Anonymous | Northampton High School '21
Alison Blakeslee | Mohawk Trail Regional High School '20
Ethan Brossard | The Academy at Charlemont '19
Solly Chase | The Academy at Charlemont '20
Jessica Choiniere | Mohawk Trail Regional High School '20
Juliet Corwin | The Academy at Charlemont '22
Will Draxler | The Academy at Charlemont '21
Jasmine Evans | Mohawk Trail Regional High School
Claire Grunberg | The Academy at Charlemont '20
Nicholas Hallenbeck | The Academy at Charlemont '20
Malia hanes | Frontier Regional High School '21
Caroline Hollander | Pioneer Valley Performing Arts '22
Aislyn Jewett | The Academy at Charlemont '20
Ella Lamee | The Academy at Charlemont '21
Sienna Star Lewis | Mohawk Trail Regional High School '20
Luisa Marion-Rouleau | North Star '20
Auriel Nalbandian | The Academy at Charlemont '24
Emilia Pisinski-Cutler | The Academy at Charlemont '24
Talos Prophet | The Academy at Charlemont '20
Jonathan Schmidt | The Academy at Charlemont '23
Josie Stavely | Northampton High School '22
Liza Stone | Tantasqua Regional High School '20
Natalie Szewczyk | Mohawk Trail Regional High School '20
Haven Vincent-Warner | The Academy at Charlemont '22
Leo Wurgaft | The Academy at Charlemont '22
Jada Yuryan | Mohawk Trail Regional High School '20
Aizlyn - AISLYN JEWETT
She faced a small dryad to the left
of a bark knot Gutted a small
apple before eating it her small
nose upturned Took
a small look underneath
to find their unfinishedness
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
how does your garden grow?
Paused an instant, though resistant,
‘tween the tidy row.
And time did stop, that spinning top,
“Where did it go?” said she.
The light had changed, quickly estranged;
the count had come to three.
An odd event, that wink she spent
in sudden, vivid grief,
as on she stared, and tears she shared
with nature’s dirt and leaf.
Everything tangible is art.
Books, in the simplest essence,
When they leak
Their fiery red dye
That permeates every pore.
That art threatens
Our social security,
Steeped in gravelly soft
Undoubtedly leads to
The spark of kindling,
The kind that can reshape
That sublime blaze will go up so high,
And those that started it
Will go up so high,
They can squish the sunshine
And drink the delicate lead that drips out.
Mill Brook Cascade - Will Draxler
The valleys sprawl in a manner that no other landscape I know can achieve. I’ve seen depressions in the earth like these from far off places. They have waterfalls and rivers and stones and arches and trees and bushes that sprawl indeed. They have their own majesty, but it is achieved by grandeur and lack of familiarity. They have a wonder to them that casts them in a dimension far from my own. But these valleys, my valleys, are different. Their wonder comes from what all those other marvels lack: closeness, not openness; shade adorned with light and not light formed by shade.
I know my own home in the manner that I know these valleys. I drive past them, daily. Each is filled with a different scenario or idea, a different light or season.
Some are filled by stores and fast food, places built to move through and not to stay at. Clouds hang heavy above cars and concrete cathedrals. The sun cuts through them like a blue hot knife, and they bleed light to pavement. It turns orange in the evenings.
Some valleys have trees. Leagues and leagues of trees stretching from the sky to the ground and all along these quiet spaces. The grass is cut but unkempt, and curt. The light is pale, but a chilly sort of warm. Stars come out in the night, even when clouds darken the sky into oblivion, and then it’s a warm sort of chilly. These valleys have the majesty and grandeur of a charismatic friend, not that of a queen. They have an openness, but it is an intimate one, and there’s always the feeling that if you stepped into it the space would wrap you like a blanket. Or swallow you. I’ve never been inside these valleys, but I do not dare. They are beautiful and friendly and I love them but as with any charismatic friend, there is a part of me that fears them.
