"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will."

—Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

The Art of Holding On

By Eliana Birman

Don’t let go. 

    Don’t let go. 

         Don’t let go. 

               I can’t let go. 

                   I won’t-

I want to let go.

    Should I let go? 

         Can I let go?

               I want to let go. 

Let go, let go, let go.

Flying

By Annabel Kermaier

Running. Feet pounding dully against packed earth. Twigs snap, and wind whips my hair around, stinging my face with brisk needles of ice.

       The trees reach their bare branches up and over, stretching for a partially shadowed sun they can never reach. Their trunks blur in my peripheral vision as I run past, their distinct forms merging into the semblance of a wooden wall rising up around me. I am confined. The forest stretches out to either side, but the grasping arms of the trees obscure the sky.

       I run on. Tiny shocks resonate through my shins, my arms pump uselessly at my sides, and the ground scrolls away behind me.

       The trees thin out, and then clear. I run through a field. Shoots of green push their heads through the soil, and I leap over them. Fresh air scented with brine and sand washes over me, and up ahead, the ground drops away, leaving empty space hanging over a wide ocean.

       I run on. Flashes of memories cycle through my mind, flickering glimpses of fear and joy and pain and longing, everything leading to this moment, on this cliff, as I reach the edge and with one last lunge—

       A bird wheels above the sea. The salt-soaked air runs fingers through its feathers. A joyous cry is heard. Flying.

Running. Feet pounding dully against packed earth. Twigs snap, and wind whips my hair around, stinging my face with brisk needles of ice.

       The trees reach their bare branches up and over, stretching for a partially shadowed sun they can never reach. Their trunks blur in my peripheral vision as I run past, their distinct forms merging into the semblance of a wooden wall rising up around me. I am confined. The forest stretches out to either side, but the grasping arms of the trees obscure the sky.

       I run on. Tiny shocks resonate through my shins, my arms pump uselessly at my sides, and the ground scrolls away behind me.

       The trees thin out, and then clear. I run through a field. Shoots of green push their heads through the soil, and I leap over them. Fresh air scented with brine and sand washes over me, and up ahead, the ground drops away, leaving empty space hanging over a wide ocean.

       I run on. Flashes of memories cycle through my mind, flickering glimpses of fear and joy and pain and longing, everything leading to this moment, on this cliff, as I reach the edge and with one last lunge—

       A bird wheels above the sea. The salt-soaked air runs fingers through its feathers. A joyous cry is heard. Flying.

NYCSyline.png

Photograph by Eitan Weinberg

single mother.

By Rosie Felig

There

By Lani Fetman

This story stands not for what could have been, 

But what she dreamt she’d always know - 

His light breath as they slept soundly, 

His brilliant insight, 

That choked laugh - 

She awoke one morning empty. 

His absence left her heart broken for years, 

Until her soul inevitably accepted defeat, and did not seek to mend.  

What could she say? 

The offsprings they had left on the earth together - 

A gift, two pieces to display their young love, 

Those beautiful creatures,

they would not know.

They would not know how she lost her world - 

Half of what created them. 

Would they know of his warm embrace when all she felt was doom? 

A foolish expectation 

What would they know? 

They had not seen 

the best of him. 

 

Goodbye life!

That teenage girl who walked blindly under that veil, 

The man who took her first kiss, 

His yearning to escape conformity with marriage- 

Her security lost, 

She proclaimed that sorrowful friday when he was taken  

Goodbye life!  

For she knew nothing 

Without his love.

I thought I was sitting alone 

In this world alone 

But I was wrong 

I turned my head and he was beside me 

He was always beside me 

Just as he promised 

When I needed him 

he was there 

Sad, angry, happy, 

he was there 

No matter what 

To him my problems were important 

I was important 

I was special 

For the first time in my life I felt seen 

To him I was worth being seen 

It felt like a dream 

But that feeling quickly faded 

The hope, the joy, the dream

 faded 

And he disappeared 

I turned my head and he was gone 

From then on he was gone 

He broke his promise 

I thought i wasn't sitting alone anymore 

Not in this world alone anymore 

But once again, I was wrong  

Photograph by Zehava Shatzkes

The world is held up by invisible strings. 

The stars and the moon and those types of things

Perched high on a branch the canary sings

Its flapping wings pulled by invisible strings  

 

The sun through the sky takes us to then from now

Down over the horizon, have you ever wondered how?

