Ode to a Grapefruit

By: Oliver

The slimy grapefruit was the eye of the crocodile
until the day two hunters lurked out from the shadows of the fruit
aisle
and beheaded him.
They reached into his head
And pulled out his eye
And washed it in a kitchen sink
And that was the beginning of the tangy, acidic grapefruit’s cold-shelved journey.

Sister to the lemon and cousin to the orange.
Sour as pickles from the deli.
Round as a roly-poly bug when it gets scared
she was a wonder, an impossible phenomenon. 
Unfortunately, society sees grapefruits as inferior.

To be murdered and sliced open with serrated knives
and devoured.
To be celebrated for its taste but not its character,
that’s why the grapefruit walks around in mortal fear.
Her insides, pink as the eraser on a pencil, will be eaten
And her life will come to an end.
And she is painfully right.

One day when she is chilling at the supermarket
chit-chatting with her fellow grapefruits
a middle-aged mother, who looks awfully hungry,
grabs her and separates her from her family
And slices her bumpy outside open, slowly and painfully
And digs into her gut with a sharp grapefruit spoon
And takes a bite into the juicy grapefruit,
soft as a bald head,
the plump, spherical, citrusy earth of miracles.

 

Oliver is 12 years old; he lives in Manhattan, New York.  Oliver disclosed that he was eleven when he wrote "Ode to a Grapefruit;"  he is currently working on a science fiction novel.

 

image: Elina Krima on Pexels



Fresh Air

By: Esther Blum

A mansion sits on an ancient hill
with elegant ballrooms,
graced in delicate crystal chandeliers,
and studies lined with books
about everything from philosophy
to fantastical adventures through space.
Yet the air is still tainted
with memories of the past.

The resident of this glorious mansion
coats the walls with a new layer
of thick white paint
until every crack and bruise is nowhere to be seen.
They scrub every old wooden floor
until the tear stains become nothing more than a memory,
soon to be forgotten.
Yet one scar cannot be scrubbed away or painted over.
For the air is still tainted
with words of hopelessness and sorrow.

The walls still remember
when they were cracked, beaten, and mistreated.
The floors still remember
the tear stains on their dusty floorboards.
And the air is still tainted
with fear of the past,

Of the past endlessly repeating.
Of the past relentlessly lingering.
Making it impossible

to breathe in fresh air.

 

Esther Blum is 15 years old; she lives in Los Angeles, California. Esther enjoys writing songs and playing guitar and piano.  But she also loves spending time in nature with her dog.

 

image: Ksenia Chernay in Pexels



What They Call a Poem

By: Praniti Gulyani

I’m afraid you might have
just twisted your pen in the wrong direction
causing it to swerve, skid, stop
and perhaps be laughed and mocked at

Like a reckless driver, who skips
the clarity of roundabouts and speed breakers
just to feel the wind leaving frosty footprints
on the flushed warmth of rosy cheeks.

Like a photographer, who rides a surf-board
into the middle of a frothing sea, and with
one single hand, he grips his camera, and with
the other, he sifts the clouds, pushes back the stars,
rips open the sky, and lets an eclipse
trickle from the entangled roots of blue.  And as this
fiery eclipse trickles into the waters
he pauses, and takes a snap.

Like an artist, who spends hours
with his knees digging into the mud, and who
still emerges with knee-caps of soil
just to sketch that dewdrop, that dewdrop midway
as it rolls down from the leaf
nearly touching the soil

Like a bangle seller, who sits on
her haunches, the cracks in her feet
pouring with sunlight, moonlight and twilight.
She displays her fingers that glint in the sun,
fingers stained with glitter and glamour
the colors of her bangles, the spicy shades
of gossip and conversation.  She climbs up a ladder,
and measures the diameter, the radius of the moon
and using these celestial dimensions, she makes her
bangles and calls them divine.

I’m afraid you might have
just twisted your pen in the wrong direction
causing it to swerve, skid, stop
and perhaps be laughed and mocked at
I’m afraid you might have just written
what they call a poem.

 

Praniti Gulyani is 17 years old; she lives in New Delhi, India.  Praniti aspires to become a full-time author someday. As of now, she has conversations with the characters in her head, and loves to put her story on their shoulders, and set them out into the world. She has had her stories published in journals around the world, and aspires to write a debut novel one day.

