with “House on Fire” and “Broken
Understanding her hardships makes
Glass,” while still including laid-back,
the song that much more powerful, es- upbeat tracks like “Cheap Thrills” for
pecially the line, “I don’t wanna die.”
dance queens. Sia thoroughly dazzles,
Among all the recent pop songs about showing she can be both galvanic and
courage and ﬁnding oneself (think
tender. “This Is Acting” is a phenom“Roar” and “Fight Song”), this is the
enal celebration of ﬁnding oneself
most lyrically and vocally heartfelt.
amid the settling dust of defeated
The next track, “Alive,” is clearly
adversity. Sia takes her listeners on
the highlight of the album. Also writa journey of self-healing, and it is
ten for Adele, the song showcases the
too awe-inspiring and honest to be
same level of ﬁery emotion and inforgotten. )
tensity the British powerhouse would
by Emily Xu, Brooklyn, NY
have. At times with the high notes,
by Graham Pearson, Cannon Falls, MN
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
The Enemy (series) • Charlie Higson
Invisible • James Patterson
yet so many plot points are packed into
hey prey on the young, they take
each book that the series could stand to
over the night, the sickos are
be extended further. Although the story
everywhere – or at least that’s what it
feels like when reading Charlie Higson’s can feel confusing, Higson’s countless
hours of research and outlining can be
acclaimed zombie series, The Enemy.
seen in the wonderfully imaginative
The seven-volume series takes place
twists and turns.
in London and its surrounding suburbs.
Higson has written and directed for
It begins in a Waitrose supermarket
television, as well as writing many other
and follows a young group of survivors
books, including the Young
attempting to rebuild after
Bond series. By the time
a harsh winter has depleted
the ﬁrst Enemy book was
their resources. Unfortureleased, he had been in the
nately for the children, the
literary world for decades.
“mothers” and “fathers”
In addition to his time as an
(as the children refer to the
author and screenwriter, Higsickos) have the same goal:
son fronted the U.K. band
everyone over the age of 16
the Higsons. The creative
has gone out of their minds,
edge he developed from his
and it seems that their sole
variety of works is apparent
purpose is to eat human ﬂesh.
in the Enemy series’ dialogue
The concept strikes terror
into readers and will cause
Terrifyingly and plot, and the depth added
to the characters of a variety
sleepless nights for many a
of ages, gives the series a ﬁnbookworm.
ished and thought-out style.
Higson’s writing is terrifyingly vivid. Each page reveals another
Despite the occasional confused
horror that seems insane. Thanks to
or overstressed plot point, which
Higson’s reﬁned writing, these impossiHigson’s skillfully crafted writing often
ble nightmares transfer seamlessly to the cancels out, the Enemy series is a solid
page. At points in the books it feels as if
read for any zombie enthusiast or horror
the sickos could launch right out of the
book lover. With the perfect amount
text and take hold of you.
of plot and action, this series is sure to
While Higson’s writing is excellent
and vibrant, his stories can feel disby Allison Krusche-Bruck,
jointed or overstressed at points. Each
New Berlin, WI
installment spans a short period of time,
nvisible by James Patterson is a must-read for all suspense lovers.
From the very ﬁrst pages, it’ll have you glued to the book.
Emmy Dockery is on leave from her high-proﬁle job as an FBI
researcher after the sudden death of her sister from a house ﬁre. She’s
obsessed with the incident, claiming there are links between hundreds of “accidental” house ﬁres all over the country in the past year.
Though she insists that these are the work of a genius serial killer, no
one believes her – not even her ex-ﬁancé, ﬁeld agent Harrison “Books”
Bookman. That is, until the evidence becomes overwhelming.
Invisible is a jaw-dropping, must-read that
will have you on an emotional roller coaster to
the very end. Patterson switches perspectives
throughout, allowing the reader to hear Emmy
and the serial killer, who records himself as he
stakes out victims, tortures and then kills them.
Readers follow in anxious suspense to see what
he’s about to do, only to ﬂip the page and see
that the FBI is headed in the wrong direction.
He is a clever serial killer who performs his
murders so precisely it’s almost impossible to
realize they are even murders. Having tortured
The deaths look his victims, he then sets their houses on ﬁre,
making the deaths look like accidents. Finally,
after an extensive autopsy, one medical examiner declares, “Their deaths were no accident.
These were homicides. And these were the most ingenious, meticulous, and cold-blooded murders I’ve ever seen.” This book contains the
unraveling of a mass murder spree so dynamic and elaborate you can’t
help but keep reading.
Patterson is a highly acclaimed author who has written some of the
best mysteries of our time. With some less impressive books in recent
years, Invisible will be his comeback for sure. This book is outstanding
with all its mystery, suspense, and twists, and is sure to leave readers
by Maya Obeid, Trumbull, CT
The Last Maasai Warriors • Wilson Meikuaya and Jackson Ntirkana
ome of the most culturally diverse places in the world expected to serve and obey their husbands.
Meikuaya was born without a name, yet after years
are in the plains of Africa. Said to be the cradle of
of seeing him grow into a brave young man, his parents
humankind, Africa has many tribes that maintain their
named him Miton Ole Meikuaya. One thing he wanted
traditional culture and way of life. In The Last Maasai
was to attend school, but his parents didn’t approve.
Warriors, Wilson Meikuaya and Jackson Ntirkana docuHis mother warned him that police often took Maasai
ment their journey growing up as Maasai and preserving
children from their families and sent them to
their culture while still wanting to learn about
a place that would destroy their culture. His
mother told him, “If you see a car or truck
The Maasai are from Kenya and have 17
coming, you are to run until you have no
languages. They pray to their female god,
breath left in you.” Yet Meikuaya wanted to
Enkai, asking her to guide them and protect
go to school, so one day he was “accidentheir cows. The boys in the tribe are trained
tally” caught. Meikuaya loved school and
not to show fear or pain; they are the Maasai
found languages easy to learn. He was the
Warriors. Even ﬂinching when having their
class clown and decided to adopt the Chrisbaby teeth pulled would shame their family.
tian name Wilson, because the other students
They remain unnamed for their ﬁrst years of
couldn’t pronounce his name. Throughout the
book you see how Meikuaya transitions from
Young Maasai undergo many rites of
passage to manhood. For example, they may
A powerful boy to warrior.
Jackson Ntirkana had a similar childhood.
spend years in a cave waiting to kill a lion.
He always listened to his mother, respected
Once they pass the graduation ceremony, they
his father, and, like a Maasai warrior, never
can marry a bride of their parents’ choosing.
A Maasai man can have as many wives as he wants, all
showed pain, fear, or pride. Like his friend Meikuaya,
living in neighboring houses. Wilson Meikuaya’s father
Ntirkana wanted to go to school; against his parents’
wishes he went to learn about the world, other languages,
had four wives, giving him 42 siblings. Sadly, domestic
and math, a subject he excelled in. He was also a great
abuse is common in Maasai culture, and women are
athlete and spent any free time playing soccer with a ball
made of crumpled up plastic. He was loved by all and
decided to use his schooling to help his community and
save the Maasai culture.
With the help of Susan McClelland, Wilson Meikuaya
and Jackson Ntirkana narrate their stories and explain
their Maasai culture. The book discusses how their
culture hasn’t evolved into modern times. They wish to
maintain certain aspects, like drinking cow’s blood, yet
stop other traditions, like killing lions (which is now illegal in Kenya, unless done in self-defense) and arranged
The story itself is very dry in the beginning, but after
the photos in the middle the narrative starts getting interesting. The time line is also confusing, since chapters
alternate between the two men’s points of view. The ﬁrst
few chapters describe them at school, then ﬂash back to
before they went to school, then jump ahead to weekends
when they visited home.
This is a powerful story of two men who are making
an impact on the world. They currently work with the
nonproﬁt organization Free the Children and give talks to
volunteers in Kenya about the Maasai culture. )
by Megan Ansems, Kentville, NS, Canada
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
by Tabitha Vance, Grand Bay, AL
an we get nachos?” Karen asks, acrylic
rant near campus that serves them. Like, how can
away. The exit is just to the right. You can’t reach it
nail tapping the menu. “I’m really cravyou pass that up?” Kyle retorts, playfully tugging at
the menu in the brunette’s dainty hands.
“David! You can’t just leave without me!” His
It’s hard to hear over the bustle of the crowded
“Pickles are my favorite,” John comments, and
steps echo impossibly behind you. You pick up the
restaurant, over the swinging country
your head pounds. You focus on the
pace, ignoring the strange looks you get, ignoring
music, the drawling waitresses, the
glass, watch as the ring around it grows
the waiters, ignoring the hostess and her startled
clinking of dishes, and the murmur of
expression, ignoring that stupid, grating voice. You
No one believed ever larger. You don’t think about Sarah
their group. Kyle looks over at Karen’s
or how she’s probably texting some boy,
throw open the driver’s side door and ﬂing yourself
you’d make it distracting him from something. You
menu, and they argue about an appetizin. Still, he opens the other door and gets in beside
er. Sarah leers at the two before looking
hope he is smart enough to stay focused.
back at her phone.
“Hey, David, they aren’t listening to
“You know I can’t drive. My car, it’s a mess.”
Michael, civilized and always obme. Tell them I want the pickles,” John
He babbles incessantly as you drive, and your
servant, is looking at you with concern. You ignore
whines, grabbing your forearm with frozen hands,
eyes burn. Your vision blurs, and you thank God that
him, staring instead at the glass of water that the
and you cringe.
driving has become nearly instinctual. You feel your
waitress placed there moments ago, watching water
“Why do we need an appetizer?” Sarah asks,
feet move, your hands grip the wheel, and yet you
droplets condense before sliding down the glass.
one blonde eyebrow raised. “The steaks here are
“I say we get fried pickles. This is the only restauhuge.” Her words are spoken in the most monotone,
Until you remember where you are.
gravel-garbled, familiar way. She never shows
Your heart nearly stops when you see the narrow
emotion, except whenroad just off the highway. You pull over and get out,
determined to end this once and for all. You hear
Don’t think about that.
John get out too.
You can feel Michael’s gaze, weighted and
“David, why’d you stop? Forget the way?” he
worried. You hope your expression isn’t as twistjokes. “I thought you knew this path by heart. It’s
ed as it feels.
not automatic after all this time?”
“You’re going to pass on the pickles? They’re,
You swallow the cry that threatens to burst from
like, legendary,” Kyle questions incredulously.
your throat, and stumble toward a small plaque that
John begins, “David, please-”
rests inches from the ditch. You glare at the small
“No pickles,” you growl, hands shaking
white cross that guards it. John looks on, unimbeneath the table. The conversation stops, and
Karen lets out a small squeak before hiding
“C’mon, Dave, I need to get home. Sarah’s waitbehind her menu. Even Sarah looks startled.
ing.” He is still here. How can he still be here?
“No pickles,” you reiterate calmly, a grin
“No, she’s not.” Your voice cracks. “She moved
plastered on your face. “Not after last time.
on long ago.” Your hand traces the plaque, the worn
Remember how sick I got? Are you going to put
and forgotten letters.
Photo by Abbigail Swann, Cullman, AL
me through that again?”
“F R ON T HAN SM TH” it seems to read.
No one remembers how sick you
“From me? Dave, you must not hear the nonsense
got. This is the ﬁrst time you’ve been
coming from your mouth. Don’t you see the way she
out with them in … a while. But everyhangs all over me?”
one’s relieved to move on, and you let
Instead of commenting, you go back to your car
and clamber in, ﬁghting the seat belt and switching
You pick up your water, just to give
on the ignition, as per routine. Right, left, watch the
by Hayley Fox, Duingal, Australia
your hands something to do. You will
light, stop sign, bridge ahead, left, left, right. Finally
them to stop shaking.
you pull in front of his house, or what’s
here’s a certain comfort in knowing the bed you sleep in each night.
left of it. Instead of a mother fretting over
You’d think after all these years I’d have grown tired of the wooden
youngest of the Smith boys, instead
frame and the mattress that’s too thin. And if I’m being honest, there
You try not to the
father cooking his famous lasagna,
are times I wished for a better one, but there are worse things and I hardly
of John scaling the small oak,
have the right to complain about a bed.
can hear John’s ﬁngers
an awful nothingness bellows from the
Like the smell of this place. Perhaps were my family richer, these thin
semi and the gaping jaw of the open door. The blue
tapping the table over
walls would be thick and block the smells. I wonder what the rest of the
every other sound. Each
cottage is rotting, as if it couldn’t exist
neighborhood thinks. It’s really not a nice place, and I’m sure they’ve all
tap is like a punch to the
once deprived of its lively tenants.
noticed. The smells are worse at night. But maybe that’s
John scoffs. “David, you know I don’t
just me – so little noise come nightfall that there’s nothhe’s here. It’s been weeks since you
live here anymore.”
