The Voice, YWP's Premiere Publication



Each month, Young Writers Project publishes the best work -- words, images and sound -- of this community. This premiere publication features writing from community members from all over the world and reaches 15,000 individual IP addresses a month, a good deal more than 15,000 humans who spend a lot of time reading AND they come back to finish! Help us get more readers! Spread the word -- and the link: https://youngwritersproject.org/thevoice -- on social media, on your email signature, in emails to friends!

The selections for this magazine are made by YWP staff, volunteer professionals, mentors and Community Leaders on the site. If you'd like to participate, contact Susan Reid. 

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Mar 18

Puebla

Puebla is chocolate dipped, syrupy
as I spoon it out of the close knit towns surrounding Mexico City.
I just want to gulp it down,
suck the marrow from the cattle that get leaner every year.

It smells good, being home.
Or being in a place that was once home.
I can’t help but hold my breath,
abducting it in my lungs as if the wind here
is a different flavor then the wind there.

I thought the thing I missed most was the heat,
the sizzle your bare feet make against
the packed dirt of the evening road.
But I was wrong because I am intoxicated by
the way my grandma clasps my hands to her heart,
like I never left.

Puebla tastes salty,
as I lick it from my top lip,
brushing it from the corners of my eyes,
letting it fall, absorb into my skin.

I know I can’t come back until the next
thunderstorm season.
The lightning hides my guilt on the tarmac,
Mar 15

kindred

when i walk into the library
my body is tense, my fingers sore from scrambling over my keyboard
i find a table, much too central for my liking
and settle in
already feeling irritation take its seat beside me
reminding me of deadlines and long essays waiting to be written

i do not notice the elderly woman 
bending over the shelf of children's books behind my chair 
her hair is stringy and white
knotted in two buns on each side of her head
she is missing several teeth 
and the ones she has intact tell me of her age

but i do not notice these details until she pulls back the 
other chair at my table
i smile quickly, not taking my fingers from the keyboard
somehow, i glance down and see the books she has in her bony hands

"tasha tudor: around the year"
"tasha tudor: pumpkin moonshine"
and many more
Mar 13

Girls Who Walk Alone At Night

Church street is lit up tonight,
it's only a few blocks to where dad said he parked the car...

I tell myself.
I wave goodbye to my friends still eating ice cream inside;
the sugar haze of happiness has begun to wear off. 

Is that the rustle of my backpack on my shoulders, or is someone behind me?
It's just my backpack. 
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Everyone knows girls shouldn't walk alone at night. 

I pass strange men in coats,
my eyes downcast.
Every time I pass another girl:
How far away will she have to be to not hear me scream?
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I should have asked a friend to walk me.


I take my phone out, pretend to text someone.
Look, I could call 911 in a second.
It's dead.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I should have borrowed a charger. 


Someone is yelling far away,
Mar 12
poem 4 comments challenge: Sure
Noruinin's picture

A Mother's Love

In all this world, there is
one thing I know for sure--
the feel of your palm against mine,
cradling my fingers
as a rosebud carefully cradles
her delicate center

I am too old now for hugs and kisses
and I no longer fit in your lap
but I will never outgrow 
the softness of your palm,
weathered though it may be

Your fingers are my anchor in a stormy sea,
your wrist the humble nest to which my hand must return
night after night after night
Until the stars fall away and the seas disappear,
your arms will remain my home

I know there must be a day
when the rose's petals wither
and fall
but for now, please hold my hand
just a little longer
I need you, you know

 
Mar 09

17

At 17 years old,

We danced the night away to an electronic beat surrounded
By a swirl of adolescent bodies,

Spun on our heels, floated away on a melody.

Teenage bodies move like the wind, soar higher than the clouds,
And have so far to fall.

