Thursday, June 11, 2020

The End of the Year As We Know It

Well, the year took an unusual turn, which interrupted our usual publication schedule.  Still, we are happy to bring you two memorable memoirs to make you smile at the end of this year as we enter this time of reflection and pause to consider all the things we are grateful for despite our tumultuous end of the year.  Thanks to Ava, Anthony, and Charley for sharing their work with us in this final post of the year.

Photograph by Charley W., Grade 9

The Mystery Man's Shoes

When I was six years old, I shook my bloody hand with a random man. Turns out, we live together now.
              Hours earlier, it began with curiosity. What does he look like? What does he sound like? Is he nice? This mystery man was in our house: Taking up time with my mom. And I can’t even meet him.
              My parents had been divorced since I was two. It had always just been the two girls, so my mom and I were inseparables. About four years after, my mom started “talking” to someone. I was only six, but I was not happy. Some man I didn’t even know was coming over, and I had to stay in my room and sleep. Now even though I was extremely eager to meet this person, I stayed in my room like a good girl and respected my mom and her little “friend”.
              As my mom tucked me in bed, I could tell she was antsy. And then the doorbell rang, and my door slammed shut. My mom rushed out of my room and forgot to turn my nightlight on. This was a strict routine broken for some random person. Already a red flag in my head. At the time, my nightlight needed to be on for me to sleep, so I quietly got out of bed. It was so dark; I was swatting around trying to feel for the switch.
All of a sudden, I knocked over my collection of Dr. Seuss books right off my bookshelf, where it hit me straight in the nose. I could immediately feel the blood ooze out. I quickly ran out my door, straight to the bathroom. I felt fine, but my nose did not want to give up. I could hear laughter under me. My mom told me not to come downstairs because she didn’t want me to meet the mystery man yet, so I was alone and panicking. From the stairs I knew I could stand near the balcony where I could peer downstairs and possibly get my mom’s attention. I sat in the bathroom trying to stop the blood thinking of all the ninja moves I could do to get to my mom, but also knowing I only have one hand with the other holding the tissue firmly.
              About an hour had passed, and the blood did not slow down. At this point I could feel it drizzling down my throat as I would quietly gag. I finally gave up and peered over the edge of the stairs like a spy. I kept watching their feet move from the kitchen to the living room. My number one thought at the very moment was, “I really don’t like his shoes.” When I was done my shoe critiquing, I could see the man walking out where I could get a clear vision of him. I shut my eyes immediately when he came out like he was Medusa. I wanted to play it safe, just in case my mom could tell I saw him. She somehow knows everything.
              I stood there for another hour. Thoughts raced back and forth to the pace of my feet. Finally, I realized I need help.
              “Mom…” I called down.
              “Ava!” my mother shouted surprisingly.
              “I’m really sorry. I hit my nose and I—”
My mom looked at me and saw the tissues piled into my face like a cushion. She ran upstairs. Mom to the rescue! I explained to her what had happened. She laughed and helped me stop the blood. After cleaning my nose, my mom brought me downstairs to finally meet the mystery man. After all this, she knew she couldn’t keep me away. I was brought downstairs where I shook my sweaty hands full of dry blood with Dave. My stepdad of almost 10 years. I made sure that he never wore those shoes again.
Growing up with a stepdad was difficult for me at a young age. I missed my mom. I missed my dad. I was jealous that my mom had another focus. It turns out, having a stepdad is one of the best things that had happened in my life. I had someone else to take care of me, to take care of my mom. I was introduced to my love of snowboarding and traveling. I learned how to toughen up, and standup for myself. I got the opportunity to grow up with a father. Even if I just call him Dave. Now I have to do it all over again, this time with a stepmom…

by Ava L., Grade 9

Photograph by Charley W.

