Life on the Track by Carlos Villarini

Life on the Track by Carlos Villarini


It all started back in eighth grade

The year my grades weren't exactly straight

and before the life of an athlete

that would begin after my first track meet.

I’d given myself a shot at b-balling

but man, those coaches kept on stonewalling.

After not making the cut, though

my mind felt dead and was about to blow,

So then I gave the track wave a try

and thought, oh lord, I was about to die.

Even after I was considered too slow,

I told myself I would give it a go

To the point where any improvements would matter

Since they climb straight up, like steps on a ladder.

And that's exactly what happened

I was into it, I felt trapped, and I couldn’t be happier


I made the team somehow

I wasn't so good, but look at me now.

I ran with my thin legs and ate up the dust

Now I run with heart and a whole lot of guts.

Look at me now making all-state,

The key to that success was simple faith.

Obviously going through all the struggles

Is how you get better and learn to hustle

Just to get to the very top.

After all of that effort I’ll never stop.

Yes, freshman year presented some obstacles

But still I soon became virtually unstoppable

Right into sophomore year, where it all began

I’d never imagined each time I ran

I'd become such a serious runner

Who made the local paper over the summer.






My progress was so fast it just seemed crazy

And the records I broke seemed vaguely wavy

Now, even schools in other countries want me.

These are the things that track has taught me.

Track has brought out my inner beast mode

To reveal how well I can compete in the flow.

Once I timed a one-lap in fifty two,

Other teams hated me for that, but hey, I had to.

Making me well-known is what the medals can do.

This is the one thing that I never knew

I’d become famous for in my high school.

I've made huge progress since then, which is cool.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication

Also consistent mental preparation

In order for me to perform my very best

To go all out and smoke the rest.


It’d take just one trip over a hurdle

Or a fall, turning my knees painful purple.

Mistakes are all just part of the sport,

Mistakes that I’ve learned can hurt you worse

Than the harshest judgments issued in a court.

Sometimes I let the danger sink through my head

But then recall what Michael Jordan once said

There’s no “I” in team, but there is in win

And that’s where my mindset has steadily been.

As my coach never fails to mention,

Victory is always my main intention.

It is crazy that life on the track

Shows there’s never a moment to slack,

But that’s how I learned to become the man

Who takes dubs like a beast, ever since I first ran.


Artwork by Carlos Villarini

Waiting for Daybreak by Taina Boria

Waiting for Daybreak by Taina Boria

"These are not our faces, this is not what we look like.
Do you think [these writers look] like this? Not so,
They're wearing play faces to fool you. But the play faces
come off when the writing begins. Frozen in black and silver
for you now, these are simply masks. We who lie for a living
are wearing our liar faces, false faces, made to deceive the unwary."


I’m tired of faking a smile, faking a laugh, pretending to be okay when I’m not.

I drank so I wouldn’t feel the pain, but it only made me remember all the terrible things.

I cut because the physical pain eased the emotional pain, but the only thing that did was leave scars.

Every time I see them I have to hold back the tears from all the memories that come back.

I smoked to feel okay, it worked for a while but the high feeling left and my memories came back.

I’m tired, I’m broken, I’m damaged, I’m ready to give up, I’m done.

I want to be able to swallow a handful of pills, to be able to slit my wrist, to be able to jump without thinking of the pain I would cause my family.

I just want to be with my grandfather.

Everyone tells me have faith in god, but if god is real, why hasn't he answered my prayers?

Why hasn't he taken this pain away?

I’m still here feeling worthless.

They say he does things for a reason so I ask, what is the reason that he put this horrible feeling on me?

This horrible feeling that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy.

When will it get better for me?

I’ve felt like this since I was 4 years old, I’m 15 now and the only thing I wished for my birthday was the courage to put myself out of my misery, with my family and friends’ forgiveness.

I’m tired of crying myself to sleep at night.

Wondering when I am not going to have this pain anymore.

I don't know how I feel anymore.

I guess you can say I am numb.

I’m just tired of it, I want it all to end.

The crying, the heartache, the frustration, the pain, the blood, just everything.

I’ve never felt so passionate about something as I do this.

I see the best in everyone, but when it comes to me, I can't forgive myself even if I tried.

I feel like I’m going insane.

I don’t have the strength I once did.

I’m an outcast, I don't belong here.

“My mind was messed up, you couldn't save me anyways,” is a line from my favorite song.

But as I drag on through life, as I try to find the strength to continue my life

I try to pick myself up. To be better than ever. To be the best I can be.

I don't want to be a lost cause anymore. I want to succeed.

But for me to succeed, I feel like I need to be free.

But how can I be free, if i have this disease.

A disease that doesn't let me be happy, something I can't make go away.

But I will try, try my best to survive.

And I hope one day, I will smile and it won't be fake.

