Mouth, et al


the only time someone loved me

was last year

until his feelings overwhelmed

his slim limbs,

he crumbled and crumpled under the burden

of vulnerability.

emotions small and nimble, crawling up and pouring out

his mouth.

he suffocated and that scared me so

i ran.

now i miss the crawlies and the crazy

because they meant

i knew someone cared if my own innards

asphyxiated me.


if anything, dirt is pure

not much can be claimed with conviction

but dirt is most certainly pure

a child dances with the earth

dirties her white sunday best

angry words; now she is unclean

tears fall

i don’t want to be dirty

fix me

ten years later, homecoming to the soil

she is naked, offering herself

to the purity below her milky curves

penitence bubbles below her skin

and itches, leaving red welts

passerby pass but don’t see her anguish

she takes nails to skin

peels away the film but goes too far

and rips off her own flesh, forging a seam down her side

happy; i am finally clean

but little does she realize

this confirmation of her belief from the start:

pure things are left untouched.


A Tree trunk housed two Spirits young –

Congruent to the Eye –

Yet one concealed gnarled, bristling Roots

While Mother’s Belov’d was sublime –

Sunlight bowed and Rain bestowed

New breath and breadth to both.

Divinity – hence bound by Will,

Enlightenment driving growth –


I. Adam

when I looked at the water running over my flesh

I expected to see blood

I wanted scarlet-tinted, emulsified evidence

i. of my pain

ii. that I was alive

or at least dirt – anything but the clear purity of cleanliness.

so instead, I scrubbed my skin raw and peeling with a loofah,

crying diamonds for hours-turning-into-days,

but I was still blackened by soot.

it’s funny how our generation – generation z – can’t communicate

i. hashtags and chatspeak replace uninhibited emotion – fire

ii. transcribing a sentence in cursive is the hardest part of the SAT

so when He sent me that text

do u wanna come upstairs

my face flushed. it was His eighteenth birthday, three years out of reach –

He was accepted to Yale and I had yet to start geometry –

He had red lips that I recognized from photographs

and hair that gradated to blonde where it swooped across His eyes.

I knew Him –

on Facebook –

but He was unfamiliar,

donning Adonis’ hollowed shell,

and His jagged rib prodded my pudge

and He devoured me as I lay comatose,

thinking that I was still hungry at midnight.

I basked in his long-sought acknowledgement

and fleeting popularity

and raisin toes and raw, soapy skin

and grime,

nakedness reaping regret – awareness –

only blossoming into empowerment

because of you.

II. Charlie

when we were little, you said you wanted to be a good guy

a hero who would have his own book –

maybe a picture book –

Clarence Darrow, you said, jamming a chubby finger into my shoulder blade

(I think we were reading Inherit the Wind).

though wise of heart, your chubby physique had yet to endure hollowing trial.

I sank into my pew at the back of the courthouse, the penultimate row

engraved with a tiny gold plaque, C. Finch

and my sweaty thighs stuck to splintered wood

as I examined you in your entirety

get slandered by divorce, breakups, rejections, and sickness.

your eyes never stopped smiling.

and last thursday I brought you a cupcake.

this summer you staged impromptu street theater in new york city –

commanding twenty eight-year-olds, respect glittering in their naïve eyes.

the troops prophesied impending doom, shouting heresy to the streets, and

passerby stopped short –

businessmen, Hispanic nannies, NYU hipsters with hair curling past their asses –

all wed by a hodgepodge of fear and vulgar glee

until cynics – heretics – caught on and your unit scrambled in desertion

but you only laughed until you doubled over against the curb.

to me, you are 2 am stake-outs,

blankets and hot chocolate on the benches between broadway and 104

and words whispered, fears howled

to the rag-devoured mass next to the gay couple across the street.

you call me and we talk for hours

even when I know I have two term papers and a test, compositions and scales,

because I like how your voice squeaks when you’re happy

and your raspy breaths when you think of the future.

we are a homeostatic cliché,

two things harmonized in raw unadulterated consonant unity.

once, I traced my callused fingertips

across your heartstrings; I tugged but refused to grab on.

your fingers clenched my wrist in a vice –

you are my vice –

as the crinkles around your eyes pleaded.

but instead I slept

to protect the entropy of the world.

Emma Smith
Age 16, Grade 11
Hunter College High School
Silver Key

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