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
laughing

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

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

Vision


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
“Goodbye…
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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Just In Time

We are back, and we are happy to be here after some early October technical glitches.

This year our team of student editors is excited to bring you the best Holicong has to offer in artwork, poetry, and prose.  It all starts with this post and our annual coffeehouse on Friday, November 1 (doors open at 6PM).

We hope you will join us here each month as a reader and for our upcoming live event! We are thrilled to have snuck in our October post . . . just in time!


Mother

She cries and she weeps
Her children dying at her feet
The future is bleak
What happens when nothing remains?
She tried to save them
She gave them fire so they could stay warm
She gave them wood so they could stay dry from the storm
But they took the wood and cut all the trees
They just wanted more
And they used fire to burn all of her gifts for them into the ground
And they continued to conspire
Using fire to take more
So, she cries and she weeps because her children are dying at her feet
She gave them power so they wouldn’t have to cower
But they glowered and took more
Saying she hadn’t given enough
So she gave and gave and gave
But suddenly, as she was weeping for her children
There were no tears left
They had taken all her water
She tried to help them
But they stole her body
Soon she was condemned
her life was fading
And they still kept taking
Now she is dying
Silently watching and lying on the floor
She tried to give them her world
But they just wanted more

by Eva F., Grade 9





Up Here

I trudge up through the knee-deep layer of soft gold. The plastic toes of my boots are the only thing keeping my body facing the blinding light ahead of me and over the ten people behind me. Skis strapped to backs, tips of boots shattering and compacting the small flakes of white. I hear my bones chattering in my body and I feel the wind whipping over my cheeks, my wrists, that one section of skin below my ear that I can’t seem to ever fully cover with the fleece that runs from my chest to the bridge of my nose. And yet the blood rushing to my face does nothing to keep me warm. I think I might just be too numb to feel a difference.
Tears glass over my lower lid and seem to freeze, turning my vision of what lies ahead of me into gold, blue, and black blobs. The blue grows above me, black diminishing in my peripherals, gold sinking to my feet, and I stop in my tracks, lactic acid pouring into my thighs and down my leg. I exhale crystals that blow off over the trees and join the clouds. Ice caps over giants that reach into and grab onto the sunlight, trees rippling as a gust weaves its way through the stretching arms of each evergreen.
Up here, the air sits better in my lungs. Up here, the sun pours over the skin that escapes the layers I wear. Up here, the heat that rises up over my neck to my face fills my chest with accomplishment.
Kick. Snap. Kick. Snap.
Push – and I’m off.

By Claire P., Grade 9


404 Error

Unfortunately, that page could not be found;
See, the fabric of time has been slowly unwound.
Some data may be lost, and it may belong to you,
But fear not! For the government knows just what to do.

They’ll send a ship to space to rewind the quantum string;
in theory, this will have us set and regain everything.
But one misstep could cost it all and end life as we know it,

And just in time, at that, we’ve got some diagrams to show it.




Trajectory is crucial, and such applies right here;
‘Tis one basic parabola, of which we have no fear.
“Now wait a minute,” you may ask, “is that not a black hole?!”
Such is why we’ve got a robot and not a human soul.

If all goes well, we’ll soon be off to a land we do not know;
We’d hope by then the rip in time has largely ceased to grow.
Will this tall tale go on longer? Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore,”
Just be warned about the risk before you dread that 404.



by John M., Grade 9




Monday, June 10, 2019

Two Authors to Close the Year: Maddie and Maddy

As the school year comes to a close, we are featuring some narratives of reflection and artwork that are also a little indicative of students’ minds as the school year comes to a close. We hope that at the end of the year, you feel related to, a little amused, and most importantly thankful for the time you spent in Holicong this year. Happy reading and have a great summer! 


