Alphabet in Flames

Alphabet in Flames

I cannot show you neural
pathways worn into pink scars
that my fingertips search for
endlessly, as if to rest assured
of the permanence I nearly crave;
the threads that come loose
to weave careful patterns.
No; see, this illness is designed
to expand within the hard
edges of a single skull.
I intend to be the gatekeeper
of my treacherous autobiography,
and it’s all for you: the
fabricated heroine of the story

you don’t realize you are living.
I promise I would set
the alphabet alight. I promise
you may sleep softly tonight
because I lack the courage
to script you as my witness
despite the answers I would find
in the stacks of burning pages.


It’s strange how my mind
cracked cells and severed lines.
Where do the neurons
Where do the synapses
reach for their counterparts
and fall into empty
If a surgeon cut me open,
would there be boundaries drawn?
Barricades built?
How painful will it be when the hole in my head
opens to the world?
How will the stories feel,
tucked between my vertebrae
and coursing through
my thin, blue veins?
Must I always speak in the first-person singular?
Must I always use the name I was given
and the age on all the paperwork?
Is there a place between
“I am alone” and “we are fractured”
that can be learned;
made our own
many times over?

The Sum of Our Stars

Maybe if I counted the stitches
holding us together,
I could cut through the borders
driving us apart.
And this is a reassuring thought until
I remember that “us” is “me”- a single person
who should not carry so many sides
under the pretense of one
“real” name.

I have a disorder, the doctors
say. A chaotic, dissociative splitting of the mind
(breeding what feels like madness).
I remember in flurries and fragments,
and sometimes I hear them- us- chattering,
broken piece
to broken piece.
Yet I am told that I am not crazy

and I think I must believe this to be
true. I think I must believe
that the sum of our stars
is greater than the difference
between our dark corners.

Sailor’s Angel

Some say that when a sailor drowns,
an angel will dive to the floor of the sea
then ascend to heaven with his soul
tucked tenderly in her hands.
Some say that my eyes have begun to change color,
inextricably, flooding with patches of green
like the fractured light carving roots below
the murky surface of the ocean.
Some say it is time for me to fold
my paper island into a paper boat. Perhaps I will brush
my fingertips through the water until I catch on the thread
of a memory I can hold.

Bittersweet English

I held my pen in a hand curled
like a question mark,
free to write myself a road map
on the painfully/blissfully blank page.
I turned into something I hadn’t been
the day before.

I wrote about hands small and taut with pain,
grasping stained sheets. I wrote about the sound
my screams made inside me
when he pressed his callused palm to my mouth.
I wrote about the way blood runs rivers between tiles;
the way the ceiling
began to tilt and the way the whiteness
burned my eyes before someone found the wreckage
and held me to this earth, angrily.
I wrote about the secret hum
rattling the four chambers
of this perpetually human heart.

And now,
there is a someday,
and someday
I will search for your stare.
When I find it,
I will be wearing red lipstick
without guilt. My hair will be loose
and my arms will be akimbo,
silver scars open to the light.
I will tell you that I am a writer.
I will tell you that I am more
than what you gave me.

Emma Koosis, Age 15, Grade 10, Millennium Brooklyn High School, Gold Key

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