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M AY 2 0 1 1 | V O L . 22, N O . 9
Mommy-Love 14 14 14
Maternal Expressions 15
Sacrifices 15
On the 15
A Different Kind of Love 16
Next 16
8957 Oakwood Way 16
Home Is Where the Badge Is 17
This Is Why, 17
The Eyes of My Soul 18
Being a 18
A Mother’s 18
A True Hero 19
Daddy’s 19
Dear Mother 19
Bittersweet 33
The 33
Paper 34
Kiril and 35
Plus lots of poems starting on page 37
Puppy Mills
“Puppies and kitties in pet stores are hard to
resist. But animals in shelters are just as cute,
and when you adopt a shelter animal, you’re
saving a life.”
page 13
Cover photo by Jennifer Branch, Cincinnati, OH
Art Gallery
Paintings, drawings & photos
College Directory
College Reviews
Community Service
Points of View
Pride & Prejudice
Reviews: Books
Unwind • Going Bovine •
The Lost World • My Point …
And I Do Have One • Room •
The Lost Symbol
Reviews: Movies
Wavves • Guns N’ Roses •
Sparklehorse • mewithoutYou
Reviews: TV
The Walking Dead • Chuck •
Community • Everybody Loves
Raymond • NCIS
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Howl’s Moving Castle • Easy A •
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Designer Knockoffs
“The U.S. economy is continually affected by the
estimated 98 million untaxed dollars spent on
counterfeit accessory items annually.” page 24
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Mail to: Teen Ink • Box 30 • Newton, MA 02461
Step Back From the Railing
Liz Doyle’s article “Step Back From the
Railing” is extremely moving, and I feel the
same way she does about the value of an
individual life. In the article, Liz witnesses a
man almost take his own life, but her quick
thinking saves him. She later says, “That day,
I came face-to-face with evidence of the
preciousness of human life, as well as the
importance of looking after your neighbor,
whether white or black, man or woman,
rational or delusional.” I agree; everyone is
similar regardless of their differences, and
we should all look after one another.
Thank you, Liz, for showing me the
importance of caring.
Arizona Vu, Phoenix, AZ
“Tell me what color my eyes are.”
This simple and poignant line in Gina
Lione-Napoli’s poem, “Hazel,” tells the
powerful story of a resilient girl who is abandoned by her father. Throughout this poem,
the speaker says how her father was never
there for her and that she doesn’t want him in
her life (“You weren’t her first words! You
won’t be her last”).
Every word tugs at your heart and floods
your veins with a multitude of feelings: pain,
sympathy, shame, anger, and surprisingly,
self-empowerment. This poem teaches the
reader never to let anyone drag you down
and to use every blow you’ve endured to
become a stronger, more courageous person.
Without a doubt, “Hazel” is one of the best
pieces I’ve read in Teen Ink, and it’s certainly
a poem everyone needs to read.
Amy Zhen, Brooklyn, NY
Review: “The King’s Speech”
In the April issue, Amelia Brownstein’s
review of “The King’s Speech” was an
example of the common misconception that
filmmaking involves only directors and actors. Amelia, like most people, forgot to
acknowledge the screenwriter, film editor,
Box 30 • Newton, MA 02461
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Senior Editor
Associate Editor
Stephanie Meyer
John Meyer
Stephanie Meyer
Emily Sperber
Cindy Spertner
Susan Tuozzolo
Katie Olsen
Meagan Foley
John Meyer
Alex Cline
Barbara Field
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
Articles mentioned here can be found on
and cinematographer (among many others),
who, respectively, came up with the plot and
all the dialogue; assembled the shots into a
coherent piece with appropriate pacing and
thematic connections; and created the lighting, angles, and overall look and feel of the
film. No movie could be made without these
crucial players. The director is far from the
only person behind the camera.
Statements like “Director Tom Hooper
made good decisions about the timing of the
movie and what to emphasize” don’t recognize the input of others. Claiming that “The
lengthy scene with the king’s brother was
another fantastic director’s choice” is especially an affront to screenwriter David Seidler. It was he who wrote this scene and
came up with the idea of putting Bertie’s life
on screen; it was a labor of love stemming
from his own experiences of stuttering as a
child. He literally spent decades researching
and writing the script, even through his fight
with cancer.
Therefore, it is important to recognize and
appreciate the efforts and talents of all those
involved to bring a wonderful piece of entertainment and art to us all.
Karen Jin, West Chester, PA
Less Poetry
I am a high school junior who recently
started reading Teen Ink. I would not consider myself to be a great writer by any means. I
probably will never get any of my pieces
published, but I still enjoy writing in hopes
that one day I will. Being published in Teen
Ink is an honor that should be awarded to only the best writers and artists.
I have noticed that you choose to publish a
lot of poems. By publishing all of these I feel
that Teen Ink is, in a way, giving out the opportunity to be published too easily. In no
way am I trying to be disrespectful of the
poets. I just feel that many more teens are
writing better essays and stories, both of
which I believe take more skill and time to
create. Sometimes these poems seem quite
elementary and quickly written. I think readers would rather see more essays and stories.
Reaching millions
of teens in junior and
senior high schools
The Young Authors
Foundation, publisher of
Teen Ink, is a nonprofit
corporation qualified as
a 501(c)3 exempt organization by the IRS. The
Foundation, which is
organized and operated
exclusively for charitable
and educational purposes,
provides opportunities for
the education and enrichment of young people.
Monthly, September
to June.
Send $6.95 per copy for
mailing and handling.
Teen Ink is not responsible for the content of
any advertisement. We
have not investigated
advertisers and do not
necessarily endorse their
products or services.
Teen Ink is a monthly
journal dedicated to
publishing a variety of
works written by
teenagers. Copyright В©
2011 by The Young
Authors Foundation, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Publication of material
appearing in Teen Ink is
prohibited unless written
permission is obtained.
Teen Ink uses Quark
Xpress to design the
Please consider cutting down on the
number of poems to preserve Teen Ink’s
prestigious reputation for publishing skillful
Cameron Trostle, Phoenix, AZ
Cherry Cough Drops
I enjoyed “Cherry Cough Drops” by
Colette Bersie because it is descriptive and
intriguing. While the story is a bit morose,
the author has a clearly developed style. Her
long sentences and frequent use of similes
and metaphors enhance the piece.
Another aspect I enjoyed is how the story
slowly unravels, which keeps the reader
interested in figuring out the details. For
example, the reader is unsure what she is
describing in the beginning as a “pizza romance.” Later, she reveals what she meant.
Lastly, I think it’s clever that Colette
addresses the boy as “he,” never naming him.
This keeps the mysterious, serious atmosphere of the story.
Camille Pipino, Bexley, OH
“I want to be crazy.”
This is the first line of the short piece
called “Crazy” by Madeline White. In it, she
talks about all of the tasks she would like to
do. She wants to go around all night giving
out socks to the homeless. She wants to stick
Post-it notes on public mirrors telling people
they are beautiful. She wants to show the
goths and emos the sunlight in their lives.
She wants to buy a random, sad-looking
person some ice cream. She wants to give a
struggling single mom a makeover. She
wants to show love to a cranky old man. “I
want to make a fool of myself, just for the
smiles of others. I want to be crazy like that.
Completely. Utterly. Insane,” she writes.
The moment I read the first line, I wanted
to read more. The way Madeline says, “I
want to be crazy” in the same way someone
would say “I want to be happy” or “I want to
be an architect” is unique and captivating. I
was truly moved by everything Madeline
wants to do for others; she is selfless and
As I read the rest, I found myself smiling
and agreeing; I wanted to do those things
too. What she wants to do are small things
we can all do. We can smile at strangers and
compliment someone nobody notices. We
can pay for the guy behind us at McDonald’s
and salute the soldier as he walks past.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that brighten
the day.
When I finished reading, I wondered why
we have to be considered crazy to do these
little things that we all should do. Why does
being friendly and considerate of neighbors
mean being crazy? I think that just one
thoughtful act from each of us every day
could make a difference in the quality of our
lives. So, starting today, I will do one caring
act each day.
Carmen Yeung, Brooklyn, NY
Author’s Comments
On the Teen Ink website, when submitting
an article or art, you can make a comment on
your work. Whether it’s about what inspired
the story/art piece or how the author/artist
feels about it, these comments personalize
the submission.
While some authors’ comments are
“Please rate and comment!” (I know you
have said this, don’t lie … I have too), most
are about inspiration or dedications. These
are interesting and important for the reader,
since often poems have personal stories
behind them or an abstract art piece may be
a symbol for “Going Green and Saving the
Planet.” These comments help readers understand what the creators were thinking when
they crafted their pieces.
Unfortunately, authors’ comments are only
available on the website; no space is provided for them in the magazine. While some
may need to be weeded out, many authors’
comments are enjoyable and help us understand the piece better. I think Teen Ink should
consider adding this to the magazine.
Rachel Herriman, Ellenton, FL
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M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
Attack of The Blob
by Kevin Anderson, Vancouver, WA
the dark cool of the night, spreading to
am a guy. Now many guys, regardall corners of the camp’s boundaries,
less of age, have the desire to apseeking the best way to spend their free
pear tough, but the majority of the
time. For some it was soccer, for others
time they come off like morons. You
the zip line, for many the pool. I was
probably have already observed this
bent on testing out a new attraction: a
scenario: Guy wants to appear mascufeature appropriately named The Blob.
line, so he bolts head-on into a brick
The Blob was situated on the edge of
wall. Whatever common sense he had
the lake. As I drew closer, I
is driven from his head on
saw two towers emerging
impact, along with some
from the water. Below
of his teeth. He then picks Please draw a
floated a partially
himself up and staggers
line between each
deflated nylon tube. As I
around like a drunken
watched, one person sat on
idiot, holding his bulbous
end of The Blob, while
head, slurring, “See, no
and stupidity the
another jumped from the
pain,” then collapses flat
tower onto the other end,
on his face, which is allaunching the first person into the air,
ready swelling to the size of a waterlanding in the lake. This caused me to
melon. Therefore, I beseech you,
question my choice of activities.
males of our generation, please draw a
I was about to abandon this idea and
line between masculinity and stupidity
hike up to the zip line when I spotted a
to save yourself from bodily injury
pack of girls heading toward The
and agonizing humiliation.
Blob. Attractive girls. This caused me
There are many examples I could
to suddenly reconsider. Why not take
give of my own stupidity and “toughthis opportunity to show off and win
ness,” but I thought it best to share this
their favor? I found myself climbing
one. My story takes place a year ago at
the stairs to the highest tower, joining
my annual youth camp in Wild Horse
a line of five others awaiting their turn.
Canyon, Oregon. What an exquisite
Below, on the shorter tower, were the
place. It wasn’t just the countryside
girls. Perfect.
that caught my attention but the
As I waited, I thought about how
camp’s facilities: two zip lines, an
I’d look when I conquered The
enormous gymnasium, three soccer
Blob. Then my turn rolled around and
fields, a swimming pool, and a manI stood at the edge of the platform. I
made lake. But it was that last attracfound myself locked in a trance as I
tion that would lead to my downfall.
gawked at the cold, black lake below –
After the evening service, the
and The Blob. Suddenly I found
campers poured from the chapel into
The Guitar Player
myself thinking, Gosh, this is high.
my mind. First was my stupidity – that
I’m not sure whether it was fear or
I would risk my well being by leaping
the last shred of common sense left in
off a 15-foot tower onto a nylon tube
my hollow cave of a head, but either
that had mechanical problems, wearway, I backed away from the edge and
ing a life jacket that was unbuckled.
began unbuckling my life jacket. Then
Then came the headlines: “14-YearI heard the voice of deception.
Old Boy Drowns Showing Off for a
“Kevin, are you going down The
Girl.” A girl! When there were 10
Blob?” one of the girls asked. I shook
million of them in the state of Oregon,
my head no.
I had to die for this one? One who
“Please?” she pleaded. I started
didn’t even share my affection but
walking away, ignoring her. “Do it
only wanted a laugh. She wouldn’t be
for me.”
laughing after the dive team recovered
Hearing those words, I threw caumy corpse from the lake. But it aption – and common sense – to the
peared no dive team would be needed,
wind and threw myself over the edge,
only a life guard with quick reflexes.
plummeting feet-first toward The
After recovering my live and humiliBlob. Which is exactly what you’re
ated carcass from The Blob, the lifenot supposed to do.
guard helped me to shore. My ankle
When I hit The Blob, my left side
was throbbing in waves of agonizing
plunged into the dark
pain. I turned to the same
lake, while my right
voice of deception, now
foot became tangled in I threw caution – transferring to mockery,
some loose fabric on
that yelled out:
and common
The Blob. The momen“Hey, Kevin! Next time
sense – to
tum of my body falling
you try The Blob, bring a
sideways violently
the wind
wrenched my foot, disI couldn’t blame her for
locating my ankle with
my misfortune. It was my
a sharp pop. My body sank into the
choice to break my ankle and humilidark depths of Wild Horse Canyon
ate myself on the Blob.
Lake while my foot remained topside,
Therefore, I implore all my male
tangled in The Blob. My life jacket
friends to learn from my experience
was halfway off, so it held me upside
and look before you leap. You risk injuring your body and your dignity.
down underwater.
Next time you get the urge to show
In the few moments between me
off, listen to your common sense, not
going down and the lifeguard respondthe agonizing voice of stupidity. вњ¦
ing, a thousand thoughts flew through
by Kathryn Robinson, Jacksonville, FL
falls, happy and sad and lonely and together all rolled
ountless pairs of eyes gaze up at him as he is
into these eternal seconds – the power of music. In it I
introduced by the judge. He smiles from under
hear the passing of days, the lingering of an age; Hephis shock of brown hair and sits, acknowledghaestus forging the world, pausing, hearing the song,
ing the polite applause. One leg rests on the stage, beand reshaping our Earth to better receive it. I hear a
ginning to tap out a beat. The other is raised on the
year spent with notes passed, troubles shared, and
rungs of the black stool to support a battered guitar.
happiness together. And remembering the look on the
His arms curl around the instrument and strum tentaaudience’s faces, I know they hear it too.
tively, tuning it. He adjusts the microphone and softly
He strums a final, flawless chord, and I open my
speaks into it, as if unsure of the sound.
eyes. The silence is deafening. He rises with a quick
“I wrote this myself … I hope you like it.”
thank you and a small wave, and hurries offstage.
And then he begins to play that beat-up guitar. All
Backstage, he packs away the guitar,
whispers fall silent, and even the teachers
disappointed in the common instrustop to listen. From where I kneel just beHe purses his lips ment it has transformed back into.
hind the curtain, it seems as though the
I kneel in front of him, my jeans
whole world has stopped, everyone in
in concentration complaining
at the pose. I look him in
unison straining to catch the faintest note
plucked from those strings.
as his fingers fly the eye, and as his gaze meets mine, I
completely forget anything I had
I close my eyes to better hear, and in
thought of saying.
the darkness, I see each note appear as it
“How’d you get back here?”
is played. As the song continues, though, it gets harder
“Stage door was open. That was amazing! I am so
and harder to imagine the notes and easier to see him
proud of you.”
coaxing a voice from the marred wood. The guitar
He stares at me, a question in his eyes that I can’t –
sings with a pure, clear voice, a tune that sounds like a
or don’t want to – answer.
swing, the sky, lemonade in summer. The instrument’s
I hug him tightly and try to convey all my love, all
song carries waves of melody, a rhythm of light blue
my heart, in that one simple touch. His arms wrap
waves crashing on a shore of pure white sand, the
around me and he hugs back, and I can feel how
silent moon reigning as queen.
nervous he was, how relieved he is that it’s over.
He purses his lips in concentration as his fingers fly,
My eyes tear as I commit this perfect moment to
brown hair falling into his eyes. The music rises and
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
memory forever.
I rush off before he has a chance to respond – before he sees my tears. I swipe angrily at them with the
heel of my hand and walk faster. As I depart, the belated cheers of his brand-new adoring fans draws his
attention. I smile, so glad for small blessings.
I am so, so proud of you. вњ¦
Photo by Grace Booher, Chapel Hill, NC
he shower head dumped steaming water onto
my back as I leaned over, studying my feet. My
hair, pushed by the scalding water, tumbled
over my shoulders to shroud my face. I’d never considered suicide like this before.
I cupped my hands between my eyes, covering my
mouth and nose tightly. Tears began to mix with the
water, and both seeped into my hands. A small pool
formed in my palms and I inhaled the water gently,
just enough to choke me. I coughed until my lungs
were clear, disappointed in my cowardice. Millions of
people were starving, freezing, and dwelling in their
own waste, and here I was, unable to face the next day
but incapable of doing anything about it.
There’s something weird about water, I guess. It’s
been a family favorite. Ever since my dad tried to kill
himself in the bathtub 10 years ago, I’ve always considered water a death sentence. Just a chip off the old
block. I turned the knob up, scalding my skin.
I’m not the type of girl who typically considers suicide. I could be a cheerleader or on the drill team if I
wasn’t so busy balancing AP and college classes as a
high school junior. I could be at parties with boys
every weekend if I didn’t work at my mother’s dress
shop. But yet, here I was, the happy girl, choosing to
end it all.
Fact: Everyone will die.
Fiction: Everyone can choose how they die.
Some people are youthful, cheerful, and beautiful.
Some people’s deaths are accidental, coincidental,
and completely happenstance, like my cousin, the
only girl I know who will remain forever young. She
was my age, and she would be still, if she hadn’t been
hit by a car when we were two. I imagine that she’d
be gorgeous now, just like she was then.
Fact: I was going to choose to die.
I suppose I had every reason to live. It was January
by “Lucy,” Layton, UT
recalled the rumored mountain. I’d gracefully dealt
and the girls’-choice dance was coming up. I could
with my shame by hiding myself away.
ask the football player in my chemistry class I’d had
Isolation is a terrible monster, with claws that grip
an eye on. I could be elected royalty.
your heart and teeth that crush your mind. It wasn’t
Who was I kidding? I had my sweethearts dress
so much the embarrassment of the gossip that led to
and no date. There wasn’t anyone to ask. What was
my suicidal thoughts, but the loneliness that resulted
the point going, anyhow? My dress didn’t fit anyfrom the rumors. I stopped going to church when
more. As I said, I work at a dress shop, and I had
they preached that those who committed suicide
wanted this dress since the day we got it in. It was an
weren’t allowed into heaven. I can’t believe that the
extra small, but it was too big for me now. I guess I
God I know would turn so tortured a soul away from
just didn’t have time to eat, and when I did, I simply
His arms.
chose not to.
God had His reasons, and the Devil had his moI wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but I knew the
tives, and either way I’d take what was given to me.
truth: I was a suicidal, anorexic teenage girl. I slept
Then an atheist vegan or, in other words,
little, ate less, and stressed a lot. Those
the hero who defeated isolation, waltzed
were the facts. You can’t change facts,
my life. Either an ironic act of Proviright?
I became my into
dence or a scheme by Satan, this girl
Fact: Facts can be changed.
high school’s showed me fellowship in my darkest
Fiction: I’m still a suicidal, anorexic
hour. Somehow we belonged together,
teenage girl.
very own
though we were exact opposites.
It didn’t take long for me to realize
She noticed my pain. She’d felt that
that I was part-crazy, but it took others
Hester Prynne
pain herself. After I was abandoned by
around me longer than I could bear. I
the girls I’d once considered friends, she
was a recluse, not suddenly, but gradushowed me what a best friend really was. We found
ally. When I didn’t go out to lunch with friends or
some help for me after I told my parents how I felt,
bother to make weekend plans, no one worried. I
and the counseling had an impact on my life. I no
wasn’t invited anyway. Presumptions were, in all
longer feel like a broken Barbie doll, with perfect
reality, my stairway to hell.
hair, no waist, and a fake smile.
It all started with one night, one mistake. One slipFact: I still can’t fit into my dress.
up turned into a rumored many. One boy turned into
Fiction: There’s no one to ask to sweethearts.
20, and a small mishap turned into a sin. I became my
I’m going to ask a boy I know at another school,
high school’s very own Hester Prynne. It seemed as if
one who’s never been a jerk. I’m climbing out of my
people devoured my life behind the covers of Hawgrave. It seemed like the earth was pressing so inthorne’s book, pretending to read as they received the
tensely on my chest that I was about to be crushed
slew of texts telling my story. If they’d read the book
under its weight, but a shovel and a friend to dig with
they might have seen that my story wasn’t very differmade all the difference.
ent. But after I’d stood on the scaffolds and the
Fact: There is hope.
wounds were no longer fresh, people forgot. No one
Fact: I will not choose how I die. вњ¦
remembered the molehill, and they only vaguely
Science Works
Thank You
by Justin Hart, Rochester, MI
he fluorescent lights flicker on as I sanitize the fume hood.
Gloves on, I swing the incubator open. I stack the dishes
and flasks next to the microscope. Laser on, focus adjusted,
the sheets of cells reveal themselves. I slip the next flask under and
focus, refocus. Nothing, there’s nothing to be found.
I shake the flask. Cell debris swishes around. My cells are dead.
Yes, my cells. Though they were never physically a part of me, a
bond still existed; their successful propagation had resulted from my care and work,
The sheets of my science in the lab.
Unlike the experiments I read about or
cells reveal conduct in high school, there’s no cheat
themselves sheet, no teacher or website to tell me
what’s supposed to happen to the cells in
their different treatments, only postulates
and results. And right now, my results are up in the air; my cells
are dead. But why?
Science continues. Investigation reveals the culprit: a tiny ball of
fungus has poisoned my cells and ruined my data. The overwhelming desire to break protocol, open the flask, and drown the murderous clump in methanol takes hold of me. I take one last look at the
fungus and stop, vendetta scrapped, surprised. The toxic clump is
extravagant, intricate like a snowflake, and shockingly beautiful.
The motivation of all my work is revealed: to discover and protect
the beauty of all life. вњ¦
You’re Not Alone – I’m Crazy Too
by Anna Claire Little, Baltimore, MD
ou are the one place in this world that has
experienced all of my biggest feelings. I
can’t see your tall, white stone walls that
once seemed to stretch to the sky and the stained
glass windows that reflected every color of the
rainbow without seeing them in my heart too. In
your refuge, I’ve felt it all – and I mean all.
In you I began, 14 years ago, dunked under
cold water and surrounded by people who loved
me. You are where my first memory took place, so
long ago that it’s really more of a memory of a
memory: my cousin’s wedding where I saw my
first fairy-tale love story. When I walk in through
your tall brass doors, I remember the first time I
snuck my allowance into the donation box, feeling like Santa Claus, so proud of myself.
I remember harder times too. I remember your
walls draped in black cloth and you filled with
tears, with people who hung their heads and were
as pale as the walls. I remember you teaching me
what family was, as I sobbed in my cousins’ arms
at that funeral. In you, I found out what it meant
to believe in something that can’t be seen. In you,
I have felt more powerful, happier, and stronger
than anywhere else. In you, I felt what it was to
be brought back when I thought I was lost, to be
held up by belief and to know I was loved.
You have made each of my Christmases
magical and shown me love beyond compare. I
have seen you filled with flowers and laughing
faces, and I have heard you echo with the sound
of weeping. You taught me to believe. You taught
me to love. You were my beginning, and one day
you are where I will end.
I just wanted to say thanks. вњ¦
Photo by Ashlee Price, Sandpoint, ID
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
Keeping Pikachu
by Cara Lane, Suffern, NY
was a trade he accepted. And so I
hen I was in first grade,
successfully obtained a Pikachu. I
PokГ©mon was the in thing. I
went home and put it in my red binder
went to a small Catholic
with the plastic pages with slots to
school where your mother knew everyhold cards. I put Pikachu right in the
one else’s, and where they all conmiddle and I decided that my collecverged to create little activities for the
tion was now complete.
class. One such happening was FridayThe next bowling night, Vincent’s
night bowling. The only problem was
spoke to my mom. She said that
that the balls were as heavy as us, makVincent
really wanted that card and
ing it a difficult pastime for a bunch of
hadn’t meant to trade it. She asked if
six- and seven-year-olds. But we did
he could have it back. I
use the time between
overheard the conversation
throwing gutter balls to
in horror. Give back
trade PokГ©mon cards.
How could my
I was the only girl who
revealed that Pikachu?
crowning PokГ©mon acquicared about the cards. The
sition slip through my finhe had a
only reason I collected
My mom played it
them, admittedly, was bePikachu card gers?
cool. She pretended to
cause I wanted a Pikachu
have no idea what Vincard. That was my goal.
cent’s mom was talking about; I think
Once obtained, I would no longer feel
she was grateful that my nagging for
the need to beg my mother to buy me
more cards had ceased since Pikachu’s
another pack to see if this time,
arrival. So I kept Pikachu. I don’t
Pikachu would appear in the pile.
think Vincent held it against me.
One Friday, I sat in a circle with
By twelfth grade. I had lost touch
Danny, Tyler, and Vincent. They, too,
with Vincent, along with the rest of the
were PokГ©mon connoisseurs and my
Pokémon traders. We had gone to difusual trading buddies. On this particuferent high schools – they to public, I
lar Friday, though, Vincent revealed
to yet another Catholic school. It was
that he had a Pikachu card. I offered
March; college applications were in, so
him three cards in exchange, I can’t
the year was basically over. I had been
even remember which ones now. It
The Way You Don’t Exist
by Isabel Henderson, Bedminster, NJ
Last night, as I pulled on my coat, you
saw you just 12 hours ago. The light
me to put everything I had into the test.
outside was fading as I held your hand,
To forget that my dying grandfather even
feeling the veins pulse timidly, as
existed in this New York hospital room.
though they were afraid to declare your
To strike the view of Fifth Avenue, the way
survival as permanent.
the dusk settled on the feet of the stoic resiIt was almost eight. We had a polite
dential buildings that line the hospital like
conversation, pretending that we could not
hear the frantic countdown of your last
Now, I sit in my chair in the back of an
hours. You asked what I was doing over the
classroom. The proctor is readweekend, as though it were one of our
ing the directions while the test-takers tap
monthly phone calls. The comfortable
number two pencils, nervously
distance that separated us
click calculators, and throw
through the telephone had been
“Time will
their eyes to the clock.
broken, yet I maintained the
to take this test forgetsame polite tone.
run out before tingI am
that you exist. My mind
“I’m taking the SATs tomoryou know it” will be filled solely with testrow,” I said.
taking tips and verb tenses and
“You should go home,” you
the proper way to simplify a
said. “Rest up. You’re a smart
fraction. I will focus on the elimination of
girl, but you still need to sleep.”
A, B, C, or D. I will fight my way up the
I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to say
percentiles, not thinking of the tears I
that a test wasn’t as important as sitting
fought back driving home last night.
with my grandfather who was dying. That I
After reading the directions, the proctor
could hear the clock ticking faster with
a smile of encouragement. “Watch
every breath you took on borrowed time.
she offers. “Time will run out
I wanted to decipher you more than I
before you know it.”
wanted to find the correct answer on the
She doesn’t have to remind me. I have
test. I wanted to find the mystery behind
you. The ticking of the clock grows panthose calloused hands and grizzled brow. I
icked as you lie in a hospital bed, watching
wanted to find the man behind a life in the
the sun rise over Manhattan for the last
military, on the front page of the newspatime. вњ¦
per, and on the forefront of technology in
the 20th century.
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
accepted by several schools, but
New York University was both
the one that mattered the most
and the one I would attend.
That day I was taking an economics test I could not have cared
less about, confident I would pass
and that my GPA would remain
great, because all the lights had
done nothing but turn green for
me. In the middle of the test, my
name and a few others were
Art by Fiona Fodera, Reno, NV
called over the loudspeaker to report to
the guidance office. I waited to finish
made onto Route 202 from his block –
the test before I went. I figured it was
but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to
nothing important.
visualize the moment when his heart
When I finally arrived, I found a
stopped, when his mind’s eye looked
barrage of people from my elementary
up to the heavens, blinked, and poofed
school who, despite having gone on to
away like a cloud. But that was all I
the same high school, were practically
could think about.
strangers to me. Three of the girls
I marveled at how, before that mowere crying hysterically, the two othment on that rainy March day, all I had
ers were drying the tears rolling down
concerned myself with was finishing a
their cheeks. The guys stood stoically
stupid economics test and what I was
against the wall, staring at a spot on
going to eat for lunch. I hadn’t thought
the floor I couldn’t see.
about Vincent once. And why would I?
“Cara,” my guidance counselor
He wasn’t part of my life, nor was I
asked serenely, “do you know what’s
part of his. But after that moment, I
going on?”
could not stop thinking about him, or
“No,” I replied.
at least the idea of him, the idea of un“Well, today Vincent got in a car actimely death. Everything, every aspect
cident on his way to baseball practice
of who he was, who he could have
on Route 202. The rain must have
been, who he would have become –
made the roads slippery, and he skidwas gone. His whole future was taken,
ded into the other lane, and a truck
all his plans destroyed in seconds, but
slammed into him.”
mine were intact.
I didn’t say anything. I sat and tried
Over the next few days I felt guilty
to process this. I did not cry because
for my initial reaction. Was I callous,
the reality was that I had
staring at these sobbing
not seen or heard from
girls and believing they
Vincent in four years.
were just drawing attention
Yes, of course, it was
to themselves? I don’t
tragic, but this was a guy
know. Even though VinI was not really close to
and I had never been
would be the cent
to begin with, and had
close, I couldn’t help but
forgotten about.
think that maybe our
last for him
The same was true of
elementary school aceveryone else. I knew
quaintance counted for
that not one of them was close to Vinsomething. I just wasn’t sure what,
cent anymore, if they ever were. But
here they were, weeping like it was
Several months later, on a rainy
their mother.
summer day, I decided to clean out my
For me, it was hard to picture
closet. I divided mounds of clothing I
someone so young – my age, even –
hadn’t worn in years into “keep” and
dying. It was not even about Vincent;
“donate” piles, I threw out shoes I’d
it was about a young man dying. It
worn holes in, reorganized shelves of
could have been any young man. And
sweaters. Then I got to the two plastic
eventually Vincent would be any
bins that held what remained of my
young man. The rest of us would go
childhood stuff. I opened them up for
on with our lives, probably get marthe first time in years.
ried, have careers, raise children, but
There I found American Girl dolls,
he wouldn’t. His image as an 18-yearmy favorite childhood books, lost Barold would be the last for him. We
bie doll shoes, old diaries. And there,
would go on to be novels; he would
at the bottom, was the PokГ©mon
forever be a short story. It seemed
binder. I opened it to find Pikachu
heinously unfair.
staring at me from the center slot of
I could picture Vincent driving
the plastic page.
down that road. He lived only a few
The funeral and wake had come
minutes from me. I occasionally saw
and gone, but I thought it might be
him driving around town. And so I
nice to return Pikachu by placing it on
could picture him in his car, his high
Vincent’s grave. I got in my car, but
school baseball team magnet on the
found myself staring at the dashboard.
bumper of the car, skidding – no doubt
Nevermind, I thought. I’m keeping
off the narrow turn he would have
the card. вњ¦
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pride & prejudice
Mulan: Just Another Princess
the rest of his Hun buddies have faces that are rather
ulan,” the animated Disney movie
more … ethnic. They have eyes you can barely see,
based on the ancient Chinese legend
gray skin, and a sickly appearance. They are either
of Hua Mulan, is just another racist,
hulkingly huge or way too skinny. The appearance of
sexist product of this giant corporation. As a child,
all these characters, in my opinion, perpetuates WestMulan was my all-time favorite movie – finally a
ern stereotypes of Asians. According to Disney, all
Disney title character who wasn’t blond-haired and
Asians look the same. In addition, if an Asian characblue-eyed! I could identify with Mulan because she
ter is evil, he will simply look even more Asian.
looked like me. Although I am Korean rather than
Aside from the mild racism in “Mulan,” there is
Chinese, I felt represented in this movie. As a fivealso a bit of sexism mixed in. “Mulan”
year-old, I loved that Mulan wasn’t waithas been hailed as a feminist Disney
ing in a tower for her prince to save her.
movie because it showcases a young
I reveled in the fact that her life goal
woman who leads China to victory using
wasn’t to go to some medieval version
Disney, all
her quick wit, pride, and a strong sense
of the prom and wear glass slippers.