A Story Untold by Lavinia

A Story Untold by Lavinia


The truth I hold took years to expose.

I kept it locked up, and never told.


I feel so ashamed, so weak.

I cry and wish someone had heard my shrieks.


Still in my mind echoes the question,

I could have done something

I should have done something

But what could I have done?

I mean, He weighed a ton,

Pressing me down against the cold hard ground.

I should have been stronger, faster, or merely loud.


Maybe if I hadn’t worn shorts, or stayed out late.

Or if being a monster wasn’t just another fucking human trait.


Of course, I was thankful to be alive,

Until the nightmares began to arrive.

They don’t stop. I try to think of different ways I could have fought.

This somehow being my fault consumes my every thought.


Each night I lie awake, knowing when I close my eyes, He’ll be there.

My childhood dreams, once filled with wonder, have all disappeared

Only to be replaced by this recurrent nightmare.


I reimagine his cold, dark eyes piercing the dim light,

The way He held my wrists, so cruel, so tight.


I felt my tears flow with every thrust.

Yet somehow He still managed to be consumed with lust.


How I wonder if He thinks about that night like I do,

If He remembers, regrets, or ever admits the truth.

Maybe, like me, He hopes denial will change the facts,

Or maybe he continues ruining lives with his barbaric attacks.

This I may never know the answer to;

Too scared to tell, no one ever even had a clue.

That’s exactly what He wanted, of course.

He explained this with a knife, his glare, along with much force,

For him to get that satisfaction is what hurts the worst.

In My Streets by Jovaughn Perry

In My Streets by Jovaughn Perry


In my streets people would rather trust a gang member than a cop

In my streets people would rather not go to school and instead sell that roc

In my streets people would rather be cool than be smart

In my streets kids missed out on the manners

They should have been taught


In my streets everything we have, we fought for

And although we did a lot, we should have fought more

In my streets people have nothing to lose, even though they have choices

They hate to have to choose

Things Change by Justyce Grant

Things Change by Justyce Grant

"She picked it up and put it back. The dial tone stopped.
'That's a good girl. Now, you come outside.'"
"Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?"



I used to be a good girl

Good grades, sunny days

So good I was always praised

But things changed.

Started to switch lanes

Smoking every day, drinking where I stay

Always had something to say


But it’s okay . . . right?

As long as I’m safe at night

Not to mention I liked to fight

So it was always, on site I was tight, packed a lot of might

I wasn’t worried about riding bikes or flying kites

I was worried about where I was going to sleep the next night

Daddy wasn’t around, actually nowhere to be found

That’s what bought me down, in so deep I think I might drown

But they tell me to fix my frown, yah know what they say, “turn it upside down”


But things change, right?

I’ll be back soon, maybe in springtime when the flowers bloom.

Soon, I say, soon.

What Drives Me by Alexandra Clark

What Drives Me by Alexandra Clark

“It's not about having things figured out,
or about communicating with other people,
trying to make them understand what you understand.
It's about a chicken dinner at a drive-in. A soft pillow.
Things that don't need explaining.”
Walks with Men


I have always felt the need to improve myself. Having no clue how to do so, I turned to professionals for the answers. I have been going to therapy every other week for the past four years in order to help resolve my personal issues. My therapist has helped me see what inhibitions are holding me back and what successes are pushing me forward. He’s taught me to motivate intrinsically.

Before I was doing so well, I was lost. Happiness was like the water cycle. One month I would rain down in a storm of hopelessness. The next, I would feel elated, my inhibitions evaporating. I rose up to cloud nine. My mood would plummet back down to Earth after what felt like a week of happiness, and I would become a puddle of sadness, confined to my room. I realized that I was able to achieve happiness but not maintain it. Internal effort was no longer enough. I could not lie to myself about my saddened state anymore.

How to be happy and how to maintain that happiness is the question that is driving me now. I want constantly to be inexplicably happy, and unapologetic for being so. I want the sun always to be shining on my life, with an umbrella to block the rain.

This newfound sense of motivation has opened my mind to the future and all the possibilities it holds for me. I have always known that I am talented. I had so many people encouraging me to succeed that there was no way I could not know the broad expanse of my capabilities. Knowing how bright my future could be was equally exciting and terrifying. I needed to live up to the standards I had set for myself at such an early age. I needed to find the source of the light. For so long I was on the brink of death, traveling into the light that I knew would deliver me to something bigger, yet possibly worse. Death scared me. Life scared me. I needed to look toward a future that held more certainty than death.

Accomplishing this was one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. Finding happiness and reasons to live threw me to the floor, beat me up, and made me more determined than I had ever been before. When I realized that happiness alone was a perfectly viable reason to live, I started to create my own light.

The sun’s rays do not blind me now because they come from me. I bring warmth. I bring light. I am life. I am death. I am what I fear. I am stronger than I have ever been. I want to be stronger.