And there are flat valleys. Fields of grass that are worn and tired and old, but warm and gentle. The sun roams free here. It does what it wants, and it does not cut the clouds, but it plays with them. It paints with their blood. The temperature is always warm or cool, always slightly uncomfortably so, but it always ends up being endearing by the time you leave. Sometimes crops grow here, harvested by some unseen hand. You never truly know if you’re trodding on someone else’s land, but that thought is always fleeting. Barns and other old wooden houses of that sort decorate the greens and yellows and browns. They are sparring, but tastefully placed. It doesn’t matter how good you look in a picture with this place. It never fails to charm you in the end.
These valleys hold true beauty for me, just as those other valleys with their waterfalls hold majesty for the families that truly know them. These valleys hold so many stories for me, and the best part of these stories is that I understand them before they are written.
The moon always pursues the sun,
The moon sees her.
The sun has her back turned.
Hands vacant craters.
The air is thick with the smell of nicotine and hot fruit,
I breathe it out.
She breathes it in.
It reaches her mind
Through dented golden veins.
It disintegrates. She allows it.
We are free to wander the nearby forest.
Her feet scuffle.
Radiate loneliness onto mine.
I pretend I never understood why.
Golden family members watch from above,
As my heels defile their already deceased loved ones.
She looks up to them, meekly waves.
They startle, they ask,
“Where have you been?”
Hers is corrupt,
She knows it.
Stuck on my burning leash.
A mistaken creation coincidentally destructive.
It dominates the rest of her body,
I know so.
Because her fingers reach out to me,
Stretch. Miss. Again, please.
A laugh crawls out through nervous teeth.
I walk still,
There’s scuffling behind me.
The line grows thicker.
Oh, deep emptiness feels a comforting cold.
so much depends
and comfort in these
light September days.
afternoons spent sipping lukewarm coffee seem to be worth it.
believing everything will be fine, believing in all the possibilities.
but it won’t last,
intense nothingness looms ahead.
turn away quick, hide.
shelter yourself from this falsity.
darkness invading my soul, consuming my mind.
violent storms swirling in my chest seeping through, spreading hopelessness.
is this a hallucination or not? Light lies ahead waiting
my brain is exhausted and craves emptiness.
No! fight through the dark,
reclaim this life, Reality.
white light glowing brighter.
resist negative thoughts threatening
to tear apart my insides “You’ll never amount to anything,
your facade is slipping through your fingertips as I speak”
struggling alone doesn’t
have to be Reality
other options are open,
they’re calling you.
Through a Black Hole
-SIENNA STAR LEWIS-
Smoke cloud stardust
Engulfed your mind…
You were looking into a black hole
Your energy rested in the stars
Dreaming on silky white cloud cushions
You were cascading through a black whole
The sun fell from the sky
Earth began revolving Jupiter
Circulating superficial gas storms
Hiding a dense dimension
You hit the bottom of a black hole
Your soul was a zillion particles
Zigzagging through darkness
Maneuvering astral anatomy
Searching for meaning in Delphic chance
from Saint Matthew and the Angel
(Caravggio 1602-1945, Oil on Canvas)
she’s a vivrant thing
draw yourself a kind of forever, the kind that burns
find yourself a type of morning, the type that loves
hurt me now, it’s your last chance before I lose you
fly away before I fall, it’s the same view but I’ll be happier
morning glory, the clock strikes back
sunsets fade to copper, how dare you trust me
with something so breakable, something I inevitably lose but cannot give up
how could you run the featherlight gauntlet through uncharted depths of indifference
Peru - Will Draxler
Violet skies make for
Tulle and tears
Torn at the seams
Choked with emotion
A fortress of indifference
With stony facades
Yet sweet underneath
The Graveyard Shift
Walking through the city at night always seemed eerie. As [redacted] walked down the empty sidewalks, the brisk night air made its way to them. Feeling their way along the concrete buildings as they walked, they asked themselves. What were they after? Where were they going. Even they aren't sure. The cold touch of the concrete served as a reminder. Off to tend to the graves. The newspaper’s obituary mentioned that five people, give or take, succumbed to the illness this week. It had not passed yet. The state wasn't sure when it would, or if there was even a cure. All they knew was that they needed to do their job. Just outside of the city, past a few hills and through the fence gates, lay a graveyard. Rummaging through the