My bones ing to distract me from all the bad here.
heard from him, and now he has the
“No, you don’t,” you agree numbly.
It’s really a downer of a place. I spend most of my
“You should have let me drive. I can man the
time feeling sorry for myself. I mean, we all end up
“David, are you all right?” Michael
wheel like no one’s business. Best driver there is,
somewhere. Some places are just better than others.
asks. His voice sounds mufﬂed, and
And it’s really not my fault I wasn’t born into wealth. Maybe if I was I’d be
your head is spinning. John has moved
You try not to think about those claims, about
surrounded with gold, sleeping on feathery pillows each night.
to bumping his shoe against yours
the night with the semi and the drunk man and the
There I go again about the bed. It’s just uncomfortable, you know? A little
under the table, and you can’t take
narrow roads and John and his cell phone and his
too ﬁrm. My bones ache. But, like I said, there are worse places, and at least
ﬂirting and your own distracting laughter …. You try
I’ll always have somewhere to sleep. My family doesn’t have much money,
and you fail.
but they did make sure of that. That was kind of them.
“The car is just an extension of me. It’s basically
I wish they’d visit me more. When they do, it’s a quick array of hushed
note that they sat you at the end of the
voices and then silence. I don’t even see them. Then they’re gone for months.
booth. No one believed you’d make it
“Just because you’re the perfect driver doesn’t
But I don’t blame them, really. Like I said, it’s a dodgy place. Not a lot of
mean everyone else is. You have to … have to …
trafﬁc, just dullness. I wonder if my neighbors’ families visit. I hope so.
They were right.
you have to watch.” You can barely get the words
I spend so much time alone. There’s a lot to think about. My thoughts nev“Do
out, and John just laughs, laughs that stupid laugh
er stop. But then again I do nothing – no job, hobbies, or family, really. All
you miss so much.
I’m left with are thoughts. They’ll never, ever stop. I have too much time.
You wish you’d given him that advice that night
I wonder if it would be the same if I’d been cremated. ✦
and alive and unbearable.
128 days ago, back when there was someone to hear
“I’ll be okay,” you mutter as you pull
Too Much Time
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
by Ophelia Hiney, Franklin, WI
an you see okay, MauThrough the murk of thought,
rice?” called a voice from
something appeared on the visor – an
the intercom. “Is the visor
orange cone of light searching back
correctly positioned on your face?”
and forth in the darkness.
Maurice shook the helmet on her
One after another, the panels
head. “I think so.”
opened and other subjects crawled
“What do you mean you think so?”
out, fumbling in the darkness. She
“I mean I’ve never done this becounted each of their sight lines,
fore, and it is a test-run, so chill out,
marking twelve people in the roomy
He turned from the console with
She heard their footsteps on the lia smirk on his face. He
noleum and lightly stepped
looked down into the
around them, testing the
testing room, where
capabilities of her
“Are you sure stealth
Maurice stood in the
suit. It felt good to have an
center of a whitewashed
you counted advantage, but before she
chamber, complete with
could have any real fun,
padded walls and buzzthe subjects disappeared
ing ﬂuorescent lights.
back into their panels
and the lights ﬂashed on,
twenty-sixty-three. Test number
A037847-B. We have placed the
“Here we are, caption,” Derek
test subject in Chamber A, complete
called. “How many did you count?”
with experimental suit and the visor
“Twelve,” Maurice called proudly.
prototype, which I like to call the
“Say, this suit works really well.
Spectercles.” Maurice laughed in the
Can I bring one home to scare my
“Seriously?” she called, chuckling.
Expecting at least a snooty
Derek thought it was clever.
chuckle, Maurice looked up,
“Vision Sensing Goggles” sounded
where the white-coats appeared to
too formal, and they weren’t even
be arguing. Derek looked worried.
He leaned down to the microAround the chamber were panels
phone. “A-,” he started, clearing
in walls and ﬂoor tiles, for other
his throat. “Are you sure you
test subjects to crawl out of in the
counted twelve?” His tone made
dark. The Vision Sensing Goggles,
Maurice shiver with something
or “Spectercles,” were designed to
other than cold.
analyze and orient sight lines, which
“Yeah? I’m sure.”
emitted microscopic rays of light. The
Derek turned back to the others
goggles and matching suit, complete
and bickered some more. Maurice
with soundless latex bodysuit and
sat and waited for the buzzing of
padded soles, were designed for
their voices to match the shining
hornet’s nest above her. They
The blue visor stretched across
synchronized very well.
Maurice’s face, painting the room the
“We’ll have to run the test
ghostly hue of early morning. Derek
again,” Derek ﬁnally announced.
called out from the observation deck,
“Something wasn’t exactly right
initiating the test.
with your results.”
“We’ll turn out the lights for two
Maurice smiled. “Good, this is
minutes, and we want you to count
how many people you detect in the
The lights turned off again, and
room around you. There’s only a
Maurice carefully marked each
small margin for error, so please do
line of sight that shot through the
the best you can and don’t lose count,
dark in a vibrant pallor of sunset,
checking twice and even counting
“Aye, aye, caption,” she shouted
aloud for the third time, all while
dancing, invisible, around the
Derek paused. “Captain, you meant
She was certain this time. There
were twelve sight lines in all.
Derek scowled and ﬂipped the
“Twelve,” she called as the
lights ﬂickered back on. “Just like
The room ﬂooded with darkness;
the sound of the dying lights slowly
Derek was becoming angry
dissipated into the void. Maurice
now. “You’re counting wrong,” he
stood still, scanning her surroundscolded.
ings, feeling the suit’s uncomfortable
She faced the deck. “I counttightness. She had complained to the
ed twelve. I know I’m not a
lab scientists, and they had obliged by
pen-jockey, but I can do simple
padding the suit, covering and ﬂattenmath, y’know. Twelve.”
ing out her “assets,” as they called it.
She turned from them and was
met with something unexpected.
Art by Alejandro Velazquez, Galloway, NJ
One sight line remained in the chamber, staring and unblinking. She could
barely see it in front of the blinding
pale walls, but there it was, a hint of
orange hovering in the air.
“Okay, I see what’s going on. The
visor must be malfunctioning; I can
still see a sight line down here,” she
“I’m sorry, what?”
“My visor must be mistaking something for a sight line, because there’s
still one here.”
The test chamber doors hissed as
they slid open, and Derek called, his
voice soft but stern, “Maurice, exit the
“Why? What’s going on?”
“We only sent down eleven men.” ✦
Into the Void
by Albert Kim,
Sugar Land, TX
ere suffered the skies, plastered with murky darkness that quells all forms of luminescence. The moon quivered away from the impending darkness; the stars vanished
from the imminent dispersion of blackness.
On this night, an old man stepped out of the house, glancing back at his ﬁnal sight of light,
closing the door with an unwavering will to burst into the darkness. Accepting the living presence, darkness latched onto him with primordial grasps, enveloping him in a shroud. Despite
this prevalent ﬁendish aura, there was he, the old man, nonchalantly descending the stone
slabs. Little did he know that an oppressive wind would soon arrive to assail him. With such a
force did the wind arrive, coercing the poor soul to cringe beneath its all-mighty power.
Beneath the barrage of the wind, despite the fragility of his own vitality, the old man
reached for his blackened spectacles, his ﬁnal remaining ally. How could he live with another
loss? However, despair was a succulent treat for the wind. A scream pervaded the skies as the
wind grasped and ﬂung the spectacles away. His heart racing, his face sinking, the old man
frantically scrutinized his barren environment, scanning stretches of
land for his beloved spectacles. At that moment, darkness swept to
obscure the spectacles from sight with malicious intent to harm its
ﬂed in terror, living prey.
Now the old man sensed the foreboding presence of the darkness
and with it,
and knelt to pray for mercy. Shocked was darkness at such behavior – how could one ask for mercy after entering its grasp? Darkness
scoffed at this request and responded by amplifying the power of the
wind, which blew ever so mightily.
The old man screamed in agony as the wind ripped upon him. Oh, the pain! His body,
gradually losing vigor, cracked with every rotation down the sea of concrete, blood erupting
from his lesions as friction degraded his body.
After what seemed to be a year, as a radiant blue pierced the skies, darkness ﬂed in terror,
and with it, the wind. Stillness arrived to the world as his blurry eyes received the blissful
colors of dawn. What a day! The sun shone upon all organisms with a glistening smile, bringing animation after a period of rest. Oh, the vividness! Who knew such a terrible event had
But the old man felt life escaping his grip. His hope, his will, his allies, his health, all disappeared with the darkness. Only one wish remained; one wish that he had longed for since
the catastrophic event penetrated his soul. One wish that superseded even the wish to remain
alive. One wish that was only attainable through death.
Perhaps it was time to depart after a time apart. As he closed his eyes to bid his ﬁnal farewell, images ﬂashed in his mind – the perfect alignment of teeth curving up to form dimples
full of warmth, the cheerful, reassuring yips that imposed a mood of euphoria on those within
earshot, the extended arms and open hands reaching toward him – such beloved memories
shufﬂed into nothingness. Nearly a century of life dissipated in a moment.
The old man smiled, closing his eyes for the ﬁnal time, and he embraced the void. ✦
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
by Jenna Dube, Exeter, NH
Unless of course, they were going to tear the
he autumn afternoon was cold and dreary, the
hopelessness and guilt.
whole park down and put in a housing development,
kind that makes you want to stay inside and
The only way to get rid of the episodes was to
or God forbid, a trafﬁc circle. If that happened,
build a pillow fort. Technicolor leaves decotake medication, and Kay didn’t want to be drugged
she’d never enjoy a peaceful afternoon again.
rated the city scape and framed the minuscule park
up all the time. So she dealt with them in her own
Kay was a quiet person. This was the most excitethat lay directly in front of the Second Empire home
way: blink and count to ten. You can take ten
ment she had had in decades – since her husband
on the corner. Inside, Kay Jacobs (née O’Malley)
seconds of anything. Even heart-wrenching, guiltdied. Jack had succumbed to liver cancer – it ran
sat by the ﬁrst-ﬂoor picture window, drinking cold
in the family – plus he was an eager alcoholic. Kay
black coffee. Wind whistled through the brooding
She glanced at the clock. Fifteen minutes passed.
scoffed at the thought of her late husband. She had
pines and exhaled into the evening sky.
She was growing impatient and anxious. She tried to
grieved his death, of course – she wasn’t heartless
A loose corkscrew of hair tugged free from her
convince herself everything would be okay if he left.
– but he was a mean drunk. She didn’t
slate-gray bun. She pushed it back
Her episode would pass and she would eat dinner
love him in the end, and she hadn’t for
absentmindedly, her eyes ﬁxed on the
and go to bed, safe in her home. Perhaps he was
many years. She likely stopped loving
long-abandoned playground across
taking longer because it was his last time visiting the
the street. It was silent, aside from the She’d never seen him the night of their wedding, when he
site. A bubble of hope inﬂated in her chest.
got drunk and gave a toast to her back
squeaking of the rusted swings. There
Five more minutes. It was nearing six now, and
the man without side. She could still remember how his
was no sign of him. Yet.
Kay’s stomach growled in hunger. Just a quick bite
Long retired from her job as a real
his dark glasses buddies roared in a tsunami of laughter. to eat wouldn’t hurt, right?
