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,

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

I settle onto the silent
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. 

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.  


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.

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: 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.

Shot. Four. Samuel

By: Benedita Mayanda Zalabantu

He lost his life at the age of four.

Too young to understand how the world works.
Too young to even remember me.
It wasn’t his time to go.
They know, I know.

It hurts. I’m hurt. I’ve been hurt.

I have held memories of you sitting on my lap, laughing.
I have held memories of you crying, of me trying to sing in English.
I have held memories of the times you started crawling.
I was excited. I was very excited.

Two months before November 29, shots were fired.
I saw your mom today, and that’s how I know you’ve left this world.
I’m sorry.
I asked your mom again and again where you were.
I was excited.
And she just looked at me.
I felt selfish.

“Where’s Samuel,” I turn to my mom. “Can you ask where Samuel is?”.
I was too blind to notice how dead you looked outside, I was too foolish to realize that you were suffering.
I am sorry.

“Where’s Samuel” I asked for the fourth time.
You started crying.
I am sorry.

I left because mama told me to.
I remember looking at you at the door while tears crawled out of your eyes, and found their way to your lap.
I saw.
“Samuel died two months ago”, she said.
“You are lying.”
He was only four Mama.
He was only four.

Why would someone shoot at a child?
Two shots were fired that took this child away.
I didn’t know how to cope with this, so I started writing.
I am crying.
I was crying.
I’m still crying.

He was only four.
I haven’t seen him since his first birthday.
I will never see him again,
I will never get to celebrate his birthday.

“He was only four, mama, why would they shoot a four-year-old?”
“He never learned to say my name correctly, I never got to see him walking, mama.”

I wrote.
I cried.
I am crying.
I’ve been crying. I am sorry.

I apologize for being foolish; I am sorry for not knowing any better; I am sorry for not being there.
Shots were fired that took someone’s child away, it stripped me from the role of being an aunt.
I hate you, world.
I hate you for taking someone’s child away. I hate you for being cruel.
Hate you for making me cry while I write this poem in anger.
Hate you for not warning me.

But, I am sorry.

Benedita Mayanda Zalabantu lives in Portland, Maine and is 17 years old. In her free time she enjoys watching documentaries which have led to her interest in pursuing a career in law. Benedita also speaks four different languages (Portuguese, Lingala, French and English).


The Writing of Writing

By: Eva Marder

I feel comfortable speaking poetry.
My pencil willingly washes onto my paper
like seashells onshore.

Prose reaches for an explanation
but poetry severely questions.
Poetry gives hard answers,
hard realities,
but sometimes lame excuses
for repeating useless words.
Repeating words that are useless.

Poetry uses the firm grammar
of sonnets and Haikus,
though, I will never be fluent
in the weird syllables and meter
famed poets have issued.

Writing is often a learned skill,
but can appear as an inherent quality.
Despite my years in English class,
I struggle with basic prose
because my native tongue is poetry.


Eva Marder is 15 years old; she lives in Greenwich, Connecticut.  Some fun facts about Eva are she loves darkroom photography and dreams of being in Congress one day.