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Published by angela, 2017-01-24 11:19:04

Dead Center_Highland Park High School

9x7 Literary Magazine

Keywords: Literary Magazine



Original artwork done by Esther Martens
(digitally modified by Anna Minakhina)

DEAD CENTER 2016 Table of Contents

4 Curriculum Vitae Julia Brennan 41 I’m Giving my Brain the Cold Shoulder
6 Eighteen Years of Experience Chris Nolan
8 Plagiarism v. Revolution Jessica Robinson Ari Libove-Goldfarb
10 Political Correction Leo Goldman
14 Help the People Flow Eli Goldstein 42 Dense Gabi Glueck
16 Why We Don’t Fail Rina Mischel 44 When is Love Felt? Olyvia Ruiz
17 Childhood Memory Julia Brennan 45 Paradise in the Seams Chris Nolan
18 Love Slam Elisha Eanes 46 Doublethink Victoria DeLaurentis
21 Problems With Knowing Elisha Eanes 48 Vivre Zenobia Murphy
22 Negativity Peter Finaldi 50 Randi Elisha Eanes
24 Julia Alvarez Poems Julia Brennan 51 Breiann Elisha Eanes
27 Poetry Sophie McDermott-Hughes 52 Liar Editor Ari Libove-Goldfarb
29 Pret(ty)tentious Poetry Miriam Schreiber 53 Existential Friday Miriam Schreiber
30 Pseudoprofundity Sestina Emma Weaver 54 Nature and the Plight of the Native
32 Lucille Clifton Poems Elisha Eanes
34 We Came From Tin Ari Libove-Goldfarb American Eli Goldstein
35 Sonnet Emma Weaver
36 Love’s Thorns Onyedikachukwu Okeke 55 About the Bearded Guy Who Makes Me
37 Don’t Read Sylvia Plath Before Bed Ari
38 Libove-Goldfarb Laugh and Cry Miriam Schreiber
Icarus Pavan Yecham
4390 Real Music Jesse McDermott-Hughes 56 My Son, the Dreamer Dawn Park
Odd Body Joel Herniter 57 Uncle Isabel Rodriguez
58 Hair Ivan Mondaca
59 There For Me Joel Herniter
60 Concrete Motion Jessica Robinson
61 We Came Running Rina Mischel
62 Reminisce in the Night Naeem Ghee
63 Ghosted Hearts Jessica Robinson

65 Today Chris Nolan
66 The Morning Mist Chris Nolan
68 It Was a Good Day Miriam Schreiber
69 Delta Gabi Glueck
70 The Flight of the Birds Peter Finaldi
71 The Top of the Tower Dawn Park
72 Love Puppets Dawn Park
73 Absence Onyedikachukwu Okeke
74 Regret’s Hold on Loss Onyedikachukwu


75 The Wandering Peoples Matt Schraeger
76 Waiting in Line Peter Finaldi
78 Ode to Olive Oil Victoria DeLaurentis
80 Ode to Elisha’s Hair Emma Weaver
81 Ode to Emma’s Handwriting Elisha Eanes
82 Blank Slate Adia Nyiendo
83 Ode to Makeup Olyvia Ruiz
84 Ode to Empanadas Kaylyn Long
85 Ode to Acne Jessica Robinson
86 Excuses to My Neglected Journal Miriam


88 Ode to My Periodic Table Julia Brennan
90 Theater Kids Zenobia Murphy

DEAD CENTER 2016 Curriculum Vitae

Julia Brennan

1. I was born into a storm in a hospital corridor with my last name plastered on the wall.
2. Her arms shielded me from drowning and her heartbeat was always near.
3. The house I lived in was built on a foundation of lies and the pieces were slowly crumbling.
4. The storm raged on. I found an umbrella where I planted green tomatoes. I watched my

dance teacher cry when she watched the burning building on the TV.
5. The rain kept pouring from my mother’s eyes, filling a pool for my father to swim in. My mom

said I drew a picture of myself with a broken heart.
6. I watched my mother cry so happy for a third time. I couldn’t find my father. My mother said

he was drowning.
7. The rain stopped but there were no colors in the sky.
8. I smiled with no sadness and swam with no fear.
9. Time blends together but I remember calloused feet and pruned fingers and toes.
10. Time stops and I remember the first time I hated him.
11. Firsts became seconds and thirds and my eyes opened wide.
12. Reality beckons. I see the lies in the eyes of adults as I am torn from my childhood home.
13. I start over with new clothing, one less parent, new friends. Comfort comes from stories that

help me forget.
14. For a while it’s easy. I know but I don’t think too much. Miles help me stretch my thoughts

into solace.
15. I remember things I had blocked out for years. I am happy around people. I tell them what I

can, already too much.
16. Months pass before I think about things I thought I’d never forget. I wash off my hesitation.


Miriam Schreiber

DEAD CENTER 2016 Eighteen Years Of Existence

Chris Nolan

1. I was born one day short of being exactly thirty-one years younger than my mother, in a state I would visit annually for the
rest of my adolescent years.

