[For Sale]

by Emma Davis

For Sale: Old notebooks, filled with failed drawings of birds and flowers and my sister’s stuffed animals. Slightly used, with pages torn from the back and somewhere in the middle, because the words on those pages were the only thing I could create that took the shape of something more than scribbled black lines of ink and graphite. But it doesn’t matter to me anymore. You can judge for yourself whether or not they look like birds and flowers and my sister’s stuffed animals or not.


For Sale: Bone, cracked and broken, split down the center like the shell of a nut, aged by moist brown dirt and sugar-colored sand that tastes nothing at all like sugar. Maybe it was part of a dog, maybe not. My dad and I were never too sure, because it broke in my small hands as soon as I picked it up off of the cold sugary sand of my backyard. Used, so be careful not to drop it. But it doesn’t really matter, because nothing can break a young girl’s infatuation with the bones that lie beneath the sugary sand.


For Sale: Every word that I have ever written, on my skin, on lined white paper, on my walls with pencils so that I could erase them later, on note-cards, on frail wooden fence pickets that had fallen down a long time ago but remained lying in the sugary sand of my backyard, and on the sugary sand underneath them. Don’t tell me what you think of my half-baked stories that were never completed because they were in first person and I had already killed the main character, of the overly-poetic poems, of the essays with no theses, and of the memoirs made of disjointed thoughts and memories that might have been dreams or fantasies composed like symphonies while I tried to fall asleep. Don’t tell me, because I already know, because I’ve already read them so many times, edited them so many times, and I know what you will say. Extremely used, with red and black and blue lines covering bruised, bloodied, discarded words that I killed because they didn’t work out because they didn’t fit with the rest. Be careful with them, frame them on your wall or hide them in a box under your bed, because they are all that I have ever had.



By Lucy Earl

Any various devices for producing light or sometimes heat.

An object of little to no importance to most people.

If I had known yesterday that the lamp would be moved, I wouldn’t have bothered to show up. I mean, it’s not just about the lamp. It’s the uneasy feeling that everything has changed. I left this room two months ago and I wanted it to stay exactly the same. I wanted to come back, have to slightly reposition my chair, and put my notebook on the table to my right. I wanted to watch the same crowd of people parade in, one after the other. But now the lamp is moved and everything else has changed with it.

A physical representation of the impact of change on one particular individual.

The thing about communities is that they need constant maintenance and a level of consistency in order to survive. But, if those communities are left unattended for too long, then new people come in and start messing with it. Suddenly, the table is on the wrong side, there is a clock counting out our fleeting time together, the arms of my chair are covered with a different fabric, and the lamp is in the wrong place. But still, I am here.

Our time here is forever frozen in a collection of words
The cold echos of past moments
Still reverberating around the room

They have left their ghosts here for me to discover
My other anchors across the room
Slipping away from my hands
Taking the living, breathing moments down with them

Symphonies of laughter still seem to bounce around the walls
Fading away with every second ticked off by the clock
Tables look empty without the collection of juice boxes
And gummy wrappers slowly building up as the hours go by
The room looks empty and cold without the overflow of chairs and lives

I moved the lamp back
Placed the clock out of sight
Hid the fabric covers
Put the table on the right side
And waited.

A word, like most, that begins to sound incorrect the more often you say it.

[Last Prompt Ever]

By Thalia Medrano

I never saw Colorado skies until I walked out from the grotto of a beautiful old Denver Square house as the sun set orange and pink over the dingy low city skyline, where the frayed telephone wires cut dark black silhouettes just above the horizon. I had seen it before in a picture, taken somewhere else maybe, but the same view, and had always wished that the real world could look that way. And yet here I am, finding that picture come to life in the place I’d lived in long enough to grow bored of.

I never wanted to stay in Colorado. I still don’t want to stay in Colorado. But I’ll miss the sky. Maybe I’ll find skies somewhere else. Maybe I’ll find an ocean, a grey one in a drizzly little town somewhere where the sky isn’t as brilliant but it won’t matter because I’ll have the water for a sky. Maybe I’ll have a misty forest like the ones I found in Vermont.

