Prize Day Issue 2020

 

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As I dip into the cool water I can feel its touch
Moving up my body as I go deeper until my feet get cold.
I finally let my feet out from under and I begin to drift.
My body feels free and loose as it is taken away by the water.
I lay on my back and let the ocean take me away
Hoping that it brings me to a place I call home.

I always dream of my home
It’s always in my reach but I can never touch
The closer and closer I get, I just seem farther away.
When I look around, all I see is the sheer cold
As if I am stuck and can’t speak under the water
So I let it take me away as I drift

When I begin to think my mind drifts,
Away from where I am and back to my home
Where the air smells fresh and the water tastes like water.
When my friends are easy to keep in touch
And when the nights get dark and cold,
I know they will be close and won’t be far away.

I think of the ways of getting away.
In my head it seems a lot easier just to drift
But then I realize that being alone gets cold.
That's why people never leave their home.
A place where they feel they won’t lose their touch
But I like to stick to myself and tread my own water.

Life moves back and forth like water
The only way to get away
Is to let go completely from its touch
Then there will be no way to drift
And you will be stuck in one place you call home.
It's the only safe place you can survive from the cold

If you stay out too long you will start to get cold.
You will feel as if you are deprived of water.
It's hard to keep distance from your home.
You can try but you really get away.
It something that moves with you as you drift
You almost feel as if you never leave its touch.
You can feel the cold, no matter how far away.
It’s like the a wave water brings you out to drift,
Away from your home away anything you can touch.

- Gordon Walsh '20
He joined them with a yarn ball and needles
For knitting, and tucked away behind his
Ears a lush strand of chocolate hazel-
Nut butter that melts in immediately.
His fingers were long and nimble and coaxed
The chenille, given to us by a friend,
Baby blue, into neatly snuggling rows
That flowed from his lap to a noontime ocean
Unruffled, softly humming, never closed
Where tired ships came home, by his barefoot
Longingly, however far they’d traveled
What is it going to be this time, Lew?
His lips touched and parted thrice: a baby blanket.
A little teeth revealed, where lingered a little tongue-tip.
 
-  Anonymous
In memory of every soldier who died too early and every mother who died with them

When I was young enough,
I used to let my mother’s fingers comb my hair.
Her nails pressed my scalp gently, her breath weaved itself into mine.
It soothed me better than any story, any lullaby:
her body intertwined with my body,
my skin bathing in the warmth of my mother’s.

I’m recalling it now that I look at your mother:
Her mouth, crooked and twisted, screaming, “Enough!”
at the doctors who try to take away your breathless body.
Her arms clutching your arms, her curly hair
tickling your neck, her words trickling into your ear like a lullaby:
“Hush, baby, hush. You are mine. You are always mine.”

You are always mine,
I think, but I say nothing. Your mother
should be allowed a chance to sing a last lullaby
to her son, while his body is still warm enough.
The hospital walls devour me, until my hair
smells of antiseptic, sorrow, blood, and wounded bodies.

And at that moment, I no longer belong to my body
as you no longer belong to yours. Your body and mine
have ceased to serve their purpose. Your hair,
your skin, your birthmarks are just a lifeless picture for your mother
to stare at — too perfect, too unspoiled; not old enough
to be dead, small enough to be lulled.

And I could never sing, but I lull
with her, hushing you to sleep. And if touching your body
makes me unclean, so be it — I’m damned enough
already. I had some time to think, and in the world of mine,
a god who robbed you of your breath is not a god. I wonder if your mother
stopped believing too and slowly run my fingers through your hair.

And what gorgeous, gorgeous hair
you have. So thick, and rich, and freshly cut. The lullaby
is coming to an end. Your mother
stands aside and lets the doctors take away your body.
Now you will go your way (to heaven, hell, or whatnot), and I’ll go mine,
Wondering why my loving you was not enough

to save your gorgeous hair, and your solid body,
and your arms, lulled to sleep by your poor mother.
Why does it seem to be a curse of mine of being not enough.
 