The Summer Tree

It was a perfect day to go to the tree that beautiful summer afternoon. Birds were singing their joyous and playful songs, the flowers were in full summer bloom, the sun was up and smiling down at the world, and the soft hum of cicadas finally coming out of their shells created a warm, comforting environment. “This is a great day to go out into the woods!” 8th grade me exclaimed to my aloof brother, who was too busy playing FIFA on our Xbox to care about what I was saying. “Maybe I’ll go out to see the tree today again…”
          “The tree” was an irreplaceable staple of our woods, which resides right behind our backyard. It’s not any ordinary tree; however, it stands miles above the rest, wider than all the others combined, and there was one thing about it that really made it stand out as one in a million, quite literally. During a thunderstorm a few summers back, it was struck by lightning. But instead of falling over or catching fire—as trees always seem to do—it did something seemingly impossible and utterly inexplicable. All of its bark exploded off of its exterior, like a bomb that only touched the exterior of trees, leaving the white wooden interior exposed. The branches were desolate and void of life as well, without leaves, bark, squirrels or anything at all, looking like daggers pointed to the sky in rebellion against the forces that made it like this. And somehow, whether it be through luck or some sort of undiscovered magic, the tree continued standing proud like the god-defying giant it is.
          Ever since I found the tree when I was in 6th grade, I made it a yearly summer ritual to make my visits often to the tree, where I’d sit down on one of its collapsed, smaller and more unfortunate brothers and read a book or examine its black burn marks on its white skin, stretching up, down, left and right, like veins on a leaf. Making sure that the area around the tree stays clean has always been a chore for more, but one that I generally enjoyed doing. Making sure no weeds got too close to it, ensuring no one left their litter around, and especially making the ground a good place to sit down and chill out with a bag of chips and some entertainment on a hot summer day.
          This time around, for the second time that week, I had decided I would go out with my phone, earbuds, some snacks, a towel and a book. “I’m heading out now!” I called to my parents, who were still asleep on this calm, uneventful day. Once all my things had been gathered, I left the house. Through some thorn bushes, over our creek, taking the route of another tree that had fallen, and through a small make-shift path of dirt and stones, I reached the tree.
          Once I had made it to my destination, I looked up at it, admiring its resilience and stubbornness, refusing to fall down despite its suffering. It was a source of inspiration for me. I laid my towel I brought over the ground, took my earbuds out, and started reading my favorite fantasy book as some Twenty-One Pilots played loudly in my ears while I bumped my foot softly to my favorite song of theirs, “Bandito”.
          I still have no idea how long I read for. It was likely multiple hours on end, since I was nearly finished my book by the time my phone buzzed. “Anthony, come home soon, we’ll be having dinner in a couple minutes”, the text message from my mom read. As soon as my eyes finished reading the screen, I was already standing and packing my things up. Since the walk was fairly short and I still had ten or so minutes to get home, I took my time walking back. Appreciating the scenery, such as the other trees, small canopies created by hollow bushes and the winding creek, I slowly trekked my way back home, back through the walkway, over the creek and through the thorns, when my house came back into sight.
          I walked in and was immediately greeted by a loud “Anthony, wash your hands before you sit down” from the kitchen, even though I always did that and there was no need to remind me of such basic human decencies. Either way, I was calm, relaxed and we were having chicken a la king for dinner. I was perfectly content with that day, and slept like a baby that night, my thoughts filled with peace, calm, and trees.
          Ever since then, I’ve learned that whenever I’m stressed or angry or filled with any other negative feeling, I always remember that tree, because in the end, I learned that when I’m feeling down, I’ll have somewhere to escape to at any time. Whether it be my bedroom, the internet, with friends or the dead center of the woods with my favorite tree, having somewhere to go when I just need to let my feelings out always has and always will feel good.

by Anthony M., Grade 9

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Gray Sky Days

When the sun appears to be in hibernation, the days are ripe for reading.  That's why Sevenatenine editors bring you two longer pieces this month -- including a poem, an essay on the bipartisan system, and a Stephen King style horror story -- to get you through the depths of winter and into the spring.

Artwork by Emily K., Grade 9

Let’s take a journey,
Into the unknown.
Where the destination,
Is never really shown.

Let’s take a boat,
Or a bird or a plane.
Where only this ride,
Will never be the same.

It’s like running away,
Having a clean start.
No path to take,
Only tearing you and your sections apart.

Or it could be in your mind,
Drifting off to thoughts.
Or sucked to space.
Where there are only dots.

