Artwork created by Liana Krakirian, grade 12.


Scream, by A. A. C. Huang, grade 10.

Somewhere in the universe, a voice cried out, so piercing and desperate that it passed through the dark emptiness of the abyss to Elsewhere, touching a visceral, homeless soul on the other side for hardly an instant, before it was snatched back, like a naughty child who had strayed too far.

Somewhere, a woman screamed in a cold, white room. 

“No! Please don’t take him! Where is he going? My baby! Where are you taking him? Why are you taking him from me? I will give you anything, my house, my money, my entire inheritance. Please don’t take him away from me!” As she broke down in to hysterical sobs and indiscernible words, she was answered by silence as men in uniforms took a little bundle of cloth from her arms and carried him down a white, endless hallway, just as clean and perfect and pristine as the room had been. Just as cold as the room had been…

 But she was still warm and alive. “His name is Jack! He has a name! He’s not just going to be one of your numbers where you all came from, from the doctor’s school. Do any of you understand what love is? What life means? All you know is your ruthless cold-hearted practice, how to enslave people to computers and how to brainwash people. Do you know what love is? No!!!! Your life has no meaning! If you understood, you would bring my child back. If you knew, you would let me escape from here, with my baby. You would see how messed up our world is.” One of them, the youngest one, turned to look at her, but was roughly shoved around by another man, the senior doctor, as shown by his badge. “Jack! Don’t forget Mama. She loves you forever. Mama will always love you! Jack! Don’t let them get to you! Be strong! I love you! I will always love you! You must make your father proud! You will be better than they are, because you have a heart.” The senior doctor gave one slight nod to a man standing to the right side of her bed. The baby began to cry, a cry so raw and painful that even the doctors winced. “Jack, I love…” The needle had been injected into her neck. Her head slumped forward, and the doctor pulled the white sheet up over her head. The cries of the baby still echoed in the cold, white hallways…as if trying to call her back from where she could never return…

Jack shook himself awake. Wait. How did he know he was called Jack? He shook it off. Probably just not quite awake yet. No. He was number eleven-sixty eight. He didn’t have a name. What was a name? He smiled at his own foolishness. Things had names, like his teacher and the food maker, and the library. He hopped out of bed just before the alarm sounded, and the bed shot into the wall.


Soldiers by A. A. C. Huang, grade 10.

Always fighting
Just pawns for higher authority
Never remembered in history
Just another death in the statistics counts
But don’t you wonder
What these people were like?
How they lived?
What they loved?
To make them willing to sacrifice life
They may not have a memorial, a grave
But in somebody’s heart,
Their story lives on,
In somebody’s heart,
won’t they always have a place?
Always be loved, remembered?


Your Name by Christina Chen, grade 12.

Times like these I never know what to call you.

 

With a smile, you waved goodbye to the drizzling summer rain

Riding off into that familiar path paved

With fallen red leaves, left over from winter

Bleeding into the puddles that you left behind

 

The sky is crying and smiling at the same time.

 

Do you remember? The warmth of the past summer

And the cloudless skies? The salty waves from the sushi house

New journeys lined sparsely with willow trees

To wave to us as we pass them by

 

The shadows were short and the sunlight was strong.

 

The warmth of the season passes as I draw my raincoat closer

Huddling in the soft breeze you left behind

Calling you by that unknown name

As the last bit of warmth leaves my body

 

It’s going to be a cold summer without you.


Rules of Being a Flower by Christina Chen, grade 12.

Rule 1. Always smile.

Even with life bleeding out of the wound of where they cut you from your roots, smile brightly and let the guests of the party gaze upon your vibrant colors

(a passionate red of a rose, the startling yellow of a sunflower, the pondering purple of an orchid, alone in a pot by the door)

 

Rule 2: Hide your imperfections (a ruined petal, a shriveling leaf) 

because the hostess will throw you out the door and deprive you of the mindless chatter and dainty fingers of your buzzing honeybee company

don’t let them see your tears

 

Rule 3: Drink plenty of water.

It’s the only thing sustaining you: these hydrogen and oxygen atoms, arranged in a perfect proportion, 2:1 

while the proportion of you to the entire world of flowers

is one in a million


Seasons of the Silkworm by Christina Chen, grade 12.

Let love embrace this world too cold to bear

And spin a silk cocoon as autumn ends.

The fragile heart which dangles in the air

Begins its waking dream as faith transcends:

 

The childish Self dissolving in the storm,

Exposing fluid hopes which fate enchains.

The poignant pain that lingers in the warmth

Becomes the lonely aching heart’s refrain.

 

As snow runs into streams and flowers bloom,

The light of time melts iridescent strings.

The patient lover from its winter tomb

Emerges into sunshine, spreads its wings.


Remember December by Julie Wong, grade 12.