- Jane Dubrova '20
The sun is breaking through glass
The sun is breaking
You hear? Under your feet
The ground is shaking

The fog has covered the hills
And rises higher
Whatever's left of the Earth
Was set on fire

The lovers bid farewell
Then end affairs
The priest has locked up the church
And finished prayers

Come, darling, lay beside me
And let’s be silent
You hear? Streets outside
Are deadly quiet

The world is ceasing to be
And we’ll be sleeping
For however little is left
However little
 
- Anonymous 
 
Sanctimonious sunflowers
          sitting with the sun, singing to each other
A thick, melted slice of cheddar
          draped over a magnificent hamburger throne
A yellow jacket knows
          that anger isn’t red hot, but instead a piercing lemon
Honey mustard, I learned
          something so sickeningly sweet, loves something so sensually sharp
My yellow shoes walk around proud, with purpose
          leaving behind the furiously fascinating fabulously formidable fat sun.
 
- Laura Sabino '20
i.
On the eight-year-old’s drawing,
A semicircle of small circles
A pearl necklace
A way to speak a dream.

ii.
Whole pearls on the ears,
Powdered pearls on the skin
And in the stomach.

iii.
A parasite gets into a clam
And chokes in one coat
And another coat
And another
And dies
And becomes a beautiful beautiful pearl.

iv.
Pearl farming.
How strange!

v.
Pearl is perle.
Perle is perna.
Perna is a leg.
Leg of a mutton is the shape of a clam.

vi.
Ships that sail and ships that sink,
Ships that kill and ships that win.
Pearl makes a good name.

vii.
Gasoline in water on
Ivory shiny easter eggs
Squished (vertically)
Made translucent (In the middle) --
A (difficult) way to speak a pearl.

viii.
Suddenly,
The pearls on the island heard:
Blast! Blast! Blast!

ix.
Once upon a time,
A pear met a stick (l)
And fell in love,
As an Earl had with a flag (P),
And they lived happily ever after as pearls.

x.
At home when people say “pearl,”
9.9 out of 10 times
They mean the chewy little things
Filled with brown sugar
Swimming in milk tea.

xi.
A black pearl for a third of the price of a white pearl
They wouldn’t buy.
A black pearl for three times the price of a white pearl
They did buy.

xii.
Cats purr.
Carol’s pearl.

xiii.
I used to really want a pearl.
I used to really want a pearl but there is too much scam.
 
- Anonymous 
I
The circus went out of business.
In the little town,
there is no more circus.

I can’t say I care.

I can’t say I miss
the repellently bright
blood-colored tent
or clown-like faces.

But it got me thinking about my mother.
How she used to tell me that everything,
every thing that has a beginning
and advances towards a middle
will most certainly come to an end.

Like a pack of gummy bears
and every journey, pleasant or tiresome
and a human body
and faith and whatnot.

I wonder
what an awful thing time must be
if it wouldn’t spare the goddamn circus.

II
A plane Chicago-Boston can’t take off on time.
A baby on the plane is devastated.

He lost his tiny brown shoe
with a tiny brown bow on top.

The baby clasps his father’s throat
with tiny squishy baby hands
and shakes his neck
until the father gasps for breath.

Two hundred people on the plane are devastated.

A man,
hands larger than elephant’s ears,
puts his book aside.

He squeezes himself out of his seat,
too small for his figure,
and falls to his knees.

The man is looking for a tiny brown shoe
about a baby size
with a tiny brown bow on top.

And when he lifts his hand,
the size I’ve never seen before,
two hundred people on the plane are cheering:

We found the baby shoe!
We found the baby shoe!

And at that moment,
two hundred people on the plane are united into one
inextricable matter,
but I just can’t stop thinking about the time
and how it ends.

And how the baby will fall asleep
with both of his shoes on,
and the man with giant hands will pick up his book,
and two hundred people will go their ways
when we’ll arrive in Boston.

III
Sometimes, whenever I sit on the bus,
I catch myself staring at the sign
Turn the handle, push out open
in case of an emergency.

What is worse,
I catch myself having an overwhelming desire
to turn the handle and push the glass out of the frame
just to feel the wind on my cheeks and on my hair
or for some other reason I can’t quite explain.

And since emergency never comes,
this is all I have —
an overwhelming desire
and a window, whispering
try me
into my ear.

So whenever I sit on the bus,
I wish I could stop the time,
just this once,
to turn the handle
and see where it leads me
and what comes next.

And then, having satisfied my curiosity,
I would reset the clock
and go back to being
a law-abiding passenger.

But time is not a rubber band.
It doesn’t stretch or shrink
nor does it tear
nor does it care about my wishes.
It’s always there, always running,
always ending.

Always ending.
And until it finally ends,
you will find me here:
sitting near the window,
waiting for an emergency.
 