When he came for 17 of their bodies,

Emptied his magazine into their swirling vortex,
I imagine I heard them fall like the branches of an aged

Maple deep in the forest, felt their ancient stone

Crumble; they’ve been here before,
We have been here before, our bodies loose currency

Jingling in pockets of those who should protect us, bleached bone

Trading cards scattered across legislative floors;
Maybe I’m tired of writing about this perverse dance,

Tired of treading on this floor, taking care not to soak

My shoes in their blood, collecting their scattered teeth, a roadmap
Mar 07

Valentine's Day, 2018

Firegirl recorded her piece which is attached here and was aired on Vermont Public Radio on March 14. 

When you told your mom you loved her
before you caught the bus this morning
you meant it in the way a teenager means it
when they kiss their mother on the cheek,
cereal on their breath,
backpack on their shoulder,
head in a million places.
You meant it in the way that assumes
you will see her that evening after track practice;
in the way that assumes
you will seal the day with another I love you
before you turn out the light. 

When you told your mom you loved her
at 2:21pm on February 14th, 2018, 
with saliva choking in your throat,
you meant it in the way you could never mean anything else in your life.
You meant it as an apology
and a cry for help
and a plea for her to hold you like she did when you were little
and the monsters in your dreams were stuck in your head. 
Mom, the monsters are real this time,
I swear it.
They're real and they're just around the corner.
They're real and their teeth are bullets that bite the backs
of friends who did not have time to tell their mothers they loved them.
They're real and I'm so
so scared.

Mar 04
Maisie N's picture

Piano Man

He told about the news stories
But in a different sort of way,
Making unspeakable tragedies
A little easier to say.

Children dying in their schools
People fighting in the streets
And we hear about it every day
But never ask what's behind the scenes.

Schools ravaged by bullets
He played along and sang
And his honey voice could be heard
From miles and miles away.

One man's trash is another man's treasure
One man's treasure is another man's pain
One man's pain is another man's pleasure
And so it goes on that way.

He wore his treasures on his left wrist
Bracelets tied from found stones and strings
His right hand he used to create his music
Unburdened by heavy, stone rings.

He said his left hand was for decoration
For protecting and for holding.
His right hand was for callouses
For playing, writing, working.

Audio download:
rec_pianoman_0.mp3
Feb 27

17

Editor's note: A small bug in YWP's audio recorder prevents us from eliminating the first, blank, recording. The SECOND player is the one you want to listen to -- a wonderful revision.

1 month ago today,
When 17 people were killed,
I felt nothing.

I could not feel the shock
Of 17 bullets leaving a gun
Could not feel the weight
Of 17 bodies hitting the floor
Could not feel the agony
Of 17 bullets entering 17 bodies
Or the devastation
Of 17 families losing 17 loved ones.

I am 17 years old
And I have already learned to forget
To push each new gunshot out of my mind
Because I tell myself
It can't hold any more
It shouldn't hold any more—
But I'm done forgetting.

Because the thing is, I'm right.

A 17-year-old mind
Should not have to hold
17 lives and 17 deaths
That could have been saved,
Could have been stopped,
Audio download:
17.m4a.mp3
Feb 27

Feelings of Loss


Why do I cry like the trees
in fall
and scream into the winter wind?
Why do my silver leaves drip so easily,
with only a simple kiss of moonlight
or the laughter of the lucky bluebird?

Why do I still wonder
how I can embrace the lost,
and warm the cold with my
own frigid hands.

How do I cease to forget,
the feel of a sweet voice
and lazy rays of sun making the dust glow
like my own little constellation of tiny stars.

Why must I adore a ghost
and not a person?

How do I intertwine fingers,
with a shadow?

How can I say ‘thank you’
when I’ve already said ‘goodbye’?
 
Feb 25

The girl who loved monsters


In the fairytales,
there is always a dragon who must be defeated,
a maiden in need of saving,
and a knight in shining armour, 
come to save the maiden and slay the dragon.

She would always read these tales
and in every book she would always 
stroke the drawings of the dragon,
green scales and glowing eyes.

She grew up, and in every book,
she would still be attracted to the monsters,
the whispering creatures of the night
that were always portrayed as the evil
who had glinting eyes and long sharp claws.