It’s the invisible strings pulling like an ox on a plow

For time to pass do these strings allow

 

They pull at our limbs like a marionette

If they weren’t there, how to move we’d forget

We owe to these strings an unpayable debt

As dependent as a smoker to a cigarette

 

Our aspirations are futile, yet to hope we cling

free will is a joke, we don’t control a thing

We are the subjects, the strings are the king

Screw god, the strings we should be worshipping

 

Your toying takes you nowhere, like a slinky you oscillate

You keep whacking the moles, but you’re seconds too late

Do you remember what controls time? the moles? Your fate?

Let the strings open your eyes, you’re not seeing straight

 

As a whole, we’re confused, tangled together

It’s pointless to resist our inescapable tether

Just let it control you, life will be smooth like leather

Not a cloud in the sky, enjoy the glossy weather

A utopia held up by invisible strings

A world so desensitized it can’t feel a thing

All has become one, imperfect harmony we sing

Our hands are all bound by invisible strings

Invisible Strings

By Gabe Greenfield

Life and Death

By Eliana Birman and Ellie Weisberg

I’ve been dreaming about death a lot lately, the same dream night after night. I’m not sure why. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about, it’s just a little bit odd. Anyway, the dream goes as follows:

My nine-year-old brother comes up to me in a panic. I know when I see him that he is anxious, that something is wrong. Beads of sweat drip down his face, and he opens his lips to let out broken words. He needs me to help him. My brother needs help. “There are angels in the attic,” he cries. So I tell him, “It’s all right, I’ll go upstairs with you to check.” A flare of panic rises in my chest, but I quickly suppress it. Fear is not an option. I have to stand tall and be brave. I must protect him, so I walk up the stairs, counting every crack that creaks out of them. Thirteen is the number I reach when I get to the top. 

I do not see angels as the door creaks open. I see a man, in black wrinkled pants and a white shirt starched to perfection. He is tall and bulky, and yet just a shadow of a figure. He walks with purpose, as if he has a mission he must fulfill, and I can understand that his mission is me. His head is straight forward. He doesn't look back, up, or down. Do I know this man? Under the dim light of the shaking chandelier I see his face as it slowly comes into view. Almost unreal, but he is there. It’s not an illusion.

“Choose one, and choose wisely.” His voice booms in a raspy, yet almost sing-song tone. “One of you must die.” Panic settles in my mind where it seems like it’ll live forever; bats instead of butterflies flutter in a tornado of fear in my stomach. “Why die? Who is dying?” I yell up to him. “You or the little one, one of you two must die.” 

My first instinct, as horrible as it may sound, is to sacrifice my brother. I want to live, and thrive, and experience. I want a full life. I know what I want for my future: to go to college, graduate, work, do what I love. At nine years old, my brother doesn't think about the future; he lives in the present.

“My brother, take him to heaven for me.”

“No, hell, actually. That’s where he’ll go if he dies.”

I can't live with that guilt. With that guilt I would rather die.

I immediately let the thought of choosing him over myself subside. No! He has more of a life to live. I’ve already experienced high school and made new friends. I’ve made it to double digits. He hasn’t even finished his childhood.

I have no time to ask where I’ll go if I die instead. I need to save my brother now. 

“I’ll go,” I say with a tone of false confidence, hoping it sounds convincing.

“Very well then.”

I make a split-second decision. I run down the stairs, away from this monster and all that awaits me when he touches my hands. For a moment I really think I might make it out of his grasp.

But I have nowhere to hide. There’s no furniture to crouch behind, no blanket to hide under. He will find me no matter what. So I give in and let him grab my wrists.

A warmth rushes through my veins. I feel serene and safe. it’s welcoming, rather than cold and dark. I feel light as I leave my body, now an empty shell. I’m no longer one with my body; I’m above it, and I can see my pale face. I look so cold and alone. I watch my brother rush to my side. I’m no longer alone, but he is. He is alone with his dead sister, crying, screaming for help. I reach for him, but I miss. I can no longer touch or feel him. It becomes so bright, and then I go dark. The vision of my brother disappears.

Where am I?

“Congratulations.” The words echo all around me. “You’ve made it to heaven. You saved your brother, you passed the test.” I succeeded in saving my brother. I did it. I know when I hear this that I must watch over and protect my family. So this is where I stay. Watching over them with joy as they live their lives, not instead of me, but for me. 

After what feels like too many hours, I wake up. 

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Photograph by Eitan Weinberg

I walk into a room of darkness

Black envelopes the painted walls

A flick of a match, and dark is dispersed

My candle has lit up the room’s hues

Orange and pink and blue and green

Are revealed to my dilated eyes

As they travel from wall to beautiful wall

Did my flame produce their colors?

Unnoticed they were, but were no less

Till I allowed them to show off their sight

When given the light, the timid pigments stood tall

In pride of their glory they reveled

Without me - what could they be?

