Write a poem about a ritual you use to dispel anger.
The day the sun vanished
my sisters and I spin
dreams of willowy gold as ruby
rain raps on our windows and doors.
outside, streams of dust glint
where sparkling tides once crashed.
my eldest sister’s trembling hands clasp mine.
together, we mourn silver rivers
of vapor, mourn the constellations that
stretched across purple mountains,
mourn the flickering winds of sticky summers past.
my legs are numb,
huddled against these wooden floorboards, as
the sky whistles a baleful warning.
I squeeze my eyes shut, listen intently to the
final breaths of a jaded planet,
hoping I’ll snag the secret to saving the world
on a stray breeze.
our ancestors told us: pray
to the stars that the violet dust never
settles, pray that this rotted
apricot never bares its foul
insides to the universe.
but they bled the planet dry.
peeled away its flesh,
plucked its jewels to adorn their foreheads,
let its emerald glaciers drain
down their fingers and thighs.
so as crackling comet storms tear
at our cloud belt, my sisters and I rummage
through centuries of bellicose madness, and
curse the fools who sowed
poison into sinless soil.
By Nikita Bhardwaj
Nikita Bhardwaj is a high school junior in Princeton, New Jersey. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has been published in TeenInk magazine. When she’s not editing or telling herself to write, you can find her sleeping, studying for a chem test, or watching the Great British Baking Show. Check out her start-up journal at theaurorareview.org!
An open letter to girls at Coachella
Who like sporting bindis and calling them “eye-dots”,
the california sun melting their makeup as
they breathe in the desert air.
Wouldn’t it be funny, if your third eye just
happened to open that day, and a fleshy indian snake
slithered down your spray-tanned neck,
hissing in your ear,
as an elephant tail whacked the iced kombucha
out of your hand.
Wouldn’t it be funny if you happened to find
a thread of prayer beads in your matted hair,
and your skin started to look purple and
there was the stinging tip of Shiva’s trident
nearly piercing the flesh of your chest.
Wouldn’t it be funny, if suddenly the culture
you’ve enjoyed picking apart just happened
to cling to you, in a way that isn’t
normal (to you)
directed (at you)
or perhaps most importantly,
convenient (for you)
By Kanchan Naik
This poem is the recipient of a Scholastic Gold National Key.
Kanchan Naik is a junior at The Quarry Lane School in Dublin and the Teen Poet Laureate for the City of Pleasanton. When she’s not doodling or writing poetry, she is most likely untangling her earphones or looking for something that happens to be — much like herself — lost.
I DIDN’T SPEAK AT THE FUNERAL
My father was a Man of God.
My father was a liberal,
pot smoking hippie who cursed like a sailor
and knew two dozen ways to kill a man
with his bare hands—my father was a pastor.
And he had a white-knuckled grip on faith that
I do not fully understand, but
he preached gospel like
him and Jesus were old buddies who
snuck out and went drinking together—
the bail-each-other-out-of-jail kind of friends.
He held hands and broke bread;
he had a way of making a
congregation feel like a family.
He believed in heaven
more surely than I have
ever believed in anything.
My father was just a man.
He had a lot of rage in him.
And when the pills stacked higher
than the pages of a hymnal, he
went looking for god with a spade
and a shovel, he
dug the gospel out of me. Tell me,
what do you call a washed up preacher
too sick and feeble to do the lord’s bidding?
Well. I don’t know what you’d call him, but
I called him Dad.
He had a lot of names for me and
one of them was Ungrateful but
it was hard to be thankful for
the shaking shadow of all the things
my father used to be. See,
my father was a sickness
in a suit of skin. Some days, he
was more pain than person and
he made sure we all knew about it.
I did not grow up in a quiet home.
There was no room for heaven at
the kitchen table, we
had to save a seat for
Pain and one for Loss and
two for all his medications.
They say absence makes the heart
grow fonder and
my relationship with my father
made a lot more sense
after I lost him.
Death makes a space for forgiveness.
There’s lots of space in my parent’s house
I was never on first name basis with
my dad’s idea of god, but for all that
hurting he held in his hands,
my father was a good man.
Even if he was hard to live with.
