Content

Gone by D’Ariel Myrick

G              O                N                 E

Is the girl, I once knew

She’s gone from the woes of childhood

The swings, and wind blowing through her tight curls,

The ones her mother took all night to set.

The picture days and learning Spanish for the first time

Walking down the street without a care in the world

Everything: careless, free, and exhilarating

G              O                N               E.

Gone are the sleepless nights,

Though still sleepless,

When she’d stay up watching Even Stevens or Jett Jackson.

Nothing is fun, free, or fearless.

Spinning around now feels like the world will crumble at any moment

Swinging on a swing if only to swing and fly away from it all

Everything: careful, trapped, and crushing

G              O                N                   E…

Review of “See All The Stars” by Kate Sims

So, it’s kind of like this:

You go see a short film called, “The Car Crash.”  The synopsis says, “In this film, a car will crash, and as a result, the driver will never walk again.”  With some morbid curiosity, you go in.  The film begins with the driver leaving their home.  They get in the car and begin driving.  And all you can think is, “the driver will never walk again.”  Maybe the driver begins to sing along to the car radio, happily tapping their fingers against the steering wheel.  All you can think is, “the driver will never walk again.”  You don’t know how.  Maybe the driver is too busy singing, so they drive through a red light and get t-boned by a truck.  Maybe, completely faultless, another car swerves into them and causes the car to wreck.  You don’t know.  You keep watching, though.  You can’t look away.  Because you need answers, and all you know for sure is that the car will crash, and the driver will never walk again, and you won’t find out how or why unless you keep going.  And there’s another question rolling around in the back of your mind: will the driver be able to recover?

That’s how reading See All the Stars by Kit Frick felt.

Here’s the description, just so you can see what I mean:

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN: They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. (Venus. Earth. Moon. Sun.) Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW: Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN: Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW: Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

The novel switches between the Then and the Now, a Then when Ellory had it all and a Now where it’s been taken away.  Somewhere in the middle: the car crash, the Thing that happened to totally overturn Ellory’s world.  Like for the characters, past and present events seem to blur—you don’t know you’re back in the present until one of the characters says or does something, and you’re forced to stop and go back.

I seriously could not put this book down.  I found myself gravitating back to it in my spare time, needing to know what happens next.  Desperate to unravel the mystery.  And as I started to pull at the knots, to connect the dots, I became physically nauseous thinking about what most likely happened.  No exaggeration, there were points my stomach churned.  I wanted to grab Ellory and scream at her.  I wanted the book to go a different way.  Her pain became mine.

Ellory is brutally honest—her inner thoughts, both good and bad, are on display, ready for the reader to make the final judgement.  But her account of the story is layered.  She has a secret she’s keeping from you, and page-by-page, layer-by-layer, the secret begins to be revealed.

As far as the writing, Frick has a keen ear for real dialogue.  Dialogue that’s messy, halted, where the characters don’t always say exactly the right thing.  She easily pulled me into her story, and I could hear each character’s distinct voice in my head.  That being said, the characters themselves were a little flat, falling easily into tropes.  You have the moody, mysterious, troubled-past-with-a-soft-side love interest; the best-friend-turned-enemy-classic-Regina-George; the main character is a blend between the popular insider and the artistic outcast.  But, at least for me, I found the trope-y-ness of the characters bothered me less the more I read.

The next Great American Novel* it is not, but if you’re looking for a page turner that will suck you in from page one and never let go, this is the book for you.  It was a great foil for all the heavy literature I’m reading for school, and it felt nice to let the book sweep me up and carry me along.  I had this book hovering around three, three and a half stars, but the ending kicked it up a star because holy shit.  It’s crazy, lemme tell you.  Or, I guess, find out for yourself?

See All the Stars will be available in hardcover and eBook August 14, 2018.

* In my opinion, it doesn’t exist because taste is subjective.