He never even apologized, Kay thought
estate agent and with both sons gone,
She stood, her back aching and knees feeling
Kay led a fairly boring life. For the
like sawdust, and went to the fridge, where she
And of course, she hated him for the
past two weeks, however, she had
pulled out bacon, eggs, and a hunk of cheddar. After
other thing. He had blamed her, and she had blamed
noticed a tall man in a dark, well-ﬁtted suit and
searching in vain for the cheese knife, she decided to
him. It was the one thing she hadn’t been quiet
sunglasses arrive at the playground in an SUV. He
use a steak knife instead. She grabbed a frying pan
and docile about. She knew it was his fault, so she
appeared to take notes. She assumed he was a real
and turned on the burner to make a quick omelet.
shouldn’t feel guilt, should she?
estate developer, but she took notes on him too:
Too tired to bother with more dishes, she carried the
She was startled out of her memories by a salty
what he was doing, what he looked like, etc.
pan back to her chair by the window.
tear sliding down her nose. She wiped it away, sniffIt was odd, she thought. Every time she pulled out
The omelet was warm, spongy, and delicious.
ing. She had no idea how long she had been lost in
her notebook, she realized that what she had written
Mid-bite, she glanced out the window. The man was
her thoughts, but it was long enough. He was there.
previously was a little off. He seemed taller, more
gone. Kay smiled a little, congratulating herself on
The man was facing the house.
intimidating. Her descriptions of his face were minpredicting that he would leave soon. Then her smile
He was wearing his dark glasses. He was not writimal. She had never seen him without his oversized
faded and the omelet soured in her mouth as she
ing or making any facial expression that indicated he
dark glasses; in fact, he had never faced her house,
realized the SUV was still there.
saw her. In fact, he was so expressionless that if Kay
so she grew increasingly frustrated. Kay did not like
A jolt of fear traveled up her body. Maybe he was
didn’t know better, she would have thought he just
ﬁnishing his notes in the car. Now seemed like the
had a very wrinkly, bald head. Then he removed his
Was he looking at apartments in the area and
perfect time to call the police. She dialed 911, but
wanted to see if the park was nice? Was he a pedoinstead of hearing ringing or a long, ﬂat dial tone,
The ﬁrst thing she noticed was he didn’t appear to
phile looking for his next prey? Or was he scoping
the phone was silent. She followed the cord to where
have eyes. The space under his glasses was dark and
out the park for developers?
it connected to the wall and saw what looked like
empty, like eye sockets. Kay let out a tiny gasp. The
Kay could not imagine that he was either of the
a small fray in the wire. She blinked. The fray was
man seemed to hear her.
ﬁrst two, and while the last seemed possible, she had
gone, the wire smooth. A second later, she heard the
He cocked his head and grimaced – or was it a
a gut instinct that it wasn’t right either. The park was
calm voice of the operator say, “911, what’s your
grin? His mouth widened and contorted into a twistwell kept, with trimmed grass that was just beginemergency?”
ed smile, revealing a slimy, onyx-colored substance
ning to brown now that it was October. Ancient,
Silence on Kay’s end.
pooling between his jagged teeth. His eyebrows
knotted trees had matured for the 60 years the small
were dark and furrowed, which would have seemed
park had been there. Families of squirrels chattered
Her head pounded.
angry if not for his maniacal smile. The skin on his
noisily among the graying oaks. Really, the only
She hung up and placed her head in her hands.
face seemed ﬂuid, stretching in a putty-like manner.
thing that needed work was the playground. Kay
What was she going to say to the police? She needed
In short, he was terrifying.
knew real estate; they wouldn’t send a scout out for
to think. Her eyes burned with pain and
He took a small steps toward the
two weeks just for a playground.
there was a dull, steady thumping behind
street that divided them. His movement
her eyelids. Migraines often came with
The killer was her episodes.
was graceful; chills ran along her spine.
Kay stiﬂed a shriek and fought back
headache screamed, overriding
never found anyHercoherent
tears – this time of fear. She recognized
thoughts. She hadn’t had
him. Even with his disturbingly altered
a headache this bad since the day of the
face, she could recognize the way he
incident. It had been a cool fall afternoon
moved. Why – how – was he here?
much like this one, and she had woken with terrible
She blinked. Suddenly, she realized he was not
pain in her skull. She had been in the ﬁrst trimesfacing the house. He appeared to have turned inhuter of her second pregnancy and spent most of the
manly fast. She blinked again. He was now facing
morning hovering over the toilet bowl. David, her
the park, taking notes. It seemed so completely
ﬁrstborn, was just ﬁve at the time, not yet in school.
ordinary that she had trouble believing what she had
He had been bouncing around with the energy of a
seen a moment ago. But her mind whispered, It was
child cooped up all day, and ﬁnally, Kay had yelled
him. You know it.
in frustration for him to ﬁnd his father so he could
She couldn’t be sure. Perhaps she was having one
take him to the park. David had shrunk away with
of her episodes. In fact, now that she thought about
heartbroken Bambi eyes, but Kay was annoyed
it, that had to be it. An episode triggered by the
beyond the point of caring.
memories of her late husband. There had been many
Jack had quietly taken David out of the house, but
like this before. The doctors said it was residual
he had also taken a bottle of “Coke” and a hangtrauma from the incident. Her vision would begin
over from the night before. As David played on the
to play tricks on her and she would see things that
swings, Jack sat on a bench and drank himself to
weren’t there, like the face of the man. Sometimes
sleep. Meanwhile, Kay collapsed into much needed
her hearing would be affected too. The doctors said
sleep. With no supervision, David left the chain
link fortress of the playground and ventured ➤ ➤
Art by Julia Pope, North Andover, MA
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
by Julia Felsenstein, Ridgewood, NJ
n his hands he cupped two
magniﬁcent gems – two spheres
he had so longed to touch. The
rotting body in the back room of his
shop slouched against a wall, dried
blood and darkness in place of its
eyes. As he began stufﬁng the freshly
killed fawn, he couldn’t help but
smile. His soul held the happiness
only found in children. He gently
picked the hazel eyes back out of the
jar, and one by one placed them in
the sockets of the animal.
“Is there anything on Earth more
alluring than the complexity of the
human eye?” he whispered to the
fawn. The man stepped back and
admired his work – his treasure. It
seemed as if every time he completed a project, his desire to do it again
only grew more intense. He picked
up the animal and carried it to the
others. Each had eyes remarkably
captivating yet incredibly unnatural. Not many came to his shop,
but when they did, he never let the
opportunity pass him.
He heard the bells on the front
door, and he quickly went to greet
power went out. She let out a little shriek and
into the park. Unbeknownst to his parents, a man
clutched a ﬁst to her chest, feeling her heart aclured David into his large black car, which then
celerate. A sob escaped her. She felt as hopeless
as she had the day of the incident. She blinked,
When Kay awoke from her nap, it was dark
praying it was part of her episode. The light from
and the house was quiet except for a mufﬂed
the hallway behind the kitchen ﬂickered on.
wailing. The sound soaked through the ﬂoorA silhouette of a ﬁgure appeared in the winboards, and Kay followed it into the kitchen. It
dow, three yards in front of hers. The man was
was Jack, sitting on the ﬂoor, empty liquor bottles
standing in the front yard, grinning his twisted,
all around him. He was crying.
oozing smile. Her heart nearly burst through her
His sobs pricked at Kay’s veins and she felt the
chest. He was in her front yard! Why didn’t she
swell of a headache again. “What the hell’s the
call the police? How could she be
matter with you?” she said. “Get
off the ﬂoor. Where’s David?”
Then she noticed that he had a
Her husband raised his watery
You can take ten key. She froze, her mouth open in
eyes. “He’s gone. Someone said
h-he left in a van.”
seconds of anything. a silent scream, her hand raised as
if she were stiﬂing a yawn. It was
Kay remembered the anger
Even hearther house key, the extra one that
she felt, the primal instinct to
she kept hidden.
protect her child and the vicious
Her eyes widened as she
need to blame her self-centered,
watched him step closer and raise
alcoholic husband. She rememhis other hand. He was holding a
bered how when she called the
very familiar object: the knife she used to cut the
police and they said, “We traced him. We found
cheese for her omelet earlier.
David,” she felt gratitude bloom within her but
But how …? He couldn’t have that knife or the
then terrible guilt as she realized what that meant.
key unless ….
She remembered the funeral and how the killer
Kay blinked. All of a sudden, her headache
was never found, and she remembered how the
disappeared and she realized exactly two things.
entire community turned against Jack; but she
The ﬁrst: who the man was. The second: he
hated him most. She remembered how in a drunkwas not in her front yard; she was looking at a
en rage he swore he would kill her one day, and
she remembered when he died how she ﬁnally
Kay turned just in time to meet the knife with
her chest. She blinked and saw the face of her
Now, nearly 40 years later, alone in her home,
husband leering over her, his skin gray, his smile,
across the street from the park where her beloved
a maniacal grin, horrifying.
son had been taken, she tried to use those feelings
“Hello, Kay,” he said. “I’ve come to make good
of hatred and fear to make her bold. She tried
on my promise.” ✦
to gather her strength. But before she could, the
The trees began rattling, rattling
and bustling, but Thaddeus seemed
unable to react.
As he stood up to leave, a branch
ﬂew down and hit him with a blow.
The slab of wet wood fell straight
to his back, pushing him forward
into a cloud of black. Over a root
Thaddeus stumbled, as the sound of
thunder increasingly rumbled.
On Marjorie’s grave, his head was
detached, and into the tomb his soul
Like a broken record he repeated
these seven lines.
The woman, rope-burned hands
free at last, slid off the table.
A sickening stench enveloped the
man. He couldn’t speak or see. Foreign blood seeped into his skin. As
he touched his face, he found only
a tunnel where his eyes had been.
Like Polyphemus, he was robbed of
his most valued sense. Although he
couldn’t see it, nor would he ever,
his ﬁnal project had been completed. The fox watched the man from
across the room with a glistening
new pair of eyes. ✦
approach, but his feeble limbs were
his new client. As he approached, he
no longer capable of enduring that
found himself unable to speak.
kind of physical encounter. He could
The young woman standing before
barely even dispose of his victims
him had eyes that burned with a
properly anymore. He tended to
beauty almost too perfect to be real.
carry them out to the alley, but even
The rays of sun seeping through the
that was strenuous.
window illuminated specks of ameThe woman collapsed in his arms,
thyst and gray in her irises.
and he dragged her to the windowHe courteously smiled as the
less and bleak back room. She lay
woman came her way into the shop.
unconscious on a table
Generally, the man
while he ﬁnished with
would allow his victims
The woman the fox, who was soon
a few minutes before
a new pair
he began his process,
collapsed in toof receive
eyes. As always, the
but today his lust would
man began muttering his
permit no such privilege.
As the woman
The woman shot
stood with her back
awake only to ﬁnd herself tied to the
turned, admiring a screech owl he
table. In all his excitement, he hadn’t
had stuffed many years before, the
used enough chloroform. Oblivious
man slipped into the back room.
to his mistake, he continued his
Blood bubbling with anticipation,
work, softly reciting,
he quickly dabbed an old cloth with
“The rain continued to puddle and
chloroform and swaggered over
pour, all the while Thaddeus could
to the woman. As she opened her
take no more.
mouth to speak, it was smothered by
His bottle of whiskey was nearly
empty – eyes shot red and stomach
When he was younger, the man
might have used a more aggressive
Photo by Erin Dillman, Milford, CT
by Peter Hammond, Sydney, Australia
t is unusually damp tonight. The air is hazy
and masks the shadows moving with the
trees. Beneath the muck and leaves, the
ground is alive with predators and prey. The
feeling of anxiety collides with the felling of
the cool breeze. It is so quiet, and the fall of
the sun has just begun. My breath dances in
the air, and perspiration rolls off my body. I
can feel them closing in as they gather speed. I
slap my arm in pain, feeling the sharp ping of a
dart. The world spins around me, and I watch it
disappear into the moonlight. ✦
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Mommy’s Coming Home
t was a nice day for a funeral. The
sun shone gently over the hills, the
earth still bore the scent of rain
from the night before, and a breeze
shook copper leaves from the branches. Yet David saw none of this. His
attention was focused on the memory
of his wife’s face. She was gone, but
he still couldn’t get his head around
it. He’d told his six-year-old daughter,
Amy, that Mommy had gone away,
even though he couldn’t accept it
himself. He couldn’t comprehend that
it was Karen in the casket; he kept
expecting her to sit up, smile, and tell
them everything was okay.