Asians look
of family honor – all while masqueradRecently, I watched the movie again
ing as a man named Ping. Even though
with the knowledge I have today. Lo and
the same
Mulan (as Ping) gains the respect of the
behold, I was disappointed in both the
army commander and her comrades,
movie and myself for ever believing it
once they discover that she is a woman, her army
was feminist or politically correct. Sure, the graphics
commander and potential love-interest, Shang, loses
are great. The setting is made with Disney’s traderespect for her and even hates her.
mark precision and beauty. But even so, I was
“Ping” had been doing an even better job than
Shang, but when Shang finds out Ping is a woman,
Don’t get me wrong, “Mulan” is a giant step forhis stupid male ego breaks on impact. Mulan is senward in terms of feminism and racial equality … for
tenced to death, and Shang, the macho man of the
Disney, that is. For the rest of the world? Not so
film, ultimately gets to decide her fate. The only
reason she survives is because Shang decides he’d
First of all, every character has a similar appearrather just send her home. Wow. To add insult to
ance: slanted eyes, short limbs, and a flat nose. The
injury, at the end of the film, Shang fixes up his
only factors that differentiate them are gender and
shattered ego by claiming Mulan as a suitor.
hair style. Also, China’s arch-nemesis, Shan-Yu, and
t started as a joke.
“How do you say your name?”
asked the lady in the main office,
perplexed by the foreign spelling. To
save her the trouble of treating my
name like an abracadabra, and to subtly
dismiss her inquiry, I answered quickly,
“I go by Phy.”
“Like fee-fi-fo-fum?” she blurted,
followed with a hysterical laugh.
She wasn’t the only one who had
made the connection to the giant’s
rhyme. It almost sounded like a mockery, the hidden desire of a diminutive
5'1" girl. So I turned it into a shtick, a
Photo by Mikaela Pederson,
Bellingham, WA
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
by Phy Tran, Chicago, TN
reference to the fairy tale – that awkphrase I often used to introduce myself,
ward moment when I stood like a
making it a head fake of my sense of
statue, then pretended I understood,
humor while killing the fun of those
laughing politely but frigidly.
who would otherwise have made the
I gave the story a try today. The
reference themselves.
phrase, it seemed, transformed from an
In essence, I did resemble the giant.
intimidating message to an expression
We both fit the stranger prototype: forof frustration when the giant could not
eign and unusual, something others
figure out where Jack was. Anger,
would fear or ridicule. Fee-fi-fo-fum
connoted an unknown danger, captured
Maybe fee-fi-fo-fum was the giant’s
attention, and for its odd sounds, had a
defense mechanism. Maybe it spoke
mysterious, almost deceptive quality,
for Jack, whose presence, despite being
as if linking the giant to little Jack’s
petite, was somewhat
alarming. Maybe I resemI was curious enough to
skim through the summary
In essence, I bled Jack more by climbing
up the sky and intruding in
of “Jack and the
did resemble a foreign world. Could a
Beanstalk” when I read a
person gradually morph
short narrative by writer
the giant
from the hideous giant to
SaГЇd Sayrafiezadeh in
the courageous Jack?
which he recounted acting
But why didn’t the giant and Jack
out the fairy tale with his mom. I could
compromise? Why did fairy tales only
relate to many of Sayrafiezadeh’s
depict fights, not handshakes?
works, mainly because we shared an
To Wayne Shorter, the greatest living
analytical mind for small details and a
jazz composer, fee-fi-fo-fum was a tune
socialist childhood in a dysfunctional
he wrote that resonated with the mythifamily. To Sayrafiezadeh, fee-fi-fo-fum
cal creature.
stood for the moment he held high his
I could be either one, Jack or the
imaginary ax and rid his father from his
giant. Regardless of where I go, I say
home – the fight between the oppressor
my shtick. People think that despite my
and the oppressed.
foreign accent I have a good sense of
To me, fee-fi-fo-fum marked the emhumor. In reality, I’m subtly asserting
barrassing moment when the lady in
my presence. People will remember my
the main office pointed out how foreign
name. Fee-fi-fo-fum, here I come. вњ¦
I was, not only because of my strange
name but also for not understanding the
by Michelle Koh, Buffalo Grove, IL
Even as Mulan is being praised and cheered in the
Forbidden City after she almost single-handedly
saves China (this time, as a woman), at the end of the
film, the audience is reminded that Mulan is really
just another woman looking for a man. Mulan’s real
victory isn’t saving her country from invasion. No,
it’s marrying Shang.
The fact that this is a movie I grew up idolizing
makes me sad. All in all, “Mulan” perpetuates Western stereotypes of Asian culture and very quietly
shows that even a successful woman will need a man
at the end of the day. This movie is, admittedly, much
better in terms of gender equality and world cultures
than previous Disney movies, but that doesn’t change
its subtle messages. As a proud Asian girl, I’d like to
inform Disney that my family’s honor does not come
from marriage, but from our achievements. вњ¦
Theme for English 8
Teacher said,
Go home and write
A page tonight
And let that page come out of you
Then, it will be true.
Forget that.
I’m not going
To try again to explain who I am.
It just
Doesn’t work.
Let me try
To convey to you
Just why.
Maybe then
You will begin to understand.
Patrick was just the beginning.
You can’t forget a thing like
You don’t forget what
Patrick did to you.
You don’t forget being literally
Run over,
You were so invisible.
You don’t forget the far end of the bench
Or the place
By the tetherball
People always knew
Was yours.
You don’t forget the mockery
And the tears,
The cruel words that made you
Bow your head
As you walked
through the years.
But some day, you keep in the
Back of your mind,
That some day
The tears will grow,
(like you)
Into an ocean, and
The ocean
Will swallow up what
Did to you.
This is my theme for English 8.
by Zoe Ferguson, West Orange, NJ
art gallery
Art by Kimberly Krakosky, Macomb, MI
Art by Maddie Nayfa, Dallas, TX
Photo by Cara van Wyk, Hassloch, Germany
Photo by Dee Dorrance, Toronto, ON, Canada
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
Art by Krystal Sze, Santa Monica, CA
Photo by Ashli Wojciechowski, FL
Art by Emily Bravaco, Mansfield, MA
Draw … Paint … Photograph … Create! Then send it to us – see page 3 for details
er round yellow eyes flickered
brightly in the light of the waning sun. Flashing in and out of
sight like a spotted ghost, she crouched
low, sliding through the tall grass. The
setting sun spread a lace of golden rays
through the savannah landscape, alchemizing the grass, browned by the
dry winter of South Africa. Knobby
thorn trees erupted from the ground
like the gnarled hands of an old man
reaching for the sun, and an acacia’s
leaves were a passing cloud of emerald
entangled in its branches.
Having followed her for a few days
we had come to know her well. With
her yellowish fur that faded to white as
it wrapped toward her underbelly and
innumerable black spots, it was easy to
admire her beauty and forget she was
an agile and furtive leopardess, capable
of taking down the fastest antelope.
Now, though, her ferocity had subsided. Over and over her low plangent
growl spread across the openness of
the plains. The only answer was a quiet
echo from a distant cliff. She repeated
her mournful call, waiting for a response. It had been seven hours and
her cub was nowhere to be found.
At four months, he was the first cat
we had encountered on our safari in
Mala Mala, a game reserve in South
Africa. Only a few days earlier, we had
seen him lying lethargically on a large
boulder by a rocky outcropping. In our
by Daniel Listwa, East Brunswick, NJ
of the savannah streamed by. We
noisy Jeep we pulled up beside him,
passed termite holes that looked like
but his interest was piqued only to the
high-rise hotels, baby elephants that sat
extent that his ears rose sharply and he
playfully while their mothers’ trunks
turned his head toward us. Appraising
sifted through nearby trees for someus, he looked until, distracted by its
thing green, and lilac-breasted rollers
fleeting motion, he turned to watch a
painted in watercolor hues that spiraled
salamander scurry across a rock. With
slowly from the sky, cooing for a mate.
his scruffy, mottled fur and flat face,
From the bottom of the tree, we
one could not help but think of a kitten.
spotted him. Perched like a bird, he sat
For over a day he had been languishon a branch, his tail hanging down.
ing on that rock where his mother had
With the blistering sun of high noon
left him while she hunted. His brother,
beating down, he got up, anxiously
a fraternal twin and the young leoppaced, and sat down again.
ardess’s only other cub,
Leopard life is cutthroat;
had been with him at first,
male leopards will kill cubs
but now he was gone. This An aggressive
was worrisome; the leopmale leopard that are not their own. Atop
the tree, the cub was lucky
ard cub mortality rate is
had run the cub to be alive, but he was far
from safe. Dangerously
When we saw him again
up a tree
jealous, a dominant male
a few days later, the situawill do anything to remove
tion was not quite as trana cub from a female, giving her the
quil. We had been watching zebras
chance to mate again.
graze, flanked by a few boxy-headed,
As darkness fell, this baby’s fate
pointy-bearded wildebeest, when our
seemed sealed. The ignoble male had
ranger’s radio squawked loudly. An agreturned. Bounding up the tree, he
gressive male leopard had run the cub
snarled menacingly. Petrified, the cub’s
up a tree. Shaken and scared, he was
balance faltered. The male drew nearer,
awaiting the arrival of his mother, who
his gleaming eyes – solid disks of
was off searching for food. On rugged
gold – fixed on the cub. Suddenly, the
Jeep trails that cut through the rough
cub’s foot slipped and he tumbled
bush like a brown and tan river of dust,
down. He hit the ground but immediwe sped, as though pulled by a current
ately got up and limped off toward the
through rapids and waterfalls. As the
trail curved, banked, split, and then
When his mother returned from
joined, the brown and green landscape
How Much Is That Doggie?
by Makayla Balcher, Townsend, MA
to a shelter. In pet stores, the average price for a pureido is held down by a volunteer while the vet
bred puppy is $600 to $1,500, depending on the
prepares the needle. This frisky pup doesn’t
breed. However you can get a purebred at a shelter for
know what’s coming, but this time it’s not just
a fraction of that. Did you know that a quarter of shelanother vaccination. He feels the prick of the needle
ter dogs are purebred, and it’s an even higher percentand gradually his eyes close and his breathing slows,
age for cats? Also, most shelter dogs are already
as if he were falling asleep, but he never reopens his
spayed or neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, and have
eyes. “Every year, between six and eight million dogs
been checked by a vet. Store-bought dogs claim to be
and cats enter U.S. shelters; some three to four milvaccinated, but many carry illnesses because of their
lion of these animals are euthanized,” according to the
puppy-mill origins.
Humane Society. Fido was given up by his owner beA lot of puppy mills also inbreed, so
cause she didn’t have the time to raise
your new puppy could have problems later
him. She had bought him at a pet store
When you
in life. Why do you think pet stores don’t
and was not given enough information
about the responsibilities of owning a pet, adopt a shelter offer refunds? They don’t want to be responsible if a puppy dies from illness. On
so she found out too late that she couldn’t
animal, you’re the other hand, most shelters will take back
care for him. She gave him up to a huanimals that their owners can’t care for.
mane society, where he was put up for
saving a life
I have to agree that those cute little pupadoption. Three months later, with other
pies and kitties in pet stores are hard to redogs constantly being brought in, there
sist. I understand they need homes too. But thousands
was no room and Fido had to give up his spot to make
of others await a death sentence. Animals in shelters
room for new arrivals. If more people adopted from
are just as cute as those in pet stores. When you adopt
shelters instead of buying pets from stores, Fido
a shelter animal, you’re saving a life. You’re helping
would have a loving home.
make room for the hundreds of animals that come to
Have you ever considered where pet stores get their
the shelters each day. I guess you could say that
puppies? Most are supplied by puppy mills. The ownyou’re saving more than one life. Last year thousands
ers of these breeding facilities force dogs to reproduce
of animals were placed in loving homes while thouover and over and don’t care about the animals – only
sands of others were put down due to lack of space. It
about profits. If more people adopted shelter dogs,
is far better to adopt than to buy a pet.
fewer puppies would be bought at pet stores and
Pet stores always have many customers. Animal
puppy mills would lose business and shut down.
shelters and humane societies, on the other hand,
If you want a purebred dog but can’t afford one, go
hunting, she searched for her cub. We
followed her as she grievingly cut
through the darkness, roaring softly, a
gentle sonar seeking a single target.
My family sat tensely, holding our
breath, as we fervently hoped that each
distant sound would be the cub bounding back.
The angst of the leopardess knew no
bounds. Crossing the barrier of millions of years of divergent evolution, it
seeped into each of us. My mother,
thinking of the time I had gone missing
while camping when the police were
called, began to cry, knowing too well
the pain the mother was experiencing.
One cub not seen for days and the
other now gone, she was deprived of
those she loved above all else.
With the stars burning brightly, we
had to return to camp. Reflecting on
the harsh life of the bush and the reality of the circle of life, we extinguished
our lights and drifted off to sleep amid
the high-pitched calls of hyenas and
angry barks of baboons.
The next morning, with the sun shining again, a feeling of hope prevailed.
While we were out in the Jeep, a
squawk on the radio brought news. Another group had been out on the trail
when the ranger smelled the sharp tang
of fresh blood. Following the stench,
they had come upon a kill, an impala,
being feasted upon by none other than
the leopardess and her two cubs. вњ¦
Tracking the Spotted Ghosts
never get enough visitors. Shelters are always filled
with animals waiting for someone like you to give
them a forever home. The next time you are drawn to
that cute puppy in the pet store window, think of all
the dogs and cats euthanized each year because no
one picks them. Think of the puppy mills that are hiding behind those pet store animals. Think of the
money you’ll save. Think of the life you’ll save.
Think “I can make a difference.” ✦
Art by Kseniya Ostrovska, Flushing, NY
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
succeed at school, in life. They wanted to express
n an attempt to grow closer, my youth group
their love by showing interest in their daughters’
leader suggested taking our small group sessions
lives. I was troubled by the lack of respect these girls
“deeper” by sharing real, serious problems in our
had for their mothers.
lives with each other. It was a great idea, and the first
I, like every other person on this planet, also have
session went well. We girls felt closer afterward, esa mother (surprise, surprise), so I understand that the
pecially since we all had the seal of secrecy stamped
mother-daughter relationship can be tense. My mom
across our lips. Nothing draws people together better
and I definitely have our days when we can’t be in
than a well-kept secret. A few girls cried, everyone
the same room without steam shooting from our ears.
was hugging, and at the end we all felt better knowWe’ve have bad weeks. Yet I realize that more often
ing we didn’t have to bear our burdens alone and that
than not, I am equally to blame (if not more so) for
we weren’t the only ones dealing with those specific
our arguments. I admit it freely: I’m arproblems.
gumentative. Sometimes, even when
Yet the second time around, our alI can genuinely someone says something I agree with, if
legedly civilized share-time rapidly deI hear a loophole in the reasoning, I simteriorated into a vicious mauling of one
say that my
ply have to take advantage of it. Even if I
specific person in each girl’s life: her
mother and I are try to respectfully agree with my mother,
mother. We did not discuss legitimate
sometimes just a bit of that sauciness
life concerns this time. There was none
creeps into my voice. In my defense, my
of the depth and sister-like affinity of the
mom has the hearing of a bat, and often
previous week. Instead, the most prodetects sarcasm in my voice that honestly is not
found statements made went something like “I hate
my mom. She’s a total idiot, and she doesn’t have a
But Mom and I have our good times too. We’ve
clue about parenting.”
laughed so hard we’ve cried. We’ve snuggled on the
Eventually, every girl was yelling in an attempt to
couch and watched chick flicks (in a house full of
be heard over the others detailing the transgressions
guys, it’s hard to find someone who’ll watch Pride
of their mothers: “My mother won’t buy Coca-Cola
Prejudice for the thirty-eighth time). We’ve
anymore” … “She wants me to clean my room” …
talked about guys and school, friends and life. I can
“She made me wear something other than sweatpants
genuinely say that my mother and I are good friends.
to my job interview.”
Yet, typical of close friends, not a day goes by
I would completely sympathize with these girls if
when we don’t have some sort of quarrel, or when I
their mothers had crystal meth addictions or were
listen to music that she doesn’t approve of, or when
bringing home abusive boyfriends or beating them.
she asks me to bathe our dog after he’s rolled in poop
But these mothers were simply trying to do what
and I don’t necessarily refuse point-blank … I just
their title implies: be mothers. They wanted to know
never exactly get around to it.
where their daughters were at 2 a.m. They didn’t like
All I’m trying to say is, moms and daughters have
midriff-baring tops and short skirts. They wanted
their ups and downs. I can’t say how long those ups
their daughters to be respected by their peers and to
The ball hits the table
Like a ballerina on her toes
Then leaps over the low net
To my dad’s side of the ping-pong table
The humming buzz of the radio
Mimics the sound
Of the lone mosquito circling my head
With a flash and a serve as strong as lead
My dad backhands a tricky shot
A tennis player at his best
My foam Adidas flip-flops
Are a soft pillow for my toes
As I switch from right to left
In an intricate chase
For the lightning fast ping-pong ball
As my dad serves another match
The endless soothing rhythm of each bounce
As the ball jumps over the net
Makes a soft lullaby that I will never forget
Thank you, Dad, for playing ping-pong with me
When I couldn’t hit or run
For any other ball
Thank you for
by Julia Grant, Dexter, MI
by Keilah Sullivan, Eureka, MO
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
Art by Tiffany Yuen, Brooklyn, NY
and downs will last, and granted, I don’t know what
your mother is like. I’m only speaking from my experience. But I do know that mothers and daughters
contribute equally to their disagreements. It takes two
to argue. Additionally (and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this; if my mom reads this I’m screwed
next time we have a fight), there remains the simple
fact that she is the mother and I am the daughter. As
such, I owe her a certain degree of respect, obedience, and – however difficult it may be at time –
So whenever I’m arguing with my mother and I
feel like she’s being ridiculous, I remind myself that
my mom can be my best friend in the whole world,
but her first priority is to be my mother. вњ¦
by Lindsey Butler, Colorado Springs, CO
at church. We prayed with neighbors. We prayed with
y face was wet with tears as I said my final
each other. All I could hope was that God could hear me.
good-byes to my father. I tried to hold on, not
My sister dealt with it silently. She was quiet even beto let go. I wanted to somehow keep him here
fore Dad was sent away, so we didn’t notice much differwith me. My heart pounded, rattling every bone in my
ence. My mom took the same approach as I did; we
body as he picked up his bag and began to walk toward
stuck to our routines. I guess that’s the only thing that
Gate 6B. How could they do this? Didn’t they realize
kept us sane. Dad called almost every two weeks. It was
that he may never come back? Desperately, with every
nerve wracking waiting to hear from him, but any wait
fiber of my being, I wanted to speak to them. I wanted to
was worth those ten-minute calls.
ask them how they could risk my father never breathing
Four months into his deployment, we got a call from
the sweet Iowa air again. Didn’t they know that they
my father. A suicide bomber had hit his
were ripping my family to shreds?
SUV. There had been six soldiers with
The drive home was silent. My mother
I knew exactly
him. One man burned to death. Two died
stared blankly at the road. My sister had
that dead look on her face the whole
where my father on impact. Two sustained severe injuries
and burns. My father walked away without
time. My breathing was uneven as I held
was going, and I a bruise or cut. He survived a deadly crash
back tears.
without a scratch. God had heard me and
I wondered if they had ever been
knew he might
He answered. I knew that this moment
there, been to the place he was going. I
not return
would forever be embedded in my brain, a
had watched the news. I knew what it
perfectly clear memory that I could sumwas like. I had seen the soldiers who
mon at any time. My outlook on Dad’s deployment was
were missing limbs because they hadn’t been able to
permanently altered. I knew that God was watching over
escape the fury of the explosions. Oh, I knew exactly
him and would bring him home safe.
where my father was going, and I knew he might not
My face was once again wet with tears as we pulled
the Omaha Airport parking. My hands trembled as I
We tried to keep our routine the same; it eased the pain
opened the car door. Dad was safe and coming home. It
of the hole in our lives. My sister and I went to school
felt like we waited a century for his plane to land. When
and our youth group, and my mother woke us up for
I saw him step through the gate, my legs almost gave out.
church every Sunday. And every Sunday, there his face
Finding the strength to move, I ran to him. I breathed in
would be, posted in the bulletin under “Keep Them in
his smell and felt the rough canvas of his uniform and
Your Prayers.” Every time we saw his photograph we
knew that once again my family was complete. вњ¦
would leave church in tears. We prayed often. We prayed
by Yoon Sung Choi, Tenafly, NJ
fade a little every time I look away. Thus is
isten: these are the observations of a
the way of nature; it is ephemeral and brief.
daughter whose mother left her.
And thus is the way of all things but love.
This is what I see. I see my mother
What make us human – love, trust, honor –
who was – and still is – an artist. She cut
are eternal. And it is only with time that
stone and carved marble, hoping to create
one realizes the single quality that goes
something that would last. Three months
beyond love, beyond trust, beyond honor,
after I was born, she left for Rome. She
beyond truth and acceptance, fury and
was not ready to lose her life, her self.
mirth: sacrifice.
My mother had been away six months
Not long ago, I asked my mother why
when I became very sick. She returned imshe
did what she did for me. To give up her
mediately. She could not touch me or even
her art – was it not impossisit near me; I was so susceptible to disease
ble and irrational? She looked
that even the common cold
at me, smiling, and replied,
would have been deadly. All
“Life is as it is. You’ll see one
she could do was stare through
Through joy
day. You’ll make big sacrifices
the thick hospital window that
and sorrow, she and little ones, and that’s the
separated us.
way it’s supposed to be. And
When she was finally alhas held me
art is something I’ve never
lowed to be with me, she
missed. My greatest, truest
found that she could not leave.
masterpiece has invariably been you.”
She felt my fingers and hands for hours and
This is what I know. Sacrifice is no act
hours, refusing food and drink, refusing
of heroism, no fantastic feat. It is, as my
sleep. She made a promise to herself. She
mother said, a part of life. Sacrifice is a
would put her needs aside. All she knew, all
strange word and an even stranger concept.
she had ever wanted, would give way to this
It is duty and obligation, beauty, humanity
helpless child. All her life, she had lived for
at its best. It is something to aspire to, not
no one but herself; now, she would live for
something to regret or resent. Only through
her only girl and no one else. From that day
sacrifice can one learn firsthand what is
on, I was all that mattered, and since then,
most great and true; my mother taught me
she has never left me. Through joy and sorthat. The hard-earned lesson is this: indirow, she has held me – tenderly, tortuously,
vidual moments may glimmer and shine
but they soon become dry and dusty, lost
Outside, it is pitch black and bits of red
forever. It is not the individual moments
speckle the horizon. These bits are the stuff
that matter, for only the spirit of sacrifice
of dreams, dreams of dusk left over from
remains forever in the human heart. вњ¦
desire and dread. These bits, these dreams,
On the Outside
rested my hands on my knees, my
shallow panting slowing into deeper
breaths. The frozen air stinging my
bare face contrasted unpleasantly with
the sticky heat of my back, covered in
layers of sweatshirts and Spandex.
Squinting into the glow of the porch
light, I could make out my dad, arm resting against the door frame, glasses
steamed up with sweat, a mirror of my
exhaustion. I trooped up to the house behind him as the throbbing in my legs
subsided. “Good run,” he said with a
smile as he held the door for me.
I can’t remember when I started running with my dad, but it immediately became a tradition. On weekdays after my
dad came home from work, or on weekends after our breakfast had been thoroughly digested, we’d pull on our shoes,
stretch the stiffness out of our legs, and
head for the roads. The first few steps
were always spent debating which route
to take. Then we’d settle into a pace.
Some days were hard, and we’d converse only in heavy huffs and thumping
strides. But usually we’d talk. I’d narrate
the drama of the school day, from the
momentous (becoming an attorney in a
mock trial) to the trivial (who sat at my
lunch table). I’d whine about the Reds’
most recent loss. I’d speculate about my
Maternal Expressions
No other’s face is more familiar, more terrifying,
Or more sheltering than hers.
Wracked with strain of her life
It contorts into many forms.
Eyes shining and crinkled at the edges like the pages of a book.
Brow smooth, even, undisturbed.
Mouth set comfortably, lips pink and chapped
Uplifted at the corners, revealing two rows
Of perfect white teeth.
Eyes piercing, harsh and rippling with anger
Her brow is drawn together with no hint of wavering.
Her lips appear thinner, stretched tight
Across her features. The cheeks are colored with a faint red
That surely is not blush.
Eyes spread wide in astonishment look so tired and wasted.
A sheen of sweat gleams atop her forehead.
Her brows rest high atop her head
And her mouth makes an O.
Beneath this face is bliss.
Conjured from imagination, her face undoubtedly must have
Resembled such a shocked and loving look
That first time she laid me with some
Uncertainty, hesitation, and caution just below her heart.
Atop her breast
by Amelia Sadler, Ann Arbor, MI
by Danielle Zucker,
Cincinnati, OH
weekend plans. I’d sing. And my dad
just listened.
As the months of running accumulated, I began to notice a curious trend:
my dad always ran on the outside nearthe run in record-book-cold January
est the cars. In our town, the streets
weather, the biting wind numbing even
don’t have sidewalks. Running in the
our gums into silence and the several
breakdown lane nearest the cars is allayers of sweatpants reducing our strides
ways undesirable. Preoccupied drivers
to mere inches; the run on a muggy Auare liable to zoom mere inches from the
gust Sunday when it was too hot to go
outside runner, leaving his mouth full
anywhere except the community pool;
of fumes and his thoughts shaken. Also,
the runs on darkening weekday nights,
the white painted line designating the
so numerous that the success
edge of the shoulder can be
or failure, discussions or sislippery. Even worse are
lences blended together into a
the streets with no shoulder
mix of years on the road with
at all, leaving no buffer be- thanks and he
my dad. And he was always
tween that runner and the
on the outside. How could I
traffic. Yet despite this, my
repay the countless hours he
dad always took the outpraise
spent listening, matching my
side. It was never stated expace, running on the outside?
plicitly, never even hinted
This aching question began to nag at
at. He never drew attention to his
me in stabs of alternating guilt and adsacrifice.
miration. I needed to find a way to reOn a run several months ago, I began
turn the favor, but I was at a loss. Each
to reflect on all my dad and I had experiplan felt simultaneously too insignificant
enced together, his pounding footsteps
and too excessive. On one hand, he had
serving as the metronome for my
taken the outside for years, shouldering
thoughts. There was the run on unthe burden to which I hadn’t even given
plowed streets in the aftermath of Ohio’s
a second thought. On the other hand,
heaviest snowstorm, which culminated
there seemed to be a tacit understanding
in an icy slip-and-slide up the driveway;
Photo by Krysta Lane, Summit, MS
that my dad expected nothing in return.
Finally, I could no longer stand my
own badgering. One run, after talking
about the day was exhausted, I turned to
my dad. “I noticed that you always run
on the outside,” I said, my heavy breathing awkwardly punctuating my equally
awkward statement.
“Do I?” my dad answered with a tone
that suggested that he was unwilling to
talk about this. Then, before I could answer, he asked, “So, what were you saying about your art project?”
I could have been taken aback by his
abrupt change of the subject, but I
wasn’t. I launched into a detailed discussion, all discomfort melting into our
usual compatibility.
I never mentioned the subject to my
dad again. There was no reason to. He
wanted no thanks and he wanted no
praise. He wanted to prepare me for my
turn. And now, as I face the rest of my
life, I am ready – not only for my children, but also for my classmates, my
coworkers, and my friends, I too will run
on the outside. вњ¦
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
A Different Kind of Love
hen you are five years old,
your mother is your everything. She is your provider,
friend, nurse, and listening ear; the
only person whom you trust implicitly
with your hopes, dreams, fears, and
wishes. A mother is the person you
run to when you fall and scrape your
knee because you know she will be
there with a hug to make it better. She
by Krystal Jordan, Hilton Head Island, SC
dentist, and was passed from drughad abandoned me.
reads you books and when she tucks
addicted cousins to mentally unstable
I did learn to love my new parents
you in, you know she will be there in
neighbors as my mother fought to try
and sister, though I could not forgive
the morning, no matter what. For me,
and save me from what our lives were
my birth mother for rejecting me.
however, this was not the case.
becoming with each passing day. I
Hearing people tell me that she did it
My mother suffered from depreshave started to understand the reasons
in my best interest – that she actually
sion and other health issues that would
loved me – made me even more bitter.
she put me up for adoption, and that in
keep her in bed for days, leaving me to
I insisted that if she had truly loved me
the long run she really did save me.
care for her and fend for myself. This
she would have made it
Only recently have I begun to unsituation reversed our
work for our little family.
derstand how a mother could give her
roles as child and careThrough the years I have
child to strangers, and I realize now
taker, which forced me to
My mother resented her for this decithe sacrifice it must have been for her
grow up much faster than
to let me go. She was incredibly sick,
the average child. Seeing
suffered from how she could abandon me
but even in her state she understood
her there, her hopeless
like an old sofa at the dump.
that she was steadily pulling me down
eyes staring through me,
I tried to avoid telling peowith her. She loved me more than anyterrified me more than I
ple I was adopted because I
thing, so she wanted me to have a
can describe.
was ashamed that my mother hadn’t
chance in life, one she realized she
While I knew my mother was sick, I
could no longer offer me. When I look
wanted me. However, the older I got,
felt deep down that we could get
back now, I am grateful to her. Even
the more I began to understand how
through it and everything would be
though I resented her for a long time, I
desperate our situation had been.
okay. However, in 1997 everything
now know my life has been a special
We had been surviving on boxes of
went horribly wrong, and my life
gift only because she was selfless
noodles, and at one point we even
changed forever.
enough to give me up. вњ¦
lived in our car. I never went to the
Adoption is a foreign word to a fiveyear-old, but when I realized that my
own mother had signed me over to
strangers, I felt it was the ultimate betrayal. I suffered from shock, anger,
and confusion as I attempted to adjust
to my new family. No longer could I
trust anyone since the one person I had
I remember my father’s old home.
loved more than all else in the world
What happened to the bulging yard
8957 Oakwood Way
Art by Fallon Kesicier, Baldwin, NY
Next Generation
and the somewhat cracked driveway?
They were only the pathways to the crooked,
layered steps that go to the entrance of my memory.
by Jared Czech, So. Plainfield, NJ
mirror. Instead of seeing my own reflection, I
o describe myself as anxious would have
saw my father’s; he had probably looked in a
not even been close to how I was feeling.
similar mirror in the moments before I arrived on
It was one of those rare moments when
this earth. I could see him anxiously waiting to
you have the opportunity to experience such a
meet the infant he would forever mentor. I could
wide spectrum of emotions all packed into one. I
not help but wonder if the same thoughts had run
knew that in a matter of five minutes I would be
through his head. However, what weighed heaviembarking on a man’s most important journey.
est on my mind was whether I had met all the exResponsibilities, along with every other life
pectations he’d had that day. Had I grown into
virtues, were lessons I had learned from my fathe young man he had envisioned?
ther. Through the nauseating smell of latex
As I looked in the mirror, I apologized to his
gloves and hospital cuisine, I took time to cherish
reflection for all the pain I had caused him, as if
my last minutes of being just a son. I rememthe mirror had the ability to hear or respond. My
bered the crisp autumn days when I ran for hours,
mind provided the answer I was lookcatching small plush footballs
ing for. I heard my father’s voice:
thrown perfectly by my father. It
always seemed like with each pass
My father had “Do not apologize. I love you, son.”
At that moment, I realized how
I caught against my chest, he had
prepared me much I was anxiously waiting to meet
thrown love with the ball. All my
baby boy I would forever mentor.
life I had been the receiver while
my whole life the
I said a sincere good-bye to the remy father quarterbacked me; in
for this moment flection, and reached out my arms
minutes I would be taking over
hoping for one last hug and one final
that role as the gunslinger.
life lesson. I would cherish each one
In a way, the fear of taking on a
forever, and pass it on.
responsibility so sacred was the reason for the
With the courage I needed from my fond memknot in my stomach. I was like a sixth man, who
ories of the greatest man I knew, I walked slowly
badly wanted to get into the game, but secretly
toward Room 146. I was met by a nurse who utwas filled with anxiety each time the coach
tered the words I had been waiting to hear:
turned and looked at him. I had received the best
“Mr. Czech, I am so sorry we kept you waitcoaching in the world in the sport I would soon
ing, but there is a woman and a baby boy named
be playing for the first time. My father had
Allen who are very eager to see you.”
guided me and prepared me my whole life for
I stepped into the room, with baby Allen now
this moment, and for everything that would folclutched to my chest, as I had clutched the footlow. He had led me in the most effective way
ball so many years before. I turned to the nurse
there is: by example.
and said, “Do not apologize,” then back to baby
I stood up from the chair where I had been a
Allen and said, “I love you, son.” ✦
fixture for several hours, and walked to a nearby
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
The weary door’s paint grew long and curled.
The crusty and green snow blanketed my feet
as the whispering hinges corroded my inner ear.
