By Kristina Stanfill
by Tatum Hogan
Working day in and day out,
Tending the garden,
Caring for my sick children —
Ernest, Jan, Silas, Virginia —
But never, never letting them see my struggles.
I was all they knew.
As I’m watching them mourn, I wonder.
Who will take care of them?
Maybe they’ll soon have families of their own.
They will struggle;
Good days will outweigh the bad;
They’ll think of me often.
But for once, I have something I’ve never had before:
by James Frazier
Heroes are made immortal.
For heroes, they make bronze statues
And put on parades on beautiful Spring days,
When the White Ash and Willow flowers bloom overhead.
All to commemorate the valiant acts
That heroes commit in the name of peace.
Upon my steed I sat, wearing medals I had not earned,
And waving at people who believed
My tall tales of valor that I had borrowed.
Then a garter snake spooked my horse into hysteria.
He bucked and kicked until I fell, striking my head.
Now I lie alone in this foxhole
That I had heard so many stories about —
Ashamed, for my tales did not follow me,
And my purchased heroism was stripped from me.
By Amy Prince
I, of slender build and dark complexion,
A son, brother, and uncle,
Took for granted what God gave me,
Never taking the time to appreciate the true blessings in life.
I, a once-successful soul full of life and glee,
Have forever lost the dearest love a man could have;
All for the love of a foreign woman.
I had everything I could have ever dreamed:
A family, a house, and little ones to love.
But I threw it away when I met
The foreign woman.
My mind focused only on male-driven desires
And my mouth on hurtful, unthinkable words.
I could not stand the thought of anything
Except the foreign woman.
My hate-filled rumors and words of lies
Spread like a wildfire in a severe drought.
Through the town, more people believed
The untrue stories that I told.
Seemingly, they cared not for the ones truly hurting,
But instead focused on my well-being.
I had placed the wool over everyone’s eyes
Except for the ones who cared the most,
The ones who knew me for who I truly was.
Henceforth, the love of my life –
The one I believed my bride-to-be –
Was using her own scheme
For her own personal desires.
She used me and played me
To become a legal resident.
She left as fast as she arrived
And I found I was chained like a dog to a tree
Until the day of my death.
She, like a snake in the grass, full of evil spirits,
Captured my soul and sold it to the devil.
My soul still alive but my body dust,
I must dwell now in agony and turmoil,
Knowing my decisions focused on devilish desires.
By Sam Muñoz
My parents came from Italy to New York when I was just an infant.
I grew up on the lower East Side of Manhattan.
What a beautiful city mine was.
The hustle and bustle never got to me.
My friends would always come by the house: “Come, let’s play ball!”, they would tell me.
I remember the worry-free days when all I did was walk to Canal Street and buy an ice cream cone from Ms. Wong.
The best ice cream in the city, I tell ya.
There in New York everything went well.
My girlfriend, Rosaria, what a beautiful young girl she was.
I had big dreams: marry Rosaria, open up my own auto parts shop, and maybe even move to Detroit; I hear the car scene there is very good.
But then this war came outta nowhere and stopped everything.
I remember the last words I said to Rosaria before I left: “Don’t forget me.”
I was sent off to France and stationed there for two years.
What devastating things I saw.
A buddy of mine and I were stationed there.
We had to keep a lookout on the camp.
Then we notice the bone-thrilling vibration of the German aeroplanes.
“Take Cover!” was the last thing I said before we were barraged by the German bombs.
So many casualties really do leave a man scarred for life.
Bodies lying left and right.
Blood smeared all over my face.
A man running around searching for his arm.
What terrible things I saw.
But then the war was over.
Oh, how happy I was to go back to my homeland.
I could not wait to see the look on Rosaria’s face when I got to see her for the first time in what felt like a lifetime.
I went back to her house, knocked on the door, and was greeted with the most excruciating news ever.
Lost her to the Spanish flu.
I cried like a baby.
After all, what purpose was there to my life now?
I did not know what to do.
I had an aunt who lived in a small town called Spoon River.
She told me I should go live with her, and help her with her business.
“Molte belle donne qui,” she would say to me – not knowing that the hole in my heart could never patched.
I would never be able to look at someone else the way I did Rosaria.
I moved in with my aunt, only to die of this godforbidden flu too.
Oh, how I wish I could go buy a cone from Ms. Wong again!
By Sarah Joyner
I didn’t want to be you anymore.
You were scared, petrified, to be alone.
To be alone was worse than death.
You were dependent, not on material things but on emotional things.
