As most of you may know, the winners for the school’s writing contest have recently been announced:
Poetry winner: Victor Foresti.
Fiction winner: India Eddy.
Nonfiction winner: Madison Holman.
Check out the winning pieces!
Poetry winner: “Untitled collection” by Victor Foresti
That breaks upon
To bend us straight.
A million shards of
flicker, dance n
red mist glows
Curb-stomp that sinks a brow.
The cross swings the final blow.
Blood on the streets.
“god and country”
Another dead fag,
The billboards of the Times Square
Have an enamoring glow to them: The
neon the crowd the shopping bags The
This is the Centre of the world
Standing on the centre
I felt a great awe
What happens here is news
What is decided here is fate
Here there is no time
For the delays of the periphery Capital is
flung from building to building, Carried
on the briefcases of
The men in suits (who asked if I spoke Spanish).
This is the Axle from which the world spins,
But standing on the centre the movement
Is more dizzying?
Standing in the centre
I hear the hollers, the sirens
The destitute cries of beggars
The subway musicians:
The city wails with the sound
Of the turning gears of an empire.
My hometown is not as noisy.
The concrete is silent, and static,
But the axle’s spin does bleed through.
The men in suits
come to the embassy.
I’ve seen a Marine or two.
Not that they are needed:
An empire is a participative thing.
It sends mixed blessings our way,
The concrete is silent, and static,
And our parents envision themselves
In miami; wish for amazon shipping.
Yes an empire is a curious thing:
When I was a child i wrote stories about
Johns and Roberts. They ate bacon,
(Which I had never seen).
And it’s with its language
That I articulate my criticisms
An empire is a curious thing:
I share an accent
With the men in suits.
The white boy looks at rivers.
Inspired by The Negro Speaks of Rivers, by Langston Hughes.
I think of the sorrow song
sung ashore the volga:
Men in rags hauling
Barges on leather shoulders
And oaken trunks.
I’ve heard the dark blues
Of the old Mississippi.
My pillows bear its saline scent.
The Euphrates, the Neva, the river Nile:
Lifelines that have been drenched in blood,
For as long as it’s flown in human veins.
They bear witness to those
whose bodies were carried downstream,
And to those bodies that sought, with cupped hands
Rivers so far from home,
Flow into me like the unrelenting mud
In the São Francisco
I’ve yet to know rivers:
To chart them from source to estuary
I’m left to stray the shores,
peruse the beached relics
From the balcony I behold the streams,
I see the uniformed shrouds who bring concrete to silence the water.
Thunder! I can hear trumpets and grave voices
The riptide charges through their sterile barricades like cavalry!
The river flows on: a determined witness, a bold emissary.
No dam or dich can dare tide
The cries of Hughes and Robeson.
Their voices thunder with the rapids
Fiction winner: “Broken Anchors” by India Eddy
“Are you just gonna’ pretend this isn’t real?” Those were the first words she said to me after it happened. Weeks after it happened. Three, to be exact. “That’s what you do, Felix. You ignore the facts! You lock yourself in your sad library of a room and you pretend that life isn’t happening around you! You close yourself off, Felix. You put yourself in another world entirely so that you- goddammit, FELIX! I’ve said your name three times now! Three times and you won’t even spare me a glance! You can’t stop looking at-” and she chokes. Her breath catches in her throat.
“Felix, I know we aren’t your favourites but at least we’re still here; dad and I. We’re real.” And it fell silent again. I could feel her eyes boring into my skull. I didn’t need to look at her, I knew exactly the face she was wearing; eyes watery and red, her teeth digging into her bottom lip to keep herself from breaking into tears at that very moment, her cheeks would be tear-stained and her gaze would be desperate.
“Felix, talk to me.” She says, an order, yet you can sense sympathy in her voice. “I know I’ve never been your favourite; even when it was just the two of us, your mind was never off your friends. Never off her.” I can hear her swallowing. I can hear everything. “But you don’t have them anymore! News flash, Felix-” she spits my name like it’s sour on her tongue “-you lost them all! You changed after mum died. We all expected it, but we thought you’d turn back around in a few months. Thought you’d open your mouth again. They waited for you, you know! Poor Alex came by every day for a year! Ayear, Felix! And every day you let him down! And now you’ve lost her, too! The last one you had left after you went completely fucking mental! I’m all you’ve got left now, Felix! You’ve gotta come back to me!” She stops. She swallows. She sniffles, wiping her eyes. “Please.”