With me - anything more?

Perhaps no worth at all

For the colors on the wall

But what if they chatter among themselves

And fill their lives with good

For others, they are naught

When cloaked by the dark

But for them 

they are each other’s all

I will not know how they are on their own

Because my flame and I trespass their abode

We interrupt the stories they tell one another

We pause their joyous, small lives

Intruders we are, though confident too

Do we feel as we enter their home

We, more important than they, are certainly free

To pull away the black cloak that protects them

And they protest not, for the hierarchy is seen

They awe me and my flame for our power

Like us, they see their own lives as but small

Unworthy of their temporary protection

But You know the Truth - do you not?

The real facts about our dear colors

That the black cloak covers a beautiful life

Filled with meaning and joy and color

My flame and I, small beings, visitors just

Witness the surface of the colors

I do not know, with my powerful flame

The nature of the colors under black

They, happy beings, live powerful lives

About which I don’t know, and they don’t know

But You do.

my flame and I

By Elza Koslow

The Mirror Doesn't Always Reflect

By Hannah Friedman

All I want is independence. What does he expect? A declaration? When in the course of human events… Blah Blah Blah. Well, that’s not what he gets. He gets The Bill of ‘Fights’. 

“You have got to be kidding me!” I yell as I circle around the large green sofa in the center of the room that holds a mirror. 

“You cannot hold on to me forever.” He looks down at his shoes, almost as if he is conversing with them. Then he turns his gaze towards me. Jaw dropping, hesitating. But nothing. While no words escape his mouth,  I know what he wants to say. He wants to say no. 

“I have a right to my freedom!” I shout. 

He sighs heavily. “Well you are free. You can do as you choose.” This is exactly what I need him to say to get my point across. 

“You’re right. I am free. I can do as I choose, but I am not able to do it without your presence. Without your constant commentary.” I smirk. I finally got him. 

He looks back down at his shoes again. The black loafers tap against the floor rhythmically as he contemplates his response. “You need me, though,” he says while adjusting his glasses. “You would not survive without me. I am part of you.” I know he is, but I don’t want him to be. His negativity is irritating. His suggestions, unwarranted. 

I only have one solution to make it stop. I turn away from the mirror in front of me and grab the car keys lying comfortably in my desk drawer. Driving down the highway towards the George Washington bridge, I look around at the beautiful and calm sky that’s drawn across New York. Four am suits the city— it’s serene. I then pull over to the side and step out on the edge of the bridge. 

“Take a leap of faith,” he always said. His dreams have come true. Because here I am. On a ledge. Looking down below the George Washington Bridge. Prepared to leap. The water looks calm, and so am I. I’m prepared to say goodbye to him, to me. 

“Don’t do it,” he protests, his incessant voice still in my mind. “Losing me means losing you.” 

I ignore him. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. What else are you expected to do when you hate the thoughts in your head? Cause they’ll haunt you, as he did me. 

Don't Save Me

By Brooke Kohl

my wings have broken, and i am falling. rays of sunlight dance around me and sparkle on my skin, traveling faster than i could possibly imagine. they seem to tease me, each one lingering for only a moment before it shoots off into the vast nothingness that i am headed towards. as i watch, my vision stretching as far as it can, they get swallowed up by the darkness. 

       don’t save me. 

       i am being pulled towards the darkness as though it is a black hole. it is attracting me, drawing me in. my heart thumps in anticipation, and i curl up in a ball as i tumble through the air. 

       don’t save me. 

       i am going back to where i belong, carrying the weight of a hundred painful lives on my shoulders. they make my body curl inwards, tightening the little ball that is me more than i thought possible. tears spill out of my eyes as i go. i find comfort in reminding myself that i will be there soon. 

       don’t save me. 

       i wish i was a ray of light. every light that has passed me since my journey began has reached the darkness by now. what has taken me a hundred lifetimes has taken them mere seconds. but i will be there soon. 

       don’t save me. 

       i will be happy there, so be happy without me here. be happy as you are left to face a dozen more lives alone. and don’t worry. i’ll wait for you once i get there. 

       don’t save me.

