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by: 
Violet, Teen Contributor

The sky splits in half

This stillness in the air

Destroyed

By roaring thunder

And jagged, blinding light.

Unimaginable power

In the blink of an eye.

 

Another bolt of energy,

Another deafening clap.

 

Droplets fall from the heavens,

Travelling hundreds of miles

To give life.

 

Violent storms,

Merciless.

Growing nature,

Phenomenal.

by: 
Emma, Teen Contributor

Once I did dare
To go down the stairs
When everyone was sleeping 

I slipped out the door
And then felt the air
Upon my arms and face.

It was cold, that night,
But my eyes, they were bright
With not a bit of sleep.

I looked at the stars
I thought I saw mars
The night was clear and dark

The porch, it was cold
And I felt so bold
As to sit on it at midnight, that time.

The air felt so clear
It hid all my fears
And I felt as if I could sing. 

I flung my arms out and began to dance
As if I was in some kind of trance
Beneath the cold and bright moon.

I laughed and I twirled
I thought I held the world
In the palm of my hand at that moment

Then I stopped my feet
In the middle of the street
Not caring for safety or caution

My face turned to the sky
I did not know why
But I felt a compulsion to look.

Then I saw it streak by
Yes, it did fly
Above the moon with its brothers

The shooting star
It was very rare
For a girl like me to see.

Just a blink, then it vanished,
But it was not tarnished
Within my mind filled with wonders. 

I closed my eyes then
And again and again
Repeated a wish in my head.

A wish for peace
A wish for joy
A wish for candy and toys
A little girl's wish
A little girl's problems
Wrapped up in one little wish. 

I was that small girl
Standing in the road
With stars in her eyes
And moonlight in her toes
She'll never forget that moment, oh no
The wish of a lifetime,
The shooting star.

by: 
Aliyah, teen submission and Meghann, teen outreach librarian

This is a reminder that any teen between the ages of 11-18 can become a contributor to our teen page!  We want to hear from you through your words, pictures, and art!

Check out this inspiring image submitted by Aliyah who notes, "This is a picture of me and Spike. He reminds me to be adventerous with those big eyes!"

If you are inspired by this picture you might like to read, Redwall by Brian Jacques!

 

by: 
Emma, Teen Contributor

Have you ever wondered

Why time seems to stretch and shrink

Depending on the time?

 

School is long, summer is short,

Vacations have no end.

Events last for years, months just mere seconds,

On the sands of time.

 

Maybe it's just the people at fault,

The ones who see the things changing.

For some it's short, for some it's long,

And time just stays the same.

 

Maybe it's the time, maybe the people,

But I think it's different.

I think in some places there is a space

That time is warped and changed.

 

It's a wormhole, plain and simple,

I hope you understand.

You step right through it, and that's all,

Time is now all relative.

 

When you leave, the time has not changed,

But you yourself have been aged.

Not a moment has passed, and yet you find

You've been in there for years.

 

Maybe the people, maybe the time,

But I'm sure it's a wormhole-

What do you think?

 

 

* Anglada, Paul, "Eye of the Wormhole", flickr creative commons, accessed Feb 2, 2015.

by: 
Violet, Standley Lake Teen Contributor

Each person

Has their own Universe

Of wishes, missions, thoughts.

 

An entirely unique place

That belongs to only one.

Others can peek,

But never see much,

Or get to stay long.

 

I ask to enter yours

You can’t let me - 

By no fault of yours - 

But instead,

Speak your mind,

Expose your weaknesses, secrets,

And trust I shan’t hurt you.

 

You are right to trust,

For love is trust,

And in return

I give you my heart

And my Universe.

 

*photo (c) Richard Smith, "Best Laid Plans", September 8, 2014

by: 
N.G. Teen Submission

You have me cornered. I am a 

rabbit and you are a fox with

teeth sharp as glass white as

milk. Only your teeth are not

made of glass and milk. They

are made of stories and secrets

and 'I love you' and caring.

And I appreciate your caring

really, I do. Or maybe I don't and

I'm sorry. Or maybe you and I

could stop being predator and prey

for a few minutes and I could run and

not talk to anyone. (That's really what I

want here, didn't I say that?)