Walking down this narrow alley of nowhere roads, false starts, and homeless gods

I can’t exactly call this street empty

Even though I am the only one on this path

Twisting like the wrinkles of my palm through mile after mile of houses

Surrounded on both sides by walls of blurred hues and windows and doors smeared shut

There underneath the sole streetlamp that I have ever stood under

Are a few droplets of metallic regret

From when I was too young to babysit or be any wiser

I pressed my tongue to the cold metal of the pole

And recognized the taste of innocence

I pick up my pace as I pass by the crumbling scenery

The backdoors and walls of houses peeling like tired wallpaper refusing to stick

Reaching for relief, for something that isn’t permanent

There behind the blue house there is an ocean

Along the beach is strewn the splintered remains of dignity

Curling like seashells into themselves holding their breaths underwater

Pretending that they do not exist

My voice like the seagulls’ screech

I want to go home, I want to go home

I am running now, down the road of runaway memories

I falter standing in front of a sudden wall that shields the horizon from view

With my will I gouge the rock again and again

Until I create stairs

I flee up and out

Squinting my eyes against the light I reach into the sun

They say: Stop listening to seashells

There is nothing to hear but the wind

But I want to pour seawater into my ears listening for the cry of the mermaid’s voice

I want to dance in a park in Palo Alto, California in the middle of a December wonderland

Toss snow and make snow angels, spot fairies among the snowflakes  

Instead I am wandering this lonely street

This boulevard of broken dreams

I can discern on the fogged glass of a window the doodling of a child

As the window falls and shatters to join the rubble around me

Of paint and plaster, metal and wood

The world calls for my attention

It’s time to put the dreams aside

Put away childish fantasizing

Let them die like flowers in the winter

I don’t look behind me to survey the destruction

The lost places and homes like gaping black holes trying to suck me back in

Replace me in time

Try to rewire my mind

I step out onto solid concrete sidewalk

I hail a taxi to bring me somewhere

Somewhere where there is no snow

But the broken compass I carry in my pocket will always direct me back home


Anywhere but Here by Julie Wong, grade 12.

A compass points the way north

Which way am I going?

A compass points the way forth

Which way am I traveling?

 

Pale sky betrays a mute ache

Outside falling leaves might have left the tree bare

Hungry waves might be breaking

I’m leaving for anywhere but here

 

Ghosts weave themselves into curtains

Footsteps pass into silence

Hollow eyes betray secret burdens

On the gray streets of time

 

Walking on the pavement with empty pockets

Meandering on the shadowed street

In my mind passing phantoms frolic

Stop me, I’m searching for handouts of human kindness

 

Lost without a map to fate

Out run the ocean eroding what is left of the present

The hourglass shatters against time’s gate

The needle spins askew

 

Still I wander aimlessly

The broken raise explicit eyes

Not gazing out but inwardly

Taunting phantoms ask me my purpose

 

They cry

I have strayed from my past

They ask why

Do I walk among the forsaken

 

I am lost

Among the future, past, and present 

I have yet to discover the cost

Of losing my way


The Mirage of You by Julie Wong, grade 12.

I hold you, smiling,

inside I’m buzzing like a bumblebee

that found a daffodil in a meadow

of pinecones.

You are decaying flesh,

bloating as bluebottle and greenbottle flies

rest on your corpse.

You have left your body for the ether

and without a second thought I follow you,

traveling across desert lands

where you conjure mirages

threatening to separate us.

In the Pacific you find

my favorite toy sailboats and without warning,

send a tidal wave to drown me.

I summon whipping winds

in return.

“Make it a typhoon,”

you scream.

But I won’t. I can’t.

I care too much to do so.

The dawn finds us washed ashore

on a beach

somewhere in Hawaii.

In the early light

your face appears like the angels themselves,

soft curving plane of cheekbone and undappled skin.

But then your eyes open

with the mirth of a demon

dancing within them.

You smile impishly and

reach out to take my hand,

once again leading me astray.


The Last Daffodil by Julie Wong, grade 12.

I scrunched the edges of my coat, fingers grasping at the fraying cloth.

“We are gathered here today in memory of…”

A distantly-related lady cousin of mine clutched white daffodils to her stomach. Her name was jumbled up and torn into roiling, mismatched letters in the ocean of my memory.

“…having lived a remarkable life…”

The procession of muffled footsteps and voices had fallen silent and if I could bring myself to look around, I would have seen a vast field of heads both covered in caps and shawls and uncovered. If I could bring myself to shake off the persistent feeling of peaceful woe, I would have been able to lift my head that suddenly felt like a boulder had lodged into the top of my skull.

“Even in great hardship and criticism…”

The sky was smeared with ashes reminiscent of a flame that had blown out its own existence. White roses were placed on top of white tulips by numb and gentle hands. A giant’s grumble of thunder rolled over our heads. I watched lightning cast a menacing flash of white, hot light over the too-green grass and into the dark abyss, reminding me that even in the most bruising loss there is absolution.

“Today we remember…”

 Rain fell, adorning the petals with glistening drops of water, slipping over the cover of the casket as if He wanted one last glimpse of the extinguished. The downpour was everywhere, echoing in my ears like my father yelling in the yellow light of a single lamp and I, I was too frightened to move. In a few moments I was drenched. My hooded jacket was all that remained of forsaken, teenage years. I tugged my gray hood, now stained the color of a starless sky, over my head. Some relatives moved for the cover of the trees. Among those who stayed, I watched my lady cousin place the last white daffodil onto the casket before it was dropped unceremoniously into the slumbering earth.

Call me righteous, but I wanted to be there to say goodbye. I wanted to be there when he crossed the road into the path of an oncoming vehicle. I wanted to be there when he left the pub. I wanted to be there when he took his first drink at the age of twenty-five. I wanted to be there when he left the house without saying goodbye.

“…who is loved and always will be.”