Friday, May 27, 2016

"That Little Smudge" by Kelly Shepherd

Oh I see a smudge
Let me just wipe my bright white sleeve across it
It's still there but yet it’s not
To anyone other than me,
all there would be to see is
a blackish tint replacing the smudge

but I see that tint
so I wash and I scrub
trying to remove any lasting color from that smudge

It wasn’t a large smudge,
maybe only the size of pinky nail
yet when I looked at the artwork that I had been given
the artwork that I wanted to change,
I saw the shadows of the smudge surrounding the entire room

I felt myself suffocating from that little smudge
I couldn’t stand it
The shadows were filled with such smoke
It had spread as quick as a disease around the room
Everywhere I turned, all I saw was that little smudge

That little smudge consumed my days
I wished to make it go away
So I tried just that
I tried to wipe it all away

but that didn’t help because all I saw was that tint
All I saw was the parts of the artwork smudged by
my bright white sleeve
soon that little black smudge wasn’t so little
and it wasn’t just one
The smudges grew and grew in number
until I no longer could see a piece of art

I blamed the other precious pieces of art,
the pieces of art that I saw as perfect
When I should have been blaming the smoke
I didn’t use a fire extinguisher
I didn’t try to stop the fire from spreading the deadly fog
I just let it consume me because of
that little smudge that just wasn’t perfect

I guess that’s how it starts though
the cycle for perfection
is a finite as a hamster spinning in a wheel
you think “oh there’s just one thing I don’t like”
but then suddenly you notice every
Single tiny yet soul consuming imperfection
and you can’t take it

Eventually that one wipe
on that bright white sleeve
creates an even bigger mess
It blurs the colors together,
trying to hide the black smudge
yet now the beauty that was there
is now overshadowed by the
deadly smoke

Once a beautiful, original,
now a blur similar to all other pieces of art
I took that white sleeve and tried to erase
but there is no erasing this art
there is only replacing
beauty with smoke

Every wipe we feed the flame
the smoke grows and surrounds us until
it too hard to breathe because each breath remind us
that we are

The smoke whispers taunts and
vicious words that are sharp enough to kill,
words that float in and out
always there
keeping this unending cycle in motion

Without those words spoken by the deadly smoke,
the masterpiece might have stayed perfect
for the more we try to erase
and “perfect” our masterpieces,
the less perfect we become.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

"Little Girl" by Bianca Butters

As a little girl she would love to sing and dance
She’d play dress up and have pretend romance
She loved the stories such as the princess and the pea
But also adored the superheroes she’d want to be
She ran around with a tiara on her head
A cape around her neck, jumping off the bed
She doesn’t know what is about to come next
As she got ready for school, looking her best.
She held onto her Iron Man lunch box and wore her bluest dress too
Only to go to the bus stop to be made fun of before noon
She came home that day with tears streaming down
She cried, “mama they made me feel like a clown”
Her mother was too busy on the phone
Yelling out words a little girl should never know
The little girl was so lost and confused
How come her mama wasn’t listening to her sad news?
Soon she realized it was daddy on the other end
After a week he realized he made problems he couldn’t mend
He left his little girl who was having it tough
She grew to become bitter to what she thought was once love
Her father was meant to be the first man she adored
Now how is she going to find something worth so much more

Her happiness didn’t last
As the days flew past
The little girl who once loved to sing and dance
Put away all that along with the romance
Looking down on the world like it was nothing
She came to a realization that she wanted to be worth something
Now working on being the little girl to be proud of
She put away all her tiaras and superpowers
She tried her best in all subjects at school
Tried so hard not to make herself look like a fool
After all the years she had been unnoticed
She did her best to keep her focus
Nothing was going to bring her down at her peak
She wanted to be everything, everything but weak

Now the sad thing is that many of you girls can relate
You kept all this pain held up inside even to this very date
Well I just wanted to say that the strength in your eyes
Is bigger than any man can be likewise
And hear me out on this
 I didn’t intend to make it as a diss
I don’t mean to leave out sorrow for the guys
But you already know you’re worth when women are denied
All through life we long for affection
The feeling for someone to build a connection
The power of our hearts beat unsteadily
Only to find somebody that can be our remedy
To find the happiness we had once as a child
To have a significant other that will be able to reconcile
The hurt and the loss we had felt several times previously
All the moments where we weren’t taken seriously
We are not the little girls that I had told you of before
We will not stand it anymore
Our worth has not shrunk though
So I am here to recognize how much you’ve grown
In fact, you’re worth has exceeded over time
And my, oh my, how brightly you began to shine.

