Artistic Avenue - A collection of talent across all of Maplewood

If you wish to submit work for publication, please email all submissions to hcasey@penncrest.org.  Thanks! 

The Dream

It’s happening again. I am standing in front of the same stone walls forming the same tortuous labyrinth. Everything is how I remember, but I know better than that. It is going to be worse than my last visit.

If I get through the labyrinth, I get to save my sister. I would do anything for her, even if I have to go through this awful mind game. I take a step forward. My hands are pulsating, my heart is beating heavily in my chest but my mind is focused. I have to do this. The scenery changes; I am walking through a dark corridor. I notice that there is blood splattered against the wall. I know it belongs to someone; it is still warm. “This is just a test,” I whisper to myself. “I have to do this.” I wonder what I have to do to pass. Suddenly I reach a dead end. There is something behind me. I turn around slowly. There is nothing. I must have been imagining it. I walk back to the beginning. There I see my exit. On the ground there is a body. It can’t be my sister; that would be too easy. As I get closer I realize the body is smaller. A child’s. It is covered in its own blood. I have to hold my breath to keep from gagging. What do I have to do? I pass the body like it is nothing. I go to the next obstacle. It is the feeling you have when you know you can do nothing to help.

As I walk through the border, the scenery changes again. I am in a boxing ring. Oh boy, I think, this is not going to end well. Boxing is something I always joked about doing, but now that I am here all by myself waiting for the next trick, I don’t think it’s a joke anymore. A figure comes into the ring. My opponent. They take their hood off; before I can scream I am pinned to the ground. The last thing I see is the figure standing over me in triumph. The room starts to spin.

When I get up from the hard ground I realize I am in a field. My back is throbbing, but I get up anyway. My sister needs me. The top of the grass is about to my waist. When my eyes finally adjust, I see two figures sitting in the distance. I start walking toward them, speeding up to a jog; in seconds I’m sprinting. I don’t know who they are, but I know them. The figures are becoming clearer. I come to a halt. It is my mother and father. They are chained to their chairs. I run to them and yank at the chains, tears streaming down my face, but they don’t make a sound. There is a gun between them with a wrinkled note. It says, “This is it.” So much is running through my head. I know if I don’t kill them, something else will. I grab the gun with shaking hands. I close my eyes and pull the trigger.

-L.M.A.B
 

NOVEMBER...

November comes with a chill in the air,
With frost on the ground,
And trees nearly laid bare.
Winters long nights are now ominously close,
Yet they are filled with opportunity to stay warm with those we love most.
Advent draws near with its message of joy,
So the seasons melancholy is still in God's employ 







 

Greetings, I am your starter friend

As a starter friend, you can come to me first
When you need to ask a question, vent, brag, cry, or anything at all

As a starter friend, I will drop everything I’m doing
To rush by your side and make you feel better

As a starter friend, you don't have to do anything for me
I’m only meant to give and not to receive 

As a starter friend, you can leave me anytime
And I will not get mad at you, I'll just blame myself

As a starter friend, I will try to make you happy
Even if it means hurting myself

As a starter friend, I will listen to everything you say
And take it to heart

As a starter friend, if you tell me to leave
​I will leave

As a starter friend, if you tell me to stay
I will stay

As a starter friend, I mean nothing
Compared to you

As a starter friend, I am always to blame
And you can do nothing wrong

As a starter friend, I know you will leave me
When I run out of use

As a starter friend, you shouldn’t worry about me
Trust me when I say I’m fine

As a starter friend, ignore me for weeks
And feel free to come back when I am needed

As a starter friend, my opinion doesn’t matter
I will do what you say

As a starter friend, you can use me as a punching bag
And I will be honored

As a starter friend, you can take my voice
And turn me into a puppet

As a starter friend, feel free to do what you want
I won’t stop you

As a starter friend, I will give myself to you
And I will never show you my regrets

As a starter friend, please just hate me
Rather than acting as if you never know me

As a starter friend, I should have lost my feelings
So I can be useful to you

As a starter friend, I can’t stop you
Do whatever you want

As a starter friend, I will keep on smiling
To keep you happy

As a starter friend, I might be breaking
But there are plenty other like me

As a starter friend, I am not special 
And I am waiting to be replaced

-S.M.F
 

Seven 
It's been 7 months since you left 
Leaving me behind 
Missing you everyday; always on my mind
Love you more than life, i'm sad you had to go
But from that day day i did know 
There was a better place waiting for you
Where you could love and be happy
No hurt in your hurt in your heart
But even now i know this is just the start...
 

