Oct 18
joseph.deffner's picture

A Quiet Winter Day

The snow crunches softly beneath my boots as I trudge up the hill. Small delicate snowflakes land on my fuzzy hat. I tilt my head back to catch them in my mouth. Out of the corner of my eye, a male cardinal dashes from tree to tree, his red feathers bright against the white snow. When I get to the top of the hill, I pause to look around at the snow covered trees, and listen to how peaceful it is. Dropping my sled on the wet snow, I climb on and slide down the hill, going down easily on top of the smooth and icy snow. The cool wind blowing in my face, smiling to myself. Winter makes me feel serene and content.

Lights Out

On June 27, after a heart-warming dinner with the Young Writers Project board (thank you Kathy), after hearing (thank you Susan) the startlingly kind words sent to me from many of you and your predecessors on how much this little project and community has meant, does mean, to you, I shut off the office lights for the last time after 12 years as YWP's executive director.

To you and the 110,000 kids we have touched in that time, thank you for opening your souls; thank you for sharing your ideas and observations, your flights of fancy and moments of bewilderment. Thank you for taking such creative risk.

You have enriched my life. You've opened my eyes to what you see and feel and experience and think and believe. And you have enriched the lives of thousands upon thousands of others -- your readers.
Dec 18


Fate had it so the numbers were uneven. 
Fate had it so the numbers were just right.
So now it's really awkward and we're looking at each other. 
We choose:
I grab your hand.
And you grab mine.
And it's different from usual.
Because it feels real.
Not something I forced.
There is an electric current between us.
Conecting us.
I can barely move.
I can barely breathe.
I am shaking.
But it's the best momment of my life.
Dec 17


Boys go to war like bullets and return, if they return, empty shells of men.
Dec 16


My cello is singing again
Bringing me back into the forest of clouds
Where nothing exists except me and the black music notes
Whipping across the white page at lightning speed.
My fingers follow the notes in perfect harmony
Playing the melodies of time.
The wind brushes the hair out of my eyes
And flips the page for me as I race along.
My feet lose the beat
But I don't falter because my heart never forgets it.
Around me
A dance is forming.
Shadows dart about in their waltzes
And the trees' leaves sway slightly.
I reach the finale
My head moving.
Fingers flashing.
Heart pounding.
And then the last note
Echoing through the forest of clouds.
I am transported back to my room
My cello warm in my hands
I stand and bow to my invisible audience
And then
Almost inaudible
Dec 15

Fire up a Prayer

Heart pounding
Feet hit the floor
Seconds fly away.
The final moment approaches.
I know we have "lost"
But I keep going
And hard.
Because sometimes
You just have to fire up a prayer at the buzzer
And hope it goes in.

Dec 12
Jayden.C.block's picture


Sitting in that dark corner, waiting for some light to shine in on me, as i beg and prey and hope for another start, another chance at the crack of light. There I sit, huddled and cold, trying to push it away, the black wave pf scared darkness and nightmares the chill me to the bone... So all i do, is sleep...
Dec 12

Why I haven't been writing

After the summer, I always get a rather large bout of writer's block. This isn't new to me, it's been happening ever since I became serious about writing. But this year was a little different. I wrote more this summer than I've written any other summer, and I came back to school feeling drained and exhausted, like the river of words that has always run through me ran dry. All my humanities assignments sucked every last bit of writing energy out of me, and my journal and notes app having been filling with dust and cobwebs since September. By November, I felt extremely guilty about not having written for a while. I tried to force whatever poetry I could out of me. I turned to old sources of inspiration, because nothing around me was inspiring anymore. Writing felt like a tedious chore, and I hated that. That's the thing; I can't write if I feel pressured. And I was pressuring myself.
Dec 09
LAW's picture

In The Rainforest

I see blue, green, and brown.  These colors make a background.  Bright splashes of vibrant oranges, reds, and purples peek out from behind the leaves, in the form of flowers, fauna, and fruits.  As my friend Marina once described, “The rainforest is like a magnificent painting, with the light changing as the days go by”. It is a few months after Hurricane Maria.  When I go outside, I see new plants growing back and hear birds that have come back after fleeing from the storm. Life is coming, slowly but surely, back to Saint Croix.  