(I don't care if it's not what I

need) (You do)

You care with your sharp teeth and

your love and your secrets.

But some things can't be fixed with teeth 

and sometimes I am sick of crying 

in front of you and I 

cannot live as a rabbit. 

This is because I am not a rabbit, I 

am a girl and when 

the fox bites the rabbit will 

bleed red, but the girl is 

already bleeding guilt and apologies and tears. 

But rabbits can run and they don't cry 

and they don't speak. 

On second thought, 

maybe I should be a rabbit. 

 

* photo "Finding Wonderland", Louis Courtney, flickr creative commons, accessed Jan 8, 2015.

 

by: 
Aurora, Belmar Teen Contributor

Welcome, all you avid readers, all you book-lovers, all you bibliophiles! Okay, so all of these words mean pretty much the same thing, but you get the point. Now, it is suddenly a new year, and if you are like me, you probably have this perpetual problem of not having anything to read. Literally, ANYTHING, even when you are surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books! Okay, so I exaggerate. But, it can still be tough to find new, great books to read. So, out of all of the books that I've read in 2014, here are a few of my favorites, some new, some old.

1. First of all, there is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Of course, most of you have probably read this already, for I seem to have been late to the bandwagon. It doesn't hurt that a movie adaptation just came out in 2013 (it wasn't a complete, total disaster, anyway), so it is still probably pretty fresh on everyone's radar. It's a great sci-fi book, always worth a re-read. (Also, if you feel like looking at it from a new perspective, go do some research on the Cold War. It is really interesting how the conflict between the Buggers and the humans might actually resemble what was actually happening between the Americans and Soviets at the time the book was being published.) But, as amazing as Ender's Game is, that is not the point of this particular recommendation. Several years after his initial publication in the Enderverse, Orson Scott Card came out with another, parallel series, which starts with Ender's Shadow. This is exactly his first story told from Bean's point of view. You do not need any prior knowledge to read Ender's Shadow and it is just as good, and arguably better than the original series. If you loved Ender's Game, or really just sci-fi, you have to read Ender's Shadow.

2. The next book is probably not very well known. I found Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira by accident. But, the premise sounded interesting: a girl is given an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person. So, the novel is told in these letters to Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin, and all of these other dead famous people while, really, Laurel is trying to cope with her own sister's death, which hadn't happened all that long ago. While this book is unlike anything that I've read before, if you liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky, this should be the next thing you read.

3. On a lighter, and fluffier, note, the trilogy that begins with Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins might have just been the most adorable thing I have read all year. Okay, so yes, it is definitely one of those sappy teen love stories. But the sap is minimal, the writing is good, and the characters are real. If you want a light read, basically comfort food, these are the books for you.

4. Now, on a much darker note, there is The Child Thief by Brom. Just Brom, only the one name. This is a darker retelling of Peter Pan, which essentially sprung from the idea that maybe the boys that Peter takes to Neverland don't want to stay forever. It is dark, and it is creepy and it has a few drawings, done by the author, which shows you what is happening in his own re-imagined Neverland. If you like retellings, especially ones that tend to take the stories to darker, more haunting places, or if you just want to see Peter Pan from a drastically different view, I would definitely try reading The Child Thief.

5. Now, I know that one of the most popular series that has been around in the last few years has been The City of Bones (well, it started out as a trilogy, then there were two trilogies in the same series, and a prequel series, and now there are more spinoffs being made, so...) universe. And one of the only (actually, the only) character to appear in all of the published books so far has been the mysterious High Warlock, Magnus Bane. Now, if you would like to know anything more about Magnus, like, perhaps, why he is not allowed in Peru, or what really happened to Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution, or even how characters like Raphael Santiago came to be, you might want to pick of The Bane Chronicles, an illustrious collection of short stories.

6. Okay, dragons. I can't not make a list of books that people should read without bringing up dragons at least once. Because, first of all, dragons are awesome. And, second, with Game of Thrones picking up speed, dragons are becoming more popular anyways. So, for a more unique take on dragons, try reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, where the dragons are cold, logical, mathematical beings who can fold themselves into human form, with a few issues with the humans themselves. Also, the sequel is set to come out in early 2015, so what better way to start off the New Year? DRAGONS.