Wherever this destination is,
Surrounded by people or completely alone,
It’s will always be a journey,

Into the unknown.

by Anonymous, Grade 9

Artwork by Emily K., Grade 9

The Bipartisan System
       In his final address to the American people as President, George Washington said, “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion." Quite frankly, I don’t care what your personal political beliefs are. You are entitled to your own beliefs and so am I. Whether your beliefs align with my own or not, I can tell you one thing: If you are not willing to have a conversation with someone about your beliefs and defend your opinions, then you are not a free-thinking individual. You are simply another casualty of the partisan war that is polarizing our nation, blinded by the leaders sowing hatred into the fabric of our democracy.
       Our nation’s democracy was designed to allow the people to be represented, with the idea that every individual would be heard through their vote. George Washington condemned the idea of a bipartisan system due to the divide it had caused between the nation with the first two political parties, the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Even at the end of the 18th Century, those from different political parties would distance themselves and avoid eye contact; it was clear that the nation would destroy itself through political parties. Realizing the fatal mistake the nation had made, Washington used his farewell address to inform them of the dangers of political parties but to no avail. This issue has evolved over the years, with the political parties changing names and ideals upheld, yet the theme is still the same: one half of the nation pitted against the other. The bipartisan system has further polarized the nation, leaving voters with a feeling that they must pick one side or the other. Especially in modern day, the parties can come to no consensus or compromise, leaving Congress locked in a stalemate yet to be broken. With our democratic process at a standstill and change unable to occur, the democracy we value so dearly has become ineffective.
       There was a period in which the bipartisan system was effective. Throughout the middle of the 20th Century, the Democratic and Republican parties were forced to be centrist in order to find common ground and have Congress function. In recent years, politics have been degraded to a savage game of tug-of-war between the right and left – with each becoming more extreme as time wears on. This leaves many voters with a feeling that the candidate representing their party does not share the same views as them, and the truth is that many do not share the same extremist views as their party depicts. Mind reeling, heart tearing, the average voter will make a decision at some point in their life to what party they pledge their allegiance. Despite not sharing their party’s views, many will blindly follow them simply because they wish to be a part of something.
       Political parties have warped the democracy designed to represent the people into a system where you are one or the other, with no in-between. Don’t get me started on the media. Demonizing politicians – both left and right – of being either Stalin-loving communists or white supremacist Neo-Nazis. The media, powerful and cunning, are simply another weapon in the ongoing war between the Republican and Democratic parties. They have increased the divide, brainwashing the American people into hating politicians who may not be so different from themselves.
      The American public act as if third parties don’t even exist, or they may genuinely be oblivious to the fact. It isn’t simply a decision of red or blue – there are plenty of other parties vying for recognition that are simply treated as a joke by most. The parliamentary systems of many European democracies are admirable for their myriad political parties, that aren’t simply right or left, but with more selection to choose from depending upon your personal views. The very colonial powers we broke free from over 2 centuries ago have overtaken us in the very political system we pioneered in modern day. I therefore stand with President Washington, forever condemning the bipartisan system, no matter what parties are the dominant two now and in the future. . .