Amy didn’t cry. She had never
cried. Not when she was an infant, not
when she found her goldﬁsh ﬂoating
in the bowl, not when she fell off the
swings. Never. Sometimes, David was
frightened by his daughter’s stoicism.
Art by Rosalia Billings, Eugene, OR
He asked her doctor about it once,
and she’d told him it was normal for
children to have trouble expressing
feelings. But this seemed to be more
than that. As much as it troubled him
to admit it, his daughter was like a
machine. She never cried.
She stood beside him, facing the
open grave, emotionless even as the
ﬁrst shovel full of earth landed on the
cofﬁn lid. On the way home, Amy
remained unchanged. In the house,
David kneeled in front of her.
“Are you okay, Ladybug?” Ladybug was what Karen had called her. It
was Amy’s favorite animal. Once, she
and her mother had hatched eggs and
released the larvae in the garden, so
the ladybugs could eat all the aphids.
“I’m going to go play checkers,”
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
by Max Firehammer, Missoula, MT
“Do you want me to play with
accord. First, the cuff crumpled and
you?” he asked. She shook her head.
twisted. Tiny tears formed in the
“Okay. Tell me if you need anything.”
cloth. With unblinking eyes, David
Amy went to her room, black dress
took a step back. Droplets of blood
trailing behind her. David sat at the
were blossoming on the fabric,
table, alone with his thoughts until
spreading up to the elbow, as the
evening fell. She really was gone.
sleeve twisted and shred itself. It
At 8 o’clock, David shifted from
reached the shoulder, and in his mind,
his trance and went upstairs to put
David could hear the fading whir as
Amy to bed. Approaching her room,
the machine was shut down. Bloodhe could hear her talking.
stains covered the blue cotton now,
“You need to go home now, Mr.
turning it a deep purple. There was
Victor, back into the closet. My daddy
barely anything left of the sleeve but
is coming. Thank you for playing
a tangled mess, sopping with blood.
checkers with me. Good night.”
David shut his eyes, opened them
David opened the door. “Who are
again, and it was gone.
you chatting with, Ladybug?”
He sank to the ﬂoor, breathing in
“It wasn’t there,” he whispered to
“My new friend. We played checkhimself. “You saw it, but it wasn’t
ers, and he told me stories.” This was
there. Grief does things to people. It’s
probably normal, too, David thought.
okay. It’s okay.” He got up cautiously,
A coping mechanism. He decided to
as if his legs might shatter. Moving
go along with it.
like a timid animal, he removed his
“That’s nice. It’s time to turn off the
tie, examined the bed closely, just to
lights.” He kissed her
be sure, and fell asleep
forehead and switched
in his clothes. His
off the lamp.
dreams were ﬁlled with
His daughter was the din of machinery
“Mr. Victor told me
the smell of blood.
like a machine. andDavid
woke at 1 a.m.
She never cried. to a violent, maddening
David turned slowly,
and half asleep, he sat
carefully. “She isn’t
up and covered his ears.
coming back, Ladybug. I’m sorry.”
The sound was shaking the whole
“She is. Mr. Victor says so.”
house. He tumbled out of bed and
Through the shadows, he could see
his daughter smiling.
It was coming from Amy’s room.
“Mommy died. She’s gone.”
Still dazed, he staggered across the
“You’re wrong.” She was still grinhall, into her bedroom. She was sitning, like this was a joke.
ting up in bed, eyes wide and strange,
“Go to sleep.” He shut the door.
staring at the closet. The thumping
As he walked to his bedroom, Danoise was overwhelming, like a trevid contemplated what his daughter
mendous heartbeat. With each strike,
had said. Maybe one of the cartoons
the closet door trembled, warping
or comic books she liked had inspired
and bending outward, straining in its
this. Superheroes died and came back
all the time. Or maybe one of her
“Mr. Victor wants out,” she told
friends had told her a ghost story. In
any case, he’d talk to her tomorrow,
David stepped toward the door.
to make sure she recovered properly
Bracing himself, he grasped the
from this tragedy. He remembered
handle and pulled it open. There was
how she’d screamed when they’d
gotten the call about the accident at
David didn’t breathe. He could hear
the manufacturing plant.
his own heartbeat, louder than the
David opened his bedroom door,
pounding. He could see something
and a scream caught in his throat. It
behind the clothes, something dark,
couldn’t be, but it was: laid out neatly
trickling down the back wall of the
on the bed was Karen’s pale blue
closet. He pushed the clothes aside.
work jumpsuit, name tag and all. It
There, on the plaster, words were
was what she’d worn the day it hapsmeared in black.
pened. The day her hand got caught in
Mommy’s coming home.
the machine designed to ﬂatten sheet
“Did you write this, Ladybug?” He
metal. The day her arm had been
could hear his voice trembling.
pulled in, crushed, and mangled to the
“No,” she giggled. “Mr. Victor did.”
shoulder, and she’d bled to death on
“Tell the truth.”
the factory ﬂoor.
“I am.” There was something weird
As David stared in shock, someabout her smile.
thing began happening to the neatly
“Mr. Victor isn’t real.”
ironed jumpsuit. The left sleeve
“He is. And now he’s coming out.”
started to contort, moving of its own
“Please, Ladybug. You’ve got to
stop this.” Suddenly, something about
Amy changed. She stared at her father
with dark eyes, and in a voice not hers
said, “Mommy’s coming home.”
“Stop it,” David exclaimed, backing
up until he hit the wall. His daughter’s
voice grew deeper.
“This isn’t Amy anymore.”
“Amy, stop!” There was something wrong with her face. Smiling,
sneering, frowning, she was ﬂickering
between expressions faster than a
“Don’t you want to see her again,
Daddy? Don’t you want her to come
“Stop talking like that!”
“She wants to come home. She’s
calling your name right now and
clawing at the cofﬁn lid. There are
splinters under her ﬁngernails. I can
see her, and I can feel them, Daddy.
She wants you to let her out.” Amy’s
ﬁngertips began oozing blood onto
the sheets. The closet door banged
open and shut.
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” David
screamed. “Whatever you are, leave
my daughter alone!” She laughed a
hoarse, throaty cackle. Black, paintlike ﬂuid ﬂowed down the walls like
“Mommy’s coming home, and
she’s going to tear you apart, you
worthless, whimpering, little pig.”
The thing in the bed was shrieking
with laughter now. Its eyes were empty, its ﬁngers bloody, and there was no
trace of Amy. David turned and ran
from room and down the stairs. The
giggles of the thing that used to be his
daughter chased him like a vengeful
This couldn’t be real. David needed
help. He had to call someone – the
police, a doctor, anyone to take him
somewhere safe. He moved through
the kitchen like a puppet controlled
by a lunatic, stumbling and crashing into chairs. When he got to the
telephone, he had to brace himself
to keep from falling. Panting, when
he held it to his ear, he heard Amy’s
voice, her real voice.
“Daddy?” Almost automatically, he
“Ladybug? What’s going on? What
happened to you?”
“Mr. Victor said we had to make a
trade. When you opened the closet,
he came out, and I went in. I’m not
me anymore. Mr. Victor is me, and
“Where are you?”
“I’m lost. It’s okay, Daddy. I had
to trade. Mommy’s coming home.”
There was a click. Inky ﬂuid dripped
from the telephone receiver. Mr. Victor’s psychotic cackles reverberated
through the dark house.
Someone was knocking on the
door. Mommy was home. ✦
ON ANY ARTICLE AT
s beautiful as the desolation
was, she could stand it no
longer. The hideous yet melodic heartbeat of the clock, the way
spiderwebs bloomed like roses, the
tears that smelled of the ocean.
It was too quiet, no, too loud.
Too many thoughts, not enough
to think about. Tick tock tick tock
… Yes, but what does “tick tock”
mean? Was it counting down ’til she
too would tick away? Did it stand
for something? Morse code? Was it
a spirit trying to catch her attention?
Was it him?
This woman had no name as far as
anyone knew. She was always called
the Widow, or more often the neighbors vaguely described the Widow as
It was hard to speak of such a creature. So incredibly dissociated. No
interaction. One would feel guilty to
call her by name – if they knew it.
It felt strange when she would trip
and hear herself yelp in pain. Did she
actually do that? Was that her voice?
She forgot she had one. The pain
reminded her of the body she carried.
It had been so long since she’d held
a conversation, and no one ever gave
her a reason to speak anymore. The
mail person came and went. Dinner
was prepared in her isolated kitchen.
No one solicited. There was only
Death. Oh, so much Death.
In a way, her husband had broken
more than just her heart when he
died. He had taken her acquaintances,
friends, and family members. After
locking the door, she never once unlocked it for more than a few minutes.
Only to retrieve the vittles from her
porch did that mass of oak sway forward and then be sealed tightly once
more. Everything in that house was
shrouded in dust and decay, which
ﬂuttered out of the entrance like the
swirl of sunlight she desperately tried
After opening the door on a day
similar to this, she dreamt into a ﬁtful
sleep where creatures shimmied over
her. They bit her bones and cursed her
for letting him go so soon.
I suppose the ancient woman and
her tendencies were what shocked
everyone to see her at church on a
sleepy Sunday morning.
She was still all in black. Her
now-wrinkled face was covered in a
layer of crepe. To a new onlooker, this
Widow would appear to have been in
no state of mourning other than deep.
Deep and grief-stricken and freshly
But there were no new onlookers,
save the few curious children who had
by Liv Harris, O’Fallon, MO
motions and hesitating. She passed
never had the joy of seeing her. Yet
through the doors.
even they knew who this woman in
Under the crepe, it was hardly
the third pew was. Everyone did.
noticeable. But someone did indeed
The Widow faced forward for the
notice this grotesque bodily horror
service. After it ended, she didn’t
as they passed her. She had hit a curb
hurry in leaving. It appeared she was
in the road and dragged her heel fortrying hard to be normal and carefree.
ward. A lump swelled and fell again.
The preacher waved at her with a
This person, a boy
sincere smile, hair grayer
of about 13, bent down
than the last time he’d
to help the Widow up,
caught her sight. She
thinking she had been hurt.
looked through him,
He should have run, but he
blank. He put his hand
stretched out his hand.
down and turned to greet
After offering up one of
her signature bleak faces,
There was something
she lifted her veil. The
not quite natural about
glassy stare pierced the
the Widow as she made
poor child’s sternum, giving him a
her way across the room. It was
nauseous, light-headed sensation. His
face contorted as hers could not, and
She walked as if she had gears
he stumbled back.
rolling around inside of her, forcing
As she stood, her face changed.
her body forward like a bulldozer’s
The eyes rolled back in her skull,
wheels. The muscles in her face,
her mouth opened, the bones and
torso, and arms shifted. They bulged
muscles rolled. Her neck ﬂung back
in different places. She looked like a
like a door on a hinge. Spiders spilled
sock full of marbles, rolled down a
out of her eyes, nose, and mouth.
stairwell or slanting hallway, conThey curved into the ﬁgure they once
vulsing, twitching, making sporadic
possessed within their host, then
dispersed, covering ground fast.
Men and women alike jumped and
screamed, running to the nearest high
spot. Of course this was useless. The
spiders easily overtook them, their
skellic legs pressing into the skin of
their victims, digging holes and forcing openings through their bones.
Everyone writhed, ran. It was
horriﬁc, like watching an animal die
from some sort of electric pulse. They
There was no blood. Only webs.
Webs in their eyes, on their teeth, in
their hair. It choked out the last air in
the lungs of the poor citizens.
The Widow slowly rose up, this
time with ﬂuidity, with grace. Her
old skin peeled off and was set upon
the ground as a garment might be.
