“When I strolled along the cracked streets”: excerpts from Young Voices 2014: The Magazine of Teen Writing and Visual Art in Toronto

My backyard december 2014

“When I strolled along the cracked streets”: excerpts from Young Voices 2014: The Magazine of Teen Writing and Visual Art in Toronto
Samin Ali (age 17)
The Poetic Instinct
Sonnets do not simply
appear like leaves on
plants growing from
store-bought seeds
because my pen, it bleeds
when I am injured,
battle-worn and weary.
My pen, it drains
on a page
all my bottled rage
and pain from battle wounds
till the only mementoes of
agony I felt
are the scars I left behind.
For as I compose,
the ink, it flows
from an ocean
of one part suffering
and two parts creativity
that otherwise lies frozen
and dormant
but deep
it puts to shame
the Marianas Trench.
. . .
Natasha Zaman Anita (age 16)
I am a puzzle
With all my pieces
Only to be taken apart
I am a puzzle
Wanting to be accepted
Wanting to be trusted
Wanting to be loved
I am a puzzle
I give you a piece of me
And another
And another
And another
Here – take my corners,
My middles,
And my sides
– Take my everything
In the end
I am nothing more than
A mere puzzle piece
– Completely imcomplete
You throw them away…
You throw away all my pieces,
All of me…
Now I am
Fragmented, foolish, fragile
Don’t worry, though,
You wouldn’t be the first one…
I’ll pick myself up
Bit by bit
Little by little
All the pieces
All the pieces
All the pieces
Of me
And finally
I am whole
– Or at least
For the time being
For I am a puzzle
Only to be taken apart
Once again.
. . .
Aneeqa Tahsin (age 13)
Love Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Nerd
The night was young,
only 13.7 billion years old,
when I strolled along the cracked streets
lined with the wrinkles of an old man,
as the skies shed tears from above.
They called me the Ring Around Saturn,
spinning words as particles of ice and dust…
My whole universe –
the stars, planets, galaxies, nebulas, quasars –
stood still,
like the mere seconds before a hurricane,
or the moment before The Big Bang,
when everything was packed into
an infinitesimally small, massively dense speck.
– Then I met you…
And my whole universe
underwent an enormous increase
in its rate of expansion,
forming a soup of primitive particles…
I met you
on one of the 274.92 starry nights
of the 365.26 days
of nothingness,
when I sat alone
befriended by dusty textbooks
and Darwin’s theories
when I found sense
only in Einstein
and reciting the ‘periodic table’…
The moment I met you
our worlds crashed together,
not resulting in titanic collisions
but twinkling, like stars,
through the layers of the atmosphere.
Like radiation,
you penetrated through my skin,
watched my veins branch like fractals.
I was baffled
by the apparent gravitational anomaly
that drew me to you…
Your eyes were emeralds
rescued from the depths of the Amazon,
but like black holes
as I found myself lost in them,
wary of what lay beneath…
Would I be facing a wall of fire,
or nothing to be stretched into eternity?
I could measure the exact frequency
of your voice
when you spoke my name,
but couldn’t explain what it had to do
with the number of beats my heart produced….
Your smile,
like the curve of the moon;
a laugh with enough energy
to light up the world.
I was like a chrysalis
bound by years of silence,
just a scar on the face of humanity…
My thoughts were in the stars,
unable to turn into constellations…
But you unravelled me,
and I am now a ‘Danaus plexippus’,
a butterfly…
Free, I found you
like I’m Christopher Columbus,
and you – The New World.
Allow me to say:
You were every bit as fascinating
as the view through a microscope!
Each day brought new understanding
of You,
and the knowledge
that there is still far more to discover.
You traced my heart,
drew a map to my soul.
We were planets travelling
in well-determined orbits,
forever in the past – forever in the future.
We spent 274.92 starry nights
searching for Cassiopeia,
and counting stars
the way you counted my freckles
– all 113 of them –
(don’t think I never tried)…
365.26 days of nothing
turned into 365.26 days of something!
It is said: when you stand
at the horizon of a black hole,
one minute there
equals a thousand years on Earth.
And that is precisely how I felt with you.
Together we fit like Pangaea,
but I suppose even Pangaea
broke away once upon a time,
as smiles turned into scowls
that stretched into eternity…
We are planets
knocked out of their orbits
by something other than gravity.
Running after you
was like chasing after clouds,
even cirrocumulus and cirrostratus,
as my breath caught too many times…
Nimbostratus clouds
wept with me
as I spent the remaining
90 starless nights
devoted to storm clouds
and snow,
pondering what happened…
Nary a theory…
Pull up a chair...

Pull up a chair…

Maya Watson (age 18)
The Moon’s Song / La chanson de la Lune
the fat moon swallows
the yellowing day; her belly abloom
with stolen light & she moans & the city’s night bleeds
from her black bassoon (the raccoon’s
hysterical laughter sweetly serenading
the groan of sirens)
marooned cigarettes & their owners shoot
red ashes glowing starly as plump streetlamps ooze
gloom around themselves, sculpting their goddess in navy blue,
& the couples croon
comme est la beauté de la Lune!
the tattoo of lifeblood beaten in 3/4 time on aching chests
comme est la beauté de la Lune!
& sweetly the moon’s night song can be found in closed rooms.
. . .
Aloysius Wong (age 15)
I am
I, along with you, will
pain and sorrow
endure in our stead.
our sacrifices
are forgotten and cast aside.
money, power and fame
outlast the grave.
but kindness, love and truth
won’t matter when we die.
our faults and fears
surely surpassed, no matter how slowly.
yet our courage and our strengths cry out,
as they fade simply away.
our sins
live on in the generations that follow us, who forget
the Will and the Way.
and what more is true:
you and I
never could defeat
(Read “Immortal” now from bottom to top.)
. . .
Special Thanks to Ken Sparling and Toronto Public Library’s “Young Voices” Editorial Board!
. . . . .