I still have a long way to go before I am finally satisfied with where I am, yet I worry that the true limit may never arrive. If I never hit my peak, does that mean I am a valley? Or am I the clouds, soaring high above the mountain’s peak, collecting water and spewing it out at will? Am I always the best I can be? Am I reaching my true potential?

These questions torment me constantly. All that I am sure of is that to be happy, one must be the happiness one wishes to see. To be ready for the future, one has to keep going, keep steadily going.

I have not solved all of my problems. I do not think I ever will. Still, personal growth persistently drives me.

Dissolution by Nara Lopez

Dissolution by Nara Lopez

"Where is that country where you can say,
'I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you'
and it's true?"
The State We're In: Maine Stories


When the words slipped from her lips, I could have already predicted it. “We’re getting a divorce . . . we never really loved . . .” her voice fading into a fuzzy white noise. All I could picture was years of screaming and fighting and crying and laughing and hugs we exchanged with each other. My body feels numb and my eyes are suddenly not there anymore.

“Hey, are you okay?” she asks.

“Yeah I’m . . . I’m okay.”

My eyes begin to shed tears.

The air felt thick, my tongue heavy, but I foresaw this happening; I should have been prepared. It was the summer before high school and my mother had decided to leave my father. I understood then that the ghosts of her past were too much for her to bear, that every second she spent with this man reminded her of the nights she wishes to forget – the drunken yells and loud noises of rage. There was a war raging in my mind: should I stay or should I go? I was a speck of dust, a mere nothing in the midst of all this chaos. Weeks passed and he still refused to sign the papers. My mother and father had stopped sleeping in the same room. She now slept in the basement; I wonder if during those sleepless nights she experienced she found peace within herself, peace within those four lonely walls. She sent me to ask my father to sign the papers, but he still refused. I looked outside the window and it was dark, just like the darkness taking over my home.

She would start to cry, “ I’m going to kill him,” she’d say in her rage.

I’d look into my mother's eyes and could not even recognize her; I’d see this hurt women staring back at me with wrinkled brows and wild brown eyes. My brothers held her back, yet she had already grabbed the knife. I hid in the back of my sister’s room door and blinked hard just to reassure myself that this wasn't true, but it was. All of it was, and I couldn't even cry, because there were just too many emotions coursing through my body.  We spent the Fourth of July in darkness, we watched as the fireworks exploded in midair, scarcely seen since the trees covered them and they faded into darkness.  I could hardly remember the last time I felt content. I thought, “This happens to almost every parent, it's fine”, but I faked a smile when my mother asked me if I was fine with the divorce. I couldn't bring myself to say that everything was not fine, and that I felt like my parents were the twin towers falling into the ashes of this divorce. I knew it would be selfish to say all this to her.

My father finally signed the papers, although he seemed unsure; I remember he told me he loved me, and for the first time that August afternoon, sitting on the worn down sofa in our hollow home, he cried. Crazy to think how something so small as a paper and a pen could tear a family apart. All of my siblings were lost in their different worlds, and we all couldn't keep pretending it was all fine. We were a damaged family, a broken one. I was beginning to think this was the end. My mother spewed bitterness towards my father; I never thought I could hate and love someone at the same time. How can the hands that break you, still feel like home?

We never really spoke about it, but we all knew what he had done to us. The damage he caused, the nights we spent crying ourselves asleep because of one of his outbursts. I couldn't even begin to describe the facade we kept building all those years. A united family, a lovely, large happy family. We were secretly oppressed, breathing out dissolution and heartbreak. They would ask us in school, are you okay? But all we could manage to say was to mutter “mhm”. There was a loud cry in the silence of our hearts that the ones closest to us never seemed to hear. In the bleak stress of all this, we still managed to stay sane. I was still alive, we were still alive and there was hope yet kicking in our guts. He was someone that had never received love, so he couldn't quite possibly know how to give it. The rawness in our situation burned our hearts and left scars long after the damage had been done. We gathered our belongings at the end of that summer, hoping we'd leave everything behind us, even the memories. My father was not shocked that we all choose to go with our mother; I think he knew the damage he'd done but while confronting it he'd deny it all. Saying he could never do such things, and that my mother was crazy beyond belief. We were taking off to start over, find a fresh new beginning. My family needed time to heal, finally to breathe.

Everybody Lives With Holes by Aroosha Tabb

Everybody Lives With Holes by Aroosha Tabb

"So I was being raised by two people who were exiles,
effectively exiles from their country. And I found that
there was a lot that was not discussed. So it was that

which I described in another way in my novella Hunger,
you know, like there's this hole in the house. There's a giant hole
in the house. It’s like a black hole that things go into
and they don't come out of. So there is a lot going on that isn't discussed."


The loss of a person you care for,

Is like the loss of some part of yourself.

The pain that it causes

Will scar you forever.

The casual words,

“I don’t care,” create a sentence of lies.

