I wondered that night, what is the sun? I stared up at the dark starry sky. I was sitting cross-legged on top of the grassy hill I always went to question the sun, along with other stars. It was strange to ponder the fact that the sun is, in fact, a star just like the millions of little flickers in the sky. I felt the darkness against my skin as if I was leaning against a cold marble wall. It encapsulated me and comforted my afraid, confused soul. The grass I was sitting on was slightly damp, but I didn’t mind. As long as I was able to get that full view on the night sky, I was fine with a little bit of uncomfortable. When the sun is out, whatever it may be, I am warm. I wonder what chemical properties the sun possesses that allows it to provide such light and heat to the world. I have known of the sun ever since I have known the outside world. I have felt the sun’s warmth almost everyday of my existence. It’s always been there, every day I have opened my eyes- which has been everyday for the past 16 or so years. The sun, however, has existed very much longer than I have. It was dark that night, in absence of the sun. But, is the sun ever truly absent after all? Whenever the sun sets into the horizon, light disappears from the outside world that I know. However, it does not vanish from existence. The sun is always shining, and that is hard to think about. Isn’t it strange how we can use light bulbs and phone screens to provide artificial light? Should artificial light be considered light at all? To exist for as long as the sun has must hold quite the burden. I know the sun doesn’t have a brain. If it did, I don’t think it would be able to hold as much heat. I wonder, if the sun did have a brain, if it would continue doing what it does: lighting and heating Earth along with other planets in the solar system. If I were the sun, would I get bored? Just sitting in space all day, floating around the globe. I’d say the sun is important. Without it, no plants could grow. Or food. People wouldn’t have real light. I like to be warm. I like hot, summer days. But, I also like hot summer nights. In the absence of the sun, it’s quite fascinating how nights can still be hot. Does the sun ever truly set or go away? Would there be any warmth at all without it? I don’t really know, but I don’t think so. Hasn’t the sun been around since the beginning of time? If it has, then that’s quite a long while. I wonder what it would be like to exist for that long. I, myself, don’t want to die. But I also don’t know what death itself even is. Where do we go? What do we do next? I suppose the one property of the sun I envy the most is its immortality. Going against theories that the sun will one day explode, or something like that, it will exist infinitely. Every single day of the world, of time, people will wake up and see light. Hopefully they won’t look directly at this humongous star. Hopefully they’ll know that’s not a good idea. I wonder why it’s not a good idea. What is good and what is bad? If I were to have fallen asleep that night on the grassy hill and set an alarm for when the sun begins to peek out of the horizon, planning to stare at it all day from the moment it showed to the moment it left, I would experience pain. I would, according to science, lose eyesight and feel a burning pain in my corneas. I would also feel a different kind of pain, an existential pain really. I would’ve dedicated my entire day to the sun, as the sun dedicates every single day to Earth. Doesn’t it deserve it? Doesn’t the sun deserve people looking at it and admiring it all day? I want to appreciate the sun. Why can’t I look at it? Will I ever truly see the sun, and not simply the rays of light it provides? So, a question is posed: to stare or to not stare at the sun?
Is it really a good bye? Samia Ahmed
School, the place loved for its gifts of knowledge, we’re approaching another school year’s end. As the classroom is getting warmer And the sun’s stays are getting longer. The teacher’s mood is getting cooler And the moon’s rests are getting shorter. We all will miss the solving the math equations, While our shins deal with abrasions. The dread on Sunday’s nights, How we wasted the whole day. The class projects Some of the things we may or may not wish to forget. The afterschool snack, And satisfying afternoon breakfast. Piles of incomplete homework Piles of chores. The unforgettable feeling of Wanting the other to begin.
Ode to Chicken Nuggets Cheyenne Rupert
Oh! A small bundle of joy, Brown, tender, and juicy, I eat you at least four times a week, And you are always so tasty.
You come in different shapes and sizes, Bell, bone, ball, boot, and dinosaur, Four, six, ten, or twenty, From the oven (or drive-thru), To my stomach you go, Thank you sweet nugget.
