Liv O'Clair 2019

Poem:     "Origin Found"

Poem:      "Ode"

Story:      "Dear Diary"

Poem:     "Momma"

Story:      "The Treehouse Triumph"

Poem:     "Speak."

After "Belief in Magic"




Origin Found


I was raised on

burlap and

Butterfinger candy

bars. My hair is the

color of garden soil in

dire need of a drink, my

eyes the color of marbles

I planted like seeds. A

sledding slope nose

hovers over soybean lips.

I shower under pivots on

steaming summer days, add

my sweat to soil

like farmers before me.

Where I’m from,

roads don’t glow

from streetlights. We find

our way by moonlight,

and I can tell you what

direction I’m facing by star

maps. We don’t

get lost when street

signs disappear.

When arrows no

longer tell us

which direction to go,

we find ourselves.




To the man whose hands

Sweat like thunderstorm rain,

Whose eyes sparkle like

Dirty lake water, whose

Words punch like Frazier

Against Ali, to the man who broke

Me, I have just one thing I need to say.


Thank you.


Thank you for chicken

nuggets in the back of the van

that first night we missed

curfew. Thank you for pushing

me on the rickety sled at your family’s

farm on the day I met

your fake grandma.


Our rap battles still echo

in the hollow space

of my car. My

stomach still remembers

the torturous laughter

that came by your hand,


or mouth, I guess.


Thank you for helping me grow.


During my final curtain

call, you were a captive

audience. Watched me

slip on a banana

peel that was Nebraska’s

three-inch-deep ice. Rushed

out to help me up and hold

my hand with your sweaty one.


The dam broke and tears fell.


You taught me kindness. Thank

you for crying as you broke

up with me, even as I was

dry-eyed. You taught me empathy.


I want you to know,


I can drive to your town again, and when

I see trees or hammocks I no longer

think of you. When I hear my favorite

rapper I forget sometimes...

he’s yours too.


I no longer avoid

the book that has your name.

When I see her, I smile, happy

for you. Sometimes I turn on

Bohemian Rhapsody just

to celebrate our first movie date.


Nostalgia is a funny thing, but

I wouldn’t go back. I move forward,




Dear Diary,

     Mom hates when I have nothing to do, says I cause trouble. Had the nerve to toss her black hair back too. Whatever. When I opened a portal into the kitchen for breakfast she was all “Oh! Sebastian, I told you to stop doing that! The dog nearly fell in.” Haha, yeah. Then I ate some toast and portaled to school. It’s lit, man. You know how I hate Mr. Whitmore, right? Well, today I decided to play a new game. I portal my friends’ desks to different spots when their backs are turned, then laugh to myself when they freak out. Margie didn’t think it was so funny. She’s kinda stuck up though. Really likes to make fun of my crooked nose. Anyway. I portaled an apple across the room at lunch. I didn’t wanna walk over to the line, and I figured it’d be good practice for moving specific objects. I was right. It was awesome. I sent it over to Harlow with a green wink and a little smirk. She definitely wants a piece of this. Free apple, anyone?

     Later, at practice, I portaled the ball out of Jace’s hand right before he dunked it. Oh, he was so pissed. I’m smiling just thinking about it. You should’ve seen how worked up Coach got, saying I almost hurt his star player. Except everyone knows I’m better. I even told him that. His face got beet red. I had to run a couple suicides after practice. Whoops.

     Portaled home. SIDE NOTE: do you realize how much gas money you save when you don’t have to drive to school?




You’re a teddy bear for me,

your child, scared

of everything.

When the lights were off,

you were ready to

take on any creature that

dared come out from

under the bed. When you

were with me, I was


When you went away

to work, I would count

the minutes

until you came home.

I stayed awake, little hands

gripping the blanket to my chin,

big eyes watching for you,

or the monster, whichever came

first. You always did. Momma,

you were always my hand to hold,

but now you’re my shoulder to cry on.

When I go off to college, don’t

wait up, your hands

curled in the blankets.

I’ll come back to you,

and no monster could stop me.


The Treehouse Triumph

     “Come on, Ian. Get up here. I know you’re scared of heights, but the view from up here is exquisite.”

     She beamed at me from the edge of the plywood that signaled the entrance of the treehouse. If I entered the treehouse. Her crimped hair vanished as she disappeared beyond the ladder’s end with a soft giggle.

     I lifted my foot again, shaking a bit before setting it solidly onto the next rung. I muttered a few words under my breath as one hand reached higher, the other maintaining a death grip. Got it. Time to ease that grip. I brushed the back of my hand against my forehead. How could I be sweating this early into the spring?

     I pushed a breath through my lips, grabbed the next rung. I could’ve touched the plywood if I wanted to, but I didn’t dare try. Not then. Ever so slowly, I put my weight onto my left foot. Two whole feet higher than it was. I shouldn’t have looked down. Four letter words came to mind. I rolled my head back and closed my eyes against the harsh sunlight. I felt the rough plywood above as it brushed against my fingers, and I clamped down on it. Shaking slightly, I pulled myself up. I threw my arm over the ledge and scrambled up another step. My head broke the plane of the 15ft floorboards, and there she was.

     This was where I loved her most. She was so beautiful, sitting there, leaning against that creaking two-by-four and smiling at me over her shoulder. Exquisite view, huh? I couldn’t disagree.




You think

texting me somehow

makes me yours, like

you’re the only one

I give my thoughts to,

like my phone number

is your name, like a ring

on my finger shackles my soul,

like I give you a tuition

of thoughts instead of

just a penny.


But college offered me free tuition,

so what makes you think

that a couple kisses

are more convincing than four

years of life changing knowledge?

Who told you that your lips

were worth my secrets? Why

do you think you deserve anything

other than a prison sentence?


When we were alone

with no one around for miles,

you held me so tight

I couldn’t move, or even breathe.

I was locked in the iron

cage of your truck,

captive in the bars of your arms,


I was yours. But not by choice.


You took choice when you

took my voice, but I will not

be silenced. I will write

pages upon pages until

my fingers are bloody, and then

I will write books in my own blood.


When you truly

believe in something

you will do everything

you can to make that belief known,

and I believe in respect.

Because in the words of Nate Marshall,

Respect is Sexy.


You are the 40-year-old who

works at McDonalds.

You are the wind up toy

sold to my future kids who

will forget you just minutes

after receiving you.You

are the meal left out

and thrown away.

I shut the car doors,

lock them,

roll all the windows up

on a hot summer day.

your blood boils

until you’re gone. Because

we are nothing

without respect.

Because you reduced me to

nothing with nothing more

than the steel cords

of your forearms.

I’m not “strong.”


My strength is not

like yours. No, I can’t

bench press 500lbs,

can’t dunk a basketball,

can’t even dangle someone

over a river threatening

to drop them in.


But I can stand up

after I’ve been beaten,

can raise my fist,

but not in violence.


In my fist is a mic,

in my mind are words,

and I will not be silent

this time. I offer up

my tuition of thought

because I am now

with the ones I love,

the ones who love me

back. I offer

my voice

because it is stronger

than force.