You probably shine even brighter now than from when you were that little girl.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"The Poem" by BBB

I am a kid at hope,
I am talented, smart, well that is what they say

I work two jobs and go to school
I hang with friends and act like a fool

Little do they know the struggles I have faced
Running from family that I have disgraced

I work on my craft and continue to aspire
but I can barely get off the ground and can't go higher

I’m stuck in one place and can’t move on

Looks like my work isn't moving along

"My Day in a Mental Hospital" by Jane Doe

There is turmoil in my dreams and my mind is soon astir. The cool touch of metal singes my arm and I jolt up, only to be barred down at the collar. My familiar bedroom has been replaced by darkness and a stiff metal bed. Something beeps twice and I am suddenly engulfed in the glaring light of fluorescent bulbs, as if my movement has awaken a beast. Once my eyes adjust, I survey my surroundings to find that I am in a hospital room. The ropes around my body seem to slither and constrict, drawing out my breath and squeezing the air out of my lungs. It's a python, coiling and hissing with an evil snicker. I look down to see that there are two needles pricked in my arm. like fangs, they inject venom into my veins. My eyes slide up to where the needles meet a machine. It's a familiar apparatus, but replacing the normally clear and sterile IV liquid is a thick black concoction that drops, ever so slowly, down the length of a slender tube until it ultimately meets my flesh. I watch as it pours into me and circulates in my veins. I don't feel like myself.

My mind is spinning and something churns deep in the pit of my stomach. My heart is suddenly louder in my chest; nerves send signals of alert down my spine and I shudder with an unconscious panic. The sounds of all things mush together and radiate in my ear drums to form an incessant static noise. My discomfort has pushed past the point of the drugs effects and I am suddenly overwhelmed with the reality of my dire state. My first instinct is to call for help. I go to open my mouth and must fight to pry open my dry and cracked lips. It burns as the brittle skin rips and crumbles. My voice croaks inside my throat, weak and crippled. I look around.

I remember back to when I broke my arm in junior high; there was a call button on my bed that I pressed to summon a nurse when I wanted another popsicle. I scan the various machines that surround me and cock my head unnaturally to check the bed for any hidden controls. I find no such luck. I do see a plethora of shiny metal surgical tools on a tray to the right of my bed. I cannot reach them from where I lay, but I begin to thrash violently, hoping to shift my bed towards the tray. Rusted wheels screech and shutter beneath where I lay. I take breaks in between my spasms. My usual endurance is stripped and replaced only by fatigue. The bed inches closer to the tray. Still, my trapped hands cannot reach out to grasp the tools. A little more power and I'll be there. Finally, with one final jolt of energy, the corner of my bed reaches the tray. The stool the tools sit on tilts violently with the weight of my bed. I clench my jaw, begging myself not to breathe, not to move another muscle. I’m so exhausted and I know I can’t flex my core much longer. I let out my breath and relax slowly. It seems as though the tray is stable, but just as I sink back onto the bed, the tray clashes to the floor. Metal clashes against metal and the sound is angry and piercing. I wince and stare at the door to my room. It must have been loud enough for someone to hear. Just as I expected, a nurse comes rushing in and stares from the floor to me and back again with bewilderment. I look wide eyed at her. My voice rises in my throat, and I hoarsely call out to her for help. She rolls her eyes and hastily picks the tools up. All the while, my voice is cracking in my throat and I try to reach out to her. She slides my bed back to its original position and starts flipping through a clipboard. The drugs make my eyes feel fuzzy, but I blink and readjust to try and read what the file says. I see a name that is not my own.