wood shed, aged with time, [redacted] picked up a worn-down shovel. Purchasing a new one seemed smart, if there were people left to work in the stores. They walked through the rows of chilled stones, some frozen over, some still fresh and warm. The city has had to extend the graveyard several times. They called it an epidemic. A tragedy. Just last week the Mayor died, before they even had time to replace her Vice. The poor soul had been working tireless nights during the illness, working as hard as she could, paying countless medical researchers to find a cure. The first shovelful is always the hardest, especially in the winter. At this point, the dirt gets frozen, becoming heavier and hard to move. There's no grave here yet, that will be taken care of in the morning, before the funeral cars arrive with anyone well enough to attend it. It's almost remarkable, how many people have been taken by the illness. Soon they might not even have enough people to host a funeral service. 6 feet deep. 8 feet long, and 2 feet wide. 1, 2, 3. Usually, there would be at least a flock of crows out, hovering over to pick at fallen animals, now even their looming presence grows thin. Mothers holding ill children, injured tending to paramedics. Churches holding communal prayers. People wondering if their gods were furious, others wondering if they were to exist, would they save them? Another shovelful. Soon the space will run out, and it may even come to not even bothering to dig graves. Maybe they’ll start cramming the bodies into already-occupied graves. There’s nobody to look up to anymore, the deaths of those around you are almost normal. Now people are trying to buy their way out. They want a cure, they want to live. They’re afraid. Everyone’s afraid. But the irony of this is… the more you try to run from it, the faster it arrives.
But I Am Not a Writer
I wouldn’t call myself a writer
I don’t know everything there is to know
I can’t always see beneath the surface
and I often make mistakes
Sure, I have a couple of things published
and I have enough half-filled notebooks
scattered around my room to sink a small ship
but I am not a writer.
I have words circling around my head, and
if I’m lucky, I can piece them together
and put them down on paper
but I am not a writer.
I have segments of phrases written on napkins,
and psych notebooks, and unfinished notes in my phone—
whatever I can reach when I can’t sleep at 3:00 a.m.
but I am not a writer.
Segments that could probably turn into
polished work if I ever bothered to sit down and
revisit whatever was tugging at my heart in that moment
but I am not a writer.
Yet, despite all the reasons I say I’m not,
I continue to pick up my pen
and let the ink glide across the page,
knowing that nine out of ten times my words will
knowing that they will rarely venture outside of the walls of my room
knowing that there are a thousand different ways to say something,
but the words don’t come
knowing that one day I will die with so many things left
that is why
I am a writer.
Pearl - SOLLY CHASE
Learning How To Lucid Dream with Eve
It happened by chance
All I could see was that bright orb dancing
Weaving in and out of the trees
The trees filled with berries like Eden
Or pine cut out in layers of felt against the deep blue sky
I go to Eve
There is a beautiful breeze that paints moving shadows onto the grass
I whisper to her
I often think of this town as a sacred garden until
he becomes devilish and decides to make the air feel as if the body is walking underwater
We listen to his song of metal hitting metal over and over and over again
And then my head is spinning
I have never prayed for rain with such desperation and
She has a way of making my explanations slip out of normalcy
Calls me impatient
Calls me ungrateful
Her life and the lives of all other women are mirrored onto me
Why can’t you be different?
My finger beds become a canvas for ruin
My body a canvas for ruin
Which Eve says is an omen of bad intent
Which was true or
It had to be true so I believed it or
I am starting to believe it so well that it is glowing intensely in my chest
The mayfly only lives for one day
But I am no mayfly
So I can never wait long enough
Licken Chittle - TALOS PROPHET
“Look at the fire!”
I was almost thirteen and deeply observant.
It was close to midnight.
Again, heavy silence.
Time went by quickly.
I saw myself in every stiffened corpse.
The race toward death had begun.
An open tomb.
“Water, Mother, I am thirsty!”
A summer sun.
“Faster! Faster! Move, you lazy good-for-nothings!”
He took his time between lashes.
“Get up! Roll call!”
Only the first one really hurt.
Night had fallen.
I heard him count.
“Sleep peacefully, children.”
“Ten… eleven! …”
Fear was greater than hunger.
In our minds, he was already dead.
I was sixteen.
My father was crying.