by James S., Grade 9

Sweat Stain
            Sitting alone behind his desk in his private office, Howard was sweating. As the vice president in his branch of the accounting firm he worked for, Howard was a very busy man between the hours of nine to seven every day, with a thirty-minute break at one-thirty for lunch, and a two five-minute bathroom breaks. The rest of the day was spent hunched over at his desk, working like a dog; he would consistently bounce back and forth between working on his computer and filling out the masses of paperwork that were delivered to his office daily. When he transitioned to working on paper, he was sure to put his computer into sleep mode to save the valuable and expensive resource known as electricity. Completely absorbed in his paperwork, it was not until he was finished signing his name on the corpses of lord knows how many trees that he looked up, and in the reflection of the black screen in front of him, he saw a small dark circle forming on his shirt under each of his arms.
            The bluish circles, small and barely noticeable, were a rarity for the man behind the desk. The last time he broke a noticeable sweat was about six months ago when Ashley asked about, well… he didn’t quite remember. No matter, it wasn’t that important. Dismissing the thought of the sweat with a physical wave of his hand, he simply flicked on the fan that he kept on his desk, which was usually reserved for the summer.
            As he turned his gaze to the corner of his desk to turn on the fan, his eyes caught the picture he kept on his desk of himself and Ashley. He allowed himself to observe the picture of the smiling duo that was taken on the Ocean City Boardwalk three years ago. He looked into the eyes of his former self -- the free-spirited man who vowed that he would not ever allow his career or his work to take over his life. He had promised himself that he would make time for Ashley, who he held in his right arm in the photograph, both of her arms around her beloved father’s neck. He allowed a smile to spread across his face, remembering the good old days. He noticed that the beginning of his left arm was visibly stretched outward, and the remainder of it was extended out of the photo, holding onto something.
            Upon noticing this, the sweat circles on his shirt began to expand, and he became aware of small beads of perspiration appearing on his face. Something was missing from the photo. He just couldn’t put his finger on it. Now taken by an overwhelming yet weary curiosity, he picked up the frame and examined the picture. After about a minute of searching, at last he noticed a manicured hand around his right shoulder in between the space between his body and his daughter’s.
            Hands trembling, he desperately racked his brain for the answer as to what – or who – was missing from the photo. His hands, now shaking at a mile a minute, told him that his brain did, in fact, know the missing piece, but it was buried in the deepest depths of the id.
            For a moment, he closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths, and decided to calmly search his brain and his past for who could be missing from that picture. Slowly, he inhaled, and exhaled, in and out.
            In and out.
            In and out.
            In and – his eyes flew open in a flash. He bolted up in his chair, which he had been slumped in as he meditated, and the picture which he had been grasping flew from his hands and crashed against the far wall of his office, sending shards of glass flying all over the place, with one piece nicking his left palm and drawing a bit of blood, just a little more than a papercut would provide. When the frame hit the wall, the photo was released from its glass and wood prison, and descended slowly to the ground, like a freed bird savoring its first glide after being released from a cage.
            The small circles under his arms had grown even larger, and Howard, who was now trembling all over, rose from his chair to clean up the wreckage. Trembling with fear, his heart beating fast enough to worry any doctor, he moved the anvils on the end of his legs where his feet should have been one in front of the other, growing ever closer to the sight of the mess.
            At last, he reached the site of the wreckage, and looked down to survey the damage. In front of him on the floor were perfect concentric circles of broken glass shards gradually getting smaller as they moved towards the focus point of the wreckage, with the picture lying upside down on top of the physical frame. As he surveyed the damage, he noticed the very thing that he had feared: There was a fold in the picture. 
            He bent over and gently picked up the picture with his index finger and his thumb, nicking a few of his fingers on the glass as he did so. With the precision and care of a surgeon performing an open-heart surgery, he turned the picture over in his hands and unfolded it to reveal the memory he had put so much effort into erasing from his mind.
            Standing on the boardwalk were Howard, his smiling daughter in his right arm, and his happy wife standing on the other. This was the last picture they had taken together before what happened.
            One week after that photo was taken, the day was just like any other. Howard would get ready for work while having his morning smoke (he allowed himself one cigarette every morning so he could fulfill his craving daily but wouldn’t appear unprofessional); his wife was getting ready to take their daughter to preschool, and their daughter was watching The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Then, Howard would wait to leave for work until his wife had returned from taking her daughter to school (it was only a ten-minute round trip) to kiss his wife goodbye and leave for work.
            On that day, when his wife returned, he snubbed out his cigarette, tossed the butt in the trash bin that they kept next to their bed, kissed his wife goodbye, and departed for work. His wife was alone in the house.
            At work, he had called home to alert her that he would be able to come home early tonight but was met with no answer. Fair enough, he thought, she probably just doesn’t have her phone on her right now. I’ll make it a surprise then.
            He proceeded to drive home, whistling all the way at the prospect of having a nice early evening away from work. On the road home, a scarlet firetruck, speeding and sirens blaring, barreled past him. Poor soul, whoever’s house that is, he mused, that kind of thing can just sneak up on people when they least expect it.
            Irony is a cruel thing.
            He pulled onto the street on which he lived, a bouquet of flowers that he had picked up as part of the surprise sitting on the passenger seat, and his eyes beheld that same firetruck that had passed him on his drive home trying to save the house of a poor soul. His poor soul.
            Frantically, he stepped out of the car, and ran up to one of the firemen stationed around the house to keep people from staring at the business that was going on at the house.
            “What’s going on here?”, Howard asked the fireman.
            “Nothing to see here, just carry about your business.”
            “I live here!”, Howard shouted in a near hysteria, “This is my house! What happened here?”
            Howard was then informed that earlier in the day, a neighbor had made a 911 call to report a house that was on fire. They had not discovered what had caused the fire yet, and nobody was reported injured or killed.
            Once again, irony demonstrated its cruelness. At the same instance that Howard was informed that there were no casualties, a fireman emerged from the inferno, carrying the limp body of his wife. As the fireman walked out of the house, Howard turned his head to see what was in his peripheral vision – as is the natural human response – and screamed a scream so heartbroken and hysterical that it sent the neighbors running to cover their children’s ears.