The webs underneath solidiﬁed into
a curvaceous woman, and her hair
darkened with the color of Death.
She was ready to call her husband
back, and this time there would be no
hangings or burnings or stone-throwings. Only him and her and the corpses full of webs. ✦
by Lars Sundance, East Wenatchee, WA
pushed me back to my ﬂask. She and I met only once more,
s if in silent foreshadowing of my actions at the
on unfriendly ground. She hates me, as do I. It breathed its
church, it looks at me with hatred dripping from its
gist to my psyche, and out my mouth. Unable to recall what it
maw. It loathes me yet is in love with my memories
had forced me to say, I was certain she despised me.
and the sins they conceal. The longer it stares, the more my
As did I.
brain screams for escape. Unfortunately for me and my clausNow, on the anniversary of what was once meant to be our
trophobic mind, its eyes never blink.
wedding day, she and I arranged to meet at the church where
We ﬁrst met on the eve of my wedding day, at the bottom
we had planned to exchange vows.
of a ﬂask of scotch. It lied to me; it convinced me it was
It wailed in furious protest upon hearing the news. It
my companion. In that moment, it was beautiful – lean and
caught me again, its ichor fangs digging into my throat, slowslender, with a magniﬁcent crimson coat. Its eyes shone
ly collapsing my ability to continue.
glistening cobalt, whispering compassion to all who dared
Still, I persist. It all but kills me, as amber regrets bleed out
over my memories of her smile and memories of her blood.
Now it’s a disgusting mess of matted, mangled, dirty fur of
Her blood ….
black-violet rust, with eyes that have melted to a
I stumble into the church atop the mound,
while it pants and wails in frustration, refusIt still wants my companionship. Lying
I am a
ing to enter. It bellows that it will dissolve my
through smiling, jagged teeth, it attempts to
marionette in existence into a shadow of what I once was, but
hide its falsehoods. Its God complex is a fury of
it can’t repeat what it has already done.
needles in my soul, draining my strength. I am
its masquerade I know
I see her sitting motionless, wearing her
just a marionette in its unfathomably sorrowful
wedding dress, sobbing. I extend a hand for
masquerade of woe.
her before I beg her name, yet my hand passes
Tonight, it is tired, as its glare is too feeble to
through her like mist.
stop my sprint. It lurches in tune to my thunIt trots to her side, matted, dirty fur regaining its gleam and
derous stomps, screaming and hissing in an increasingly
color as quickly as blood would cascade down my skin.
desperate struggle to keep me from her.
Her blood, down her skin ….
It glares at my presence, its expression solemn and its eyes
I run over rivers of asphalt and through mountains of
a chilling cobalt.
hedges, thrusting my body and mind over the perils and
When I blink, she is no longer sobbing in her dress, nor is
howls erupting from its muzzle. It soon catches me, sinking
the church sitting atop its mound. In the building’s place sits
its ebony talons into my gut.
a grassy hill, and in her place, a headstone.
Still, I persist. My ﬂesh shreds like paper, allowing my
Remembering our ﬁght, her desperation, and what venom
body’s fuel to ooze through the warm slits.
it had ordered me to speak, I reached for my ﬂask.
She and I fought, following its command. I dared not disIts pelt mats a grim shade. ✦
obey, in full knowledge of its power over me. In response, she
postponed our souls’ uniting and departed from my life. She
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Photo by Simran Minhas, Delta, BC, Canada
They want me to be hollowed out bone,
Gut me of my secrets,
Throw my body into nowhere.
They’ll let me sit there for decades,
Till a forest makes its home in my veins,
Till ﬂowers bloom in the swell of my collar bone,
Moss will decorate my hip bones,
Soil will ﬁll my mouth,
I will become beautiful.
Mother earth have me back,
Take all that you want of me,
Because these people here don’t want me,
They want a ghost with heavy footsteps,
A person without a presence,
They ask for pieces of me that I do not
want to give,
And although the question was not for me
I will respond anyway,
Because this body is mine,
And mine alone.
I only went there once.
During the hours
when I would sit on the burning cement
dipping my toes in chlorine.
My body would lean closer
to the edge of the deep end
where she told me there were mermaids.
I wanted to see them.
The turquoise scales and cascading hair.
The bubbles spewing from their mouths.
But I leaned too far in.
They pulled me
into the twelve-foot deep.
I think they forgot that I couldn’t swim.
No matter how much I wanted to
I couldn’t ﬂick my legs,
and ﬂy through crystal liquid.
I swear that she smiled back at me.
The one with rubies decking her tail.
How could I know, anyway?
My eyes were trapped with the sting
of pool water,
in the pit of the deep end.
by Madeline Sims, Harleysville, PA
Stiff scarecrow watches
dry plains of indian corn
unbent by the frost
Trouble Finding Words
by Jonah Gottschalk, Winter Park, FL
I wish I could tell you why
God crept out from his isolation
And unfurled me from his
Calloused palm like an offering
To the altar of the world
“Be still” he murmured before
Circling the sun.
I am here now
A mesh of blood and ﬂesh
And hands and
When I speak language drips out
Like a leaky faucet,
I start cars that go nowhere
And speak to people who
Can’t hear me.
I drive down memory lane and
Look at all the fancy houses
I will never live in.
Inside their windows
Voices drift in wind shadows
Tonal hues of color and somber
Pastels smeared on the inside of
Flower petals pressed against
I am good at holding a pencil
And taking shallow breaths and
Reading heavy books but
Even I don’t do that anymore.
I am good at knowing the answers to
Questions everyone already knows,
At repeating things I have been told
And writing the right words together.
There are the colorful silhouettes
Of your temples where
You craft beautiful things,
And I am outside
With the cold air and the empty pockets and
I will never be anything but your doorman.
by Grace Brindle, Westﬁeld, NJ
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
My tongue rests heavy in my mouth,
Like a stone at the bottom of a river.
My voice is drier than a raisin,
After hours evaporating in the hot California sun.
My jaw is padlocked,
The key an algebraic code only comprehended by
the smartest mathematicians.
My brain is scrambled, overcooked even,
Like a batch of eggs neglected on the stove, meant
for Saturday morning breakfast.
But my heart,
My heart is soaked with words I’ll never say.
by Caitlyn Daas, Newport, NC
The Fall of the Enclave
The sun rose from below the waves
As the demons ﬂew on high,
The two stone towers of the enclave
Lay peaceful beneath the sky.
But as the sun dispelled the night,
A sentry looked above,
And saw the dragons in their ﬂight,
Like old tales spoken of.
He rang the bell and shouted out
The knights became alarmed,
Jumped from their beds and ran about
A general call to arms.
Before the ﬁghting men came round,
The dragons struck with force,
The impact made an awful sound,
The towers were its source.
With scaly ﬂesh and iron claw,
It ripped the roof and wall,
It then came back a second time
And watched the towers fall.
The second one with ﬁery breath,
Ignited thatch and wood,
The ﬁre burned and brought the death,
The dragons knew it would.
They circled once then ﬂew away,
Leaving the charred vicinity,
More than the towers were lost that day,
The enclave lost serenity.
by Joe Johnson, St. Louis, MO
by Lily Cannon, Vienna, VA
Aphrodite formed perfectly one day
from a bit of sea foam.
Her hair covered her fully developed breasts.
Gods gathered to admire her beauty.
In real life, unfortunately, it is never like this.
is born from a bit of sea foam. Mothers lie down
in terrible pain. Babies come out crying, red,
covered in odd liquids.
Wobble through life, attach themselves to the lie
that assures them
that competency comes with age.
Plenty never stop wobbling. Plenty of people
end up alone.
Plenty ﬁnd themselves wondering why
they were born,
and a few realize it was only a fortunate accident.
by Lydia Hirsch, Manhattan Beach, CA
A story above, many baby birds.
Their mama – an artist.
Old and wise.
A concert amongst
many wise words.
Tweeting into twigs,
bellowing into birch.
Her babies – the crowd.
They cry for more,
she leaves the stage.
Upon arrival, food in mouth.
Mouths are now full,
mama is back.
They want to listen.
by Lindsay Schlehlein, Hartland, WI
i’ve been unkind
it’s called a freeway
an asphalt path of ﬁxed dimensions
yellow lines that stretch on the sides for all
of known inﬁnity
the power lines caress the road
stand with altitude
and dangle the aspirations of masses upon their
high voltage wires
if followed they lead to electric victories
they’ll get there eventually
in sepia skies
they hope to ﬁnd liberty
with supernatural ﬁgures
that supposedly have all the answers
asked a question of any signiﬁcance
when the ﬂat road ends
only then does the truth step forth
out of the shadows it emerges
the bluebirds that sing are nothing but vultures
and the edge of your culture’s coins read:
in the truly gruesome do we trust
hit in the face by a sucker punch
victims fall into the potholes
on their backs they lie
with an arm extended upward
toward their lost ambitions
my path veers off the interstate
into undiscovered territory
which I bulldoze my way through
powered by momentum
afﬁnity for the unlimited
thirst to indulge
in the ideas that spiral like fractals
through the unknown
my path reaches into the stratosphere
loops around planets
tunnels through stars
dips into black holes, new galaxies
and curves into whatever my imagination
I often wade through pond scum
shadow box the demons that command obedience
attempt to slash my skin open
grab my youthful soul
and throw it into reality
the most malleable of all constructs
when the ending approaches
I’ll dine with the gods
emerged in victory
living above the sun
free of gravity
as a renegade
There’s a kindness under every gunshot.
A corporal sin
sleeping under the tongue
of every clean-cut preacher.
I once saw Eden
in a bowl of fruity pebbles.
Each ﬂake built a vibrant
island on my spoon.
They colored the milk
with a synthetic rainbow.
I swallowed it with the
inﬁnity in my stomach.
Something’s growing here,
clawing at my lungs,
pushing its way
up my throat.
I swallow hard,
take a breath,
i. in which i spite planets
i hang up the phone with a sharp
click – it was saturn
on the other line,
begging for her ring back
between hiccuping sobs but
by Julia Pope,
North Andover, MA
So much depends
stoking the ﬁre
under the pink, skinned
body of a newly
by Cathy Nie, Livingston, NJ
by Charles Morris, Saginaw, MI
toward severing ties from resonant pasts
from the bittersweet memories of the lasts
evolve from goodnight to goodbye
akin to that of the butterﬂy
appear vividly on the surface
lie deeply within uncovering one’s true purpose
by Samantha Hysa, Parkland, FL
My Left Eye
I’ve forced the sharp pain of a needle under
my left eye
and drew the image of a teardrop there.
You ask if I’ve killed someone
and my response is yes (check) and no (ex).
Would society (1) C (2) O (3) U (4) N (5) T
as a possible killer(?), or would they just
blame it on
me, myself, or I?
Yeah, you may be able to SEE me,
but my thoughts no longer exist – even though
you never really cared about them
I loathe the way you so gallantly strut
toward the ones with a g a p between
charcoal-colored ink above and over
their long eyelashes,
and a size six(6) waist,
or the ones with muscled abs,
and biceps that you can’t wrap your hands around.
Anyone who is even remotely like me – (a.k.a) a
disgrace to you –
have pale skin, like a phantom’s, from hiding in
a dark lair that is our room,
and don’t have the body shape your saliva drips
for. Maybe I will disappear.
by Katie Barber, Goose Creek, SC
i told her i’m
not gonna give it up
so easy: she must remember
it was all mine
to begin with
ii. in which i love too quickly, and in
all the wrong ways
god i want a voice – a mind –
that won’t snag itself
on a hurricane
(and i’ve always thought
i look so much prettier
with such sharp tears
in my eyes)
iii. in which i am a crumb in an inﬁnite sky
i look myself straight
in the face and i say,
“you are not a goddess,
you are just a girl,”
but there is something
aching in me that
begs me to believe
that i am wrong,
and another something
aching back that
begs me to believe
that i am right;
and i take a breath in
and i am harmony,
and i take a breath out
and i am entropy
and i take a breath
and i take a breath
and i take
and i take
and i take
and i take,
by Tess McRae,
Art by Seth Ives, Albuquerque, NM
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
A Casket on
are clawing their way out from her gums
and her skin
is rotting like the apples in her fruit bowl.