2. I was the last child my parents would have; they couldn’t go through the stress again they went through with me.
3. Brother two years older, and Sister two years more. It seemed that although I only lived with two siblings, nothing could

come between the eight kids on the block.
4. Learning you can’t play contact sports only makes you want to play them more. I played soccer, wrestled, and always

pushed for full contact football with my brothers.
5. I wasn’t the youngest on the block, but the second youngest gets the same treatment, trust me.
6. Swimming requires a great control of your breath. I think one lung is enough. After all, no one likes to be told they can’t do

7. School. I don’t think it is for everyone. Why do I have to learn about everything when I only want to study in one

specific field? It is not fair, but it seems that nothing is anymore. Is it stupid to think all negatives have an equal and
opposite positive (and when will I see this positive)?
8. I watch birds sit on a tree and question why they don’t fly. When I’m old enough, I won’t miss my chance to soar.
9. I have issues controlling my emotions, and I don’t think that talking to an educated man weekly will help.
10. Summers are filled with no alarm clock, cut feet, and the one true freedom: no responsibilities, just friends.
11. I should appreciate my family more. It’s not too late but I would rather be alone most times they want to be with me.
12. I made the swim team and eventually went on to a nationally recognized competition. I chose Brother on the team over
doing the school musical with Sister. I don’t regret my decision, but I wish I could have done both.
13. Sister goes to college. Four people in the house feels weird.
14. I was told that High School would be hard. I’m still waiting.
15. Brother leaves home. Some nights I cry thinking about how I don’t have someone to drive me to swimming, to stay up late
with, or to randomly wrestle. I’m glad we recognized how great of friends we are a year before he left, but I still miss him.
16. My grandmother passes away. I wish I was religious so I would know she is somewhere over the rainbow.
17. The ability to drive helps, but I kind of enjoyed walking, and when I had to it made me appreciate rides more.
18. Everyone tells me about the great life I have in front of me, but honestly it’s hard to see permanence. I enjoy the pleasures of

life, but like everything else, It eventually fades.


Amita Shukla

DEAD CENTER 2016 Plagiarism v. Revolution True, my ideas have been gifted
The stories I tell have all persisted
Jessica Robinson From the Iliad to Maguire’s Wicked
(Though in latter case rather more ham-fisted)
“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.” –Paul Gauguin.

My art is spitting the rhymes I’ve penned Yet copying isn’t the case
Though my poems aren’t wholly new
Feminine to masculine, internal to end They surely aren’t a waste
Eternally, my words extend back
‘Cause historically it’s all the same yack My words keep spinning; they evolve
From Dante’s Inferno to the Paranormal (Activity Three) Art is revolution when it seeks to dissolve
All art is one— please take it from me: Existing worlds of belief into new understanding
Picasso’s cubism, Buddhism, capitalistic opportunism
Every hero has a quest of self-discovery Descend from African art, Hindus, the fall of European
Every author lifts lines, it’s become perfunctory
The sun also rises: Shakespeare or Hemingway? feudalism
Who cares? The sun rose before both of them anyway These revolutions started somewhere and just kept
When a guy dies, it’s Jesus in purgatory growing
There’s no true change, just new ways of showing
Every speech reworks unvarying oratory What already exists, of defining it different
It’s all the same, all texts a rose by any other name
Illusions of originality for a contrarian dissident

If every poem or prose My rhythms come from the poets of coasts east and west
Is a connectable, inter-textual I’m unafraid to admit I learn from the best
Tale that everyone already knows They too learned from others—the American written
Originality is moot, a destitute pursuit tradition
For those who stick up their nose An ancestral line ascending up to Emily Dickinson
At a lyric repeated or an old theme composed Any writer knows that your phrases are you
Realize: you can’t plagiarize So then the question turns around to:
A story that’s existed since cavemen opened their eyes Am I a product of genes, the ribonucleic stories of yore?
My rhythms right here, they’ve all been heard before
Maybe a poor substitute for Angelou or Tupac Shakur

Or otherwise an original work, some sort of Randian With no apologies or orisons HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL
bore? Something from nothing will never be
Obviously not, consult some basic psychology My art, my rhymes, myself, and me
I am the environment’s influence upon my biology Wholeheartedly reject this question’s dichotomy
A new poem from a literary genealogy Plagiarism AND revolution!
I write because I read New things come of old
It comes from a need That’s my poetry’s resolution.
To express, to communicate
Yet we all are human, sharing a self-same fate
Evolution keeps turning for centuries
Yet we still all have shared memories
We live, we laugh, we love, we die
We eat, sleep, we just try to get by
We plagiarize basic existence
All ideas come from the same innate sense
Of unity, community
Existing in perpetuity

My poetry “contains multitudes” Alia Underwood
It “stands on the shoulders of giants”
Thanks Whitman and Newton:
I embrace influence
I don’t stand in anxiety or defiance
It’s impossible to say my attempt is original
You’ve heard student poems:
Wordplay pitiful, perhaps overly pontifical
My rhymes have been played, and my ideas have origins
Still, I express them in my way

DEAD CENTER 2016 Political Correction

Leo Goldman

You walk into the room with your Patagonia jacket.
And that’s cool, not cheap, but it goes to a good cause
And it was made in America so take compliments without pause.
You can afford it. That’s fine. You enjoy it. Totally benign.

But then you turn around and criticize this country
that let you buy that fashion-function jacket safely.
While everyone else is sitting around and feeding
a corrupt corporate system that feeds on “policing poor countries.”
While we feed on our fast-food lunches. Right?

