Teen Sequins 2020, Day 5: Heather Laurel Jensen, age 18

 Elegy Apologizing in Hindsight
  

 I hear:  July will bring the second coming,
               monsoon season, and a stock market crash. 
               Each light on the water tower will blink
               and then strobe. A cougar will sleep 
               under my trampoline for weeks. Dogs 
               will break into every antique shop and
              devour fine china. From there the moon will roll 
              across a cliff and crush the nearest mobile home.
  
 Today they are dredging my best friend’s body from the lake.
 She is wrapped in pink tarp and identifiable
 by her ponytail. The edges of each day are ochre and 
 pulling up at the corners like linoleum. Occasionally 
 when I take a shower, there is vomit already 
 in the bathtub. I should not be here,
  
 not like this. Three weeks ago we were kneeling
 at the gulf of a psych ward, with my hands 
 pressing a Ziploc to her nose and mouth in lieu
 of a paper bag. In hindsight,
             
             I am not even 
             an effective attempt at
             a solution. A threat is
             still a threat when
             you pretend it’s benign.
             Sorrow is still sorrow
             with my headphones in. Her grief
             was still grief when I 
             avoided it. In the future,
             I hope to be unafraid
  
 of asking questions. Her parents will join
 a nunnery. The lake will drain
 through a metal slit in the earth. Her old
 things will appear on every subway 
 in the world. In hindsight, I will look for
 the cliff crumbs in the cuffs of her jeans. In
 hindsight, I will call the hospital and tell them 
 her name. 



Heather Laurel Jensen is a freshman at the University of Arizona. She served as National Student Poet of the Southwest in 2018 and is currently co-president of Creative Youth of Arizona, an organization that administers the Phoenix Youth Poet Laureate program and develops creative opportunities for young Arizonans. Her poetry, short stories, and photography have been published by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, diode poetry journal, and the Live Poets Society of New Jersey, among others.

Teen Sequins 2020, Day 4: Jaewon Chang, Age 17

 Silent Adieu
  
 Each day is a land silently waiting
 to be unmasked. This evening,
  
 I’ll find the revolver wrenched
 in my father's closet. The barrel
  
 seems to extend longer than
 the time it allows for farewells.
  
 Sometimes, I wonder if holes are made
 easier during the night. That a trigger
  
 soiled with daylight might be easier
 to unroll. I’m gripping the gun, but
  
 dawn is only as bright as we wish
 to call it. Perhaps, the frail body
  
 lying against the front porch isn’t
 as scary at night. Soon, I’ll bend down
  
 and recognize his face, like a bullet
 waiting before it begins to whisper. 

Jaewon Chang is a high school junior living in the Philippines. His works have been recognized by the Scholastics Art and Writing awards on a national level and he is a Foyle Young Poet. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, Austin International Poetry Festival Youth Anthology, National Poetry Writing Month Anthology (2020), Ilanot Review, Bitter Oleander Press, and elsewhere. During his free time, Jaewon enjoys traveling the city on foot.

Teen Sequins 2020, Day 1: Sarah Fathima Mohammed, Age 14

Wounded Body 
  
When I am ten, my grandmother squeezes my flabby
 stomach with small, raisined hands. This is the closest 
  
 we have been. I am taught a woman should 
 keep her distance before marriage, save touch 
  
 like thirst and wait for a man’s mouth to drink 
 from. In the communal harvest shed behind 
  
 the village huts, my grandmother 
 wraps black fabric over my white kurti. 
  
 It billows at my waist like a breath. 
 Spreads over my ­­­chest as hands gasping 
  
 open, white petals. Burka stretching over
 my lips as another mouth. This is a body
  
 close enough to kiss. I have never felt anything 
 more human. I imagine that my grandmother birthed 
  
 this burka from her own stomach—fabric dousing her womb
 in darkness, coming out as flesh. Shaped like a fist. 
  
 In Tamil, wound and body share the same word. 
 Meaning that the body is only another way 
  
 to hurt. Meaning that I am a scab that is not capable
 of healing. Swollen thighs. Mouth purple 
  
 at the edges. I confess: I want this burka 
 to swallow me like a river. Drench me
  
 in salve until I’m sputtering. Bandage 
 this wound. If this burka is another body, 
  
 it is a better one. My grandmother whispers 
 that my body is too sacred to remove the burka. 
  