Decay dusts the drapes,
lives in her broken clocks,
crawls down through the ﬂoorboards,
like the blood dragging itself through her veins.
Her calla lilies
are hanging their heads in defeat,
petal carcasses littering
her Persian rug graveyard.
She says she prefers her piano out of tune,
says it makes her feel better about
the way her bones clank together
in their own cacophony.
She keeps radios in every room
turns them up loud
hoping the Morning Edition
will drown out the sound
of the shovels
digging this grave.
by Paige Gilberg, Pittsburgh, PA
I make tea from concentrated poems
Just as one would make art
From dried plants and herbs.
by Elisa Frattaroli,
St. Lazare, QC, Canada
She is an angel
A tiny broken star
Small and plump and pink
Curled like a cat
With jumbled limbs
Beneath folds of linen
Her breath remains in her throat
Lungs full and heart slow
Counting her seconds
Biding her time
She bursts forth
Tangled in linen
Tossing sheets aside
Heart in her throat
A vessel reanimated
Foreign bony ﬁngers
Grope through darkness
To an empty crumpled sheet
And footsteps by the door
Of the full-nerved carcass
Startled like a rabbit
She dives into cold air
Beneath a bold and endless sky
Beyond the known world
Into the vast and extraordinary
The Skin You Hate
That you’re so desperate to crawl out of,
Reminds me of that sweet honey you love
It makes me think of sunlit sand, and most times
How a simple pigment can create such a universe
Of a person.
at the wind’s
soft and full
by Kyla Hollenback, Alexandria, IN
And the leaves
clinging to kin
A cool breeze rushes through the air,
my body trembles.
I look up to the light blue painted sky,
a smile spreads across my face.
The vibrant leaves are falling around me,
lighting up the sidewalks like a ﬂame.
Children are running through the patch of auburn,
ﬁnding the “Great Pumpkin” in the ﬁeld of hay.
Dragging the Mars like fruit toward their
and gaining their wanted approval.
The crisp air is broken by a brisk mist of rain
that drops from the sky like tears ﬂoating
Doorbells ring with children on the opposite side,
muttering the words “trick or treat”
looking up at me, and beaming.
The kitchen becomes ﬁlled with random
my heart warms, ﬁghting the slight breeze
cracking through the open window.
I feel my senses ﬂourish,
exhaling summer and breathing in fall.
by Emily Parente, Cooper City, FL
I Keep the Things That
Scare Me Secret
I keep the things that scare me secret,
Because I am supposed to be
That was my role.
Was never in my vocabulary.
Until you came along.
The only thing that scares me
Is the thought of losing you.
by Hannah Kinne, Chestertown, MD
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
to shrunken spines
lovely and frozen
at one’s heed
But long gone
to a tree’s
which do not ascend
at mother’s toes
Still they lay
against their kin
rocks and stones
do they shape
of ﬂesh and bone
From them grows
their mother’s soul.
by Mara Harwin, Tucson, AZ
Photo by Alyson Welling, Nova, OH
Teen Ink •
at mother’s feet
resting in humble
From which their
by Neve York, Kent, United Kingdom
Brothers and sisters,
fevered in yellows
There goes the one you were dying for
The one you told your secrets
Confessed your sins to
Expressed your joys
And only wanted love in
There goes the one worth crying over
When they told you they
Couldn’t do it any longer
It’s not you, it’s me
We just don’t seem to ﬁt
There goes the one you would have died for
Holding the hand of someone they told
You not to worry about
As they look at you –
by Aydan Rolph, Newton, KS
all i remember
(100% natural extract, no preservatives)
When blood-ﬂowers burst on the linoleum tiles
the daughter sneaks out amid the bitter words
Soon gone, like yesterday’s milk-curd dreams
She navigates under the swollen moon, humming
skirts the drunks, in their newspaper jackets
ﬁshing for luck in stale kirsch brandy
The bridge with the kissing strangers,
her brother smoking silver ash wood
with the lovers;
he counts each heel-toe step, like an ariette to
The apothecary, its verbena tang sharp
and door hinged open like a cadaver’s secret
tonight she slips through its ﬁsh-pale belly
And with ten raggedy bills, she buys
a packet of wishbone needles
and a spool of candy ﬂoss thread
and a tin of balm, $4.67 – carefully
the daughter smears it across her
collarbones, light green on freckled skin
all i remember
the blinding white lights that pierced my eyes
your voice telling me
She thinks her heart is a chapel
adorned with silk roses; smiling,
the daughter strokes her dimes
by Isabella Tolbert,
The rocks at my window ring loud with truth
Of the boy waiting outside
In the cold,
He sits there, on the hood of his beat up
That never seems to start.
I race outside,
To meet him
There, in the bed of the truck is his dog
Named after a cat
Calico, it is
We get in the truck and drive along the road
The rocky cliffs by
When we stop I put my head on his shoulder
And his hands play the guitar
The moon smiles down on us, keeping me calm
With the last few moments
Of the dusk
I kiss him
The song repeats, but he’s blissfully unaware
The sweet, sweet melody
Keeping me grounded
In the truck
We start to drive again, back to my house.
Before my parents ﬁnd out
I snuck out
by Bekah Haas, Cedar Hill, MO
by Jacqueline He, San Jose, CA
I’m ﬁlled with hope,
disappointment – a cesspool
of her soul.
I’m a Saturday-night refuge,
a safe haven for the weak one,
for the sickly model
who didn’t make Vogue.
I’m the waste basket
for Rabelaisian nights,
licentious lingerie, the smudges in her record,
a broken record, record, record, record …
I’ll forever repeat in her mind.
Trodden to a pulp,
she retreats one night
into my arms – my
scalding, wet arms.
Clear liquid cascades from her
bloodshot eyes, gore ﬂooding
from her puling wounds,
from her fearful heart,
into my recesses.
I wish I could help her,
that shame-faced Barbie doll,
lipstick slathered across her
bony cheeks, imperfections oozing
from her skeletal silhouette.
But I’m hollow, a chemical lake
of porcelain and stainless steel –
I’m a mufﬂed drain
that runs from the Federal water supply.
Confronting a Ghost
by Clayton Bass, Mobile, AL
My words my words my words what the hell even
Are my words, I don’t know they’re
Messy like my hair, perpetually mussed, and
They smell like lavender because it’s
My favorite color, they seem to have the kind of
Texture as an open ﬁeld, grassy and full of
Life, and they sound like the ringing bells of a
Funeral march, marching along just
Going and going and going until
they reach the grave.
by Hannah Newcomer, Austin, TX
If you say you’re violently in love with me,
Would you kill someone for me,
Would you maim,
To get to my love?
If you say you’re madly in love with me,
Have you gone insane for me?
Do I plague your every thought,
Until you’re muttering my name like a mad man?
If you say you’re deeply in love with me,
Are you drowning in your love?
Are you breathless at the thought of me,
In so deep that you can’t remember when
I didn’t have your love?
If you say you’re falling in love with me,
How far down are we talking?
Is your love a bottomless pit,
Or does it end somewhere?
Will you keep falling forever,
Or is there a place where you’ll suddenly stop
And your bones will crack with the impact?
by Lucy Zheng, McLean, VA
Photo by Liz Ferguson, Lafayette, NY
Through the Abyss
Auburn-hued yellow leaks through the stardust
in the gap of light
Where tiny stars sprinkle golden ﬂames
into the darkening gloss of sky
And moon reigns over the creaking bookcase
and the dark blue wall
And the little dust ball that curls inside the cracks
like a tennis ball.
Gazing into the deep black hole of starlight,
And the silver stars that sleep outside in
their silent might,
I stare into the abyss, travel through the
prism of doom,
And wander, starry-eyed, in unimaginable bliss.
by Emma Ukwu, London, United Kingdom
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
We were moths
with paper wings and twitching,
racing insect hearts.
like rushing blood
and crushed bones
there’s a sense of numbness eating me,
yet I feel everything
from your tears on my lips
to the thunder of your heart,
like roaring storms
and colliding lights
He sees ghosts,
but not with
He sees them with
He sees the ghosts
of unspoken words
But there never
was a ghost
that haunted him
than the thought
of what they
They’d kept us in jars for years
feeding us less
until we learned to live off air alone.
It hadn’t bothered us though
until they let us go
and the whole world unfolded
like an open palm,
slipping secrets into the wrinkles of time
and the crinkles
between our eyes
and now we too
life in color.
The half-melted orange
the horizon turns just after sunset,
the half-thawed indigo
just before sunrise
the way the sun-burnt sky bruised and
that night we climbed
to the top of
the theatre rafters and just sat there
as the sky
peeled away to reveal
ugly gray streaks like tire marks
and the splotchy red of your cheeks
when you tried to hold my hand
and barely caught my thumb.
Will I chase
my days down with them?
on paper wings.
Will I wear them
every day now,
like perfume? Drink them
Even as your twitching, racing
insect heart stops beating –
Your blood pumps through them.
by Allie Pitchon, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Art by David Baker, Shenandoah, TX
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
by Samantha Hang, Sterling Heights, MI
His head was bowed, his body stilled,
like a stone statue,
And his heart – achromatic, devoid of the vibrant
color it once possessed,
His eyes were downcast as well, varnished
with unshed tears,
Stained with a bloodshot hue, vermilion,
the perfect blend of pain and denial,
His arms were drawn tight, folded protectively
over his chest,
A shield protecting empty armor, an image
of something that once was full of life and love.
Bones jutted out from under taut skin –
Their hatred had been like turpentine to his body –
And his skin was pigmented with dark
Impressions made at the hands of those who
supposedly still owned their hearts,
His hips too, decorated with the same contusions,
had become a canvas for the strokes inﬂicted
upon him by another’s brush.
He was counterfeit art.
by Stephanie Brugh, Evansville, IN
I dreamed that night,
Afraid that I’d see you in my nightmares.
Wave upon wave of stars and planets crashed
over me as I slept,
Drowning me with space.
It was the only thing I thought I needed.
by Isabella Tolbert, Jacksonville, FL
The branches grafted onto the varying
sour somethings into my ear.
The air pricked my skin and even though
I have wandered here for ages I am still
to the biting cold and the never-ending darkness
I wish I could call this place my home
since I spend more time here than I ever have
in that setup stage in apartment A3.
But a home is supposed to make you feel safe
and it’s impossible to feel safe in a place
that never tries to keep you alive.
This mind of mine isn’t a fair one,
and the things I’ve thought up here
cannot be undone,
but I will try to ﬁx this mind of mine,
one pillar of moonlight at a time.
by Caitlyn Carroll, Souderton, PA
by Megan McFarland, Attleboro, MA
The Growing Myth
After the gardens and before the marsh
Into the meadows and around the ponds
I tread around those ﬂowers harsh
With boasting petals and cursing little wands
“I should ﬁnd myself in the daisy’s ruff,”
I say. “Or in the rose of blood, love
and countless names”
Perhaps the gardenia’s creamy scent
upon my gruff
Or the orchids’ bodily fatale will bring me fame
Eaten, plucked, or wilted, still with perfection
But what of these skinless, spineless,
That suck my light and taunt my height
And so the wind in my soul did sing
Deceitful delicacy thrusts onto the papers
Of puffed and brooding monarchs of word
Who proclaim beauty to be in the nature
Yet decree my nature to be absurd
Somewhere out there, over the rainbow,
beyond the sea
ﬂawless goodness glimmers
But what about the quality of me?
by Zahra Hasanain, Orinda, CA
Shadow of Ambition
If your arms, mapped with veins,
to your sides rest,
Then the sky is no tyrant, nor man’s rage.
But for sun, skin aches, success conquers jest,
And it’s those who strive that ﬁnd space a cage.
When wants slaughter needs the culprits
That steer you away from the path in sight,
Until life is mundane, no longer gleams;
Reality turns an abyss of night.
It is then you see it’s despair you crave;
Your goals conﬁne but there’s nothing ahead,
For this race for success ends with your grave,
And your fantasies have made you misled.