7. Most of you have probably read The Book Thief. Most of you have probably also read Markus Zusak's other book, I Am the Messenger, which is also several different kinds of amazing. If you haven't read the latter, and are expecting it to be like The Book Thief, don't. Ed Kennedy is just a cab driver, until one day he begins receiving mysterious instructions in the mail. It sounds like a bit of a trope, but I promise, it's worth the read.

8. Another book that I found to be unique and interesting is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Spoiler alert, the main character dies. Okay, that's not a spoiler; it's actually the premise of the book. The main character dies, and then relives her last die seven separate times. It definitely brings up a great question: if you knew it was your last day, what would you do?

9. Here is another supernatural book, where certain people get unique powers: The Diviners by Libba Bray. Also, the sequel comes out in April, so I am very excited for that. But this isn't really just another one of those supernatural books. This one is set in the 1920s, where Evie O'Neill is sent to live in New York City with her uncle, who happens to run a museum for the occult. So, maybe my summary makes it sound like a bit of a cliché. It's not! Also, it is totally the reason I have started to use the word 'copacetic' wherever possible.

10. This is the last book that I read in 2014, and without a doubt, it is also one of the best. I have read pretty much everything E. Lockhart has written in the past, and while I am not a huge fan of her Ruby Oliver series, I love her other standalones, especially The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (note to self, reread that in 2015) but We Were Liars is its own kind of special. It's about a family that spends their summers on a private island, with a core cast of characters, the Liars. I would love to tell you more about this book, but I don't think I will. To borrow the words from the inside jacket: "Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." The advice is spot on.

So, while the list might not have ten books that you will like, I guarantee that there should be at least one book on the list that you will absolutely love. Here's to another year of reading!

 

If you are a book lover like Aurora, please send us a countdown of your favorite reads!

by: 
Violet, Standley Lake Teen Contributor

 

Winter moonlight

Softly bathes the world

In an eerily peaceful glow.

The snow,

Simply small crystallized water droplets

But that hold so much beauty and mystery

They drift down towards the cool earth

A gentle landing

As the flakes clump together -

They swallow sound and movement

Making everything

At peace.

 

*photo (c) Martinak15, flickr creative commons

 

by: 
Emma, Teen Submission

This story is the final installment of a three part series.  Read Excerpt 1, and Excerpt 2

I blinked, unsure of the moisture on my cheeks now. Were they tears? Or merely the rain?

“So…you’ve been trying to warn me? All this time?”

She nodded, reaching out to me.

“You must come with me. The lightning within you is what can save both of these worlds.”

I blinked, and reached up to wipe the wet strands of hair from my eyes.

“What? The lightning within me.”

Her expression did change this time, showing an aura of impatience. 

“Eli, there is no time! I’m being stretched over two worlds just to talk to you. This storm is raging across the dimensions, and you are the only one who can stop it!” 

“But what if I do stop it? Will I ever see you again?”

This time, she looked down, turning her hands over. She was looking through them. She was barely an outline in the darkness.

“No, Eli," I shivered, droplets shedding from my jacket. "You won’t. I’m an echo of a memory, from another world. I don’t exist. Not anymore. I died. I’m never coming back. I’m just the messenger. You must come.” 

“But…you’re here, you’re talking, you have a personality! How could you be gone?”

She seemed to sigh, and reached out to touch my face. Her hand passed through my cheek, and re-emerged from my chin. It felt like a soft breeze.

”Eli, I’m not here. I can never be here. Just come with me, and you can save two worlds.”

“But not your world?”

She shook her head sadly.

“My world is dead and gone, with no hope for it. I speak on behalf of another world, not my own.”

I hugged myself tighter. 

“How do you know I can do it? And why should I do it if it won’t even benefit you?”

Her pale lips parted in a sad smile, one that pierced my heart.

“I know because you have done it. In another world, in another time…you succeeded. But that version of you no longer has the power. You must do it because it will release me from the worlds. To be free.” 

This time, I knew it was a tear that rolled down my face, hot and salty. 

“But…do you know how much you have tormented me, in my sleep, confusing me during the day…how could you do this to me!”

Clasping her hands, she lowered her gaze.

“For that, there is no excuse. I apologize, for any pain I have caused you.”