She scavenged hungrily to find more
of these monsters in brightly colored ancient books
that described ancient monsters and creatures
that they feared roamed the night.

She studied them and looked into their past,
her love growing with every second, 
immersing herself in mystical facts and cultures
in hopes that she could see them someday,
Feb 24
poem 2 comments challenge: Love

Charging My Heart

Something is clogging up
the writing part of my brain,

the part with twists and grooves
like my willowy, grainy cursive,

with my experiences carved in,
and emotions painted like a mural.

The blue magnetic electricity which whizzes between letters,
down through my veins,
and into my key-clicking hands,

dropping words of air and water,
earth and fire, onto the screen.

This lightning is weakened,
building slowly for weeks,

to release one small poem.

For the electricity now takes a different path,
through the arteries,
to the heart.

I know it's there when you look at me,
and I have to bite my lips to keep from smiling.

Or when you say hello,
and I have to sweep over the surface of your eyes,
to avoid getting lost.

I've only used your name once,
almost yelled it,
almost running.

To me,
Feb 23

Supernova

I stayed up late talking to the moon
because she's a good listener
and she promised to keep my secrets safe.
So I sat at the window
and whispered to her
about how his smile makes me feel whole again
and how his presence makes me forget how to be sad.
He drew constellations from my battle scars,
telling me not to forget the pain,
but to turn it into something beautiful instead.
He danced with me in the twilight,
and giggled when I stepped on his toes.
He holds me when I have broken my wings,
but lifts me up when I want to fly.
He put the stars back in my eyes,
miss moon.
He pulled my explosion into his own
and made it glow as one.
What do I do, moon?
I am gone aren't I?
Lost
in my supernova of a boy. 
 
Feb 22

To Mr. Trump

I cry myself to sleep
At night thinking
About the 17 DEAD 
In Parkland Florida. 

I cry myself to sleep
At night wondering
“Who’s next?”

I cry myself to sleep
At night wondering
Who those kids loved,
Who loved them? 

I cry myself to sleep 
Wondering
Why you can’t comprehend
The problem here? 

I cry myself to sleep
Because my school 
And my friends 
Could be the next 
Numbers 
On a chart.

I cry myself to sleep 
Because I’m so little. 
I have a voice you know,
I’m not as insignificant
As you might think. 
I KNOW HOW TO SCREAM. 

You don’t seem to care. 


So what can we do? 
What can I say,
What can WE say
That will make you understand
That we’re not safe...
We’re not safe at all. 
And those innocent kids who die
Because your not listening 
Feb 22
poem 2 comments challenge: History
Hope_for_the_future's picture

History of my Day

I was born
on a day
a day with a past
a past that shows my future true
a past of strength and death
It’s a prophecy
 
In 1915
25,000 women marched
to end their
and my suffrage
 
In 1942
Nazis made more theaters
to kill those who
didn’t work for them

In 1956
tens of thousands
marched for their rights
and freedom

In 1983
a Lebanese suicide bomber
drove to kill
ending  241 US soldiers' lives
 
In 1989
in Texas an explosion
killing  23 and hurting 314
at a chemical plant
 
In 2002
700 hostages held for
others' freedom
The enemy killed 120 people and more

I was born before and after
death, freedom
Every day something happens
but I was born into history

 
Feb 21

February 21, 2018

PRESS RELEASE:  On February 21, 2018 at approximately 1130 hours, administration at BFA St Albans were notified of an anonymous threat made at the school via a note.  The threat was related to shooting that was to occur this afternoon so the school immediately went into ‘secure the building’ mode.  Officers responded and along with BFA staff, the decision was made to send students home early.  There was no active danger located at the school and officers were on scene as students left for the day.  The school was cleared by SAPD officers. Officers stood by at both St Albans City and Town Elementary Schools as a precaution.  
St Albans Police are investigating the source of the threat that was made and officers will continue to be at the schools as the investigation carries out.
-St. Albans Police Department


I remember in 2010,
The Vancouver Winter Olympics aired.
My 4th grade class was a beehive,
Buzzing in excitement and working
Feb 21

A fountain of tears

"When the children act like leaders
and the leaders act like children,
you know there's something wrong"


Their tears drip into 
a fountain that 
was built after 
the first shooting.