You sought approval above all else;
You changed yourself for that approval.
To not be alone,
You became a different person.
You became trapped inside that jail you called your brain,
Imprisoned by your own thoughts.
You saw the world passing you by,
But all you could do was watch everyone else live their lives.
You wondered why you couldn’t live yours,
And then you remembered, you were trapped by your thoughts:
They consumed you, lied to you.
They told you that you would never be enough,
They told you that you would never succeed.
They told you that you would never be happy again.
You stopped trying, trying to be happy, trying to succeed.
You accepted your life sentence.
And you went back to watching from a distance,
As everyone lived their “happy” lives.
I didn’t want to be you anymore.
Only in death could I find happiness.
Death was the only escape.
In death I am at peace, you are at peace, we are at peace.
By Charlie Lor
The following was inspired by this article: https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/09/bizarre-ant-colony-discovered-in-an-abandoned-polish-nuclear-weapons-bunker/. In short, scientists discovered an ant colony built directly on top of an old nuclear bunker’s ventilation shaft. Any unlucky ant that loses its grip finds itself trapped inside the bunker, with no way out. The inside of the bunker is cold, dark, and seemingly without food. The bunker is also populated with bats.
I should have listened to you, Sister. Now I have fallen. There are others down here as well. Others who made the same mistake I did.
It is so cold down here. I can barely see anything, but from what I have seen, this land is desolate and barren, Bats swoop in to prey on us at times, and the bodies… So many bodies… Dead, sick, and dying. I want to come home.
It has been five days since I’ve fallen into the Abyss. The others tell me to give up my endeavors to escape, but I won’t give up that easily. Today, I and a group of others who fell with me will begin our journey to leave this bleak land.
Most of them are dead, eaten by the bats. Sister Chirik is gone. I was one of the few fortunate enough to only get knocked back down. I am slightly injured, and it will take me a while to recover. It is disheartening to have lost all my progress, but I will persevere.
Ten days. Ten days in the cold and darkness. Food is scarce, as usual. The others don’t tell me what they’ve been feeding me, but it gives me enough energy to get around. Enough to plan another escape attempt. To whomever that is reading this journal, do not worry, you will escape from this place as well.
I made it, Sister! I have made it to the mouth of the Abyss! Oh how glorious it is! After a night’s rest, I will begin the Ascent.
I hear their screams as they fall past me. It haunts me.
Sister, they won’t stop screaming.
Is this purgatory? Is this hell?
Climbing up an endless chasm while hearing the lamentations of the damned?”
This section that I am climbing seems to be quite unstable, but I think it will hold lon
I have fallen yet again.
The Darkness has claimed me, Sister.
By: Autumn Skye Burton
These words, these stories, these fantasies, they speak to my very soul. Every perfectly inked letter on this vintage yellow page glitters with my curiosity. There is wisdom in your writing, a lesson to be learned, a secret to be uncovered, a story to be told. Captivated, I never leave a page unturned, or a word unread, or an idea unexplored. These words, they fill my mind. With ideas and wonders and feelings. I isolate my thoughts to only the writing within these crisp pages between my fingers. The ink holds its own aesthetic and power, your story holds its own meanings, the ending holds its own emotions. But oh, these words, they break my heart. When a hero dies. When a heart is broken. When justice goes unserved. These stories, they mend my soul, they teach my mind, they brighten my world. But oh, beware the power behind those words; there is always a secret they haven’t yet told.
by Skye Matheney
I tried to tell you. It was just a date,
a movie, late on a Saturday night.
He made me feel like I could fly, but you
came back as if I was still in your hands;
like I somehow belonged to you. Then why
do you tell me I can’t when I say I can?
You think I don’t, but I can see your noose,
I clearly see it hanging there. And if
I step onto your stage, would someone stop
and stare? I’m not a puppet on a string,
a remote-control plane. I will always be
the girl who’s left to cry out in the rain.
I’m not a damsel in distress, I don’t
need your help. I can do this on my own;
yes, I can save myself. I am not
a puppet on a string; you can’t control me.
by Andrea McKinnie
There is a demon that stalks me
He has stalked me from birth
He calls me by name
He tries to seduce me
I used to answer him freely
Now, I ignore him
I once thought he was friendly
Now I know that he is truly evil
I am sure that you have seen him
Some of you may be his victim too
His name is Obesity
He kills, steals, and destroys…
I decided to revoke his power in my life
I cannot, will not, allow him to control me
I am taking his keys away
Relinquishing him of his power
I am blocking his calls
Deactivating our friendship
He must be destroyed.