“Who is that?” I grumble.

The nurse stares down her nose through her wire-rimmed glasses at me like I am speaking a foreign language: “That’s you honey, you were admitted here a few days ago and we found your ID on you”.

I wrack my brain to try and remember what happened in the days leading up to my being here, but nothing comes to me. She must see my look of confusion because she sighs and digs through a drawer to pull out a wallet. It's a wallet I have never seen before, so I know that this must be some sort of mistake. She draws out an ID and holds it up to the light. She brings it close to my eyes and I see myself. Smiling with my hair curled, there I am in the left hand corner beside someone else's name. I look closer. I am wearing a shirt I have never seen before and I have no memory of this photo being taken. Everything is a blur. I feel inside out and upside down but I decide not to protest for fear that they will put me on more drugs or keep me locked in here for a longer time. I wonder if my days here will all be spent like this, immobile in my bed. The nurse says I will be here for five more days, at least. Everything feels wrong, but there is that ID card with my picture on it that proves what the doctors suspect of me. Here I am, locked in a mental hospital under someone else’s name.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"The Ides are on Point" by Verity Eyre

"Hey Caesar?"
"Yeah, Brutus?"
"You're going to the Senate meeting tonight, right?"
"Yeah." "I heard its going to be exciting."
"The meeting will just be all on point tonight."

Later that night at the Senate meeting: (Brutus looks down on Caesar's prone body with many stab wounds) "I don't think he took me seriously when I said the meeting would be on point."

"Doing My Best" by Keyser Soze

I don’t really know how to start this.

I guess I just do my best.

I want to tell you this because it matters. It’s important. It’s not the easiest topic to talk about, I get that. A lot of people don’t like talking about it at all. But I think they just don’t understand. So I want to try to remedy that. I’ll try to make sense.

I have anxiety. 

I’ve always been socially awkward, ever since I was a little kid. Making friends was difficult. I’ve also always been a little OCD. That’s not the same thing as being a neat-freak, so don’t get confused. I’m actually a very messy person. My room is filled with scraps of paper harvested over years of writing and reading and drawing. I lose stuff under piles of knick-knacks that I’ve been saving since third grade. I trip over textbooks and shoes strewn about the hardwood floor. So I’m not a neat-freak. I’m just a habitual person. I hate, and sometimes can’t handle, when my schedule is changed. That means things like pep rallies, two-hour delays, SOLs, and snow days are hard for me. I have to set my combination lock back to zero before I can walk away from my locker. And that’s not even all of it.

Like I said, I’ve always been socially awkward. I’m not able to deal with small talk, introductions, talking on a cell phone, or group projects the same way that you probably can. I have trouble communicating, which is why I write. Things I say don’t always come out right. It can seem blunt, cold, sarcastic, or mean. I have an odd sense of humor, and that can be off-putting for people. A lot of that aspect of my life has improved since joining the Writing Center. I’m slowly improving my ability to express my ideas in a way that makes sense to people and doesn’t isolate me from everyone else.

That doesn’t mean I’m not still isolated. It’s much the opposite, actually. I let conversations flow around me, but I hold off from contributing. I watch Netflix and scroll through Twitter just like everyone else, but I’m still not able to talk about the Gilmore Girls revival or Donald Trump with them. Sometimes, I can smile and nod along. Rarely, I make a short comment that is heard, replied to, and promptly forgotten. And that’s okay.

However, my anxiety has also gotten worse. In recent months, my ability to talk to people has deteriorated. If I have a panic attack, my chest gets tight and I have a more difficult time breathing. I cry. A lot. I don’t care enough about myself. I let school weigh me down, causing late nights working and more stress. I had to push through fierce battles with people that betrayed my friendship and my emotions. In the battle against the universe, I found myself struggling to win.

The worst part was, I was mostly alone. People who used to help me gone. My older sister was off at school, not able to come home and comfort me. My old friends had stopped talking to me. My parents didn’t know, mostly because I was too ashamed to tell them, too afraid.