The Painter and Her Muse Mya Bailey
I guess, coming from all that I've heard in my life, I am practically a cardboard box. Not that I was actually a hunk of junk, but I never completely grasped the reason behind my teacher putting life and a box as the same deal. All I could picture was this soggy, beaten up brown log just sitting on the ground like a ran over animal on the road. The box had only gum wrappers, small paper scraps that bled with ink, and a few broken pencils in its corners. Half of me thought the idea originated because of his overworked soul, dealing with kids day to day. Though that guy still had that cursed metaphor on the whiteboard every single English class. I didn't focus too much on it though; summer vacation was on its way. I always believed that one of the only things I’ve always recalled liking about summer vacation was the concept of drawing whenever I felt like it. From all the snatching and crumpling of my school assignments because of my teachers disapproval, there was little opportunity to scribble when I felt most inspired. Running out to my locker as the bell rung created this wave of excitement and happiness throughout my body as it spread from my toes to the tiny wisps of hair upon my head. Over the past couple weeks, that went by so fast it was like counting seconds in my head. I bought new canvases, paints - from a ruby red to my most favorite shade of purple, Heather - and a new easel. I remember piling all of my separate sheets of lined papers and scraps that were useless to me in a pile, then proceeding to shove every bit into my light peach backpack that held pins on it. It seemed like an out of body experience, as I dug through my locker to retrieve all of my stuff, and I felt like I was the only person in school as I packed up. I whipped my bag over my shoulder, and got ready to march out of the high school. “Sign my yearbook?” a sweet, yet cracked, voice squeaked at me. My eyes felt weary as I stared up to see a female I had recently worked with on a final project. She went by the name Amey, short for Amethyst or Amelia maybe. She seemed rather cool for my taste, and I always wondered if we would ever cross paths again. Of course, it would happen now. “You don't have to if you don't wanna…” she seemed to look around for her friends. “Yeah, yeah, here I’ll just— uh, “ I scribbled down my name and wished her a good summer. She kind of looked back at me with this rough expression, waiting for me to do something. “Oh, I didn’t buy a yearbook...if that’s what you’re waiting for…” I felt slightly bad, but I had no cash to waste on a worthless book full of awkward school photos. “You can just sign my arm,” I said, wanting to go home badly. She wrote her name, with a pink gel pen, and then finished by scribbling her telephone number. I waved in her face, a simple sign of goodbye, and then dashed to the nearest exit. I was soon at my apartment complex, where I lived quietly with my mother. It was near the downtown regions of where I resided, but the city bus would find its way to the area. I can remember racing my way to unlock the door to the apartment, running, and pushing onto my bedroom for all of my paints and canvases that remain to lay on my carpeting. I shoved them into my large satchel, purchased more directly for the matter of holding my possessions, and made my way out to the porch our apartment had. To me, it was labeled as my personal art studio. It had succulent plants hanging from beams gracefully, papers full of concepts I wanted to paint all upon the walls, and paint stains on the porches railings. We, my mom and I, were located on the very top floor of the apartment building, so I always felt like I was painting on the very top of the earth. I placed my brown satchel on the wood below me, and yanked out a plain white canvas from my bag to put on my easel. I smelt this relieving scent, a start of something I wanted to begin all my life. My paints were all open near my ankles, and I held a round type paintbrush in my right. My paint palette, which was already covered in a fair amount of paint, was in my left hand. I took a deep breath, taking in my surroundings. I had no inspiration whatsoever. Nothing was more aching than an art block, especially at the very beginning of my summer. I twirled my brush around my fingers, only glaring at the black slate in front of my face. “Oh, come on!” I placed my palette and brush neatly on the wooden ground, and drowned myself in the nearest butterfly chair on the porch. I closed my eyes, trying to grasp imagination, but nothing came out. Nothing at all. The voice in my head kept digging through its stash of keys to unlock my creativity unit. It was nowhere to be found. My eyes started their way from the right, drifting to the left. My eyes caught something, causing my body to flinch from my seat and make me head over to the porch railing. I hid myself behind the canvas before me. A boy who looked around my age, maybe even a bit older, stood at his porch staring off to the sky. He was scribbling in a blue spiral notebook, and I could barely see his face clearly. I squinted my eyes. His porch was across from mine. A different apartment building, with the same level to as mine. I watched as he peacefully wrote down rapid things, only staring at the sky and then back down at his work. His body seemed to only fall in comparison with his porch, looking almost perfect as he remained dead center, and in that moment I scurried to my palette full of gooey colors and paint brush. I made one last glance at his pure expression, and before I knew it I was painting to my finest ability. This continued on for the first several months of my summer vacation. I barely talked, hardly ever left my porch unless it was for food or something, and only painted from the morning to the dark breezy summer nights. My focus for the summer. I hadn’t known him, but from each day of darkening and mixing my colors to