I didn’t answer her. All I could manage was to lick my bottom lip and keep staring forward. I could hear her readjust herself, uncomfortable in her own skin. I at least knew that feeling. Without even sparing a glance, I could see every detail on her face; the slight scowl on her lips, the reflecting tears on her dark freckles, the red rims around her eyes. “Alright, Felix. Just keep staring at the grave, expecting her to come back like we’re all part of one of your stupid movies! Dad and I will be waiting for when you get your head out of your ass.”
She stayed for a moment, breathing heavily before she turned away and left me, not quite alone, in a grey mist; not literally, but the words she spat hung heavy in the air and made it hard to breathe, a fog in of itself, slithering down my throat and into my lungs.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper to nobody; maybe to the sister that had left me, or maybe to the one who had left everyone. “Is that what I do? Pretend things aren’t real. Am I doing that right now?” I’m sitting down now, cross-legged on fresh dirt. “I don’t know.” My breath formed frost on my lips. “One- uh…
one last piece of advice for me? Just… just one more.” I rolled a speck of dirt between my fingers, willing tears to come, willing to react like a human for once in my life. “What should I do?”
There’s no response. Of course there’s not. No matter how many times I watch The Walking Dead, it won’t ever be real… that’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course.
Without another word, I push myself back to my feet and leave my sister alone forever. A name and a quote carved into graphite watch my back until I disappear behind a willow tree; “Amelia Monroe. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
And now I’m back in a room with drawn curtains and no lights. A book sits open on my lap, but I pay no attention to the print. Instead, my eyes are focused on the white four-panel door, which failed as soundproofing from the voices downstairs. Two voices I know better than my own.
“I’m sick of always trying to fix him!” This one’s Katy – the sister from the cemetery. “I don’t need to be fixed,” I whisper to myself in response.
“He’s in pain!”
“We’re all in pain, dad! Some of us just know how to deal with it like actual human beings!” “He is a human being!”
“Really? Because-” Katy starts.
And I finish with her: “I’m not so sure.”
And as they keep yelling beneath me, I plug earphones into my ears and slide open my window. It’s a twelve-foot drop, but I have done it enough times to know how to land without injury.
I knew where I wanted to end up when I started running, but I didn’t know how I wanted to get there.
“Truth or dare!” Her voice cuts into my skull and sends a shiver through my chest and into my heart. “Come on, Fee! We need to pass the time somehow!” Our mum had just gone out to get us dinner. It was the last time we saw her alive.
“Fine, but nothing too crazy,” I said with a smile. “Dare.” “I dare you… to lick the floor!”
“Lia! Come on!”
“Do it!” She was my older sister, and I cared about her more than anything, and I was having fun. So I did. “Oh, yes! Okay, my turn! Truth.”
“Lame! Okay, if you had to kill me, Katy, mum, or dad, who would you do?” “Dare.”
“Nu-uh! You can’t just change your answer like that! Me, Kate, mum, or dad?”
“Uh… mum. Your turn.” This answer had me shocked. I was certain she was going to pick Katy… or dad. None of them had ever gotten along that well, but she left me no time to ponder. “Come on, truth or dare?”
“Alright… Katy’s your twin, but you always hang out with me, why?” “I like you better. Your go.”
And that’s how the night went on until we heard a phone ring. And we heard our dad’s voice say ‘hello.’ And we heard our dad’s voice say ‘yes, this is he.” And we heard our dad’s voice say ‘oh God’ over and over and over again.
He came out to us with tear-stained cheeks and sat on the white sofa next to where we were huddled together on the floor.
“There’s been an accident.” Amelia’s immediate reaction was to cover my ears, but she couldn’t prevent these four words from slithering through my ears and into my brain. Travelling down my spine and tracing my ribs, diving into my heart and ripping it apart so each scrap left was smaller than a fingernail.
He tried to explain what had happened to us delicately, but it was useless. I clung onto Amelia like my life depended on it, and she just pressed me tighter to her chest with every word that came out of his mouth. But I didn’t cry. And I think that’s what made it worse.
Our worlds had just been ripped apart, but we had each other. We would always have each other.
Or so I thought.
I’m at my destination now. I’m standing up on the asphalt ledge of a bridge that has gone untravelled for years. Now it’s just me and the eternal drop to oblivion; not the worst company, if I’m honest.
I was a boat with two anchors, one of which was broken two and a half years ago, while the other was cut exactly three weeks ago. I was now adrift at sea in my mind. And I was sick of my feet being on the ground while my mind was drowning in a bloody ocean.
So I stepped over the chipped red railing and stood on my heels on the edge of death.