Now, down the hallway I go, toward the
confined bathroom and past the bedroom
(Also known as the place where I measured my height).
I turn right into the ever-present aroma of
our kitchen. I still see my dad reaching into the oven,
stirring the wooden spoon in the pot on the stove,
and grasping the appropriate amount of sterling silver.
I follow the striving cook as he runs outside
onto his sweat-soaked, handmade deck,
and finally, gallops down the flawlessly flat stairs.
He opens the grill. A plethora of black
and opaque smoke shrouds his eyes
as he reaches for the tall and tenacious tongs.
The steak is plump and perfectly pink in the middle,
the noodles are limp and drape my divine dish,
the potatoes taste sweet and are colored orange and brown.
They burn my tongue, the roof of my mouth, and
the back of my throat as they coagulate in my stomach.
However, I do not taste these ambrosial delights
anymore. I walk backwards, parting the opaque smoke,
up the flawlessly flat stairs, onto the sweat-soaked
and handmade deck, through the slightly skewed glass door
that leads into the divine scent of our kitchen,
past the confined cubical of a bathroom, stopping, only slightly,
to remember the time when I was only four feet tall.
As I walk, still backwards, through the stentorian
olive green and wilting door. I thrust the rusty key
into the now unused lock of the door
and shut the memories behind me for the last time.
For this is no longer my father’s home.
by Travis Healy, Lancaster, PA
by Samantha Harmon, Morgan Hill, CA
This Is Why, Dad
by Jenica Jessen, Riverton, UT
o, you may not read this story.
I really am proud of it, yes. It’s not embarrassing. I’m
not hiding anything. And I have indeed posted it on the
Internet for hundreds to see. People say it’s good. You still may
not read it.
Why? Because you’re my dad.
It has everything to do with it, okay? Hear me out. Sometimes,
when I’m bored, I take a little bit of my soul. I distill it, organize
it, refine it, and then slap it down on a piece of paper.
It’s private. It’s mine. And I can’t share it lightly.
Okay, yes, I did post it online where anyone can see it, where
thousands of strangers can criticize and discuss, but there is a
That difference is that the Internet is anonymous. That difference is that these people are looking deep inside me but they
don’t know it. The difference is that they analyze my writing,
some of them, but don’t think too hard about the creator.
You are my father. We are related and will be for the rest of
our lives. And though this story is not about me – not about anyone I know, not about anything that’s ever happened to me – it’s
still my soul. I have a deep, probably unfounded, and unshakeable fear of how it will change your view of me.
I am not brave enough. I’m sorry, but no, you may not read
this story.
(Feel free to show this to Mom.) вњ¦
ment my dad is on duty that I’m not
worried for his well-being; my police
family is always on my mind.
What I have come to realize, as the
child of a police officer, is that the
world is a cruel place. People kill because they can, and at any point the
person on the receiving end of that
anger could be someone I love.
However, we as humans cannot live
in fear. I will not live life like that. I
believe there is a perfect balance
between the power of fear and the
power of happiness. And I have my
dad and my police family to thank
for this. вњ¦
6( D
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disorder. My dad doesn’t like to talk
thought anything of our annual trip to
remember when I was five years
about what happens at work. He exLake Shasta, where our parents would
old I had only the utmost respect
plains that it’s to protect me and to
teach us to shoot from the roof of a
for my dad. Although my parents
keep me from worrying. Watching
houseboat – legally, of course. I fighad just signed their divorce papers
“Taken,” which depicts a law enforceured all parents quizzed
and my mother remained
ment father fighting to save his daughtheir children on what to
in our house, it seemed
My dad
ter, inspired my dad. Suddenly, the
do in case of a break-in.
that somehow, home was
truth began to spill out. He couldn’t
It never occurred to me to
always where Dad was.
doesn’t like to ask why, when purchasstop saying how much he worried for
When he first moved
me and truly cared.
talk about what ing his first home, Dad
out, he lived with his
I don’t have to be the person staring
was hesitant about a twomother and then moved
happens at work story house because it
into the barrel of the gun to feel fear. I
to his own apartment.
feel it every day. I see my dad and
would be more difficult
Friends and relatives
some of the most important men and
to escape in case of emergency.
joked that he was “slumming it” by
women in my life fight for me and
This was my life. No questions
choosing to live with his mom or in an
those they love. There is not a moasked. Well, at least until eighth grade,
apartment, but none of that seemed to
bother him.
dad’s job made me a
Come to think of it, nothing seemed
tattletale or a snitch. I
to faze my dad. He focused all his athad always been
tention on his children and his work.
proud of my life and
At that point, he had been a police ofmy dad. I began to
ficer for 15 years. The mental toll his
question what I had
job took on him is something I will
been told about police
never fully understand. I was always
officers and soon becurious about his job and asked about
lieved the sad lies of
his day regularly. Typically, I would
the misinformed teens
get the same answer: “I wrote a ticket
I knew. I lost a big
or two, responded to a few calls, and
part of myself for a
did some office work.” He knew I
craved real stories of crime, but my fa$JHVВІ
It wasn’t until a few
ther’s world remained a mystery.
weeks ago – when my
In my eyes, I belonged to an elite
society of children. In a weird way, it
watch the movie
was an honor and privilege to be the
R O O H J H “Taken” – that a bit of
daughter of a police officer. But in anmy father’s reality
other way, it was completely normal.
was revealed. Much
W \ O H V &
The majority of my “family members”
like returning war vetVPDOO
were not actually related. These
erans, many police
“aunts” and “uncles” were my dad’s
officers deal with
work friends and their wives, my
I D F X O W \
post-traumatic stress
“cousins” their children. I never
F R X Q W U \ГўV
X Q L YH U V L W L H V 7
Home Is Where the Badge Is
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3R H W U \
D E R U D WR U \ R
The Eyes of My Soul
by Miriam Friedman, Wesley Hills, NY
the day, and that night my father confirmed my fears.
ou look different,” I tell my mirror
In tenth grade I remember the bone-marrow transimage. I’ve just taken the sheet off the
she underwent. I remember the fear I felt as my
mirror in my room. It’s been a week
father spent nights in the hospital and we spent nights
since I’ve seen my reflection, and I can’t figure out
with people sleeping on our couch.
why I don’t recognize the image that stares back at
I remember the elation of remission that lasted
me. I peer at the green eyes watching my every
seven months, the fear that came with the diagnosis
move. They don’t have the innocent, naive look I
the second time around, and the hope that
remember. They look world-weary,
somehow everything would turn out okay.
scared, sad. They look like they’ve seen
I remember
The rest of the ten months passed in a
the worst the world can offer before
I vaguely remember the fainting,
having seen the best. This thought rethe last three the six-week
hospital stay, the frequent,
minds me why I look so different.
violent emotional outbursts that were a
My eyes seem to take me back to
weeks of my
result of the chemotherapy and the
ninth grade, when it started. I rememmother’s life
steroids. I remember the winter vacation
ber the last Passover before my mother
in Seattle with my mother in the hospiwas diagnosed. I spent the whole day
tal, and I remember the second bone-marrow transbefore cooking while she lay in bed, talking to the
plant that never happened.
doctor. I remember the week after Passover my parI remember the last three weeks of my mother’s
ents told us that the treatments would make my
life in a hospital bed, the terrible week when shiva
mother sick, but no one wanted to tell us what she
had not been allowed, and the actual horrifying week
was sick with.
of shiva.
My mind fast-forwards to the day I found out she
For the first time since shiva began, tears come to
had cancer. I figured it out during Hebrew class, and
my eyes. Why not? They’re a portal straight into my
I somehow knew I was right. I cried for the rest of
Being a Father
soul. I’ve just relived the past two horrifying years in
five seconds, and all I can do is cry as I finish taking
the sheets off all the mirrors in the house.
I can hear my father on the phone downstairs,
telling another person that we don’t need food. I’ve
been doing the cooking for the past two years and
I’ve done a pretty good job. Why would we start
needing food now?
My tears start again as I realize that this will continue to be my job, as well as the cleaning, the homework help, the laundry, and everything else I’ve been
doing since this began. A voice in my head tells me
that it isn’t fair, but another assures me that I wouldn’t
have been given this test if it weren’t meant for me.
So all I can do is take the last sheet off the mirror
and ask my ferociously green eyes what they have to
offer me about the new person I’ve become. I see
within them a person who is improved by the challenges she has faced. I see someone who is more sensitive, kind, and caring. I see someone whose lifelong
goal of going into medicine is only helped by this
compassion and newfound way of relating to future
patients. I can see my future and, unlike my past, it’s
as bright as futures come. вњ¦
by John, Wilmington, DE
father; I was a bad son. My mother had me
hen I was six my father walked
institutionalized. I was in and out of the
out on my family. Overnight I
hospital the rest of freshman year into sophwent from being the son of a
omore year.
wealthy attorney to being the son of a single
Since I was six I had wondered what I
mother raising two children and pregnant
would do if I ever saw my father. I fantawith a third. I resented everything about my
sized how I would make him suffer as much
as he had made me and my sisters suffered.
My mother struggled to keep us fed and
I would make him pay for making me the
warm. My father had found a way to avoid
“weird” kid, the kid who couldn’t make
child support. We were on food stamps and
friends, the kid who didn’t fit in. I wanted to
constantly borrowing from my grandparmake him pay for ruining my childhood.
ents. I never had the nice things other kids
When I was a sophomore, 10 years after
had. I wore handed-down clothes. Everyhe left, I saw him. He had track marks all
thing was a struggle.
over his arms. He was dirty and wore ratty
As a child I was angry at what my father
clothes. He was pale with bags under his
had done to us. At six I vowed that someday
eyes. He looked dead.
I would make him suffer for leaving us. InHe wasn’t my father. He was
stead of dealing with these feeljust another junkie. He didn’t
ings, I blocked out every
I wanted to
even realize me. After all my
thought about him, every early
about what I would do,
memory, and pretended I’d
make him pay fantasies
I simply turned and walked
never had a father.
for ruining my away. He was already suffering;
I was awkward as a child. I
he had lost his chance to see us
couldn’t make friends. I never
grow up. He missed watching
did schoolwork. I let the other
his youngest daughter’s birth.
kids bully me. I was in my own
More than anything, he missed out on havlittle world. While I thought everything was
ing me for a son. He missed out teaching
fine, it was obvious to everyone else that
me to play ball and helping me with my
something was wrong. I started seeing therhomework – and everything else that goes
apists when I was seven but never opened
with being a father.
up to them. They all asked the same quesNow I’m busy fixing the hole I’ve dug
tions. They tried to get into my head and get
myself into. Every time I meet someone,
me to talk about my father, but not one of
they ask about the scars on my arms. I still
them succeeded.
have to look at them every day; they remind
I was a straight F student from fifth grade
me of how out of control I was. But I have
until high school. Freshman year it all
close to straight A’s now, and I’m planning
caught up with me. The mental fortress I
to go to college. My goal is to never be like
had built came crumbling down. I went
him. I want to be successful, and when I
from bad to rock bottom. I would cut and
have a son of my own I’m going to be there.
burn myself, and wouldn’t get treatment
I’m going to teach him how to play ball,
when I needed stitches or had an infection.
and I’m going to help him with his homeIt was my way of punishing myself for what
work, and be there for everything else that
my father had done. I was blaming myself.
goes along with being a father. вњ¦
I convinced myself that he wasn’t a bad
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
Art by Caroline Kimberlin, Blandon, PA
A Mother’s Kitchen
My mother’s kitchen, it will always fill my head with memories, like it has
always filled my belly with its delectable delights.
I will always see the fluorescent lights penetrating through the smoke of the oven
like heavenly luminescence pierces the clouds.
I will always crane my head at the cat, perched high atop the fridge, overseeing
the rough and tumble of everyday life, a furred king overseeing his peasants.
I will always hear the echoed gurgling flush of the toilet down the hall like an
ancient leviathan bellowing toward the lonely sea.
I will always marvel at the ocean blue marble countertops piercing through the
linoleum tile like a geographic wonder.
I will always laugh at Mom slipping on the newly shined tile, or Dad’s cursing
drowned under the dutiful whistle of the smoke detector every time he burnt
his pizza.
I will always ache from the clanging thunderstorm of the pots and pans, only to
be comforted by the calm drone of the dishwasher.
I will always shuffle through the countless drawers, wading through seas of
starch and oceans of oregano to reach the solitary pepper jar.
I will always feast upon the endless delights from the freezer after ungodly hours
of homework and sleep deprivation, fueling my dreams with lucid amazement.
I will always look upon the hardwood portal separating the futuristic cleanliness
of modern appliances, from the old hardwood wonder of the tables and hutches.
I will always remember my mother’s kitchen as a provider, a friend, a tertiary
parent living amongst us like a silent guardian, a room I will always remember
even if time forgets.
by Glenn Edridge, South Plainfield, NJ
y mom grew up with the
words “You’ll never make it”
and “You can’t” constantly
thrown in her face. With a strong will
and independence, she has spent her
life proving those people wrong. “I
was often told that I wasn’t educated
enough to do certain things,” she says.
“I had people tell me that I couldn’t
make it as a single mom. Had I listened
to those voices, I never would have
done what I love.”
Growing up, I took for granted many
of the things my mom provided. She
raised three of us on her own for nine
years, and rarely have I seen her struggle. She is selfless, caring, independent, gentle, and kind – all qualities that
make my mom a true hero.
Growing up, my mother was a victim of sexual, physical, verbal, and
emotional abuse. Being young and
naive, she kept those secrets to herself
by Meghan, Westfield, IN
about myself. The wonderful thing
and never asked for help. Finally, with
about being in the Marines is that you
the support of her four siblings, my
travel and completely change jobs and
mom spoke up. She bravely got
locations every two years. You get to
through her rough childhood, learned
experiment with who you are and start
from her past, and moved on to make a
entirely fresh with new confidence and
difference in the world.
new friends and new challenges. You
My mom now goes to shelters to talk
to and help children who
get to perfect yourself
in stages.”
have experienced the same
My mom has
powerlessness. Because of
My mom has told us
her close relationships with
she hopes we find
shown me
her siblings, my mom has
what we feel most pashow to be
always encouraged the
sionate about. She hopes
same for us. “If you don’t
we have the good forindependent that
have your family, then you
tune to be able to support
literally have nothing,” she
ourselves and be indereminds us.
pendent and happy in whatever we do.
Right out of high school, my mom
My mom has always had her children’s best interest in mind. Even when
enrolled in the Marine Corps and
there wasn’t much money, she found a
served the United States for 10 years.
way to make sure we didn’t miss out
With hard work and perseverance, she
on anything. She’s always done her
became a successful broadcast journalbest to fill any gaps we might have felt.
ist in the Marines. “I learned a lot
Daddy’s Girl
Dear Mother
by Courtney Anderson, Mesa, AZ
y mom was not around much when I was little. She disappeared when she and my dad split, leaving him with a
brown-eyed, one-and-a-half-year-old girl. I can guarantee
that my father had no inkling how to fly solo with the whole parenting
thing, but with each day, he continued to try.
I don’t remember much about my early years, but my father made
sure I had a chance to be a little girl. He now admits that he was always worried I would become a tomboy because of him. To prevent
this, he would dress me in lacy pink dresses and black patent leather
shoes. He even managed to style my hair, although he knew only one
method: I would lie on the couch, with my feet pointing toward the
ceiling and my head dangling off the edge, and my dad would gather
my long hair into a ponytail smack dab on top of my head. At school,
I flaunted that up-do, trying to make the
other girls wish they had a daddy like
Being a
In addition, my dad was not a bad cook.
parent is
Despite Hamburger Helper appearing on
one of life’s the menu a few too many times, there was
variety – breakfast for dinner,
toughest jobs always
grilled chicken, vegetable soup, grilled
cheese – but the best were his egg sandwiches. Nothing compares to a perfectly fried egg on white bread. It
sounds simple, but for some reason, no one makes it like he does.
Hands down, I am Daddy’s girl, or “little one” as he likes to call
me. Not because I have his olive complexion, ape-like arms, or big
lips. Not because I love to work with my hands as much as he does.
But because I simply admire him. He was faced with the challenges
of both a father’s and a mother’s responsibilities. I’ve heard that being
a parent is one of life’s toughest jobs. Well, what about being both
parents? My dad faced the challenge and succeeded; I lacked nothing.
My father was, and is, always there for me. I remember once I was
walking barefoot around our complex. I stepped obliviously into an
ant frenzy on the sidewalk. I screamed for my daddy, and instantly, he
was there asking what the heck was going on. When he noticed the
small specks covering my legs, he brushed them off so quickly I forgot why I was crying. Memories like this remind me that my dad was
always there with open arms, ready to help me.
I want be to be like my dad. I want to be able to face life’s toughest
challenges and be there for the important people in my life. I want to
give others an opportunity to make their own decisions. I want to
make the best egg sandwiches. Most of all, I want to be my daddy’s
little one. вњ¦
And she always puts herself last.
Faith has been the one saving grace
that has gotten my mom through all the
rough times. Some nights she was gone
for hours, praying at church. There were
weeks when she went every day. She’s
always given us that same opportunity,
teaching us to trust in God. “When I
look back, there were times when I felt
completely desperate and I had to rely
on my faith. And on countless occasions, I’ve been relieved of some of the
heaviest burdens because I didn’t try to
fix what I could not fix,” she explains.
As I’ve grown up, my mom has
shown me how to be independent and
strong-willed, and to persevere through
tough times. She has provided me with
a positive example and has made me
who I am today. I’m proud of my
mom, and I strive to have the patient,
kind attitude that she has always
demonstrated. вњ¦
A True Hero
by Olivia, Greenwich, CT
ear Mother,
So here I am, about to graduate.
You did not make it this far. It has
been six years since I touched your skin or
smelled your perfume. Faint remnants still
linger in your closet, embedded in the threads
of your clothes that I won’t let Dad throw out.
It has been six years since I saw you reach for
just one more glass of champagne. Six years
since you continually left me stranded at
school without a ride, my trust in you waning.
It has been six years since I tucked you in at
night and mothered you like you should have
done me. Six years since your sickness got the
best of you.
It is hard to think that, in a sense, you have
no idea who I am. If we met today, I’d be a
stranger to you, and you to me. If you were
asked about my favorite things, my flaws, ambitions, and fears, you would answer (in that
beautiful voice I so wish I could remember)
that you did not know.
You will never know that I take photographs
now, that my camera is an escape. I photographed you this summer – your silk scarf
with the music notes, your wedding shoes, your
Photo by Caroline Schmidt, Phoenix, AZ
delicate blouses, objects that would have remained
in musty, dark drawers, gathering dust, waiting to be forgotten had I not discovered them. It was
almost as if I rediscovered you, as if photographing them helped to preserve my memory of the
relationship that once existed between us.
You will never know that I still love to write, and that the pages of the countless journals I relentlessly pestered you for have been filled. You will never know that I doodle faces and floor plans and
scribble shopping and to-do lists exactly like those in your notebooks.
You will never know that this past summer, I saw Degas’ “The Little Dancer” again, stirring memories of the rare sober nights you spent with me, leafing through your drawing pads, teaching me how
to sketch a perfect leg, a perfect hand, telling me stories in which I starred as the prima ballerina.
You will never know that after six years, when I fly to California to see your family, I’ll smile in
that same bashful way you always did when you were purely happy.
I may have suppressed your memory after you were gone, but I never forgot you. Why else would
people say how similar our mannerisms are, how I wear my hair exactly as you did, how I am, without a doubt, my mother’s daughter? No, I never forgot you. I just decided to forget the person you
became when you chose alcohol over me. I know you loved me, and I hope, more than anything,
that you knew I loved you too.
Your Daughter, Olivia вњ¦
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
Teen Ink • May ’11 • Page 20
UA has a rich tradition of excellence in
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Ranked in the top 6 percent of universities
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CVA is a private, accredited, four-year college
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2945 College Drive
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Cornell, as an Ivy League school and a
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410 Thurston Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
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Best of both worlds as a member of
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A member of the Ivy League and
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6016 McNutt Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
College of
Visual Arts
344 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota
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Preparing students with individual
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15 majors including two B.A.
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(412) 396-6222 • (800) 456-0590
E-mail: [email protected]
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Get Where YYou
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99 Main Street
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Earn a BA in Global Studies while
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Located in New York’s stunning Finger Lakes
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100 Job Hall 953 Danby Road Ithaca, NY 14850
Mount Holyoke is a highly
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Harvard offers 6,500 undergraduates an
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Johnson, VT 05656-9898
Providence, Rhode Island
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Ohio Northern is a comprehensive
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800-331-0834 • 718-636-3514
email: [email protected]
Princeton simultaneously strives to be one
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61 S. Sandusky St. • Delaware, OH 43015
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A picturesque New England campus,
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Stanford, CA 94305
Private, Catholic, liberal arts college
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Offers over 30 undergraduate majors and
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Earn a world-renowned degree in a
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Newman Hall, Kingston, RI 02881
500 College Ave.
Swarthmore, PA 19081
Written a Book Lately? Submit Your Novel Online!
Attention all writers! URI has a great major
called “Writing and Rhetoric.” Prepare yourself for a career as a journalist, a novelist, an
advertising copywriter, a public relations
professional, or an English teacher! Located
minutes from RI’s gorgeous beaches.
A liberal arts college of 1,500
students near Philadelphia, Swarthmore
is recognized internationally for its
climate of academic excitement and
commitment to bettering the world.
A college unlike any other.
college reviews
The Ohio State
and great coaches like Woody Hayes, the Buckeyes
Columbus, OH: “O-H!” These two letters can be
are always a nationally respected team. Other footheard echoing throughout campus, from the dorm
ball-related traditions include tailgating outside Saint
rooms to the famous football stadium, “The HorseJohn’s Arena, cheering with Ohio State’s mascot,
shoe,” or even while strolling through the center
Brutus Buckeye, and listening to The Best Damn
Oval on campus. They always await a reply; a reBand in the Land at Skull Session. To the non-Bucksponse usually delivered by a complete stranger.
eye, Skull Session sounds trivial (a pre-game warm“I-O!” It is more than the spelling of this great state.
up for the band), but it is attended by more than
This chant has unified Buckeyes everywhere, past,
50,000 fans gearing up for the big game. All these
present, and future. This chant is a long-standing
athletic traditions are emotional events for devoted
tradition that represents more than four letters. It
fans. However, picking a college should
embodies the pride and spirit of The Ohio
not be based on just tradition and athletState University.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity Full of diversity ics; academics always plays a part.
During the past decades, Ohio State has
to visit this elite institution this year, and
which gives it improved its academic standards and now
was not only excited by its traditions but
also its academic excellence and vibrant
a big-city feel sits among the top institutions in the nation. With a variety of undergraduate macampus life. The Ohio State University is
jors, the university has the flexibility to
a great fit for me and would be an excelsupport everyone’s interests. In 2007, OSU was
lent option for anyone seeking a higher education in
ranked among the top 20 public schools in the nation
a fantastic atmosphere.
by U.S. News and World Report. The quality of those
The heart of The Ohio State University revolves
accepted has also improved. For a recent incoming
around its strong athletic programs, particularly its
class, 91 percent of freshmen were in the top 25 perlong history of football dominance. The traditions of
cent in their class, and the average freshman scored
OSU are best experienced by attending any athletic
between 25 and 30 on the ACT.
event, and witnessing a home football game in the
With the development of new facilities including
crisp autumn atmosphere is a life-changing experience. It is amazing to see thousands of loyal students,
the renovated Thompson Library, the pursuit of academic excellence is certain to continue. Ohio State is
faculty, alumni, and sports fans gather in one square
one of the top schools in the nation for political scimile to cheer on The Bucks. Through the legacies of
ence and business. Outstanding academics makes
legends including multiple Heisman trophy winners
Eastern Michigan
Photo by Maggie Zhang, Manlius, NY
Ypsilanti, MI: As soon as you enter
the city of Ypsilanti, you know you
are in the home of the Eagles. My initial impression of Eastern Michigan’s
campus was that it was a clean and
pleasant place: a place I could see myself one day calling home.
The campus is small; it takes no
more than 15 minutes to walk all the
way around. Don’t let age deceive
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
OSU a worthy choice, but even then, the environment
of a college most be considered before making a final
The Ohio State University has a fantastic atmosphere that can be experienced in every part of campus. I had been at OSU as one of thousands of loyal
fans to cheer on the Buckeyes on game day, but had
never visited on a weekday. I was expecting the college to be lethargic by comparison, but this was not
the case. Ohio State sits in the heart of Columbus, on
the banks of the Olentangy River. It was bustling
with students and residents, and full of diversity,
which gave it a big-city feel. “Big isn’t for everyone,
but it works well for the students seeking a college
environment that mirrors the real world. We are a
university that believes an educationally diverse environment – one where we don’t all think alike, look
alike, or act alike – cultivates students who grow into
talented and confident citizens of the world,” said
OSU Assistant Vice President Mabel Freeman. This
statement truly captures the philosophy of Ohio
State. This college looks for students who will live
and grow in this type of environment.
College selection is a serious time for everyone.
The setting you choose should fit your needs. I believe that The Ohio State University perfectly fits
mine. I look forward to seeing if others will answer
my call. “O-H!”
Discover more at вњ¦
by Christopher Burke, Canfield, OH
you, even though Eastern Michigan is
in four teachers in Michigan graduone of the oldest universities in the
ated from Eastern; nationally that
state, with recent renovations and new
number is one in 16. Eastern Michigan also has a top-ranked business
buildings, it is very up-to-date.
school. But if business is not your inSafety is a priority here. Students
and parents can sign up for text mesterest, don’t worry, over 33 percent of
sage alerts for updates on anything
the students are majoring in the arts
happening on campus. Emergency
and sciences.
telephones are located on every corEastern offers over 200 majors,
ner, and there is an escort program to
along with the opportunity to create
help you get around campus at night if
your own. Studying abroad is also
you are alone. Eastern
available, which has the
Michigan has its own posame tuition as campus.
I could see
lice force, and is close to
Eighty-eight percent of
two hospitals.
myself one the classes at Eastern are
Ypsilanti is a small colno larger than 30 students,
day calling it and there is a student-tolege town with a lot to
offer. There are over 300
teacher ratio of 19 to 1. I
restaurants. The city is also
heard from current students
just 10 minutes from Ann
that teacher and student
Arbor and 40 minutes from Detroit.
bonds are really good and not only are
Dormitories are all co-ed but have
encouraged but also are common.
single-gender floors. The entire camEastern Michigan boasts excellent
pus has Wi-Fi. Freshmen are allowed
job preparation. Teachers, administrato have cars, but if you don’t have one
tion, and the prestige of the school
it’s okay because not only is everywill help students and graduates land
thing close enough that you can walk,
internships and jobs and other opporbut there is a shuttle service.
One great aspect of Eastern MichiEastern Michigan is all about acagan is that you won’t leave college
demics. Their slogan, “Education
heavily in debt. Not only is tuition low
First,” reflects both their focus on
for in-state students, but in 2009, Eastacademics and the fact that the school
ern Michigan had the lowest increase
was originally a teaching college. One
in tuition of all public schools in the
state, and in 2010 it was the only
school in the country not to increase
tuition. Despite the low cost, many
scholarships are offered based on ACT
or SAT scores and high school GPA.
Student life at Eastern is very active. There are over 150 activities and
clubs, as well as a Greek system. A
nice aspect of Eastern is that any student can participate in any activity,
regardless of your major.
They recently completed a new Student Center and Recreation Center,
filled with work-out rooms. There is
also an auditorium that shows free
movies every Friday. The sporting
events are also another free activity
for all students. Eastern Michigan is a
Division I school and has a top swim
From just a simple campus visit
and tour, Eastern Michigan makes a
terrific presentation. The school is
extremely diverse in many areas,
especially academically, ethnically,
and socially. I can already tell that by
attending Eastern Michigan and by
utilizing all it has to offer, you can
go far.
Find out more at вњ¦
by Lily Martis, Perrysburg, OH
classrooms and students’ homes for recess during my first summer. The problem with this half-hour soccer break
was what we called the “man-eating
diving bug,” something between a
mosquito and a flea, and its posse of a
thousand cronies.
The young students of Ciudad were
models of resilience. Undaunted by the attacking bugs,
they pulled me along with
eager grins, determined to
play. I dove full force into
those soccer games and left
the field covered in bites. The
only other issue involving our
games arose when choosing
team names; everyone wanted
to be on “Team Mexico.”
After much deliberation, I
suggested a solution that met
everyone’s satisfaction: during the daily Mexico vs. Mexico soccer matches, Mexico
always won.
Last summer, I returned
a fresh objective. I had
Photo by Creighten Benally, Churchrock, NM
worked hard to hone my poetry skills at Cal Arts’ Creative Writing
best hours of my life in those moments
program and wanted to share this with
of growth and play shared with the stustudents at Ciudad. With an enthusiasdents in all the friendships forged,
tic thumbs-up from the lead teacher, I
books read, and in the poetry written
created and taught a 10-day poetry
course for the fifth-graders. As I conI also measured that time in bug
structed my first lesson, I imagined I
bites. We used the grassy field by the
was a painter with an empty canvas,
n hour can mean nothing; it
can be wasted like vegetables
left for too long in the bottom
drawer of the refrigerator. Or, an hour
can change your life. I volunteered 20
hours a week, three weeks a year, for
two summers at the Ciudad del Sol Migrant Center. I measured some of the
by Scott Panek, Davis, CA
just like Sr. Alarcon’s. With his inspirathinking, Anything is possible. The retion, everything changed and the projality of the first day, however, revealed
ect took flight. Day by day, we
that my students didn’t connect with
practiced different styles, from lyrical
my first lesson; they claimed complete
to haikus to free-form. I brought paintdisinterest in the world of poetry.
ings and music, fossils and ribbons to
For example, there was Miguel, who
trigger their imaginations as they
spent his year traveling California and
crafted their first tentative poems.
south into Mexico following farm crop
A crystalline moment: the proudest
cycles, continually adjusting to new
experience of my life, and I mean this
homes and schools. How could I reach
sincerely, was when Bibiana, a ramthis boy who protected himself by
bunctious girl who
being tough and recluloved diamante poems,
sive? I went to the licame to class with a
brary for help. There I
Some of the best
sheet of paper. “I wrote
found the works of
Francisco Alarcon, a
hours of my life were these at home,” she
said, showing me the
local poet who writes
those moments of page, a little embarillustrated children’s
rassed. It was covered
books in both Spanish
growth and play
on both sides with
and English. Many of
his poems address the
How do you describe a moment like
lives of migrant farm children.
this? I was brimming over with happiI cleared the shelf and brought nine
ness. Even Miguel wrote his fair share,
of Alarcon’s books to class, each seincluding haikus about 50 Cent and a
lected to link personal struggle with
descriptive poem about Pancho Villa.
art. With my heart pounding expecOn the last day of class, as I handed
tantly, I silently laid them on the table.
out the chapbooks containing 30
My students smiled, curious about tipoems written in six styles, illustrated
tles like Laughing Tomatoes and Other
and typeset by the students, they
Spring Poems.
beamed with pride.
I nodded encouragement as they
“Do I have to give this back?” asked
opened the books and began exploring.
Miguel, clutching his chapbook.