Thus in your haste to take ﬂight in a day,
Your unmade wings chain you down, to decay.
by Nathalia Gonzalez, Bucharest, Romania
The slight lift of the mouth
that da Vinci captured skillfully
has bafﬂed mankind for centuries.
Could it be, as philosophers speculate,
a reﬂection of every
human’s innermost desire.
In short, a reﬂection of
Or maybe the scientists hypothesized correctly
and it’s simply a malfunction of the eye
that causes the smile to morph
as a watchful gaze shifts to a more
casual sidelong glance.
Finally, after years of speculation,
debate, scholarly discourse,
disputes, and hypothesis,
da Vinci speaks
from the grave.
The smile is, perhaps,
not as most people believe,
a sly smirk of omniscience.
Instead, if you look closely enough,
you can almost see that
it is the restrained chuckle
of the woman whose painter said,
“Se si starnutisce, si prega di starnuto a posto”–
If you sneeze, please sneeze in place.
by Cathy Nie,
a beaten zipper
its smile broken
as is mine
by Isiah Lakshman,
Chilliwack, BC, Canada
The Gulf of Alaska
I’ve heard that
In the gulf of Alaska
There are two oceans;
One light and one dark
But do not mix
And it made me think
And how we
Come so close
Only to be separated
Like the tides of an ocean.
But I’ve also heard
Both light and dark,
Do mix waters,
Maybe only a few mere drops.
I hope that one day
We do the same.
by Jade Banks,
Mona Lisa’s Laughter
Crumbling to Ash
I Haiku. Do You?
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Hera’s Bent Hammer
Cast down your haughty eyes on the one you bore
by your own graces from desolate hate;
Hera, your womb sealed a god’s course of fate
without father, but you? You did abhor
ﬂesh and blood of power and deemed monstrous.
Did he fall to the earth, or was he sought
by hand, tossed the dice of life Thetis caught
and made him to dwell safely on Lemnos.
What queen despised, a sea-goddess took note
passion amidst pain, but without bloodlust.
He toiled to ﬁnd favor with kindred trust
and thus gave enemies weapons made raw.
And Olympus welcomed his esteemed gift,
rather than godlike qualities adore;
With a passion for beauty he asked for
Athena, but was left well broken – miffed.
A lustful wanderer made to cover
but Aphrodite was beaten, soon known
by trapped passion; wit and revenge, alone,
sprung humored ropes of shame upon lovers.
He was unamused, for love entangled
his heart to craft a beautiful, masked sin,
and Pandora rose to grieve earthly men
by a scarred soul; a cracked past being ﬁlled,
being born from the absence of love made
him pure – with talent; And, one can connote
it was you, Hera, of which Homer wrote
failed to see value in a son now praised.
It was not Ares or Hebe you named
“A shame and disgrace to me in heaven,”
yet who is more esteemed by gods, by men?
But the passionate, crippled Hephaestus.
All that burns must crumble to ash,
All that speaks must once fall to silence.
All that is glass must ﬁnally smash,
And all who love must have guidance.
All that lie must ﬁnally tell the truth,
All that cry must soon have dry eyes.
All that muse must submit to their youth,
She who dies will irrevocably rise.
All that deplore must transcend in time.
All that manifests must disguise.
All that lay bare will surrender to crime,
All who deny will demonize.
All that cease must have once endured.
All that console must depress,
All at peace must have fought war.
She who conceals must confess.
All that crawl must walk once more.
All that scavenge ﬁnd what they’re looking for.
All that try will try yet again,
All who say eleven can do it in ten.
All that rebel will eventually obey.
All that builds up will release.
All that surrender will allay,
She who dies will be put to peace.
by Jessica Vaughan, Carroll, NH
Wrapped around my ribcage,
and spinning slowly
around my skin,
my collapsed lungs
as they search
for lucid consciousness
my addled mind
by Liliana Tomlinson,
Simi Valley, CA
by Karlee Renkoski, Springﬁeld, MO
A fond gaze pierces through her blatant lies,
She’ll never blend with the other faces,
For her desperation has been gracious,
A relation the strain of time deﬁes.
She’ll never blend with the other faces,
The brief glimpse of trust she feigned, I despise,
Their honesty has cowered in disguise,
For her desperation has been gracious.
The brief glimpse of trust she feigned, I despise,
Mirth keeping us shackled, she erases,
Space I stole in her heart, she replaces
Their honesty has cowered in disguise.
Mirth keeping us shackled, she erases,
We pitifully clutch our withered ties,
For I’ll never move past her, I surmise,
Space I stole in her heart, she replaces.
if you took
the edge out of a storm,
you’d be left with a blank ﬁlm;
no soundtrack of droplets,
no lightning cracks of conﬂict,
no romance from air steeped in rain.
you wiped away your childhood scar,
laced your back up straight,
turned down the volume knob on your opinions
and cried a little less –
what would you be then?
if you softened all your angles
would you tell your story well?
by Vamika Sinha, Gaborone, Botswana
by Tania Haque, Chicago, IL
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
Take the Chains Off Me
A Lot of Pet Peeves
You trying to cage me,
Has utterly enraged me!
Me being angry,
Doesn’t give you a right to chain me!
At my old school, the
girls would smoke cigarettes
and cough up their lungs and
swear at the kids who passed by, and
stare at the art in the
halls made by freshmen
which was very beautiful, but it
I love most things,
The lead of fate,
But here’s a list,
Of things I hate:
I hate the people,
Who think they’re great,
I hate bad homework,
Long over late,
I hate over-actors,
I hate moments meek
I hate noisy pants,
And sneakers that squeak,
I hate bad fashion,
Come on, let’s face it,
I gotta lot of pet peeves.
I hate eerie noises,
Fork on a plate,
I hate, hate, hate, hate!
I hate drafty windows,
I hate creaky ﬂoors,
I hate when the wind blows,
Out under the doors,
I hate sticky tile,
I hate losing threads,
It’s hard to hate candy,
But I dislike Lemonheads,
I hate the troublesome,
I hate bother-pests,
I hate failing any
Grade, quiz, or test!
I hate watching movies
With really bad thieves,
So I guess, let’s face it,
I gotta lot of pet peeves!
I could keep going,
Though we’d be here till dawn,
’Cause the list keeps going
On, on, and on!
So let’s wrap it up,
’Cause nobody knows
Where it could stop,
So, here we go!
I hate spiders,
People too literal,
Insects in general,
I hate breaking limbs,
Though that takes guts,
I hate most injuries,
Worst of all, paper cuts,
I hate loud speakers,
A bad colored bruise,
I hate when there’s little
Bark chips in your shoes,
I hate things out of order,
Sweaters of wool,
I hate water glasses,
Half empty or full?
’Cause you sure can’t be both,
People see different views,
HALF EMPTY OR FULL?!
You just have to choose!
I hate bad quarrels,
I hate bad friction,
I especially hate those
With bad indecision,
I probably sound
Like hate leads me astray,
But it don’t,
And I hate that you see me that way!
Brainwashing my people,
Thinking our skin color is staining!
Only way to truly learn my history,
Was through silent paintings!
Why can’t ya’ll be straight with the public?
Why can’t you tell the truth?
Is it because these artists might,
Put ya’ll on blast inside the booth?
I ﬁnally broke this BS mind control!
How does it feel, knowing I broke the formation?
Sixteen year old, angry black male,
Speaking against this white supremacist nation!
by Josh Cook, Greensboro, NC
I met a girl
with eyes of
the summer sky.
I met a girl
with hair like bonﬁres
on a summer night.
I met a girl
with a heart
of molten gold
and a soul too old for her age.
The ﬁre burned brighter with each passing day.
It wrapped around us,
searing, blinding, burning.
We stepped forth
into the golden haze,
her hand in mine.
The ﬂames consumed me,
The embers embraced her,
The light danced around us.
The ﬁre blazed.
It burned. It scorched.
It destroyed until
nothing was left behind.
Sliding her hands
out of mine,
she let go.
by Aydan Rolph, Newton, KS
the Dessert Sea
I see you crawling through the sea
pale hands grasping shortbread-colored crumbles
of wet sand
with a face marred by peachy coral scratches and
cuts from raspberry-juice-spurting sea
In my clacking coconut bones I know that
you’re coming for me,
lime seaweed slime foaming at your
and a necklace made from strawberry sea glass
adorns your candy-cane curled neck.
your sodden molasses hair,
long enough to travel along the ocean ground
switches high above the berry waves in the
howling steamy translucent wind
your eyes, like licorice pools ﬁlled with sparkling
deeply impressed in latte skin
like a gingerbread man
glare through the smoking air,
clouds of fragrance, sweet-tart
an aura I cannot see
but can smell and feel surrounding me
hitting me in my cherry heart
so I falter
hands and knees fall in plummy tide,
tugging chocolate legs out to sea
I scrape and cry on desserted land
to the ears of no one but the great beyond,
that this crawling chase must end
as almond hands blanched by the sea
grab my soul and
by Chloe Cramer, Ithaca, NY
She stepped out
of the ﬁre,
leaving me behind.
And never looked back.
But she vanished into the dark oblivion.
I only see black.
Stirrings of gray ash,
wisps of her ghost,
siftings of quiet moonlight.
Eight hundred hours.
Eight hundred hours ago.
She held my hand
“Let me go.”
by Penny Pham, Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
Photo by Gabrielle Bremer, Carlton, MN
by Brigitte Chenevert, West Linn, OR
I sit in a bag of
decompressed and freeze-dried
in Zip-Loc plastic.
I wheeze in the rubble, the dust, the
I think of the umbrella
in the back seat and wonder if
the fabric stretched like the airbag,
like a skydiving parachute.
I wonder if my phone between my legs snapped
the screen a spiraling spider web, wonder if
it’s buzzing because of
a phone call or because
of the bees it caught between the cracks.
Maybe that’s why my limbs ache,
my knees shake.
Your mouth is moving.
Wonder if you’re pretending we’re actors in a
or maybe I just can’t hear you screaming,
realizing you’re alive, a vibrating
stinging with silence.
Heave in, out.
The air’s as coarse as the store-brand cotton balls
my sister likes to
reserve on the bathroom counter for “reasons” I
Make-up purposes, she claims.
But what’s the point of make-up
on an already-perfect face?
I construct two-lane
roads down my trachea
and eliminate the speed limits and the
indecisive trafﬁc lights.
I blink green, yellow, red, SLAM –
I inhale the poison so it rushes down the
swelling in my tangled veins;
it’s rush hour now,
70 degree weather, overcast,
the radio woman spouts out thoughts she
pre-typed in her mundane brain.
Remember that time I stayed home sick
(you blamed the lightning)
and coughed my thunder into the sink?
You held my hair back, concerned, yet
obligated to be.
Do you remember what love feels like?
Soft coos tickling your
scurrying over your lungs.
I remember shivering in my pajamas, standing
in my doorway and
mulling over the reasons why you weren’t home.
The west calls to you,
singing your favorite
but the east is my peace, the sunsets panting
against ocean-blue water; I love it when
the sun is breathless and
she warns us that the world is going to wobble
on its axis,
that the clouds are stretching their nimbus ﬁngers
and prying open their crusted eyes.
But what if
is a lie?
On the dashboard,
Gentle breezes ﬂow
Silent deaths are on the wind
by Everet Nestripke, West Jordan, UT
Photo by Kaitlyn Day, Wakeman, OH
the electronic panel blinks
then east again.
I blink lazily and notice
your hand is on ﬁre.
I thought one time:
What if I
stuck needles in my hands
and claimed I was Jesus?
What if I
pinpricked my faith, cruciﬁed myself
to show you
I can die for your sins, too?
Your hand is on ﬁre.