At Least You Found Your Wallet by Dane Tillman

Outside my window
Creeping across the ground
Covering the trees there’s a
early-morning blanket of

Fog

You hide behind a screen well
Grey bubble ellipses
Grey walls of apology
Behind your glass and LEDs you
tether together letters into words and
words into sentences
You craft paragraphs with grace

But in presence you’re phantom
Slightly more opaque than mist
Whispers and repetition
like you’re fingering a rosary
Ad infinitum
Apologies and reasons

But you can’t even turn your eyes toward me
You opt for the window instead.
Outside
the leaves

Turn

I tell you that it’s not this one instance that
makes me cold
It’s a
slow progression
Seeds planted
Plants blooming
Blooms wilting

And it’s every small instance
Every event I can’t point at that
shakes me like a leaf in Autumn

Where am I? by Nick Hummel

There is a stench in the air

Aged cigarette smoke, maybe

Soaked into ancient walls of oak

Or is it pine?

 

The patter of rain on the thin roof above

Dark figures in frames

One on each wall

What is this place?

 

A single candle illuminates the room

It sits upon a coffee table in the center

Made of teak

I think

 

I can hear a pencil on paper

A face shows in the candlelight

It looks up towards me

“Time’s up.”

The therapist says

Classmate by Polina Yakovleva

He was as grandiloquent as the word grandiloquent

overly verbose and painfully engrossed

in the putrid sweetness of his ego

that he reeked of—

“It’s a new scent by Dior” he told me

winking, sinking his perfumed fingers

into the fire of my mind.

 

But what pissed me off the most

about that overdose of pompous words

was how many of them I scribbled

in my journal

to define later.

Endless Sonnet by Kate Sims

The light dances along my fingertips

And I curl my hand around its rays to

Catch its golden stream.  From my hand it drips

And stains the table with its yellow hue.

I pull the darkness around me and wear

The shadows and the nightfall like a cloak

Stardust falls like snow and slips off my hair

Crumbling into a fog of black smoke

The sickly, ashen grey of dusk and dawn

Coats the world I see in a light-dark haze

Boring and dreary—I stifle a yawn

Fire turns to ash, smothering the blaze

Out of old comes new, cycle of rebirth

And a tiny, light soul comes from the earth.

1000 Gifts by Kayla Barnes

 

I’m the girl who picks the tattered, grandpa-worn flannel over the new one Because it always seems to keep me warmer on winter days.

If you come with me to Walmart
I’ll hunt down a Crayola box
Open it and touch its chiseled teeth Take in the scent of new, waxy pigment Just waiting to be spread across a page.

I can’t stand a lonely cookie
So I usually pair it with myself.

Show me a good movie
And I’ll show you an even better book
I’ll probably lend you my copy so you can read it too Dog-earring the pages I like most
So that when you’re snuggling in your worn flannel You can pay close attention to the best parts.

I sit in parking lots to finish great songs
Or master the Hamilton line I’ve been practicing for weeks Then I’ll be singing in my head all day long
And the other voices in my head will join in.

I peel oranges slowly,
Breathing in their fragrant mist
Letting each drop refresh my tired mind.

Sometimes, I’ll add extra dish soap to a sponge And watch bubble mountains form in coffee mugs Old grinds spill over and wash down the drain And the warm water runs clear.

Here by James Lim

Sink into me like a grave
I am the tired home you’ve made
out of the pull and release
of our Mother Earth
that we mistake for waves.
And I pray it’s not too late
to remind you that it’s okay
to let your filth into me;
I’ll still be here anyway.

Performance by Nick Hummel

Darkness
A deep breath
Drops of sweat fall from my brow Eyes closed
Silence

Soft light
Warming glow
Heat radiating from above Staring at my feet
White noise

Spotlight
Blinding glare
Feet moving through rehearsed steps All eyes on me
Chatter

Fading
Silhouettes in motion Judgement forming in minds A curtain call
Applause

Darkness
A deep breath
Drops of tears fall from my eyes Eyes close
Silence