As we read lines from our favorite
“No, Miguel, that one is just for
poems in both languages, I proposed
you.” ✦
that we create our own book of poems,
community service
The Poetry of Ciudad del Sol
Sponsored by
School Is a Gift
by Sophie Vitter, Metairie, LA
didn’t dwell on the significance of this project.
ost high school students view their edAfter all, I had done many similar rebuilding
ucation in a less-than-enthusiastic
manner. We sometimes let ourselves
Then, just as we were about to leave the
believe that classes are intentionally made imschool,
I saw them: a group of children walkpossible to pass, teachers actually take pleasure
ing – or sprinting, rather – toward their newly rein failing us, and homework is there for the sole
furbished school. The looks on their faces were
purpose of torturing us. I now realize that this
priceless; it was as if they had just spotted an allmindset is totally ridiculous. Two years ago,
you-can-eat candy buffet. I distinctly remember
however, I completely agreed with it.
thinking, They can’t really be that
I was always a hard-working stuexcited about school, can they?
dent. I completed homework on
But they were. These children
time, participated in class, and studAttending
ecstatic finally being able to
ied hard for tests and quizzes. But
school is a
return to a beautifully renovated
for years, I had absolutely no idea
It was then I realized how
why I pushed myself. I suppose I
privilege, not a school.
fortunate I was. Attending school is
just wanted to achieve temporary
a privilege, not a punishment.
success – to receive that A and be
Now, I view school in a totally
done with it.
different way. I’m not saying I run
During sophomore year, however,
home every day thrilled to begin hours of homemy perspective completely changed. The San
work. I still occasionally complain about school,
Francisco 49ers Foundation traveled to New Orbut whenever I am tempted to wallow in selfleans to help with the continuing relief efforts
pity, I simply remember the excitement and
after Hurricane Katrina. Hearing about this opeagerness of those children.
portunity, I decided to go and help restore a local
I continue to work hard in school, but now I
elementary school.
do it because I want to make the most of the opA friend and I spent time painting the school’s
portunities I have been given. I want to learn, to
cafeteria in an assortment of vivid colors.When
make something of myself, to become the best I
we were finished, the room looked truly fantascan possibly be, and all this I learned from a
tic. At the end of the day, I felt accomplished,
group of 10-year-olds. вњ¦
proud to have helped my community. However, I
Photo by Michelle Long, Syosset, NY
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
points of view
Holocaust Remembrance Day
prejudice and discrimination. Being against prejudice
to stain our hands and malicious evil to continue.
f I had been born 85 years ago, I might have been
and discrimination means realizing that listening to
No longer can we remain a nation of ignorance. It
a Holocaust victim. I might have been the child
an ethnic joke without disapproving is wrong. It
reaching for my mother as I was forced into a gas
means never teasing someone because of their ethfor that is the key to never allowing something like
chamber. I might have been the sad face in a photo in
nicity or religion. When we hear racial slurs, somethe Holocaust to happen again. The survivors of the
the pages of a history book, wiped from existence,
times just letting our friends know we do not approve
Holocaust have almost all died now, but their words
dwelling only in the memories of surviving family
is all it takes to fight discrimination.
can live on. There are hundreds of thousands of artimembers. Because of my religion – I am one of
Never should we say we are too young to carry the
cles, books, and memoirs written by
Jehovah’s Witnesses – I might have
torch of remembrance! At 22, Sophie Scholl, along
these survivors. If we let their stories
been, but fortunately, I was not. It is up
Their voices were go unread, we allow the victims to be
with her brother Hans, was executed for speaking out
to each of us to remember the atrociagainst the Nazis. Aware of the horrors carried out by
ties committed during the Holocaust
silenced, but our
Hitler’s regime, they found their voice in the face of
Today, in schools, the Holocaust is
and, through education, erase such
evil and proved to the world that no one is too young
voices and their covered briefly. Many students have
evil and hatred from the world today.
to speak up.
never been to a Holocaust RememThe perpetrators of the Holocaust
stories remain
But how can young people speak up if they are not
brance Museum or read a book about
did not just persecute Jehovah’s Wittaught? We cannot allow children to remain ignorant
the Holocaust. It is vital that we, the
nesses. Instead, Hitler and his followof the Holocaust. They must be educated; with the
next generation, take the time to open our minds and
ers took the lives of Jews, the handicapped, gypsies,
help of books, movies, and music, they must hear the
hearts to the plight of the victims. By reading about
homosexuals, and others. It did not matter if you
stories of the survivors and learn the lesson of hope.
comwere a father, a mother, a son, or a daughter, the
With images of the Holocaust in their minds, they
prehending the horror of watching the extermination
Nazis only cared if you were, or more importantly
must advocate for a world without prejudice and
of loved ones, we will better remember the Holowere not, of the Aryan race. People were punished,
never back down from the fight against oppression
caust. By reading personal accounts of those who
tortured, and killed because of their appearance,
and discrimination.
fought to stay alive, we guarantee that
actions, or beliefs.
When we allow hatred to consume us,
a Holocaust could never happen again.
Dr. Gordon Zahn of the University of Massachuwe invite evil into our hearts. Instead of
To forget is to the let the deeds of
setts defined the Nazi victims as three types: “(1)
shrinking back, we should want to do
the evil perpetrators go unpunished,
those who suffered for what they were; (2) those who
something, anything, to rid the world
suffered for what they did; (3) and those who sufof oppression. During the Holocaust, a
Ultimately, we students must make it
fered for what they refused to do.” They were
is May 1, 2011
generation of authors, poets, artists,
our duty to educate ourselves about
stripped of their dignity and essentially demoralized.
and teachers was lost. Their voices
the Holocaust. We owe it not only to
Millions endured heinous torture for years while othwere silenced, but our voices and their stories remain.
those who suffered, but also to those who suffer perers turned deaf ears to their cries of anguish.
One voice can always make a difference, and by
secution and discrimination today, by refusing to reHas anything really changed? Even today, with the
making sure the voices of the Holocaust victims
main silent in the face of evil. We must display the
genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, we feel compassion
never die, we make a difference. By educating ourhealing power of love and fight against the evils in
in our hearts but doing little to ease their suffering.
selves and all children about the horrors of genocide,
Instead of speaking up and doing something, we look
we educate the world. And by using our voices to
evil and hatred begin to disappear.
the other way. By not taking action we are as guilty as
educate the world, the torch of remembrance will
Fighting against evil goes much deeper than saying
those who deliver the death blows. By remaining
forever be kept alive. вњ¦
you are against genocide. You oppose all forms of
silent, we allow the blood of innocent men and women
The Cost of Counterfeiting
fter spending hours browsing the
Coach website, you’re convinced
you must own this season’s latest
handbag. If only there were a magical
way to change the $250 price into $25.
Then the idea of buying a knockoff pops
into your head. With a few clicks on the
Internet, an almost exact replica of the
style you want can be in your shopping
cart in minutes. After all, it seems like
everyone is buying counterfeits. What’s
the harm?
The truth is, knockoff purses may
cause a lot more damage than you realize.
One overlooked aspect of the counterfeit
industry is where the money actually
goes. It is not taxed. The U.S. economy is
continually affected by the estimated 98
million untaxed dollars spent on counterfeit accessory items annually. Unlike designer brands, the profits from knockoffs
don’t go to factory workers or salespeople; they may in fact go to illegal organizations. The FBI found that the 1993
bombing attempt on the World Trade
Center was partially funded by the sale of
knockoff Kate Spade bags.
by Ashley Felder, Sumter, SC
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
by Caroline Desantis,
Staten Island, NY
should be viewed as an investment. Fake
Not only is the public’s well-being
bags come with absolutely no warranty.
jeopardized by the counterfeit fashion inIf it falls apart after one use, you’ve just
dustry, the designers are also affected.
wasted your money.
Every accessory produced by a company
Instead of buying a fake or saving up
is the result of creativity and hard work.
for the real thing, there are other options.
But when you buy a replica, those profitStores like Target are collaborating with
ing aren’t the ones who designed the
designers like Carlos Falchi to help blend
bags. Companies like Louis Vuitton are
affordability and fashion. Falchi’s bags,
trying to catch counterfeiters. However,
which can retail for up to
paying to expose the
$4,000, have been recriminals and pursue them
Knockoff purses designed to feature faux
in court is expensive. Deand new textures.
signers have no choice but
may cause more snakeskin
Though some may argue
to pay these costs, and in
damage than
they’re not as glamorous,
turn, this further raises the
they’re certainly a bargain.
price of their products.
you realize
The collection is a limited
Buying a fake bag also
edition, but the idea is
comes with the guarantee
growing. Walmart and Kohl’s have unthat you’ll have to replace it fairly soon.
veiled similar collaborations, proving
Knockoff bags are not only sold at a fracthat style doesn’t have to be sacrificed
tion of the cost, but are also a fraction of
for price.
the quality. A genuine Coach bag comes
However, counterfeiting is an ongoing
with a lifetime warranty. If a clasp breaks
or stitching comes undone, Coach’s polproblem. Though illegal in the governicy states that the bag will be fixed or
ment’s eyes, the estimated number of
replaced for the cost of shipping and hanfake bags purchased each year continues
dling. As a consumer, a real designer bag
to increased. The easiest way to stop this
Photo by Jessica Furtado, Bradford, MA
is simply not to buy knockoffs. Be sure to
buy directly from the manufacturer’s
store or website, or from an authorized
seller. Beware of Internet deals that offer
prices too good to be true – this is a sure
sign that the bags aren’t real.
If you really must have the newest
Coach purse, try saving your money.
You’ll get a bag that will last a lifetime
as well as the satisfaction of knowing
that your money is going to reputable
hands. вњ¦
by Andrew Plante, Portsmouth, VA
Although Huck Finn displays examples of alarmark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry
ing ignorance and racism throughout, the story also
Finn has been controversial ever since its
contains several of the most inspirational lines
release in 1884. It has been called everyin American literature. When Huck dething from the root of modern American literature to
cides that he’ll “go to Hell” in order to
a piece of racist trash. The greatest controversy, howsave Jim, the reader sees that Huck’s
ever, comes with its presence in high school classreal beliefs differ from those of his
rooms. The book’s use of the “n-word” causes many
contemporaries. The book must be
to question Twain’s real motives in writing it. Huck’s
read for what it truly is: a classic of
constant musings about Jim’s uncouth and lowly deAmerican literature, and a satire of
meanor can cause the reader to feel uncomfortable,
our country at the height of its ignobut we must remember that Huck acts as he sees
rance and despair.
adults acting, and his views merely reflect those of
Many critics contend
his fellow Southerners. Twain intended
that Huck Finn’s offensive
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to
language makes it too advanced for
satirize the South and its long, excruciatHuck Finn
high school students. Minnesota Enging process of eliminating slavery and atprovides a
lish teacher Paula Leider argues that
taining equality for all people. Huck Finn
provides an accurate glimpse into our ter- glimpse into our most people’s lack of experience and
knowledge of “what it means to be
rible past, and for this reason, it must be
terrible past
persecuted due to race” makes us incataught in classes across the country.
pable of understanding the offensive
Considering that a lot of high schools
nature of the novel. This argument defare racially mixed, strong discomfort eninitely
and the language in Huck Finn
sues when classes dive into The Adventures of Huckoften
For example, when Huck
leberry Finn. If teachers do not confront the issue of
attempts to explain the fact that different countries
the novel’s offensive language ahead of time, people
have different languages, Jim stubbornly refuses to
are bound to get upset. In Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in
believe it. Huck gives up, saying, “you can’t learn a
1995, a group of eleventh-grade black students boyn---er to argue.”
cotted the book because of its racist content. PresHuck’s ignorance often surfaces, and his frequent
sured into making a change before these students
use of the “n-word” certainly causes the reader to
flunked out of school, the district brought parents,
cringe. In a racially mixed classroom, this discomfort
students, teachers, administrators, and scholars tois magnified tenfold. Black critics of Huck Finn, ingether to remedy the problem. After a year of intense
cluding school administrator John H. Wallace, bedebate, they finally figured out a way to teach Huck
lieve that the novel’s excessive bigotry delegitimizes
Finn that addressed each group’s concerns.
In This Country
by Lauren Joy Delhomme,
Seabrook, TX
be called united without really being united.
n this country, there are children who have
In this country, some couples are allowed to
no home. They were born here, to citizens
marry while others are not. Isn’t love love?
of this country, but no one in this country
But in this country, some important issues are
wants them.
just left up to the states.
Living creatures are treated as machinery
In this country, we have black skin, we
for profit. The land, the sky, the water are
have white skin, and everything in between.
raped for profit, and our fellow citizens are
We have really blonde hair and really black
made sick from the fumes of this profit. But
hair, and everything in between. Because in
in this country, we do not care, so long as we
this country, our ancestors have come from
make a profit.
other countries – except for less than 1 perIn this country, there are neighborhoods in
cent: the native population. Some of our famiwhich violence is a way of life. Children give
lies have come recently, while
birth to children, people are killed
others cannot remember when
for recognition, for status, and no
one says a word for fear of their
Aren’t we a they did not live in this country.
But it does not matter. Some of us
own family being killed. But in
came to escape persecution,
this country, that’s how it is.
famine, war. Some of us came beIn this country, we have the
cause we were forced. But we all
problem of drug addiction. We buy
came to believe in this hope: a
them from the country to our
dream of a new life here. We all want to live
south, supporting their biggest economy. Or
what has come to be called “the American
we find citizens looking for a profit to give us
what we want underground. But in this counSo why is it that today, in this country, one
try, we have bigger problems.
our biggest concerns is what we call
In this country, we want our children to
“aliens” coming into our country? Why is it a
grow up and have lucrative jobs. But in this
problem that families are coming to this councountry, we are cutting education budgets,
try to work, to go to school, to pursue the
because education is not important.
American Dream, just as our families did?
In this country, we have many of our citiWhy are they aliens? If they are aliens, aren’t
zens deployed to other countries, serving in
we a country of aliens?
wars. And in this country, there is a lot of pain
In this country, we are called the melting
and disagreement about these wars. But in
But we don’t mix very well. ✦
this country, that is okay, because it’s okay to
its message. The offensive language in Huck Finn
certainly makes it a difficult book to read.
Although the argument against reading this
novel certainly makes sense, many forget
how influential and important The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was in our
country. Critics often forget Samuel
Clemens’ strong views on slavery and
abolition. They forget that he supported the liberation of slaves; he even
paid for a black youth’s education at
Yale University. In an article in College
English magazine, Lucille Fultz calls Wallace’s criticism of the novel “self-righteous indignation.” Sadly, many critics refuse to analyze the
novel and read Huck Finn for its intended purpose: to
criticize America’s despicable views of black people,
and to offer a look at our hopeful, tolerant future
through the eyes of a Southern boy.
When Jim gets mad at Huck for lying about his
dream, Huck feels terrible. The process of “humbling
[himself] to a n---er” presents Huck with a moral
dilemma, but he does apologize, adding that he
“warn’t ever sorry for it afterwards.” This act portrays Huck not as an ignorant Southern bore, but
rather an empathetic child slowly beginning to understand that the man he perceived as property and less
than human actually has feelings and needs similar
to his.
After reading The Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn, I believe that the way a teacher approaches
discussing it is critical. Before beginning, the teacher
must acknowledge the severity of the language.
Taking a vote on the use of the “n-word” in class
discussion could cut down on awkwardness in the
Despite the controversies, I believe that Huck Finn
must be read in American literature courses because
of the important role it played in our country’s past.
No classroom should skip Huck Finn; every English
class can find a way to read this novel that meets
their specific needs.вњ¦
points of view
Huck Finn
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M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
travel & culture
Memories of Chamberlain, Maine
by Eden Gordon, Armonk, NY
poignant feelings of the heart.
Would you like to take a ride on our
knotholes, alive with memories
s we drive away from this
Chamberlain has hardly changed
boat? I’ll leave my flip-flops, slip a
spanning generations.
time-worn little town, I alsince I can remember. The post office
crumpled yellow life jacket over my
But all of this would be nothing
ready miss the thrashing sea
is still surrounded by tall wildflowers
sweatshirt, and we’ll cruise around
without the colorful cast of characters
grass, the endless cawing of gulls, and
… ah, the wildflowers! They are
buoys until we plunge past the point
I have come to know and love. People
the yellow snapdragons reaching for
streaky slashes of color swaying in the
and explode into the open sea. I’ll be
here are easy to trust and always
the sky, which seems to have been
sea breeze. I used to imagine the path
singing some song and buckling my
smile. It’s easy to say hello to everysplattered with a long white cloudy
between poison ivy and white bursts
knees each time we crash over the
one. Although the scenery is full of inbrush. The air is settled, peaceful; I
of Queen Anne’s lace to be a fairy
crest of a giant emerald wave. We may
spiration and beauty, the laughter and
can hardly imagine my hectic life back
path – it’s easy to believe in those litsee dolphins rising above the waves,
harmony of the people is just as spehome. I guess I have finally adjusted
tle sparkling creatures on a starry
their backs gray and shiny under the
cial. We spend our days playing tento the salty Maine air, to the mist bilMaine night. I can remember the first
summer sun. We might see a thousand
nis, gossiping at dinner, roasting
lowing off the sapphire creases of the
marshmallows at bonfires, and chatocean and mixing with
star. I was lying on the
on the water, or seals poking their
ting out on the point past 11 at night.
the evergreen, northeastdock
Chamberlain and the towns around
ern temperatures. This
Maine nights are
constellations, each tiny
eyes. We could see eagles rising from
it are filled with tiny little gems in the
place I am leaving is
everything you spark a burning fireball,
their nests, as the sun lights up the enform of fun things to do. We can drive
beautiful, a tiny diamond
to the swimming hole and leap off the
stud on the fabric of my
might expect
across the entire sky,
sparkles off the waves. But the best
bridge, plunging into the cold depths,
world. So let me go back
leaving a trail of rainbow
part is that feeling of freedom, that exor swing from a rope, dodging tree
to the beginning.
branches before crashing into the
Not that beginning, of course, not
been a fairy’s escalator, skating up and
all, a tiny speck on that huge ocean.
when the sea carved out these chunks
up into the dome of sky.
Back in the cove, we’ll stumble off
Damariscotta, a neighboring town,
of rock and nibbled out the pebbles
From the post office, a stroll past
the dock and snag a few wild blueberis a shopper’s delight, filled with
and shoreline. No, I mean my own bethe tennis courts leads to giant rocks
ries on our way home. And with the
shops and cafГ©s. I could spend all day
ginning, my earliest memories of this
along the coast that spill out onto the
house comes food. Food! Calories
inspecting each trinket, sipping milkbeautiful place. I stayed in the yellow
edge of a sandbar – an open stretch of
trapped in a peanut butter and fluff
shakes at the bookstore cafГ©, and tryhouse then. I remember, faintly, the
sand filled with hermit crabs, opportusandwich sliding down my throat …
ing on scarves, sunglasses, and
bedroom with the picture of a blue
sweatshirts. Some days we
butterfly, the warm soapiness of a carmoon sucks out the tide and lets us
Another Maine tradigo to Pemaquid Beach,
wash, and the sweet taste of a flufferMaine is a
walk along this clean and perfect gift.
tion, as revered as any.
though the water is too
nutter sandwich. Maine has always
Mussels peer through the sand. Water
The family packs the
to stay in very long,
been a peaceful oasis, a big gulp of
gigantic fruit for cold
threads in, tickling our toes, and trickkids and dogs into the
and we watch fireworks
fresh air.
a writer to sink shoot off over the water in
les back out into the sea. This is the
car and drives to Round
I learned a lot on this trip, like how
sea in which dolphins race, the Titanic
Pond for lobsters and
of Bristol
much sea glass can teach you, and
her teeth into celebration
sank, and Captain Ahab fought a great
clams smothered in
days. Then there’s the anhow lovely a dock can be at night,
white whale. Now its water washes
butter, eaten from the
nual firemen’s parade
swaying back and forth. I know words
seaweed from my feet and breathes in
shells that came from the sea on the
where they toss candy from the trucks
are not enough to describe this place,
and out. The ocean, city of dreams,
other side of that rickety fence. When
and spray us with the hoses.
and no photograph can do it justice.
three-quarters of the planet, carries
the trays come, we crack the scarlet
Of course, some days in Maine are
Maine is all about the senses, the
small fish and whales, supports boats
shells and eat until our stomachs
endlessly long, with nothing to do but
and coughs up tidal waves. The ocean
quiver and nothing is left.
play cribbage, watch movies, and lisis dark on the bottom, blue and green
Maine nights are everything you
ten to the rain. But my memories glow
on top, shimmering, mysterious,
might expect; with the shimmering
with sandbars and boat rides, laughter
bringing peace while roaring with rowater reflecting the silver moon, they
and beauty. Maine is always peaceful
mance, terror, darkness, and new beare easily as romantic as any tropical
and always quiet. Time sort of stops
ginnings. It brings waves and fish …
Caribbean eve. But the jet-black sky is
and you hang suspended in the blue,
and sea glass!
fringed with pine trees and the wind
your journey each day involving no
Sea glass is a Maine tradition, a
has a northern nip in it, bringing memmore than a quest to find that special
beautiful relic of the ocean. It took me
ories of snowy winter eves and crackpiece of blue sea glass or spot dola long time to realize
ling fires. Sometimes
phins in the sea. Maine is a gigantic
that these blue, green,
we lie on our backs,
fruit for a writer to sink her teeth into.
brown, and white
staring at the sky, and if
ridden with shimmering beauty
Chamberlain is a we’re lucky, we’ll see a Itandis mystery.
pieces of triumph and
It bares the soul to the
loveliness came from
sea. It changes people, bringing peace
town that seems shooting star. Nights in
the shattered skeletons
can be spent
and romance and laughter.
to exist as it did Maine
of beer bottles trashed
playing cards beneath a
I hope to return to Maine every year
by strangers from formoonlit window, watchof my life. Even as a teen, I can appredecades ago
eign continents, that
ing movies in our cotciate the beauty and tranquility of this
ended up in my chubby
tage, or sitting on the
little town I love. When I think of
child-fingers, catching the light,
dock, surrounded by ribbons of ebony
Chamberlain, I think of wildflowers,
smooth and round and soft as an
sea threading beneath us, seaweed
huge green waves, and salty sea air. I
angel’s face. In some cases, the search
groping for the surface.
think of lobster and ice cream and
for sea glass took us close to the rickChamberlain isn’t all scenery; it’s
laughter. I think of starry nights and
ety dock. Then, as certainly as the sky
also a town that seems to exist as it did
the merging of sea and sky. I think of
is blue, the sea would call, and we’d
decades ago. Cell phone service can
cliffs chiseled by a careless sculptor,
stand, peer over the damp driftwood,
be found only atop certain hills. The
filled with overhangs and indents. I
scramble over the rocks, past the wild
tiny wood shack of a post office still
think of my family and friends. I think
raspberry bushes (how sweet those
stands amid rows of wild vegetation.
of the extraordinary beauty that lies
swollen raspberries were!), and onto
The old houses are beautifully crafted
right in front of us there, if we just
the dock.
of dark wood, with slanting roofs and
open our eyes. вњ¦
Art by Kelly Benson, Wichita, KS
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
by Cynthia Onyeka, Richardson, TX
at the Port Harcourt International Airport. I
he infectious pounding of the ceremonial
fanned myself discreetly, trying to hide the
drums fell into the rhythm of my beating heart.
fact that I was sweating through my hair
Black, red, and green masked faces blurred in
follicles and act like the locals, who were
front of my eyes. I tried to distinguish the individuals
used to the heat.
yelling my name from the palm trees and cocoyams in
After collecting our luggage, we met our
the distance. “Dance, American girl!” they yelled in
relatives. Lightning-fast Igbo phrases
Igbo, our native language. “Can’t you move your yam
meaning “Welcome home,” “Thank God
legs and dance?”
you made it safely,” and “You’ve gotten so
My legs turned to blocks of lead as embarrassment
big” rushed past me as I tried to hug and
flooded my body. My mother had failed to mention
kiss as many people as I could. My uncle
that utter humiliation would be part of this trip. The
Julius grabbed me by the shoulder. “Are
yelling turned into taunting laughter; I searched the
you enjoying the heat?” His voice sounded
crowd for my cousin and siblings. One of the voices
amused, not condescending. I told him I
pierced my mind. “Dance, now. Aren’t you a Naija
Photo by Karimi Ndwiga, Anaheim, CA
girl?” I stopped moving. Not again. It was one thing
While driving to my father’s village, my uncle
not to dance well enough, be fast enough, or even
like Christmas itself. Small children danced, their
mentioned that the yearly Christmas
black enough, but I refused not to be
bare feet kicking up sand, while grown women used
masquerade was the next day. These
Nigerian enough; it was one characterI
this as an excuse to dance as they had years ago. My
are traditional celebrations where the
istic I could not compromise. Not
cousin pushed me to the center of the circle.
young men of the village dress in large,
couldn’t live up
At first I was enthusiastic and animated, moving
exaggerated masks and dance to
My life has always been a giant
the women I had seen. Then the laughter began.
drums. Just thinking of the drums
oxymoron. Opposites, in my case,
circle seemed to close in, suffocating me. Despite
tended to attract nicely. I was a nerd
jabs, I stopped, afraid. This was not happeneager
who enjoyed discussing the socioecoing.
Naija girl, and instead of fearing it, I
nomic issues of To Kill a Mockingbird
acting like it.
mosquito bites and the synchronized beats of the reas much as listening to hip-hop songs whose AutoI
to dance, using my instincts to pass the
hearsing drummers. I went to help my aunties with
Tuned lyrics stemmed from the very same issues. I
foot to the other. I lifted my arms
breakfast, but they shooed me away because, in their
was a snob about indie music and films, yet had an
to the drummers’ cadence,
words, “I was on a holiday.” I took the opportunity to
undeniable weakness for “Keeping Up with the Karand
The laughter turned into
catch up with my cousin instead.
dashians.” I felt closer to authors like Amy Tan than
the pulse of my beat.
Stephenie Meyer, and despite my glowing ebony skin,
me as a sign of
I had the voice of a commentator on NPR’s “All
Things Considered.” Although I lived happily within
Traveling to Nigeria gave me the confidence to
was being held. Eyes followed us as we approached;
these various juxtapositions, one I could not shake
myself as a true Nigerian. As I looked up
it was pretty obvious we were American.
was my culture.
and the moon in the afternoon African
Suddenly the drums began, each beat punctuated
As a first-generation American, I often struggled
the two opposites, like those in my
with clapping. Men wearing elaborate masks bounced
with my Nigerian heritage and the American culture I
beautifully with one another. вњ¦
to the rhythm; the bells around their ankles sounded
had grown up in. Although my parents instilled our
Naija culture in my siblings and me from a young
age, it often conflicted with American customs. I
do, first and foremost, consider myself an AfricanAmerican, with both my African heritage and my
American upbringing playing equal roles in my life.
This often felt like a game of tug-of-war, with me
by Tina Dornbusch, Califon, NJ
being pulled in two different directions, toward two
three naive Americans – which is just what we were.
Out of traditional respect, I ate Naija foods like
he Lima airport was bright and strangely busy
But neither my aunt nor my cousin was suspicious,
fufu, Jollof rice, and Ogbono soup with my right
at 11:58 p.m. when I first set foot in Peru. My
I allowed us to be led to the sidewalk.
hand at home and chowed down on Chick-fil-A sandsenses were numbed by a full day of travel and
“Taxi ride very cheap,” Juan explained. “Only five
wiches with both hands with friends. And while my
hours of layovers.
American dollars.”
friends went out on dates, I stayed home watching
“Well, we survived Friday the thirteenth completely
I glanced back regretfully at the airport as Juan led
my younger siblings and cousins. I usually didn’t
unscathed,” I said jokingly to my aunt and cousin. I
us into the dark parking lot, unwilling to voice what I
complain; I was used to it.
had never been, and will never be, superstitious.
assured myself were unreasonable reservations.
One thing, however, that I wasn’t used to was
The first thing I noticed about Juan was his Inca
As the taxi pulled away from the airport,
my Nigerian relatives considering me “not Naija
Kola. The drink was something of a
the uneasiness in my stomach grew. My
enough.” Outwardly, I was a typical Nigerian: thick,
myth to me – I had read about it in travel
mind has blurred my memory of that taxi
textured onyx hair, tough hands, and a slightly larger
books, but now I was seeing it for the
He approached ride, possibly to protect me from the
nose. However, my lack of Naija accent and mannerfirst time. The neon yellow soda stood
of fear it contains. Because I was
isms prompted constant ridicule from relatives.
out against Juan’s conservative navy
us quickly and essence
right – the whole thing was a scam. Juan
“What type of Nigerian are you?” they would ask,
blue suit and tie, complete with an airand three accomplices, including the
stifling their laughter.
line badge that hung just below his
driver, held my cousin, my aunt, and me in
Being Nigerian on the outside and American on
jacket’s top button.
their taxis for four hours that night.
the inside was one oxymoron I would not allow myHe approached us quickly and purThree ATM stops, $1,000, one attempt at separating
self to be identified with. No matter how hard I tried,
posefully, asking in broken English where we were
my aunt from my cousin and me, one new taxi, and
I felt like I couldn’t live up to relatives’ expectations.
headed. When my aunt told him, he gave us a quick
several tearful breakdowns later, we were returned to
So, when my family traveled to Nigeria for Christonce-over.
the airport.
mas vacation, it was the perfect opportunity to prove
“A national flight, yes?”
I will never again ride comfortably in a taxi. But
them wrong. I would rekindle my Nigerian roots,
My aunt nodded in agreement.
who knows – maybe my new level of caution is a
regain their respect, and be a Naija girl.
“This is international airport. You drive to national.
good thing. Besides, I am lucky I escaped that Friday
I had visited Nigeria twice before, but this time it
Separate place. I take you there?”
the thirteenth with my life. My aunt, my cousin, and I
felt as though I were seeing it for the first time. AlI frowned doubtfully. This airport seemed plenty
were left unharmed – physically, at least.
though it was December, it seemed as if the sun was
big to support both international and national flights.
And for that, I am grateful. вњ¦
shining all 98 degrees of its heat on me as we arrived
Juan’s story seemed like the perfect scam to trick
travel & culture
Naija Girl
My Friday the 13th
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
Sponsored by
Staring at the Ceiling
Breathe. Calm down. It’s not a big deal. No one’s
was staring at the ceiling, trying to convince mylooking at you. No one’s laughing. You’re okay.
self that I wasn’t going crazy. You’re okay. Things
I was afraid to turn around. I didn’t want to know
are going to be okay. Everything’s fine. Just
if people were staring at me. I figured they were. I
breathe and sleep will come. I tried to muffle the
spent the rest of the class staring at the chalkboard.
noise of my crying with my pillow, but if I couldn’t
I knew I was losing it. I was going crazy. I had lost
sleep then why should anyone else get to?
my old self, and I couldn’t find her again. I wanted to
Think of happy things.
send out a search crew but then I’d have to tell peoIt took me a while to think of anything that made
ple. And I was afraid that they wouldn’t believe me if
me happy anymore. I thought of my favorites places.
I told them something was wrong.
Maybe if I was there I would be able to sleep. I’m
My feelings of sadness led me to look up the
sure I’d be happier anywhere but here.
symptoms of depression. As the computer loaded the
One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four sheep, five
page, I prayed that I didn’t have them.
I’m not depressed. I’m not the type of person who
I checked the time. It was 2 a.m. I’d had enough of
gets depressed. It’ll be okay. I’ll just confirm that I’m
lying in bed, so I got up and went into the bathroom.
not, and then everything will be normal. Just breathe.
I looked at the girl in the mirror and wondered who
The page loaded, and a list of sympshe was: the girl with the sad, tired
toms appeared.
eyes, hair plastered to her face, red,
“Signs and symptoms of depression in
puffy cheeks, and dark circles under her
I knew I was
teens: sadness or hopelessness, irritabileyes. I splashed cold water on my face
losing it. I was ity, anger or hostility, tearfulness or freand when I looked again I saw myself.
Days passed like this, and looking
going crazy. quent crying, withdrawal from friends
and family, loss of interest in activities,
back I wonder how I made it through.
changes in eating and sleeping habits,
Sometimes the sadness of not sleeping
restlessness and agitation, feelings of worthlessness
and the fact that my body was being taken over by
and guilt, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, fatigue
anxiety was too much. I began to hate the things that
or lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, thoughts
I used to love and I searched for something that made
of death or suicide.”
me happy. But nothing could fill the holes.
I told myself that because I didn’t have all of the
symptoms, I wasn’t depressed. Each day I looked at
I sat in Spanish listening to the sound of the
the list to make sure I didn’t have more of the sympteacher writing on the board.
toms, even though I always did.
Please let the day end. I just want to go home.
A few weeks later, my mom told me that she had
We had just finished an assignment, and the
scheduled a doctor’s appointment for me. She said
teacher was calling on students to read their answers
she and my dad thought this had gotten to the point
aloud. I didn’t want to listen, so I pulled out my liwhere medical attention was necessary. I absolutely
brary book and read one page over and over.
“Kathy? … Kathy, what did you get for number
The doctor wanted to hear my symptoms, and she
five? … Kathy!”
did a blood test to rule out any physical issues. A
I jerked up and fumbled for my notebook, knockweek later when the blood test came back, we
ing some of my books to the floor.
learned that there was nothing physically wrong. So
“A-ab-abrela,” I stuttered.
Cystic Fibrosis
Slipping away without a purpose,
My name no one will ever know.
Before the ground turns frozen again I will
have breathed my last breath.
My body will have matched the temperature
of the frosty air.
Those suffering with cystic fibrosis also
Have begun to pull out their bucket lists,
Leaving this world in bitter sorrow, realizing
on their deathbed all that they have missed.
Such a young age to give up hope,
But oh does our future look bleak,
Surrounded by oxygen masks and endless
Doing all that we can not to fall off the face
of the earth.
An ocean of a disease, toying constantly
with our health and emotions,
Trying to hold in our bitterness as others
continue to breathe with ease,
Putting fake smiles on our faces as we try to
swim up for air,
We break above the surface and then
finally disappear.
by Colleen Black, Lake Zurich, IL
by “Kathy,” Sunman, IN
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
that meant that there was something psychologically
wrong with me.