And you continue, continue, to hate “that system,”
where everyone is just trying to fit in
where everyone is just part of “the machine”
where everyone is just feed for the corporate greed

Because Wall Street is pure evil
Though I’m not sure why
(Even if they make way more than they need)
How does that hurt you?
You still have your home, assured meals, friends, school...
and that Patagonia jacket.

I agree they should pay more, Joshua Chen
Their fair share at least,
But demanding an entirely new country
In the shell of your own country
Is not the way to do it.


Political Correction Cont. HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL

You say you want a revolution,
Oh, well you know, we ALL want to change the world
But demanding change now and risking what’s not yours to risk
Is not the way to do it.

And what scares me the most is that people might actually listen to you
And if they do, the elephants will own now three, not two,
Houses on the Hill. Eight years of change,
Shot down the drain, will just seem so strange.

So give up all three houses,
Provided by children whose parents have multiple homes.
Because even if we don’t win,
hey, no harm no foul, we tried, it’s no sin.
At least we fought for the candidate that inspired us.

Because that’s when people who can’t afford elephant-owned houses get hurt the most.
The people who come to school in plain white tees because they support your good
causes but can’t show it in a coat made of recycled utilitarian fleece.

But, no. You go ahead. Go vote for revolution.
And for those people that NEED, not want, no red houses, there’ll be no solution.
And for those people that can’t AFFORD, not wouldn’t prefer, to have a candidate that doesn’t stand for Civil
Rights but instead Stand Your Ground, there’ll be no solution.
They can’t afford to lose that coverage that you don’t have to worry about and your coat could pay for.
So as you were, criticize our f***ed up military
and our f***ed up income inequality
As you pretend to cast your vote for all those
who will lose coverage and a chance at equality.

DEAD CENTER 2016 Political Correction Cont.

Just do me one favor.
Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t lie to me.
Don’t pretend your candidate, in fact, has higher electability.
Because you don’t even know the names: Friedman, Silver, Goolsbee,
And yet you’re a master f***ng poll-interpreter.
Wouldn’t it be nice...If we could vote for the candidate that inspires
So as long as that’s clear,
I agree with your ideals.
I just know what’s at stake.
And what’s at stake is not OURS to lose.
But hey, cast your vote for inspiration,
it looks good in that coat.

Solomon Newman



Dawn Park


DEAD CENTER 2016 Help the People Flow America is one of the most advanced nations in the
Eli Goldstein At has the potential to be.
This colossally corrupt cacophony of corporate CEO
My euphonious euphemisms ignite ingenious con artists called the USA has to be the example.
excretions of excellence. We need to be the role models
Your talentless tantrums turn tumultuously terrible the ones to elevate the consciousness of those
while you tremble in the corner after witnessing my around us.
flow. To promote individuality while bringing people
My rhymes remind you of brighter times. together.
The times you wish you could get back, but are too It’s easy to be conscious, both politically and
afraid to try. socially.
Your languid lectures last longer than elegant You just have to be yourself, in all ways, honestly.
elitists endlessly electing elephants to office. Think You are more than a human, everyone is.
about that for a minute. You are a divine entity, a pure energy, an infinite
Our world is in turmoil, our country in peril being.
pretty much every politician is feral You are trapped in a human source.
selfish shellfish, only in it for themselves. But you can transcend this of course.
Where’s the unity? Where’s the brotherhood? You just need to open your eyes.
Where are my friends? All three of them.
Greedy gluttonous ghoulish goblins of America, The pineal gland in disguise as an appendix
help the people who really need it for once. seems like a useless organ in the ventricular cortex
Instead of burning bridges and making enemies but the smartest of the smart really understand how
we should focus on feeding the children with empty complex
tummies. the emotions are that come after opening this.
The world can be saved, it’s not too late.
14 Just sit back, relax, and meditate.


Sunny Yang


DEAD CENTER 2016 Why We don’t Fail Why bother climbing the mountain when Google
In the Style of Taylor Mali Earth has the same view? To the men and women
who create: we salute you and thank god we will
Rina Mischel never be you.
My confused expression in math is my best joke
We don’t fail anymore, but don’t be dumb ‘cause well then you’re just
kids just don’t give it their all and end up with nothing stupid.
because kids don’t give it their all See we don’t want to feel for ourselves the feeling of
you miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take disappointment
but your scoring record is still a hundred percent but what terrifies us enough to stop trying is the
see, you don’t fail if you just don’t try idea of failing others
I can be the best mediocre average student there is because when they have no expectations you can
but it’s different now, because finally succeeding is cool always exceed them.
doing something is inspiring and people support you Isabel Rodriguez
but trying and failing? That’s despicable.
Why shoot for the stars when you can guarantee the
so be the best you are but please don’t try and be more,
because that’s messy and embarrassing and well…
I could be the best almost achieving B+ student you’ve
There’s a trick to it though, next to succeeding and
there is a new kid, one who can do it all
the kid who mastered the ability to get the best by
putting the least in
see we don’t fail anymore,
We are surrounded by our own failures but we use the
growing pile to
stand atop and believe we are bigger
We mark our achievements not by what we did but
what we didn’t have to do.


