Category Archives: Student Writing

I Have Almost Always Felt Out of Place by Ben Daly

by Ben Daly

I never actually met you. I would wake up every low-contrast morning next to some kind of blinding sun desperately trying to get in my way. Every single day, as the dreams faded, I knew the sun would rise happily and sleep well. I was envious of light. The pavement and I stared at each other until some rich old tycoon would give me a glare to cross. I don’t think he liked to acknowledge the light, even when it was smiling bright at him. I saw you somewhere. My mind’s eyes and ears could feel you: My limbs could not. I never quite knew what to make of a million women acting like animals, and I never knew what to make of my friends using me as a spare tire, but wearing me down slowly as all my bad sides ground against the same pavement even I would rather hold hands with.

A speaking voice tries to explain it, but a singing voice lives it, and holds it dearly, clutching it, sobbing with relief. Colleagues looked in. They tried to help me make sense of why you cared. Later, we tried to make sense of why they did. You may be gone, but your spirit’s hand is lukewarm. Bowing trees. The violet sky in our eyes. The pavement has told the dark buildings in the distance to celebrate. They light up for us. They take requests.

If you do too, I hope I meet you back on that hill, and I hope the forces are merciful to the sea, which is merciful to the wind, which is merciful to us, and lets our memories fail to be blown out into that dark sky. I, you, we come from the same place. We can see it in each other, some monarchy of common interests, a line formed only out of two points. Without one, there serves no clear way, no law stated by a smart man who lives alone, to measure the size or design of either one.

Your hands need mine. My heart’s structure yearns to be pulled out of its housing and join yours. If there is no current, the power is drained. My lips grow pale and stiff so I cannot laugh with you. Now I can feel my heart, too, in my mind. But my true eyes open. My heart is bleeding, the sun dries, and the pavement weeps for its stains.

 

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Loneliness FAQ by Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes

Loneliness FAQ*

By Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes

 

Q: What is loneliness?

A: A state of being, commonly one of the symptoms of mild depression, involving a failure to close the distance between the people around you. This can be expressed as both physical and emotional: your gut often tells you to hold someone’s hand, whereas your mind scolds you for giving it the least of a try.

Q: Who gets lonely?

A: More people than you think: maybe the prep school girl who keeps twisting her hair at church. When everyone’s still in prayer, she glances in your direction, wondering if she should glance a little while longer. It could be the dude in the basketball shorts who comes to English class for lunch. You’re there too, striking up a conversation until he says he has to go to the library. You stay. Even your science teacher: never a word about his family, not a baby picture, not a Christmas card. He’s at his desk from 6:00 to 6:00, closer to his papers than say, an actual breathing set of eyes.

Q: Am I at risk for loneliness?

A: Yes. An abundance of time spent lacking the company of others is true to loneliness: logging in a journal, star-gazing, shuffling through the four contacts on your phone, going down lists of to do’s three months after you said you’d do them, resorting to text marathons with your mother, refusing to answer the phone.

Q: Can loneliness be controlled?

A: Primarily, no. It’s not the people that forget about you, so much as the people you (frequently more than sometimes) force yourself to forget. Environmental factors: the means you were raised, the school you go to, were never meant to beat you into the android that you’ve become. However, as self-esteem directly affects your willingness to become the Charlie Chaplain like bum everyone avoids, it’s up to you to say you want in on the one-man club.

Q: Is there an absolute cure for loneliness?

A: Subjecting yourself to prolonged sessions with strangers. Say, placing yourself into an unnatural conversation: having a go at discovering common interests. And above all, making people like you.

Q: Was that last answer truthful?

A: Of course not. It’s essentially known that adolescents like you have difficulty accepting their disease, disorder, disability…whatever. Everyone you care about (the few people there are left) lie to you. Rejecting their intuition says that they hope you won’t die an old maid. Ninety-five years, you’re still attached to the tennis balls on your walker, in a cabin by the sea. The others you used to love probably would be too dead cold to visit you, while in their will, they give you a minor mention. Some inheritance, some money, some land, but that really doesn’t compare to the last words they let loose on their deathbed. They whisper, your elbow crunching the hospital mattress. They say: You’re not lonely. You’re not depressed. You’re just a writer.

