YAWP is the new PITS
YAWP = Yarmouth High School Arts & Writing Publication
A Personal Essay by Iliyan Pelletier
In my first three years of high school, I had three concussions. One during the spring of my freshman year from lacrosse, another the first few weeks into my sophomore year from a car accident, and another on the same exact day a year later playing football. Each one impacted me more than the previous, and took me longer to recover.
Having three concussions in less than eighteen months gave me a constant headache and reminder to watch my step and not do anything that might put my head in more danger. My parents even considered making me constantly wear an old leather football helmet.
Not being able to do what I wanted created a constant irritation. I couldn’t use a computer, I couldn’t do strenuous activities, physical or mental. I could no longer play contact sports, something that I had always loved to participate in. Most days I sat in my room tremendously bored trying to convince myself I wasn’t depressed or it could always be worse. But sitting up in my room alone and being pushed to the edge of boredom made me find things in myself that I never would have found otherwise.
When something dramatic happens in your life that cuts off your ability to do what you love, most people describe that as having a door close in your life. But when one door closes another door opens. Being trapped in my state of boredom led me to that new door that I had never pursued before: Woodworking.
It first came to me one day when I was fiddling with my swiss army knife. I picked up a random piece of wood I had in my room and began to whittle away. Shaping the wood with the knife brought me into a state of serenity. Shaping the wood slowly, making curves and carving different shapes. It all came so naturally. Little feet began to pop out of the wood, and then a head, and finally a bubbled shell. I had made my first carving, a turtle. It wasn't the prettiest thing in the world, but it was something that I had accomplished in my many days of feeling distraught and unaccomplished. It gave me something to strive for. I am a completely self taught woodworker, and my hands show it with constant blisters and cuts. Experimenting with different grips on the knife and wood is a big part of woodcarving for me. Always pursuing the perfection I knew I could achieve from the beautiful grain of the wood.
Woodworking has become a part of me. It gave me a way through my feeling of loss over the activities I was no longer supposed to participate in. Some people have certain attributes that supposedly defines who they are as a person. For me, that would be woodworking. Whether it be simple woodcarvings with a swiss army knife or turning cups and bowls on my lathe. I could spend hours putting my energy into these pieces, and I do.
One of my favorite pieces was a simple cup made from cherry wood that I had turned for a Secret Santa gift. I spent countless hours on the lathe, gouges and chisels digging into the blank, wood shavings flying every which way leaving me buried under a layer of dust. Because I had ripped a hole through the side on the first blank and had to start over, it made me even more motivated to finish the cup. I worked through the day and into the freezing winter night to finish. I made a lid out of maple to contrast the red cherry. I sanded the cup down to 600 grit sandpaper to give the wood a natural shine before using teak oil as a finish. The red wood glistened as I applied the oil finishing my masterpiece.
My Competitive Nature: A Personal Essay by Charlie Keefe
Violent butterflies beat their wings against my stomach. As a competitive swimmer, a pool is a place I have always been comfortable. This time it was different. I know it shouldn’t have been different, but it was. The nerves were building, I had never been around someone like him, and didn’t know what to expect. It was the first day of my second job to exercise with a 23 year old man with special needs to improve his strokes. Meeting him I learned quickly he was very vocal, speaking about stuff a normal 10 year old boy would talk about as his mom said he would. My job was to get him into better shape and give him someone to hangout with. His name is Jacob, he has autism, and gave me a new understanding of competitiveness. He changed my old beliefs and gave me new ones on how I should be a competitor in life.
Two weeks after the job had started I learned that the family could no longer afford to pay me to train with Jacob. After a week of not seeing him, I realized I had really bonded with him. The sudden realization hit that I wasn’t doing this for the money but that I had gained a friend from someone I would have never thought I would cross paths with. I talked with his mother and we discussed me continuing swimming with him as community service.
Training with him became even more fun than before. We were just two friends in the pool bettering ourselves. Jacob and I would race everyday, sometimes I would win and sometimes I’d let him win. Being a competitive swimmer I hate losing. Every race I’d swim I’d desperately strive to be the best. It was a part of my competitive nature.
Now Jacob on the other hand seemed to never mind losing, he just enjoyed the time swimming and enjoyed being competitive in the pool but was content with just being competitive. He left everything in the pool and worked as hard as he could. Unlike me he could accept defeat. I learned this idea from Jacob. If I put in the time to train and I do my best, it shouldn’t matter about winning or losing.
