Speak Up

"This piece was inspired by how I always kept my silence in younger years. My response to anything negative around me, or anything negative that I was processing, was to isolate and seclude myself. My main point was to ensure that I would not be a burden to anyone around me. These kinds of things are hard to bottle up, and this poem (that's truly meant to be spoken) represents the process I've gone through. It's almost like a defense mechanism, a cycle that I've worked hard on to break." -Nusaybah Smith

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"Saia Truck Under Rainbow" by Josh Lombardo, 11th grade

"The picture was intended to capture the rainbow. The freighter passing by was sheer luck." -Josh Lombardo

I’ve never been good with words
You know, the ones that crawl up your throat
From the oxygen and thought that surfaces in your lungs
And circulates in your brain
Reverberating from the chords of your voice
Via the chains of your sane

I’ve never been able to interrupt that circulation
To pull from my thought
What I knew I needed to say
So I would write it down, as if that was enough
As if to type a line
Or to script a verse
Was enough to scream the injustice,
To parade my scars
To make known, myself, to the world
-My ink is my battle cry-

But really, what silence has given me is a headache
An ache that protrudes from a bulging vocabulary
Repressed by children should be seen, and not heard
What happens I ask
When what you see isn’t satisfying
When you’re not content with what you can’t hear
And the introjection of yourself
The implosion of your person and your personality
Becomes the cause of the fallout
When what you hear behind your mind’s eye
Becomes something people cannot bear to witness

Do they turn away?
So they don’t have to see, in the light of day,
The heart that you’ve finally had to let bleed onto your sleeve
Proud and free
The ugliest shade of shattered, ratty and grayed
Until you can’t help but have had enough
And scream
And you break
And finally you have their attention
Like that one vase you broke on Thanksgiving Day
They can’t ignore the pieces this time
Because the ones that were cut trying to heal around our sharp edges
Decided it was time to pick it up
Only to find little grains and shards
That show up as nuisances months later on the bottom of your foot
As you step over my shards, you’ll still never know what it’s like
To have an Achilles heel
For someone to assume you’re invincible
Until the day comes, that they realize

You’re not