            Later, Howard had woken up in a hospital bed, a cast around the foot he had broken while straining against the firemen trying to hold him back while he tried to rush back into the house; he thought that his wife could still be in there, and that what he saw was just a twisted joke played by his imagination.
            While in the hospital bed, he was informed that the fire had most likely been caused by a cigarette butt that had been improperly disposed of. Howard took a moment to process this information, then the waves hit him. He started shaking with uncontrollable guilt and grief. He was kept in the custody of the hospital for three days past his scheduled release due to his unstable mental condition.
            The doctors reported that while in the hospital, Howard suffered from hallucinations. Based on what they could make out from Howard’s random screams and near incoherent sleep talk, he was seeing his wife, burned and charred from her untimely passing.
            Despite his doctor’s almost pleading recommendations, Howard refused to speak with a therapist about the day that he lost his wife. He had committed to locking the memory out of his conscious mind and bringing up the memory lying on a couch in a shrink’s office wouldn’t do him any good. It was just too painful to remember.
            So, he forgot.
            When he finally was released, he arranged for the best funeral that he could afford for his wife. After a two-week period of mourning, Howard continued removing the painful memory from his mind. He busied himself with his work to keep his mind off of what happened, he grew distant from Ashley and hired a nanny to look after her for the most part because she reminded him too much of her mother, and he made a point to remove his wife from any and all photographs he had of them.
            So, he forgot.
            He forgot his wife.
            He forgot about the bond he once shared with his daughter.
            He forgot how to be happy.
            And now, standing in his office, the memories of his wife flooding back to him, he was snapped out of his semi-conscious daze by an abrupt ringing that echoed throughout the building. That could only mean one thing.
            Fire. Again.
            After a moment of hazy confusion, Howard dropped the photo and flung open his office door, certain that he had to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. He ran out of his office, broken glass crunching under his feet as he moved, and into the long hallway with large, windowless doors on either end.
            “Hey!”, Howard yelled into the hall, “Is anybody there?”
            He had been out sick on their last fire drill day, and as a result was unsure of the mandated escape routes in the building. Hoping that he would find someone who did, he started banging on office doors, hollering for someone to come out and show him the way. After doing this on about six or seven different doors, he realized a shocking truth: The hallway was deserted.
            Alone, Howard’s fight or flight response kicked in, and he began sprinting down the hallway towards the door closest to him, desperate to find the quickest escape route possible. As he was running, he asked himself, where in the world is everybody?
            Then he noticed the circles of sweat under his arms, rather large now, and had a pretty good guess as to where everybody went. The fire alarm had been blaring for a good while now, and Howard must have missed it in his confused daze.
            As Howard approached the door, he stuck out his hands to shove the door open when he collided with it, allowing for him to escape without stopping. He lowered his head like a bull, and collided with the door in front of him, opening it to reveal a wall of roaring flames.
            In his momentum, he was carried about two feet in, feeling like a ten-foot tidal wave of heat had collided with him. In fact, the heat hit him with such force, that he was thrown onto his back and halfway back into the hallway in which he came. With the frantic speed of force only a man in danger can muster, Howard scrambled backwards into the hallway, doing a less elegant version of the crabwalk. The door slammed shut behind him, leaving him lying on his back in the hallway, with his pant legs on fire.
            Remembering what he had been taught in elementary school, Howard stopped; he had already dropped and rolled to put out the small flames on his pants. Wasting no time, he rose to his feet and began running to the door on the other end of the hallway. He was still sprinting but was more careful this time and was not charging like a bull.
            Stopping in front of the door, he took a deep breath, and pushed the door open with just the force of his arms. In front of him was a sea of oranges, yellows, and reds, seeming to stretch all the way up to the ceiling. The wave of heat hit him once more, just as powerful in its temperature, but did not knock him over this time. He stood there, mesmerized by the fire, which possessed a sort of twisted calm despite the danger it represented.
            Standing there, watching the fire, a hand suddenly shot out and gripped his shoulder hard. The hand was just as hot as the fire, if not hotter, and Howard opened his mouth in a silent scream, but no sound came out. The hand gradually increased its pressure, causing Howard to sink in pain until he was on his knees.
            On the ground like some sort of prisoner, Howard watched as two legs emerged from the fire, followed by a torso, followed by the face of Howard’s late wife. Howard stared up into the face of his wife, beautiful in its youth, just as he remembered her.
            But as he watched, the face began to change. The chiseled and smooth skin began to bubble and blister, with parts charring black and falling off onto the ground in front of Howard, sizzling as they hit the ground.
            Howard’s wife offered a grim smile with her burned and deformed mouth, now missing multiple teeth, and gave the hardest squeeze on the shoulder she had given yet, causing Howard to scream in unimaginable agony.
            Howard stared into his wife’s eyes, alight with the reflection of the inferno of which she came from. For a moment, he listened to the dry and gasping breaths his wife took, a result of her life being terminated by flames. Words forming on his mouth, he looked up to say something, anything, to her, but a white-hot finger was pressed to his lips to silence him.  He was held in this position for Lord knows how long, and eventually the pain became so much to bear that he felt the need to close his eyes in a grimace.
            He counted to ten in his head, one Mississippi, two Mississippi… and opened his eyes. He found that the pain on his shoulder and lip had been assuaged, as the intense heat and pressure that would have turned coal to a diamond was no longer there. Nor was his wife.
            Kneeling there, confused, he threw his head into his hands and wept. Now this was the second time that he was unable to say goodbye. What he would have given for just two minutes, a minute, thirty seconds, a word of conversation would have met no limits. All he could have asked for was to be with her for just a bit longer.
            As he sat there, he heard the subtle creaking of metal from down the hall. Slowly, he rose and turned to face the door at the other end of the hallway, which was beginning to bend towards him from the intense pressure of the heat behind the door.
            Before Howard could make a sound, let alone get out of the way, the door came flying of its hinges and down the hall at the speed of a bullet, and collided with Howard head-on, sending him flying backwards into the flames beyond the door that his wife emerged from. He landed in the midst of a sea of flames, and as his clothes began to catch fire, he heard the door slam shut behind him.
            By the look of it, he would get to be with his wife after all.