The lack of understanding as to how

To get them back is enough to cause insanity.

The tears you low-key shed,

Are for the words, “I’ll never leave you.”

The thought, “What have I done?”

Constantly crosses your mind.

The words, “Please don’t leave me,” and, “I won’t”

You realize were just a phase,

Because in the end, we all go our own way.


So we blame everybody else,

But that’s just to get over it.

So now we, quote/unquote, “Move on,”

But that’s close to an impossible notion.

We try to act as if that person never existed,

But we know they can never be erased.

Now we have another hole in our souls to face,

Though these types of holes can never be effaced.


Take a breath, deep and slow.

Feel the air whistle through your holes,

For we all have them, as everyone knows.

I'm Sorry Mom and Dad by Jayson Henao

I'm Sorry Mom and Dad by Jayson Henao

"I imagined being adopted by
different people I saw on the street."
This Boy's Life


I'm sorry mom and dad,
I'm sorry for the way I'm making you feel
I'm on my knees, praying to be healed
I want to show you your son is here, and he’s real
My love for you both is stronger than stainless steel

I'm sorry mom and dad
Sorry that I make you feel so sad
Which makes me feel really bad
I don't want you to feel like this just because of me
I don't want you thinking you just won the Nobody nominee
I'd rather be lost in the deepest hole in the sea
Than have you feel my depression, like you’ve been stung by angry bees
I'm so sorry for all this destructive disease
I wander outside to think and look at the trees, just wishing I could be free

I'm so sorry mom and dad
I want to be happy for you guys
But this depression has me paralyzed
I just want to rise up and shine in front of your eyes
But this burden weighs me down, no matter how hard I try


Little Do They Know by Destinie Lebron

Little Do They Know by Destinie Lebron

“What I discovered and what my grandfather always
taught me which was really valuable, which was so
important for me, is that one can listen without
asking questions and learn an enormous amount.


Everyone always tells me how strong I am, how fearless I am, but little do they know that they’re wrong; little do they know I have a nightmare of my own, something that will always stick with me. People say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or, “You'll be okay,” or, “I know how you feel,” but they don't. People repeat the old rhyme, sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you, but they’re wrong, because if words could never hurt me then why is it every time someone says your name it hurts so badly? I feel a pain inside deeper than any wound anyone could ever have; it feels like my heart is being ripped out my chest over and over again. If words could never hurt me, then why am I so torn inside? Little do they know that I’ve hurt myself. I was in a place where I thought pain was happiness. The fact that you are gone now destroys me completely; I’ve asked myself, why, god, why, why did he have to die? Because here I lie, so broken inside. Imagine this, being only eight years-old,  seeing someone you love die right in front of your eyes, and the only thing you can do is just sit there and cry, asking over and over, why, why, why? Wishing he’d come back just one last time, just so I could actually say goodbye. I catch myself crying in silence, asking myself, “Am I making you proud?” Can you look down and exclaim, “Wow”? Everything I do is just for you. I promise I will never give up, Grandpa. I’ll do right by you, and always remember that I love you. RIP 07-31-08.

Someone New by Oliwia Dabrowska

Someone New by Oliwia Dabrowska

"If you want to learn how to be happy,
you have to know what is sadness first."


Someone else. Someone new. I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly. I didn’t expect someone to come into my life and become my home. He changed everything. I didn’t think that anyone could make me feel so special and be this important to me. He is different.  It’s time to start over again, from the beginning. Maybe he'll be better and this will work out. That's what I want. I want it to work out and find love again. It takes a lot to trust someone after what you’ve been through, and trust them not to put you through all that pain again. I can trust him already after only two or three weeks. If he told me his deepest darkest secrets, I’d keep them to myself. We joke around, but when seriousness comes we switch our mindsets. We talk about our feelings, how we feel about each other, our lives, our futures, and other people that matter to us; these are all things that come up in our daily conversations. We’re truthful with each other.  I’m really hoping it works out, but if not, I'm young and I’ll keep trying. My friends and family, whose opinions matter to me, are telling me, “Keep him”. It is different from my past relationship. I not only feel happier and better now, but I also feel like I’m in a relationship with my best friend. I never understood why people say, “You fall in love with your best friend”; now, I get it.

After just one week I miss him. I miss his smell. I miss the way I felt in his arms and the way his lips felt on mine. The way my hand fit perfectly in his and how protected I felt around him. I love the way he takes control of his life. He knows what he wants and works to get it. He won’t give up on things that are important to him. He’s laid back, though, and doesn’t take everything in life so seriously. He’s mature. He can take a joke and have fun, but also knows how to be a sweet and cute boyfriend. He’s the one guy who is on my mind when I wake up and before I fall asleep. He is the person I’d want to be stuck with in a bad situation because I know if I was freaking out and worried, he’d be able to calm me down with his comfort and stupid jokes.

