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Artwork by Fatema Rahaman, staff poet and artist



sounds– shuffling,

an arm into the sleeve

next into the other

head towards the window,

Sun hasn’t risen–


blistered feet, exploring

my covers


on the floor,

I imagine no time for bread today,

No time, even for a coffee.


hands reach for the door,


The rooster sees me–

it caws.



Body sunken into memory foam,

embraced by layers of winter blankets,

stomach protrudes,

I remember yesterday’s feast,

I rest.



Same old:

Greet Mr. Lee, say hello to Chul-yi,

Pipes, Boilers, Metal machines,

Smoke heaves,

Into my ears, into my mouth,

Blackened knuckles,

dirtied nails

Never from graphite.

Dad’s still out,

He preaches,

Of love, of devotion, of those things,

But he’s never, ever,

Here, for me.


Same old:

Smiles, fresh faces,

Ready for today’s assessments,

Bell rings,

First class.

Dad sends me a message:

“사랑해! 오늘도 화이팅!”

I love you too, dad.



Smoke into my eyes, they water,

“Pick up the slack!”, Mr. Lee screams,

Arms fail me,

I can barely breathe.

Today I’ll take the long path home–

Stolen glimpses:

At the nearby middle school,

At the navy uniforms,

Wishing I could sit in front of a blackboard,

Not stand here, and make one.


Teachers sing,

Revolutions, Romances,

into my ears,

Dad says,

Learn like there is no tomorrow,

Dad says,

Feast on your teacher’s words.

I sit in front of the blackboard–

Thank you, Dad.

Yaejun is a current high schooler in the New Jersey area. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Association, the National Council for Teachers of English, and the New York Times. She enjoys reading and writing poetry. Besides poetry, she loves to play tennis and watch Netflix.

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