I’ll miss the sky, but I’ll still leave, because I want a different ordinary. Someday, my ordinary will consist of:

  • Fire escapes
  • Acrylic paint
  • Lace curtains
  • A park with a good tree to climb
  • Open documents full of words that mean something
  • Worn in boots
  • Potted plants growing on the window sill
  • Pins
  • A room far off the ground
  • My new sky, be it a forest or ocean

But for the time being, a can appreciate my ordinary for the red walls, the dried flowers hanging from a string above the closet, the strange art from every corner of the world in every corner of our home, the blue, purple, and green trim, the creek behind my old elementary school, the bus on a rainy day, the large chair in the coffee shop, the parlor and the Denver Square house.


[Atari Game]

By Madeline Dean

Atari2600aAtari video games were once very popular—that’s for sure. But what will they be fifty, sixty years from now? Just a little black box, sitting in a junkyard. Assuming junkyards still exist fifty, sixty years from now. Maybe the world will become some kind of environmental utopia where everything is recycled, and the Atari game will broken into little tiny pieces, a part of everything but nothing itself.

 That can’t happen to writing. It can’t get broken up into little bits. Because, without choice or order, all writing becomes just words. A novel or a Shakespearean play becomes nothing but a dictionary.

So, that’s not to say dictionaries are nothing, but they are just a means to an end. And the end is the collection of all of those bits and pieces–English is a language of miscellany. Here’s a Latin word, and over there’s a Germanic one, and, together, they’re a symphony of emotion.


[Itinerary for the Ordinary This Summer]

By Madison Hart

Dearest Friend,

You’ve asked what my summer looks like. My summer will be an ordinary summer. But don’t think of the word ordinary and frown. Because I intend to make the ordinary extraordinary. I will turn rolling out of bed in the morning a party–for I have another day. I will turn brewing the coffee into a time of thanksgiving–for I have coffee to brew. I will take making an omelet and flip it into a competition against myself–just to see how perfect I can make it. A shower will become a luxurious cleansing underneath a waterfall. Getting in my car will become like boarding a space craft–for I am off to live adventures and meet new people. I will take my errands and treat them as if I’m on a countdown–for errands always need a little pizazz. I will take washing the dishes and turn it into a karaoke night–for music makes any task grander. I will take climbing into my sheets at night and turn it into a time to ponder my extraordinary day and my extraordinary tomorrow. So, you see, my summer will be extraordinary. Not because of what I do, but because of how I do it. What will your summer look like?


[YAC Responds: Thalia & Madison on What is the Purpose of Art in a Time of Crisis?]

[Thalia Medrano]

Is our world in crisis? I won’t lie, it seems to be, and if it isn’t now it will be soon. There’s no particular novelty to this crisis. We’re still dealing with the same old issues we’ve always dealt with, and finding more so called solutions the continue not to solve anything. And in 50 years I can’t help but imagine we’ll be right back here again.

img_5817I read somewhere that meaning comes from repetition; if something only happens once, it might as well have never happened at all. This is seen all the time in the context of religion. How many times have you heard someone say, “If there’s no life after death, what’s the point of living?”

But I say that meaning isn’t rooted in repetition or continuation, and is instead found in change and rarity. And in a time when we are facing the same old issues we always have, we have to seek out something new. Hope comes from possibility, from creation. There’s no value to a world that can’t change.

So remember that we aren’t stuck, there is possibility in everything. History isn’t doomed to repeat itself so long as we keep creating. And there’s no wealth of creation and possibility like art.  

