Author: elopresto

“Notebook” by Heather Wallen

“Notebook” by Heather Wallen

When your soul is screaming
Like it sometimes does
When your body and mind are in a war
That you can’t remember asking for
But you must have
Because they seem to think
You gave them the permission

Put it in your notebook.

When your head feels three times bigger
Than it did at breakfast this morning
And you’re doing that thing again
That nervous tick you have
You know the one
Yes, that one

Scratch it into your notebook.

When your voice keeps getting louder
So much so that you feel yourself deafening
But no one seems to be listening
When they keep paying no attention
And you’re contemplating your importance
In a world so preoccupied

Scream it at your notebook.

When there are things you need to hide
Things no one can ever see or know
Things you need to acknowledge but
You aren’t quite sure how to
Those vile horrible things
That no one should ever carry

Bury them in your notebook.

When you need a constant friend
An unrelenting confidant
A responsible secret keeper
And binding promise
One trust that can never be betrayed.

Turn to your notebook.

“How it Feels to be Fat or Why I’m Allowed to be Pretty” by Elizabeth Malone

“How it Feels to be Fat or Why I’m Allowed to be Pretty” by Elizabeth Malone

November 14th, 2015 was the first instance I can remember feeling beautiful. Draped in a dark blue gown, the bodice sparkling slightly like faint stars just before dawn, I looked in the mirror and realized: I am pretty. It hit me hard, almost scaring away the thought. It almost made me default to my previous mindset that because I am fat, I’m not allowed to be pretty, and that foreign feeling consumed me for the rest of the evening. For the first time in my life I was undeniably beautiful.

It all started at the age of 6. I had chubby cheeks and more of a tummy than the other kids. We were playing pretend on the playground one afternoon and there had to be a monster to hide from, so the other kids appointed me. When young me protested, I was met with a chorus of laughs. One of my “friends” turned to me and said, “But you look like one!” I asked why they said that and the reply was simple, “Because you’re fat and we’re not, so you’re the monster!” With that, they ran off squealing and giggling like the children we were. Perhaps the intent was innocent, only thinking of wanting to play the game, but I cried anyway. From that day on, the adults on the playground pitied me and would often keep me company as I watched my peers pound upon the asphalt parking lot that served as whatever your imagination made it.

“Kids are mean”

“They’re just jealous, sweetie”

“Well you know what they say, sticks and stones…”

The private Catholic school soon became my personal hell. The teachers, the priests, my parents all preached about a God that loved you. A God that wanted you to be happy. A God that no matter what would watch over you. If all of this was true, one question in my mind remained: Why would God do this to me? Make me like this? Make the people around me so cruel? And while, at the time, I was still wholly devoted to the Church, I grew distant from the idea of “God’s everlasting love.”

By the time I was nine, I was invited to all the parties through the year, and was promptly ignored at every single one. This was also the age of every diet I could get my chubby little fingers on. Protein diets, Smart Ones, not eating at all, and countless Weight Watchers meetings later and my hatred for myself and the people surrounding me only grew deeper.

In third grade, my worst nightmare became a reality: The Presidential Fitness challenge. Push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, pull-ups, sprints, and the dreaded mile run. When the pull-ups challenge came, I tried to hide because we had to go up one by one in front of everyone. The harsh yellow of my shirt, combined with my big stomach, did not lend itself to my cowering.

Soon, I was pushed forward onto the chair and told to hold onto the bar above my head. The chair was dragged from under my feet, my knuckles turning white and I willed myself to tug upward; the next instant my fingers could no longer clasp the cold metal and I fell. My face growing red, tears forming in my eyes as I landed less than gracefully on the dirty gym floor. Not waiting for the teacher to say anything, I ran away, back to my corner. Back to being invisible.

The horror continued when a girl, far more athletic than I, looked at me laughing and said “You’re such a cow.” The rage in my little nine-year-old heart led me to do the unspeakable. I hit her, shoved her against a wall. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks as I was pulled away from her. The girl was ultimately unharmed, and we were both reprimanded with no recess and extra prayer.

I started feeling as if God had truly abandoned me. I prayed and pleaded with Him to make my suffering stop, or at least to give me some guidance to get through it. I continued this for years on end, and rarely did I get a response. I grew distant from the Church as well as my peers.