The hills rustle and echo with life.  Bananaquits are whistling in the towering kapok trees, beady-eyed thrashers screech in the baobab.  As the burning white sun started to descend from its perch in the highest reaches of the sky, it’s light reflects off the clouds, turning the sky into a multi-colored mirror of light.  This colorful light casts its glow on the valley.
Dec 05
Emi Vaughan's picture

Holiday Season

My earliest memories undoubtedly developed during my two years at the small pre-school I attended, Caring Community. There are a number of experiences from that time in my life that I am occasionally reminded of by something quite small, like when I hear about the character Big Bird from Sesame Street, I immediately think of the Big Bird bouncy toy my cousin and I often fought over, or when I see Mott's apple juice, I remember when my teacher let me pour juice into Dixie cups for all of my classmates (all by myself!) While most of these recollections are vague, there is one very distinct memory I have from pre-school that occured around Christmas season. My class took a walk outside not far from our school building to choose a Christmas tree for our classroom.Once we arrived to the fir trees, my classmates and I noticed that they were decorated with candy canes, bead necklaces, small plastic lizards, other small goodies, and of course, snow.
Dec 04

speaking with the future

If I were to write a letter to me in ten years
I'd apologize 
"I'm sorry I stopped you from doing what you wanted to do most."
Yeah, afraid to join those clubs at school because I was afraid I'd look dumb in them.
Mhm, worried that those older kids would frown upon your new face in their classroom.
So scared that your hands would tremble upon thinking of school sports and activities.
I'd apologize
"I'm sorry I put you down about who you are."
Made you look down at yourself for being something no one else wanted to be.
Put you in your room to cry alone because your grades weren't the perfection you wanted them to be.
Let you see the parts of the world that you shouldn't have had to witness.
I'd apologize
"I'm sorry I didn't let you feel what being beautiful felt like."
Dec 04
iicaptin123's picture


i have sleeping anxiety i cant sleep at night its hard  im always tired and it makes me so sad when i think that im failing because my mom works so hard and i just want her to look at my grades and be so happy because there good grades but when i cant sleep at night i wake up in the morning so tired and im like brain dead it feels so complicated to do easy work that i could 
Dec 03

Why I Write

I write for all the children who are stuck in opression
Who can't speak their minds 
Who are sad.

I write for the trees
Who are silent as they are killed.
Who have no voices.

I write for my friends
Who pick me up when I am down
Who know that all do the same.

I write for the storms
Who cause chaos 
Who need to know that they are hurting.

I write for me 
So I can better understand me
So I can be proud of who I am.

I write for the world.
So it knows I care
About humanity
And life
And love.
Dec 03

speak up

This is all true. It's happening in real time.
Today my school lost a student.
There is no easy way to put the death of a fellow peer, but I can only wonder why it happened.
There is no easy way out of pain.
There is no easy way to reach out and ask for help.
There is no easy way to become a happier person from a cracked shell.
But there are always easy ways to show you care.
A simple smile is all it takes.
A wave in the hallway.
A hand at the shoulder.
A "Hi, how are you today?"
There are millions of ways to help someone 
So, please
Speak up. 
Because if you don't think their hands were quivering, their teeth were chattering, their lips were trembling at the thought of who they were leaving behind than you need to 
It doesn't matter who you are to a person or what connection you have to them. Anything can help.
Dec 03

Smarter, Prettier, Better

You know that feeling you get when you know that something is wrong. That someone is wrong. Bad for you. You know that it could never work. You know it but yet you just can't seem to shake it off. They are everywhere, all the goddamn time. Always lurking behind a corner, seemingly waiting to give you a heart attack. Thing is though, they dont know just how much your heart would give for them. 