It is marble,
the names of the dead 
carved onto the white marble
by their souls.

There are so many.
Too many.

Their blood
stains your hands 
because you might not 
have pulled the trigger,
but you allowed it 
to be pulled.

I can see the red 
everywhere, 
soaked deep into 
the flesh and blood of 
the country.

There is so much blood.
Too much blood.

Their screams ring out
but you try to drown them out
with futile rebuttals 
and long talks about nothing,
but talking does not mean 
trying.

I can hear the screams
so loudly they
echo in my ears
Feb 21

but i did

the first time i felt unsafe in school
was because someone vandalized my homework.
it was crudely scratched and hasty,
but a deliberate "asian" across my math.
i didn't want to go back,
but i did.

the second time i felt unsafe in school
was Sandy Hook.
all i could think about was children
screaming and crying
wanting to know what was happening
and why it was.
i thought of how they wanted their parents
or didn't understand why people were screaming.
i didn't want to go back,
but i did.

i still didnt understand the weight of it
until february 14th 2018.
i had a new water bottle,
new socks,
and a package of mints i opened that morning.
i remember the cute red and pink heart plastered bag
my mom proudly presented to me.

i remember the headlines.
high schoolers,
like me,
shot dead fleeing.
Stoneman Douglas High students,
dead.
Feb 17
Icarus Blackmore's picture

Blurr

Countryside passes in a blur,
The bus rattles some more.
As I sit no longer sure which,
Shooting I am grieving for.

Massachusetts?
Connecticut? 
Kentucky?
Florida?

There have been so many,
That I just don’t know.

Names, faces, dates,
Injuries and, Fatalities,
They all pass in a blur.
New lives cut short,
By the sharp pang,
Of yet another shot.
As we circle round,
In this horrific revolving door.

“This isn’t the time to talk,”
“Thoughts and prayers.” 
Comments fire off,
In rapid succession.

Hindsight and foresight merge,
As we stumble towards a scene,
Identical to the one,
We claim to have left behind.

Cleverly we dodge the talk,
Of one massacre,
To throw ourselves,
Right into the next one.

For we live in a country,
Where the lives of me and my peers,
Feb 08

I Went To The Mountain

I went to the mountain
because it was calling me.
It thrust its voice out into
the air and said,
"Come see the world.
Feel the dirt between your toes.
Smell the river.
Hear the trees speak."

I went to the mountain
because it broke the clouds.
Damp air pulls at your hair
and the wind lazily floats around you,
until it screams.

I went to the mountain
because it seemed older than time.
Long ago--you can see it--
it was sharp
and jagged
and terrifying.
Now it's quiet. Steady.
As relentless as the rain.

I went to the mountain
to cleanse myself in the dirt
and the mud.
The rain and the snow.
The sun and the sweat.
To go back to the
proximity of our origins.

I went to the mountain 
to take a break from the world.
It is pure there.
No hate.
No judgment.
Just the steady, ragged,
Feb 08

The girl behind a nightheart

brown eyes 
lead to long eyelashes
and long eyebrows.

Her entire family has
brown eyes,
they are ok,
she thinks.
not particulary unique,
more like mud.


long eyebrows 
lead to acne scarred
olive skin

She likes her eyebrows,
but not her skin. 
She hates the acne that comes,
she feels insecure of it.
she cut her hair into bangs to keep people from seeing them,
they're gone, thank goodness.


olive skin
leads to full lips 
and a nose

She doesn't really like her nose
it's too big, 
a classic trait from her mother and father.
It's a stereotype, really,

a typical Iranian nose
that keeps her from drinking in champagne flutes because

her nose gets stuck in them.

on the other side it leads 
to black-brown curls