paint a picture, I felt myself grow closer. I once painted the night he invited his friends over for a gathering, a party, on his porch that is. They all gazed upon the stars, and I felt like I was there with them all. The boy told these hilarious horror stories, of which I heard before, and they still managed to make me giggle. His friends all huddled around, covering each other in fleece and blankets for warmth. They looked so wonderful, in harmony, and in a circle of care. It was a delightful setting. I painted the pinks, the dark blues of the cloth they had with my stencil brush, and drew the boy’s brunette hairs with my most delicate Ox Glaze paint brush. I bought it to more clearly create the shades of his skin color to demonstrate his beauty, and to also show off how gentle his head of hair flowed each day. Another day he was all dolled up in this overdramatic suit, and practiced certain conversations upon his porch. I swirled and washed my palette to place on yellows and blacks to paint his outfit. He would act with such confidence, yet back himself up and ask if he were ready to say that sort of stuff. He would place both of his elbows on the porch railing, and still stare back up at the sky. I made sure I colored every piece of it to demonstrate his attitude and the feeling of the moment in perfection. In late June I could remember the time I saw him pull out a desk onto his porch. It was something pure white and clean in contrast to the dirty porch. He struggled a bit as he did it, and I laughed thinking about myself trying to do that. He finally settled down the desk, and placed down his laptop upon it. The boy seemed to make sure that it was facing the sky in a clear angle, and then he wrote all day. I painted his grey t-shirt, and the way his hair was shuffled to its messiest. In my painting, as in real life, I made sure to add every detail from the soda cans that occasionally settled upon the wood panels, and even onto the pens and pencils he left out on his desk. From using all of my round paint brushes, on even using a few new ones I bought like my Bristle flat and Bristle round, I rubbed the paint on the canvas. The colors sparked and looked almost realistic to the scene in front of me. By now it was 4th Of July, and I remained on my porch to catch any activity that I could receive. I brought myself to attention when I heard his screen door slide open, and he made his way onto the porch with chairs. Followed behind him was his parents, mother, and father, and they all sat in the chairs he previously dragged along. I drew them together on the chairs as they roared upwards towards the bright colors of the fireworks. I used vibrant reds and blues, as they shined on the canvas with the idea of the primary colors in mind. My brush had been silenced by the loud booms and bangs that seemed to echo very loudly around, and I enjoyed the boy and his father yelling in amazement to each firework. I hardly stared above me to see them pop out towards me, and I proceeded to only paint what I viewed. July seemed to rush to an end before I could even look at the calendar to check what day it was, and I had finished pieces laying almost everywhere around my porch. I haven’t seen my porch that full in what felt like centuries . More paint droppings stained the wood, and my paint cans were nearly empty. Paint brushes were scattered around as well, and I would always find my way to slip and slide towards my easel in my mismatched socks. My hand seemed to pain more than normal, but for some odd reason painting this being day to day became nearly my only job in my life. I continued each day, sometimes forgetting to take a breather. I felt like I was painting to keep on telling the story of this guy, like each canvas was a new chapter to the story that even I didn’t even know. And one day, one Wednesday morning, he was gone. I can only remember waking up on my crowded porch, alone with myself, and then getting out of the butterfly chair to see what today was going to be. Not what I was going to do, of course not, but what the mysterious stranger had planned for another incredible day. I sat up, gathered by paints and brushes, and tried to keep myself up on my feet. I grew more tired over the summer, oddly more than I did from school. I waited and watched his porch, and the neighborhood remained silent. The wind only blew my hair carefully, strands landing in my face ever so slightly, and I breathed inwards and outwards. His lights inside his apartment didn’t even shine onwards to appear outside his window on this grey day of the week. I began to feel anxious when I hadn’t heard him, at this moment for nearly 6 hours. I sat around only closing and then reopening my eyes to look for his figure. The clock broke onto 8 hours. I had spent 8 entire hours, napping, and then waking my body up to check for him. This is where I felt stress tangle me between its fingers, tossing me to anxiety to toy around with for enjoyment. By 9 hours, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I decided to head inside my home, shuffled on my dark black boots, and then opened my door to head out of my building. This odd feeling made me want to cry and tear my paintings to shreds. I walked faster and faster to the bottom floor, and then out the doors. I was on the sidewalk, not even taking in the individuals who roamed around me. It made my heart ache and sore, running through the crowds towards the opposing apartment statue. I felt like I couldn’t even breathe at that moment in time, I just kept pushing through to the building’s front doors. When I finally got into the building, it was more quiet than I first interpreted from the boy’s place of residence. I made my way to the counter where the landlord seemed occupied with his cellphone. My social anxiety seemed to simmer as my emotions grew louder and mightier in my mind. “Can—may I ask about the guy who lives on the top floor?” The guy glared at