They don't understand what goes through your head when you see them. Their smile, laugh. Even the way they bloody type when taking notes. Always there. Teasing. Laughing. Joking. Breaking your heart every time you see them smile at their phone. Hear them say that word. Talk about that girl who seems so much smarter and prettier. So much better then you. 
Dec 02

Broken Ornament.

“I hope they find a brain tumour or something because otherwise she is really messed up”.

When I heard those words I fell. A part of me died. I realised right then and there that I was on my own. No one else understood, because I couldn’t tell them. I didn’t know how to. What I was going through is not spoken about. My mental illness became my secret, I knew that no one really cared. I was on my own.

She had been angry at me, because I couldn’t keep up the charade anymore. Decorating the tree, that hour or two was too much on me. Constantly being shouted at, belittled. Of course I snapped. Who wouldn’t? They definitely didn’t hide what they felt why should I. Why should I smile and grit through it just so that they don’t get upset.
Dec 01
Monster_T_02's picture

It’s All Their Fault

I know,
My history may upset those around me.
But my voice can give no apology.
I know,
when given the choice between red or blue,
Sometimes the choice is not up to you.
And I won’t just sit here and spout,
About feminism, 
Or Self Doubt.
But in the night those monsters get me.
Attack in and out of sight
Wracking for a coping mechanism to pull me through the storm.
thoughts that,
Worm their way into my head.
As sweet nothings left unsaid.
I know,
Men get raped too,
Men hurt too,
Men heal too,
Men are thrown into social structure and concepts,
But this is not about,
This is about,
About the twirling tendrils of my mind,
Giving no leeway or door to hide behind.
About boys making a B-line,
For what lies on my backside.
Little laugh and snide remarks,
I hide away from in the dark.
Nov 30
jessie.p's picture



    The color purple is the color purple. Isn’t it? Maybe to you and I, but to others, perhaps the color purple is the number three. And the number three is a woman with a funky personality. Some people associate colors to days of the week, or to months of the year, but not purposefully. Some people are able to listen to a song and see colors. Or they can taste the song. I could sit here and list all the different types of synesthesia that have been reported, but there are over 60!
Scientists predict that about 4% of the population has synesthesia. But are there even more?
Nov 27

You Care

You care about me. 
You want to protect me.
You keep the flying missels of judgement and all things insulting off my back,
Giving your own back to save mine.
Your so selfless,
You care.
Now I'm over here,
On the other side of it all,
Worrying about my status and how badly messed up my hair is at the momment and all that crap.
But I didn't notice you. 
But over the years,
You slip into my group,
Slide out agian,
Slip back in.
Always the quiet,
Ever wise girl on the side.
But you still don't catch my attention.
Lately I can tell you've been trying to impress me.
Saying things that you normally wouldn't say.
You don't care as much as you used to about rules.
I Notice you.
I realize that I have always noticed you, 
Noticed you caring.
And now I feel bad.
Becasue I always take the spotlight and I never leave you any room to share it.
I've always been like that. 
Nov 25


I am consumed. Hairspray overwhelms me. I had never thought I would be in this situation. My own Mam sitting there minding my bag of beauty. Hairspray, perfume, powder; the list goes on and on. Sitting here hearing the shoes tap while hairspray heads roam around, I fall into a blur. My throat closes up and my shoes tighten around my feet. My own hairspray head bathing me, trapping me here. In this moment, when my number is called.

My shoes tapping as I walk up to the side of the stage. My game face on, smiling through the fear. The girls whisper and laugh. Not me. I am too aware of what is about to happen. Last minute touch ups. More bloody hairspray. I stand there taking part in what is happening around me. “Is my hair okay? My dress looks good right. Yeah”. Telling myself to relax makes it worse. The next group of girls walk on. Heads held high.