The System by Kiley Griffin

The System by Kiley Griffin

We live in a world where we are taught to be ourselves
To express our ideas and stand up for what we believe in
"Be creative, Kiley," they told me, "be creative, be who you are and be bold"
But there's something our mommy's and daddy's left untold
Being ourselves didn't mean any of those things
It meant say please and thank you and smile even when it stings
Because no one likes a sad little girl who lets you know she's sad
"You need to strive, Kiley, you need to strive to be the best, where is your motivation drive,
Is there something wrong with you? A loose screw or two?

Your life is uninspired, Kiley why are you always so tired?"
I'm tired because every day I wake up and go to class
And learn pointless facts like how to identify sassafras
Then I go to several of my extracurriculars
And still learn nothing in particular
After that I get to come home and be asked what I learned in school today
Today in school I learned not to walk fast and not to speak too loud
I learned to keep my eyes on my own paper and my head down

and if I don't know the answer to just fill in C
Because the greatest lessons we learn,
on how to be ourselves,
are the ones no one really remembers learning
"Did you get 8 hours of sleep? Did you grab breakfast, what did you eat?
I hope you did all your homework
C'mon, Kiley you need to do this stuff like clockwork.
Don't you know that a 4.0
is too low?
Your classes better be all AP
Cause that's what colleges want to see"
But my life isn't a cup of tea
There's only 24 hours in a day
and that's not long enough you say?
"What about your community service hours?
You can't hang around with the wallflowers
You're not interesting enough.
You need to listen to the rules, Kiley
You need to listen and not have something go in one ear and out the other
Why can't you just be more like your brother
He was an excellent student
Always maintained a silence that was prudent"
The school system in our country is rigged
The ones who learned to agree and follow the crowd are the ones who succeed

If you're not one of them they will try to force feed you discipline until you finally concede
If you stand out and refuse to be someone you're not
It won't be easy and you might feel like you're alone
People certainly won't put you on a throne
You will not be anyone's highness or majesty
But you must not become a high school casualty
If you stand up and be yourself
not the please-and-thank-you-smile-through-the-pain you
But the you that you were meant to be
Everything will work itself out even if you leave with a bruised knee
Because all those other people you see?
One day you'll wake up say "Yeah, they all work for me"
But only if you don't let the pressure get to you
Don't let the stress stick to you like glue
And if all the stressful things start to build a lot of walls
Then you go and grab a sledgehammer to knock down them all
Because you're stronger than this, we're all stronger than this
Just know that this, this is not your whole life
One day you'll grow older, find a husband or maybe a wife
Your life, is more than this
But you have to decide now who you want to be
Are you going to be the employer or the employee?

Monster in the Closet by Natsalla Rios

Monster in the Closet by Natsalla Rios

Monster in the Closet


What do you do when you can't find yourself?

When you feel like you can't feel your own emotions

You've closed them off from the world because you're afraid of feeling that pain

That helplessness, that little piece of a young girl that was ripped away

You grew up into a beautiful positive girl but are still dying inside

Still trying to move on from that dark tunnel in your life

How can you move on? 

How can you just forgive and forget? 

You can't! 

You can't just move on

Because it happened, it was real

It wasn't just a nightmare or a monster in the closet

This monster was real

It's stolen your life and the little bit of childhood you had left


So no, you can't just move on and you can't just forgive and forget

People claim life is hard

People have it harder, but how much? 

You were robbed of more than just a material thing

It was part of you

Part of your innocence

So how can you just move on? 

How can you just forgive and forget? 

You can't! 

It's not the same pain

It's not like a breakup or a random fight

It's real. It's getting stripped of your self-respect

You feel disgusted


So how do you find yourself?

When do you start to feel again? 


You ask yourself why you keep remembering

Why is this real? 

Why do you feel like your world is ending? 

Feeling so helpless you just want to sit and cry, but you don't

You fake a smile and continue on with your day so no one else can see the truth

Because the truth means reality

And that means accepting, and acceptance is something you don't want

You don't want people to know

You don't want to know

You've forced yourself to forget that tragedy so it can be nothing but a memory

You want to move on but can't accept your reality


People say coping helps

But they don't understand you

Your struggles

Your pain

You can't explain that to people, they just won't get it

They'll feel pity

Or they'll judge

They won't understand

You can't just put someone else in your shoes

They wouldn't get it

They can try to help, but they can't relate

They didn't go through what you went through

And if they did it wasn't the same battle

It wasn't the same fight

They can try to help you but they just don't understand


So when do you start feeling like yourself? 

When can you have emotions? 

You can't

You don't let anyone in!