[Madison Hart]

When walls are built and curtains drawn. When the human soul masks its pain. When all the world seems enraged. When the only hues are black and gray. It is then that hearts long for and even needs a splash of color breaking through the rain. The art of hurt is so easily displayed on canvas, paper and a window pane. It is here where mortal enemies bond together as they share one thing in common, despair. When we realize that we’re not all that different, we fall to our knees and humbly exclaim, “we are brothers, we are sisters, let us stand.” This revelation explodes. A country landscape, a colorful myriad of tiles, a poem for the soul, a bench to sit and observe. So, that when the walls crash down and the curtain is torn. When a soul is released from unthinkable pain. When all the world seems peacefully sane. It is then that we see the black hues turn to cherry blossoms and gray’s turn to rainbow sunsets. Then we sit on the bench, the bench with the placard that says, “to my brothers and sisters with whom I stood tall, we made the walls fall.”


[YAC Responds: Aiyana & Christian on What is the Purpose of Art in a Time of Crisis?]

[Aiyana Spear]

I believe that art doesn’t need a purpose. To do art, all you need is the drive to do it. But in times of crisis, art is one of the most valuable tools out there that can help people.

When I’m scared, I turn to stories. When I’m feeling hopeless, I turn to words. My sister turns to music, my friends turn to comics, movies, shows, watercolors, calligraphy, and (of course) books. In class when we are discussing tough topics, we always take breaks and do drawing competitions or lip sync battles.

img_5816Happiness, love, hope are the most important things that can help a person through a crisis. Art creates these emotions. Stories help to ground, help make sense of seemingly incomprehensible things. Music can bring peace and stability. Movies, shows, provide escape, painting is peace. All forms of art are works of love, and that love, that power, can help people get through crises, get through hell.

[Christian Wilson]

If you’re stranded in the middle of the forest with a Rembrandt, don’t be afraid to use that priceless son of a gun as kindling in a fire. One of the most common deaths when stranded in the wilderness is hypothermia, and if you can’t get a fire going, you will get sick and you will die. Remember, Van Gogh used to use burn his paintings for warmth and if an artistic master has no qualms about setting artistic masterpieces aflame, then you shouldn’t either. Even if the only reason you’re holding the authentic oil on canvas painting is so you can auction it off to a shady group of Russian oligarchs, remember that despite its acclaim, The Night Watch is not worth your life. Although, given the fact that that painting is twelve by eleven feet, you could probably also the canvas as a tent. While you lay awake at night, wondering if you will die in the untameable Scandinavian wilderness, you can also study the intentional strokes made by one of the greatest painters that ever lived. Art students across the globe have studied every tiny intricacy of the famous tarp that could shield you from the harsh elements. To me, that’s real prestige.


I Hate Crushes But I Like You, Part Three: Charles. Or, It Gets Worse.

by Ellen Huggins

So, I was questioning my coolness last time, right? You think things have improved since then? Read on.

I have a friend, who I’ve known all the way back to the 5th grade, who I’ve always known I’m cooler than. It was a constant in my life.

Wow, I have braces but at least I’m cooler than Charles.

Yikes, I had a kidney stone like an old man or that troll from “Frozen,” but I’m still cooler than Charles.

I can’t run the mile in gym but Charles a dweeb.

My friend’s name is Charles, by the way.

Anyway, I was talking to Charles the other day in front of the school, waiting for my mom to pick me up, (i know, cool) and I asked him about his love life. I asked him, “So, Charles, have you ever been on a date before?” Why did I ask? I don’t know. I was feeling insecure and needed a picker-upper. I expected the response of “d-d-d-d-d-d-date? with a-a-a-a-a-a girl???” or at least a hand across the forehead to signify uncomfortable sweating.

“I actually have a girlfriend,” he told me. “I’ve had a girlfriend for the past year, and I had one in freshman year, too. So yeah, I’ve been on plenty of dates.”

I had been hit. With a bat or the truth, I couldn’t tell. They both probably hurt equally.

Charles was cooler than me. He was wearing a “knowledge is power” t-shirt and smelled like b.o. but he was getting more action than me?? He asked me, “So have you?”