I nodded once, ten times, endlessly.
As if my head had decided to say yes for all eternity.
It was the first time I saw him cry.
“Men to the left! Women to the right!”
There was no time to think.
A young boy. The gray sky.
We were alone.
Swept away by blind fate.
I looked at my little sister, her blond hair neatly combed, her red coat over her arm: a little girl of seven.
A black flame.
I was leaving my mother and sister forever.
The night had passed completely.
“Run!” And we ran.
We were withered trees in the heart of the desert.
“Fall in!” We fell in.
The days became shorter and the nights almost unbearable.
“In three days, I’ll be gone… Say Kaddish for me.”
How good it would be to die right here!
He never looked back.
We were being counted.
They were the first faces of hell and death.
And three days after he left, we forgot to say Kaddish.
A victim of the selection.
He was doomed from the start.
Perhaps he was still breathing…
I would dream.
And he began beating him with an iron bar.
He seemed to break in two like an old tree struck by lightning.
Some were praying.
You are too skinny.
You are too weak.
Too skinny, too weak.
Good for nothing.
Time was running out.
Please Remind Me
If one day I lose my memory,
I would like you to remind me of…
melting ice cream cones
whipping around the lake, holding on for dear life
the books I read
dancing in the rain
the pictures that filled my room
singing at the top of our lungs on long car rides
the colors of the sunset
how leaves fall in autumn
children playing, laughing at what they don’t know is yet to come
the pages scribbled on, underlined, crossed out,
the burning of hot cocoa cascading down my throat
the peace of doing everything, while doing nothing at all
how the rain falls: unashamed, unapologetic
the love—all of it
Please, remind me of
sleepless nights of invention, heartache, creativity
endless piles of books
sand molding into my toes
the joy of leaving it all on stage
lemonade: its tart sweetness
horses running freely
the smells of sugar, butter, flour, dancing through the kitchen
the faith that kept me grounded
stars, lighting up the darkness
the feeling of a dog, nestling against my body, protecting me from the world
the trees reaching into the never-ending sky
remind me of
the friends that became family
yours, theirs, my love
then let me go
I Won't Be Back on Sunday
Linette looked up at the church, and the tall, smug steeple looking down on her. She hadn’t been to that church in years. The only times she went were with her grandma, back when she was young enough to be enamored with any new environment. She remembered how one Sunday morning, when she was dissatisfied with the state of Linette’s Salvation Army outfit, and had driven her all the way to the mall to buy a new one. She spent all afternoon after the service ended parading Linette around, showing off the long-enough pants and cute little red tie. But she hadn’t been back a single time after her grandma died, and she had no interest in it either. She couldn’t stand how everyone thought they were God’s personal favorite for putting an extra fifty cents in the collection plate. Not to mention the way they treated women like her.
But the fact was she had to deal with those kind of people to get by sometimes. When Isaac had walked in that night with a late rent notice in his coat pocket, she had decided that dignity was not an option for them anymore. They needed as much extra money as they could muster, and thankfully she remembered a flyer she had seen a few weeks ago, advertising food on Tuesday nights at the church on King Street. Isaac was much too proud to accept that kind of charity. Linette would have liked to have been, but she had spent many more years in this town than he had and knew what had to be done to keep the sky from falling in. And if she had to be Atlas, she would be. So despite his protests, she had trudged downtown in the six inches of snow, at eleven o’clock at night, to get them some food.
The lights in the windows shone only faintly, as if they were as tired as she was. The light reflecting off the snow made the church look luminous and hazy, like a reflection in a pond. Linette paused for a moment, almost entranced, but the cold soon began to gnaw at her bones so she quicky put her head down and marched through the green double doors. When she looked up her eyes widened and her resolution melted. There was no free meal, no lines of people cocooned in winter coats, no high school kids from the honor society spooning out mashed potatoes. Instead a balding preacher stood at the altar, his face distorted by shadow and flickering candle light. The pews were filled with people, old ladies in flowery white hats just like she remembered. Her cheeks began to burn from embarrassment as well as cold.