Numbers

What if someone could count, 
every time a friend has said, “It’ll be okay” 
to someone who’s world is falling apart. 
For all the times someone with a college degree, 
that makes it sound like people can so easily be changed with the pills they are given,
for all the times they’ve charged money for a thin stability. 
What if someone could count the smiles that she’s faked?
Or the number of times he’s hurt himself with no other solution. 
Give us a number and not just a percent. 
Those percentages mean nothing when they aren’t going down. 
Give us a number we can remember so we can work harder when we see someone's humanity falling out of their reach. 
Give us something we can do, not just a toll free number when someone says they want to die. 
Give us the script psychologists seem to know by heart. 
A number doesn’t seem to be enough when those numbers don't go down. 
Teach us what to do so we can save the next person we find slipping out of their own mind. 
Teach is what to do when someone treats their body like paper. 
Teach us what to say before someone sinks away to the point of never coming back. 
So what do we do?
Give us something we can memorize and learn till we know it by heart. 
It’s about time we learn to say more than “Things will be okay”
Because we don’t always feel that way. 
It’s not okay when mothers and fathers lose their sons and daughters to something they didn’t know they couldn’t stop because they just didn’t know how. 
A life is too high a price for pills that only stop their minds for a short time. 
Because people are more than their test results.

by Lily Kaplan
 

“There will be days when he is spent, days when his heart becomes the low rent housing that others use to store their back up plans.” -Shane Koyczan: Tarot


Today, just like many others before it. 
His heart is spent. 
And he is tired. 
His ears have become the dumping ground for bad news. 
His throat is sore from telling the lies people need to hear, 
things like “It’s going to be okay,”
Sting his youngest every time someone cries to him. 
His heart has shattered over and over, 
rebuilding itself day after day. 
The construction is never done before the next time it breaks. 

His eyes burn every time he wants to cry, 
but he never does because there is always someone needing him. 
Needing him to fix their hearts without thinking that his is already broken for them. 
They don’t consider the growing weight in his brain as his eyelids become heavy. 
They don’t consider the pieces of himself he’s given up for them. 
They don’t question the dark circles under his eyes. 
They don’t expect that he, the answer to their problems, has his own. 
They just don’t know. 

He gives up broken shards of his barely beating heart like tokens,
they pay him with their problems. 
His heart is filled with mismatch patches. 
His mind a map of all the ways to fix problems. 
His soul a midfield of excuses to why he’s not sleeping. 
His hands scarred from holding on to people who only found their way under his skin, 
before they’ve gone leaving him behind with pieces of him still with them. 

He is the backup plan for when days don’t go as planned. 
His eyes are glasses, 
brimming with all the things he feels. 
But they never overflows. 
So he never has the tears to prove that he too, 

isn’t okay. 
He pretends he’s only happy. 

-- Lily Kaplan
 

“He's expected to transcend his own feelings and step aside to make way for the something better that so suddenly comes along.“ -Shane Koyczan: Tarot

He sets his feelings aside. 
Holding back the things he feels. 
Holding back hurricanes behind his eyes, 
a thunderstorm in his throat.
He holds it all back to keep from damaging the complex design of the world. 
He holds it in preparing, for the things better than him that came without warning. 
He steps to the side and lets time pass him. 
Progression doesn’t stop for him, 
it just keeps going. 
Time doesn’t stop as it drags at his feet, 
hoping he will drown in his own regret. 
He holds back the things he thinks needs said 
because he knows he will never stop after that. 
He knows his words will become the storms, 
his tears will become the hurricanes whose rain washes away the world in his way. 
So he stays to the side,
knowing the world will one day walk over him before it realizes, 
It’s gone too far. 

-Lily Kaplan 
 

hungry
a spoon full of oatmeal for breakfast
a couple saltines for lunch
and an apple before bed, that should do it right? 
i lay in the darkness listening to my stomach screaming out to me “stop punishing yourself” and i should listen, but i don’t 
i won’t be beautiful until i look like her 
i won’t be worthy until i can look good in this 
i won’t be good enough until i can walk into a bathroom and be happy with the number on the scale
the number that defines me 
the number that measures my worth 
my body was put on this earth to survive
to live and survive 
to live and survive
to live and survive 
to live 
but am i really living when i spend life counting the calories to a piece of gum
i mount the scale and it seems i have gained weight from just the thought, the smell, the hope of food 
why am i punishing myself? 
i have done nothing wrong
but this feeling is ripped away by the thought of feeling beautiful 
feeling like i am enough 
feeling like i am worthy 
feeling like i am desirable 
feeling like i am  beautiful 
but i only feel beautiful when i’m hungry
 
 -S.K.V
 

We, were like diamonds. 
Shining, 
strong, 
and hard to break. 