I won’t make the same mistakes as last time. I won’t push people out of my life just for the one guy. I want all the people I love to get along. I want to be able to spend a lot of time with them. I want to have alone time and not be stuck with one person all day, every day. I’m going to be mature in this relationship. Now I know what went wrong before. I’m going to do everything not to make the same mistakes. The only thing I have to do now is let my family know. My brother is very protective, but I love him. Let’s see how they react.

They don’t know who he is. I haven’t told a soul besides the person who is like my sister. Her boyfriend also knows, but that’s only because she didn’t want to be a third wheel on our first date. The four of us make jokes about each other that will probably stay with us in our lives for a long time. That is what I want in my life. I want to make memories that will bring happiness to my life not only a couple years from now, but forever. We laugh together about stupid stuff that isn’t really all that funny. We tell each other, “Fight me,” even though we both know we could never physically hurt each other. We are sarcastic and act all tough, but we know if we were together the only thing that will happen is that I’ll be me in his arms, all snuggled up, warm, comfortable, and protected. We protect each other without limits. I worry about him at times when he can get hurt. I don’t want to wake up to find out he’s been in harm’s way. I think I might be falling in love again. Is this right? Will it turn into love? Will this be my future? Only time will tell.

Marcin, will you be my future?

Identity by Lameaa Gahmi

Identity by Lameaa Gahmi

"...because there is so much misunderstanding of the Muslim
world and so much misinformation about the Muslim world
that I needed as a writer [...] to introduce the lay reader
to a world that is significantly different from the Western world
but also significantly similar in terms of fundamental human qualities." 


Do you ever feel like people are judging you by how you look? Well, sometimes I do; I get angry, upset, and feel like going up to them and saying, “That's not true!!” I feel like people are judging me behind my back when I don't even know; the worst thing about this is that they don't even know me. This is me, they can like it or not, but I don't care what they think of me because in the end I know that they're wrong and I'm not. Yes, I’m a Muslim; yes, I wear a scarf; yes, I cover myself; yes, I live in the United States Of America, but all that doesn't mean I’m a terrorist, it doesn't mean that I’m a horrible person, because it's all the opposite: I’m a nice person, I'm grateful for my life, I'm NOT a terrorist, and I was born in the US.

My parents have taught me to be respectful of others, to have courage, and to believe in myself. People don't respect my culture because they think it's different or just weird, but to me my culture makes complete sense, so respect my culture the same way I respect your culture and your beliefs. It’s sad to see a person bombing places, it's sad to see people saying Muslims are terrorists; if one Muslim bombed a place that does not mean all Muslim are the same. A real terrorist can be anyone who brings serious harm to another living person. See, I’m a Muslim and I would never do something like that in my life. When a person bombs a place all these people ask me questions like, why would he or she do that, does he or she know that they just killed adults, teenagers, little kids, and babies? Yes, I get mad just like you do; if a person kills thousands of people, it doesn't mean that, oh I don't care because I’m a Muslim and Muslims do that kind of thing. I do care, I have feelings; you guys think all Muslims are the same but that’s not so. I'm not saying you can't have opinions, all I'm saying is don't judge everyone the same way; when you don't know a specific person you have to realize he or she can be the opposite of how you judge him or her.

It’s sad to see how cops react when it's a black person or a Muslim person; they didn’t do anything wrong and yet the cops attack them instead of giving them a chance to speak. I’ve seen this happen; the cops judged the person just because of what the person looked like. I have talked with other Muslims and with black people who have told me that when they walked into a mall or store they’ve heard people saying, “Let's go out, I'm scared, they're here now” just because of how they looked. They only wanted to shop like everyone else and they hadn't done anything wrong. It’s sad to see people who say things that; it's even more heartbreaking to hear people say that when you're right there or right behind them or beside them. It’s sad that they think of us like that when we’re totally different. In France, there’s this beach where they don't allow

Muslim women to cover their skin because they think they're going do something bad; if they wear full clothing they kick them out. How ridiculous this is; it’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. I mean, there's nothing wrong with these women, it's just their clothes; they should wear what they feel like wearing and they should feel comfortable in their clothes, without someone coming up to them and saying you can't wear that. Everyone should have the right to wear what they want and not be ashamed of it. This is wrong; you have no right to tell anyone what they can wear and what they cannot wear, or tell them they should go back to where they came from.

We have democracy for a reason; we can say whatever we want, we can choose who we want to be and who we want to be with. We should all have this freedom. Well, in this case some people are being unfair in France, by telling Muslims what they can and cannot wear to a beach because that's their rule over there. I think this rule should be changed; the government should do something about it. It's not fair that other people can wear what they want, but we Muslim women can't wear what we want. How would you like it if someone comes up to you and says, “Oh you cannot wear a bikini on this beach.” You would get upset and angry, right? Well, that's how we exactly feel and that's how they're treat us. We are no different just because we wear full clothing. It’s not okay and everyone should know that; we live in a world where everybody is different, and we all have to accept that so our world won't fall apart. We are all human beings even though we come from different cultures, races, and religions and have personalities. We should respect each other!