Once again, I headed to the doctor. I prayed that it
wasn’t depression. I prayed that it was just a suspicion that I was depressed and not a fact.
“I think that you have anxiety,” the doctor said.
Anxiety? Like I’m anxious? I’ve never heard of
that. I don’t think it’s even a real problem.
“Antidepressants are probably the best treatment
for your situation.”
Antidepressants … so I am depressed. It’s okay –
don’t cry.
“Aren’t antidepressants for depression, though? I
thought you said she had anxiety.” My mom seemed
as unsure about this as I was.
“Antidepressants are used to treat a variety of issues,” said the doctor.” Anxiety is one of them. Many
people who suffer from anxiety are also depressed,
so it works hand in hand to treat both illnesses.”
I am ill. There is something psychologically wrong
with me.
“What do you think, sweetie? I’m not sure about
it, but if you think it’ll help-”
“Mom, I don’t want to do this anymore!”
And that’s when I lost it. The dam that had been
holding in my emotions broke, and next thing I knew
I was sobbing. My mom held me and told me everything would be okay. She told the doctor that we
would try the medicine.
I was embarrassed about taking antidepressants. I
didn’t tell anyone except my best friend. I didn’t
even write it on my medical forms, I was so
ashamed. But then I did research, and I learned more.
Anxiety and depression aren’t weaknesses.
They’re battles inside your body for who gets control. And most of the time, you don’t win. I also
learned that a lot of people wake up every day and
face the same problems I did; I learned that just by
talking to my friends. I’m not alone, and I won’t ever
be alone in my battle against anxiety. And maybe one
day, I’ll win. ✦
An Abnormal Childhood
by “Allison,”
Platteville, WI
this option because they realized it would be hard to reghile most teenagers have memories of playing
ulate the diet of a six-year-old.
in the sandbox or going to a friend’s house for
Then they researched brain surgery. They discovered
their first sleepover, I have none of these. Inthat while it was risky, it was probably the best option
stead, I remember my parents hovering over me, never
and if successful, it would cure my epilepsy forever.
letting me do anything by myself. I also have memories
So, on October 1, 1999, my grandmother’s eightieth
of passing out in class and waking with the school nurse
birthday and nine days after my seventh, I had an operaat my side. This is because I was one of the unlucky chiltion to remove the left temporal lobe of my brain, an area
dren with epilepsy, a disease in which abnormal electrithat controls speech and memory. One possical signals in the brain cause seizures.
ble side effect was that I might have to reI was under a year old when I began havI was under a learn how to talk. Fortunately, I was able to
ing seizures. After my first, I was medspeak right after the surgery, and a week
flighted to the hospital, but the doctors said
year when I
later, I was released from the hospital. I had
this wasn’t uncommon in babies. Then I
began having to miss school for the rest of the month.
had another, and my parents knew someSince half my head had been shaved, my
thing was really wrong.
parents and relatives gave me hats to wear.
When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, a
In the decade since my operation, I
routine began. I would have a seizure about
seizure. And after an EEG (a test in
every two weeks, go to the doctor, get blood drawn, and
which the patient falls asleep with electrodes attached to
have my medication increased. A few times, the doctor
her head), an MRI scan, and a neuro-psych test, doctors
overdosed me and I had to be medflighted to the hospital.
confirmed that I had no negative side effects from the
This was my routine for my first six years.
epilepsy or the surgery.
My parents realized they couldn’t do this for the rest
Every day I enjoy the benefits of being free from
of my life. They worried I wouldn’t be able to drive a car
epilepsy, whether it’s driving to school or swimming on
or be alone, and that I might never be able to live indemy own, or simply not feeling like I am attached to my
pendently. They researched various options, one of
parents anymore. вњ¦
which was a special diet. However, my parents dropped
King of the Beach
he instantaneous, bloggedout superhighway that is
the modern music machine can
be the boon and bane of many a
band. Nobody knows that more
than Wavves. Wavves, or more
accurately, 23-year-old guitarist/singer Nathan Williams,
has seen its own meteoric rise
and fall in the indie music community in the span of two
It all began in his house on
the San Diego shore. Williams,
along with then-drummer Ryan
Ulsh, recorded their debut
album, “Wavves,” in Williams’
bedroom using Garageband on
his Mac. Yes, Garageband.
Combining catchy punk riffs,
The band was ready
for a comeback
frenetic drumming, and layer
upon layer of distortion,
Wavves created a joyous,
dystopian wonderland filtered
through the hazy eyes of a
jaded twentysomething misanthrope who had already lived
too much too young. Wavves
soon caught the attention of
hipster tastemaker, which generated
buzz for the band’s first live
show in San Francisco.
Between the releases of his
first and second albums (the
second is “Wavvves” with three
V’s instead of two), Wavves
had become a critical darling
all over the Internet. The live
shows were filling up. Then
Williams’ train derailed.
Last year at Primavera
Sound, the annual music festival in Barcelona, Wavves was
set to play in front of thousands. But Williams was
overwhelmed. To escape the
pressure, he ingested a cocktail
of prescription drugs and subsequently didn’t show. Nervous
breakdowns were had, the band
split, and people hated Wavves.
After he become the butt of
every blogger’s joke, Williams
recruited a new and improved
drummer, Zach Hill from the
prolific math-rock band Hella,
and tried to stay out of the
spotlight. Then, opportunity
bloomed from tragedy.
Fellow abrasive punk rocker
Jay Reatard had a similar
falling out with his band, drummer Billy Hayes and bassist
Stephen Pope. Tragically, last
January, Reatard died in his
sleep after mixing cocaine and
alcohol. Hayes and Pope were
available. It made sense, then,
that they join Williams. Hence,
the new Wavves. After plenty
of backlash and bad blood between Williams and the world,
the band was ready for a comeback.
They recorded their third
album, “King of the Beach,” in
the backwoods of Mississippi.
Wavves ditched the distortion
for something more accessible.
Williams kept the forceful, vital
energy of his old work but infused the music with a new life,
a new anger. He’s been to hell
and back and now he’s ready to
tell his story.
“King,” however, is not
much different from the other
two albums ideologically; it’s
just more self-aware. In “Take
on the World,” Williams sings,
“Well I hate my Ryan/It’s all
the same/Well I hate my
music/It’s all the same.” He’s
definitely matured, but the
more deeply ingrained loner
side remains. Take 2008’s
“Wavves”: “I wanna be alone, I
wanna be victorio/I wanna be
victorio.” Now compare it to
“Mickey Mouse,” from the latest album: “I never wanna leave
home/Everything in the back of
my brain/Told me that I would
be sick/When I’m out there.”
Williams has redeemed himself and is back on top of the
world. вњ¦
by Alex Curtis, Seattle, WA
Guns N’ Roses
t took over 14 years for
“Chinese Democracy,” the
much-anticipated Guns N’
Roses album, to be publicly
released. There were a lot of
things for singer Axl Rose to
take care of as the sole original
member of the band, but he
took a mighty long time to
make one measly album. Was it
worth the wait?
It’s overdramatic, it’s overly
ambitious, and over one hour
long, but excess of this sort is
expected from the band that
caused riots and controversy
while other ’80s era “rock”
bands teased their hair and
applied their makeup.
GNR’s first album, “Appetite
for Destruction” is considered
one of the greatest of its time.
Raw aggression pounds out in
every note. Their 1991 releases,
“Use Your Illusion I” and “II”
include several sweet love
songs like “Don’t Cry” and
“November Rain” that show
musical maturity. Nevertheless,
GNR was still the meanest rock
band in the country.
“Chinese Democracy,” to put
it plainly, sucks. It sounds like
Rose couldn’t make up his
mind about what kind of record
he wanted to make, so he threw
together a colorful array of
genres. “Shackler’s Revenge”
is pure heavy metal, a headbanger’s anthem. And the next
track, “Better,” is pop, with
several corny melodies. When
the album takes a sharp turn
from pop to Broadway-rock in
“This I Love,” there’s only one
logical conclusion for listeners:
“I guess Axl really is bipolar.”
They say a singer will find
only one guitarist he has perfect musical chemistry with in
his lifetime. Slash, the original
GNR lead guitarist, was Axl’s
musical soul mate. He put as
much expression into his licks
as Rose did in his trademark
vocal flourishes – which, on a
side note, are missing from this
In the old GNR, every solo
fit the mood of the song, emotion poured out of every bend
and pull-off. Izzy Stradlin, the
overly ambitious,
and over one hour
original rhythm guitarist, dueled harmoniously with his
awesome riffs and progressions. Most of the solos on this
new album don’t have Slash
and Stradlin’s passion, partly
because Rose couldn’t even
manage to keep a consistent
lineup during the recording.
Granted, “Sorry” has an extremely fitting guitar solo. It
also has relevant lyrics that relate to the less-than-flattering
image of Rose the media has
created. However, once the
song kicks into the chorus, it
takes a turn for the worse.
Rose’s voice sounds jaded, and
the bizarre use of vibrato
makes him come across like a
bitter old man.
Tracks four through six are
basically the same, with a lot of
piano and Rose singing like
Justin Timberlake trying to be
rock n’ roll. However, “I.R.S.”
shows that Rose still has the
ability to write butt-kicking
rock tunes. The song is reminiscent of “Appetite for Destruction,” complete with gritty
instrumentals and a flawless
display of Axl’s vocal range.
But no one should suffer
through the endless drone that
is the rest of the album.
How “Chinese Democracy”
ended up such a failure is a
mystery when it had so much
potential. But maybe it’s too
early to put GNR in the ground.
I guess we’ll see in another 14
years. вњ¦
by Anjali Nair,
West Windsor, NJ
Dreamt for Light
Years in the Belly
of a Mountain
parklehorse’s newest
album, “Dreamt for Light
Years in the Belly of a Mountain,” consists of 12 tracks running the gamut from bitter
guitar solos to mellow pop
songs. Ideally listened to on a
rainy day, many of the songs
are depressingly dark, yet most
are strangely packaged with
rhythms that make them comforting to listen to.
After releasing “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 2001, Mark
Linkous carefully constructed
“Dreamt for Light Years in the
Belly of a Mountain” for five
years before its release. Linkous admitted that several of the
tracks were pop tunes that
didn’t make it onto “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Linkous turned to
producer Danger Mouse to help
him finish it.
Sparklehorse is bizarrely
unique and can be described as
Dreamy pop or
psychedelic rock
dreamy pop or psychedelic
rock. Linkous uses abrasive
guitar melodies, woozy
mellotrons, skewed wire
recordings, and bargain drum
machines. His voice is soothing
though it’s almost always distorted in some way to match
the emotions in his songs. His
voice can be lethargic and
lulling, as on “Return to me,”
and on “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” it’s choppy and
staticy to complement the
sporadic guitar.
The album reflects Linkous’s
many years of depression. The
lyrics are dark and depressing
and merge with perplexing imagery to give all his songs a
surrealistic feel. In “Morning
Hollow” Linkous faintly sings
of a woman who “don’t run
through the fields anymore.”
“Dreamt for Light Years in
the Belly of a Mountain” is
sadly Linkous’s final album. In
March 2010, he tragically took
his life. He will always be remembered for his beautiful
music and forever missed by
his fans. вњ¦
by Sarah Gantt,
Wilmington, DE
It’s All Crazy! It’s
All False! It’s All a
Dream! It’s Alright!
ewithoutYou has drastically pulled away from
their original sound, attempting
to distance themselves from
comparisons with Brand New
and move toward a more indie
approach to their music. While
many find this change offensive, the more flexible listeners
respect mewithoutYou’s decision to turn away from their
original screaming mash.
“It’s All Crazy! It’s All
False! It’s All a Dream! It’s
Alright” is spiked with numerous instruments, each complementing the song in its own
way, whether it be a harp, flute,
trumpet, electric guitar, violin,
or a choral appearance. However, these many instruments
always fit perfectly with the
music around them.
Aaron Weiss’s vocals are
wiry and nasal, an odd voice if
you’ve ever heard one. However, no vocals could be more
perfect for this band.
All of the songs are lively
save a few. “The Fox, The
Crow, and The Cookie” is
whimsical and purely joyous.
“The King Beetle on a Coconut
Estate,” the most impressive
song on the album, is slower
and more melodic, and conservative in a way. Then there’s
music reviews
Religious messages
tucked within
outstanding lyrics
“Allah, Allah, Allah,” which
feels like a jubilant sing-along.
But one thing all the songs
have in common is the religious
messages tucked within outstanding lyrics. MewithoutYou’s approach is quiet and
altogether a celebration of religious belief.
Any indie fan or any person
in their right mind should appreciate this album. вњ¦
by Caitlin Wolper,
New City, NY
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
tv reviews
Walking Dead
ombies are one of the most
popular monsters of all
time. They have inspired a generation of movies, video games,
and books, and have earned
their place among other popular
monsters like vampires and
However, there have never
really been any zombie TV
shows. That is, until now, with
AMC’s new show “The Walking Dead,” based on the series
of graphic novels by Robert
Kirkman, Tony Moore, and
Charlie Adlard.
Before “The Walking Dead”
there were only vampire
shows – and not scary vampires
but vampires who fall in love
and express their feelings. The
great thing about zombies is
they’re not capable of emotion
or falling love. You can’t sweettalk a zombie; it’s either going
to eat you or you have to put a
bullet in its head.
In a sea of repetitive cop
shows and “Lost” knock-offs,
“The Walking Dead” is one of
A smart, compelling
apocalyptic series
the best new shows of the year.
It may not have the most original premise, but it’s a mixture
of many zombie/apocalyptic
films that still works because
it’s something we have never
seen on TV.
The action and drama flow
well together, and the excellent
camera work makes each
episode feel like a small movie.
The show has a gritty, intense
look but at the same time conveys a tranquil and adventurous
After being hospitalized with
a gunshot wound, Officer Rick
Grimes (wonderfully played by
Andrew Lincoln) awakens to a
world overrun by the living
dead. Rick is a likable protagonist who always wants to do the
right thing but isn’t afraid of
some dirty work if it means
finding his wife and kid.
At the start of the pilot, Rick
is shell-shocked and unsure of
what to do. He staggers around
and cries when he can’t find his
family, but later becomes cool
and in control.
In one scene he finds a horse
and rides into overrun Atlanta,
almost reminiscent of an old
Western sheriff riding into
town. As he explores the abandoned towns of a fallen world,
he encounters groups of survivors, each bringing him
closer to his family.
One of the best aspects of
“The Walking Dead” is that it
doesn’t focus on zombies or
survivors killing zombies. Instead it becomes more about
the survivors dealing with their
own conflicts. This helps build
the characters, resulting in the
viewer caring about them.
Nevertheless, “The Walking
Dead” is still about zombies,
which means it’s gory and
messy. It shows everything,
down to the last zombie-feasting scene. This may be enough
to keep some of the general TV
audience from tuning in, but
take away the gore and you’ve
still got a smart, compelling
apocalyptic series. вњ¦
by Drew Powell, Seattle, WA
huck” is an intriguing
NBC show about a normal guy (Zachary Levi) working a dead-end job at an
electronics store. However, he
is a genius. Knowing this,
Bryce (Matthew Bomer),
Chuck’s former roommate,
sends him an e-mail containing
a stolen program that downloads the U.S. government’s
most confidential secrets into
his brain. This turns Chuck into
the government’s most important asset. But Chuck is not an
athlete or a spy, and is incapable of protecting himself.
This is where Agents Sarah
Walker (Yvonne Strahovski)
and John Casey (Adam Baldwin), two top spies, come in.
Their mission is to protect him
as he hunts down some of the
world’s most dangerous criminals and assassins.
“Chuck” is a perfect blend of
charm, wit, plot twists, romance, and action, the exact
recipe for an ideal television
series. Its high-intensity action
scenes give it the drama it
Charm, wit, plot
twists, romance,
and action
needs, while characters like
Chuck’s dim-witted best friend,
Morgan (Joshua Gomez), provide comic relief.
There is also a tangible
chemistry between Chuck and
Agent Walker, who struggle to
keep their romantic feelings
separate from their professional
relationship. Chuck and Sarah’s
undefined relationship keeps
viewers hooked, while other
story lines, like the various returns of Bryce, have the same
No good crime-fighting team
is complete without muscle,
and in this case it’s John, a tall,
brawny agent who provides the
show’s exceptional, fast-paced
action and fighting scenes. The
trio mesh perfectly, and deliver
a great show week after week.
Nothing can end a Monday
for me better than curling up on
the couch and indulging in my
favorite TV show, “Chuck.” ✦
by Bea Ronan, Glendale, AZ
Photo by Andrea Morris, Waynesboro, VA
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
hirty-something disbarred
lawyer Jeff (Joel McHale
from “The Soup”) enrolls in
community college after having
problems with his law school
degree, allegedly obtained “in
Colombia” and mistakenly believed to be “from Columbia.”
At the college, he befriends the
token foreign guy, Abed
(played by Danny Pudi), as
well as Pierce (Chevy Chase),
the old and socially disturbed
guy who makes awkward and
unappreciated advances toward
fortyish divorcee Shirley
(Yvette Nicole Brown). Of
course, no formulaic comedy
would be complete without a
love interest, this time a 28year-old high school dropout
named Britta (Gillian Jacobs).
As an added bonus, and, one
might even say, an afterthought,
Worth watching
the casting directors threw in
John Oliver (from “The Daily
Show”) as a friend and former
client of Jeff’s.
The cast is undeniably great,
and the premise has some serious potential. Unfortunately,
nothing more is offered as a
reason to watch the show. A
few funny one-liners here and
there, a few “Soup” references,
and some clichГ©d jokes add occasional laughs, mostly at the
expense of Abed. The cast
seems to have what could pass
as chemistry, but they fail to
develop it.
With such a wonderful cast
full of recognizable people who
are only a bit past their prime,
one might think that the show
would warrant some compliments and viewership. However, it doesn’t. The writing is
weak and the characters seem
shallow. Regardless of how disappointing the first episode
was, I say the show is still
worth watching, if only to see
where it goes. вњ¦
For teens, this show demonstrates that two grown men can
act like little boys, especially
when their mother is involved.
Siblings of all ages can argue,
compete, and become jealous
of each another, fighting for
their parents’ adoration.
But it really boils down to
the truth that blood is thicker
than water; before the show
ends, despite the painful jokes,
name-calling, and brawls over
who is the most beloved son,
the Barone brothers have nothing but love between them.
That is why “Everybody Loves
Raymond” is one of my favorite sitcoms. ✦
by Kendall Rivers,
Charlotte, NC
ddiction is an understatement when describing my
relationship to CBS’s “NCIS.”
It is the cure to all my problems
and the highlight of my day. I
own every season and am constantly adding to my collection.
The comedy of a dysfunctional family in a work environment is one selling point of the
show. “NCIS” has crime, comedy, and gore – which combine
to make it the best show in
“NCIS” has crime,
comedy, and gore
by Madeline Welsh,
Winter Park, FL
Loves Raymond
n “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Ray Barone is a
sports writer, family man, and
the apparent favorite son of his
parents. Ray’s relationships
with his wife, kids, brother, and
mother and father play out in
comedic ways while addressing
serious real-life issues. The
Any family can
relate to this one
Barone family portray an extended Italian family in a show
that has captured the interest of
men, women, boys, and girls of
all races, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Any
family can relate to this one on
some level. This is why I believe the show has been such a
success for nine seasons.
Each cast member has their
own personality that adds to the
show. For example, Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) is a forensic scientist and an abnormal,
sweet, sensitive, and spontaneous worker. She is my favorite because her attitude and
vibe make the show better.
Mark Harmon plays the serious, straight-forward Leroy
Jethro Gibbs, who is the chief
of investigation for NCIS.
Gibbs is like a father to Abby,
since his wife and kids were
murdered. Gibbs swore he
would seek revenge, and he is
doing just that.
“NCIS” is my favorite show
because it always keeps the
viewer’s attention with its element of surprise, never letting
its audience down. “NCIS” has
completed eight seasons and is
now one of the top shows in
America. вњ¦
by Sarah Kingeter,
Colleyville, TX
Howl’s Moving
owl’s Moving Castle”
was the winner of the
Tokyo International Anime Fair
Animation of the Year in 2005.
It is also a compelling movie
about a cursed girl turning to
the infamous wizard Howl
(who has his own problems) for
help amidst a raging war between two kingdoms. From the
start, viewers are stunned by
the beautiful scenery of late
nineteenth-century Europe. You
can really feel the lively atmosphere director Hayao Miyazaki
tries to convey. In addition, the
soundtrack beautifully captures
the movie’s imagery and
themes in a style reminiscent of
that era of European music.
Like Miyazaki’s previous
films (“Princess Mononoke”
and “Spirited Away”), “Howl’s
Moving Castle” is a mix of romance and suspense. All his
movies have unique characters
and don’t stray far from the
main story, with history and
background that are enriching,
all based on a specific tradition.
What sets “Howl’s Moving
Castle” apart, however, is its
character development.
Sophie (with the voice of
Chieko BaishГґ in Japanese and
Emily Mortimer in English) has
the misfortune of inheriting the
family hat shop, and is soon
cursed by the Wicked Witch of
the Waste. She is a timid girl
who is very self-conscious and
basically antisocial. After being
transformed into an old
woman, her personality sparks
the audience with her humorous age-related jokes and
crackly laugh.
However, Sophie isn’t the
only character who is memorable and loveable. Wizard
Howl (Takuya Kimura in
Japanese and Christian Bale in
English) is a handsome playboy
who is immature and cowardly.
In one scene, he runs out of the
bathroom half naked and starts
oozing green goop because his
hair is dyed orange!
The movie is a pure joy to
watch, but it does have its
flaws. There are parts where
viewers may become confused
and need to backtrack. Moments where Sophie appears
young while being under the
curse may confuse first-time
by Michelle Lam, Brooklyn, NY
Easy A
A pure joy to watch
viewers. Her appearance
matches her mood. For example, she appears the youngest
when she is happiest. The motive for the war is also unclear,
but if you listen carefully to the
conversation between two men
at the start of the movie, you’ll
understand better.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie.
The characters are funny and
quirky, but the plot intrigued
me the most; a moving castle
with four doors to four different
places – what other word can
possibly describe that except
for original? вњ¦
asy A” is definitely a
comedy to watch with
friends. It will have you falling
off your seat laughing, or at
least that’s what I did. The
comedic Emma Stone (“Superbad”) plays Olive Penderghast,
an ordinary, clean-cut, high
school girl who tries to increase
her popularity by telling a little
white lie. At first it helps her
A comedy
about teen life
use the school’s rumor mill to
her advantage, but soon things
get out of hand, making her realize she needs to come clean.
The movie is very funny, but
it also has an important message: a lie, no matter how
small, can turn into something
bigger in the blink of an eye.
I wouldn’t recommend this
movie for those under 13 because it contains a bit of sexuality and bad language. All in
all, “Easy A” is satisfying. ✦
by Madalynne Carattini,
Hemet, CA
Michael Clayton
ony Gilroy was the screenwriter behind the Bourne
trilogy, and with “Michael
Clayton,” Gilroy directs, upping his responsibility. This
was a risky move, but it paid
off; “Michael Clayton” is so
well-constructed, so well-acted,
but so subtly and seamlessly
compact, that one does not realize it’s a tour de force until the
credits roll.
The plot takes the form of a
sophisticated law procedural,
but unfolds with painstaking intricacy. The opening sequence
shows a car bomb and then
rewinds a few days to reveal
cause and motives. This particular jump against the linear
narrative has become a popular
device lately, and has proven
effective at whetting viewer’s
appetites and drastically
heightening the suspense. In
“Michael Clayton,” the suspense is on full throttle.
Michael Clayton (George
Clooney) works as a “fixer” for
prominent law firm U-North.
The exact details of his job remain fairly ambiguous, which
underlines the shady company
policies. He is not a celebrity
per se, but his efficiency is
well-known to his clients and
coworkers. That is more than
can be said for his family life,
which is in a shambles. In debt,
he struggles with a gambling
addiction, as well as balancing
family and his job.
The central conflict occurs
when Arthur Edens (Tom
Wilkinson), a respected attorney for U-North, strips naked
in public and rants against the
firm, calling for a class-action
lawsuit against a particular executive decision he opposes.
Michael is held responsible
for Arthur’s outburst, using
his friend’s alleged mental instability and failure to take
medication as an excuse. Also
involved is U-North’s general
counsel, Karen Crowder (Tilda
Swinton), who has to remedy
the situation before Arthur inflicts lasting damage.
This synopsis scarcely
scratches the surface. Here is a
legal thriller that does not try to
stoop to a layman’s understanding of business. “Clayton”
utilizes political jargon, cold
The suspense is
on full throttle
logic, and a knowledge of the
nooks and crannies of the law
to tell a convincing tale.
Like “Syriana” (in which
Clooney also starred), “Clayton” is a intelligent film, an immersive experience into a world
we do not necessarily understand but accept because of the
excellent writing, acting, and
The screenplay is unconventionally sophisticated. Its prose
is ruthlessly assured, and characters deliver their lines with
conviction. The opening monologue by Arthur is bizarrely
sensational, passionate, and
more than a little crazy. But the
lines flow like songs, beautifully constructed, scorching
barrages of hard-edged dialogue. It is real and surreal,
convincing but carved to an uncanny perfection. Its words are
founded upon iron professionalism while they are interwoven
with dark allegorical references. It is so good, it’s poetic.
The casting is spot on, and
this is not just an ensemble film
but also one where each steals
the show. Clooney is increasingly cast as brooding, complex
characters, and Michael Clayton is a role he was born to
play. He commands reverence
with an authoritative finesse
and is unstoppable. This performance is Clooney’s best to
Wilkinson, a versatile character actor, plays a wrecked and
vulnerable Arthur. It is a hardhitting performance featuring
both alarming unpredictability
and cunning, but he is is pitiful,
and wallowing in paranoia.
Swinton is astonishing, an
image of cool composure, but
she too is tainted by an intrinsic
weakness. Not surprisingly,
these three bona fide actors all
garnered Oscar nominations
(with Swinton winning).
“Michael Clayton” is a
strong film all around. For a
night of intelligent entertainment marked by dramatic
force, look no further. вњ¦
by Jonah Jeng,
Westchester, NY
This movie is rated R.
irector David Fincher
brings a whole new meaning to the word thriller in
“Se7en.” The film centers
around detectives David Mills
(Brad Pitt), a cocky cop who is
new to the detective beat, and
William Somerset (Morgan
Freeman), a well-known and
respected man on the force.
In his last week before retirement, Somerset is assigned,
Suspenseful, fun
and smart
with Mills, to a case involving
a series of brutal and sadistic
murders. The killer uses each
of the seven deadly sins – gluttony, sloth, greed, lust, envy,
wrath, and pride – as his motives for killing his victims.
Despite the entire movie
being about murders, there’s
hardly any blood. Or do we see
the killer act. Instead, we view
the aftermath, and despite what
you might think, it is actually
scarier than watching the victims die. Fincher creates a
creepy mood throughout. However, the movie does have some
lighter scenes where we learn
more about the main characters
and how they got where they
As Detective Somerset, Freeman delivers yet another powerful performance. There is not
a single moment when he under
or over reacts. Somerset tries to
remain calm and collected as
he attempts to solve the case,
but as time passes, he realizes
that he and his partner are getting nowhere, and we start to
see him losing his cool.
Although this may not be
Pitt’s best performance, he
does make Detective Mills enjoyable to watch. There are moments when you will burst out
laughing at what he says or
does. He interrupts the grimness of the film, which makes
him a welcome addition.
Mill’s wife, Tracy, is played
by Gwyneth Paltrow. If I had to
describe her performance in
one word, it would be solid.
She plays her role with passion
and maturity. Even though she
isn’t in the movie much, her
role is central to the story.
Every character either runs
into or has some sort of connection with the killer, played
by Kevin Spacey. Trust me,
knowing this will not spoil the
film. He portrays his character
with little emotion, which
makes him seem truly evil.
Andrew Walker’s writing is
the best I have seen in a long
time. It is true to each of the
characters and makes you understand what drives them.
Plus, he creates dialogue that
gets better as the film progresses, especially between
Freeman and Pitt, who have an
intense relationship and play
off each other very well. They
may not be the best of friends,
but they both have one goal: to
catch the killer.
Despite this, “Se7en” is not a
cat and mouse film. It revolves
around the actions of the characters and the consequences.
This creates a thrilling and suspenseful experience.
“Se7en” is one film you have
to see. It is exciting, suspenseful, fun, and above all, smart.
This film deserves five out of
five stars. вњ¦
movie reviews
by Joseph Berg,
Oak Brook, IL
This movie is rated R.
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
book reviews
by Neal Shusterman
ow would you feel if your
parents could “unwind”
you? In the thrilling sci-fi novel
Unwind, Connor and Risa do
their best to keep from being
“unwound,” or having their organs distributed to people who
need them. Neal Shusterman
describes their struggle for survival in a futuristic United
States, in a time after the
Will keep you on
your toes
Second Civil War was fought
over the rights of life.
Connor gets in too many
fights and is nicknamed the
Akron AWOL for his reckless
behavior in attempting to avoid
being unwound. Risa doesn’t
have enough musical talent to
escape being sent to a Harvest
Camp to be unwound. When
the two meet, they run away
and their adventure takes them
to a school, an antiques shop,
and an airplane graveyard.
They encounter many new
faces along the way, including
a baby, a bully named Roland,
an admiral from the Second
Civil War, and an old woman
named Sonia. This exciting
book will have you on the edge
of your seat!
As I read, I realized how
lonely Connor and Risa must
have felt. They couldn’t trust
anyone, even their own parents.
Shusterman does a great job
conveying the emotions of the
characters as they try to survive
until their eighteenth birthday.
I’m not usually a sci-fi reader,
but I couldn’t put this one
down! вњ¦
by Alex Porte,
Dexter, MI
Going Bovine
by Libba Bray
n Going Bovine, Libba Bray
delves into the sarcastic,
skeptical, “couldn’t-care-less”
mind of Cameron Smith, a
teenager who essentially has to
save the world in order to save
Does this book have action?
You bet. Drama? There’s some.
Romance? Check. Crazy people who live in a utopia and try
to convert everyone? Yes, this
book has them too.
Going Bovine perfectly captures the struggles of being a
Teen Ink •
Action, drama,
romance, and more
cosmic irony, and truth.
Moreover, Bray candidly
handles issues such as drugs,
alcohol, and dating without getting too serious. Nonchalance
and a wry playfulness usually
characterize her voice. At the
same time, she allows sincerity
to shine through. During the
most mysterious and surreal
parts, Cameron mulls over
some heavy thoughts about
being in the moment and taking
life as it comes.
Libba Bray’s Going Bovine
is otherworldly on many levels.
But most importantly, it will
take you to an alternate dimension. Read it. You know you
want to.вњ¦
by Anita Lo,
Bellevue, WA
The Lost World
by Michael Crichton
teenager without using dreaded
clichГ©s. While a typical teen
might undergo a rite of passage
in high school, Cameron has
bigger things to worry about
and brighter cities to see. It’s a
fast-paced bildungsroman set to
the soundtrack of the modern
world, making it terrifically
But more impressively, the
book handles the realities of
being a struggling teenager perfectly. Sure, Cameron has an
incurable disease, but all
teenagers can relate to feeling
helpless and cynical. Yes, he
has hallucinations, but everyone’s caught up in their own
mind to some extent. It’s funny,
it’s tragic, and it’s full of pithy
quips to use on your friends.
The whole story is a rollercoaster of emotion, humor,
M AY ’ 1 1
osta Rica has a few unwanted guests, so the island of Isla Sorna is shut down
to tourists. However, a past
visitor, Ian Malcolm (who was
injured by the island’s dangerous inhabitants in the prequel,
Jurassic Park), and his unlikely
cohort, Richard Levine (a
pompous, rich 30-year-old),
have decided to travel to the island to study extinction. They
are helped by naturalist Sarah
Harding, car engineer Dr.
Thorne, and Levine’s superintelligent eighth-grade students.
They meet many obstacles as
they encounter death, dinos,
and Dodgson.
A series of bad choices (and
a few smart ones) make up The
Lost World. For instance,
Dodgson (who wants the dinosaurs’ eggs for animal testing) is talking to one of the
men in his posse before going
to get a tyrannosaur’s egg. He
mentions a theory that a T-rex
has a brain the size of a frog’s.
Fast pace and
enticing details
well as her inner feelings.