I lied, of course, but when he left, probably to make out with this apparent girlfriend who I later found was a girl I just thought was just his very close friend who liked to touch him a lot, I was still in shock. And why is it “cute” for guys to be sensitive, wear childish graphic Ts, and have braces, but when I do all those things, guys still don’t like me? I watch “Bridget Jones Diary” all the time, and I love puppies, and I’m still hurt that my friends didn’t like my Hannah Montana group costume idea for Halloween, but apparently this is still not good enough for boys.

What do you want?

I mean, I’m very confused. From what I’ve seen in movies about boys, they love the really hot girls who have huge boobs and wear jean shorts. I can do the jean shorts thing, but everything else, man, that’s just genetics. That seems to be how boys like girls, but in movies where the protagonist is a girl who’s just average, somehow a moderately okay boy seems to like her just fine! I’m starting to believe that this whole ‘boys pursuing girls’ thing is just an urban myth, because look at One Direction, Justin Bieber, any male celebrity really.  Do you see how 13 year old girls follow these guys around like the reason they are alive is to worship them. How the ancient grecians used to sacrifice goats at the altars of Zeus, and Hera, these girls are sacrificing their family cats at the altars of Chris Hemsworth and Alex from Target. Why do you think that cute boys, who have no talent other than being attractive, have hordes of girls who follow them no matter what they do? It’s because there is a severe shortage of boys that want to date average girls. I believe that they are an urban myth. I mean, don’t get me wrong, boys have the capacity do have to girls attractive. But just insanely hot women.

The other day in history class, all the boys collectively agreed that the blonde girl from “Transformers” (NOT Megan Fox) is the hottest woman alive. I looked her up, and can I say it? I don’t see it. I know, that’s coming from me, but the absolute hottest? I couldn’t even pick the hottest woman alive. I would have to know her personality. Because I’m not like a boy, and I don’t think of girls like hunks of MEAT!!!! Sorry, that might have been kind of unfair.


This is Ellen from the future. I’m re-reading this now later and I just feel like this whole crush thing is stupid. It fluctuates, kinda like herpes. Right now, I can’t see why I was freaking out.

This is Ellen from the future of the future. It’s back. I really do like Asparagus. I completely disagree with the past-future Ellen and agree with the past Ellen. Asparagus looks nice in sweaters, and strangely enough I feel like his choice of backpack is one of the best things about him.

The crush is back.


Dear Young Writer

by Morgan Sutton

To the adolescent writer:

You do not have to be tragic. Tragic things may happen to you, or tragic things may not happen to you, but you do not need to be a tragic person.

They say, Van Gogh was Sad and so he was an artist. They say, Sylvia Plath was Sad so she became a poet, but poetry did not heal her, and she killed herself, anyway.

Do not think, “if I am to write I must be sad.” Do not think, “it is much more poetic to be tragic, to be deadly.” Your mother, she cries because she thinks that you are so, so talented. But she cannot bring herself to encourage you, because you insist that you must be sad, must feel hopeless, in order to write.  (more…)


Some Advice


by Ellen Huggins

The best advice that I can give to a young person is: never get chubby.

Never let it happen to you, because it really does really really BLOW.

One reason why you should never get chubby, is that then you won’t have all these thoughts  about it that you can never really talk to anybody about, because you’re so afraid that you’re not going to hearing other people’s opinions will make you feel so much worse, so then you have to write a  so nobody can interrupt you and then you don’t have to write something awkward like this that you have to read aloud to 20 people.

I used to be so skinny. Like ridiculously skinny.  I remember looking in the mirror and saying dear god am I  skinny and dear god I am happy about that. I was so skinny, I used to make fun of fat people. I remember picking up a book at the book fair in the seventh grade, called How to Lose 5 Inches Fast and turning to my two friends and saying “Hey look, how stupid is this?” And then tried to make a double chin, but I was too skinny at that point to make one so I just pushed out my stomach like I was pregnant. Looking back at this experience, at the weight I am now, with the level of human kindness and decency that seem to have sky rocketed in the past few years, all I have to say to my past self is F*CK YOU. If I was at that bookfair right now, I would probably be straight up putting that book on my Amazon wish list. How did it all of this happen?  (more…)