me slightly frustrated, “Guy? Is his name Guy or something?” the landlord asked me back. “No,” I stated quietly, “He has brown hair, he’s kind of tall in a way, he’s a young dude.” He barely thought to himself. “You’ve got the wrong place. There isn’t any young kids who live here.” I panicked to myself and felt my body begin to shiver. “Are you sure? He is a writer, has friends over alot, and he has the porch with the desk on it,” I felt myself rapidly jump from each statement to another. He paused me before I talked even more and more about the situation. “Our building doesn’t have any porches… I really think you’ve got the wrong place.” My eyes seemed to dull in vision. My body was frozen when he said those words, and if I couldn't breathe before, I definitely couldn’t breathe now. I kind of backed my way from the desk, smirked at the guy, and then made my way out the doors to stare up the building. He was right, no porches. The dread began to flood my head, my heart even. I had wasted my summer, most of it anyway, on painting someone who didn’t exist. It frustrated my mind to just examine all the time I spent studying his body and his emotions, his entire life on the porch as it was. Understandably, I was taken back by the entire thing. That afternoon, I began placing all of my art supplies and paintings in a cardboard box I had found in a cabinet of my house. My porch began to empty and decrease occupancy as I continued to bury my regrets in the simple cardboard box. I stood up, wiping pounds of sweat with the back side of my hand from my bare forehead, and I stared at the dead porch. It was more empty than I've seen it be all my life, especially from that summer. I made my way to the railings of my porch, laying my elbows to rest on it as my hands dangled off the edge. My eyes were closed tight, and I finally breathed in the surroundings. From here, I could see no other porches on other buildings, no other individuals outdoors in their buildings even. It was so empty. I looked down below me, at the cars and citizens who did travel around my streets, and then my eyes met with a smudged pink on my forearm. I squinted suddenly at the numbers my hand read, along with the words that were apparent on my arm in comparison. It wasn't paint, but writing from a pen. It began with something on the lines of, “Have a really awesome summer!”and then was followed with a certain kind of, “And- if you ever want to chilllll out w/ me then call me…” A number was scribbled on my arm deeply, more clear to read than the following writing. My heart seemed to beat once more, and my head quieted. I took myself inside towards our house telephone, and ran my fingers through the numbers. The clicking noises were followed by my hand reaching to carry the telephone up to my ear to listen and then speak into. “Hello?” I heard a raspy voice on the other line. “Hey, it’s Dot from your Geometry and Science class— you know, the class with Mr. Harrison—,” I was interrupted in a heartbeat. “Dot! Yeah! The girl with the really cool, grey shaded hair, how could I forget? How are you?” She seemed to be thrilled by my call and I was amused. “I'm alright, summer has been—well—however summer could continue to occur as…” “Ain't that the cold hard truth,” she laughed, “Hey, I'm guessing you called so we could hang or something. Not meaning to make assumptions or anything.” “You did say the phrase “chilllll out”, so I guess I agree with that,” I laughed in relation to her laugh. “A couple of others from Geometry like Lanie and that girl named Raina are gathering us all up today at that cramped Taco Bell later...” I twirled the phone line with my fingers as I listened along. “We’re free to pick ya’ up if you want to come with us, aaaand the tacos are on me.” “Yeah,” I cleared my throat, “That sounds reasonable, I will be ready!” “I'll call you around 8! You don't have to look, like, totally dressed up but we're all just chillin’ for the heck of it.” I agreed with her, and hung up the phone. I can't even fully explain the satisfaction and emotion I felt after calling. It felt like I was finally indulging in my life.
I guess, from all that I've been through this summer, I'm practically a cardboard box. Definitely not a beaten up box that was slightly empty to its roots, but I was a cardboard box that held a lot of things. There were painting utensils and stains on the box’s surface, there were many photographs of my family and friendships pinned to the insides of it, and in the middle remained a heart. Not like a living human heart, that would be utterly disgusting to see lying in a box, but a painted dark red heart was on the bottom of the box. The heart was large and wide. My own heart.
My box wasn't filled before, for reasons that you may have understood, but when I took that step of courage I found out my box could grow and carry more along with me. Memories, my happiest of moments, and even the saddest of my days remained insides the box’s core. For the rest of the summer, I continued to paint with passion. It wasn't my duty to paint the same muse, because sometimes your own mother can stand still on the porch as you paint her, or your bestfriend can even sit overdramatically on a chair for you to sculpt into existence. And sometimes, you draw yourself. Self- portraits were some of my most favorites to sketch. When you block out the hope and even the chance of scenarios, your life can go by pretty quickly without your knowing. I was missing what I was in this world, and I was almost forgetting that I existed. I still paint at my strongest ability, but in this version I shared who I was with others. In this version, I was painting an unknown and thrilling future for myself. In the end, my cardboard box had bandaged itself back up from being trampled, and almost transparent to even myself. I was a cardboard box, oddly, but the things I created myself into, in my box, were who I was rather than who I wished to be.