Sailing Down Into Oblivion

By Ella Morgenstern

My boat's been drifting off the coast

For so long I can’t remember

Not a man in sight, a bird at most

Think Winter’s coming in December

 

At a time I had a destination

I had the wind in my back and an eye on the tides

Until I fell against my own creation

Leaving me alone with my pride

 

So I guess it is here where I will die

where the horizon goes on for infinity

As the sea bleeds into the sky

And the sky becomes the sea

Drown

By Kate Nachmani

Relentlessly pushing away

She whispered a song, 

a soft song of blue 

 

Yearning to stay, 

to not conform, to abandon her stain

The stain of endlessness 

To her serenity it was due

 

And so, 

The sky screeched 

Pinching the ears of birds 

The shore filled with white foam, 

The remainder of her fantasy 

 

The horizon fed onto the sand 

Drowning in its displacement 

Leaving dampness at its touch

 

But the beauty of the sky 

had slowly sank, 

to where the light goes to die

Lara Jacobowitz crosswalk-2.jpg

Photograph by Zehava Shatzkes

Private Property

By Annabel Kermaier

Smoke billows behind me as I run. I turn to look as it curls into the sky like dark glyphs scrawled onto a flat gray wall.

From between two houses I catch sight of the fence and part of a guard tower. A solitary dark window near the top, the only one in the tower, faces towards the town. If they see me, I’ll never make it out. As I reach the edge of town, I stop, just inside the last row of houses. The flat light of a cloudy dawn will make it difficult for them to notice me. I’ve chosen the perfect time, when they’ve just turned off the sweeping floodlights that glow throughout the night, but the sun has yet to clear the horizon.

I stare at the tower, waiting for my father to make it inside that top room like he told me he could. I didn’t ask questions — it was him or both of us. Suddenly the window brightens with light, revealing the silhouette of a head and shoulders turning to look into the room. I hesitate a beat, and then spring up and sprint for the fence. With the lights on inside, no one will be able to see anything more than their own reflections in the window.

My feet pound on the asphalt that borders the idyllic little town. I know that lights are turning on in the center of town as people get up to answer their doors. Parents throw coats on their children as they are dragged outside.

“We’re shutting it down,” stone-faced officials are explaining to the uncomprehending masses. “This experiment was deemed a failure.” They are herding families into lines in front of the smoke-spewing factories that stand waiting for their latest fuel to burn.

I jump the low brick wall and keep running, now across the grassy field in front of the fence whose wires criss-cross over my freedom. I throw my hands out in front of me and catch myself on the fence, fingers clutching the metal loops as my body slams to a stop. The chain link rattles and bounces.

I steady it and begin to climb. I lay my jacket over the barbed wire at the top and swing myself over, and then begin to climb down.

Next to me is a sign, facing outward: private property. A gunshot sounds in the tower to my right. Smoke spills upward into the sky. The acrid taste of ashes fills my mouth. I cling to the fence as my body begins to shake with sobs.

“STEP AWAY FROM THE FENCE,” a voice booms out of the tower’s loudspeaker.

I push off the fence and drop to the ground, raising my hands slightly.

“GET OUT OF HERE,” the guard continues, oblivious to my tears. “CAN’T YOU READ? EVERYTHING INSIDE THAT FENCE IS PRIVATE PROPERTY.” I turn and walk away.

Untitled

By Samantha Kanner

A label 

Does it become

A limit?

A definition?

An uncrossable line?

To highlight everything we can’t

Do

Be

Achieve

What if

Instead of a stereotype

A category

An outlined box to check off

You let it be

Incentive

Encouragement  

Inspiration

Maybe you need to know where your glass ceiling lies

Only for the sake of breaking it

Maybe the limit exists

Because applause feels more earned

When it isn’t expected

Because our accomplishments make us prouder

When they aren’t a given

If your label is a box, 

With it you’re being handed a hammer

Break it

Shatter it

Redefine it

Let it be your benchmark

Rather than your finish line

Seasonal Feelings

By Gabe Greenfield

Denial

By Kate Nachmani

It freezes with the frost

Yet I feel no pain

 

Because the sun will come out

Tomorrow is today

for melting snow reveals

An ethereal display

 

A collage of color

A landscape of light

So I don’t keep my head

Screwed on too tight

Seasonal feelings 

A yearly ballet

Fallacy so pathetic

With the trees do I sway

 

The sun meets my heart

Penetrates through my skin

My head leaves my body

Antoinette, Anne Boleyn 

 

It travels with the breeze

Its soaks with the rain

A heavy sense of comfort consumed me

Thick blood rushed to my weak face 

Skin of deep pale filled with color 

A thin shadow swam over me

Relieved,

But not rescued 

 

Their smooth face glowed with warmth

Though a force of regret flooded

the walls 

Abandoning my thought for reality was too hard to bear 

My eyelids too heavy to be lifted

A tear slipped from out of my eye 

My heart ached from these silenced hopes

Guilt-filled words lost from my lips 

For I knew these familiar eyes

These eyes had always been mine

Lara Jacobowitz crosswalk.jpg

When that failed to release her 

She let out a sigh

 