 

Image by Pradipna Lodh in Pexels



The Bride

By: Preyasi Gaur

She entered the room, adorned
with flowers;
Her limbs covered with mehndi*
Just like a canvas. 
People rushed towards her,
Complimenting her on her marriage,
Congratulating her on her beauty.
"Good God! You're like an apsara*."
"Bhaisaheb* has gotten himself a nice daughter-in-law!"
She looked around.
She had never felt so alone.
Nobody knew her.
She wasn't a woman, drowned
in jewelry,
She was fifteen.
She wanted to run away.
She wanted to conquer the world.
She looked around;
Her veil masked her.
She was chained eternally,
Her potential all lost.
As it dawned upon her,
The desperation vanished,
And hopelessness descended
In her heart.
The world lost yet another star.

*Mehndi: The art of applying a temporary decorative design to a person’s skin especially for their wedding day using a paste of dry, powdered leaves from the henna plant.
*Apsara: Hindi word for an angel;
*Bhaisaheb: Hindi word for mister

 

Preyasi Gaur is 17 and lives in New Delhi, India. A die-hard Agatha Christie fan, Preyasi is currently unraveling the mysteries of the Universe using mathematics, and science. During breaks, she is sweating it out on the badminton court, devouring political/crime dramas, painting canvases, or just practicing her Oscar acceptance speech.

 

 



Until Then

By: Jinoo Kim

Look at us run,
carefree ‘til our bony legs give out from under us or until mother’s gentle plea.
Boundless green hills and mountains may cover up the now sanguine sun.
But still, we charge. Onwards and upwards, until we cannot see.

Look at us laugh,
at a kitchen table whose structural integrity leaves much to be desired.
Where we knock our legs against these wooden pegs so much that I bloody my calves.
But still, we howl like souls possessed until our jokes become too uninspired.

Look at us sleep,
packed in so close that we can hear each other’s thoughts,
we huddle together to avoid the mosquitoes and pray for the day we’ll make those things weep.
Still, we just chat, and until the light comes, we’ll dream about what we are not.

Look at us fight,
over something I was right about, I’m sure.
The Earl Gray that I sip betrays what I’m feeling inside: a breezy January night.
But until we grow up and we are strangers once more, we’ll scowl and never mature.

When we are strangers,
I’ll run from the monsters under my bed.
And I’ll laugh ‘til ketchup spills right down my hemic leg.

I’ll sleep without dreams
and I’ll fight ‘til my plight is one I can no longer see.
But until then, I’ll wait.

 

 

Jinoo Kim is 17 years old; he lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Jinoo loves reading books about history and is a New York Yankees fan.

 

image:Jill Wellington on Pexels



Torn

By: Sarah Ben Tkhayet

She sips leben out of a tall glass
and honors her ancestors and traditions.
Henna embellishes the sweaty palms of her hands every holiday.
She pours her soul into the folk songs
that ring through the pure air.
She emits ululations with a new-found fervor,
her bright-red tongue, streaked with leben white,
beats against the roof of her mouth.
braiding the coarse filaments into
sturdy baskets that will carry her
household’s prized possessions.

She lives in a large city,
where tall glass buildings stand in rows,
where powerful people hold clovered dollar bills
in their white wrinkly hands.
Where big-shot pop stars are praised at sunrise
and replaced at sunset.
Where coca-cola commercials ring through countless ears,
the four same notes repeating like
the sound of a cashier checking out groceries at the local mart.
Where trained fingers brush through expensive hair,
incorporating extensions and creams
that will soon be indistinguishable from the natural streaks.

She sits cross-legged, her hand, holding a limited-edition
pop-tart, is encircled by the amulet of Fatima’s hand.
Greasy-haired, white, skinny boys laugh like creaking doors
at her faithfulness,
brandishing a bony middle finger as they beat her with words
full of evil connotations and fake memories to place shame.
Sun-kissed women covered in colorful fabric reminiscent
of old souls and goals, laugh like boiling water
at her straightened hair and western fabrics.

A yellow popsicle in a quivering hand serves as a white flag,
but the locals are blind to it.  They walk with trays bearing cups of red tea
peppered with roasted almonds that sink like a troubled girl’s hopes.

Her soul swirls like a tropical storm
caught in a chasm, deep like her ambitions,
caught between world & world, like a kid between divorced parents.

 

Sarah Ben Tkhayet is 16 years old; she lives in Hong Kong.  Sarah is a French and Tunisian published poet and writer.  She writes in French and English but also speaks Arabic fluently.  In her free time she enjoys reading and writing articles about issues that matter to her.

 

image: Rahul Pandit on Pexels



Icarus

By: Neah DePoe

He stood on a ragged cliff,
the morning sun
draped across his back,
a blue canvas at his feet.
The fear dribbled away.
The wings twitched on his back,
and he forgot living without them.