by Liam S., Grade 9

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Shortest Month

While February may be the shortest month on the calendar, the dreary weather tends to make it drag.  And this year we get one extra day!

To help us all pull through to the spring, we submit to you a few good poems and works of art to consider and enjoy.

Artwork by Dylan H., Grade 7

When I Was the Greatest

When I was the Greatest,
I could hold up the world,
Hold it in my palm,
And watch the children frolic and play.

When I was the Greatest,
I could do anything.
Push the boulders, skip the pebbles,
And watch the never-ending glory.

But when you left,
Slipping out of the front door, and away.
Like the sun, over the horizon.
I could only watch the stars appear
Far away…

As I close my eyes.
When I am the Greatest,
I will hold up the world.
Hold it with both of my hands
And listen to the cries of despair.

When I am the Greatest,
I will do everything.
Break the boulders, gather the pebbles,
And feel the never-ending burdens.

When you come back,
Walking in through the front door,
Like the sun, over the horizon,
I will always watch it shine brighter,

For me…

by Charley W., Grade 9
Title inspired by Jason Reynolds

Artwork by Clare P., Grade 9

What I am For

I am for late nights on weekends,

Up talking and laughing,
Going to bed late and smiling.

I am for weekends of excitement,
A small, sweet taste of freedom
In a sea of salty work

I am for traveling and sightseeing,
Being a tourist in new places,
Adventures await at each stop along the way.

I am for bright sunshine,
Dimness and sweet moonshine glow,
Puddles of light in precious drips and drops.

I am for waking up early
At the jarring sound of an alarm,
Not wasting a second of the day.

I am for laughing and joking
All of the time,
Milky-white teeth always showing.

I am for games and relaxation,
The shuffling of cards,
The thrill of striving to win.

This is what I am for.

by Faith C., Grade 9
after the poem "Silver-Lined Heart" by Taylor Mali

Artwork by Noah B., Grade 8

an unfortunate circumstance

I imagine a boy
crouched upon the curb
staring into a puddle
its waters dark and dulled

He sits in a city
large and daunting
its tall, grey watchmen

The boy pokes the water
it ripples
and its surface clears for just a moment

Time passes
the silt settles

and the boy gets up
and leaves

by Jackson S., Grade 9

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Turning of the Year

While the pundits debate whether the decade ends 12/31/19 or 12/31/20 -- there was no Year Zero, after all -- we hope you'll enjoy a warm beverage and a few snatches of writing and artwork from our talented contributors.  And if you could use a little inspiration for your own writing, check out "Burning the Old Year" by our current Young People's Poet Laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye.  Submit your work for Sevenatenine to your English teacher, and next month you could see your name published here!