Childhood Memory You’d still know it was him HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL
on the cover of Forbes.
Julia Brennan He would always pick me up 17
throw me in the air
I used to see other kids in that moment I was scared
with their grandparents, until he caught me
drinking lemonade on a porch laughed
playing Scrabble in a living room and pulled coins out of ears.
talking loudly so they could hear. We took photos
That seemed foreign, with a tropical background
unattainable. pretending to be somewhere else.
I did not know. He always seemed so happy to see me
Walking into his house, and now I understand why.
guards patted me down What I do not understand
took my dolls, is that
never to be returned. he continues.
We walked to a line, He sits at home,
waited and walked more. money in one hand,
Led into a dingy room liquor in the other.
with the smell of a cold humid day. And I wish,
Plastic chairs in rows filled a large room wish for the lemonade
people sat in them yet failed to fill them. and the porches,
I was young and the board games.
it was exciting Yet, I am grateful to him
we waited he taught me that people,
sometimes for an hour some people,
until he came out are evil
dressed in khaki and even if you think
hair still receding, still blonde. you can change them,
you can not.

DEAD CENTER 2016 Love Slam Why Romeo poisoned and Juliet stabbed
Elisha Eanes With various suicidal weapons grabbed
Their anguishing souls out of their bodies,
Hello. Their blood: one congealing, one never
My name is Love. blotting
I can be the gentlest thing in the universe, You know what else is red?
Bringing insurmountable joy A heart.
To countless lovers across the globe. The joy that wells up inside
But don’t be fooled- When someone says “I love you”,
You will get rekted. That’s a feeling that can’t be compared to
You haven’t met anyone like me before, anything else in the entire world,
I’ve blinded grown men and common whores, It’s plain and simple
I can keep you up at night with wispy dreams That I am a disaster waiting to happen.
And make things appear not as they seem and The chemical formula for love is mapped
There is a whole day dedicated to me. ;) in
You give your special someone floral arrangements Molecules, C8H11NO2+C10H12N2O+C43H
And chocolate, 66N12O12S2
And kisses! Oh, so many kisses! That’s dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin
I’m the reason you wear red and pink on February too
14th and why And if you slip up, trip, and then OD,
You can hear your apartment neighbor crying They cause schizophrenia, paranoia, and
through the walls, insanity,
Their source of heartbreak banging someone So if you wanna gorge on poison
down the hall, Then trust me, I’m the one for you.
Why Samson let Delilah shear the source of his I can be rough, but I’ve always been the one
strength, rooting for
His faith which grew extraordinary lengths, Those who need someone to dream about at


Those who need to be swept off their feet for once in Step into me like you step into your HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL
their life, home.
Those who need to feel what it’s like to lose themselves Abuse and violate, and I’ll backhand you
in happiness off your makeshift throne.
And find horror, love for a lifetime My name is Love, my darlings,
And then find that somebody cut your lifeline, And I’ll make you lose your mind
Hurt so bad you’re nothing but a sick kid in bed Don’t fret about your heart, hon:
For pain to dance and wallow in your head Love is patient; love is kind.
And your heart? You’ll never see it again
Because that’s the kind of love you’re in
Stop it!
Don’t make me out to be a monster, now
It’s true, I’m clumsy.
But without me,
You’ll turn empty and cold
Like unbaked clay,
The grass will lose its green-
The sky…will turn to gray.
I’m not as tragic as I seem
It’s those who’ve fallen in love with Love
Who become burned by me
And now that I can spit some rhymes,
Please, understand my nature.
I’m more than fluff or heartbreak,
I’m a really risky wager.
Look at me now, dear audience,
Am I what you expected?
Don’t rush into me, or else
All evil will be resurrected. June Park



Ariadna Carolina Benites Talia Fishman



Elisha Eanes

The Librarian looked at the last chapter No.
And told me: I said no.
The dog dies. I noticed none of these,
Do you still want the book? Because I was too busy waiting for the dog to
I said I did. die.
I walked home with the vile story under my The Librarian chuckled
arm And patted the cover.
I laid it out across the table when I got home I see,
So that it could deliver a fate I already knew Your breath didn’t quicken once,
of. Nor did you grip the pages in fear.
The dog dies in an apartment fire Tears didn’t well at the corners of your eyes,
After escorting all 29 tenants to safety. And you were not moved by the hero’s valiant
The dog’s name is Pilot. death.
I brought the book back to the Librarian the Here’s another book for you.
next day I will not tell you the ending this time,
She held the returned book against her ribs, Nor should you search for it.
Like she was trying to press it behind the For that, you’d spoil the story.
protection Such is life, honey.
Of her calcified cage,
And asked me:
Did you like the book?
Did you like the characters,
The setting,
The resolution?


DEAD CENTER 2016 Negativity The government tightens up public security,
And gun laws threaten the Second Amendment’s
Peter Finaldi adequacy.
What happened to all of the POSITIVITY?
Imagine this: you sit down, exhausted from work. Positivity? It never went away…
You deserve a break. Where is positivity, you may ask?
So you just turn on the TV, not caring, whatever’s on. Look at Francis.
Suddenly, you unwittingly tune to CNN, which is covering He strengthened relations between Judaism
a tragic shooting. and Christianity.
Somewhere in Colorado,Somewhere in Kansas, He urged for Muslims and Catholics to live together in
Somewhere in Ohio, Somewhere in Connecticut, peace and prosperity.
“28 CONFIRMED DEAD: MOST OF THEM CHILDREN” And he asked for The Great Wall of the United States to
Well, this is it. You think to yourself. end its longevity.
This. Is. It. Donald wasn’t amused by Frank’s revolutionary ideology.
Humans have gone off the deep end, now there are people But Donald was never a part of Christianity, anyway, so
killing god-damn kindergarteners. f*** him.
But, amazingly, you didn’t feel as bad as you did when Is Francis the only one spreading the Good News?
Columbine happened. (And no, I’m not talking about Christ’s Second Coming)
Today, after San Bernardino, Charlottesville, and Paris, Absolutely not!
you think you’ve become numb. Look around you!
You think something’s wrong with you. What do you see?
You see hundreds of people, coming together, helping
You talk to your colleagues, many of them feel the same those who are less fortunate.
way. Hundred of programs dedicated to changing and saving
What happened? millions of lives.
Well, it seems that many of us are becoming immune to A stranger gives $100 to a man who lost everything in his
negativity. life.
For decades, the media had fed us this kind of activity. A stranger donates clothes to children
Numerous actions that break the tranquility, who lost their families.
Fox News blames video game interactivity,
People start to question political authority,