#AllLivesmatter #DontJudgeMe #ImProudOfWhoIAm #Everyone'sDifferent #RespectOthers

Final Goodbye by Ann-Marie Rabenold

Final Goodbye by Ann-Marie Rabenold

"She herself could easily picture vanishing
from their shared life, but then perhaps it was a
sign of aging on her part, a desire for loneliness
that would eventually make death a relief.” 

Gold Boy, Emerald Girl


There was this girl I knew who wanted to spread her wings and fly away -- from all the pain that her family, friends, and others had put upon her. Her family only wanted what was best for them. They wanted her to be something she simply was not, a perfect princess. They wanted her in bright skirts and dresses with neutral makeup colors. They wanted her to be neat and clean. And like her friends they wanted her not to be depressed or have anxiety all the time. Her friends could spill all their problems on her, but whenever she wanted to tell them hers they’d just change the subject, telling her how beautiful and strong she was. But did they really mean it? No, she thought to herself. They only said it to sound nice. None of them wanted to hang out with her outside of school. They never did anything while others bullied her and pushed her around. That’s probably why she had all of those scars no one dared to ask about. They didn’t know about her life at home, or what had happened in her past. They didn’t know she cried herself to sleep. Or about the summer night she tried to hang herself. One day a few of us called her to invite her to the mall. Her mother was the one to answer. We didn’t think much of it at the time, until we asked the simple question that broke her mother's heart all over again. Crying she said “...she’s gone…dead…” Soon it clicked . . . all the times we ignored her scars, the times we ignored her problems; we were ignorant to the fact the girl with the brightest smile in our school was indeed suicidal.

Tomorrow is her funeral . . . The final goodbye.

What if I Died Tomorrow? by Ann-Marie Rebanold

What if I Died Tomorrow? by Ann-Marie Rebanold


Sometimes I wonder to myself, what would happen if I died tomorrow? Would anybody care? Would anybody cry? Would anybody feel empty or lost without me? Who would say, it was all my fault, it should’ve been me, what if I just told her I loved her one time? I wonder how would I die. Would it be murder? Who? Why? How? Where? Would it be a suicide? Or maybe a natural disaster… an accident, or sudden illness? Would I have the time to reflect on my life? To question why didn’t I risk the touch of their seemingly soft lips? Why was I so afraid of what they’d say or do? What if I died tomorrow and they loved me back? The chance would be gone for us to exchange those three simple words. If I died tomorrow would you still love and care about me? Keeping me in your thoughts? I know I would if you died tomorrow; I would still love you the same way I do now. If I die tomorrow I hope we can meet again in another lifetime and spend the time loving each other the way we should have today.

Him by Ann-Marie Rebanold

Him by Ann-Marie Rebanold


Recently, I have realized I am in love with my best friend. How? I am always thinking of him, dreaming of him. And finding excuses to talk to and about him. But do I dare tell him? No. I must keep these feelings hidden. Honestly, who knows what would happen if I told him? I have never cared for anyone, not even my own self, the way I care for him. I have no clue what I would do if anything bad ever happened to him. It physically and mentally hurts too much to even think about it. For some strange reason, no matter what happens, I know I will never dislike or forget him. Just one look at him and I crack a smile, forgetting why I was ever mad at him in the first place. I find true happiness and the fullness of love whenever I look into those golden hazel eyes. Honestly, I really want him to know my true feelings about him. But I can’t find the right words, and I am scared of what he’ll say in return.

Miss, Not Mom by Gina Derasmo, English Teacher

Miss, Not Mom by Gina Derasmo, English Teacher

English Teacher, Freshman Academy
New Britain High School

I am lucky to be unlucky. Through my misfortune, I have been fortunate in love – the love for my children. These children, who share neither my genes nor my features, are the reason I wake each day. My home is quiet in the morning, and while there are no diapers to change or mouths to feed, I know that I have hearts, and minds, and attitudes that do. This is because to my children, I am “Miss,” not “Mom.”

I am lucky that I get to see my children every day – a privilege not given to so many. If a day goes by and I do not see a child of mine, my worry grows, and I wonder if they’re okay. A day without them cannot go unnoticed; I know that their well-being is in my hands as I shape their minds to be kind, and thoughtful, and respectful. But once I see them again, the concern fades as I am greeted with their smile, and they exclaim, “Hi “Miss!” and not “Mom.”

I am lucky that my children love me and respect me – we almost always get along. There are times we disagree, oh yes, but then again, what relationship doesn’t have their faults? Through good times and bad, we are there for each other. I can count on them, but they really count on me. I celebrate their successes and correct their mistakes as I guide them every day. I know I am loved when I hear them call out, “I need help please, “Miss,” because to me, it’s just like “Mom.”