- Jane Dubrova '20
Do not wander from that mold
You clearly see the line ever sways
The creator has not a heart of gold

Though times of lonesome may leave you cold,
It will uncover your minds changing ways
Do not wander from that mold

There you stand, low and behold
A crown in hand feels okay
The creator has not a heart of gold

You must always do what you are told
Repeat what you always hear him say
Do not wander from that mold

These rigid rules, now set in stone
Breaking rank could ruin a day
The creator has not a heart of gold

However unfitting, however old
The strict commandments will not fray
Do not wander from that mold
The creator has not a heart of gold

- Maeve Ahern '20
When it is time to go out,
The door may hesitate
In its attempt to mock me
As I stare at it and imagine
A world I do not know.

When it is time to go out,
I fear I will miss

The screen I sat behind
And forget that I am not a face
But a body too.

When it is time to go out,
It will just be quieter
Cause of the voices
That could no longer
Hang onto the air.

When it is time to go out,
I hope that hugs
Are tighter
Than the gloves
That clung onto my hands.

When it is time to go out,
I need to come back in
Because after all
It may not be time to go out.

- Naila Strong '20
We did not cross the bridge,
And yet,
I could hear the water
Thunder beneath us,
The white river
Rising up to meet us.
Ankles drowning
And bodies shaking.
The dam broke,
The water escaped.
And yet,
That is not
What I
Drowned from.

- Kendall Sommers '22
The wrinkles
on my cold
sweaty palms
connected to a map
that failed to guide me

I scratched my back
my shoulder
my face
dug beautiful red rails
for me to lie on

The slightest beam of light
created a lullaby
made just for me
it penetrated my eardrum
whispering undurable screams

My eyelids hugged a thousand times
yet once after another
they pushed each other apart

So you sew them together
and prayed for me to see darkness
but surprisingly for you
I only saw
flashbacks
of bits and bits of times
darker
than any darkness

But the needle
you pierced my eyes with
was covered in sprinkles of joy
and served as my anesthetic

Thank you
I used to wish I was never born
but I licked the sprinkles off my eyelids
and only
wished sometimes

- Anonymous
feathers cover up those starry eyes
at that silent suffocating night
I creep into the
pitch-black canvas
and gently blow off the last beam of light

in the darkness, it's hard to find
a way to calm a stormy mind
there's comfort in
the familiar tones
that play and play and then rewind

there’s comfort in
opening my eyes with
nothing to see
nothing to hear taste or hold
just the press of this night’s air

the relief
of placing my pencil to rest
is burned by the sun
the next morning
as it all starts once again

 

- Alex Chen '21, Jack Griffin '20, Celine Ma '21, Jojo Mongillo '22, Lily Wang Luo '21, Kelly Yang '23

He is said to be a deft juggler of impossible deadlines, a lion tamer,

He has two phones that ring the second he puts down not a second to miss on trapeze for a wild player,

He can fire an employee a manager or office cleaner any time he desires with tented fingers,

He is way past the stage of drafting contracts opens Acrobat* only to sign on papers,

He wears his immaculate costume immaculately having read “17 Rules About Wearing A Suit That Every Successful Man Should Know” thirteen times since his nineteenth October,

He has expensive midnight lightning clownfish** in his expensive aquarium with an LED spotlight that changes color,

He wonders what life in the aquarium is like but he shouldn’t.

- Anonymous 
Red

- Daniella Pozo '22

‘We wish we could change
Events that didn’t go our way.
They become permanent, Stuck in your head like a bad dream
Except it wasn’t a dream’
over and over again, Annabell said

‘What would have happened
If you had done something else,
You think about all the other things you could have done at that moment
But they do not matter because the past is stone, never changing’
Understanding her, he responded.

‘Longing away the day
Unsatisfied
With the past
Dreaming of a new’
Over and over again, Annabell said

‘Wish we could undo
Forget - And move forward
But we trip over the unchangeable
Never erasing it”
Understanding her, he responded.

- Payton Kober '20

What is a road without cars,
A train without passengers,
A playground without children,
A secret without confidants?

The road still stands, so stubborn,
Awaiting the endless streams.

The train hibernates,
All cozy curled up,
It’s tail making a comfortable pillow.

The playground sits alone,
Confused without the boisterous cacophony
Of children screaming their heads off,
Chasing after one another.

The secret becomes a seed,
Planted in the heart.
It matures into a rose bud,
With petals smooth and tenderly,
Like silk sliding across skin.
But the thorns prickly concentrated,
Untouchable.

All the same in a novel way,
The void.

- Louise He '23