I shook my head, and dashed away the hot tears on my cheeks. 

“You are hurting me more than anything else in the entire world.”

Her eyebrows furrowed a bit more, and she glanced at my face.

“That shouldn’t be happening…it must be a transponder issue. The dreams were never supposed to cause you trouble, and neither am I.” 

I whipped my head from side to side, and would have grabbed her shoulders if I could have. Instead, I just squeezed myself tighter.

“Why do you have to do this? Make me choose…”

”Choose what? There is no choice. Come with me, and save the worlds.”

I sliced my arm through the storm, swiping her argument aside.

“That’s not what I mean. You’re making me choose between the better of two whole worlds, and you. You’ve made me fall in love with you.”

Shock radiated from every molecule of her ghostly essence. 

“This wasn’t supposed to happen. You must save the worlds!”

“But loose you? I don’t even know your name, and I can’t bear to loose you! If this storm ends, I’ll never see you as you are now ever again! I won’t see you at all!”

“You must come…”

Still, she pleaded, though a note of doubt had crept into her voice. 

“Not yet. Let’s stay here. Just for a minute. With the storm.”

“The storm must end.”

“Just for a while longer.”

I looked out across the plain, my heart thumping in my chest. She was going to leave. Forever. If I did this…

The fate of two worlds.

Or the girl.

The dead girl who was being shuttled across dimensions just to talk to me. What was I doing?

“I’m so selfish…”, I muttered, and shuffled my feet. 

Flash, boom. 

Lightning, thunder.

”Eli, please…”

Finally, I nodded.

“I’ll come.”

She held out her hand, and I reached for it. Then, I pulled back.

“Wait! Before I go-tell me your name. Please.”

She smiled.

“Elhodie. My name is Elhodie.”

Elhodie. Beautiful.

“I love you, Elhodie.”

I took her hand.

And for one second of bliss, we were together. 

From across the storm.

by: 
Aisha, Teen Submission

I had put on this armor plenty enough

to know the weight of it.

 

And I say, I still say, that I would not like to take it off.

When I fall asleep, I wake up with bruises covering my back, my arms, my neck.

My legs chafe, and the press of steel against my body chills me.

 

But no,

I will keep it on

even in my sleep.

 

And no, it doesn't matter how much you ask,

because I know the pain of listening to someone

and realizing the consequences.

 

There are always consequences

and you are too young to

understand.

 

So I comb your hair

and plait the silky strands

until my chained fingers

smell like strawberries.

 

And I kiss your cheek

and tell you to do well in school

and to have fun

and come back home safely.

 

Every day, with my heavy armor, plaiting your lovely hair

kissing your cheeks and saying farewell, you grow and grow

and your hair is long and short at times but I plait it as best as

these clumsy fingers can manage

and you smile and kiss me on on the forehead and run off to classes,

before turning around and telling me to at least take off the armor

for a little bit.

 

And I might smile, but my eyes say no, and you sigh but let it go and are gone not a moment after.

Come home safely, I say.

I will, you reply.

 

Until one day

 

you don't.

 

And I want to die

for being so careless.

 

And by the time I find you

the damage is done

and you are naked in the cold of reality

so I slip off my armor

and beckon you into it

and lean against these brick and mortar walls

as you cry into my arm.

 

This armor won't protect you, I say quietly,

it never protected me, after all.

You understand

but it hurts to know

and I slip a kiss onto your battered cheeks.

It made me feel safe,

but it never helped

and in the end I took it off, anyways.

 

a child who learned more of the world than I did

and took it by the heart to fight it just the same

 

a child who knew nothing until everything

was thrust onto her shoulders

and she was cold

and it was snowing

and she was alone

until her mother ran to find her

a little bit too much late.

 

a child who woke up faster than she would have liked

but was brave enough

to keep going.

 

Steel lays rusting

in the corner of some alleyway

a set of armor standing stoically

over the remnants of oblivion

waiting for the next child

who seeks shelter in its arms.

 

And your bare hand touches mine

and we step forward with naked feet

and our eyes hold fear but more than that

they hold hope.

 

Because the armor is an illusion of safety

and it took me long enough

to realize

this armor stands strong

by my side.

 

*photo (c) of Kaometet, flickr creative commons

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