Artwork by Nicole S., Grade 9
I Hate Personal Narratives

            A personal narrative is defined as a prose narrative relating personal experience usually told in first person. However, I define a personal narrative as the ultimate conglomeration of tedium, trepidation, and disgust. Quite simply, the personal narrative is my kryptonite.
 Every year in elementary school, I was forced to construct some pretentious personal narrative. Each time though, my body was overcome with dread, for my demise was in sight. For about three consecutive years, I wrote the same. exact. story. It was a poorly constructed tale of how I almost got swept out to sea. Each time I had to write the narrative, a small part of me wishes I had been. My teachers always utilized the same ritualistic chant: “Dialogue! Imagery! Dialogue! Imagery!” I am still convinced that they banged drums on a desert island in their fearsome narrative cult, for I have never witnessed any other human beings so feverish from dialogue. As a middle school student, I thought my personal narrative days were far behind me, buried deep enough to survive a nuclear apocalypse; the utter cheesiness and standardization could not hurt me anymore. Two weeks ago though, my world came crashing down.
It was an eerily quiet morning: the birds did not chirp, the leaves quieted themselves, and the sun hid behind the clouds just enough to spy on an unsuspecting ninth grade student heading to school. The calm before the storm had arrived, but I was too naïve and sleep deprived to realize.
First and second period had dragged by excruciatingly, and my eyelids flickered with exhaustion; my teachers probably think I have a medical condition, for when they begin to teach or read off a tragically misspelled PowerPoint presentation my eyes reflexively blink one at a time, causing them to gander at me with genuine fear and concern. Luckily, third period English class, the turning point of my day, was about to begin.
Following the bell, I rushed out of advisory and speed-walked down the long, sardine can-like halls to the Promised Land. As Mr. Vogelsinger tranquilly began to read the Poem of the Day, I heard the angels singing in beautiful harmony. Little did I know that this paradise would morph into a raging hellscape. 
Then, he said it. Mr. Vogelsinger uttered those two horrible words that brought forth darkness on the world. They came out in horrifying slow motion, “Today we will be starting our personal narratives.” I heard a record screech in my head and the internal shrieking of my suddenly atrophied soul. Why, God? Oh, why? What did I do to deserve this torture, this punishment?
My heart sank audibly, my eyes bugged out, and I sputtered, “No!”
Mr. Vogelsinger sounded like someone hopelessly trying to sell a bizarre kitchen appliance on an infomercial, “Also, this counts toward a large portion of your overall grade, so make sure it’s good.” An odd image of me as a senior citizen in ninth grade English class flashed into my head. How would I ever pass? The rapid countdown had begun: I had to come up with an idea. 
For days and weeks I wandered in a desert of uncreativity. Every so often I would see a beautiful idea glistening in the sun, but it was always a mirage. A dilemma arrived. Anything worth writing was either unfit for a school environment, violent, traumatically boring and overused, or severely uncomfortable to share. I began to type psychotically, but it would always end up being erased out of shame. 
After a week of failed attempts, I begged my mom for help while we were in the car. “What should I write about for my personal narrative?” I asked her desperately after explaining my dilemma.
She pondered over my words for a few seconds before saying, “I have the perfect idea! You should write a story about how you kicked Max out of the womb.”
"I don't think that will --"                                                                                              
She swerved the car with enthusiasm, “Oh! Or you can write a story about Devin pulling down every single display at Kmart!”
“Is this a joke?” I asked, for I truly could not tell. I definitely asked the wrong person.
For the next few days after our conversation, every time she would do something weird or the family had a meltdown, my mom said, “You should use this for your narrative!” or she would chirp, “I’m giving you more stuff to write about!” The dysfunction only continued. 
Physically attempting to write the piece was mentally draining. As I began to type, my fingers suddenly became paralyzed with fear: they were lost, abandoned, and without hope. They itched to let the words and the feelings flow, but they were trapped deep inside. My invincible walls would not crumble. The blank white of the empty word document burned my eyes.
Every so often a story would begin like a baby deer learning to stand; however, it was always shot down by cheesiness, underwhelming, and overnarration. My mind fell into a state of anguish and disarray, What is wrong with me? Why can’t I write something so simple? Is my life really this boring, this empty? For many days and many nights, I made countless failed attempts to create my masterpiece. The searing pressure and anxiousness only increased as my accidental procrastination continued.
         Suddenly though, my mom hatched the perfect idea, “Madi, why don’t you write a personal narrative about how you hate personal narratives?” The stars aligned, the angels sang down from heaven, and a wonderfully bright light illuminated the living room. The wheels of creativity had begun to turn.
       Bob Marley once said, “Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure.” For me the most difficult part of writing a narrative is the forced vulnerability. Because of this, I, along with many others, go into a self-preservation mode which ultimately detracts from the quality of the piece. Although this form of writing is extremely strenuous, the challenge is necessary to understanding my writing journey and life journey. By changing my mindset on a small scale task like the personal narrative, I can learn to adapt to anything life throws my way. At the end of the day, we are our biggest obstacles. The only way to triumph is by consciously choosing to take the hard way and forget our fears, even if it is merely a personal narrative.   