I was learning quickly that to be fat is to be ugly. To be fat is to be untouchable, unlovable. To be fat is to walk through life a paradox; sticking out like a sore thumb and being completely invisible all at once. We are told that fat is a word filled with venom and hate. “Fat” is one of the many words whispered in the chaos of self-loathing, yet it is screamed to me on the streets. To be fat is to be shamed into only eating in hiding. It is to try and will the pudge off your body. It is to be ashamed of the food you eat, the things you wear, the way you walk and talk. To be fat is to be ashamed to exist.

The years following were about the same. The same self-loathing. The same jeers of disdain from my classmates. Their hatred for the way I looked influenced the way I looked at them, and more so the way I looked at myself. Through the next years, I only ever caught glimpses of happiness, like the time when we ran the mile and I was the last one running, and everyone ran with me to cheer me on until I finished. Or when I was on stage singing and no one could deny that I was talented. Or even when I was taken in by the older kids in my sixth grade year when they saw how estranged I was from my peers.

The next year, with my older friends gone to the high school, my depression only worsened when I found myself, once again, completely alone. I didn’t want to be. I had yet to accept that sometimes being alone because you’re different is okay. I was a square peg being shoved in a circle hole, and the harder I tried to shove myself into it, the more it chipped away at who I was. I came home every night and cried, sometimes for hours. It was the year of true hatred. It was the year of losing weight for all the wrong reasons, and in all the wrong ways. It was the year of promising everyone “I’m fine.” It was the year of too many tears. And it was the year my parents decided that I wouldn’t be returning to the private Catholic school.

Eighth grade was my first year in a public school. It was the first year of healing. The first year of making friends. The first year of figuring out that I really was talented. It was the first year someone told me they loved the way I looked, and meant it. It was the first year of eating when I was hungry, and having no shame about it. It was the first year of finding “my people.” It was the first year the I had fun in a gym class. It was the year I got into Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. It was the first year I felt even a shred of self-worth.

November 14th, 2015 was the first instance I can remember feeling truly beautiful. Draped in a dark blue gown, the bodice sparkling slightly like the faint stars just before dawn, I realized: I am pretty. It hit me hard, almost scaring away the thought. Almost defaulting to the previous mindset that because I am fat, I’m not allowed to be pretty. Looking in the mirror, I decided that I would no longer be a walking paradox. I would no longer be defined by a number on the scale, or the names people called me. I am Beth, and that is enough. I am happy. I am fat. I am undeniably beautiful.

“Distance” by James Kemman

“Distance” by James Kemman

Please, love, do not fear the distance;
For our futures are surely entwined,
The oceans of space how they glisten.

Although I was not raised a Christian,
I still pray to some form of divine,
Please, love, do not fear the distance.

I often feel like a sailor on mission,
Striking out in unwavering line,
The oceans of space how they glisten.

This is not a war of attrition,
But still I fight hard to press forward through grime,
Please, love, do not fear the distance.

Money has not effect on my vision,
The trips will all turn out just fine,
The oceans of space how they glisten.

Separation is a temporary condition,
10,000 miles no object to time,
Please, love, do not fear the distance,
The oceans of space how they glisten.

“Winter Blues” by K.E. Shea

“Winter Blues” by K.E. Shea

Winter is a time of joy
for people who are cheery,
yet the days are dull and dim
to the souls of the weary.

Yes, December distracts you
with holidays and some fun.
But how does one carry on
when celebrations are done?

Living in winter is like
being damned to Asphodel;
you merely exist and breathe
in this bleak landscape you dwell.

Without the sun’s light and warmth,
waking up becomes a pain.
When you’re greeted by the cold,
and a dark, withered terrain.

How I envy evergreens,
and cardinals in the snow.
For they continue to thrive,
even in seasons of woe.

For days, I’m weak and tired,
life drained by the cloudy sky.
I struggle to exist like
a flower about to die.

I pray the Lord give me strength
and to wipe away the tears.
For I know light will return
and heal me when spring is here.

“Battle Scars” by Michelle Dean

“Battle Scars” by Michelle Dean

I’ll never know the horrors of what he saw.
I’ll never understand the pain that remains.
All I know is the after effects have him flawed.

The airplanes flying overhead at night,
The sound of a loud bang,
All send him into a mode of fight.

I see him here beside me but he’s not really here.
His mind is far off in the distance,
And I never know if I should stay or disappear.