The mountain exhaled

At the same time as she,

yearning to feel something

Whatever that be

 

But the mountain blew too hard

And extinguished it all

So she counted on the wind

To hear her tree fall

 

And as her feet left the ground

her senses awoke

The rock, the tree, the wind

She lived, as she broke

“I haven’t felt anything in a while,” 

A realization and a shame

“The breath of the mountain 

will fan my flame”

 

When a lonely tree falls in a forest

She decided it could be heard

For although she spoke out loud

with no one she conferred 

 

Life’s a search for feeling

But to the world, she felt numb

If she didn’t soften up

A rock she would become

 

So she climbed up the mountain

an attempt to get high

Gone With the Wind

By Gabe Greenfield

Photograph by Zehava Shatzkes

They say pain is art:

By Hannah Friedman

tick tock internal clock

By Eliana Birman

Castle.png

He said 

red and purple 

were his favorite colors.

So I dressed in them.

A scarlet dress with earrings shining purple. 

 

He loved me

So when he began to use me as his canvas.

It was okay

because he loved to paint.

And I loved him. 

He would leave purple marks on my skin.

And sent red trickling down my lips. 

 

I decided to leave him a gift. 

I held my grip tight on the purple dagger.

his purple paintbrush.

I took a deep breath.

And I let the red seep out. 

He was worth the pain.

And things got blurry as I smiled.

I’m covered in red and purple.

Just as you wanted. 

Sand screams in my internal hourglass,

Begging to rush through like the Exodus.

Death is in hot pursuit,

But there’s no God to save me.

No Moses to turn back the clock.

I patiently wait for the moment.

The moment where 

I

Fall.

 

My hand slips,

The glass shatters into millions of sparkling shards.

The sand bursts out.

 

Finally free.

distant, and it has been affecting your education, so as your teacher, I find myself obligated to speak up.” I sink back into my seat, my hands gripping my pen tighter. This is not the conversion I expected. “Listen Blossom, you’re holding on too tight.” I look down at my pen and drop it on the desk. “I’m not talking about your pen,” he chuckles. “I’m talking about Finn.” My face feels hot and I assume it turns pink, but I can’t see it and he doesn’t point it out. “Your relationship is on edge. You’re holding on to what used to be and hoping it returns, but now you’re both dangling off the side of a cliff. You have to let go, Blossom.”

“But if I let go, we both fall,” I say. He moves from around his desk and steps closer to me. My heart pounds because I know what he’s going to say, but I don’t want to hear it.

“You don’t need to let go of the cliff. You need to let go of him. You need to let him fall, so you can pull yourself back up.” Those are the words. The words I anticipated and dreaded. I need to let him go.

“Thank you Mr. Seymour,” I say with a forced smile. I grab my items, and walk out of the class determined. I need to do something. I need to let him go, or we’ll both fall.

The Cliff Hanger

By Hannah Friedman

I walk up from behind him and grab the hand dangling at his side, and he turns back to see who it is. I smile; he doesn’t. He used to smile. He used to gaze into my eyes with this look, this look I can’t explain, but I knew he loved me. Now, he looks at me differently. Not with hatred, but it might as well be.

“How was your day?” I ask.

And he responds with his classic one word answer, “Fine.” I despise one word answers. It’s a method of replying that simultaneously shuts down the conversation. With the deafening silence, the two of us walk to class. We sit at our typical desks — second row and side by side. I don’t remember what I was supposed to be learning during that class, but I remember what I learned after.

“Blossom, please stay behind,” the teacher announces. I look up from my doodles in my notebook and glance around at the students surrounding me and laughing at me. 

“What did Blossom do this time?” teases a boy behind me. The bell rings and sends a shiver down my spine.

“What did I do?” I wonder. Each student makes his or her way out of the classroom leaving me alone with the teacher.

“Blossom,” he says. “I realized you and Finn seem

Photograph by Eitan Weinberg

The Jump of Shame

By Kate Nachmani

My stomach burned as my thick bones became stiff

A headache began as my whole being contemplated

To my honest truth, my morals slipped

They raced into the vast distance, where they hid from the naked eye

If I was here to tell, I would lie with every inch of me

However I followed, ashamed as I am

My mind a machine but the gears heavily rusted 

Strength a fond idea, but a far capability 

Fear of being seen as the other creeped upon me 

While blame didn’t encompass me 

I then began to plummet, humiliated I was, my body disintegrated into the thin air.

Helping the Fallen

By Josh Kaplan

When she was in distress, she came to rest

When she was in need, I came to heed

When she called for help, I did not misstep

I saved her

I saved the world

Able to Fly

By Tamar Rosenfeld

I should be able to fly by now. 