We spent our youth shining,
without needing to be polished. 
Then one day, 
everything changed. 

We woke up. 
And we no longer shined...

By, Lily Kaplan
 

We were three kids. 
Just three kids walking. 
Walking down a road one midsummer's night. 
The evening bugs sung back and forth to each other. 
We just kept walking. 
Just three kids walking. 
The sun was nearly black. 
But it was only 9pm so the sun just got finished setting. 
Even though there were still shades of pink in our midsummer's walk. 
It got darker as we walked under the cover of trees. 
But we were still just three kids. 
Still, just walking. 
The bugs sang back and forth to each other. 
It's funny how calm one can feel. 
Just walking. 
We were going to the woods. 
Were the night animals would sing their songs. 
They had been waiting for people to listen. 
Waiting for someone to stop and appreciate them. 
So they could sing their practiced symphonies.
That's just what they did. 
But we were still, only three kids. 
Walking. 
Trying to get where we were going. 
Eventually the crickets went to rest,
and we got to the place we had intended to go. 
We played our song and cried under the stars. 

By, Lily Kaplan
 

Happy. 

Such a simple word; one word, two syllables, five letters. Yet such a difficult concept to grasp. For most people, being happy is easy. It’s a simple idea: wake up, smile, love yourself… simply be happy. But when you’re like her, happy is hard. Happy isn’t easy. 

Being happy is nearly impossible. 

She used to be happy. She used to smile and laugh and love herself and be happy. But then it was gone. It all went away; slowly at first, then all at once. Until there was nothing left but a broken girl; sad, afraid, alone

It left way too fast; so fast she couldn’t catch it. She changed so drastically and in such a short amount of time that it terrified her and she wanted nothing more than to make it stop. But there was nothing she could do. 


There was nothing anyone could do. 

The girl felt alone. She was alone. Her mother worked second shift, so the girl hardly ever saw her mom. Her mom didn’t even notice her baby girl change. 

The girl’s dad was a piece of garbage and wasn’t in her life, and therefore, he didn’t notice her change.

The girl distanced herself from everyone; her friends, her sister, her brother, her cousins. She quit talking. She quit smiling. She quit laughing. She just quit. She quit on her life; she quit on everything. 

But that’s not where her story ends. 

There’s always hope, no matter how shallow, how dark, how over everything seems. 

Someone noticed the girl had changed. Someone cared. And someone got the girl help. 

At the time, the girl felt as if they didn’t care, as if they were doing it to make her life even more of a hell than what it was already. 

The girl was angry; she was ripped out of her life, ripped away from what she thought normal and shipped somewhere else. 

But that somewhere else was what would become her saving grace. 

The girl met some people, some of whom she didn’t like, but many of them were kind and friendly. They were caring. They were helpful

They taught the girl that life isn’t over, that she shouldn’t just quit on life. They helped her rebuild herself; they helped her transform herself into someone she liked. 

If you would’ve told the girl a year ago that being happy could be as simple as what it sounds, the girl wouldn’t have believed you. She would’ve called you crazy and continued to forget how to smile and continued to slip into this world of darkness and continue to lose herself to a monster: depression

But she learned that being happy is as simple as that and the girl found the light; she found herself and she found her way out of the darkness. And she believes you can too. 

