by Neve Simmons

Voices. They encompass me,
Some are laughs of little girls,
Some are plaintive cries of a young boy,
Some are the laughs of people, the ones that kill.

The creepy smile of a little girl,
Following me around,
Is all I see at the moment,
All that is of sound,

Are her recalcitrant laughs,
Echoing through the empty hall,
They seem to be drawing closer,
As every step I take, I seem to be in thrall,

They say I am mad, that I’m creepy,
And that I don’t belong,
That my behaviour is different from other people’s,
That it bothers them all.

One day you may discover,
This parallel world that I live in,
To only find there is nothing,
Nothing. Nothing but sin.

I sleep with demons,
Who are in control,
That see and hear everything,
That drain out my soul.

They hear the voices,
That run around inside my head,
The voices that encompass me,
The voices I’ll hear until I’m dead.

I try to stay away from the voices,
But that means that I have to stay away from the light,
I try to not listen to them,
But that thought never lasts through the night.

The demons that I fear,
Make more and more progress every day,
That, now, I am blind,
At least in the real world, they say.

I can see a boy,
Crying on the staircase,
Of an abandoned lonely house,
Regret plastered on his face.

The chase is like a race,
The only trace left of him,
Is a long ribbon of lace,
That was his sister’s. His sister’s.
His sister, who wore it with grace.

The rope above him hung,
Like a vivid memory,
The last of his patience strung,
The weight of his body grew heavy.

The boy was hanging,
Hanging alone,
The nothingness was fear encompassing him,
The paranoid thoughts lacerated him to the bone.

The only thing he could have been,
Was nothing… Nothing alone,
The only thing he was to be, like his father,
A cold-blooded, heartless person, but that was long ago.

Then, there was his sister,
Who wore her ribbon with pride,
She looked cheerful and full of happiness,
But that wasn’t the case on the inside.

She felt almost nothing,
Almost numb,
The only thing that was there,
Was the feeling of her mum.

Still there, in her heart,
But she knew she was gone,
And it was her fault for them to forever be apart,
Even though she wasn’t her real mum.

She felt guilty,
Though it wasn’t her fault,
She couldn’t have helped,
If her mom was a dolt.

That is for why she was murdered,
Her husband being the murderer,
For the murder was an unsolved case,
Only the children knew.

But they didn’t come forward,
For they were scared,
They didn’t want to be judged,
They just did not care.

Now the daughter is in the cellar,
Staring at her long gone brother,
Thinking that she could’ve done better,
She should’ve done better.

The guilt is now a burden,
The only thing now is that feeling
For the only thing she can be
Is nothing… Nothing and alone.

The nothingness is fear encompassing her,
The paranoid thoughts lacerate to the bone.
Because the only thing she ever could be,
Was nothing… Nothing, alone.

For she was everything… Everything…
But she was nothing…

Her brother was only nine,
But that didn’t matter to him,
The only thing he would do was pine,
Pine for the most wonderful of things.

He was spoilt but grateful,
Never once forgetting manners,
But one day, he forgot,
And he soon was on the ladder,

The verge of punishment,
And the verge tipped,
Then, everything went silent,
The only thing you could hear was the water drop drip…

That day she yearns to forget,
That day she shall remember,
For it was the most sorrowful day,
The day… The day she lost her brother.

I look at you,
You glare at me.
I begin to recognise you,
To only realise, to only see,

That you’re not really there,
And that we’re from a different place,
You’re only in my imagination,
You’re only moving at my pace.

But you follow me around,
And you say,
“There is no mercy,
There is only hate.”

I title you, ‘My Friend.’,
But it is very clear to see,
That you’re just like the others,
You’re nothing like me.

I thought you cared for me,
But your sly, seductive expression told me otherwise,
You’re just like the others,
You only want to hurt me, make me cry on the inside.

But at least you’re in my story,
For my story would be different without you,
At least you know my story,
But I’m glad it’s only me and you,

That know our story,
Like I know the other’s that I share with,
It’s only me and you here,
But, now, it is just a constant fear.

They all emerge from behind the scenes,
Those scenes are in my head,
I find it hard to breathe,
When I know they are there.

It’s like my own horror show,
But it’s personal,
About my mum who died,
About things I know are irreversible.

I’m only running from the wicked thoughts inside my head,
The ones that treat me like an enemy,
And the ones that treat me like friends.

Most of them I can relate to,
Those are the ones that put me to bed,
But those are the same ones that make me uncomfortable,
The ones that hide, the ones that make me think about death.

But the problem is,
Only I can see them,
Only I can hear them,
Only I can feel them.

