Our Family

By: Lulu Pettit

What a shame. My nieta, of all people.
The words spun around Alicia’s head as she stared at the bug on the dirty cafe floor. Was it a fly? A spider? Too small to tell. At least it seemed content.
A brightly-shoed foot came crashing down.
Nothing good lasts long.
What a shame.
Again, that painful memory. The ugly, grating words Abuela used when she found the rainbow-flag-covered pamphlet under Alicia’s bed. Her stomach twisted, and she tried to think of better things. Pleasant memories.
She looked around the comfort spot she’d fled to, Our Family Cafe, trying to remember happy times here. She was in the corner booth. Her favorite seat, selected after trying every other chair.
What a shame.
Ten minutes ago, she stormed in and ordered the largest slice of red velvet cake in the display case.  How many times had she brought Abuela here, to try this very cake?
“You’ll love it, I swear,” she would say, laughing, dragging Abuela to move faster, faster.
Alicia was always laughing in her memories.
“You know I don’t eat sugar anymore, nieta.”
What a shame.
Her stomach churned and the slice in front of her now seemed much less appealing than before.
What a shame.
New memory.
Her best friend, Carolina, came here, too, before she left for college. She preferred the table in the middle.
“Our backs are to the windows,” Carolina argued. “Our Abuelas can’t tell if we’re here when we say we’re studying at the library.”
“Maybe if you didn’t lie to your Abuela, you’d understand the superiority of the corner booth,” Alicia responded, laughing.
“Maybe if you didn’t have such a perfect relationship with your Abuela, you’d understand my angle.”
What a shame.
Her world collapsing without her Abuela at her side, tears stung Alicia’s eyes. If only Carolina could see her now.
Nothing good lasts long.


Lulu Pettit lives in Philadelphia, PA; she is 15 years old.  Lulu spends her days planning her next NaNoWriMo, watching an absurd amount of rom-coms, and roller skating in her friendly neighborhood graveyard.


image: iwonder Vision in Pexels


By: Sierra Morgan

the land melts by day,
binds back together, freezing by night.
Snowbanks come undone in the sunlight,
icebergs sail like sinking ships in mud puddles.
This is not supposed to happen.

By now,
the sap is running, too early
instead of waiting, dormant,
for the cadence of the temperature swings in March.
The once vibrant witch hazel flowers
have lost their bold yellow faces
to crumpled fibrous brown bones.

The earth a pale palette of browns, grays, greens,
white snow stained with sand,
like an old tablecloth, tattered at the edges,
retreating and fraying with time.

A sprinkle of confused raindrops land on my cheeks,
the sky’s tears melting from their crystalline state as snow clouds.
Soggy, damp, the ground caves with the weight,
boots slurp in the mud, when they rise with each step.

White pines brush the lowest branches of the oak,
Who stands like a brittle statue,
Until the wind rocks the trunk gently, branches sway.
The slender paper birch whose scrolls of bark flake gently,
Sparse branches evenly fixed upon the trunk.

The air is still dry,
deep breaths in carry a cold nip.
Silence protrudes in the forest,
tree limbs curved in serene arcs,
tranquility, a blanket like the snow.
Dreariness births a pause of calm,
hurls me a chance for reflection.
This kind of beauty feels different,
where through the drabness, I begin to discover the unseen,
like exploring who I really am,
I am looking to see the deeper layers of these forests.
And when I find them,
I’m finding a part of myself.

Sierra Morgan lives in Alna, Maine; she is 13 years old. Historical fiction is her favorite genre to read, and she loves history. She also has an interest in genealogy, and she loves hearing people tell stories. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, biking, and she has recently recently learned to row. She loves writing letters too.

The Beach

By: Lila Drewes

Burning sand
seeps between my toes
each footstep
a soft memory.

Foaming waves
crash onto the beach
parting cracked seashells,
a hermit crab
makes its quick escape.

I scour the water line
for a rare,
precious sand dollar
that only appears
when it is in the mood.

Time to watch the tide
roll and tumble over itself
I enjoy the way it plays.

And laugh as the salt water
tries to tickle my toes
failing at the last second
as I scamper away.

Pieces of seaweed stalk me
when I let the ocean pull me
out towards the horizon.