My brothers have become mere dots in the blue sky already,

Touched the clouds and reached the stars. 

Wings spread wide, embracing an ocean of opportunity that I’ll never swim in.

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

But my wings don’t even open, 

Featherless, useless accessories

hopeless, lifeless bones that could only drop me.

They’ll never support my bulky, clumsy body.

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

I could reach out and touch it, but my feathers only graze the surface

I sit here and look at all the other birds soaring into the distance in a perfect V. 

Why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I simply escape into the open air? 

Why am I stuck in this inadequate body of mine? 

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

I’m flailing my wings now, determined to try one last time, 

or maybe just ready to finally fall. 

The wind propels me outside the comfort of my nest

Suspended in the air, only air below me, wings extended,

A gasp of wonder escapes, following my pursuit of freedom 

It disappears, melting into the bright blue backdrop alongside me. 

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

But then the strength of my wings wane, I inhale, 

The gasp of disbelief is suddenly hard to swallow

hot tears trickle down my cheek, as, numb, 

I become a leaf, tumbling, racing to meet the earth. 

 

I should be able to fly by now.

The sky crashes down around me, pushing me lower and lower

I can’t possibly be flying anymore; I have no more control over where the wind forces me. 

I tasted freedom, but now it slips through my grasp like sand in an hourglass.

The last grain drops as I accelerate, rushing towards the ground,

Its sound muffled by the mountain of sand already piled on the glass floor.

The ground slaps me, I crash noiselessly in a vast green field, 

Where thousands of other broken wings peek out between the blades of grass. 

Now, facedown in the turf, I realize that I was never meant to soar.

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

But I couldn’t

And now I won’t 

I should be able to fly by now. 

My brothers have become mere dots in the blue sky already,

Touched the clouds and reached the stars. 

Wings spread wide, embracing an ocean of opportunity that I’ll never swim in.

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

But my wings don’t even open, 

Featherless, useless accessories

hopeless, lifeless bones that could only drop me.

They’ll never support my bulky, clumsy body.

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

I could reach out and touch it, but my feathers only graze the surface

I sit here and look at all the other birds soaring into the distance in a perfect V. 

Why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I simply escape into the open air? 

Why am I stuck in this inadequate body of mine? 

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

I’m flailing my wings now, determined to try one last time, 

or maybe just ready to finally fall. 

The wind propels me outside the comfort of my nest

Suspended in the air, only air below me, wings extended,

A gasp of wonder escapes, following my pursuit of freedom 

It disappears, melting into the bright blue backdrop alongside me. 

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

But then the strength of my wings wane, I inhale, 

The gasp of disbelief is suddenly hard to swallow

hot tears trickle down my cheek, as, numb, 

I become a leaf, tumbling, racing to meet the earth. 

 

I should be able to fly by now.

The sky crashes down around me, pushing me lower and lower

I can’t possibly be flying anymore; I have no more control over where the wind forces me. 

I tasted freedom, but now it slips through my grasp like sand in an hourglass.

The last grain drops as I accelerate, rushing towards the ground,

Its sound muffled by the mountain of sand already piled on the glass floor.

The ground slaps me, I crash noiselessly in a vast green field, 

Where thousands of other broken wings peek out between the blades of grass. 

Now, facedown in the turf, I realize that I was never meant to soar.

 

I should be able to fly by now. 

But I couldn’t

And now I won’t 

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Photograph by Zehava Shatzkes

silent courage

By Talia Berg

fragile

By Talia Berg

i’m unlovable

does not make

it true

 

and intangible

is not

nonexistence

 

because your refusal

to see my strength

doesn’t mean

it’s not there

 

i am visible

i am lovable

i am valid

and i don’t need your approval. 

 is

intangible courage

because sometimes

a whisper

is the bravest

act of all

 

invisible 

unlovable 

intangible

 

but

 

invisible

is not a synonym

for meek

and you telling me

ties untied

sea stands still

the devil cries

the angel roars

 

we fall apart.

 

what was once emotional

now is motionless

stuck in a cycle

of self-destructiveness

 

we fall apart.

 

the world doesn’t turn

the sun doesn’t rise

the sky becomes ground

the ground becomes sky

invisible

unlovable 

intangible

 

invisible body

invisible tears

walk through me

undo me

erase me

just please

don’t break me

 

unlovable face

unlovable heart

would you give me

fake pity

if i showed you 

my scars?

intangible silence

we fall apart. 

 

the grass isn’t green

the flowers don’t bloom

the light is smothered

enveloped in gloom

 

we fell apart.