This is an entertaining, interesting, and quirky autobiography. I think aspiring comedians
would benefit a lot from reading it, since DeGeneres talks
about her time on stage. I also
think that people struggling
with image issues will find it
helpful, since some chapters
are very uplifting and she gives
some great advice. вњ¦
by Christen Stearns,
Oxford, MA
His choice to believe in this unproven fact leads to a disastrous
turn of events. The fast pace,
realistic details, and enticing
theories bring the reader to the
edge of her seat, especially in
this part of the story.
Science-fiction fanatics and
people who love action will
have a hard time putting this
book down. The hard-core action and suspense keep the
reader flipping pages and flying
through chapters. The dialogue
is very bland in most cases,
though, mainly ending in “he
said” or “she said.” Other than
that, the book is very descriptive and has plausible theories;
one at the end will undoubtedly
put a smile on the reader’s face:
a satisfying ending. вњ¦
by Brooke Bird,
Prosser, WA
by Emma Donoghue
he world, as seen through
the eyes of five-year-old
Jack, is a strange place. There
are no trees, no children playing in the park, no sky to look
at. His world is a small room
with a bed, a TV, a wardrobe
where he sleeps every night, his
friends (a broken remote, Dora
the Explorer, a snake made of
clay), and of course, his
Ma is the only person Jack
has ever looked up to. Or, to
put it simply, she’s the only
person he has ever looked at.
Jack and Ma’s life is not what
most experience.
Room is the story of a young
woman held captive for seven
His world is a
small world
My Point … And I
Do Have One
by Ellen DeGeneres
n Ellen DeGeneres’ book My
Point … And I Do Have One,
she speaks with truth. And she
does have a point. She alternates between what is actually
happening in her life and what
she feels and imagines and tells
outlandish stories about. DeGeneres shows off her talent as
a comedian by including funny
anecdotes throughout the book.
Not just funny
I found it refreshing that she
didn’t just write about her rise
to fame. She spoke of real life
and real people.
I feel a connection with
DeGeneres. She is not feminine
and delicate, and neither am I.
She has few good memories of
her childhood, and this is a sad
fact that we share. I suppose I
expected a comedian’s book to
be funny, but I enjoyed it because it was not just funny but
addressed real-world issues as
long years in a dungeon shack
in a man’s backyard. The man,
Old Nick, does not want ransom; all he wants is company.
He is mentally unstable and
seeing people tortured is his
hobby. Maybe this is the reason
he kidnaps a happy 19-year-old
from her college campus and
throws her into a secret room in
his backyard. The walls are
thick, the door is guarded by
electronic password security,
and there is no outlet except for
a single soundproof window in
the ceiling.
The torture inflicted on the
poor girl resulted in first a still
birth and then, two years later,
another baby who survives.
Room is told from the viewpoint of that boy, Jack. He
doesn’t know any world outside of this stinky garden shed.
Intelligent beyond his years, he
believes that Old Nick comes in
from outer space. Every night,
to make sure that he is not in
the vicinity of the brutal Nick,
Ma makes Jack sleep in a closet
at the far end of room.
It is only when Ma finally
tells Jack about her kidnapping
and of the existence of an outer
world, that he realizes the gravity of their situation. When he
sees Ma weeping helplessly, he
realizes that they must escape.
Room is all about the cruelties inflicted on a poor family
by an sadistic man and how,
despite the odds, they have the
will to survive. When we read
about this woman who is considered dead and this young
boy whose existence is unknown, who gather the courage
to stand up and fight, it gives us
strength to overcome obstacles
too. вњ¦
by Yamini Gaur,
New Delhi, India
The Lost Symbol
by Dan Brown
an Brown has always
captured readers with his
simplistic way of keeping mysteries, well, mysterious. With a
well-recognized writing style
that forces one to believe the
controversial truths he reveals,
he has penned another marvelous story about everyone’s
favorite hero, Robert Langdon.
Pivoting around America’s
little-known symbolism and a
new breakthrough field of science called Noetics, this tale
links the mysticism of ancient
eras with modern science in a
way that is strangely satisfying.
The forever-pondered mysteries
of life and death are particularly provocative because the
answers can never be found. Or
can they?
marvelous story
Katherine Solomon, the female lead of this amazing book,
is a Noetic scientist who taps
into the unknown potential of
the human mind and the nature
of thoughts. When her brother
is held hostage by a man intent
on killing her, she pairs up with
Robert, who has been tricked
into coming to Washington,
D.C., by the very same man.
The race against time is an integral part of Brown’s stories,
and this 600-page novel spans
the events of one night.
As usual, many readers will
be skeptical of the facts Brown
reveals, but still, this book is
worth every minute of the four
hours it took me to devour it. вњ¦
by Chitra Idnani,
Dubai, UAE
by Jean Ye, Chapel Hill, NC
the window, when my dad jumps out of his seat and
am five, standing on a chair, stealing a sip from
rushes off, claiming that he is late for his meeting. I
my dad’s coffee while he searches for today’s
think nothing about this at first. Then I hear a crash;
paper. The hot liquid scalds my tongue and I’ve
my mother screams, and I am dimly aware of my
barely tasted it before my mother snatches the cup.
mug smashing on the floor, coffee spilling everyShe scolds both of us, saying I am too young for cofwhere. I shove out the door and into the road. I am
fee, that it will stunt my growth, that I will become
frantically pulling on the car door when I realize that
an addict. My father has a somber look, but when my
it is too late. “Hit by someone going 80 in the neighmother turns her back, he slips me another bitter sip.
borhood? There was no hope,” the police officer tells
“Our little secret,” he whispers. I make a face when I
me. That night, I move all my coffee cups to a drawer
turn around.
and bury the espresso machine in my closet. He is
I am 10, entering the coffee shop on the corner
gone. I cannot handle the memories.
with my dad, clutching his hand. The bell on the door
I am 21, rushing past a coffee shop in New York
tinkles, and the scent of coffee hits me full on. I wonCity on my way home from class. I hate
der how something can smell so good
how I can smell coffee every time someand taste so bad, and I try to read the
The drink
one opens that door. I hate how the
handwritten words on chalkboard while
warmth beckons to me when
my dad orders me a mocha. I want to
brought my
it’s so cold out that I can see
refuse it, dimly remembering the bitter
my breath hovering in the air
liquid I stole from his mug five years ago,
in front of me. I hate the look
but it smells so good, and when he says
me closer
of joy on people’s faces, sitquietly, “Just give it a try,” I take a tiny
ting in the window and
sip. It is sweet and delicious, and before I
laughing while sipping a mug of coffee.
know it, the cup is empty.
And I hate myself for giving in to it and
I am 16, watching my dad read the instruction
walking in.
manual for his new espresso machine. I eye the maI am 21, listening to the bell on the door
chine warily, thinking of the bitterness. I have stuck
feeling both the heat and the scent
to mochas, cappuccinos, and lattes for the past six
of coffee hitting me full on. The memories
years, despite assurances from my dad that espresso
surface and it feels like a punch in the
is “not disgusting.” When he has finally brewed the
stomach when I remember that first day. I
first cup, he pushes it across the table toward me. I
am dimly aware that I may be hyperventiforce myself to drink it, thinking that it is worth it for
lating and turn to leave. It’s too much. My
the happy expression on my dad’s face. And so he
hand is on the door when I see the handgreets me every morning with a steaming cup of
written specials on the chalkboard. A man
espresso, and I learn to love it.
is shoving into me on his way in, and beI am 18, sharing my morning cup of coffee with
fore I know it, I have turned around. My
my dad. I am leaning against the counter, staring out
The Watcher
or once, her hands were not
smoothing out wrinkled shirts,
scrubbing mildewed tiles, or
sorting the fruits and vegetables on
the third shelf in the refrigerator. Her
shapeless, vegetable oil-stained apron,
with the frayed right pocket and faded
sunflower design, lay beside her.
She gazed through the thin layer of
grime coating the window, passing
over the vibrant signs dangling in the
doorways of the shops below, over the
posters advertising shampoo and novels, over sun-bleached roofs and
weathered concrete walls, over the
road that meandered through the jumble of houses and emerged on the
other side, creeping through the vivid,
quilt-like patches of rice fields.
But her eyes lingered on the people
flitting through these scenes. She
observed the farmers in their widebrimmed straw hats, knees caked with
mud, bending tirelessly over each
shoot, the men and women wearing
spotless business suits, bustling along
the sidewalk, “Busy” etched into
every twitch of their head, every
swing of their arms – even the lady
across the street who came out onto
mouth opens before I can stop it, and the barista is
saying, “White chocolate mocha? That’ll be $2.89.”
I am 21, clutching the drink that brought my father
and me closer, standing in the middle of the coffee
shop, not quite sure what to do. I slide into a booth
and stare out the window, watching people hurry by.
I should be one of those people. I shouldn’t be in a
coffee shop drinking a mocha. I can almost hear my
dad’s quiet voice, a voice that stood out against the
background noise.
“Just give it a try.”
I lift the cup to my lips and take a tiny sip. The
memories flood me, and I expect that a car will come
out of nowhere. It doesn’t.
I am 21, feeling memories overwhelm me. I
welcome them. вњ¦
Art by Alice Levene, Coquitlam, BC, Canada
by Shirl Yang, Hsinchu, Taiwan
her hair, and applied lipstick (though
the balcony every afternoon at 4:30 to
clip up socks and blankets.
why she did not know), and then
Had they ever imagined that they,
shuffled into the kitchen to prepare
breakfast. On Sundays, she would
too, would one day become just another dot plodding along the sidecook rice porridge, but on most mornwalk, just another indistinguishable
ings she just groped through the resmudge for someone else to scrutinize
frigerator and fixed whatever she
from her living room window?
unearthed. A few slices of week-old
Was someone else watching her, as
ham and stale bread made edible
she gazed at passersby from her
sandwiches, and the kids loved hardcouch on the seventh
boiled eggs with slivers
floor? She couldn’t
of cheese. Her life now
imagine anyone wastaround these
There were the centered
ing their afternoons
details. Would she use
peering into her life.
the cucumber for soup
simple joys of
What was there to see?
today or for salad tomoreveryday life
Perhaps the stranger
row? Would she wash
black socks or white
would catch glimpses
socks first?
of her bursting through
Of course, there were the simple
the door, staggering under bundles
joys of everyday life. A homemade
overflowing with carrots, loaves of
(though slightly lopsided) cake from
bread, and cheese crackers, or watch
as she tried to repair the table that
the kids on Mothers’ Day, a call from
the gossipy neighbor to pass the silent
wobbled whenever she removed the
afternoons, a roll of new fabric she
books she had stacked underneath.
had discovered on one of her weekly
She clambered out of bed at six
trips downtown. But during those
weekdays (seven on weekends), usually before the alarm clock began its
hours of emptiness, the only hours
that truly belonged to her, she would
clamor, and roused the rest of the
house. She brushed her teeth, combed
often pull out the battered sketchbook
that she kept behind the laundry
She fingered the sketches of tall,
spidery-legged women clad in flamboyant gowns and dazzling suits, and
the scraps of cloth pinned to the
pages. To think that these sketches,
faded and yellowed from age, were
the only shards of her dream that remained. No one else knew that the
housewife of Apartment Building C,
seventh floor, the inconspicuous, softspoken woman who always purchased
five cans of tuna and stored her quarters for the laundromat in empty film
canisters, had once longed to be a
fashion designer – a fashion designer
whose creations would inspire others.
Once. Not now. Now her afternoons were spent watching the world
from her living room window. She
was simply a spectator, a watcher.
Her eyes followed a row of Mickey
Mouse T-shirts bobbing on a clothesline. The lady across the street was
now tenderly watering her begonias,
wiping her palms on her checkered
Time to make dinner.
That window needed cleaning. вњ¦
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
The Naming
by Emily Wesling, Brownsburg, IN
“From now on your name is Brilliant. Do you
n the beginning, there was man. Man had a
know the answer?”
name – a title by which he was known. Man
“July 4, 1776?”
multiplied and passed his name to his progeny.
“That’s … that’s … well, that’s brilliant!”
In those days, family names corresponded to proIt does not stop there.
fessions, hence surnames such as Miller, Baker, or
Scurrying into the classroom two days later, late
as usual, my hands are full and I drop a book.
Now the year is 2021. Negativity has prevailed;
“Linda, can you help me?”
people no longer have names based on their skills,
“My name is Acedia.”
but rather, their vices.
“Your name is now Linda. Linda Hand. Now
Sloth, Whiskey, Lust, and Gluttony – these are
can you please pick up that book for me?”
the names of some of the tenth-graders in my
“Sure … why not?”
classroom. The daily routine follows acAnd so it continues, until each student
has a new name – one that suits them,
Avarice steals the apple from my desk,
one that accompanies them in their jourwhile Scotch whistles to the tune of
Disorder. ney from vice to virtue.
“Whiskey in the Jar,” and Gossip passes
Watching the newly reformed students
notes to Lie-za, and Acedia sleeps as
Anarchy. excel
in the classroom is a treat. Week
Envy stares at Vanity’s new necklace, and
by week, I give them a vocabulary asSloth rests his head on his desk, all the
signment in which they have to write each word,
while, Blasphemy shouts, “I am God!”
include its part of speech and definition, and use it
Chaos. Disorder. Anarchy. These are the names
in a sentence.
that I gave to my classroom – a place in which stuIf given this same assignment, I reflect, how
dents cannot learn, live, or laugh, a place without
would I define myself?
hope, without love.
Emily: (noun) The student formerly known as
I have an idea.
Ms. Procrastinator, now a college graduate and
“Class,” I begin, “When did the framers sign the
experienced high school educator.
Declaration of Independence? … Does anyone
In 2021, Emily taught her students that a flaw,
know? Anyone? … How about you, Brilliant?”
blemish, or imperfection cannot define a human,
but rather, it inspires him to surpass his shortcom“Yes, Brilliant, you.”
ings and create a new name for himself. вњ¦
“But … my name is Despair. Why are you-”
The Telemarketer Monologue
ELEMARKETER. Consults manual, dials number,
waits, hands folded on desk. Phone rings on the
other line four times before someone picks up.
Reading from a large billboard wall opposite.
Good afternoon, sir slash ma’am. (Two second pause)
Damn it.
Dial tone. He repeats the consulting/dialing process.
Phone rings on other line.
Good afternoon, um … sir?
Dial tone. Repeats process. Phone rings.
Good afternoon … ma’am. I am calling from the
(Squints at billboard) Zenith of Living (Makes a face:
what the hell?) Time ShareDial tone. Repeats process, a little faster this time.
Good afternoon, ma’am. I am calling from the Zenith of
Living Time Share Company. Could I interest you inDial tone. Glances at manual, dials number, drums
fingers on desk.
Photo by Alexandra Creel, Las Vegas, NV
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
by Alex Cline,
Newton, MA
he taught him how to make them, one
careful fold at a time. Even when he
messed up and the wrinkled paper became useless, she patiently handed him another and walked him through the steps again.
One thousand cranes.
One thousand cranes and a wish for each,
the same wish, and when the thousand cranes
were done, the wish might come true.
She taught him, one crane after another,
until one day she couldn’t fold them any
more; her hands were too shaky to make the
careful creases. He took over then, carefully,
lovingly folding one crane after another, lifting each finished one to his lips to breathe the
wish over it.
He worked at it all through her diagnosis –
cancer – through the chemotherapy – no sign
of remission – and through the proclamation
of her death day – only weeks to live.
He didn’t finish in time. She died the moment he completed the nine hundred and
ninety-ninth crane.
The thousandth was laid on her grave, a
bright spot of red against the gray stone and
dying grass. Red like blood and a wish, unfulfilled.
“Let my mother get better.” ✦
by Crystal Liu, Palo Alto, CA
ruffling their hands through my especially wavy hair.
whatever-Company-of-LivingAnd then I get to junior high and suddenly I’m noDial tone. Shoves manual aside, dials a random number
body – no one even cared about the hair anymore! It’s like
quite violently. Waits, breathing hard.
the minute I grew up, I entered hell. I was still a good kid,
HI. My name is JONATHAN. Yes. Pleased to meet you,
you know, it’s just there were like 500 other equally good
too. Thank you for acknowledging the fact that I actually
kids from 500 other elementary schools. The somebodies
have a NAME and possibly a soul. Technically, I am callwere never good kids, they were the ones who did drugs
ing from some stupid company called the Zenith of Livor dated people even though they didn’t have a clue what
ing, which only has that name because the idiots who
they were doing, or they were the crazy geniuses who won
created this ridiculous institution for the hopelessly jobthe National Science-thing when they were 13. But if
less thought they would be sued by Looney Tunes if they
you’re just a good kid, you can’t be either of those. You
used the name Acme. Yes, they DO mean the same thing;
just … lived, and that was it.
zenith and acme are both defined by Webster’s Dictionary
I don’t know. Maybe, maybe this entire planet is hell for
as “the highest point or stage that represents perfection of
the five billion good-but-mediocre kids. The
the thing expressed.” I’ve never forgotten
bad ones kill each other or OD or whatever
those synonyms, you know why? Because
leave early, and the geniuses become our
contrary to what you might believe, I actually
I get to junior and
bosses and make us feel inferior and powercompleted high school and went to college,
high and
less by naming their companies the Zenith of
except there’s not much out there for a psyYeah! That’s it. We get torturous jobs
chology major, and I’m now being professionsuddenly I’m Living.
like this one where people who get paid 20
ally ignored for a living.
times as much as we do taunt us by telling us
(Pause. Matter-of-factly) I hate this job …
to go to hell! But, see, WE’RE ALREADY
Every day, exactly 14 people tell me to go to
THERE! Ha-HA! I get it. I’m onto the plan,
hell over this damn phone and everyone else
now … Whatever that changes.
hangs up. It doesn’t even occur to them that I’m already in
(Long pause. He’s done venting.) So, um, Miss … Susan,
hell, and it just happens to be called the freakin’ Zenith of
if you get this message on your, um, answering machine,
Living! No no no, actually, you know what, I’ve been to
PLEASE don’t report me to my boss and don’t tell him
hell three times already: junior high, high school, and state
what I said about this job being, you know, hell. (Laughs
university. Three circles right there, baby. Let’s see how
nervously) And, uh, don’t call the police, either, PLEASE,
many you’ve been through, huh? Oh, yeah, I know Dante,
because, like, you know my full name now and stuff.
S--t. No, SORRY, sorry, didn’t mean that, taking that
Look, I peaked in elementary school. I was the one
back, um … BYE, Susan, bye-eee.
male kid who had neat handwriting and good spelling and
He disconnects and lets the dial tone run for a while as
perfect manners, and I wasn’t afraid to dance with ANY
he slowly hangs up. He sits back slowly, exhales. Looks at
girl, even the one who never washed her hair. Everyone
billboard, reaches for the manual, and begins to dial.
loved me back then, you know? Teachers were always real
Lights go down. вњ¦
proud when I was in their class, and parents were always
by Sara Kellar, Fort Frances, ON, Canada
wasn’t that scary.
that I was still on the property and not
etrayal was painful.
I returned to establishing foundahalfway down the dirt road, which natThat’s what this was. My dad
tions, wanting to erase my disappointurally made me want to get out of there
glanced at me but didn’t say a
ment in Kiril. I could feel my dad’s
even more. Paradoxes suck.
word, which infuriated me more. His
calculating and protective gaze on my
The house was small, and the air
silence acknowledged that he knew
seemed permanently tinted with dust.
how I was feeling and wasn’t going to
It was a rotten start to my stay.
It was suffocating, both the size of the
do anything about it.
My dad stayed that first night on the
house and the nothingness around it; I
Complete, utter betrayal.
pullout while I got the spare room (my
wasn’t made for the country. I had a
mother’s). Kiril had tried to insist my
penthouse in the city calling me home.
His eyes once again appraised me
father “get a quick start” to his “busiSome days, I really hated my father.
until he deemed it necessary to return
ness trip” (all of us knew that it was
Kiril was getting surprisingly
them to the road. His look was hopeful.
anything but business), but my dad was
twitchy, then he disappeared.
adamant. He’d pulled out the couch
For two days, I did not see my
Time to shoot down that hope. “I
Then, suddenly, he was
hate you.”
Kiril had once again given in withback, sitting in the kitchen like he’d
I knew I sounded like an angsty
out a fight. My frustration
never gone.
teenager, but I was justiwith him grew.
“Kaia?” “Kiril?”
fied. He had divorced his
I turned in early but (un“There’s something I want to show
wife, my mother, on her
Some days, I
fortunately) overheard my
deathbed, then sent me to
really hated father and Kiril’s late-night
It was a tree. A knotted, old willow. I
stupid boarding school
conversation. It confused me
was unimpressed at first, but I figured
right after, then remarried
my father
that they managed to pull off
the least I could do was see what he
and redivorced in the span
the “we hate each other”
had to say. We did one full circle
of a week. We had been
charade when I was in the room, but
around it, and then he walked into a
slated to travel together for two weeks,
could act perfectly cordial when alone.
hidden opening in the curtain-like
but apparently “Something came up,”
“I won’t be back until August,” my
branches, waving me after him.
and I was being carted off to my granddad said quietly.
I followed. A bit apprehensively, but
“That’s two months, Jaret. She’s a
I followed. Maybe that was the point of
It didn’t take a genius to realize that
teenager. I’m her boring grandfather.
the whole exercise. Trust.
my presence hindered my father’s
affecInside the protective shield of the
bachelor lifestyle, especially if he was
tionately said this house was �in the
branches, there were two lounge chairs
going to measures like this. I hadn’t
middle of goddamned nowhere,’” Kiril
and a hammock. There was an opening
seen my mother’s father since I was
sighed heavily. “She’ll try to run away
in the branches framing the sunset alsix.
by the end of the week. You watch.”
most like a picture. There wasn’t much
My father sighed wearily. “I know.”
“She’s a spitfire, got that from her
else – a cooler, a bookshelf covered in
mom.” A quiet chuckle. “I never said
plastic, some woodworking tools. I
I carefully observed the aged man
that to your face.”
resisted the urge to raise my eyebrow
before me. “I’m Kaia McMichaels.”
at Kiril; he was showing me something
He inhaled deeply, eyes focused on
confusion. “My hearing’s better than
dear to him.
my face. He couldn’t have been a day
you know, Jaret.” A small pause, and
Really. This time was going to be
over 55, which startled me. “I know.”
the mood immediately sobered. Kiril’s
different. Hopefully.
I closed my eyes, breathing as
voice was low. “You’re holding her
Kiril cleared his throat. “This is …
steadily as I could. They had told me
down, son.”
this was your mom’s special place. She
that establishing known facts, solid
My brain only slightly malfunclearned to walk in here. There’s a
truth, helped with the changing of
tioned at the term of affection. Son.
notch high up in this tree somewhere –
comfort zones. Would I ever be comMy
she had been climbing, and she wanted
fortable here?
harder than it looks keeping up with a
to mark how high she got.” He let out
“You’re my mom’s dad. Kiril
teenager, Kiril. Especially a teenaged
a small laugh, but it was tinted with
girl. You’ll learn soon enough.”
sadness. “She fell and broke her arm
You didn’t even call.
“You never should’ve
once. It was the only time
A bemused smile crossed his face,
sent her to boarding
she fell.”
but it was gone when my dad gave him
He stole a glance at me,
a stern look. “That’s true,” Kiril
“It’s harder
I smirked. Go Kiril!
eyes speculative as he tried
than it looks to gauge my reaction. I was
I could envision the
I took a deep breath. “That makes
snarl creeping into my
trying to absorb it all;
you my grandfather.”
keeping up with still
father’s face. “I’ll be gone
my mother had been here.
before either of you wake
She had climbed this very
a teenager”
My eyes, which had been focused on
a spot over his shoulder, snapped to his
Kiril’s tone was clipped.
“Your mom had her first
in panic, but that stupid smile was still
kiss in here. With your dad.”
on his face. My father hissed; he had
True to his promise, there was no
I finally raised that eyebrow. “You
never liked Kiril much, judging from
the stories I had heard. It was because
The first words out of my mouth
He shrugged. “This is my special
of these stories that I didn’t entirely
were, “Where’s the orange juice?”
place too.”
know why I had been brought here.
One thing that Kiril and I had in
Soon it was my special place too. I
“Kiril,” my father murmured warncommon: we let things lie.
disappeared for hours, curled up in the
ingly, and it appeared to do the job. He
hammock, reading or thinking, preI hated to admit that my father was
sighed, smile erased with the wipe of
tending to hear my mother’s laughter,
right, but, in this case, he was. I was
his hand.
envisioning her trek up the tree. One
prepared to run away by the end of the
“Jaret,” he said, his voice, for the
day, I brought a pair of binoculars and
notemost part, strong. However, there had
picked out a notch high up; a few days
book. Kiril was beginning to get anxbeen a slight hitch – conceding defeat?
later, I spotted another notch several
ious, checking on me often, ensuring
I hated him for it. My dad really
feet higher.
Kiril occasionally joined me. He
would tell me stories about my mother
and father, claiming that they had been,
at one point, in love. I didn’t believe
him. I think he knew, but he never said
“One time, your mom kicked him
out,” he said thoughtfully one day.
“Good to see that she had some
sense,” I said airily, and Kiril chortled.
“Not going to disagree with you,” he
replied, “but he was a different boy
back then. Before the big breakthrough
that catapulted him to … money.”
I snorted. “That’s putting it lightly.”
“Before you came along.”
Kiril later took that back. He said
my presence had made my dad a better
Kiril and I
Photo by Maddy Starr, Rocklin, CA
man, so much so that he quit work
for the first three years of my life. He
said that my dad’s mistake had been
I believed him.
Leaving Kiril was harder than I
expected. My dad was waiting impatiently in the car, but Kiril and I were
observing a moment of silence in the
safety of the willow’s branches. There
was no rush, except maybe for my dad;
we knew it was likely he was hung
over and just wanted to get home. The
silence surrounding us was serene, the
sun peeking through the branches was
calming, and not even my father’s
honking could ruin the moment.
“You know why your dad divorced
your mom?”
“Because he’s an idiot.”
I almost thought that was the end of
the conversation. Almost.
“’Cause she asked him to, Kaia, and
he would have done anything for her,
even if it broke his heart.”
Kiril and I never did say “I love you”
to each other, but nothing else filled
that summer vacation except that
It signaled a new beginning. вњ¦
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
Barroom Politics
by Paul Durante, Belleville, IL
with the woman-talk, Leo. Anyway, I
or anything.”
didn’t mean anything by it. If you
“Well, it’s a little late for that.”
want to make something of it, we can
“I didn’t mean anything by it.”
settle this in the parking lot. Otherwise
“No, of course you didn’t. So just
I suggest you chill out.”
because I’m black, that means I voted
“Calm down, Mike. No one wants
for Obama? I didn’t know that was
to start anything with you. Maybe you
how it worked. Boy, you white guys
should lay off the beer for a while.”
must have had a real tough time voting
“Oh, you’re one to talk.”
in the past elections with
“Well, I’m not trying to
two white people running.
“I don’t see start fights at least.”
How’d you ever decide
“Could have fooled me
who to vote for?”
you coming
the way you’re running your
“Actually, I don’t vote.”
up with any mouth.”
“Of course you don’t.
right, let’s cut this
Why would you? It’s just
good ideas” out.“All
Go back to complaining
our county’s future. Ain’t
about D.C. You’re more
no biggy.”
pleasant to be around when you’ve got
“Look, Marv, you need to calm
something to focus your aggression
down. Have another drink.”
“Naw, I’m out of here. Bigots!”
“I’m pretty sure I should be mad
“Must be his period or something.”
about something you just said, but I’m
“I don’t know, Mike. Even I thought
not entirely sure what and I’m a little
that was insensitive.”
too drunk to care.”
“Insensitive? How about you stop
“Don’t you think there’s something
sad about a group of middle-aged guys
sitting around a bar on a Wednesday
afternoon arguing about something
none of them really care about?”
by Elizabeth Leader, Dulles, VA
“It’s all Washington’s fault.”
“How do you figure?”
“They need to fix the job market. I
ith a sigh, Ana reached for
should be working right now, but in“Courses for the Incoming
stead I’m sitting here drinking with
Cornhusker” and flicked it to a
you losers.”
random page. Her eyes skimmed various
“You could always go home to your
three-digit course numbers with their
wife and daughter.”
respective titles leaping out:
“You worry about your life, I’ll
worry about mine.”
201. Despots of the Late Roman, Byzan“Sorry, and anyway, I don’t see you
tine, and Ottoman Empires
coming up with any good ideas.”
And a little further down …
“Ideas for what?”
410. De-Stalinization and How It Led to
“Ideas to fix the job market.”
the Destabilization and Derequisition of
“Why should I do that?”
the Soviet Union
“Somebody’s got to.”
As she read, Ana waited for the spark,
“That’s their job. They can figure
that little spark that came when she knew
it out.”
something was right – the same spark she
“Well, until someone figures it out, I
felt when she spun across Studio L’s dance
Photo by Michelle Moy, Brooklyn, NY
suppose we’ll be spending a lot more
floor to the music of Tchaikovsky, or
study seemed to leak out of her like helium
time at Puzzles.”
opened her history (or really any) textfrom
“What kind of a name is Puzzles for
book, anticipating the discovery of new
Depersonalized? Ana dearly hoped not.
a bar anyway?”
theories and old times. It was the spark
One minute, no spark. Two minutes, no
“Beats me.”
that had flashed in her mind as she walked
spark. Three minutes ….
“Doesn’t really matter. The beer is
down the main quad of the University of
Ana slapped the catalogue shut. She
good and it’s right by my house.”
Nebraska-Lincoln a year ago, and here she
needed to write her crazy (but
“Well, I’m sure the beer would be
was, an accepted Cornhusker,
sounding less crazy all the
just as good anywhere.”
sitting at her desk with the catAna smiled at time) idea out before she re“Still, I’m used to it.”
alogue, wondering why on
“Yeah, me too.”
earth the course Despots of the
the limitless she booted up her ancient PC,
“Better enjoy it while it’s here.
Late Roman, Byzantine, and
she thought of all the things
Pretty soon Mr. President will find a
Ottoman Empires existed.
she could do during her 365
way to ruin this too.”
Ana had always looked
days: learn a language, tutor mathematics,
“You think the president is going
down on those who deprecated the concept
devote herself to ballet, and push herself to
after small town bars all across the
of beginning college right after high
the limits. Ana smiled at the limitless poscountry?”
school, people who ignored de rigueur and
“Wouldn’t surprise me. It’s not like
chose instead (in Ana’s opinion) to derail
doing anything else.”
their academic lives and go “find themup connection was finally established and
“Mike, I’d love to see you as
selves” in various exotic locales. She had
Ana clicked on “compose new”:
believed from an early age that such “gap
To: [email protected]
“Let me tell you, things would be
years” were frivolous, and prided herself
From: [email protected]
on not planning for anything other than
Subject: Deferring Enrollment to Fall 2012
“How so?”
college after high school.
Needless to say, sparks flew. вњ¦
“Well, for starters I’d fix the
And yet, as Ana continued to stare at the
swirl of courses, her intense passion for
“… the economy.”
“God, don’t even get me started on
the economy.”
“I’ll tell you, these guys in Washington couldn’t care less about us. It’s
not their money. We could be bought
by China tomorrow for all they care.
Wouldn’t make a bit of a difference to
them. They’d fly off on their private
jets, off to their private islands, and
live out their days in luxury. They’re
crooks, the whole lot of them.”
“And then there’s the president.”
“Don’t get me started on the president. No offense, Marv.”
“Why would I take offense? I didn’t
vote for him.”
“You didn’t?”
“No … why would you think I
voted for him?”
“Come on, Marv, don’t make me
say it.”
“Say what? Oh, don’t tell me-”
“I’m not trying to offend you
Life Deployed
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
“How do you plan on doing that?”
“Don’t worry about it. I’d figure
something out.”
“Of course you would. Then what?”
“Then I’d end the war.”
“Sounds good. How?”
“I’ll just pull the troops out.”
“Well, if it was that easy, don’t you
think someone would have done it?”
“Those morons? They have no idea
what they are doing.”
“Of course they don’t. All right,
then what?”
“I’d set everybody up with jobs,
of course.”
“What kind of jobs?”
“Good ones. No one would have to
worry about money.”
“Even as I ask this, I’m pretty sure I
know what you are going to say, but
how are you planning on doing that?”
“Well, I don’t know off the top of
my head! I’d figure something out.”
“Of course you would. Yep, you’d
make a great president.”
“I’d vote for me.”
“I thought you didn’t vote.”
“I’d make an exception just this
“You know, you have to have a
clean past to become president. They
look into that stuff.”
“Yeah, so what?”
“You’ve had a few run-ins with
the law.”