Feel the pain that they’ve been through,
Nothing compared to me,
Everything compared to you.

These are the things I hear,
These are the things I see,
I wish you were able to realise,
That it’s really hard for me,

To live with this constant fear,
And relief when I awake in the morning,
Still alive, at least,
But still mourning.

I hate the sounds and sights I see and hear,
For every day I live in constant fear,
Of those demons that overcome the happiness,
The joy and the happiness in my life, they all present me with sadness.

Death is the real beginning,
Life is only the introduction,
They ask me why I’m the way that I am,
I tell them I don’t know…
I don’t know.

My Jewel

by Asiru Abdullahi

While wondering how to describe an angel,
There came before me an amazing jewel,
Whose beauty glows as she walks elegantly,
Her astonishing eyes stares invitingly.

Behold the charming charm of a childish smile,
Drawn across her lips in a dazzling style,
Pink and tender, filled with life,
All can’t but gaze at her angelic display.

A glimpse then a stare, I got drunk,
It’s just my luck your lips were made to mock,
So intoxicating a being, so refreshing,
Indeed, she is the star that glows the brightest.


by Sahaj Sabharwal

Respect is the Desire of everybody’s mind,
But is only given to people who are kind.

Respect is given to those who deserve it,
And is not given to those who are unfit for it.

Respect is like a fuel of life,
Without which a man cannot work rife.

Respect to our elders plays an important role,
As it’s the blessing to achieve our goal.

Respect is like the bullet of a gun,
Which Travels with us in the long run.

Respect when given to all,
His reputation will never fall.

My Brothers and Sisters

by Lilly

My brother and sister
Always get a blister
By falling on the football pitch
Or falling in a muddy ditch
My dog is 82
he covered the cat in glue
I’m the only one in my family
Who is actually normal

27 Questions Too Many

by Anna Ganje

It’s 9:24, my fingers hit send on a text
High off a win, it’s a good night
I stare out the window and watch the Wisconsin countryside fly by
I wonder to myself,

When will I get a reply?

All of a sudden, a thundering boom rips me away from my thoughts
I jolt forward into a grey leather wall, my glassy eyes wide open in fear
My reflexes instantly take over, my hands brace me against the brisk material
I hear a scream

Is that my scream?

Wails and whimpers flood my ears
I turn towards the noise, it’s behind me
I can’t see the source of the crying
It’s so dark

When did it get so dark?

My phone is still clutched in my hand
I turn it on for a flashlight
There, it’s not so dark anymore
The girl in front of me wails,

“Where’s my phone?”

Someone yells, “We have blood back here!”
I am in shock, I can’t move
The bus has finally stopped sliding
My head is pounding, all I can think is,

What just happened?

The coaches walk to the back
They check on us, ask if we’re okay
And then they tell us
We hit a car

We hit a car?

I sit in my seat and turn forward
I am surrounded by 20 other girls
They are all filled with terror and worry
But I am calm, my face a blank mask

Why am I so calm?

The voice next to me croaks, “Where’s my blanket?”
I realize that I have it
It’s covering my shivering legs, I can’t feel my toes
It’s so cold

When did it get so cold?

There is no power, we are told
A brand-new bus only lasted a week
Someone jokes about not having to worry about picking up garbage
when we get off
like we normally do
If the bus is so badly damaged, then

How bad is the damage to the car?

Screeching sirens deafen my ears
Flashing red and blue lights blind me eyes
A helicopter hums in the distance
It feels like I am in the middle of a crime scene, like on T.V.

Is the accident really this serious?

EMTs hop aboard, they tell us to stay in our seats
The ones we were sitting in when the accident happened
Accident. The realization that we were in an accident now dawns on me
This is serious

What’s going to happen now?

The EMTs begin to make their way to the back
They announce that anyone with head or neck pain needs to be checked out
Some girls are ushered off the bus to get looked over
My friend is led into an ambulance, they shut the doors on her

Why would they shut the doors?

I panic now, they must be taking her to the hospital
But later I learned that they only shut the doors
So the girl couldn’t see the horrifying sight
Of the mutilated car

Why wouldn’t they want her to see the car?

The coaches tell us to call our parents
I dial the familiar numbers and my mother’s voice answers
I tell her we were in an accident and she needs to come get me
I am calm, my voice doesn’t tremble once

Why am I so calm when others aren’t?

Two ladies walk down the aisle
They need to take our information
Names, birthdays, addresses, parents’ names,
parents’ birthdays, parents’ phone numbers
When the lady gets to me, I spit out the information automatically

Why do they need to know these details?

They tell us that we need to stay on the bus
My sense of time has vanished
I don’t know how long we’ve been here—it feels like only minutes
All I know is that I want to go home

Where are my parents?