But was I being selfish? I wasn’t the only one who lost a mother and a sister. I wasn’t the only one in pain.
“We’re all in pain, dad! Some of us just know how to deal with it like actual human beings!”
Would this make her pain worse or would it relieve it? I know I’m her last sibling left.
But I know that the way she talked about me earlier made my tongue sour. She doesn’t need me around.
I could feel my fingers loosening on the rail.
The wind howled in my ear, flattening me to the rusty railing of a gloomy bridge before it changed direction.
I could feel myself letting go.
I just hoped everybody else would, too.
Nonfiction winner: “The Angel’s Grasp” by Madison Holman
The third-person omniscient. When the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of the character in the story. And that’s what a lot of people feel I think. About what happened. Yet what if the narrator and the character are one, yet she knows more than the character herself? To think that, would be an oxymoron in itself, a self-contradiction, but for what rhetorical point?
But that’s how it is.
The move was from California, to might-as-well-have-been “uncharted territory” for the family. The “other coast”. Say it with a certain distaste, like smelling the wafting steam of unknown contents from a tupperware container, and you understand that the West coast was held in superiority to that of the East Coast.
And so was it anyone’s fault that no one assumed that a pit stop in good old Bountiful, Utah to bid our farewells to my parents families, which by this time, we hoped, weren’t as heartbroken at the prodigal son, would be where our ship would derail and disappear into sorts of a bermuda triangle.
One of those nights I had a seizure. I was four. I was choking, compulsing, kicking, and throwing up, all the while I was unresponsive. The doctors estimated I was caught in the Tonic-Clonic seizure for more than 12 minutes. The emergency medic team were called and they came trooping into the house, drugging me in attempts to wake me up. By this time the whole neighborhood was awake – the house falling apart in hysterics. All the while I was unresponsive. I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and then emergency life flighted to a primary children’s hospital in a helicopter. All the while I was unresponsive. I was determined to be showing symptoms of spinal meningitis – an extremely contagious infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord, that causes brain damage in a matter of hours and is fatal within 24 hours. It was then that the ER medics donned their hazmat suits and stretched their gloves over their hands, and carted me to quarantine. All the while I was still unresponsive. Only when they unsheathed the syringe to extract a sample of spinal fluid did I wake up.
The pleading prayers turned into praises. I was definitely well enough to know that the looming aliens with wickedly gleaming weapons couldn’t be a dream, and that the strach, stiff sheets of a silent hospital ward weren’t
the same sheets I went to bed wrapped up in at Nana and Papa’s house, and with my blood cutting screaming before what looked to be my murderers couldn’t have but told just about every patient of my regaining of consciousness.
The funny part is, however ironic in a definitely not funny story, that that was it. If you try to pry and coax the end out, you’ll only find that we’ve already arrived there.
I stayed at the hospital for days afterwards. I was to never be the same Madison Anne – with definite brain damage and debilitating learning disabilities. I would have a slow recovery, regardless of the final diagnosis – but that never came.
Undiagnosed. The cause of the seizure. The cause of my recovery. The cause of no retaliation.
I think it’s the jealousy at the innocence. That’s what it is. With a situation that the mind could have only have used to exploit a plethora of memories, he took few. I have but three memories from the days at the hospital. Drawing on a doll sized hospital gown so the provided cloth doll that I was given would match me. Crying when my mom explained I couldn’t get up to go pee and that instead I would do that through a tube. Being pulled by my aunt Heather in a red wagon past a fish tank. All are two seconds stints of flashbacks that I can draw back on.
But I don’t really know anything else. It would be a lie to tell you that I know all of the floof before, between, and after those three memories. I was there. Nothing happened while everything happened.
And so when I say that I am but a third person omniscient narrator to my own character it is because I myself will never know. Once upon a time, maybe I did know. Maybe I could feel my brain still rebelling, the essence of nothingness, and the imploding pain that raced through my entire existence. Yet even now, as I know the most I’ve ever known, I know the least amount I ever knew.
That is what I will never get. Like a toddler that doesn’t get the candy bar that gleams on a shelf that always seems out of reach. They turn into a disastrous tornado of flailing limpness and extravagant vocals. Until the deadly whispered threats and clamping hands of parents throw them back into the cart. I too, was drawn to something. The possibility, perhaps, of another reality that contained the Madison Anne i was destined to wake up as that day.
Maybe her blue eyes and blonde curls beckoned to me that day. But, unbenounced to me, something pulled me away. It held me back. And so I became conscious, never having been able to reach the girl that could have been.