 

no one seems to notice

their world keeps turning

their sun still rises

their sky remains in place

but

 

we fell apart.

 

our world crumbles

the ground beneath us shakes

our sky collapses

our stars go black

 

you broke us. 

 

my life shatters

i am broken glass

there are too many pieces

i cannot be repaired

 

you broke me. 

The Subway

By Naomi Strupinsky

I look across my seat in the subway car. It's crowded on a Tuesday afternoon at 5pm. The businessmen stand sharp in their suits, the teens lounge about on the shiny plastic seats,  phones lighting up their faces. The air is thick with mingling breaths and body heat, suit jackets brushing against coats. Voices interspersing. So much life squeezed into one space. So many lives, so many faces. Yet all I can focus on is the woman across from me. I could never forget her face, never forget those eyes. Her hair is different than it was four years ago. New stylish bangs sit on her forehead — they fit her. Her blue eyes haven't changed though, still bright and beautiful. I remember staring at them for hours, entranced by the kaleidoscope of greys and greens within. I wonder what else has changed for her. Has she left the old desk job she hated so much? Visited India like she said she would? Fallen in love with someone else? Someone better than I was? These thoughts are quiet in my head, an eddying buzz against the clamor of the horde. 

I did not realize I was staring, but she looks up from her phone, and turns her head a little to see who could be watching so intently. I do not hide away from that gaze, the one I had forgotten. One I had seen in dreams and in regrets. Her face is my biggest anguish. Yet I do not duck away, I look back. Those eyes, those blue eyes.  I see her register my face, recognize it, and then I see her remember. A cloud of heartache passes over her, darkening those blue eyes. I want to say something, I need to say something, anything, I need to apologize for those times. For what I did. But the words never come, lost in my head just as my thoughts are. Every moment of regret over our love has come up to this moment, the words I must say, I have to say them. But I am too late. Because she turns away and pretends not to see me. 

Give Me a Name

By Brooke Kohl

When you laugh, it’s as though a veil of darkness lifts off of the entire world. The sky lightens along with my heart, and the feeling of laughter bubbles up inside of me. Your laugh makes me laugh. 

i need you for these bright moments. i need you to move the clouds blocking the sun, to uncover the beauty of a sunset, to let the vibrant blue of the sky stretch across my vision when i look up. 

When you aren’t with me, no laughter escapes from my mouth. No smile lights up my face. No veil lifts off my sky. 

Instead there are storms, and monsters with sharp claws that rake across horizons as i stare in horror at the shards of shimmering sunsets that slip silently away in fear, crashing down to the southern hemisphere and lingering in limbo as they attempt to piece themselves back together. Lighting strikes across the sky in a rare moment of hope, but all too soon it is gone, only to be replaced by booming thunder that shakes me to my core. 

And i am Unnamed.

i am Unnamed when you aren’t with me, because what is a name to the storms and monsters that come in your absence? What is a name to a powerful force of nature that wreaks destruction without caring who it harms? What is a name when i cannot even piece together who i am? 

It is nothing. 

So please come back. Come and laugh and bring back memories of brighter days. Laugh so that i can laugh too, so that a smile can find its way to my face. Laugh so that the storms and the monsters with their sharp claws leave. Laugh so that the shards of shimmering sunset can put themselves together again and climb back to their position on the horizon. 

Smile and laugh and lift the darkness off of the world and lighten the sky and my heart. 

Laugh and give me a name. 

Give me a name and maybe one day i will be able to banish the monsters all by myself. Maybe one day i will be able to laugh without you doing it first. Maybe one day i will be strong enough to lift the darkness. 

Maybe one day i won’t need you. 

So give me a name and give me strength and give me the power to do it all alone. 

Cradled Hands Cup Your Face

By Brooke Kohl

‘who am i?’ you whisper 

‘who am i without you?’ 

You’re still you 

‘it’s not a good version of me’ 

cradled hands cup your face as you cry 

strong hands support you, wipe away the tears as they fall 

scarred hands lend perseverance to you, stop the tears in their tracks 

wrinkled hands teach you how to go on, take away the tears’ power  

‘i can’t do it without you,’ you whisper 

It’s okay. You don’t have to 

you can’t do it alone when you are a mess 

when tears have traced tracks down your tender cheeks 

and knives have carved away your favorite parts of you 

and your brain is squeezed by an iron grip 

that takes control 

and won’t let go 

‘it’s not me,’ you whisper 

‘it’s just inside of me’ 

I know 

and so you place your hands on top of those cradled ones 

that cup your face 

and you lock them in your own iron grip 

‘i’m sorry’ 

I know. You shouldn’t be 

‘i need you’ 

I know. I’m here for you 

you need those hands cupping your face 

loosening your bonds just slightly enough 

to give you some control over yourself 

whoever that may be 

you need those hands because without them 

‘who am i?’ 