Tobias Rayside A stranger loses a pint of blood for someone suffering with
lung cancer.
A stranger pulls someone out of a fiery inferno.
Humans are fragile when alone.
Humans are strong when together.
Positivity is everywhere.
Positivity is immortal.
Positivity is easy.
What can you do?
Good idea, but there’s more than that.
Musical? Play a song in the streets.
Comical? Make up funny jokes for everyone to hear.
Artistic? Draw pictures of people’s faces.
Scientific? Change the way we view our lives.
Medical? Save a stranger’s life.
Political? Don’t destroy the world.
Positivity is everywhere.
Positivity is easy.
Positivity is within you.
All you have to do.
Is turn off the TV.



About Julia Alvarez Anna Minakhina
by writing and writing
Julia Brennan her life and the lives of others
that she could appreciate
most great writers are born writers and embody english even better
right off the bat, little Shakespeares than if she had said mother.
spouting eloquences straight from seeing her language conforming
the womb to another form and defining
not Alvarez no new meanings and rhymes
born a rebel not a writer from the love of spanish,
a lion who needed taming struggling to give her poetry
not tamed by a prim and proper that same emotion and meter
school for young girls of her mother tongue,
but rather by a second language she saw beyond the forms
reborn at age ten into the world of her predecessors, breaking
of the writer she would become. barriers in literature and society.
the words all fresh and unlike
the words that told her of
death and dictatorship
these words had a blank slate
a place to search for new meanings
and even though she may have said
madre and not mother,
she showed that poet



Julia Brennan

“both of us so afraid to take advantage” -Julia Alvarez

Eve Schoeffler afraid to touch
to tell or even to smell
to ask questions and to
be straightforward
both of us so afraid
to take advantage
without clarity
that’s not the way it works
not the way I ever wanted it to
but be warned because
those fears taught me
without even realizing it
and now I get those
cliches I never knew
would feel so good
walking through that life
always afraid, cluttered
my mind in strife
and now I know I like
an empty hand
one that is free to hold
one I can use to grab
hold of what I want
without the fears
of uncertainty
tying me back to
my insecurity.


DEAD CENTER 2016 For You The first time I saw my father lie
was the first time I saw his eyes
In Style of Julia Alvarez a dark blue sea of hushed whispers
regrets pushed so far back he didn’t
Julia Brennan think we all knew. I knew, the moment
I saw him, holding in his hands the
secrets to believing a lie. Convincing
yourself a lie to be a truth, truly
a skill only acquired by those who
can not believe what they have done.

The process is awe inspiring to watch,
really. Confront a liar with a lie
and watch the ensuing pupil dilation
the sweaty palms and shaking knees.
The tone of uncertain explanation
and their eventual confession.
But if they’re good like my father is
they do not shake or sweat or dilate.
because they believe themselves, really,
they do. Took me long enough to learn.

Angelina Li The confession and penance of
a good person who lies will bring
them peace. The confession of a bad
person only sprouts more lies, so
stop digging for the truth if you
already know it. Not the lesson
I expected my father to teach me
when I first saw his eyes, but it’s
valued more than a baseball tossed
or a daddy-daughter dance.


Poetry Poetry is the apple tree in my backyard HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL
sturdy and strong,
Sophie McDermott-Hughes dependable.
Yet, when the winds blows
Talia Fishman it can
giving forth new fruit
ripe and delicious.

Poetry is that one sliver of an eggshell that falls
into the bowl
that you can never quite grasp.
It’s always
out of reach.

Poetry is the way that all over the world
people are listening to the same song
on street corners
in living rooms,
enjoying it
whether or not
they know the meaning of the words.

Poetry is the way the night sky
stretches on and on
and even when there is no moon to see by
I am never in the dark
because the stars
will always shine down on me.