Artwork by Lila S., Grade 8

The Orange Wood

A house stands in the orange wood.
There lives a man, heart full of good.
He is so kind, he is so fair
He lets nature roam anywhere.

His house holds an open door
The wildlife crawls upon the floor.
And when the sky turns black as lead
They rest around his sleeping head.

by Evelyn W., Grade 7

Artwork by Emily K., Grade 7

Face of  a Faker

His name conjures bravery;
one that swells to tell a tale
but shrivels to fear 
in milliseconds without fail.

Voice glazed with inky, manipulative lies
Soft-spoken, deep as oceans
yet carrying wicked falsehoods, 
like an actor's own notions

Words, seducingly so, are transparent
like a hive's sweetest honeycomb
with a drop of the deadliest poison, 
man has ever come to know.

Every step, guilt curls in my stomach
coming through in high tides,
waves rushing upon me
with no one I'm able to confide.

Strings pull and twist to loose ends,
leaving me alone to fend,
but friends can help to mend
the wounds left by the guilt I tend

Wound which could've been stopped
if I had stopped amends
to the complicated man who once was a friend
making a facade of make-believe pretend.

by Emily K., Grade 9

Artwork by Arina S., Grade 9

Friday, November 29, 2019


As we close out the month of November, each of our poems have to do with vision, what we see and perceive in the world around us, and perhaps what the world around us perceives in us.  Keep playing with words, sketching, dreaming, and creating, and please share your endeavors with us at Sevenatenine.  We love hearing from readers both in the comments section and in our submission bin.  

I Never Stopped Watching

I never stopped watching
Snow hangs on my arms
Like a child on the monkey bars
Leaves crack as two students stomp
their feet barely the size of an acorn
Waiting for the bus

They played store in my branches,
Toys bought for free
Laser tag games
Hidden behind my trunk
He chases her until she is down to a single glowing life
But, because he is him
He didn’t fire again

Snow melts away
Boots forgotten in the closet
Children pick flowers
As they wait for Bus 624

She hid in my branches
Book in hand
Hidden from down below by my leaves
He kicked a ball at the curb
She slowly looks shorter
And shorter
Compared to the boy,
Who no longer needs to jump to touch my branches

The air smells of sunscreen
And flowers fully bloom
624 drops off its students for the last time
Excitement escapes the door
As the driver pulls his lever

An ice cream truck every other night
Ringing with bells and corny music
That to this day makes them both smile
Bonfires with extra s’mores
That remind them of their favorite trip as kids down toward the shore
Then, shopping for a new pencil case
And debating whose scissors are the brightest shade of blue

More leaves drift away
They rake piles and piles
Saving them to jump in when the time is right
But the bus pulls in before they can take the leap

Her Halloween decorations adorn the house
Yet his house stays bare of all colors
A monotone in their world of bright lights
One irrelevant Thursday,
Pumpkin seeds still on the ground from their carving
The truck pulls up
Bigger it seems, than the house itself
His whole world loaded into that truck

I watched them grow
Until I couldn’t
I’ll miss you.”

by Calli P., Grade 8

Artwork by Audra S., Grade 8

Beads in Sockets

Beads in sockets.
I stare at the bird in the mirror,
Its wings are moving rapidly.
Its cursed words come out only in strings, with a tapping at the mirror.

Beads in sockets.
I tap back, only for the eyes to disappear.
The rest melts away, and I am standing,
Staring at the empty reflection.
No more wings.

With a small whisper, my voice finds the cursed words that the bird was chanting.
"Who are you? Why are you here?"
Beads in sockets.

First my feet, and then my arms, my mind crawled into the mirror.
There I met the bird. It moved like me and breathed like me.
It spoke, "I am you."

Beads in sockets.
The eyes stared back at me.
Strings on a marionette,
It looked plastic.

I heard a faint phrase.
"You are me."

by Esme H., Grade 8

Artwork by Claire P., Grade 9