“Nothing serious.”
“Yes, well, you’ve been arrested.”
“Those were just misunderstandings.”
“Assault, public drunkenness, I
don’t know how many DUIs. Where
do the misunderstandings come in?”
“What are you, a cop?”
“No, I’m just saying. I don’t know
how many people would vote for
somebody with as colorful a past as
“You’re probably right. I probably
wouldn’t be elected because it seems
like they only elect idiots anymore.”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“Oh no? Haven’t you read the newspaper lately? Don’t you know how
much trouble our country is in?”
“Yeah, I know. Still, they can’t all
be stupid.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well for starters, didn’t most of
them go to Ivy League schools?”
“Yeah, so what?”
“What college did you go to?”
“Things were different then. My
girlfriend was pregnant; my dad
kicked me out. I didn’t have time for
“I know, Mike, I know.”
“Why do you got to bring that up
“I’m sorry, Mike. I don’t know. I
wasn’t thinking, I guess.”
“Whatever. Even without college,
I’d still be a great president.” Mike
drained his sixth beer, knowing full
well that it wouldn’t be his last. ✦
Art by Kennedy Cooke-Garza, Rockdale, TX
This Is Enough
It’s all blue up there
And streaked with wispy white clouds
That look like sea gulls from the porch.
And on the opposite side of the horizon line
the lake reflects yellow flecks of sun
On the ripples of the slow waves
Slow like today.
On the creaking faded blue porch
A family soaks up the youth of the
summer day
Through open pores.
A vinyl umbrella blocks the sun that bounces
white off our teeth
’Cause we’re smiling.
Pan right
past the green nylon chairs
And the squat glass side table
And the virgin strawberry daiquiris
congesting the table.
That’s my dad, and smiling in his arms like
life is beautiful
That’s me.
The Hawaiian flowers blossoming on his shirt
Continue to flow onto my starched
summer dress.
I’m smiling because we match
Because my front teeth are poking through
my tender pink gums for the first time
And because Pa just made a funny face.
My brown hair is tied into a tight ponytail
that whips wildly in the wind
And Dad’s short black hair is gelled into
place, fighting strong against
The pull of the breeze.
The breeze
It carries sand and salt and sweet scents
of seaweed
And my smile.
The camera clicks
And this moment is forever preserved on
flimsy photographs
And carried off in
The summer breeze.
by Kate Monica,
Milford, MA
How is it?
No Lollipop
A New Person
How is it?
That despite your dry lips
you deny those last few drops
of that sweet sweet soda pop
Daddy, can you see me?
Now that I can tie my shoes,
Now that I am taller than your knee,
Would you recognize me?
How is it?
That though your hunger grows
you pass me those last few pieces
of warm tortilla
Daddy, can you hear me?
Now that I don’t sing my precious songs,
Now that I can hold in my cries and screams,
Would you want me more?
In and out of life
Things just never seemed right.
They were always different.
In love for most of my life, but then
suddenly it all fell apart.
How is it?
That you can ignore
your weary hands and tired eyes
and still make me delicious cookies
Dad, can you taste that?
When I speak, can you taste my knowledge,
taste that I have hardened?
I am no lollipop anymore.
Would you understand that?
I drank that last drop
ate that last piece
and napped
while you baked
I love you, Mom
I just hope
that when the time comes
my son will ask too …
how is it?
by Robert Lopez,
Harlingen, TX
Sweat drips down my back,
black shirt sticking to my skin.
My hair – long then – glued
to the fabric with the salt,
my palms bleed fluid onto
the handle of her shovel.
Lift the dirt. Drop it. Repeat.
I drop the garden tool,
and push the wheel barrel
down the hill in my backyard.
Push it up. Repeat.
One week and two days later,
small pebbles, a pond and
snapdragons lay where the
dirt once did. My mother stands
triumphant near the crab
apple tree. Smiling, she thanks me.
Dad, do you – sniff – smell that?
I don’t smell of cotton-candy perfume,
do you see?
I have my own teenage smell, different
from all.
Would you forgive me that?
Father, can you feel that?
My skin has become rough with age,
with pimple scars and callouses.
With holes in my face and bags under
my eyes.
Wait, no.
I don’t want your devil hands near me.
Don’t want your brutal hands grasping
for me.
Father, would you understand all this?
That I’m not who you left behind.
That I’m not the girl you never wanted in
the first place.
Would you want me now;
Now that you have found your God and
done your time?
Beady, black eyes flash open.
A convoluted world is seen,
yet, left uninterpreted.
With so many questions, where is truth?
We drink up force-fed answers,
like water we were told was wine.
defined by disbelief and dissent
Questioning authority becomes a necessity.
Still, we march on,
like sacrificial soldiers
to the beat of a foreign drum.
The hour grows late.
We must all fully awake.
For too long have we needed change.
by Grayson Wilkins, W. Fulton, NY
Dew of the morning
Dew of the morning
Collects yesterday’s sorrows
On a verdant perch
by Abigail Emrey, Greensboro, NC
He drove us around like nothing was wrong.
Keeping his head up every time so we wouldn’t
See what was underneath.
Days went by, we grew older.
He was still alone, and still trying.
A girl came into his life. None of us wanted
to know.
We wanted him to ourselves.
She changed him into a person I had not
seen in years.
Grew to someone much bigger.
Much stronger than before.
They fell in love.
by Jordan Lingle, Cannon Falls, MN
The day Mom and I
bought flat-bottom
taco shells so all the
filling wouldn’t spill
out, Colby Kirkland
told us that tomatoes
were fruit instead
of vegetables. Yeah,
right. We called him
a liar. We knew fruit
was sweet and good
and you didn’t put
it in salad or on
burgers or anything
like that. Nobody
took Colby Kirkland
seriously, anyway.
He was always
saying how much
he traveled the world
and China and Italy
and crap, and his name
meant the stinky cheese
Grandpa Davis always
ate with a can of cold
beer in front of the
TV. When Mom and I
watched horror movies
in the den later and ate
our tacos, I asked her if
tomatoes were fruit, and
she said they were. I
sulked and ate my taco
without any stupid fruit.
We blindly stumble on,
numb from overexposure.
Feeling how “they” want us to feel.
by Madalyn Walker,
Holliston, MA
He’s my hero.
He’s my best friend.
The Stew
Tenants huddled in grim kitchens
Widow churns thin stew
Child voices pierce her
melancholic shell.
Man standing outside the glass
Leans his head in to sniff.
Days went by when he was all alone.
Fighting to make us happy.
Trying his hardest in everything he did.
Sometimes nothing seemed right, but
He did it over and over again until it was.
Humanity is sick, transforming
into creatures of habit and undying loyalty.
Individuality lost in translation.
He looks up, listening to music
Pour from an open window,
Coating bricks as it falls.
Heartbroken pianist
Who should only play,
But opens his mouth to sing.
Finally it was over. Free from everything,
Not having to worry about anything.
Finally it was over.
by Anonymous, Independence, OR
by Emi Hasty,
Catonsville, MD
Tall man takes long strides
Through the dark alley
An empty leather suitcase
Pressed against his worn suit.
Fights all the time, never-ending it seemed.
And throwing.
by Mallory Skinner,
Richmond, ON, Canada
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
I was raised by
Long Distance
Life lessons
Punishments and consequences
Gentle and understanding
Always working
“I’ll always be here for you”
Big Saturday morning breakfasts
“Look at me when I’m talkin’ to you”
Hunting, fishing, camping, high
school football,
State champion swimmer
My dad
On my first day alone in this country,
it was you who cried
my tears came later, when it sank in
that my self-imposed separation
was permanent.
Success lectures
Stay focused and stay in school
“I’ll pay for anything athletic or educational”
Watch your mouth
Respect your elders
Do the right thing
My grandfather
Art by Marissa Neal, Wharton, TX
What Mother
Dear Mother, paint a portrait
Reflect the child you have grown
Nothing terribly fancy
Just tarnished bones
Take nothing for granted
Professional rodeo
Horseback riding
“Learn from your mistakes”
“Never give up”
Good times
Old friends
Home-cooked meals
Family recipes
My mom
Dear Mother, paint a portrait
Mirror the depth of this endless hole
Not deep like an ocean
It’s deep like a soul
Church on Sunday morning
Thanks to Jesus
Late-night prayers
Bible summer camp
Old white-haired women pinching my cheeks
Dear Mother, paint a portrait
Recreate the eyes kissed with rain
Wept upon by the underbelly of the sky
The candy-coated pain
Dear Mother, paint a portrait
Mimic the breath between their lips
Words caged, the song is hushed
With bloody finger tips
Dear Mother, paint a portrait
Forge the person they should have been.
Crack the skull, erase the sin and cut out
The child buried within.
Snowball fights
“Stay away from my sister”
Football games
Dirt bikes
Video games
Getting lost in the woods
by Julia Mihalich, Ravenna, OH
hugged by walls
Jogging in the rain
Arm wrestling
Talking on the phone
“You’re my best friend”
I was raised by family
by Julia Plumer,
St. Helens, OR
In the Kitchen
I pour myself some of my mother's iced tea,
and it tastes like late July on the porch swing
with you,
stifling hot
under the cool eaves,
holding the sweating glasses
as we prop our feet on the railing
and let our words sweeten the tea.
by Lydia Keener,
Jamison, PA
I’m being hugged by four walls
Or better yet strangled
They hold me hard and don’t let go
I can’t find how to escape these prison walls
The ones I constructed when my
parents divorced
I hold my head
And scream “How this can be!”
I can’t accept the fact there is no more family
I cry while thinking this can’t be
I miss those old melodies
I’m being hugged by four walls
That don’t let go
I pull a frame of that summer
The summer that is now dead
In it, me and my fondest memories
Mom, Dad and brothers all being hugged
By the wind from the trees that hung
I gasp, a tear falls fast
I can’t recall that happy past
I wish our family was like way back
Together as one.
But now we are so far apart
That I feel our love won’t last.
Because of that divorce
there is not a meaning for the word
“family” anymore.
I’m being hugged by four walls
Instead of the four people who once meant
my world.
by Tania Cinco, Anaheim, CA
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
I missed you too much
to comment on the criticism.
Five minutes out of the airport:
hug, kiss, and “Why is your coat
dragging along the floor?”
Back then it was playful threats
of charm school, and nicknaming
me “Grace.”
Then I turned 13. Things changed;
I know they do for everyone.
Shouting, on both sides, and tears.
The criticism started to gouge
holes in me, and I told you so.
You said I was hurtful. Alone
in my room, I cried.
Not out of sadness. Because
You were right, and I
had been wrong.
But, like most things,
it was too hard to admit.
I whined to my friends
and you bought a book on
How to deal with your angry
teenaged daughter.
I wondered why I bothered
missing you, because seeing you
was so hard.
But I did miss you.
Just like I had
nine years old and scared
in a big building filled
with children who disliked me.
Time changes everything
even the fractious relationship
between a mother and daughter.
I’ve started to lean on you again.
Sometimes you call
even though there’s nothing to say.
There are fewer angry phone bills.
Fewer fights. We live a cautious dance
between too many open doors
and too few.
Six months ago,
I found something that
made me smile. That book
you bought? You never even
cracked the spine.
by Aleka Gurel,
High Wycombe, England
Laughing to the bitter wind
You held my heart in your fist
And squeezed the lifeblood out
You drank it down with glee
And your scarlet lips turned up
Into a sneer of cruelty
by Katherine McAuly,
Birnamwood, WI
Mother’s Heart
Blue socks with
yellow ducks.
Orange bills
black eyes.
Fresh thread
skirted across the gaps,
closing the holes that
my toes poked through.
Pink hands hold a
silver needle.
A quick kiss
a tender smile you gave.
I said I’d just throw them away,
but them you stitch anyways.
Later my boots come off,
feet slip out,
duck socks,
toes poke out.
A mother’s heart
will take her daughters’
mend mend
by Kaley Land, Chapin, SC
Poem 1
My mom read too many neonatology
textbooks while I floated in utero
mourning the death
of Cobain Newsted and Free Will. I emerged
puffy-eyed, wrinkled, cynical
wasn’t held up against the light. Or was that
Walt Disney’s fault?
There was no soft flesh, no wallpaper
just sanitized gloves
disinfected floors disinfected mother
She didn’t know. When she broke her foot
I opened doors
When she forgot her purse
I ran back inside. So
where did I go wrong?
Did I trip over her frown? Did I stumble upon
my future as I looked over my shoulder?
by Savannah Steamer, Florence, SC
My Father’s Daughter
He smokes
He screams
He yells
I am my father’s daughter
He ignores
He lies
He orders me around
I am my father’s daughter
He hurts
I worry
I care
I am my father’s daughter
I dream
I think
I try
I am my father’s daughter
I show
He sees
He doesn’t care
I cannot be my father’s son
I wonder
And I wish
I’m not my father’s daughter
But I still love him.
by Anonymous, Meridian, ID
If I Were President
My mother sinks when she gets disappointed.
You can see her shoulders sag, her head
gracefully bow,
her eyes rest below their normal stance, from
the harsh words,
or sudden realizations that are presented
to her.
She shows everything she feels.
My mother dances in the car, while singing
with the wrong lyrics,
and in a voice that I can only describe as
my mother’s.
She is a morning person, she actually jumps
around the kitchen
every morning, laughing about almost
everything, and wondering audibly
how any of us can stand ourselves at this time
of day.
Inside I beg her to stop, most of the time.
Inside I plead with her, sending her messages
loud and clear that she should keep all of
this emotion to herself.
But she shouldn’t.
When we see movies together, sappy ones,
my mother always cries.
And if she is sitting next to me she’ll grab my
hand for a communal act of sadness.
Thing is, I’m never crying when she
does this,
so I pull away.
My mother has such a loud opinion about
anything on the radio.
She hates this song, she can’t believe what
that guy said, she laughs with vibrant joy
when a song comes on that she knew when
she was my age.
She wonders why I don’t sing along.
Sometimes I just get mad at her, I snap. And
then she sinks again into disappointment.
Despite her vibrant extroversion,
I received this blatant inability to
express myself.
Everything turns into frustration, or guilt,
or annoyance.
Even in this it all came out backwards.
I only meant to call her beautiful.
If I were president,
I would write all of my own speeches.
They’d be short and abridged,
Reminding people of some greater cause
somewhere in the world,
And then I’d walk away from the podium and
off the stage,
Leaving the people wondering what I would
do next.
by Nicole Lucia, Haverhill, MA
I lie
I don’t want to tell you
It’s like I can’t
Even if I tried
I just wouldn’t be able to find the words
You hit me
Fast and hard
Like a train
It was short and painful
You were around
But then you were gone
It’s like a car passing by
It’s there one second
Gone the next
You’re not around anymore
Feels like it’s been forever
Please don’t ask what’s wrong
For I don’t know
And if I did
I’d lie.
by Ashley Newcomb, Wilmington, DE
The world would be resting on top of my
Small and fragile, as it is,
And if I accidentally turned it upside down
I’d watch the world crumble beneath me.
Falling and breaking,
Like wet sand
As my empire grew and grew,
And grew.
But I would not do that.
For my fingertips are just as fragile as
the world,
Just as soft and impressionable.
And they too could be lost in a gust of wind.
But there is something sacred, something
In the idea that everything you do will
be debated
By the small people in your hands who have
split into groups
And brew tea with your blood.
Burning marks into your pointer fingers
So that even Uncle Sam can’t point at you
any longer
And tell you to join the war.
His hands are so crippled.
If I were president,
Then people would crawl onto my palms and
up my arms.
They’d remind me that my power could only
go so far
And that my skinny fingers could only hold
so much.
They’d follow my veins like pathways and
create new lifelines on my palms.
They’d dance in my pools of tears.
But I would grab two tambourines, one in
each hand,
And have them dance on the dancing
disks instead,
I’d watch them walk in circles,
Around the looping prints on the pads of
my fingers,
Deconstructing my identity as they go, until
I’ve lost myself.
Because with a job as powerful as president
You oftentimes forget who you are.
And if I were president,
I’d travel to other planets,
And ask the stars if the world is dying
If we will burn out eventually like them.
And I’d debate the aliens about world trade
and the souls we are forever indebted to.
I’d say I could make a difference.
But really all I’d do is paint the White House
a different color
Maybe I’d write a new Constitution,
And transform the words
Into iambic pentameter,
And the amendments would be poetry
And be printed on millions of sheets,
Beautiful rhyme,
So Far Gone
Cast out to the growing cities
Etched into every one of my joints.
But one day,
My wrists would grow tired,
The world would have grown too heavy –
Too heavy to ever go back to being light.
And my palms would drift downwards like
ski slopes.
The people would slide away and fall off the
edges of my fingernails,
Clutching, as if on the precipice of a cliff,
But eventually dropping like drips
Making textbooks soggy
Blurring the ink, distorting the history,
So that my reign of power would never
be remembered,
As it really was.
Almost as if I had never been president.
And then,
I would watch the world lie
Underneath the soles of my feet.
And I would be forced to walk back and trace
the pathways of my own veins
Like water running through the drains and
back to its source.
by Alexa Cucopulos, Franklin Lakes, NJ
Pick your partners
the teacher said.
I groaned inwardly
as everyone got to their feet.
I stood there,
like the eye of a storm.
As the people rushed toward each other.
Where is he now?
How can this be?
Everything was so good when I was
about three.
He came back years later.
Then he left again soon.
The one month I hate has to be June.
All the laughs from happiness, fathers
with sons.
While I play at the park saying I don’t
have one.
Sometimes I just say I blame myself.
I’m the real reason he packed up and left,
She says it’s not my fault and that he
loves you.
No calls or gifts, kind of hard to believe
it’s true.
So far gone he left with no shame.
I don’t think of it much so I start over like
a game.
Sometimes I wonder where he is.
Probably back in St. Louis with some
other kids.
I smile and laugh when I’m asked for my dad.
Even though he left it shouldn’t make me sad.
I’m kind of confused.
Why did he leave?
Was it me, my mom, life wasn’t just an ease?
We had problems but it all resolved
into peace.
So I’m left to say so far gone, where is he?
by Mike Mullins, Houston, TX
I shut my eyes to block them out
It didn’t help.
I could hear them
holding hands
But there I was
standing there.
I bit my lip to keep from crying
embarrassed to the core.
They all turned to look at the teacher
ready and attentive
Photo by Michelle Trejo, Carbondale, KS
A Box of Brushes
and Paint
I opened my eyes
to glare determinedly at her,
hoping half-heartedly,
she would ignore me,
and spare me the humiliation.
Her eyes roved throughout the room
and landed on me.
I sighed,
and my shoulders slumped.
There I was
The leftover person
the scorned one
the let’s-be-a-group-of-three-to-not-be-withher one.
His story is tucked into the painting.
His mind flickering
As he dresses the canvas
In French ultramarine
And raw sienna.
His eyes swimming in brush strokes,
His lips cadmium red.
He paints a ghost of an artist,
Outfitted in colors.
Bounded in the name of imitation.
His silent conversations
Become models of concentration.
Written in words, inventive,
He continues to say the same thing.
by Bekah Diamond-Bier, Durham, NH
by Jessica Manafi, Lafayette, LA
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
Love in Piano Keys
Death breathed on you
taking you from your Baby Girl
taking you from the earth where you laughed
taking you from the people who loved you
taking you from Everything
Dancing fingers across the ebony and
snow-covered keys,
The melody evaporates into the old
worn couch
Where I sit, admiring the beautiful sound.
I slowly turn my head, glance out
the window,
Death swept its cloak of misery
over everything
important to you
Baby Girl
But the sunlight guides me to your sparkling
Gold eyes. The music conducts me to follow
Your calloused hands, rapidly leaping to the
Perfect chord. Our perfect chord.
by Marley Mayer, Cannon Falls, MN
Death interrupted your perfect life
it stampeded into raising your family
it crashed into your work
it interrupted your life
it ruined Everything
Changing Birthday
They told me the news today
That if I’m lucky
I’ll see my next birthday
Death took its toll
on Wife
on Baby Girl
on everyone whose life you touched
on Everything
They were sitting in the chair
Crying tears without a care
Of what the others thought
That’s when I finally said
Your death made me:
Number 52.
My basketball number.
Your football number.
Your death made me wonder
Would have I been Daddy’s little princess?
People say I look like you.
I miss you.
I turn 15 in two weeks
I can make it this time
They told us the same thing
Last year
But look where I am now
by Anonymous, Oshkosh, WI
Lost in Thought
I am running and running
All around me are black-and-white photos
Images from the past
I don’t know where I am.
I think I’ve seen these images before
Is that Nana? Is that my first car?
Is that my sister? Is that my birthday party?
Yes, and these are memories
Why can’t I leave?
Where is the marked exit?
Why are these memories slipping away?
Is it because I am old, ancient?
My family has died, leaving me in the asylum
Everyone, alive and dead, is waiting for me
to die.
I feel very alone
Is it because I can’t remember my own name?
Is that Nana’s photo or someone else?
I knew a second ago
It is all slipping away, and it is frustrating.
Maybe it is Alzheimer’s
Or I’m just lost in thought
by Katie Davis, Ocala, FL
Photo by Michaela Wheeler, Port Byron, IL
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
10 months later
I’m still here
Cryin’ tears without a care
Of what the others think
Trying to get my mind straight
With the surprise I woke up to find.
Wearing a cap every day
People keep staring at the bald space
Ignoring whispers I can hear
Keeping my head held high
I turn 16 in two months
I can make it this time
They told us the same thing
Last year
And look where I am now
They told me this would be the
Last time I saw them again
My parents sitting in the chair
Cryin’ tears without a care
Of what the others thought
They were losing their baby girl
A Conversation
with Mom
Once I asked my mother
Am I ever good enough for you?
And she replied
Of course
As long as you’re doing your best
But you can always be better
You know
You can always be better
But even if I scored a million goals
Or ran the fastest time
She’d still shake her head
And say
You could have done better
You know
You could have done better
Just look at the other girls
They don’t cry after a game
They’re always doing their best
And that’s why they beat you
Because you could have done better
You know
You could have done better
But Mom
I wanted to say
I don’t cry because I’m frustrated
I cry because of you
And because I know what you’ll say
I can’t do any better
Mom please
I can’t do any better
I think when I grow up
I won’t let my children play sports
I don’t want them to feel like a failure
Like how she made me feel
I don’t want them to have to hear Grandma
Tell them everything they did wrong
I don’t want them to hear her say
You could have done better
You know
You could have done better
by Anonymous, Lee’s Summit, MO
Nobody will ever tell me that I have your
blue eyes
The same color hair, or long legs and
thin thighs
Nobody will ever say that I “got it from you”
They don’t have to lie; I know it’s not true
But I’ll tell you a few things that people know
about us
You taught me to love, to be kind, and to trust
We may not share genes, blood, or skin tone
But I know for a fact, I’ll love you now, and
when I’m grown
So I may not have your eyes, your blood, or
your skin
But you are my mother, and you make my
world spin
The warm sun is
burning the hate of the world
to charred ashes
that will float away
in the torturous wind that
wouldn’t let me stand.
The sun hits and
the red mercury
Cold frost
slowly melts.
As I stare into the blazing star
my life’s kaleidoscope
turns yellow shades
and spherical shapes.
There is only blue sky,
no clouds in sight
and the sun’s warmth
on my bronze face.
The gloom of night sets in the west.
There is light in the east horizon
with today’s forecast,
by Emily Watterson, Algonquin, IL
by Kate Wyman, Oshkosh, WI
by Elizabeth Erlanson, Cannon Falls, MN
Knives, Rocks,
and Late-Night
Give me 12 more slashes
To my face
To my throat
To my being
Rip me up inside
Break me
Shatter me
As if I were a windowpane
Cut up what I am
With your KitchenAid knife
And fry my thoughts
With insults
With a tablespoon of hatred
Pound me down
To the floor
With your fists
Don’t break a nail
Stand over me
Tall as the Twin Towers
And love me
Like cream of wheat.
by Gabriella Ciaccio,
Bethlehem, PA
Puzzle Pieces
of Memories
I hear kids talk in the hallway
About their “horrible” mothers.
And like I always do, I ask
What is it like to have a mother?
I wouldn’t know.
Last I saw my mother, she was lying in a
hospital bed,
Pale, tired, weak and suffering.
I can remember each night when it was time
for bed
She would kiss me three times and
in between she would say
“Peace, love, happiness”
I can remember she use to slide her hand
In the direction my hair flowed to ease me.
The rest is like puzzles.
I remember her work clothes and some
jewelry she wore,
But I can’t remember that very important
piece of the puzzle,
Her face; her face is a blur in my eyes.
Every time I try to dream, it pains me not to
see her face,
Her hopeful eyes and smile.
Five years gone by, 15 now
I still wonder why,
I still wonder where she is,
I still have hope of her coming back into
my dreams,
And I still wonder if there’s a God.
So every time I hear those kids talking in
the hallway
About their “horrible” mother, I stop and say
I would trade you any day.
by Mariah Boggs,
Craig, CO
The Once-SoQuiet Peace
I am stuck in a box
If I stay in my upstairs room
With the ongoing flickering light
Called my dreams,
Only hope can fulfill
The scribbles of my dreams
My soul,
Which was once
Planted by the sun,
Begins to fade into the shadows.
It can no longer be
Tasted by the sky or
Heard by the grass or
Relieved in the lake’s forgiving waters.
The forgotten truth
Reveals that following the path,
Which carries the sweet melody of acceptance,
Is the true exit to individuality.
Leaving the building behind
to diminish in the tranquil fire
Only corrupts the
Quiet opinion that sparks my flames
of achievement,
Only breaks the once-so-quiet peace.
by Stephanie Thomas, Pompton Plains, NJ
Can You See Me,
Dad, could you see me when I ran
Could you see me when I jumped?
Did you see me when I shot that buck?
Did you see me when I did the back flip?
Dad, did you see me get into a fight
Could you see me cry night after night?
Did you see me when I got jumped?
Dad, did you see me when I did drugs to
hide the pain
Dad, did you see me when I robbed
that house
Dad, did you see me when the drug dealer
shot me
Did you see me, Dad, did you or did you
even look?
Of course not, your eyes were closed or
you were gone
Why didn’t you see me, Dad
Why weren’t you watching me, Dad
What happened I thought that you would
match me, Dad
I thought that you loved me, Dad, I thought
you cared
Why won’t you watch me now, why?
Dad, quit closing your eyes
Aren’t you going to watch me now?
by Daniel Shinost, Worland, WY
I like to, I
Magine somedays
your, treasure, chest
against the seas. of
mine, with your sea legs
and feeling mine and your
fishermen’s hands against
mine, soft.
watching the waves on
the sand of
by Lindsay Reed, Wilmington, DE
They See
In Conclusion
They were the Perfect People
Smart, funny, brave, nice
They see books
Learning and smarts
They see intelligence
Careers in the future
is something I stopped looking for years ago.
I’m accepting this as it is:
a door
mercilessly slamming on my fingers
every time I try to reach through it
only to open again
once I’ve taken a step back.
They were the Perfect People
To seek out for advice.
They were the Perfect People
Had the largest shoulders to cry on
They were the Perfect People
Who you could rely on.
No one thought their lives could quake
Their dreams could crumble
Their hearts could break.
They see friends
Social interactions
They see appearances
And a new grant
I see an iron cage
Locked doors and few windows
I see useless information
Forced into our brains
You’re always smiling at me
inches from the door frame.
So before the Perfect People
Truly meet their end
Make sure you’ve set in stone
That you are THEIR friend.
I see who my peers are
Through their facades
And I watch
The school collapse around us.
is just another failed attempt between us.
Look at us now:
a beautiful vase
shattered by careless hands
and repaired by apathetic hearts
so many times that
we’ve become more glue than glass.
by Molly Burgstahler,
Sandpoint, ID
Smashed like my fingers
and, I suspect, your will.
by Alexis Becker,
St. Louis, MO
My Lame Life
No one thought they could fall when they did
We should have glanced twice
Should have looked under the lid.
But now the Perfect People
Are fallen and gone.
They got their fate
From when we were wrong.
Falling into Fossils
Parachuting from the sky,
funneling downward,
falling back into you
and the fossils between us.
Unearthing the half-buried bones
from the dust and the dirt we reluctantly
showered over them.
Polish and shine them up,
pretend like nothing happened.
The glory of the bones
is now dimmed.
Shining white brilliance
reduced to a duller color.
Either from my nervousness,
your brief moment of panic,
or the amount of time
the fossils spent in the earth
wondering what would
become of them.
Trapped in the dust
lingering, waiting.
I see fools getting by
Knowing what test makers want to hear
I see people
Endless debates and yelling
is the only outcome left in our reach.
Picture it:
really no better and no worse
but individually
you could rebuild your will
and I could, maybe,
stop reaching through that damn door.
I am from my dad’s machismo
when he is drunk.
I am from my mom talking
about God.
I am from my sister’s crying
when her ex beats her.
I am from my brother’s
joining a gang
It would be like letting go of an era
that slipped past us long ago.
I am from my mom’s beans and rice.
I am from my brother’s fights
In the street.
I am from nickel bags and many
Hot loaded guns.
I am from my brother’s getting
High in the apartment
Every era has its end.
We just need to find ours.
by Breanna Bowers,
Burlington, KS
I am from my brother beating
My “drunk-ass dad.”
I am from my brother
Getting shot.
I am from my mom’s tears.
The beast roars
and tears through the house,
roaming from room
to room.
Not a corner
is spared from its unearthly growl.
Its malice-filled eyes glow in determined
pursuit of its next meal.
I seek refuge
in my room
but hear the thing draw ever closer.
Terror freezes my limbs.
My thoughts churn –
I haven’t seen Paris!
I haven’t gotten my driver’s license!
I haven’t ridden in the Oscar Meyer
Weiner Mobile!
But then
I hear a whir
and the ominous snarling
I peek out just in time
to see Mom store the vacuum
by Anonymous, Houston, TX
I tried saving them alone,
digging through miles of stone,
but I can’t have them.
Not without you.
You came to me
and now we’re back
to the start again,
just like when the fossils
made their first imprint
against the earth.
Now all I want is to stay falling,
into you, into us
and not have to buy
any more fossils that
I want to keep.
by Maggie Duncan,
Rolla, MO
by Sara Brewer,
Oshkosh, WI
Art by Nicholas Ozemba, Dobbs Ferry, NY
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
Don’t Say Good-Bye Love
One Last Night
We see growing up
every day.
We lose,
we shed
our old skins of innocence, and
too quickly,
we see reality.
Say good-bye softly.
My legs pumping trying to keep up with the
one ahead,
the one I desire,
for nothing.
Cramps stab my sides like a knife with
no mercy,
but the drive to win is so impeccably strong,
I raise my knees in an effort to lengthen
my strides.
One last night before
we remember what revenge is and
use it to our greatest advantage
Yet we are still children
just better at pretending,
We lose,
We shed
our untainted dreams,
our friendship with time,
our faith,
too quickly,
we see reality.
I race down the track of ignorance and bliss,
“Nothing could go wrong!” I tell myself.
Mere wish.
I brace myself for the first hurdle,
jump to clear it,
and miss.
The plastic cracks and the hurdle
tumbles over.
My shins splinter from the force of the fall.
He’s ahead of me; set to pass the baton,
he’s moving on to the net,
fake baked, bleach blond,
but I’m still running, no one to pass my
baton to.
legs like lead,
each step smashes the blackened track.
“Per sempre e sempre,” he reassures you.
It is impossible
to catch up in our shell.
From love everything
love one thing …
We lose,
we shed
too much.
is quick,
a swift snatch.
We see reality.
Spikes stabbing into the ground propelling
myself forward,
through the shin splints of a forgotten birthday,
through the cramps of a cheater,
through the lead legs of a liar.
My legs keep going,
but my heart stops racing.
Please don’t
say good-bye.
say good-bye.
Say good-bye gently
by Cierra Meckelberg, Oshkosh, WI
Dangerous Curiosity
by Karen Lai,
Lake Zurich, IL
publicly have always existed as a quiet being
secretly am always loaded with curiosity
A Lovely War
The apocalypse has come
You can see it all around us
In the stars
In the animals
In your eyes.
I just want to know what happens
Far too many suffer phobia of the topic
I’m curious why
The aftermath is nothing more
Than a pile of rubble, debris and dead bodies.
I just wanted to know what happens
Now they will make the first major move …
Is it true that the soul leaves
the body
Flying, peering out
Hidden, lonely, no one
could ever know the secrets
the ways in which God
works, his often
questioned magic
As the bombs fall around us,
The government regrets its actions.
But there is a calm peace that is noticed,
In no place but each other’s eyes.