Isabel Rodriguez


Pre(tty)tentious Poetry HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL

Miriam Schreiber

They say I’m good at writing poems My poems bat their eyelashes
but all I can do is make them pretty and know you won’t ask if their eyes
all I can do is put them in ball gowns can even see anything, if they are even
and teach them how to win prom queen connected to a brain back in that skull
My poems skipped dinner last night My poems are pretend you understand
to fit in this dress My poems are dull pencils on fancy paper
My poems will never go to Harvard My poems are desperate cries of “love me, love me”
My poems will never read a textbook My poems are too young to know what love is
My poems are like the dying flowers My poems are the same three notes over and over
In the vase your mother won’t empty My poems burn their tongues on hot topics
with colors that may have been vibrant once so they keep their mouths shut
with false promise of oxygen in the petals My poems are vegetarian
no, they look like food, but have no meat
My poems are plastic flowers you buy your mother My poems wear high heels and eat kale chips
from the dollar store, they can’t do anything and tell everyone that they eat kale chips
but they look bright and alive My poems dangle from a low branch string
you didn’t need them but here they are and call it bungee jumping
sitting on your dining room table I have been told that I’m good at writing poems
looking cute and pathetic but all they ever are-
in the vase real flowers could have sat in is pretty
My poems are
“I don’t know what it means but I like the way it sounds”
My poems are first grade first prize


DEAD CENTER 2016 Pseudoprofundity Sestina

Emma Weaver

Why do people think that poetry is just a word game,
Where a metaphor means you’ve stuck the landing,
And personification has a point value? Why are we blinded
By the extravagantly verbose and bombastic words
Who should be confined to a thesaurus for most of their existence,
While the façade and the meaning repel instead of colliding?

When blue light and twisted obscurity collide
And God plays with lives like cheap plastic pieces in a board game
How softly we tread on the glass sidewalks defines our existence.
Taking the backwards flight of the hummingbird as I travel across the land
I see a shadow, its motion speaking like whispered words
Behind the dull translucence of the venetian blinds.

You can try to discuss the meaning behind the venetian blinds,
Talk about living softly to avoid deadly conflict and collision.
Profundity is, after all, a product of pretty words,
But you could play this hide-and-seek game
Forever. Meaning has scattered his ghosts over the land
And forgone his own true existence.

Looking for things that aren’t there is a fact of human existence.
We are the Bigfoot hunters, stalking interpretation, blinded
By our desire to find. We let our probing thoughts roam, let them land
On why it’s important that this poem repeats the word ‘collide’
Seven times. We can act the critic, play the English teacher’s game,
Search for the drop-off I’ve written into my own sea of repeated words -


Pseudoprofundity Sestina cont. HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL

But you can stick this poem into the valley of meaningless words
Because I have made it only for the sake of its existence.
If you care about intent, don’t play the significance game,
Because if authors are archers, then I’m shooting blind.
I’m not trying to tug at heartstrings or make worlds collide.
I’ll leave it to you to paint a target wherever my arrow lands.
Because I just wanted to write a sestina. To venture into this unknown land
And successfully pick my way through the bramble of repeated words.
The sestina was my Everest, where tectonic words collide,
The peak that begged to be conquered by sheer existence.
And even though I had no idea how to even begin, blind
To any intentions or meaning beyond my personal word game -
I’ve somehow won the game. Planted my flag into this once-strange land.
No longer blind to this form, new channels have been opened for my words.
Maybe - who knows? - you’ve even benefited from our existences colliding.

Anna Minakhina


DEAD CENTER 2016 Poem to My Person

In the style of Lucille Clifton

Elisha Eanes

you myself
you who bounced along the first years of life
you who drudged through the sodden preteen

you who let me abuse you,

like a very slow,
ever-constant blow to the jawline

you are beautiful
i didn’t know it was happening
but here you are,
a pretty brown body
with a round brown face

my soul’s vessel
my unsinkable ship
i depend on you

Ariadna Carolina Benites



Lia Ratyosyan (Letter to Lucille)

Elisha Eanes

Not personally, of course
But I knew you
After I saw your face
Smiling up at me from the screen
In the classroom,
Google images showing
Your life and death
You are my teacher
The one who loves to teach
Not the one who settled with English as a major
You are my aunt
The one with pepper and salt hair
She’s a teacher, too,
She teaches three year olds
How to listen and be human,
Just like you
You are Maya Angelou
Not a Stop & Shop brand of the original
But from a parallel dimension
Where they still have comfy, soft brown ladies
Like my mother
So that is why
I knew you


DEAD CENTER 2016 We Came From Tin

Ari Libove-Goldfarb

We came from tin
We came from crossing rivers
in rickety carts
We came from farm animals
From homespun
thread, fresh cheese, and pickled eggs
From turnips, cabbage, and sour cream
We came from mules
as stubborn and hardy
as ourselves
We are now steel
stainless and sturdy
We are electrified refrigeration
bystanders to mass incarceration
We are public education, organic produce,
Prep schools, extracurriculars
We are fast paced
We are rushing to work
the nine-to-five myth
But we are still willful
Still testing our mettle

Michelle Fan



Emma Weaver

“it isn’t ever delicate to live”
- “Spiderweb” by Kay Ryan

Roughened hands abuse the cracked-wood doors
Calloused soles are dragged on rocky streets
Burlap clothing pulled from splintered drawers
Bodies rest between their canvas sheets.
Coarse-grained life throws sand into our eyes
Souls are pulled through beds of nails and glass
Sharpened hail careens from violent skies
People dance through fields of razor grass.
But what’s a little rain to weathered skin?
This gash is not the first time blood has flowed
A tailor’s thumb can’t feel a pricking pin
The pack mule’s never bothered by his load.
When life is on the offense, we don’t give
It isn’t ever delicate to live.

