Life wrapped each of us differently. My mom’s skin looks like fall mahogany
wood dried after soaking in baths of olive oil. My sister’s skin reminds me of a summer
roasted peach. My dad’s skin is like a quilt of sun-bleached, well-worn autumn leaves.
And mine strikes me as a gaggle of ominous constellations sprawled across a golden sky.
Skin cancer runs as deep in my family as the lust for adventure.
My dad would pay any amount of money to get more melanin in his skin. He
reminds me of a plant. On sunny days, he sits reading like a grateful stray cat: He
unfolds, blooms and soaks in the sun’s drenching glory. My dad passed on his thirst for
adventure, his sense of wonder, and his skin to me. My sister tells me that I am “white person
tan” -- that my skin looks too gold, like a spray tan. I feel the prettiest in the spring, summer and
early fall when the gold makes me feel like a wild goddess. On the days when the sun
overflows, my friends and I catapult off cliffs into thrillingly cold hidden lakes, surf until the sun’s yolk drips below the horizon, run through backtrails populated by wildflowers and ferns until my legs are numb, lazily bike through town for ice cream in the late afternoon, gossip and giggle by the pool wrinkled with streams of light, and awe at sunsets from grassy peaks. These days paint my skin their shades of happy.
Fuck you jesus
frozen dreams fell from my lips
and melted on your tongue
as i drowned in pools of blue
almost as beautiful as
a cigarette rests in your calloused fingers
as a plane flies overhead
and reality crumbles in the ashtray
this is too little
for an infinite mind
you play songs by dead rappers
and sink into broken laughter
as sugar coats your tongue
you whisper through chattering teeth
the stars are coated in hollow velvet
you stare at the sky too often
sinking into thought
like a crumb in a glass of milk
let me bleed
you scream at the world
and grab it by its rigid shoulders
each bone penetrating your wailing voids
the velvet is boundless
but you’re afraid to let go
white knuckles clench the ashes
and extinguish the flame
each kneel is a sin
you are so much more beautiful
when you hold no need to control
don’t fall asleep
your eyes droop with the weight of hunger
24 hours turn to 4 days
and you invite me over
to float through your dreams
your mind is broken in shards of glass
twisted hairs tangled in a mound of nothing
and you are the closest
we have come to everything
how liberating it is
to go insane attempting to understand
our infinite beauty
rather than become a slave
Although I am writing about you, I should not be writing about you.
When the sky looks different, I think I am happy. I was happy… I knew everyone would stay. But not everyone stayed... This time got cut, cut into millions of fragments--pieces. Pieces that were flung back and ricocheted into my heart. The shards scatter and sink deep -- deep past Branson, past our hearts, and into the rich, unreachable, layered soil, where they will stay. Stay forever.
His long dangling arms swooped in, held, and surrounded our little world. Our community was suddenly warm and his charisma enveloped our hearts. But a hug, a daily hug was our thing.
I wasn’t the only one. With that million dollar smile, he introduced us all to a better, brighter world, a new mindset. His magical laugh and radiant smile reflected his undying dedication to the choices he made. He embodied an angel, flying across each wooden gym floor and into the air, holding, gripping his world between his hands, shooting the black-lined orange ball with grace and ease.
Monday, June 10th, 2019: I awoke to the feeling of throbbing pain rising up in my throat. Losing breath, my airway was blocked with sharp discomfort. I bolted to my desk and chugged the water. Down. Down. The cold water slipped down my throat, enveloping the pain, easing the heaviness. Washing the damage away. The damage, however, never abated. This damage pierced, stained, and remained. The last day of junior year, our graduation on a peaceful morning was the last day I saw one of my best friends. Where he gave me his last hug. The last hug I was able to receive.
August 27th, 2019: The first day of senior year. Blank faces filled the atmosphere, avoiding the conversation, hiding the crushing destruction with forced smiles, laughs and welcome backs. Looking up at the sky, I searched for the right answer, for an explanation, for that beautiful smile, reliving that last hug I received. Where is he? And with a slight slip of a word, a razor-edged reminder, clouds of puzzlement evaporated. The sky dripped purple darkness onto the earth below, and diluted my soul. Expressed through the tears that dripped from my green eyes, these feelings shattered me, my heart, and my memories. My clear glass view turns, turns into a blanket of expressionless fog. My heart has cracked; no longer mended, these pieces have begun to rip off and crumble through this deep soil. I now have a habit of pushing, forcing this achiness deep down into my body. Trying to smile, I fold away this insatiable, stinging pain beneath and under my soul and core.