by Maddie G., Grade 9



Artwork by Ali. H., Grade 9 

Regular Girl

                “I’m NOT doing that again. Last time I tried, I think I threw up when I got home.” I shift my weight from one foot to the other and try to sound resolute; it’s useless.
                “That’s because you were sick; you’re going. I’ll show you what to do and won’t let you fall.”
                This seems highly questionable since Kristina, my best friend since preschool, stands up to my chin. She is nimble and close to the ground and I … am not. Her dark eyes pierce my skull awaiting my assent, but all I envision is a catastrophe in super slow motion---the flailing arms, the desperate hands grasping at an unsympathetic wall, the awkward hips writhing to regain a center of gravity, the frenzied legs straining to stay upright, all crashing into a humiliating heap. Tangled on the floor, my legs refuse to unwind, weighted down by wheels of stone and stiff leather that locks my ankles straight … roller skates. Who ever thought this was a good idea? I squeeze my eyes tight and open them to the present reality of Kristina’s expectant face.
                To my surprise, I hear myself say, “OK.”
                The Frenchtown Roller Rink is a sight to behold. Unlike its competitors, which nestle in industrial parks, this rink perches high on a hill overlooking the Delaware River encircled by miles of green space. Rolling up the slope, our minivan wheels kick up gravel and crunch on the stones beneath. The river below packs the air with oxygen and the surrounding pastures allude to spring. The milky, blue-roofed building stretches across the summit, and I suspect the owners reside behind the shuttered windows on the second floor. As we enter, large metal doors groan and our noses transition from outdoor fresh to damp and musty. It smells a comfortable kind of old, as our eyes adjust to the dim light in the cinderblock room that holds the ticket booth.
                “In-line or regular?” The woman behind the plate glass speaks through a hole like the Wizard of Oz speaking into his microphone. Her slightly overbleached hair frizzes from her hair clip, touching the glass as she leans forward.
                “There’s two kinds of skates?” I fumble.
                She peers through her rose-rimmed glasses and assesses that I am definitely a “regular skate” girl; in-lines are for experts. I slide my money under the glass in exchange for a “regular skate” token and enter the rink.
                Kristina grasps her in-line token and nudges me toward the skate counter. The tousled teenager who glides behind it expertly sprays an unholy amount of shoe-freshener into interminable rows of skates. He smacks his gum, grabs a just-returned pair, and tucks the laces inside.
                “Size?”
                “9 ½,” I quiver.
                Within seconds, a tired pair of skates clunk onto the counter. They are the color and texture of an old camel with faded orange wheels. The coffee-colored laces are inexplicably long, and I wonder if he will ask me if I would like them frayed or knotted; all appear to be one or the other. We find a seat amidst bountiful mounds of sweatshirts and backpacks. Feet slide in, laces crisscrossed, and I swallow my fear. Kristina grasps my hands to help me stand, and I roll diffidently onto the rink.
                Hand over hand, the half-wall is my new best friend. I grasp it tightly for one quarter of the rink, before I realize with horror, that the remaining loop has regular walls with no railings. Kristina urges me forward, and I hug the bluff with the fingers of a mountain climber.
                “One-two, one-two, one-two!” Kristina chants as she floats across the floor. “It’s not that hard. Just push your legs up and out. Try to gliiiiiiide across the wood.”
                “I’m trying!” I proclaim with firm determination as my bulky skates clomp on the shimmering rink. I free myself from the wall’s gravitational pull for a few seconds until, BANG! A whirling spin, a clutch for the cinderblocks, for anything, followed by a tumble over Kristina’s small frame. I attempt to stand, but this results in a session of repeated stumbles on the floor. True to her word, my friend boosts herself up, and extends her hand to help. Little by little, my crashes transform into stumbles, and my clunks transform into something like a glide.
                I finally feel sufficiently confident to look up from my feet and note that the rink actually matches its YouTube description: “164 feet long by 74 feet wide of pure roller goodness.” The walls splash with a 1990s Solo Cup theme in teal, dusty purple, and lemon yellow, and the skaters within reflect a similar diversity. Lap 9: an agile 8-year-old flies by at rocket speed – backwards. Showoff. Yes, I feel intimidated, but I press on. Lap 12: a 50-year-old man, with long, layered hair and 1970s shorty-shorts rounds the corner with a flourish, but I am undaunted. Lap 16: the mime-like, goth guy with striped leggings passes me with a rush of air; scary, but I keep my nerve. Lap 22: the gray-haired rink official prods the skaters to leave the rink for a game. I take my cue to rest and use the bathroom.
                The bathroom is the pinnacle of the new skater’s experience. First off, you should know that door locks, soap, and paper towels do not exist. Bring a friend to hold the door and antibacterial wipes. Second, beware of toilet paper strands strewn on the floor like streamers after a party. They not only trip you up, but tend to trail behind your skates. (I don’t discover my straggling festoon until lap 25.) Third, know that the decrepit bathroom with its cloudy mirrors is probably designed to discourage you from lingering, and get you back on the rink. This proves an effective strategy. I exit and skate 20 more laps to the music of “Fireball,” “Cha-Cha Slide,” and “24K Magic,” among others. I coast under disco lights, fall under limbo bars, and count 3 changes in the skating direction. Kristina and I finish blistered and exhausted, but I have learned to skate.
                With my newfound skill and confidence, I grow to love the Frenchtown Roller Rink. I love the snack bar, with its two hot dogs slowly rolling on the cooker and the low level of popcorn that sits in the glass popper all week. I love the vending machine covered with fingerprints from “almost falls.” I love the game room with its faded pinball machines and its claw machine filled with under-stuffed animals and wax vampire teeth.  I love the lady behind the snack counter that looks astonishingly similar to the lady behind the ticket counter, the lady in the music booth, and the lady replenishing lost quarters in the game room. I tell you, that lady runs the place.