 *Editor’s note: inspired by Aubrey Hirsch’s piece, “Multiple Sclerosis FAQ

 

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Stars by Clem Grace

We turn to the stars
for comfort
We think those bright little pin pricks
those holes in the atmosphere
can somehow steer us
in the right direction

Because stars surely know
up from down
stars must realize they’re
suspended, indefinitely,
light-years away from each
desperate pair
of searching eyes

They must realize how
superior they are
to us inferior beings
us creatures who succumb
to the force of gravity

Stars never touch ground
just float
effortlessly, tauntingly, above us,
above our heads

So at times
when our head space seems
too expansive
for the minuscule reality
which is our existence

We turn to the stars
because at least they know
their place in the universe

But the truth is
even stars know no directional boundaries

Because if Pythagoras was right,
if the world is truly round,
suspended in dark infinity,
suspended in a blanket of sky,
then what lives above our heads
must also live below our feet

The high and mighty stars, therefore, surround us
that glittering blackness
encompasses us
We search for meaning so high
above our realities
when perhaps we could just be
peering over the edge of the earth.

And I don’t know if the
surrounding constellations,
the sometimes supernovas,
are a comfort or a warning

A protective shield
from galaxies unknown
or a reminder
that our lives are ultimately insignificant

But I know that some stars
are 100 times more powerful
than the sun
the most powerful thing we know
in this not quite geocentric universe
So if the stars know their place
We must know our place as well,
a place within them
a place within the stars.

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Blunderance by Ben Daly

I’ve come to think I’m a writer. Too many swirling thoughts burst out form my old days into some kind of bloody, majestic fragment. I’m too pure to call it something like wild creative birth. But today I keep wondering if I’ll fade away before I escape their power, and find mine. It used to be dreams.

Pretending to love the coldest person who wears a mask

Being an outsider and starting an even hollower friendship with the moon

A block in my mind to write back that defied all progress

I lived half in a world worse for me, with no soul to bring me back but myself.

And when I finally did pry my shadow from the other direction, it gave me something, something that I needed to tell the moon.

So I spoke;

“I have taken myself from the earth so far away that I do not think I shall fade away from all parts of my mind again. And this written on the moon in my mind’s expert symbolism,  I must remind myself with it to stay above ground forever.

 

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View of Metropolis by Ben Daly

Kind of like a dream to break your neck looking up at these walls parting away for the living to navigate through. Even the childless adult who never grew up looks out his tall window at a sky that has enough warmth to look back at him. The bar owner and his cigarette look up through the high forest of right angles in more amusement than jealousy. He never needed a higher place than where he was. Far above is the CEO, and far below are the crustaceans of men who truly live in the shadow of his work. The moon doesn’t have many words for it, but spectates the battles of lives the running people fight on the pavement. How many are running from something? Will the blue sky ever see a day with these people at rest? Will they ever have a real sunset in their lives? The mechanic can never answer as he stares up out of his lonely warehouse. Even the young ones who live behind the skyline ask their parents if they have faced this question. Night is haunted by anger and orange lights. Sometimes they run more now than while the sun is out.

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Reflection by Ben Daly

It was dark, so I could only trust the moon. Spending what could have been better days with worse people, who were still so far away. The pale patterned walls saw everything. And when my family made me come to the surface for air, it was artificial. My passions, my hobbies, my ego, even my music. I pretended it was perfect. Like the people, these things could have been closer to me. But unlike the people, I chose to keep them far. And when I could not see the moon in my window, I pondered if anything really was there. It felt like a beautifully decorated stage with no actors. Even the music was there. But no matter how hard I tried, the star would not come on. What was his motivation for this scene? The audience was preoccupied, and the tickets were approaching unaffordable. So I sat on the side of the stage, awkwardly looking to the backdrop of the night sky, hoping I would remember my lines. But it was dark, so I could only trust the moon.

 

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What Happened During the Fire? by Ariana Agnew

What happened during the fire?

The sky painted orange and speckled with sunset,

Those flames lapping at the sloped ceilings,

The walls ready to burst with yet more heat,

More ash and debris to smother the air,

What happened inside the smoke?

As it curled like a snake around the room,

The world stifling and scalding, the ember-arrows flying fast,

What happened inside the haze?

As everything went rainbow with red,

And the burning blurred all that was?

What was lost in the blaze?

As windows shattered and screams were let loose?

What was said in the shrieks?

As souls cried for mercy and lovers, each other,

What happened when it was silent?

The crackling of warmth and the groaning of wood the only sounds,

The shouts choked by the acid air, the world brilliant and dark,

And so terribly bright.

 

What happened during the cold?

In the rains and snows that chilled the glow,

Too late to stop this treacherous, beautiful thing, too late to save the victims,

But arriving just in time to slip ice over gray skeletons and melted hearts,

Just in time to freeze the chaos forever,

So that people would stop, and look upon this place, and wonder,

What happened during the fire

but never know.

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