I am lucky to be blessed with time. Each minute I spend with my children is valuable – and I know each second leaves its mark. These children, who just want to be loved, crave nurturing support, and I am happy to oblige. For when they see me sitting next to them or spot me from the field, they know I am there to support and cheer and applaud them in whatever arena they choose. This is because I have a duty to fulfill, and this is of “Miss,” not “Mom.”

I am lucky that my children visit me throughout the years. While they might not enter through my home, they all reside in my heart. Their visits bring me joy as we discuss things on their minds. It’s refreshing to see them happy, and I feel relief, knowing that I have done my job. They’ve learned to share, and comfort, and encourage when others might need their help. I am content that I have impacted their lives as “Miss,” right alongside their mom.

I am lucky that I now have a legacy of my own, as I reflect upon my years. The time we had together may have been short, but the memories last so long. I may never see them get married, or be there when they have kids, but I know that the love I’ve shown them will stay with them for sure. To them I was their friend, and mentor, and teacher, and I hope they never forget as they move on, because my life has had so much meaning, being called “Miss,” and not “Mom.”

Misunderstood by Yesenia Balbuena

Misunderstood by Yesenia Balbuena

"Growing up I did not, ever, feel contained. I never felt the
four walls of my room or my apartment or my town or my
culture close around me; I never knew the feeling of the extended womb.
My parents did not hold me tight, but encouraged me to go.
They did not buffer, protect, watch out for, or look after me.
I was watered, fed, admired, stroked, and expected to grow.
I was mostly left alone to discover the world and my place in it."

Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self


I think the worst thing is when you realize deep in your heart that nobody will ever understand you. In reality everyone is busy trying to understand themselves. No matter how you want to be seen, people will always have their own image of you. They will mishear, misunderstand, and misinterpret your words. These days I never expect people to understand me; not everyone will think the same way I do and I've learned to accept that. I try to keep my thoughts locked up inside, but sometimes it's nice to talk to someone about the crazy things that go through your head. Even if they don't understand you, just having someone who will be there and listen to your problems really helps. I'm misunderstood. Most of the time I don't even understand myself. One minute I'm happy and smiling, then the next minute I feel dead inside, as if I was drained of my happiness. I feel like sadness has completely taken over my body. But I still manage to keep a smile on my face.

Sadness means suffering in silence. It's something that comes and goes as it pleases, which we’ll never fully understand. I'm usually surrounded by people I love, and people who love me, yet still inside I feel all alone, for reasons unknown. As a young girl I feel like I’m going through too much too early. I find myself stressing about things I shouldn't be stressing over. Look in my eyes and hear what I'm not saying; my eyes speak louder than my voice ever will. But I don't want people to see me as someone who's always depressed and sad. There are things that make me happy. Like this boy who has been in my life for a while. I absolutely adore him; I admire everything about him, like his mind and the way he thinks. He's different from other people I have met. He always makes sure I'm feeling well, and I'm very thankful for having him in my life. Even if it doesn't last I'm still willing to stick around and take this adventure with him. Nobody will ever understand why he means so much to me. Seeing him happy makes me happy.

My sister makes me happy as well. I like being around her because she always seems to make me laugh with her stupid jokes. The room gets brighter when I'm around her. I believe she's my soulmate, but in a friendship type of way. I feel like we were meant to meet each other in this life and keep each other on the right path. Music makes me happy. Music has a way of expressing how you feel when you can’t explain your emotions. It's unique. I can be happy. I'm not sad or upset all the time. But as you can see from what I'm saying, my emotions change a million times a day. Nobody will ever understand. I'm misunderstood.

Love by Yarieliz Alamo

Love by Yarieliz Alamo


Now I personally don’t believe in this thing you guys call love. What is it? How are you supposed to feel? How do you know when you love or are in love with someone? Besides loving your family and friends, I am talking about how are you supposed to learn how to love a person on your own?

don’t believe in it and let me tell you why. I was born in a generation where the word gets thrown around like a football. Many people in relationships say I love you on the first day; it’s a different story if they say it because they’ve known the person for many years. I don’t believe in it because I choose not to. Why love someone deeply when at any given time he can disappear? No matter how many times a person says he won’t leave you, he ends up doing so anyway. Whether it’s on purpose or by death, they always leave, so why love and get heartbroken in the end? So many young kids say the word love too much; they haven’t experienced life yet they think they are ready for love. Now some people tend to stay in their relationship all throughout high school and get married, but to be honest it’s rare. I’ve always said to myself that I would never love someone during high school, and I keep that promise because love is a distraction for me. I can’t love someone and try to help him find himself when I haven’t been able to love or find myself yet. I understand that some people want to progress with their partner, but that isn’t for me. It would be like having a child: you do your homework then tell your partner to do theirs because you want them to succeed. I’d rather wait till I graduate and live life on my own before I ever try to love someone during my remaining school years. And if I ever do find love in high school I’ll look at this poem and thank the person I love for changing my perspective.