Linette quickly turned on her heels and began to walk out, but as she was about to yank the door knob, she registered the voice echoing behind her. It was the preacher, and his voice was so warm it could melt the icicles hanging off the roof. It felt like drinking hot coffee, burning her throat but settling comfortingly in her stomach. She turned to see the familiar faces of the congregation, many of which she couldn’t quite make out, but all of which were strangely welcoming. The feeling of having so many people smile at you was one she hadn’t felt in a long time. She was puzzled but, without thinking, she sat down in the pew next to an little old lady with short grey hair.
The sermon continued, but she couldn’t really parse what the preacher was saying. When she was a kid, his voice was less interesting than looking up and imagining she was climbing on the rafters, or looking at the brightly colored statues of Jesus and Mary at the front of the room. But right now, she wan’t thinking. The eerie comfort of the room enveloped her, and she felt as if she was in a perpetual state of sinking into a dream. What seemed like several hundred candles rested in an elaborate candelabra at the altar, emitting a white light brighter then a million suns. She could feel it pouring through her eyes and invading her body, scorching the sin from her soul. The woman next to her turned and gave a soft smile. Her face was unclear. It swirled like smoke until she stabilized, just for a moment, into a woman she knew well: her grandmother.
The moon pulled tears out of Linette’s eyes like the tide. She swept the congregation with her eyes and recognized, by feeling if not by sight, many people who she had last seen in the Coleman Funeral Home. The preacher raised his hands, and every face in building turned toward her. A numinous presence poured into the room. She felt as if she were drowning, the air stinging her skin and her insides melting. Her grandmother held out a frail gloved hand, welcoming her, beckoning her, to come join the congregation. Finally become part of something, become more than herself. Linette reached out her hand, and intertwined her fingers wither her grandmother’s. But as soon as she did, she felt a cold jolt run up her arm. She couldn’t do it.
Wearily and regretfully, Linette forced herself up from the pew. As she arose the candelabra suddenly fell over, and the flames spread rapidly down the length of the church. The fire bounded toward her as she ran toward the double doors. But as she was about to throw them open, Linette turned back one last time to look at the room. I’m sorry. She couldn’t tell if she was speaking the words, or just thinking them. Not right now. The room was now so bright she felt as if she was staring into the sun. But she could make out, in the glow, the preacher’s smile. Soon, he said.
She burst onto the granite steps of the building, and was grateful to feel the viscous winter air again. Her mind was piled up with thoughts too immense to confront so she began to slowly plod home through the snow. She couldn’t even bear to look back, to see if the building was ravaged by fire or as stoic as it was when she arrived. She wandered from streetlight to streetlight, watching the snowflakes that were now falling drift in and out. When she reached the apartment she found the door was locked, so pounded as hard as she could.
Linette fell into Isaac’s arms as soon as he opened the door. She couldn’t tell how long she had been gone, or if he was still angry at her. Her home seemed to be different from when she left. The ceilings were higher and the halls longer. But all those thoughts were drowned out by the beating of Isaac’s heart, so loud it shook the building from its foundation. She began to weep, just from the sensation of feeling someone real, the fact that she could touch someone who had the same acid in his stomach and blood in his veins.