His empathy has departed,
I can’t tell if he even cares.
He says he loves me but leaves me brokenhearted.

I try to help but it seems impossible and so tough.
He lives in a world of his own,
Shutting me out, making me feel I’m just not enough.

What has that place done to him that I can’t understand?
Why am I being punished for staying by his side?
This is a life only known by those loving a military man.

“Midterms” by Katrina Seabright

“Midterms” by Katrina Seabright

Mid-terms, you make me want to throw myself out a window
Onto a pile of glass that will hurt less than my back
After sitting and staring and hunching over my computer all night.
I feel like an old man, groaning and wheezing and cursing at the sun
For being too bright, because it is
I’ve spent all night watching words run and collide
Until there’s nothing left but a jumble of letters and numbers and
More coffee, I need more coffee.

And I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself when
I know that you’ll pass by and nothing will have changed.
I still care even when I don’t want to because you’re only Mid-terms
And you mean I have another half a semester to go.
And people will tell me that this is the best time of my life
But clearly they are not old like me, hunched and tired,
Grumpy and swallowing down another coffee and another coffee
And maybe just one more coffee will make it make sense.
They don’t have my shaking hands or aching back or tired eyes
Because they don’t have my job or my classes
Or my life.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have my life too.
But I have to pass
So even if it doesn’t matter
I have to take this test anyway.
I hate you but you’re there to show that I’m making progress,
That all hope is not lost
That I still have time.
I don’t want any more time, I want to quit.
I want to stop and fly away like people can in books
Because flying might mean falling,
but it’s better to fall because at least there’s an end to it.

Mid-terms, you make me want to scream until I have no voice left
And then I’d throw something because it’s still not enough.
I want to throw myself out a window.
It would be preferable to one more night and one more cup and
The steady tick tick tick of the clock that I don’t even have
Winding down until I’m out of time
And I haven’t even taken my exam.

“Look Up” by Michael Tucker

“Look Up” by Michael Tucker

in these our last daze
our lost days
I’m at the end
chrome skulls bleeding quicksilver skies
as omega point approaches with a fuzzy smile
the people on TV snort space and candy
off plastic cd cases
(apocalypse wow)
Ah American life:
a rest home for the wayward and roughly traded children
busted up dusted up children
digging in neon wastelands
high atop parking garage rooftops
holding hands in glass elevators
passing basketballs
beyond the beyond
quick don’t look everything is connected
singing songs for the schizophrenic rabbit
far below another
barbed wire bramble tree bent
still fuzzy smileys rub against my face
near suicide note grimoires of quantum physics and games of Arabian chess in the candy store
grinning while I’m losing
because losing is good luck mostly
giving up cigarette hugs bleak poet on the bathroom floor
licking atomic cellophane on a broken mirror
warm breeze through the window
bright cartoon of reality
playing on
beside myself here in hell’s lounge
after a free if brief trip to heaven
as Pisces
into Aquarius
my heart now lends itself to unwrapping
a satyr against this plastic world
pull me up like a weed
I’m unveiled

“Bridges” by Kaitlyn Teach

“Bridges” by Kaitlyn Teach

Bridges are meant to be crossed
Like t’s,
Not dotted like i’s,
Nor like lines on a map;
The borderlines that separate
You and I.

Bridges are built, burned,
Famed, scorned,
Named, claimed, renamed,
And more.
Like great concrete walls.

Except walls disconnect, separate.
Their only reconnection through a gate.
But gates are unfriendly,
With “work will make you free” in iron
Cast above their spindling frames.
Graffiti on the nearby walls surrounding,
With my family on the east side,
Yours on the west,
With no one the worst
Or best.

But bridges are friendly,
Like open arms, open hands,
Making family from different lands,
From different people of all makes,
All models,
Like cars,
Built for the same purpose:
For function and for luxury.

My culture is a function,
And so is yours.
My culture shows you how I am
Who I am
And why I am that way,
And so does yours.

My freedom is a luxury.
I was born here with my rights intact,
And you came here to get yours back.
Inalienable rights, undeniable rights,
Born with and carried by us from
The moment of conception,
Of birth,
Of great conscious Life.

My culture is my bridge to yours.
With no graffiti walls, no great iron gates,
No words of hate,
Just love, acceptance,
And open arms welcoming