Sleepless by Joshua Perez

Sleepless by Joshua Perez


Ever have nights where you toss and turn, finding it hard to sleep? How about nights where you can sleep more than eight hours without a problem, but you're not really sleeping. You're living a horrible nightmare deep within your own conscience. Your worst fear is so real, and you can't wake up. You try so hard to get yourself out of the vivid scene, but it's all so surreal, it scares you to death. You can’t tell if you're reliving moments in your life, or if it's just a crazy dream. But finally you wake up, sweating, looking around in fear, confusion, and with slight relief to see you were really only dreaming, experiencing the most vivid nightmare you've ever had.

Now imagine going through this repeatedly. Not one night, not two, not even three nights, but for weeks at a time. Switching between not getting any sleep, and getting so much sleep that your nightmare becomes stronger and more vivid, even more terrorizing than the one before, seeming more real each time you fall asleep. You’re feeling mentally and physically drained, but you’ve just got to put those things to the side, there's more important issues you’ve got to focus on throughout the day; you feel so preoccupied that you can't just sit and think about what these nightmares are about, what's causing them, why they are occurring so often. All you can do is just push them aside until the next one comes around.  

As if it wasn't hard enough to sleep at night, but now when you want to sleep you can’t help wondering, what’s the next dream is going to be like? Is the next nightmare going to be worse than the last? Well, usually the answer to that is yes. Every nightmare involves an increasing level of fear. Just pure fear from the fact that these nightmares are combinations of past memories, and fear of things that you would never want to happen in your life. It's like taking your worst fears, and your worst memories, and combining them together to construct one of the worst creations your mind and subconscious could ever devise. It’s terrifying, and the worst part of it all is when you’re in the midst of the nightmare, you try so hard to wake up, you question how in the hell did you even end up in that position, you regret any and everything you did to put you in that position. Yet throughout the entire experience, you can't wake yourself up, you can’t piece anything together because it's not real; your mind can't make sense of the situation because it hasn't happened, but your mind starts to run wild with fear, unable to return to reality; you just keep dreaming until your body finally jumps out of the nightmare. You have to take a few moments to stop sweating, to catch onto reality again, and to let your anxiety drop back down so you can start up your day again after feeling like you just drained your body of all its energy trying to pull yourself back to reality, but failing so badly, for what seemed an eternity, just feeling, Sleepless.

Here Comes another Depression Episode by Jayson Henao

Here Comes another Depression Episode by Jayson Henao


I often ask myself what's my purpose here on earth

What will be my life’s work, reflecting my personal worth

Maybe I'm only here to remain alone and in the background 

Not meant to be the cool kid or the class clown 

People always knocking me down 

Everywhere I go things turn dramatic 

Keep my feelings locked inside my mind’s deep attic 

Every time I turn my feelings loose I choke up and panic

As if I'm asthmatic 

Stay locked up in a room, becoming erratic

While my mind keeps telling me I'm no good -- it's so problematic 

I don’t understand why this depression persists, it's truly traumatic 


When people keep asking me if I'm okay 

My mind turns frantic

I simply reply, "I'm fine"

Now isn't that tragic?


Gave up long ago measuring the loss and the gain 

Take a look in my eyes and you'll see all the pain

Mixed in with sorrow, all bottled up inside 

This inner voice saying, just crawl in a hole and die


I'm not settling for all this depression, though 

I'm trying to shake the past, but I just can't let it go  

I’ve made mistakes I can't fix, and that hurts to know 

I can't decide how to feel or what to do anymore 

I'm so used to being on the down and low 

Feeling like just another mediocre Joe 

I tell my mind to stop thinking like this, but it just says no 


I'm confused, lonely, bruised -- always feeling abused 

I write this poetry so other people might be moved 

Showing they’re not the only ones who think they’re doomed Locked up and entombed inside a dark room 

Thoughts in our heads making us want to explode 

Feeling the onset of yet another depressive episode 

Picking our scars to guide others through the dark 

While our hearts are being slowly torn apart

It’s a Sister Thing by Oliwia Dabrowska

It’s a Sister Thing by Oliwia Dabrowska

Where would I be without her? She’s the one who keeps me sane. The only one who understands me fully. The only one I trust. She knows the real me. She knows basically everything. She holds my trust and love. She wouldn’t let me get hurt, even though when we were younger she was the one who hurt me. She was the one who pulled me off the couch by my hair. Even though that may sound like a bad memory, it isn’t. All those memories I cherish. She’s been in my life for a little over ten years now. The memories we have made during those years will never fade away. Those are the memories I want to treasure until I die. No one else will ever understand or have the same connection we have.

She’s now eighteen. She is an adult heading off to college in the fall. That hurts. It is heartbreaking to see someone so close to me leave. I will be able to see her whenever I want, but not as often. I see her everyday now, but that will probably turn into every month in roughly seven months. With all the stress we deal with and so little time to share, we’ll become further apart from each other. If that does end up happening I just want her to know one thing. You are my sister, my best friend, my everything. I love you and I’m proud of you. Kick life’s butt and be you. You have inspired me and helped me with everything. Thank you, and remember, I’m always here for you.