I just wanted to know what happens
Started, carrying
lack of knowledge on
the consequences
We sit,
Hand in hand,
Staring into the brown eyes of the
other person.
Waiting for our time to come
As one.
We started
breathing casually – as this
was a casual event
Not my own vendetta,
But those of the enemies of our land.
They felt threatened by
The actions of our country.
As we walked
took appreciation in every
gasp for air
we tried for. We
felt a new sense, one of
a new light
by Jake Rothman,
Pompton Plains, NJ
I just wanted to know what happened
by Rebecca Gesme, Cannon Falls, MN
Teen Ink •
M AY ’ 1 1
One last night before
we recognize the fact that
our best friend’s parents found popcorn all
over their roof.
One last
glorious, insane, bitter night
to wear plaid and lie and
pretend this game of hide and seek will end
(in me seeing you for
all that you are,
and not all that you’ll never be.)
One last night to
ignore the growling signs that
you are spiraling horribly out of control and
can’t help but get ridiculously angry when
your sister drops needles on the bathroom
floor and
forgets to replace the last roll of toilet paper.
My dear,
utilize this one last night because
if you keep traveling in this direction,
it truly will be your last night and
your best friend won’t miss you nearly as
much as you would like.
One last night to
make sure you get that nagging question off
your chest because
it will all feel so much better if
you don’t recall asking it.
(I am the question and
you are the answer)
So, dear,
wait for the very last moment and
straighten the collar on your red plaid shirt
(which doesn’t really matter because
I cannot answer your questions at this time)
and crawl under the covers with your party
makeup carefully washed off
so you can wake up with a fresh face and
pretend that
your happy little ending still makes an
ounce of
(I’ll settle with a D on that pop quiz
anyway because
because I haven’t been reading the textbook
lately and
all those jumbled paragraphs just don’t make)
by Lauren Scheck,
Wyckoff, NJ
From Where I
Sleep Tonight
Your love was a summer love –
that morphed into real love,
and grew roots stronger and winding
like the biggest of trees
with dirt on my knees,
I climbed,
and climbed
to the place where the sky grew
infinitely small
and where the greenest of leaves looked
beautifully tall
I was a child when we first scraped our legs
from the bushes
and fell out of touch with the rise of the moon
we were always late – it was always so dark
my sky stays light and dreary
and I’m bending and breaking to find you
near me
will I find you near me?
The moon is so scary, the moon is so lonely
it is so bright from where I sleep tonight
by Hannah Pelletier,
Kittery Point, ME
Broken Keys
A sea of broken keys,
missing chords and leaking dreams.
It’s a bittersweet wave;
a salty sea and golden beams.
Piano strewn across the shore
with the sand between its toes;
the sweet sea beating its keys
into the most beautiful prose.
The salty tears leak onto its ivory
bleeding sorrow, faith and music to be –
reflected in its glass –
a wistful moment waits to pass.
the sea disappears:
taking its tears and thousand steady beats,
leaving me lonely in my own living room.
A single piano stands alone,
perched on my carpet, lace upon its top,
waiting for me to sit down
and play its beautiful melodies.
But all I have is a bunch of sheets and bars;
a jumbled mess of notes at best.
A gorgeous piano with nothing to play,
while I sit jealous of a broken sea, far,
far away …
by Alexandra Levy,
Wyckoff, NJ
Writer’s Block
Words in my head
like milk into a cereal bowl
but my luck charms
give my thoughts
sugar rush
and they just
like a spider weaving a web
and now my words just
by Erin McGuire,
Woodbridge, VA
Art by Sarah Mongie, Kaysville, UT
What I Know
Sensible Tea
Old Oak Tree
It is at that point when legions
of goose bumps roar out along my arms
At that point when I feel my lungs inflate
In a gasp of wonder
At that point when my thoughts bend in ways
I’ve never imagined
At that point of sudden
And blazing light
That I know I’ve known a Poet.
I was at an inn
If those still exist
Over a cup of fresh brewed
Day-old gray tea
In the middle of the room
Next to the window
Where the noontime stars
Were shining like never as usual
And the man with the masks
Came to barter his latest
Long ago sold-out merchandise
Masks for every occasion
However you need to appear
It’s easy and cheap,
Expensive and complicated
So buy all the lies
That I hold in my pocket,
He says in that lucid voice
So obscure in my ear
And I scrunch into the bench
Greedy breath and mellow sighs
Hot on my neck
No thanks, I’ve my own.
He left without a word and loud protestations
And the inn quieted down to its usual noise
Later in the privacy of my room
Of disgusting publicity
I laid out my masks
In an organized mess
Of very neat labels
The passing cloud told me
Too many, too much
A mask for every occasion
Is no occasion without mask
And no mirrors happened to walk by
When I mustered to look in my reflection
but I’m just sipping
my fresh brewed
sensible tea.
A dazzling flash of bright lightning.
a deafening crash of thunder,
as an old oak tree,
sways in the fierce wind.
Droplets of rain
soaking anything they can get their hands on.
My father drives,
faster and faster,
begging to get out of the violent storm.
The streets beginning to flood,
and the large tree still threatens to fall,
looming over to saturated grass.
the decrepit tree snaps,
falling onto the emerald green van,
crushing him,
inches in front of my face.
Someone screams.
I realize it’s me.
Terrified and alone,
the car wrapped in a fiery glow,
the crash of a window being shattered fills
my ears.
Someone found me,
and saved my four-year-old life.
Sirens in the background,
red and blue lights flashing all around.
surrounding me,
I only want my dad.
But it doesn’t matter that I want him,
because he’s gone.
Taken by an old oak tree.
by Jenica Jessen, Riverton, UT
My Life:
Now on Display
My life was never known
Previously unprecedented
Until I met my best friend
A little boy named Ernest
Who slept under my bed
Who ate under my table
Who studied under my desk
Ernest followed me around
Recording my life
And all of its dull moments
He was there when I won
He was there when the car hit
He was there for the fun
He was there when my world split.
Ernest wrote a great story
With no exaggeration or elaboration
Just me,
On paper
We stood on the streets
Passing out fliers to pedestrians
A few took them and threw them away
Others took them and praised me
Soon reporters came with their tablets
And TV stations came with their cameras
We ran
Back into the depths of my mind
The only place where we could hide
People would know
People would holler
But Ernest and I never breathed a word
Now my sad story continues
Still unprecedented
by Beth Berendzen,
Manchester, MO
One of Many
Playful spring winds tango with an oak tree.
Each consecutive leaf alike joins in.
From a third party, they all seem to be
Following sweet patterns of dips and spins,
One paranoid leaf, a few weeks past bud,
Defies the swift harmony by freezing,
No difference created in one applaud,
Fears of missteps are overpowering.
Sun shines on then colors start to spin ’round
The leaf can’t brag about setting a smile.
Leaves embrace their final dance to
the ground,
And our leaf’s feelings have been put on trial.
Clings to the branch and exiting spotlight
Tangos to the fall wind in third party’s sight.
by Nicole Carmichael,
Pompton Plains, NJ
by Arina Bykadorova, Brooklyn, NY
I thought I could steal her away from Roselia
I found myself drifting on the fringes
of insanity
A madness that consumed me whole
I couldn’t forgive what I had done
Left myself so open to a ceaseless barrage
of emotion
Filling my crowded heart.
Leaking through permeated valves
A trail led back to hollowed-out eyes
Staring into the vast mirror that held
no warmth
It wouldn’t lie to you.
Hold you close.
Show you your good side.
It didn’t care.
It was using you.
To fulfill its own need to be satisfied.
Since it had no entity
It fed off of the reflections.
The reflections of pain, vanity
Hopelessness, Disgust
Joy, Ecstasy, Lust
Whatever it came across
It was a Gluttonous mirror
Showing you everything you need.
You despise.
It was easier.
In your shell.
By Anthony Barnett, Raleigh, NC
Photo by Hannah Berkman, Los Angeles, CA
My Mom
The anger burns my lungs like a cigarette. I
want to scream so loud that my voice is lost
in the silence of your shock. You don’t
listen because you don’t understand. You
are selfish and wrapped up like a cocoon in
you own problems. Everything I do is a
disappointment. I am just another smudge
in your life; something to cleaned, polished,
and wiped away. I am not perfect and I will
never pretend to be. The ink in my skin
makes you burn with embarrassment. How
could your daughter do this? You can no
longer claim me beautiful, wonderful,
perfect, because you are ashamed. Your
inability to understand anyone but those
who resemble you makes you bitter and
judgmental. The wrinkles that now begin
to crease your face will be blamed on me.
The idea that I live my life to the fullest
and try to enjoy my time on this earth is
incomprehensible to you. I hate to be alone
but you make me hate your presence. You
claim I am lazy and unhelpful when I have
been the single force holding your life
together. You may not realize it yet but
without me, you would have crumbled like
a wall deteriorating after centuries of wear.
So when I leave to get on with my life, what
will you do? Where will you be? For I
know I am strong enough to be on my own,
but are you? Take a moment and think
about that before I exit your world forever,
without a single backwards glance.
by Anonymous, River Forest, IL
The Politician
He comes and goes
leaving tightly
clenched fists
and picket signs
in his wake
Change is in his footsteps
a change
that rattles
with the echo of one
(million) shouting voices
and a gun’s report
His eyes speak of
lost and returned
By Megan Leonard,
Oshkosh, WI
There They Sit
There they sit.
Like human books.
Old, dusty, and forgotten.
There they wait to tell their stories.
They want no more than we want.
Someone to listen, someone to care;
Just someone to let them know that they’re
not forgotten.
Someone to share their stories with.
The nursing home their library,
There they sit.
by Sarah Reeder,
Springboro, OH
Once the dream of many
is now the thought of few
who wanted color in the summer
or to live a long life
or to touch the sky.
They now cut,
Their roots upturned,
their hopes in vain,
they cry
at the feet
of an unknown man.
by Anna Griffith,
Pompton Plains, NJ
He has come to save the world.
by Claire Dockery, Park Ridge, IL
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
I wish I could say
Do you
My name,
You never use it
To tuck
Me in
To greet
Me in
The morning,
To tell me
You love me.
And I’ve got this
To scream!
To let
You know
That I’m
Still here,
No matter
How much
You hate
That I am.
Writing in Times
New Roman
House and
a Robber
Writing in Times New Roman
Trying to capture the angst of life,
With all the hatred and strife
Writing in Times New Roman
Everyone these days has something to be
sad about
Everyone these days has something to
cry about
But I am writing in Times New Roman
With my stepmother talking bad about my
mother again,
She won’t stop although it’s a quarter to ten.
Still writing in Times New Roman
On the outside I am happy almost always
always skipping down hallways
Writing in Times New Roman
But on the inside I am confused …
Why does Dad just sit there and let it happen?
Why does she hate me so much?
Why does Dad seem relaxed when
she’s gone?
That’s why I write in Times New Roman
I sit at the computer for hours typing out the
life of me
It’s my way of relieving stress
Typing in Times New Roman
I talk to people daily about their problems
To see if I can offer advice
Times New roman
I enjoy life
I have to
If I didn’t,
My eyes light up in the darkest of nights.
I hear noises throughout my body,
Cracking and gurgling at the quietest times
I listen and stop,
my dark tan body whistling through
the window.
Cars honk as they go by;
I don’t wave.
I’m the only one here, nobody else is around.
My body lights up like a great idea.
I search for expensive jewels;
I feel the breeze go through my body
once again,
knowing I slipped away
and nobody but I will know.
If I didn’t
I don’t think there would be a point to it.
I write in Times New Roman to show myself
the truth.
I don’t like fancy fonts, they hide the truth.
In a world full of deceptions and untruths,
I have to prove to myself that I know
something is true
The truth is blunt, and so is Times
New Roman
That’s why I write in Times New Roman.
To you
I don’t
All that’s left,
Is you,
And your happy little
Of four.
My eyes are burning
by Anais Donald, Keller, TX
With disappointment and loneliness
Because I know
The Inseparable
No matter what they tell me,
I will never be
Will you be …
The one who tapes me back up?
The one who will dry the last tears that leak?
In your eyes.
by Anonymous,
Stanton, MI
Panera Bread
The thick orange liquid gets poured into the
glass white bowl.
Tons of extra squares are thrown in for flavor.
It’s rested to cool on a tray next to a brown
eco-friendly napkin with a silver spoon.
There it waits for me.
My name is then called and I pick up my
heaven and take it to my seat.
The aroma of sweet, creamy tomato dances
into my nose
killing me effortlessly with the temptation for
the taste.
But, from making my mistake in the past, I’m
wise enough not to burn my tongue.
So I wait … and wait.
After I wait several endless minutes
I take my first sip and smile with satisfaction.
The delicious creamy tomato soup gives my
taste buds the enjoyment they have
been craving.
I go down for another mouthful only to find
the bowl empty.
by Kamryn Schilling,
Wyckoff, NJ
Dawn Is Bittersweet
dawn is bittersweet
a beginning and an end
missing stars
welcoming sunlight
an awakening
a blessing
breathe it in
drink it in
before you know it
it will be gone
Teen Ink •
My BFF Jill
“brb, ill txt you
when im done
wit supper =)”
“Jennifer!! No phones
at the table! We’re
eating dinner!”
by Jennifer Omelas,
Houston, TX
by Alec Milton, Coral Gables, FL
Peeking out of the corner
of my eye, I manage to
thumb a few words.
Can we be …
The inseparable, even if that means suffering
together forever.
M AY ’ 1 1
Knowledge can lead to madness.
Its pursuit can drive those who seek it to lunacy.
That madness turns to chaos.
Einstein sought knowledge and delved
deep in order to uncover the secrets of
quantum physics.
He may have gained the knowledge, but
traded his social aptitude
and bordered on madness.
Some say that Einstein could not find his way
home after a day in the lab.
Knowledge leads to madness, and chaos is
the result.
“Hey gurl :D, wanna come
2 my house 2nite?”
Will I be …
The girl who you are with forever, even if
forever is so short?
Yeah … yeah … whatever.
Good luck getting a teenager
like me to put their phone away.
Photo by Claudia Mavis, Nogales, AZ
Knowledge Leads
to Chaos
Secretly… sneakily… and
without being noticed, there
is time to slip a quick look.
Can we be …
The couple whom everybody will envy, even
if we aren’t perfect?
by Angalic Herd, Anchor Point, AK
by Kayla Shaver, Wyckoff, NJ
But right now it’s
dinner time, and parents
don’t like phones at the table.
Will I be …
The girl who no matter what happens,
you will never forget?
by Anonymous, Tenafly, NJ
Pitter patter
Bloop blop
Crack pow
Drip drop
No matter how it drizzles and pours and
thunders out there
One thing’s for sure,
The rain doesn’t care.
The rain doesn’t care about our new
suede shoes
Our styled hair
Our daily jog
Our annual fair.
The rain drops slush and splash through
our minds
Like a little brother stuck on rewind.
It rains on the sidewalks
It rains on the gardens
It rains on the beanstalks
It rains on my mood.
C’mon rain, you are just plain rude.
Please, rain just go away
And don’t bother coming back the next day.
OMG I just got a
txt from my BFF Jill!
Will you be …
There unconditionally, without question?
The one who comes to me without reason?
I am the problem child.
I am invisible girl.
Raining on My Mood
by Anonymous, Cannon Falls, MN
Five Thousand Years High School
Photo by Rebecca Bornstein,
Oklahoma City, OK
Like Lightning
I sought your heart in the darkness
finding nothing
was content with
your lips, your hands
hushed phone calls in the young hours
of morning.
I could spend five thousand years
in this hotel room tonight
if you asked me to
listening to the shower running
television rumbling behind my head
automobiles on the freeway
pool light across the ceiling
thinking, breathing, feeling
memorizing your face with my fingernails
I can touch your mouth and catch your
breath in my chest
when you exhale
I could spend five thousand years
in this hotel room tonight
just ask me to
by Alexis Altman,
Bear Creek, NC
Life as Movement
I was the thunder
but you could always argue
who was first to fall.
muscle movement upon muscle movements
evidence of the life still pumping through
these veins
of the rhythm still heard, the universal beat
heard by all with a heart
I jump and run with wild abandon
a validation of existence, a realization of living
Sharks have it down pat … immobilization is
dying, paralysis-death. Let all that retain
muscles of manageable limberness,
Rejoice! Let all hear the joy of life in your
skipping, in your crouching, in
your pirouettes
by Isabel Henderson, Bedminster, NJ
by David Hamatake, Chapel Hill, NC
Bedlam Abyss
Everything Will
Work Out
You turned from friend to lover to
well, what are we now?
Try to keep pace
as I watch the scars form.
They spread across your heart like
white and deep and cracking.
Life is an ocean,
and we are swallowed in the wake of others.
The salty taste sticking to our tongues.
The sound of a gunshot bitter to my tastes,
as I found it was fired by Bart Michaels
My friend,
in front of the Dugout in Omro,
the victim?
Loss is not so much an ocean but a dead sea.
Where the salt is thick
and life is impossible
You are engulfed
in a sorrowful abyss.
It’s daft how people find a way
to blame you for all that goes wrong,
it sickens me
The taste of despair scarring my tongue.
I find I’m too lost to ask for directions
so I just keep wading through the dark
unfamiliar trenches
where the thing I fear most
is myself.
The golden sunlight casting a depressing hue,
as to reveal the bland world below.
Koibito stares into the empty horizon
his heart sinks
all hope seems lost
the skyline drifts away
he will never reach his star.
The water will turn to ash in our mouths
we will know we are lost.
The ignorant Wiseman will hold no
more answers
I have painted the world red with my hatred.
by Phillip Koeshall, Oshkosh, WI
Everything will work out
I know
Because it has
I need to remember the highs
When I’m in the lows
And forget the odious mash
Of feelings
And wants
And dreams
And hurts
Just let it pass by
Like the clouds and the sky
Pain has a beauty
And life has an end
But joy is so much more wonderful
When you know it’s the beginning of
something lovely and unplanned
She leans against the bathroom wall
A Sharpie-marked legacy in the stall
She doesn’t bother to brush away the tears
that fall
To the red plastic cup, he puts his lips
The smell is odd, and the taste bitter,
Yet he still takes a sip
The party is too crowded, the music too loud
But a small price he must pay, to remain with
this crowd
She gathers her books
Forgetting how much they weigh
Five tests and a quiz, all in one day
A yawn overcomes her, without any warning
Fell asleep on her binder, at three in
the morning
She heads down to guidance,
To solve application strife
But will college credits get her a life?
He looks at him
And his heart skips a beat
Their fingers intertwine
But they must be discreet
Would the rainbow pin on his shoulder,
Make him feel bolder,
And allow their lips to meet?
They say that high school
Is the best four years of your life
But it takes the world you once knew
Cuts it with a knife
He said, she said
The pressure builds up
President, Geek, Jock, Druggie, Freak
The teachers read straight out of the book
People talk, people hear
Don’t want to see when they look
Tears fall
The truth is released
People stand, people care
The grade comes back
And the red pen is there
She was right, he was wrong
Like the lyrics to that song
The conscience that I used to know
Lurks behind, in the shadows
We forget who we are
And the choices that we make
Some give up, some go far
It’s the path that you take
Some get another chance, another shot
It’s the only hope we’ve got
Find light in the hall, or the senior parking lot
It’s rare
No one said it was fair.
by Rebecca Ruhm, Racine, WI
by Sam Daniels, Syosset, NY
I look around me
Gaze falls upon them,
Hand in hand they walk
The people I love.
A certain longing,
Tugs at my heart.
For something I
Could not, should not
But tragically, I
How do you mend a broken heart?
Tape wouldn’t hold through the
skipping beats.
Could you use glue to keep it from
falling apart?
Or some string to hold it in one piece?
Ribbon would make it look brand new.
But can beauty keep the pain from showing?
There is needle and thread, what would
that do?
Would a band-aid keep my feelings
from flowing?
by Mollie Merino, Littleton, CO
by Kaitlyn Blanch, Laurel, MD
Footsteps all around me
I am petrified
Wafts of pepperoni
Sometimes a delight
But smell to me like burnt toast
Friends laugh together
I keep a straight face
Curled out of sight and mind
Inside my favorite wooden place
Hidden from the class
In the podium
Holding that frigid book
That keeps me nearly sane
My mouth is dry like the desert sand
No desire to eat
Fighting back tears
Nobody notices me
As the movie plays on
With people all around me
Arms around my knees
And unpredictability
Bounce inside my head
Bell is supposed to free us
But it doesn’t help me
The day of my sister’s surgery
by Emily Dana, Wilmette, IL
Fade Away
My mother mixed up a bit of sugar and spice
And gave out four white blossoms,
The flowers of her bouquet.
Day by day,
Her hair lost strength and collapsed on the
cold plain tile
On a rainy day,
In the month of May.
She consumed the sunlight during
During the times of struggle against that
sick disease
That keeps eating her soul away,
And covered the black worms with the crunch
of leaves
In October.
The shutter sound echoes
A flash of blue light that illuminates her
smile away,
And a tune for mother’s day.
I sang to her while holding a Hallmark card
in my hands,
Her tears said more than her words.
She absorbs the glucose from all her
loved ones,
Creating a halo on the pedals lying beside
her bed.
But her roots will continue to expand ’til
the blue light
Begins to fade away.
by Alicia Montesinos, Wheeling, IL
Just Because
Just because she doesn’t cry,
She doesn’t scream,
She doesn’t break.
Just because she only smiles,
Only laughs,
Only shines.
And just because she comes out strong,
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong.
by Allison Asghar, Brooklyn, NY
M AY ’ 1 1
• Teen Ink
Stubborn Bastard
I was born a stubborn bastard
with a big head,
reluctant to join the world.
My mother, more delirious
with each diminishing pint of blood.
and my leery father,
about to lose his lunch.
the silence
of flowers
Morning, Afternoon, Shattered Into
Invisible Pieces
and Night
this one here is slightly wilted,
The prize of morning
The light that shines from heaven
Sky opening out
The creation of today
Heals the soul and heart within.
is drooping drunkenly and dying
from the center to the petal tips
in varying degrees –
here a perfect petal clashing reluctantly
As a toddler, my adventures were endless,
from literally rocking to Simon
and Garfunkel,
to slamming myself
into furnishings of the house.
The intricate forts
made from chairs and blankets,
were my second home.
I loved to go fast,
I learned to ski at a very young age.
With each freezing fall
and tumultuous tumble,
I kept on going
My bicycle accompanied me
during warmer seasons, its mileage
surpassing my parents’ Volkswagen.
with a browning one
and throwing the bouquet’s color scheme off,
and now you take it and throw the
flower away
because pretty sells (out), and replace it with
a fresh flower that smells sweet and
(in the snow) it attracts the eye and
looks happy,
but (it cries) in awful silence.
I was very active
during my young years,
No one could free me
from the ever-enchanting
depths of the pool
I was always glued
to the baseball field
and the bowling alley.
Even the grating game of golf
gained my interest.
I have always been blessed
with great health.
The only hospital visits
were for broken bones,
always trying to go
and higher
than before.
Today I am bound
to minor allergies
and a flip-top box of Marlboros.
Now I am an adult, my interests
have changed;
I pride myself in personal responsibility
and my own potential,
instead of relying on others
I have grown spiritually,
and often ponder politics.
My vehicles replaced the video games,
collecting dust in my closet.
by Austin Black, Murfreesboro, TN
you plus
minus everything in my
divided by
all the other
(multiplied by
me over-analyzing
all of your
and the square root
why you don’t
give me a sine
or even a
added to me
laughing too
loudly at
your jokes
over the variable
equals a
whole lot
Gossip bounces off the walls, hits the lockers,
And shows up in the mouths of girls
once again.
Whispers, oh so soft, were still loud enough
to make my ears ring.
Walking to class seemed like a never-ending
race surrounded
By pointing fingers and evil glares.
Maybe high school isn’t as great as it seemed
in September
15 Minutes
I saw a commercial on the TV.
For “Car Insurance” the gecko said to me.
He assured me there was nothing to it.
It’s so easy a caveman can do it!
It was easy! Not how other insurances are
just a big Riddle.
Did I save money? Can Charlie Daniels play
a mean fiddle?
BAM! I crashed, crippling two cars.
Like when Elmer Fudd has trouble saying
his “R’s.”
They fixed up my car, now I’m roaming free!
I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
Now I drive with full reassurance.
15 minutes saved me 15% and more on
car insurance.
by Jon Kaul,
Oshkosh, WI
The burden of night
The destruction of the day
Mysterious clouds
Leading to another hour
Still fills tomorrow with hope.
by Clarissa Gartner,
Worcester, MA
by Isabella Bartels,
Staten Island, NY
I learned through all my experiences
that I am happy with myself,
and content with my life.
With each struggle
I’ve overcome,
I’ve grown and become
a better person,
and I attempt to better myself
in all my endeavors,
despite being a conservative Christian,
in other words,
a stubborn bastard.
Outstretched afternoon
Becoming forever young
Never-ending sun
The panorama of now
Is weightless and innocent.
by Cara, Nyack, NY
Oh, the smell of your skin,
how it reminded me
of just-dried laundry
freshly dancing in the summer breeze.
In winter, I would catch you
straight from my dryer
and rush my toasty shirts right up to the nose,
loving the subtle pulse of heat on my skin.
Alas! How I wished you were always there
with me!
Though now, it only rains.
The sheets droop in sorrow on the line,
as mold infests their insides.
The dryer has combusted from overuse
and abuse.
My dress lies in a messy, wet ball on the tile
The detergent isn’t on sale, anyway.
It probably never will be again.
by Katie Uihlein, Wexford, PA
M AY ’ 1 1
Every word out of your mouths
Causes the holes to swell
Filling more and more of me with empty but
painful space
Even when you talk to me,
Saying I’m glad you’re not like him
Meaning it as a compliment,
It hurts as the holes expand
You say please don’t be like that when you
grow up
You say you can’t take it
You say you’ll just be happy when I grow up
Are you happy now?
I’ve finally grown up
And I’m not like that
I’m not fighting back
Or rebelling
I’m staying silent
I’m trying not to cry out
And show you the pain I’ve kept locked away
I hope you can take it
Because I can’t much longer
I’ve finally matured
My vision of my perfect family
Has finally shattered
by Danielle Williams,
New Bern, NC
In the Future
In the Future
If I cut myself open,
Would there be wires
Instead of veins?
Instead of blood?
In the future,
Would my heart be a battery,
Instead of a heart?
by Sage Nichols,
McVille, ND
Art by Taylor Slagel, Abingdon, IL
Teen Ink •
You think because I’m not the one your
shouts are aimed at
That I’m not harmed
But I am hurting
I’m being ripped apart inside
Into three parts
One part of me for each of you
They were once joined together
But now I can’t even force them together
I can’t sew up the holes forming
between them
Not even with my strings of tears and pleas
In the future,
If I cut myself open,
Would there be pipes
Instead of bones?
A memory chip
Instead of a brain?
by Anonymous,
Hong Kong
Please stop fighting
Please, please, please, please stop
Just stop
Please just get along
Remember me? You all said you loved me,
prove it
Please stop it for me
(Rose’s Place)
A Clumsy
I think I fell,”
before the tears started
to rain.
How often do rain clouds rip apart?
Well, when they do,
We’ll go there and build a taco hut
And fill it with music and newspaper
And if we feel like it, we can make
The weather spicy like jalapenos,
Or docile like sea cucumbers.
When you get tired, I’ll pull out
The cotton candy.
When I feel like dancing, you’ll open
The checker board
And lace up my spiky ballet shoes.
Rubbing alcohol won’t sting our eyes,
And when I give you my heart,
You’ll give me
A brownie sundae and the remote control.
Our neighbors will let us ride
Their elephant to the fruit and vegetable aisle.
When we finish jumping on the Jell-O
We can catch the late show of fireworks
And the new zombie movie.
And death will be a party
And all the sea gulls will be invited.
Our tears won’t last long,
Just like on an Etch-A-Sketch,
Or a watercolor canvas,
Or glitter eyeliner.
Someday the rain clouds will zip back up
But what an idea, don’t you think?
I was the toddler lying
in the snow,
paralyzed under thick
layers of Wisconsin
winter armor.
I cried because
a friendly golden retriever
pinned me to the ground
just to say “hello”
with its slobbering tongue.
I had my heart broken
by the same basement,
when I saw
my own father cry.
only he didn’t cry because
he fell
or tripped
or scraped his knee
on the coarse carpet.
He cried because
he sent the family
a flight of stairs,
into the unfamiliar depths
of divorce.
I knew plenty of kids
from broken homes.
I had heard about
their terrible home lives,
about how their shattered families
relied on violence to feel
But we were different.
We had clumsily fallen,
but we stood back up.
I was a child of habit,
watching “The Nightmare
Before Christmas” daily,
doubtlessly scarring me.
I ate bologna sandwiches
just as often;
except that I undressed
the sandwich,
leaving only the bologna.
My own clothing has been
a geeky clutter
of Mighty Morphing
Power Rangers
and laceless loafers.
I have donned the sacred
Green Bay Packers apparel
to celebrate the
Sugar cube,
Faded ink,
We were sitting in that library,
We were sitting there together.
Glass bottle,
Pink seashell,
Burned notes,
We were reminiscing about the past,
We had learned to say “never.”
Golden dresses,
Slow dancers,
Now, good-bye,
We had finally found each other.
We could finally remember.
by Elizabeth Denning, Alexandria, VA
What Is War?
War is nothing more
Than old men fighting old men.
And the young die young.
by Shanika Turner, Tucson, AZ
by Indigo Erlenborn,
Madison, WI
by Joel Thomas, Oshkosh, WI
Boundary Lines
I bake cookies when I’m angry
Every time
It never fails
My anger simply bakes away
With every batch of cookies
My brother loves
My angry cookies
He says they’re the best
In the world
So, one year,
I baked him some cookies
For his birthday
For once they were happy cookies
He took one big bite
Then another small
With unusual
“What’s wrong?” I asked
He frowned “They aren’t the same”
Lightning strikes,
Cat’s green eyes,
Memories gone,
when I was little
and it was just me and her
my mother would joke
and say to me
I was her favorite daughter
it was a weightless phrase
I was her only one
and I would tell her back
she was my favorite mother
just as meaningless
it was our daily ritual
this banter
just like saying
“I love you”
“Love you more”
but now
neither of us can say that anymore
so familiar in our mouths
but even though Daddy remarried
and she had another daughter
and another
it still sometimes slips out
but we both know
it was just an accident
by Mackenzie Rowe,
Boise, ID
We were parting at that train station,
We were leaving behind “forever.”
Art by Mallika Dubey, Tampa, FL
only religious thing
about my family’s Sunday.
I’ve inherited
my brother’s taste in shoes.
When I bought
my first pair of Chucks
I vowed to keep them
in mint condition,
but two weeks later
they were as tattered as his.
I have spent hours
in my father’s basement piano studio.
I was used to
Beethoven, Chopin, and Mozart
wafting up from
the chilly subterranean.
I clad myself in socks
until my feet
got tangled
on the way down
to the studio.
I mustered the strength
to say, “Dad,
by Lily Peters, Holland, MI
My Father
My father,
Who brings home
the easy bake oven
the apron and
the doll,
pulls me onto his lap;
The rough chin scrapes against my cheeks
His icy hands linger by my hair
And clothe me in darkness.
My face is covered by
The coat he spilled
that champagne on
the other night I saw him in his office.
He booms a laugh and leans over to my
Tells her he loves her;
The blanket of whipping cream
On the morning’s black coffee.
And there in my backyard,
Around the pool and within the gate,
Is being installed a fence.
Nothing more, just a fence,
Not a symbol of love or declaration of hate,
Just a safety precaution,
A barrier for little tykes
To keep them safe as they stumble along on
pudgy legs
Just gaining their footing on the dew-dropped
grass of summer.
Yet if fences are designed to be barriers,
Why must they be nestled between
neighbors’ houses?
Is it a blinking-red-light warning?
A do-not-touch hands off?
A classic signal for little old men to come
Tromping down the porch steps lined with
hanging flower baskets
With cries of “Get off my lawn!”
Alas, who am I to restrain the freedom
of others?
Grass is just grass,
And why can’t we be like the little tykes,
Who preach that “Sharing is caring”?
Why can’t we share what is not
rightfully ours?
Yes, fences can be of much use
For protecting those innocent children
Who haven’t yet heard of property
holdings and
Unnecessary constraints.
I say down with the fences!
The ones which separate neighbors and grass
And decorate your houses
With warm blankets
And the smell of blueberry pancakes
And open doors
And welcoming smiles,
So that they can be homes
by Erika Walsh,
Kings Park, NY
by Harriet Jeon, Seoul, South Korea
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