Girls start to check out and leave
I start to get anxious, I am so drained
I just want to go home
I call my mom again, she says she can see the lights

Is the scene really that big?

My backpack is missing
I look under the seats, it’s nowhere
It finally appears sitting on another seat, but not where I had left it
The zipper is wide open, but everything sits tightly packed inside, as it was before

How is everything still intact after enduring the lurch forward?

As I finally exit the bus,
Coach tells me no practice tomorrow
This seems like the most obvious thing in the world to me
I laugh

Am I allowed to laugh in a crisis like this?

When I get outside, I notice the spiderweb crack on the windshield
This surprises me for some reason
I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect visible damage
And for the first time I wonder,

How many people were in the other car?

Before I am allowed to leave, the first responders need my seat number
I can’t remember exactly where I was sitting
I try to describe to the lady where I was
She is crabby and getting impatient, she doesn’t understand what I am trying to tell her

Why is she rushing me?

The next thing I know, a firefighter is walking me down the road
I’m grateful my mom always tells me to bring my mittens, they came in handy tonight
I have never felt more alone as I walk down the middle of Highway 48
The short walk feels like an eternity

How much farther must I go?

At last I see my mom
I run into her arms and hold her tight
I know that I am safe now
I am so thankful for my family

Was there a family in that other car?

My dad walks me over to our car,
As I open the door, heat rushes out and instantly warms my cheeks
My frozen body thaws as I sit in the car and wait for my parents while they check on kids, performing their teacherly duties
I don’t feel so good, my stomach hurts

Why are my parents taking so long?

My face is wet, I am crying for the first time
There is someone inside my head, pounding on my skull
I tell myself that I’m fine, just in shock
I can’t remember,

Did I even hit my head?

I start to have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach
I can feel it, the other person didn’t survive
A car is no match for a bus
We are so lucky

Do I realize how lucky we are?

My phone vibrates
I got a reply to my text
That seemed like a lifetime ago when I sent out three little words
So much has happened, so much has changed

Why did this have to happen?

Days after, my head still throbs
Things will never be the same
Not for the 20 girls on a bus, or a lady just trying to get home for the holidays
And all I can think to myself is,


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

by Drew Granica

A cold slap in the face with every opened door
Painful shivers all the way from fingers to toes
Freezing vehicle interiors against vulnerable thighs
Blasts of cold air from the car vents before it can warm
Slush seeping through the small holes in white crocs
Ice preventing lake days with friends
Pasty white skin hidden under layers of clothes
Shorts, sandals, tank tops… all packed away
Drowning in bulky winter jackets and scratchy wool scarves
Deadly black ice pushing cars into snowy ditches
Time consuming work removing layers of new snow from wide driveways
The inability to walk outside without shoes feeling the tall green grass
Forgotten vibrant flowers and intricate butterflies
Depressing sickness bringing flowing noses and aching coughs
Lasting burns after premature sips of hot coffee
Shortening days consisting of school… school… school
Late arrivals due to the scraping of ice-covered windshields
Aching, lifeless fingers after time spent outside
Feeling the subzero steering wheel against bare palms
But isn’t winter “the most wonderful time of the year?”
Throat-warming hot cocoa after a friendly snowball fight
Exciting basketball games on Tuesday and Thursday evenings
Fashionable sweaters that feel like a warm hug
Oversized, stylish flannels layered over snug sweatshirts
Exchanging of presents and laughs with family and friends
Gathering around a table jam-packed with food, giving thanks
Face-warming steam lifting from a fresh bowl of soup
Pleasing aromas wafting from a busy kitchen
Avidly watching Sunday night football in front of a crackling fire
Trophy fish emerging from holes drilled into a frozen lake
Beautiful landscapes of snow-covered trees on peaceful weekend drives
Spending quality time at a family hunting cabin sharing rib-tickling stories
Joyful cheers for the beginning of the New Year
Weekly snowshoeing treks through the new snow with a dog in tow
Soft flakes of snow landing effortlessly on an outstretched tongue
Oh, the joy the season brings
Definitely, the most wonderful time of the year

My World

by Frasie Richards

My new world will be magnificent,
Full of equality, love and kindness.
No fighting over stupid things,
The wars left far behind us.

No bulldozing of the rainforests,
Instead we’ll plant more trees
So that our future generations,
Will have clean air, to breathe.

No more big supermarkets,
In the centre of every town.
Flying in vegetables and fruit
From countries all around.