Deku - AURIEL NALBANDIAN
from Spacing for the Short
She thought the outward half of her thinking contributed to: her curiosity about others her care for them and also the problem where her sentences ran into each other and crouched at the bottom of her head, unfinished (if one attempted to represent them on a page one might run into some trouble)
she imagined the inward thinkers had time to formulate their sentences and speak them inside without pain or struggle, had time to order them like one might an equation, with the points first or last depending on syntax and she thought about syntax, sitting in the cold chair she thought about methods and symbols and the sounds behind talk and about the thoughts behind talk and transition of thought into talk she raised her eyebrows at the thoughtlessness she thought she
as she formulated the nebulous thought into talk she considered the opposite: the others, and how they struck bottom when they struggled to formulate succinct, sure thought into the nebulous talk; she felt cold chair; she saw as if from outside, as in some sort of half-seen painting, her knees extend to her feet extend to her ground in front of her which (she realized with a muscle-tightening, a head-shaking) was not her ground at all, and so she jerked herself backwards because (and she did think this)
she should not make her legs longer than they are
Technicolor Sky - ELLA LAMEE
from Two Tone
She was everything you wanted her to be
Two tone touch fingers too soft, delicate at the edges and rosy cheeks that burned in the sun
She was the fire in your world of glass
The brightest spark in a world where everything shined
She was the pen to your heart
Drawing a line to show you where to lead it
The eyes to your blindness
Leading you in a world that you can’t see
Taking your hand slowly
And reminding you that life is wonderful
The wind was dancing through her hair
Your two voices were melodic in a space that screamed darkness
She inhaled the old cigarette fumes and out came the smell of violets on a cool summer’s evening when all you want to do is stare at the stars
She made your story complete
But it kept on going
She was your foil
Reflecting the best and the worst parts about you
She touched your heart, gently at first
Holding each part in it slowly
Gripping it to remind you that she was there
She danced around the flames that you lit for her
Laughing at nothing
And crying at everything
You were the world
And she orbited you
But she became
Two tone don’t touch me ever, delicate at the edges and rosy cheeks that burned in the sun
She watched the world from afar
Taking it but never allowing herself to be happy
The world was orbiting around her
Faster this time
And it only stopped when she told it to
She was the ruler of the universe
As you watched from afar
Gripping the edges of your seat
Wondering what would happen next
She left you on a cliff hanger
And spun you around some more
But she still danced around the flames
Lit up in a circle that smelled of roses and love at first sight
She picked up petals delicately
Holding each one
Taking every last detail into consideration
Never considering the roots that it sprung from
How they used to dance around the room for you too
How she would stop and smell them
Daintily twirling one around her finger
But now they dance for her
Why can’t they dance for you too?
Amphitrite (Sapphire & Pearl)
Hold her between your teeth
She's a gem
You knew from the moment you
It's not every day
you get to hold
the ocean in your hands
To look into a goddess’s eyes
& be crushed beneath their depth
For all you know
How’s it feel to have salt
caking the walls of your weak mortal lungs
I bet that kiss cost you
a pretty penny
Was it worth it
Did you find what you were
And then some
Untitled - ETHAN BROSSARD
To the Man who was not Subtle Last Night
you didn’t say anything to me; you didn’t need to. your thoughts inside a snow globe. the things you were imagining imagining doing to me were right there on your licked lips and roughly rubbed hands. my black skinny jeans and cropped sweatshirt were gone from your eyes in a blink open close blink your hunger instantly making mine disappear.
little did you know: i passed by three other men on my way here my way here who looked at me the way you are the way you are like an object as if they thought i must be flattered that i caught their attention. i still remember the first time i realized i was being watched being watched i was eleven a man with gray hair drew his eyes from my head to my toes little did i know: how normal this would become become now i’ve lost count of the times i’ve felt a man’s eyes grazing my skin and i’ve given up trying to scrub away the stares trying to protect my childhood from their transparent minds.
i am standing behind you waiting for the food i no longer want you keep turning your head turn your head turn your eyes burning trails into my skin as you look me up and down up down lick your lips and grind your fingers together you have no shame. you do not try to hide it. and you do not turn away when i dare myself to look you in the eyes. i hate myself for giving you the power to make me scared you make me scared
normally when this happens to me i am only disgusted uncomfortable sick of it but most of all i am just angry angry that you made me scared. you met my eyes and i had nowhere to go. you spent 10 minutes silently looking me over and i spent 10 minutes trying desperately to ignore you and become invisible invisible your tongue sliding over your lips and your palms sliding over each other.
you knew i hated it. you saw my discomfort but it meant nothing to you because clearly i must take your attention as a compliment a compliment surely this does not happen to me often and surely i am secretly pleased with the attention can you keep a secret?
my body is not yours to control my outfit is not an excuse my silence is not an invitation tied up with a ribbon my eyes meeting yours is not a sign of pleasure. you smiled every time i made eye contact with you smiled. and i looked away away disgusted with you and disgusted with myself myself for not having the guts to do more.
and when i finally got the food i came in for. i walked out as fast as i could as i could. but not without seeing you turn turn your head yet again. a full 180 degrees. so that your leering eyes could follow follow me out the door.
Sketchbook Fragments - SOLLY CHASE