And he was hard to live with. Dad,
I am still learning how to forgive you.
I’m getting better at it. But you
were an angry, stubborn son-of-a-bitch and
I guess that runs in the family. And sometimes
it’s fucking infuriating to take after someone
you want to be mad at but
I am my father’s daughter. And
I always have been.
And, if your god is up there, then
I hope he’s playing old blues,
smoking Marlboro reds—
telling dirty jokes and singing
hand-me-down gospel with you.
By Ashe Vernon
Ashe Vernon is a produced playwright, an actor, and a poet. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, but found poetry when she most needed it. She recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a degree in theatre and gender studies. Before she hits the job market with her oh-so-impressive fine arts degree, Ashe is spending the summer on tour doing spoken word with her best friend and partner in crime. Her first book of poetry, Belly of the Beast, was published by Words Dance Publishing and her second, Wrong Side of a Fist Fight, will be coming out through Where Are You Press, this July. She spends most of her time writing her way out of dark places, and looking to the stars. Ashe has featured in venues across Texas, such as The Standpipe Coffee House in Lufkin, Nacogdoches Literary Readings, and Love Jonz Spoken Jazz, in Duncanville. She has placed first at WriteAboutNow in Houston and her work has been published in Word Dance Magazine, and volumes one and two of the Literary Sexts anthologies. Ashe has no concept of the term “inside-voice” and spends every waking hour with her giant bear-cub of a cat. She plans on moving to a big city and covering herself with tattoos. It’s going pretty well, so far.
All day the men speak of the best way
to put a horse out of its misery.
Where to place the bullet,
how to fold the legs beneath the belly
& carry it to the river.
It was a tearing of the mare’s insides
as they stretched to let the colt through,
everything hole & wound,
open & red, so thick it stilled the tide pools.
The whole time
they come up with new ways to end it
I cannot help but think
of my mother.
By Meggie Royer
Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently majoring in Psychology at Macalester College. Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine, The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and more. She has won national medals for her poetry and a writing portfolio in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and was the Macalester Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize.
Lora Bishop Was Once a Girl
Before vines bound the windows,
intrigued voyeurs saw, every
night, Ms. Bishop, sagged and grey
as a Havisham cake, watching
television in the bathtub.
Must have been a hundred years ago-
Lora Bishop: Miss Wichita
Queen at sixteen. She could conjure
a man twice her age
with a flip of blond hair,
but found she couldn’t
speak, and plunged into
her claw-foot sea. Now
she reads the twelve-inch
screen like some read tea,
sipping away the cream
news and swirling the
static in her cup. The
neighborhood boys swore
death would come, when,
one cold night, she disrobed
to take her bath, and with
a final wink before the window,
sunk beneath the water.
By Kailey Tedesco
Kailey Tedesco is currently earning her MFA in poetry at Arcadia University. She is a former resident poet and current poetry editor for Lehigh Valley Vanguard. She also edits for Marathon Literary Review. Her work focuses on perceptions of femininity, often in a surrealistic manner. Many of her poems are inspired by confessional or Gurlesque poetics paired with her own experiences in cemeteries and abandoned amusement parks. You can find her poems featured in such publications asFLAPPERHOUSE and Jersey Devil Press. For more about Kailey Tedesco, please follow her on Twitter: @kaileytedesco.
during lethal injection you begin to snore loudly.
Then the snores become progressively quiet.
Through the witness window a survivor of the fallen
tries to catch a final glimpse of you lip-syncing words
of forgiveness but pride won’t allow the satisfaction
you could easily be describing what the Gulls do
in August over Lake Michigan. Catching insects
in the air. Nesting in the Hawthorns on the banks
during mating season
because being put to death is like writing your
name in Pepsi or Epson salt where each
indelible syllable rests, then wanders off. Each
sandy beach for the condemned, another dark
pillar of eternal faith.
Last evening, in my armada of joy,
I rode the wind like a warm prostitute
rides the passenger seat of the 02 Grand Caravan.
Shuffling the sliding doors then kicking off
a heel on a clean floor mat. Assuming
that restful, heavenly position.
By Dana Rushin
African American Poet,
living in Detroit.
Wayne State University student….current.
unmarried. still looking.