I find myself spiraling, sinking. Nature and trees felt alive around me, until trees decayed, bark ripped off the scattered treelike edges, splitting into two ragged pieces that now fall to the ground and diminish into dust. The world scattered without him. He represented Branson, our little community, and held a place in everyone’s hearts. The ultimate manifestation of his soul, remained lost beneath this soil. But never forgotten. It’s impossible to forget him and that smile. When hearing that name, his name, and feeling his presence through words, he and his soil begin to feel unapologetically real. Painfully real.
The shift was monumental. Detrimental. He was the connection, the glue that could mend the pieces, the pieces of all of us together. He hooked us all in with his lengthy arms, and kept us hopeful, positive, and powerful. His enigmatic, unparalleled spirit and energy lit the match that sparked all of our flames. Now our once reality, morphs into an everlasting memory. We live, and live, and live through the ability to remember him, trying to recreate this reality that once was.
Although released, his presence still moves through the trees, tearing every leaf off in sight. It seeps through the ground until it encloses you and anyone nearby into normalization. I began to learn in time to normalize this true, unspeakable sadness. Until it leaves a permanent look of emotionless feeling that covers my face, and it hides, it overshadows the mask of paralyzed sadness and fear. And this fear. This fear, now something more prevalent, reveals one day some might not stay, including myself. This rampant animal that constantly tugs on lifelines of those I love.
My focus constantly escapes from my cluttered, confused mind. It hits me, hits like a wrecking ball crashing into that clear glass view. Suddenly any room can become fuzzy, and colors can start to collide and become a blur. Stained black dots could appear. Water drops could fall down my face. My world breaks without you. My world is different without you. But only then did I feel the pain of recognizing that nothing would change. Still waiting for you to come to school again from your never ending basketball tournament.
This dream, this long, endless dream shatters my empty heart, shatters all of our hearts. Tears could fall slowly over and over again. But his devoted loyalty and effervescent spirit will help us to reweave the severed ties of this community. We search for that missing being in our lives. His soul, however, remains a part of us, lies within us. That unforgettable, courageous presence hooks deep into our hearts, leaving his legacy of selflessness within us. We constantly remind ourselves: support each other, love each other, support each other, love each other.
As I wake up again, another morning, I look up to the sky, to him, just hoping he will one day fly back towards home. The sky looks different, feels different. Sometimes you will never know the value of a single moment, until it transforms into a memory.
This piece is dedicated to Kwentyn Wiggins, my hero. Rest in peace.
All doodles by Carlyn Cunningham
If they must kill us, let them all be scared
Scared not of us or friends, but of thyself
May they regret their deeds, leave them unshared
Archive the records, hide them on the shelf.
For the enemy is a ferocious beast
They do not think, they only strive to hunt
They hunt with no pride, the meaning deceased
So before we die, we defend our front
The enemy doesn’t fight for their land
They cower and hide in the face of death
White flag flying, standing alone; outmanned
Carefully, they will protect the last breath
Oh, the enemy is not doubted to be a scared animal!
But they’re beastliness is clear, outlined to see by us all
If they must kill us
English 1 poetry
EVOKING A FEELING
When the Sky Looks Different
You can see me broken, my face wet with tears still glistening,
And I can see that in your heart, you still aren't even listening.
To words that fall like stone in water, to the bottom of the ocean floor,
On ears turned deaf solely to a voice that you will hear no more.
I'm sorry that I'm leaving, I'm sorry I can't stay,
But I cannot learn and love and grow in this hellhole of decay.
I thank you for the time and love and what little joy we shared;
I sincerely hope that at some point you really, truly cared.
And like a ghost, I'm dead and gone, an apparition that can’t be traced,
For when the memories of me fade from mind, then I will truly be erased.
But I believe when something is erased from mind and sight;
A brand new page is opened up to a brand new story to write.
A response to toy boat by ocean vuong
red wax red paper
in a lonely box
torn box — with
nowhere to be
ever no drawing kid
yet the memories move it
like the kids would never stop doodling & stay content
red crayon — pointless
to artists not to its
red crayon blue crayon
fallen from the battered box
frozen like the child-hood
from the past
has not been lost
to the forgotten owner
From off the bed of velvet skin
She slips the sunshine locks
That frame her long-drawn face tonight
And follow as she walks.
Those prepossessing mountain tops
Which lay upon her breast
Edge stark indents of shallow bones
That mount her dainty neck.
Soprano croons from fragile lips
With tints of florid hues
A distant scent of modest poise
Each step, a walking muse.
Like hills traced down with scars of growth
Where silky sheets of skin once were
Upon her sides the mounds give shape
To tales of life - to tales of her.