Oh God, the dust, the cotton balls, the asphalt,
I can’t breathe, my lungs are heaving, squeezing,
I clutch the door handle between
trembling knuckles and I
tumble over my
clutch my stomach,
hurl it down into the grass as someone
holds my hair back, concerned, yet obligated
by Hannah Butcher, Lake Worth, FL
we were all static hair
and black holes as eyes
and our smiles were synthetic;
our state of equilibrium;
rebellion and sensitivity the anthems
we bled by
and all we were was ripped-up blue jeans
unsure limbs, starry eyes that saw everything
broken trophies like our dreams
we felt like we were well on our way
like we were different from everyone else
like we were destined to become
from the lines in our palms
and the things that we wrote
that we wish we had the guts to say
we snuck knowing smiles at each other
and talked about our childhood,
how we mutually disliked the word “therefore,”
deeming it pretentious, when we were ironically
the epitomes of ostentation
wishing on shooting stars,
plucking petals absentmindedly,
staring up at the thunderstorm clouds,
we called ourselves dreamers
when we were really all the same
by Jennifer Dong, Uvalde, TX
I gather treasure
At my feet
Prying rocks, shells
From the grip of sand
And hold them,
Glittering, in my hands
Of a ﬂightless ocean dragon.
by Siena Larrick, Youngstown, OH
You go to a museum to see objects of the past.
Things that once were, and now will always last.
To see what made Earth our Earth,
To see what gave humans our worth.
You look inside your mind to search
This seems a simple task, a feat that’s completed
It takes more than curiosity, it takes more
than that to start,
Looking in your memories for the contents
of your heart.
Archives gather dust, as does a precious moment.
They may not look the same, you may not
even know it.
But locked away inside those vaults,
those cabinets, those shelves,
Are the things our ancestors left us that help us
to ﬁnd ourselves.
by Hannah Gelband, Succasunna, NJ
by Hunter Smith, North Augusta, SC
My phone lit, began
To buzz, and that was the sound
Of a second chance.
by Miah Owens,
Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
Hollow but Animated
This woe plaguing me now shall not cease –
the fruition of my mere existence
is a bitterful thing;
the lump, sequestered within, persists on pulsating
to the rhythm of inner slippage.
My veins consist of nothing more –
howbeit, there is contentment.
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
eyes like multiverses
the ugly album
we’re sitting on the edge of an
overturned rain barrel.
he is looking at the sky
and i am looking at him.
“it’s beautiful,” he says,
face turned upwards.
The sun is a white hard burst of:
you, it seems, as it is always you, like a symphony
you sing your chorus, weeping willows
and twisted envy.
The bare numb chasm of my hand touches yours,
sensory receptors burn like a club in my stomach.
I wake up with something mean inside of me,
a curling fugitive resting in the slope of my belly.
This falseness of your skeleton, embedded,
picture-by-picture, the moments play out,
and the crisp white sun blinds the page,
my eyes are dug out, and there is a splash
across my face.
Where I am? Where I am?
I am in you, in your mouth, in your soul,
into the tendrils of your youth.
I am in you, in your clothes, in your words,
into the pretty smiles you have sown.
Bloody hell, I am in you, like a torch, I am
burning your insides, quietly,
and you do not know, cannot heed –
the sky reﬂected in his eyes is black
and vast and starry,
a singularity in his pupils,
a multiverse in his retinas.
the moonlight plays across his skin, and
his lips are slightly parted, as if he’s
hoping to taste the stardust,
hoping for it to explode like pop rocks
across his tongue.
“look,” he says. “andromeda.”
his ﬁnger traces
the space between the stars,
painting an abstract connection.
he looks over at me,
before he reaches out and takes my arm.
i yelp, panicking, but he’s ignoring me.
he’s taking a sharpie and connecting the sunspots
that dot my skin like
cookie crumbs in milk.
thin black lines crisscross my arm.
“all things come from stardust,
and to stardust all things return.”
he is stardust now.
he is (was)
a comet, (or a meteor, i never quite
understood the difference.)
he is (was)
exploding into colors that seared
the inside of my eyelids.
he is (was)
a black hole
making obsolete my gravity
so i fell
sitting in science class, i bite my tongue.
i clench my hands into white knuckled ﬁsts.
the teacher points at the whiteboard; she
traces the shapes of the stars and says their names.
traces his stars.
she has no right.
she has no right to trace his stars, to speak
in the same way he did (except different,
so so different).
they send me home early, something about
a nervous breakdown.
i’m sitting on the edge of an
overturned rain barrel,
Teen Ink •
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
Art by Alice Yuan, Murrieta, CA
and i’m looking at the sky,
and i’m realizing that it does not belong to me.
andromeda does not belong to me, and
pisces does not belong to me, and
ursa minor does not belong to me.
because i never really looked at the sky, did i?
the only sky i saw
was reﬂected in his eyes.
the only moon i saw
was shining inside his skin.
now that he is stardust
i see the heavens for what they really are.
scattered clumps of dust.
the constellations don’t exist.
they are nothing but a construct,
a heavy-handed fairy tale
created by presumptuous humans with their
sharp pencils, playing connect-the-dots.
i didn’t wash my arm after the last time
he traced the constellations between my sunspots,
but it faded over time nonetheless.
just like all things fade
until there’s nothing left but memories of lips
that taste like stardust,
eyes that shine like multiverses.
by Icarus di Angelo,
I have always wondered
why true art is not valued
as it should be.
And why our city is full
of the vapid designs of
locked inside breathless white
museums, marveled at
by the rich and blind.
Our art is not something
to be bound by tiny glass boxes
and the walls of a stiﬂing showroom.
It is bigger.
It is the sweat on our backs
And the composition
of the pain we have felt.
It is the unheard story of our city,
that can only to be told with truth
on a concrete canvas
by the spraying of a can.
by Rebecca Cook, Gilford, NH
I set out to destroy.
The arch of your mouth and the glitter
in your eyes,
under a dark canopy, cheeks full of air,
and the torch has burned to ash (a swath
You are no longer winning.
I touch your hand and smile, like a traitor.
You never were winning. Not when it came to me.
by Dhara Bhatt, Hamilton, ON, Canada
feuds in the night – my
cacophonous cradlesongs –
keep my eyes wide shut
by Lexy Courneya, Columbia Heights, MN
Some letters have a pulse.
I can tell these special ones apart by the way the
paper breathes and the way the C painted
on the envelope curls around like a gentle wave.
I know that handwriting with my eyes closed.
Your words are like a window into the apartment
across the street. For a second the curtain is
pulled back and I see a little bit of your soul.
I see the worn couch where you sit to count
the tiles on the kitchen ﬂoor and pick at the
stitches in the leather.
You count the seconds on the clock but your lips
are moving too fast.
The cup of tea you made to calm your nerves
sits cold on the kitchen counter.
You are dissolving.
And when you glance at me I catch reﬂections
in your eyes.
I am ﬂoating in the waves of your writing.
For a moment I can feel your heartbeat before
the current pulls you away.
If I could send you healing in the mail I’d write
to you every day. But for now all I can
do is say I’m sorry for your loss.
And once I wrote back
to tell you that I miss you –
I sent it to my own address.
by Cammie Keel, Boulder, CO
give give give
My thoughts are an ocean
That I simply cannot fathom
Sand between my ﬁngers
Sun in my eyes
There’s a mosquito bite on my leg
And a scarf about my neck
There are days when I want to give
myself in any way that I possibly can
when I’m too tired of being
a whole person
(problems are more easily solved in parts)
mouth, nails, pads of my ﬁngers
peeled or ripped off, I want them
gone, pushed into a safer
body than my own (yours),
cupped in hands that don’t
quake, that let go of Body and Mind on
purpose sometimes when they shriek
and writhe too violently to hold on to
give give give give (please take)
any piece of me that you envy, pick apart
spiderweb red veins, bird bones, brain
matter, my kindness, my love for your
heart, sugar coated, honey, use your hands like
rusted shovels and dig into me, through me,
me, crack open my ribs and pull until
there is a hole wide enough to ﬁt
yourself inside, and if not, let me give
you my legs, and my hips, and my throat
(tear them into beautiful ribbons)
I want to give you enough space to live
comfortably inside of me, nestle yourself against
my bones, let me give you my chipped
frame, my marrow, paint a Lover more vivid
in between the spaces I’ve given to you
sustain yourself on the pieces I’ve left
out for the taking, devour what I’ve shunned –
I can be your favorite jigsaw, baby, let me
Then gone with the tide
No matter how hard I try
All these pent up emotions
I end up building sandcastles
Never a Michelangelo masterpiece
That withstands the test of time
A notebook gathering dust
A swirl of emotions gone in an instant
And not a single idea to show for it.
by S. T. Fuller,
she’s been stung with the not drop-dead-gorgeous,
more like hopelessly
She hates the sticky icky yellow adipose
and blackheads she’s been given.
She starts to listen, then follow, then worship
the diet tips the others buzz about.
They say it’s as sweet as honey to be thin.
She soon learns skinny is better than slim
and that’s better than thin.
Because the skinniest ones are the queen bees,
the not-so-little lazy drones.
There’s a reason there’s only (size) one queen
in the hive.
And she wants to be it –
She becomes like the bad,
who swarm home to their computers
to share their stats and review diets.
The inches around her waist start to come
off like the pollen bees take from ﬂowers
(making them prettier too).
Until all the good ﬂowers in the garden
have been plucked,
now there’s nothing but bones left.
by Talitha Degraff, Far Rockaway, NY
I was born from the spitﬁres.
Speaking 10 words a second
since age four,
I could curse with the best of ’em
and still maintain my rep
as the Catholic sweetheart.
I come from the women
who kept their last names.
The ones who wouldn’t marry.
The “Who the hell you think you talking to?
You gon’ learn today.”
Wachale, they don’t ﬁght fair.
They’ll catch you at the car wash,
come up from behind,
pull hair and
leave you reconsidering your relationship
Do you know who I am?
I’m the Aztec thirst for blood.
The rattlesnake wielding eagle.
The second coming of Quetzalcóatl.
I’ve got the pride of a god.
with a silver tongue
and the false love of those
Moctezuma thought were seres divinos,
know just how to make
a Malinche out of me.
To calm my onerous nature
and turn my howl into a whisper.
Falling silver drops
Descending from dark heavens
Caught in arms of earth
by Naomi Meeks, Rockfalls, IL
by Kyle Fitzpatrick, Martinez, CA
There’s a reason most bees don’t even live
a year long.
The remains are only some beeswax turned
that only makes the relatives wonder why their
little niece did this to herself.
These bees stand for the skinny b****es who look
hatefully pretty in their proﬁle pictures.
These bees stand for developing bulimia
and binding calorie limits because you want
the yuck inside you out as much as you want
the yuck on the outside off too.
These bees stand for being hopelessly full
of blah and bleak
because you eternally bad-mouth
your big, bulky body.
Watch out for bee stings.
You might be allergic.
by Maura Sheedy,
by Genna Coleman, Cherry Hill, NJ
let leaves fall
for when they do,
and the pain of letting go gives way
to the relief of dead sorrows lost,
you will be at peace.
Bare but at peace.
we will live,
and grow on together
rooted deep beneath it all –
by Charles Morris, Saginaw, MI
I know you much rather
prefer the company of books
and old souls.
On the outside,
I am all New Age
and shiny metal
and technology without a manual.
Do you ever think,
as I ﬁnd myself doing
when I ride the train
and walk through walls
and ﬁnd you in the musty tree house
of your mind,
that if we were intertwined,
we could dominate the world
library by library?
Photo by Mabel Roberts, Bandera, TX
by Sarah Bridgeport, Columbus, OH
O C TO B E R ’ 1 6
• Teen Ink
~ Poems by teens who have mastered the craft ~
“The avid teen bards have seized the
day—making their presence felt in
poems by turns buoyant, pensive,
funny, funky, prickly, snappy, stirring
and all intensely alive.”
~ David Barber, Poetry Editor, The Atlantic
“Leave This Song Behind is a robust,
exceptional collection of diverse
young people stretching, playing
with, and recrafting the genre [of
poetry] in a refreshing, compelling
way. The contents of the anthology—
arranged invitingly and using teenfriendly language—welcome multiple
readings … Most important, this
anthology energizes young people to
try their hand at writing poetry, too.”
~ Kimberly N. Parker, PhD, President,
New England Association of Teachers of English
Available at Amazon.com, BN.com
and bookstores everywhere.