It got worse. I couldn’t control my personal struggle anymore, and I didn’t want my life to deteriorate. So I told my mom. I could tell she was hurt that I hadn’t told her sooner, but it’s not like it was her fault. It was mine. How could I be expected to tell her about this terrible monster that left me weak, tired, and miserable? A monster that wasn’t even medically diagnosed? In my head, telling her would be a submission to the beast, a confession that I am sick and unable to take care of myself. I didn’t want to be weak.

But she’s a mom. It’s her job to love me, no matter how weak I am at a point in my life. And love me she did. She did her best to understand, and I did my best to explain. But let’s look back at my inability to communicate. I also have a hard time processing what other people are trying to convey. I assume everyone is just really, really mad at me, and either hiding it or showing it. She was really just frustrated that she couldn’t understand what I was going through.

We had a lot of discussions, and piece by piece, I was able to explain exactly what I go through on a daily basis. I’m not going to explain all of that to you because it took a really long time, some of the comparisons are odd or confusing, there’s a lot to explain, and not all of it is your business. I mean that with no offense. You have your troubles, and I have mine. Long story short, living my daily life is hard, so we scheduled an appointment to see if a doctor could make it any easier. Ironically, as the days crawled towards my appointment, I was actually more anxious because of my inability to communicate and my tendency to cry.

The nurses were nice. The doctor was trying. She clearly didn’t like teenagers, and I clearly didn’t want to be there. What they don’t tell you is the questions you’re asked are mostly just to make sure you aren’t dying. I went to the lab to get my blood drawn. I’m scared of needles, so I’ll just let you imagine how that went. There are follow-up appointments to be had, results to be analyzed, and treatment to be decided upon. I’m not really going to explain any of that either. I’ll just say that the doctors have ways to help people in my situation, and they’re going to pick whichever one they think is best. Right now, I’m mostly just waiting.

My life didn’t change when the world found out. Nothing is different now that adults know. I guess that I became closer to one of my newer friends. He bought me gifts after my first appointment because he wanted to help and didn’t know how. I explained everything to him, and I guess he was sad that I hadn’t really told him sooner. He let me stay up talking until one in the morning. I appreciate people like that.

Getting the help you need takes courage. I wrote on the Courage Wall, hoping to get some. That wasn’t all it took, though. The movies Little Miss Sunshine and The Way Way Back helped a lot. So did the book Perks of Being a Wallflower. I also read the book Tease, which I think is a very insightful look at bullying in school and how important it is to get help. Most importantly was the novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story. That’s a book I hold very near and dear to me. It’s one of those powerful stories that everyone should read because it matters and it will really be eye-opening for a lot of people.

However, those movies and books aren’t substitutes for real people that can be here for me. I learned that the hard way. If you need help, you have to get help. There is always someone out there who cares about you.

I didn’t write this for pity. I didn’t write this to make a statement. This isn’t even one of those “there’s someone else out there” situations. We’re all different. What I go through will never be exactly like what you go through.

I wrote this for myself. Some things need to be written down, and for me, this was one of them. This isn’t the full story, but this is the closest I’ll get to writing it and sharing it with people other than myself. I can’t communicate well, but this is the forum in which I flourish. This isn’t my best work, nor is it my worst work. But it is my most important work. I need to be okay again. I’m doing my best. And I hope you’re okay too. Just do your best. That’s all anyone can ask of you. If you feel like you don’t have anyone that cares about you, I’ll be that person. I care about you. You need to care about you, too. Get help if you need help, please. I did. I’m not better, but I am on my way. The universe is a funny thing. It’ll stack all odds against you, but in the end, you’ll still win. The stars are rooting for you. Look up and you’ll see them shining back at you.

Friday, May 6, 2016

"What Is" by Aria M.

What is the day without the night?
What is a war without a fight?
What is a lock without a key?
Or a soul void of hope, lost at sea?

What is a rose without its thorns?
What is a bull without its horns?
Without comfort and love, what’s a soul to be?
What is this world for you and for me?

What is adventure with no place to roam?
What is a child without a home?
What is this reality?

What is hope? I’ll tell you: hope is the key.