Stars bright
reflecting off the troubled sea,
the white noise of waves
and bashing,
my busy

Lila Drewes is 13 years old and lives in Wiscasset, Maine. Lila loves to horse back ride, ski, and she advocates for human and animals rights. She is also part of a youth climate group that she and some friends have started for middle schoolers in the Lincoln county area. 


By: Annika Bajaj


Weeping, I stretch my arms
through the crust of the Earth, past
the molten mantle, into
her iron heart, which I soften
with the heat of my tears.

Weeping, I grasp a bird by its feathers
and though I mean it no harm
it comes apart in my hands like
so many shards of glass.
My tears fall like glue and,
newly made, it flies away.

Weeping, I brush tendrils of my pain
on the lovers who sit
beneath me, and for a moment
I am healed by their love. But it passes
like all good things do, like
all things do. And again, I weep.

Weeping, I watch the Sun climb
to the zenith of the sky. His rays
brush my hands, and I bask
in their warmth. But soon
they burn my palms,
and once more, I weep.

Weeping, I see the light of the Moon
on the horizon, and I see her tear-streaked
face. It reminds me of my own.
She pulls herself around the earth
and into my being. My tears,
freshly shed, dry on my cheeks.

Annika Bajaj is 17 years old and lives in Lexington, MA. Besides writing, her hobbies include reading, baking, and cuddling with her dog, a mini labradoodle. She loves music and is a violinist and vocalist. She has also recently developed an interest in neuroscience that she intends to pursue in college and beyond.

All the Air

By: Hannah S.E. Ling

All the Air

What if all the air in the world stopped?
If it stood very still in libraries,
on hiking trails, in cities,
and just waited?

People would know.

We’d come in our millions to see it:
air unmoved by anything or anyone.
There would be quiet;
for one hour, the world would be still.
And in this quiet – who knows?
Perhaps we’d have a chance of peace.


Hannah S.E. Ling is fifteen years old and lives in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.  

Timelessly Lovelorn

By: Alicia Tang

Timelessly Lovelorn

Our love, which Aphrodite disavowed,
Is languishing,
Just as a relic,
Which retrieves no more glory.
Just as an antiquity,
Confined to its years.
Just as a corpse,
with no prospect of revival.

Without Your rekindling stroke,
I wither like a lost civilization,
Deprived of Your vital nutrient,
My body becomes emaciated,
Exposed by Your unravelling blanket of intimacy,
I wilt chilled and barren.

Only Chronos who nurtures my heart,
Unbinds my mortal memory,
Tends to the aperture,
And solemnly engraves you into my history.


Alicia Tang is sixteen years old and lives in Greenwich, CT., USA. She is quite sociable and cherishes her friends. Her passions include reading, drawing, and going on scenic walks to recalibrate her busy mind. If the weather permits, she also enjoys ice skating during the winter months. 

The Trail is Always There

By: Matthew M. Ployhart

The Trail is Always There

The two men stood facing
The winding trail before them.
They stared quite intently,
Trying to focus their gaze upon
Any part of the path,
Wanting to decode its mystery.
The trail is always there,
Both the young and the old man knew this.

“Why do you not go on?”
The elder asks the youth
In a tone of kindness.
“I know not where the trail leads, kind sir.
There lingers leaves and trees
Along the path that shelters the view.”
“The trail is always there.”
The elderly man assures the young.

“Why not walk it someday?”
The young man stared at the vines and twigs
Scattered on the pathway.
“I will become injured, or ensnared
If I go down the trail.”
The youth glanced with hope at the elder.
“The trail is always there,
And you will get hurt if you walk it.”

“Then why should I go?”
“People have suffered on the hard trail,
But why would you stay here
When you could walk a little further?”
“Should I run?” The young man
Was afraid of the sharp thorns.
“The trail is always there,
There is no point in going too fast.”

“Would it be wise to crawl?”
“No, you want to make it all the way,”
The elderly man spoke.
“Do not run or crawl, but look around.”
“I’m afraid,” cries the youth.
“I was once afraid, and now I’m glad.
The trail is always there,
Walk upon it with wonder and awe.”


Matthew M. Ployhart is seventeen years old and lives in Chapin, South Carolina, USA. He says he writes best very late at night and by candlighting, and that his favorite subject is history. He also loves to annoy his family with fun facts about science and history each and every day.