2020 has brought with it a whirlwind of
change. From COVID-19 to the social reckoning that has come with the Black Lives Matter movement, young people have found themselves struggling to deal with what has been the most tumultuous period of our lifetimes.
YAWP is dedicated to providing a medium for the expression of these young voices. In accordance with our principles, we have thus decided to publish the 2020 Poetry Collection: a special section of our journal in which are published short poems addressing the myriad social and political developments of the past year.
For this section, we have made sure to include alongside established writers, writers who may have not been published before, or who are still finding their footing in the literary world. We have invited writers who are angry about this country; or sad; or proud; or all of the above. We have invited these writers with the intent that their voices will be heard.
I sit and watch the light stream through the glass--
patchy cotton candy skies of August
The evening sun bathed the clouds and earth in a serene beauty that only could be witnessed in summer
I sit and watch it fade
Today the sky was blue for the first time in weeks
The dull gray-orange glow gave way to a dusty periwinkle
I wonder if it will last
The golden tint of the October afternoon makes my heart heavy
A tight warm feeling in my chest. It's a longing.
My heart longs for so many things
I try not to list them all, for fear I may weep
For now, I just sit and watch
After months of chaos,
weeks of torture,
days as long as years,
years as short as minutes,
it has come.
The season of sanity,
the air cool as a cucumber,
not the dragon’s breath
we melted in all day long.
I can feel the change coming,
the calm before the storm.
I hope this time lasts
a good long while
because I hate being stuck
in time like I’ve been
for the past six millennia.
I can stand life now,
with the ability to enjoy
moments like this.
It will keep me level
for a while, I hope.
I must take advantage of this
before the lakes freeze over,
the ground becomes grey
before everything dies
with my soul.
Men, women, and children
all rush in to see
what kind of girl will be on their tv.
Will she hang her head, maybe even cry?
Will she wake up at the end?
She’s lucky to be alive.
It's cold on the sidewalk,
And it's almost dawn.
Give them a pretty picture of me,
When I’m finally gone.
This is a lonely virus, leaving the ill breathing their own blood: an auto-immune drowning.
Even grieving --often a community practice is stripped down to the bones. Almost no one will see the body again. Few will be able to hold the closest kin without fearing their own respiratory death.
No one wants to talk about: how easy it is to edit respiration. The same hands pumping air can withhold it. Hospitals operate as a system and only some patients get bedside manner, comfort in a strange place, a charger to call the partner and caregivers that believe they are worth saving. To be able bodied and sick is to be a loss if gone. A promise of all the headlines lamenting your last breaths. Nurses remember your name, watch your monitors closer determine you more likely to survive than those of us with heavy lungs. They are already damaged by chronic illness. We teach the staff our charts, help them avoid asphyxiating us with medicines we have death allergies to. Our pleas are met with abrupt interactions and minimal information.
We have no voice to cough our way through language demanding better. With no one else permitted by our side, there is no advocate in the room to know our rights.
We’ve spent birthdays with the night shift and are used to falling asleep to the sound of sickness
The hum of life saving machines. Sometimes, hospitals hold us the way our immune systems do.
Either barely at all, from a distance or too tight, choking us. Like the blood cells hurting what they are supposed to defend.
In a pandemic, we are our autoimmune disorders, and most can live with sacrificing us.
People I trusted are still dismissing the importance of protecting the vulnerable if the healthy have to give up fro-yo or bonfires.
If healthcare supplies grow barren, can birth no more ventilators, we are first on the exclusion list. They will determine quality of life based on how many beaches we’ve walked; how irregular we visit the doctor and breaths per minute.
If the choice is between the able bodied and us, they’ll measure our ability to run and choose your faster mile time. Exhausted doctors will listen to a past recording of your lungs and praise their steady intake. They frown at the cough I wore before Covid, mark yours priority and unhook the ventilator we came with.