By Minyoung Lee
In fifth grade, I wrote you a letter. I wrote my friend had a crush on you, which was true. I didn’t write I had a crush on you, too.
Your friends bullied my friend for a year. She cried all the time. She knew someone told you about her crush. I don’t think she knew it was me.
But that’s what you get for sharing your feelings.
I don’t remember what you looked like. I hope you were cute. I saw on Facebook my friend got married. Her husband looked hot.
If only I could remember your name.
By Alice Cimino
He started to fade.
He was bleeding a dark substance, darker than water, darker than blood. Ink, he said.
His face was whitening, his eyes were losing their glint, he was becoming something not human, nor animal. Paper, he said.
His thin line of a mouth opened. I’m not real, he said.
But he was. To me.
He climbed back into his book.
And I opened my eyes.
By Amye Hartfield
“It’s weak,” she announced, eyes sparkling. I laughed. I cried. I cried because she hadn’t spoken in months. I cried because her salty humor still existed. The disease hadn’t swallowed it as it had her bent body.
“Mom, it’s steamed vegetables,” I smiled, stabbing a broccoli crown, raising it to her paper lips. They remained closed and curved upward in a defiant smirk on a normally barren face. She was with me again, for a moment. Then, like lowering a yellow shade, her withering face went blank again. Wiping my eyes, I lifted another bland forkful to her open mouth.
By Carolyn Black
She’d cherished the little pot for 40 years, remembers slipping it into her pocket when she found it, the rusty nails inside made a tinkling sound and the soot-blackened lid left a smudge on her coat. Cleaning revealed the silver cap and delicate, multi-faceted glass sides.
In her possession it had contained, variously, earrings, paperclips, moisturizers and face creams. Her daughter dipped her fingers into the coconut oil and asked her about the pot’s history. She’d always admired it and it fits in her hand perfectly. Soon, when she dies, her daughter will inherit it. Somehow she must tell her.
By Katharine Griffiths
Healing hands, harming fists
Comforting embrace, crossed arms
Soulful gaze, empty look
Validating ear, deafening silence
Understanding heart, selfish attitude
Heartfelt words, stinging criticism
In death sorely missed, free to find bliss
And then, before I could guess,
you had crawled back, silent, strong,
you were resilient, I’ll give you that.
First, a smudge, jet black, spreading,
smokey, to an ink stain, which unfurled, erupted
to a bloom of thick cloud, ill and dense.
The uncertainty in myself returned,
mind and body, and while I was glad
to have you gone, there was something beautiful
in your return, and how secret you’ve become,
like a rush of starlings, folding, enveloping
upon themselves hidden before a clean slate of night sky.
Hell-bent on repentance
I dug up my past
– a stack of confessions
in black ink and metaphors –
true and false,
unstructured and incomplete.
Forgotten in the pages was
a decade-old whispered poem
to a future lover,
the writer of words and dreamer of dreams
who could make me believe
his theories of history and heaven
I wanted to write him poetry while the world burned
through its tribulation.
But you only like poems that rhyme.