He looked down
before he jumped.
He lost his breath
before he flew.
The sun scorched his back,
its fingers raked his skin.
He sucked in the heat
with gasping breaths.

Feathers fell around him
like broken daydreams.
Rivers of wax
dripped down his legs.

His father screamed.

The sun wrapped him in blazing arms,
welcoming him home.
Blood smeared out of his teeth
and tears bubbled from his eyes.
He plummeted to the ocean,
blazing like a fallen star,
smiling at the beauty
of watching himself
Burn.

 

Neah DePoe is 17 years old; she lives in Cedar City, Utah.  Neah loves running on her school's track team and she plays four instruments -- piano, clarinet, saxophone and guitar!

 

image: Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels



The Zoo Life

By: Daniel Boyko

The lions mope around with their heads and eyes down,
feeling the cold blanket of sorrow as they nap
on the warm ground.  Their stomachs growl and pull
at their ribs, gnawing and nudging at them to turn
and gaze at the gazelle only a hundred feet north.
Except the lions’ eyes know the sharp, silver wire
that surrounds them and the electric fence that sends
prickling pains down their spines.  Every day
they see the meat lying before them, so close
they can taste it on their tongues, but the rumbles
that are a knife in their stomach will never fade away.

The large tiger paces around in circles.  The crowd,
peering in through the walls of glass, cheers when she passes by.
Tigers may sink their teeth into prey alone,
but this one no longer hunts.  Instead, she’s busy
stalking the familiar grass without ever seeing a fellow tail.

Monkeys may be known for their glistening grins,
rummaging fingers through one another’s fur,
carrying colorful toys, and taunting humans
with pink tongues poking from their lips.
But even their eyelids grow heavy and their limbs soft
entrapped in their cages.  Once, they might have gaped
at thousands of trees to climb and flourishing leaves
to swing beneath, but these primates only have
a few fake branches and a deflated red ball.

Gorillas may be bulging with muscle, but a four-hundred-
pound male merely squats on the ground, letting
his belly flop out exposed, as he scratches his chin
with his wide hands and looks off into the distance.
His eyes wander, and everyone in his troop silently nods,
knowing that he’s the thinker of the group, the philosopher.
Yet the down-curled lips and wrinkles in his drooping face
tell the pairs of staring eyes that there are more than images
of mouths stuffed with pale banana skin flashing in his mind.

Perhaps the zoo life isn’t all it’s made out to be.

 

Daniel Boyko is 16 years old; he lives in Short Hills, NJ.  Daniel is a Genre Managing Editor for Poetry for Polyphony Lit and states that, "wherever my dog is, I can't be far behind.  Daniel's previously published poem by The Telling Room is titled, "The Wisest."

 

image: Pixabay on Pexels



As Equal

By: Julia Coopersmith

Bang Bang Bang

I’d say
It really would be quite a celebration

Being treated
As one
As equal

But
Bang
We are not as one
Not as equal
Treating human beings like
Contaminated unworthy animals

We should not live in a world where this is acceptable
The violence has to stop

Bang Bang Bang
Dead faces
I’ll never forget
Blood soaked bodies

While white people are profiting
Made to feel “safe”
But if you look around, nobody is safe right now

Bang
A car full of police
Attacking black men
Again

Physically
Verbally

Innocent

Weapons glinting in the sun
Up and down, up and down, you bounce it in your hand

Must be one of those black gangs again
You don’t say this but I know you’re thinking it

This is not my kind of celebration

It is up to you
Bang Bang Bang

 

Julia Coopersmith is in 7th grade and lives in Seattle, WA. She is passionate about body liberation and Black Lives Matter. 



No Leaf, Much Love

By: Ga Sung Mab

I am the prickly cactus in California,
leafless and isolated, in this barren land.
No birds nor lizards come to lay in range for comfort.

There is nothing to offer.
What’s the benefit of being near me?
The bane of my existence, my spine
is a thorn to their side, longing
to be an emerald agave. No one
picks to be with a pickle prick.

Suddenly, a strange, yet new pleasant feeling,
I noticed what was eating out of me.
Harris hawks in a hole
bearing what is to be their young ones.

It was different, being able to be relied on
and to help mature them.
At least I know, I’m theirs.

Ga Sung Mab is 18 years old; He lives in Bellflower, California.  He loves painting digitally which led to his dream of becoming a visual developer at some entertainment industry. He loves hanging out with his friends and family and always looks forward to doing some crazy shenanigans with them.

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