Michelle Fan


DEAD CENTER 2016 Love’s Thorns

Onyedikachukwu Okeke

Our love is like a rose petal dying
Like getting stitches without painkillers
Each stitch with a pain so agonizing
Each prick with its own blistering jitter
A love that no matter how hard we try
Like a broken mirror only brings woe
I say, “Myself, spare not what makes you cry.”
Allow yourself, one day, a worthy beau
My back broke as I strived to release you
My heart almost winning over my mind
My inner faith once dead leaving me blue
Now restored making all align in kind
Now that we are no longer connected
I can finally be all corrected.

Tia Wangli


Don’t Read Sylvia Plath Before Bed HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL

Ari Libove-Goldfarb

I wandered off to where you’ve been
Lost in contours of the mind
A realm of fantasy and sin

A doorknob screeches to the din
This barest time the stars aligned
I wander off to where you’ve been

A world in which the troubled win
Borders vague and undefined
A realm of fantasy and sin

Notify the next of kin
Leave the task you are assigned
I wander off to where you’ve been

A heart composed of pitch and tin
My soul’s own breath is made in kind
A realm of fantasy and sin

Reality has shifted in
This fragile moment left behind
I wandered off to where you’ve been
A realm of fantasy and sin

Tia Wangli


DEAD CENTER 2016 Icarus

Pavan Yecham

Although progeny of a clever soul,
Icarus held a thick naivete
A curse in a blessing is what fate stole,
His actions had left Daedalus to pray
He, mesmerized by the ripest mango,
Sought to satiate his desire,
Paid by his father’s grief and and sorrow
Icarus came crumbling down in fire
Unwritten in tomes, Icarus goes on
Through the ashes of pride and innocence,
A phoenix arose at the wake of dawn
Unfettered, Icarus flies with patience
Innocence is a weak veil, scorched by truth
Once removed, what is lost is eternal youth

Amita Shukla



Jesse McDermott-Hughes

These vibrations are the chorus
that reverberates and penetrates the porous
surface of the opened mind
they pass through my hair follicles
and blend my brain molecules
to mend my mental well being
I’m seeing music as a hologram
crammed with emotion not hollowing or following
but original with minimal popular influence
no inhibition or exterior mission
its sole purpose is no purpose
besides self expression and pure enjoyment
this symphony of mystery and history was missing me
yet now it is striking my heart and soul
and flowing through my blood and veins
I was vain to overlook so I undertook
this offering that shook me to my core
this funk got me out of my funk and away from the junk
that suffocates my brothers and sisters

Eve Schoeffler


DEAD CENTER 2016 Odd Body

Joel Herniter

Red head
Grey body
Name tattooed
On the side
Marks on paper
I cannot remove
This taint
From my books
Wet ink
In a tube
Needs no air
Requires water

Anna Minakhina


I’m Giving My Brain the Cold Shoulder HIGHLAND PARK HIGH SCHOOL

Ari Libove-Goldfarb

Anastasia Wilson I’m giving my brain
the cold shoulder.
I’m turning my back
and vegging out
I’m giving my brain
the cold shoulder.
I won’t listen to its nagging,
unceasing demands
for productivity
and change.
I won’t listen to my brain with its
“Do this.”
“Due now.”
“Say that.”
“Learn how.”
Maybe if I
give the silent treatment
to my brain
maybe someday
it will do the same.
As I write
I start to ponder
how it would be
to be brainless.
I couldn’t complain
about my brain
without it.
Is my brain whining about itself?
“I will mastermind my meta mind.”
I vow within it.


DEAD CENTER 2016 Dense

Gabi Glueck

“millions of poets...shaking the dust”- Anis Mojgani
gravel, sand, pebbles, grains, powder, soil, lint, dirt, grime, mud, silt, soot, cinders,
It clings
It sticks
It holds
It covers
Caked on
Thick and dried
Like the clay armor
on statues of warriors
Hardened and restricting
It binds
It smothers
It clots
It suffocates

Isabel Rodriguez



The thing about dust, about sand, about gravel It restricts me
You can mold it, you can move it Makes me blunt
With your bare hands Brute
You can sculpt it Dense
You can fashion it I did not shake it
You can bend it I did not remove it
Dust is made from waste I ignored it
Every once in a while we shake it off Told my eyes that it wasn’t there
With tears, with fists, with breath Told my skin that it wasn’t there
It always falls off Told my loved ones that it wasn’t there
Back into the earth And I did nothing to remove it
But for me, it’s been too long Until it was too late
This Dust Now, instead of simple dust
Dust It covers me like concrete
It falls into my mouth So let me stand here
Coating my lungs A statue
My throat To forever remind you
My heart Shake the dust
Asphyxiating me from within
It has been coating me for years 43
Packed on
Getting thicker
Binding with my very skin

DEAD CENTER 2016 When is Love Felt?

Olyvia Ruiz

Love is felt between men, bromance.
Love is felt between an owner and a pet.
(no, not beastiality! Disgusting)
Love is felt between Mother and Father and
their child(ren).
Love is felt between husband and wife.

Love is felt during Valentine’s Day.
Love is felt during romantic movies.
Love is felt during Marriage. (Yes, even
same-sex marriage)
Love is felt between siblings. (Even if they
won’t admit it)

Love is lost for star crossed lovers.
Love is lost in abuse.
Love is lost in stereotypes.
Love is lost in greed.

Love is found in families. (Even if they don’t Kate Atschinow
admit it)
Love is found in commitment.
Love is found in puppy love.
Love is found in soulmates.



