By: Ester Luna

Everyone says not to touch the thorns.

They’ll prick you, warn the parents, meaning well.

So every time she sees one of those plants,

Emerald green, glistening, and forbidden,

Dew-drops captured in the folds of its silk petals

Held as jealously as an oyster does its pearl,

The little girl shies away,

Scared not of hurting it,

But of being hurt by it.


But all the rose wants is to grow, then bloom, then die

As its roots reach deep into Earth’s depths,

As its velvet leaves absorb the sun’s golden rays

As its carefully enclosed bud fans out into sheets of pink

Not once does the rose strive to break porcelain skin with its thorns.


It didn’t mean to cause the little girl’s anguished cry

It didn’t want to be the cause of the mother’s condescending “I told you so .”


It just wants to grow nimble and strong, the rose.

Does it know that it is dangerous?

Is it capable of deciphering the looks of suspicious, fearful awe,

Looks it’s thrown by so many pairs of naive, superior eyes?


Does it know that the little girl had to wear a small, white bandage on the small, red wound?

Does the rose understand the pain it causes?

All the rose wants, after all, is to grow, then bloom, then die.


Ester Luna; 15; Washington, D.C. Ester is fluent in English, Italian and French. She has been studying Chinese for eleven years and Spanish for two.

The Catalog

By: Deven Blake

The catalog reveals its entries,
they dance to and fro.
The librarians are posed as sentries,
protecting the knowledge that no one may know.

“Is this what you wanted?”
“Is this what you need
to stop the data
and its unlimited speed?”

“Is this who you wanted
to kill this disease
and stop the information
spreading through the machines?”

No, you may not see the glory!
And you cannot feel the thrill!
The hum of a million stories
is drowned out by the scream of the drill.

We whisper through the hallways
that we'd like to read the books
but instead we're labeled cretins!
and thieves, and baseless crooks!
And, yet, the catalog lays there waiting,
underestimated and all alone.

We're banned from reading its secrets
and we weep when the library is closed.


Deven Blake is 15 years old; he lives in Lewiston, Maine. Questions that inspired him to write this poem include, When we shift the location of analog data to digital data, who will control access to it? What will be lost? And finally, would it be best to have a soulless, forbidden catalog, or a limited selection of carefully guarded literature?


Women as Flowers

By: Ashley Hodgson

Unwelcome, amidst loose petals of late spring
of such white blossoms.
Each a little lace dress flitting about
at lofty heights,
all made up with make-up, brimming to bloom.

A laughable novelty
to be proudly gifted that corset-like dress.
Then told to wear it --
"Be unattainable. A lovely, pure white."

Upon the raw ears of a girl
a foolish color -- white sullied with apathetic ease.
Probably prefers her clay-baked overalls
sheer violet bruises, maroon-rose knees,
verdigris grass stains
over lofty standards of little white dresses.

Of young women in peak bloom.
Of buds clenched closed, fearing tongue of frost.
What to do with the aftermath of spring?

White cast aside to don mature black;
ditsy lace for womanly lingerie.
Left to gaze as unwitting sisters are plucked
from bare boughs of skeleton trees.
Extravagant funeral of mere, innocent change.

All from crippled ideology that would deny
all flowers die




Ashley is 18 years old; she lives in Greenville, South Carolina.  Some of her favorite things include casual conversation, aesthetic coffee shops, and of course, the rare full night’s sleep.