Nicole Blackwood is a recent winner of the Arisia Writing Award and a Writer's Digest Short Story winner. Nicole is a junior at Newburyport High School. With assistance from her Creative Writing teacher, Deborah Szabo, she has come to appreciate and love the art of poetry and is honored to count this as her first poetry award.
Sequoia LeBreux is an activist, feminist, artist, and poet. She aspires to expand minds and in turn expand her own through experiencing new art and new ways of being. She enjoys creating zines, listening to mixed tapes, and meeting new writers like herself.
Ruth Ballard is a junior at Littleton High School who has been writing and performing spoken word for three years through GrubStreet's Young Adult Writer's Program. Ruth was a finalist in the 2013 Louder Than a Bomb Massachusetts poetry slam, a co-coach of GrubStreet's 2014 slam poetry team, and has been published in Solstice Literary Magazine.
Jenny Jung is a senior at Andover High School and will be an incoming freshman at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. She is the Editor-in-Chief of [empath]QUARTERLY, an international literary magazine that benefits charity. A strong advocate for people with bipolar disorder, she aims to explore mental health and sanity, and the recovery from certain conditions. She is honored to be a Helen Creeley Student Poet.
- a helen in paris
thanks for the memories
and the bloodstains
to match my dress.
funny, isn't it -
you wage a war in my name
and i'm at home doing laundry.
can't mix up the darks and lights,
only that's all we ever do
and this soupy mess of color
is the best defense we've got.
i'm sorry my lips
look like cherries.
i'm sorry you chose me
for your manifesto.
i'm sorry for the coffins -
they weren't my design.
this body was, it seems,
built for a country
to love and to honor,
in sickness and in health,
until the first head rolls
and ten years in hell
are more concrete
than one night of heaven.
you wanted a fight?
you got a fire.
i won't take the fall
for the ways in which
you've killed me.
- Esau Burned, Jacob Existed
His name was Esau, and he had a guilt,
and the guilt’s name was Jacob.
Jacob combed his hair to one side,
and he always hugged his mother.
Jacob always said to the girls
that he could pluck flowers and puddles
from their eyes, and their mouths,
their puckered mouths were dark,
Esau once shot his father in the kneecaps.
He cocked his gun proudly after pulling the trigger.
When his girlfriend kissed him,
Esau did not moan Living. He sighed
Dying. Later, when she faded into rain,
Esau did not hold out a cup to drink.
Esau often had to push aside bottles
in the medicine cabinet, so he wouldn’t
have to wake up to see Jacob’s face
whenever he looked into the mirror.
“Esau? I thought your name was Jacob,”
his mother had said to him once, heating.
Her body had opened up, unraveled,
a furnace, not a lover,
to please receive a hug.
“I thought I was Jacob, once,”
Esau had said. “You made me.”
And his mother didn’t hug him.
Esau shot his father again.
His father had a history.
Esau couldn’t wrestle lions,
or angels, or himself,
and he was too tired to.
He desired to stay still in his tent,
rub melting honey on his ravaged heel,
and wish that Jacob’s palms
never burnt his birth to ashes.
But it wasn’t even Esau’s ashes anymore,
because Esau was never Esau now.
“This is why I’m wanted, I exist,”
Jacob said, and that was Esau’s guilt.
- We Were Only Dancing
I don’t remember his name, but I remember the pine tree.
I remember the sunlight-on-spider-web
to that spot beneath the branches.
Leaning against the crisp bark rivets,
sliding the needles between almost shaking fingertips,
crumbling them into the seat of my pants
in a swirl of cigarette smoke.
His bag was a rumbling book of contraband poetry
full up of sunset glowing skin and black-market fuel.
Pulled out his pen-and-paper-subway and took me hurdling
through the tunnels of his mind:
a small café, a simple swirl of sepia smoke,
the crude beauty of each phrase
pouring out of a too-old, stubble-seizing mouth.
No, I didn’t mind if he smoked his cigarette,
I liked the way the orange coal of his trust curled between my fingertips.
Though his stories left my chest heaving
his illuminations wafted over the sound of my lungs,
broke down my barriers of innocence,
castle blocks stacked to feign ignorance.
I loved wanting his desire
but hated having it.
I remember his hands how he said he cut them cooking
and burned them in the kitchen,
eating from dusk ‘till dawn with an empty stomach,
because now that she left he wouldn’t sleep alone anymore,
and instead he danced in the rain.
And we were barefoot,
and he knew every trail like his own silhouette,
and he had a tattoo of three stars,
and that was my constellation,
and he held my shoulder and pointed out across the river,
but that’s as far as he came.
So I felt I missed a moment.
But his touch never left me breathless,
only choking on his smoke,
and his intoxication-childhood
cracked a door not yet set to open,
because his feet were a salsa and a half
ahead of mine.
- No Son of Mine
You don't bleed like me.
My blood spells
Scrawled it all across my face,
I never blinked an eye.
I know that truth be found in pain,
And damned if I ain't an honest man.
You wear my skin like it belongs to you.
I know I did not raise a thief,
But you did not earn the grit,
The scars are not yours to keep.
These are not my gifts to you.
You carry the same bones as your mother -
Like thick wine.
Still break like bread,
Snap like guilty.
She the reason "Leviticus" tastes sharp in your mouth.
You don't breathe like me.
You breathe like you always been running.
Sucking in all the air you can get,
Like life itself be slipping through the gaps in your teeth.
I ain't never run from nobody in my life.
But there are days,
Days when blood don’t make me feel like Warrior,
Days when it tastes like goodbye,
Days when I wonder if