You’re beautiful 

You’re perfect 

‘no’ 

You’re enough 

 

Yes. 

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Reflection

By Naomi Strupinky

She is peering,

Leering and grotesque.

Surely it isn't me,

The girl in the mirror.

How could it be? 

Her eyes narrowed and hateful

Mouth screwed up unnaturally

Face pale and ghostly

My heart beats quick.

A trick, it could only be.

How does one transform in the night?

Metamorphosis, though no butterfly appears

A silken spider instead

Glistening viciously under bathroom lights.

How does one escape oneself?

Can I run away from my own reflection?

Tepidly back away?

There's nowhere to go, and I’m thrown.

The unknown is a looming void

when the one I fear 

is me. 

Behind Bars

By Lani Fetman

A single tear, an ounce of fear 

Opens the gate to gloom and drear

Once you open the gate, you’ll be confined

There's no escape

From the prison of the mind

 

He said she said, run away instead 

Tortured by voices inside your head 

The voices grow, whisper and whine 

No clarity, no silence

in the prison of the mind 

 

Looking back, eyes go black 

As darkness seeps through the crack

When darkness falls the joy is blind 

No tunnel, no light 

Just the prison of the mind

 

intense pain, driven insane

misery and sorrow, the mental bane

Crushed spirit and confusion entwined 

Can't take any more 

in the prison of the mind 

  

filled with panic, behavior is manic 

A sinking ship, the drowning titanic 

Hidden in a place no one will find 

You found a way out 

Of the prison of the mind 

 

Now I hear the screams, tormented dreams 

My turn to endure these extremes 

Living without love of any kind 

Because I couldn’t save you 

From the prison of your mind 

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no escape

By Talia Berg

no escape

By Talia Berg

Have to Face the Music Alone

By Yaffa Lofstock

“‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ by Kelly Clarkson, please.”

“Okay, coming right up!”  As the song started to play, seventeen-year-old Kailey Hayes felt a nervous shiver shoot down her body.  It was her first time at Mike’s Karaoke since it opened, and it was pretty crowded for a Thursday night.  She glanced over at her mom, who was waving and grinning from ear to ear.  She thought Kailey would love this surprise, because she had heard her singing in her room for years.  This was a little more intense than singing alone, though.  While Kailey was incredibly excited to sing for the first time in front of an audience other than her dog, Winnie, she was also incredibly frightened and overwhelmed.  She was afraid people would think she sounded horrible.  At that moment, she saw a mom enter with a daughter who looked about her age.  Although this was a place designed for teenagers, she saw more twenty-year-olds than she could count.  Seeing someone close to her age made Kailey feel much more comfortable.

“Honey, you did amazing!”  Carol Hayes ran over to hug her daughter.  

“Thanks mom, that was exhilarating— I’m still shaking.” She showed her mom her vibrating wrist.  Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the mom and daughter walk over to where Kailey and her mom were standing.  

“Hi, I know we’ve never met, but you sang really well!” the girl exclaimed.  

“Wow, thanks.  I’m Kailey, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, I’m Stephanie.  Was this your first time singing in front of an audience?”

“Yeah.  Kind of.  Not if you count my dog and stuffed animals as people!”

“I totally do that also.  Hey, do you want to go get ice cream?  I feel like you deserve it after singing today, plus it seems like we have a lot in common!”  Kailey looked over at her mom, who was laughing with Stephanie’s mom.

“Definitely!”

After finding out they had the same favorite food, color, and school subject, Kailey and Stephanie decided to hang out again the next week.  Although they didn’t go to the same school, they lived only ten minutes from each other.  Kailey and Stephanie became best friends fast.  It was almost too good to be true for Kailey.  Throughout elementary and middle school she struggled to make friends because she was normally extremely shy.  When she met Stephanie, she felt very comfortable talking to her about anything.  At their first sleepover, they shared everything, from crushes to who would play them in a movie about themselves.  They had their own karaoke night and would try and hit all the high notes, even though they knew they couldn’t.  For the first time in a while, Kailey’s life was perfect.  She didn’t like to talk about it a lot, but her dad died when she was five due to cancer, and that really hit her hard.  Growing up with just her mom, who worked seven days a week so she could put food on the table for Kailey, she never got to see her much.  Her mom would try to make it up by having weekly movie nights, but as Kailey got older, she was constantly cramming for tests and didn’t have a ton of free time.