Instead we’ll all be farmers
And plough and dig and sow
We’ll educate our young
And eat what we can grow

And we’ll only take what’s needed
To thrive and to be strong
The rest we’ll share with others
Because greediness is wrong

Medicine will be available
To every man worldwide
every child and every woman
no one will be denied

Wipe out illegal drugs,
But keep the ones that heal.
Get rid of harmful chemicals,
Use nature, keep it real

Because the world we live in
Is phoney and it’s fake
We airbrush and we Instagram
For everyone else’s sake

To fit in, to be accepted
We Snapchat and we pout
Facebook likes determine
Whether we’re in or out

But behind this mask of makeup
That’s hurt animals along the way
Our mental health is suffering
Our confidence melts away

So in my new magnificent
World that’s genuine
We’ll talk, instead of texting
We’ll nurture what’s within

The internet will still be there
Because let’s face it, it is great
But we’ll police all the bullying
Exterminate the hate

What happened to love thy neighbour
We’re all so self obsessed
With celebrities and bloggers
When really, who cares less

It’s our families that love us
Social media fans don’t care
A hug and kiss emoji
Is hardly being there

To guide us when we’re lost
To nurse when we’re in pain
Our friends should be real people
Not a google username

Our children will never see plastic
Because it won’t exist
It’s polluting and killing our oceans
It REALLY won’t be missed!

My world will be much greener
Instead of black and grey
Of high-rise blocks and towers
That seem to pop up every day

Instead of building mansions
For only the privileged classes
Why not build a village
For the common masses

Rich and poor won’t be a thing
There certainly won’t be slums
Because wealth will be a thing that’s shared
No surviving on breadcrumbs

No one will go hungry
Or die because they’re cold
Homes and education will be a right
Not something to be sold

And when we have a disagreement
We’ll talk and talk some more
Because nuclear weapons, guns and knives
DON’T WORK and that’s for sure!

Trump, Putin and playground bullies
Your powers will serve no use
For in this peaceful world of mine
We don’t tolerate ABUSE

We’ll work less and we’ll play more
We’ll talk instead of fight
We’ll read and sing and dance more
We’ll say our prayers at night

Not just to our own god
No – we’ll thank all humankind
For this, magnificent new world
Where religion is put aside

We’ll celebrate our difference
We’ll share our expertise
We’ll respect each others wishes
We’ll listen to beliefs

And yes, it might not be perfect,
This whole new world I’ve designed,
But at least there’s a chance of it SURVIVING
For future generations of mankind.

I Remember

by Charlotte White

Stumbling across sludge,
each step took all my energy,
each pained breath could be my last.
I had to keep fighting, Tommy was worse.
I was deaf to the sounds of the shells and screams,
blind to the sight of the wounds and blood.
Tommy and I were the last two pals left,
edging forward and back
in an endless tug of war against our enemy,
both sides tugging on an iron rope.
Tommy’s breathing became shallower,
even he, the cheery one he used to be before,
was losing his own battle.
Wheezing and rattling, shaking with every step,
Tommy still ploughed on, my brave pal.
He looked ahead and grimaced, something was wrong.
He grunted with pain as he pushed me into a shell crater,
knocking the breath out of me.
The ground trembled, or maybe I did,
as the chattering of a machine gun filled my ears,
echoing in my brain.
After what felt like an hour, the chattering stopped,
the all too familiar sound of a fallen man
hitting the ground could be heard through the chaos.
Ears ringing, I emerged from the crater.
I see Tommy, lying still, a metre away.
I dragged my winded body over to him and closed his eyes,
he finally looked at peace.
Light starts to form in my eyes
and I fall into calm.
I’m safe now,
and I remember all of those Tommies still.

Academic Tests

by Sahaj Sabharwal

Oh these tests,
Superfluous academic tests.
No time to prepare
For entrance tests.

Difficult to store
Vast concepts in mind,
Oh how to retain so much
Till marks given and paper signed.

Bewaring that,
The examiner is not blind,
And not our by-dweller
That gives marks so kind.

All worried,
Smile crease no face.
Will we get through,
Or falter in this pace.

Parents worried about our careers
They believe books are nifty,
Smartphones are carrier’s barrier
With no sympathy.

Parents and teachers
Support and hope is essential,
In order to raise our potential.


Money Isn’t Everything

by Sahaj Sabharwal

Money can buy Food but not Nutrition.

Money can buy Gifts but not Thanks.

Money can buy Blankets but not Warmth.

Money can buy Books but not Knowledge.

Money can buy Blood but not Life.

Money can buy Clocks but not Time.

Money can buy Air Conditioners but not coolness.

Money can buy Bulbs but not Brightness.

Money can buy High Post but not Respect.

Money can buy Sugar but not Sweetness.