                For all its quirks, the Frenchtown Roller Rink holds a warm place in my heart, probably because it turned my fear of roller skating into a fun, retro experience. It is here that I stretched to try something intimating, and my friend stretched out a hand to offer support. The place reverberates with an acceptance of all types of people and all levels of skill. I also hold it in high esteem, because it embraces its community---its bulletin boards are plastered with posters of fundraisers for sick children and messages of support for their speed skating teams.  In a world of industrial businesses, I hope this place remains standing as a beacon on a hill that welcomes “regular skate” girls.

by Maddy K., Grade 9

Artwork by Alita L., Grade 8

                                                                                               




Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The National Poetry Month Post

April is National Poetry Month, and today we bring to you some poetry by Miss Levin's students.  This is one of two posts that we will feature this month, with some narrative writing coming soon.  What are you doing in classes to celebrate National Poetry Month this year?

Artwork by Chloe U., Grade 9

A Virtual Journey

As I'm searching through the options,
I see that I must do this the hard way.
There are only two choices
Each with tempting bribes.

I could take the easy way and the shorter way,
But this would result in poor quality.
I could also take the longer and more difficult way
And it would result in better quality

For the longer way,
I would have to travel through multiple destinations.
For the shorter way,
One location would do the trick.

Which to choose, which to choose?
The decision is ripping me apart.
At last I choose the long way,
And begin the journey

I make it through two destinations,
Only one left.
The final leg on my journey and I finally make it
To the Netflix homepage.

by Colette B., Grade 9

Artwork by Maya T., Grade 9

The Countdown

We come back to school
In September
Excited for the new year.
The new classes, new teachers
And new friends.
It’s fun and exciting
For the first week
Then reality hits.

We begin longing for the summer days
Where we would spend them relaxing
Hanging out with friends
Enjoying vacations
Getting tan
Staying up late
Doing whatever we want.

We begin the countdown
Until the day we get summer back
Journeying through ten long months.
Ten months of work,
Projects,
Tests and quizzes,
Persevering through it all
So we can reach the day

The day we get summer once again.

by Sara M., Grade 9
Artwork by Avery J., Grade 8


The clock strikes midnight,
And I know it's time to shine,
I tiptoe past my mom's room,
I fall down the stairs with a boom.
Thankfully, everyone was asleep.
I slowly creep.
                 Toward.
                        The.
                            Kitchen.
                            I'm so close.
                            Almost there!
 
                            I can practically taste the cheesesteak
                            I am about to devour.

                            I hear the fridge open and I know
                            I am not alone.

                            I am this close to dialling 911 on my phone.

                            I see my brother holding my cheesesteak.

                            I hit call --
                            This is why you don't take my food.

by Elena S., Grade 9