Chris Nolan Amita Shukla

There’s always a way out. 45
Off your two dimensional page into
a world with depth.
It might be difficult to find and
often isn’t observable until experienced.
A place with no purpose
where everything is or isn’t.
Simple as that.
No offices, no money, no religion.
When caught up with these activities,
it becomes harder to find this paradise.
It’s not that you can’t find it on your phone,
just recognize the potential reward which is built
from spending your life on the easy track.
So just once, for the sake of yourself,
turn off and tune out of society’s
muck, sold to you as pure water.
Dissolve into nature around you,
and soon enough you’ll be running back
to soak up the fleeting beauties in this world.
So next time the story-structured life you live in
stresses you out, escape the pages
because there is always a way out.

DEAD CENTER 2016 Doublethink with her glittering eyes and womanly hips,
her knowledge an overfilled, inflatable swimming pool.
Victoria DeLaurentis Now that 18 lingers around a sharp corner,
I simultaneously crave her knowledge and want to
Doublethink: avoid her altogether.
Verb: to believe in two contradicting ideas at Her façade disappears as soon as the birthday flames
the same time. cool in smoke.
Origin: 1984, George Orwell. Constantly in a state of doublethink,
I keep spilling salt, I wish for and resist a future I both desire and hide
and buying lottery tickets, from.
standing at the crossroads of living and existing, Sometimes, when I feel comfortable, its prospect does
practicing self-love and self-hatred in the same not frighten me—
heartbeat. in fact, it’s happening right now.
The diagnosis on my imaginary nurse’s notepad Every moment after I’ve written this word exists in the
reads doublethink: future.
an infectious illness to my own actuality. Every time I write the word “future,” it was once in the
Am I forever bound to two equally separate future, then in the present, now in the past.
mindsets that split me in two? Isn’t that mesmerizing?
The thought of the future overwhelms me, How even as I write this poem, all of these words are
yet it’s somehow the only thing that occupies short-lived,
the already cluttered space inside my head— now memories of the past few seconds as my mind
worried about numbers composing the statistics churns on,
that fuel my fear about growing up. thinking in the future, but the future becomes the past
I feel unprepared to turn in my title as an every time I blink.
adolescent, Is time an illusion?
yet it seems as if I’ve waited my entire life to Do her wall clocks tick because we designed them to
claim the magic number, “18,” keep order?
What is the difference between waking up when the
46 sun rises or when the sun sets?
Why do we measure time in years
instead of in wrinkles or sunspots?


My frivolous poems of hopeless romance have
transformed into
questioning ramble rants—
I cannot tell if I like or hate this newfound style,
but probably both.
I hope in a century, students will read this poem and
groan at annotation assignments,
and I also pray that no one reads this and
misunderstands my message.
This isn’t a plea,
but I want answers.
I wish that the past was the future now,
that I had four long years ahead of me to recreate myself.
I also feel glad that I do not have to repeat it,
and that I know what I do now as a result of angry tears
and numb wondering
through fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen.
Nothing feels enough when I find myself,
every single day, praying on a future,
contemplating in the past,
and forgetting the present.

Michelle Fan




Zenobia Murphy

A stranger once came up to me and told me I was a
A friend once smiled at me and told me I was a f**got.
A leader once told me that I was too fat and too black
and too queer to have anybody ever love me, as if that
bullc**p excited me, like their word of hate is what made
me a bulimic.
I’d like to blame all my insecurities on me.

Talia Fishman



It took 10 years of self negligence to accept that I am black. Not just a person of colour, not just a
statistic but a child whose roots lay buried under the soils of Africa; it took me 10 years to finally
acknowledge that I am not white.
Now who would ever do that?
Who would ever give up the notion, the possibility, that they could be privileged,
that they were privileged?
that they were born and left in a society where their needs were put above their entire family
because out of my family I was the white one, obviously.
I was just too pretty to be black.
You see, the media ruined beauty for me; you couldn’t be black and beautiful. Unless you are fair
skinned and skinny like Halle Berry.
But then Nicki Minaj came along and changed that,
and the media loves her because white women all over the country are trying to work harder so
they can get the money to pay the plastic surgeon to make them have basketballs for a**es, so we
can flourish from their insecurities and use that money to pay for the cycle to start again and again
and never end.
I wish somebody told me this when I was six with my fingers down my throat but I couldn’t be
black. Obviously.
I was too pretty for that.
Now the white girls that bullied me want my body
Now the straight girls that taunted me want my hair
Now the black girls that scoffed at me want my fairer skin
If I had known this when I tried to die
I would’ve given it to them.
Cause then I could just be privileged.
And finally be pretty.


DEAD CENTER 2016 Randi
Elisha Eanes
Dawn Park
You, honestly, are really something else.
Not like, “high-maintenance” or “hot-headed”.
I admire your temper.
I am big, and gentle, and soft-spoken,
But you, sister, you are a flame
That’s inhaled a tank of gas,
And I admire how you roar.

You are narrow-waisted,
Slender-footed and topped with hair so fine I call it silk.
You hate it, though.
Your smile is the result of seven years of metal tracks laid
across your teeth
Each time you beam, someone looks your way.
You are not entirely a dreamer, like Bre,
And you are not entirely a rock, like me,
But you just might be a rock with wings.

It suits you,
The arrogance of being so weighed down,
Yet soaring so high.
I love you, big sister.


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