 I mistake the word sacred for scared. My body is not 
 the altar, only the meat that has been placed on it, sacrificed
  
 in all the wrong ways. I will drape this fabric
 over me like a corpse, hide inside it as a remedy. 
 ­­ 

Sarah Fathima Mohammed is a brown, Muslim-American writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work appears or is forthcoming in DIALOGIST,  Diode, Apprentice Writer, and elsewhere. She has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Poetry Society of the UK, and the National Poetry Quarterly’s Editors’ Choice Prize, among others. When she is not writing, she serves as managing editor for The Aurora Review and genre editor for Polyphony Lit.  

TEEN SEQUINS 2020 starts TOMORROW!

Greetings readers! Starting tomorrow, during the course of this week, you will find a new poem here by a writer ages 14-18 that we find exemplary, provocative, astonishing, heart-shaking, sobering, consoling, and inspiring. But first, importantly, I offer a deep and grand and full thanks to all who submitted to TEEN SEQUINS 2020. Before our feature begins, we list below the names of those not chosen this year under the designation of Honorable Mention. What does it mean to receive an “Honorable Mention”? It means: We hear you, we see you, we can’t wait to see where you’ll go next.

Honorable mentions, age 14 : Sami Azfar, Sabrina Guo, Daniel Kim, Sophia Liu, and Julie Rhree.

Honorable Mentions, age 15: Mofi Awoluyi, Megan Balents, Paul “Brooks” Balkan, Esrael Bennett, Dani Brown, Amanda Cooper, Leah Este, Samantha Hsiung, Yong-Yu Huang, Kiara Korten, Garcy LoCicero, Emma Miao, Brooke Nind, Natalia Roman, Anita Rose, Katherine Wei, Olivia Yang, Jeffery Xu, and Kevin Zhu

Honorable Mentions, age 16: Miriam Alex, Ana Carpenter, Loralei Cook, Melody Choi, Ishika Dube, Lydia Engel, Aanika Eragam, Jack Goodman, Simone Graziano, David Han, Connie Huang, Yong-Yu Huang, Tina Huang, Hope Juarez, Jasmine Kapadia, Jessica Kim, Sophia Lee, Robin Lim, Laura Ma, Sadie Maw, Uma Menon, Gaia Rajan, Macie Richardson, Geneva Singleton, Pandora Schoen, Devanshee Srivastava, Elizabeth Shvarts, Matthew Tengtratool, Yvanna Vien Tica, and Alexander Zera

Honorable Mentions, age 17: Mariel Almazan, Kruti Abhyankar, Oluwatimileyin Akande, Senya Borovikov, Rachel Brooks, Annie Cao, Jolin Chan, Spencer Chang, Sung Cho, Yasmine Chokrane, Julia Do, Charlotte Edward, Idiris Egal, Jude Ehmka, Nathaniel Eisert, Priyanka Gupta, Lina Hergli, Charlotte Hughes, Jack Kerins, Esther Kim, Tyler King, Irma Kiss-Baráth, Divyasri Krishnan, Matan Kruskal, Anne Kwok, Sarah Lao, Julie Larick, Olivia Lee, Emily Liu, Qianhui Ma, Courtney McDermott, Maggie Munday Odom, Helena Muñoz, Kanchan Naik, Brandon Nesmith, Elizabeth Newsom, Willa Potter, Taylor Richter, Grace Song, Katie Turk, Aditi Raju, Alexa Theofandis, Elyse Thomas, Yeonwoo Son, Sarah Street, Esther Sun, Sam Rhee, Lauren von Aspen, Arden Yum, Amy Zhou, and Serrina Zou.

Honorable Mentions, Age 18: Lukas Bacho, Samuel Bennie, Stephanie Chang, Katie Garrett, Vera Hadzic, Heather Jensen, Tasneem Maher, Mariana Kovalik Silva, Lydia von Hof, Maggie Wang, Rachel Lin Wheeler, and Lauren Young.

Follow along with us this week for TEEN SEQUINS 2020 to discover great poems, and keep your eye out in the days and weeks and years to come for ALL of these poets we’ve named above. The future is theirs.

With great sincerity, 
Sophie Klahr 
     ~ Teen Sequins editor