Be Your Happiness by Anna Stryjewska

Be Your Happiness by Anna Stryjewska


Boys. Boys. Boys.
It’s always boys.
“Are you dating anyone?”
“Who’s the lucky man?”
“When are you planning on getting married?”
“You’ve been single a while, go get a boyfriend, you must be lonely.”

But why?
Why should a girl need a guy in her life?
The point?
There is none.
We as young women don’t need guys to make us happy.
We can make ourselves happy.
We shouldn’t let a guy control our happiness, just to enable him to take it all away.
Be your own source of happiness. Of love.

Since we were young, all it’s been is boys, boys, boys.
We’re supposed to be wrapped around their fingers.
Be the puppet on a string for them.
Let them toy with our hearts and be sad until the next one comes along to save us from our misery.

Society gives us a list of expectations.
Requirements for us to be successful and happy.
But take that list, crumple it up, throw it in the trash.
You don’t need a guy to be happy.
You don’t need to be 5’5” with a slim waist, blonde hair and blue eyes.
You can be you, and that’ll make you the happiest you’ll ever be.

Be you. You’ll be happier than any guy could ever make you.
Be independent.
Don’t let other people control your life, your happiness.
Control it yourself.
It’s not called YOUR life, YOUR happiness, for no reason.

Fighting through the Pain by Emen Anaam

Fighting through the Pain by Emen Anaam

"So my father never accounted to me. When my son said to me,
'If people kill each other here all the time. And if, let’s say, your Prime Minister
has an opinion that’s different than yours. And if it’s difficult for you to say
sometimes what you want? They when why do we stay here?'”


My name is Emen Anaam, I am sixteen years old; I was born in America but my parents were born in Yemen in the Middle East. I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters; my favorite sport is basketball. I love the sport -- I have been playing it since I was 5 years old and I will try to accomplish my dream to make it big.

I grew up in New Britain CT; my parents were going through a lot of racism and discrimination when they first came here all because they are Muslims. They would walk or drive around the city and people would give them dirty looks or yell, “Get out of America -- you don't deserve to be here!” We are normal human beings just like everybody else and we still get treated differently.

My parents are everything to me and I’ve felt exactly what they were feeling; it's like a piece of their heart got torn off when they came to America to live the American Dream. Because of the promise of freedom they thought they would have a new start, a new beginning, but unfortunately it didn't go as planned. But they still fought through it and accomplished enough to get me and my brothers and sisters a roof over our heads and an education to help us achieve our goals, and we won't let them down.

I have an older brother that I look up to; he is like my role model when my parents aren't around. He helped me a lot in life because my parents didn't know how to speak English so anything we did or went to he would translate for them and me and my siblings. Now I and my siblings can help translate too. I have a big family -- lots of cousins, uncles, and aunts. There is this holiday that we celebrate called Eid; it's a time when all of our family gets together and eats together and just has a great time. It happens twice every year; we go out and enjoy the whole day.

When school first started I was very happy I was going to kindergarten; I couldn't believe it the first couple days. It was awesome, but during the middle of the school year I was struggling; I needed help with my English so it was very difficult for me, but I worked very hard and passed my classes all the way up to 5th grade. Then here came middle school; it was a huge change. It was time to grow up and get a little sense into me so that I could mature and get ready for high school.

In middle school there were a lot of sad things going on; one of the reasons I didn't like middle school was because the fake friends I had they would talk to me but then they would ask me questions about my religion and if I believe in God, or do we Muslims have our own God. I would get mad on the inside but I wouldn't show it.

When I was near them they would laugh at me and make jokes because of the horrible things going on in the Middle East or here in America. Just by looking at the media they would make jokes like, “TIC TIC BOOM!” in front of me. I would laugh with them, but I wasn't really laughing; I was just showing them I was a cool kid, trying to fit in with them. But over the years that passed it just got worse and worse. But I was strong and I fought through it all. And it wasn't only me going through that problem but also my older brother and sister. They told me how they dealt with it and how they fought through all the pain, so that helped me. But still the words that my friends were saying just kept me down for the whole school year. I would walk around the halls and someone would shout, “Why do you have a bomb in your book bag?” I would just pay no mind and walk away. I learned a big lesson in life: NEVER GIVE UP, no matter what the situation is, and everything happens for a reason.

A couple years passed and it got a lot better because I found the right friends and they helped me a lot. Anything I did or said they never made fun of me, and that’s why I’m still with them till this day. And good things happened to me; I made the high school basketball team during the first year of high school and that helped me focus more on my education and my big dream.