~B.M.S~

MARCH 1, 2018

It was a gloomy day on March 1, 2018. I got up, went to school, then I went to work. I wasn’t having a good day that day, I was just in a bad mood. That night, I left work around 5 because I wanted to stop at Joann Fabrics to get some supplies for my Senior Project Trifold. By the time I left Joann’s it was about 5:30 and it was really raining outside. As I was driving home I was listening to some good music. It didn’t help put me in a better mood, which I thought it would. As I was driving along, I was coming to a curve in the road and I began to slow down. I was just beginning to go around the curve when I saw a car coming very quickly towards me and I knew it wasn’t going to stop. Right when I said “Oh my gosh, it’s not stopping,” the car hit me. 
After she hit me, I wanted to get out of the car. My stomach hurt really bad from the seat belt and I knew something was wrong with my wrist. By the time I tried to get out of the car, a guy was telling me I needed to sit back in my car. I told him I needed to call my parents, so he gave me his phone to call them, but nobody answered. At this point, the ambulance had arrived and an EMT was standing by me asking if my head or neck hurt. I said, “No, but my wrist really hurts.” He then took me to the ambulance and someone started to put my arm in a splint. The lady who hit me was sitting nearby and she only had a small cut on her lip. As I was sitting there trying not to cry, my mom opened the ambulance door, I was so glad to see her. I kept telling her “Mom, I'm okay.” After they got the splint on, a State Police Officer came in to talk to me and asked what had happened. I told him what had happened  and then he told us to go to the ER and get my wrist looked at.
As we were riding to the ER, I started feeling sick, but it was just because of the shock. I got to the ER and was taken right into a room and the X-Rayed my arm immediately. The whole time I was sitting in the ER I kept telling my parents, “I’m so sorry about the car.” Their response was “We don't care about the car, we’re just glad you're okay.” About 15 minutes later the doctor came in and told me that my wrist was broken. They then put it back in place, which was the worst pain I had ever been in. At 11:30 p.m. they told me that I had to stay overnight so they could watch me and make sure everything was okay, which it was and I was able to go home the next day.
A few weeks later I had to have surgery on my wrist because it wasn't staying in place. The surgery went really good and now my wrist is fixed. I'm glad that my wrist was the only major injury because it could have been a lot worse. Being in this accident has made me become a more defensive driver and I watch and make sure that people are actually going to stop at stop signs. When you are driving be aware of your surroundings and if you don't know the area, slow down and pay attention! Wear your seat belt as well, it saved me from being hurt worse!

                                                                                                               ~N.G.B~

Alone
By:Rachel Brown

Consume my being
Abandoning the freeing
Lock all your doors
Before we start the sores

Let the darkness guide
Make sure to confide
Help is in the deep
Where monsters lurk and creep

But in a day
You may stay
Some may condone
But you’ll always be alone

Toxic
Sometimes what you want the most
Is what is worst for you.
Often times we find ourselves being infatuated
With an infection.
This beautiful nightmare
That would be so perfect,
If he just did this or changed that.
We let them come in our hearts
And make their bed in our souls.

Their parasitic ways suck the joy and happiness 
Out of your life.
Until you’re nothing but an empty frame 
Of the person you used to be.
They latch onto your brain,
And everytime you think about
Leaving and being okay on your own,
Their perfect whisper tells you, 
“You're not enough without me”.

People try to convince you otherwise.
That he is in fact toxic, 
But you are too high with the toxins, 
The toxins he pumps into your veins 
Everytime you are near him, 
To listen to the people who only
Want the best for you.

But I think it's time I start listening!

​-Anonymous
 

Hands 
      His hands were just hands to everyone else, but to her, they were the tools that he used to take away her innocence. Her clean skin was tainted by those dirty hands. Everything that was good before was ruined now, because everything that was good before is what led up to this. “Why did this have to happen?” she asked herself. 
    Those hands stole her innocence piece by piece until there was nothing left but a shell. A shell of a girl who was once so filled with life, but is now just numb. She sits in her room, staring at the ceiling, trying to forget, but how can she forget when every time she closes her eyes she sees those dirty hands. And when she tries to sleep she watches the trail of tears fall down her pillow case because it is the only thing that distracts her from the memory. Everything traces back to those hands. Those hands that took every good thing and left her hollow. But monsters only exist in fairytales, right?

-S.K.V. 

 

Love
All around happiness
Til my feelings started to fade
This is not what I wanted
But he doesn’t understand
He pushes me to feel 
But it is not working
I tried really hard
I didn’t mean for this to happen 
You never broke me but I broke you
Such an unfairness
That I can’t undo 
I have to do what’s best for myself
Sorry that that doesn’t involve you
I promised to love you
But things have changed
I have changed
I can not help this
But I no longer need you
-------------------------------------------
You say you miss me 
But I can’t bare to break your heart again
I couldn’t continue to lead you on 
It hurts me to hurt you 
My internal struggle is real
You didn’t deserve this 
But I can not help it
I do miss you 
But I do not miss us
 

they said "don't continue to water a flower which is already dead"
because of the welted petals and lack of color, it is no longer living;
but i watered my dying and withered flower everyday for weeks,
my flower which had dimmed hues and fallen petals,
after weeks of nourishment,
which was not always easy:
new petals began to form 
with the sun and it's warmth, 
my flowers roots grew deeper
with the water i continued to give it everyday,
my flower was no longer dead,
and soon it will thrive again. 
i hope that before i am given up on,
someone will continue to water the seemingly dead flower, that is me.

YOU 

I try not to remember you
But there are still the roots from the dead flowers 
you left wrapped around my ribcage
I used to pick the petals 
But i could never discern if you loved me or not

I found a happiness 
The flowers began to sprout again
But I no longer needed to pick them
This time i was sure of the love
For it was for myself