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.



At Sunset

By: Maeve Tholden

Sand whispers around my feet,
pebbles worn smooth by age
tumble as a soft breath of ocean
which laps them up.

The ocean
a rough purple gray,
its waters deep with thought
sit calm,
contemplating.

The sun
twists joyfully
playing with its own colors,
laughs
from pale citrus pinks
to fiery, writhing golden reds
that sink slowly into the ocean

I settle onto the silent
beach
watching as the world
falls into Night’s
open arms.

Maeve Tholen lives in Alna, Maine and is 13 years old. She enjoys playing music, caring for plants, and running. Maeve has recently discovered a passion for photography and hopes to incorporate that into her dream of fighting for social and environmental justice around the world.

 

 



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. 



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. 

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