There is only so much that I can do to be my best self in the pool. I bring these ideas into my life everyday since I have realized that. Not everyone can be the best. Not everyone can have the best brains or best athletic genes. I now go into everyday trying to be competitive, trying to do my best and better myself and at the end of the day, I end up where I end up. I can be happy with this because as long as I know I tried my very best and worked my hardest that I will end up where I deserve to be.
I have built this concept into my life more and more since I have been swimming with Jacob. Everyday I go into life with a competitive nature. My biggest competitor each day isn’t the other team, it isn’t my classmates, my biggest competitor is myself. Each day I go into life with one goal: bettering myself in some way. Whether it be learning something new in school, no matter how exhausted my mind is. If it is getting faster on the field, even though my calves and hamstrings burn hotter than a fire. If it is getting faster in the pool, even though my shoulders and arms are numb from pain. If it is pushing through that last rep in squats to complete the workout doing it knowing I will be unable to walk the next day. Like Jacob, I try to be the best version of myself.
A Personal Essay by Kim Loomis
I've become accustomed to waking up to the sound of ambulances outside my house in the middle of the night. Hearing my mother’s car start at three in the morning isn’t at all shocking. My father suffers from chronic migraines that completely take over his entire body and soul. I never knew how debilitating they could be until I saw him suffer so severely and never healing from them.
Despite being sick since the age of twelve, my father has continued to stay the happiest person I know. Nothing brings him down. After hours in a hospital bed, unable to move and in so much pain, he doesn’t feel human anymore. Somehow he makes jokes when the nurses come in to poke him with more needles. After hearing many condolences for his pain, his only response is, “this ain't my first rodeo, it won’t get easier unless I practice!” His wish is never to hear people say "sorry" to him. Whenever he hears remarks like this, he immediately changes the topic of conversation to concern about their well being. I've never met another person who holds the health and happiness of others so high in their heart.
It was difficult for me to come home the first time after bringing my father to the hospital. It was hard to comprehend that someone so strong could feel so much pain so often. I have never wanted to leave his side, even when he is in his best condition. I glued myself to him in fear he might need me. I’ve never realized what my mom had felt and endured for the past thirty years.
Seeing my mother and father continue being so positive and happy even when my father's health is in such bad condition has taught me that life keeps going. Watching my mother work so hard to support the family and my father push through hard times is what keeps me going. Instead of letting the health of a loved one impact me negatively, I have chosen, with the help of my parents, to progress in life. It has taught me to not dwell on the bad days, but to enjoy the good days. Enjoy my time with others and appreciate how fortunate I am to be in good health.
It’s been hard for me to find happiness in all my father's pain, and after long, hard nights thinking about the constant suffering and struggle, I have finally become comfortable with the fact that nothing will ever be perfect. No one’s life ever goes as planned. There will always be bumps in the road, but one will only get over them if they try. One of the best things I have ever done for myself is realizing that no matter what gets in my way, I have to push through. If my father can push through it, so can I.
Despite dealing with all the health problems, my father is the the happiest and highest part of my day. Getting to know and understand someone who is so content with themselves and what's going on has showed me how important it is to be comfortable with yourself and your surroundings no matter what life throws at you. My mother has always told me this, but sometimes it’s hard to believe it until you experience it.
After happily caring for someone for years now, I’ve decided that nursing is what I want to do for the rest of my life. My love for helping people goes beyond just my father. Sadly, nothing can cure him, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope in giving him or anyone else suffering from chronic migraines relief. I will always have the healing side of me with whoever I am with.
A Laundry List
thunder like horses beating across the rocky shoreline
string lights in the boat cabin, fish and a pear for dinner
dawn a whisper in the east, soapy showers on the boat
linen, lace, sundresses and silver scandals, freckles
ripped hands, weary eyes, ink stains, and battered shoes
eggshell lighthouse, open windows, sea glass on the sill
half a dozen diagnoses you don’t know what to do with
oranges and dark chocolate, cracked china, headphones
antique house, locked door, bleeding clouds
bed like a bird’s nest of blankets, glass jars of seashells
ribbons for the laces of boots, gardenia, plath’s poetry
stormy grey cat with moons for eyes and three working legs
leather-bound, homemade books and the ships’s logbook
metalworking equipment, cast silver rings and metal dust
downy legs and sunlight blinding on the morning sea
getting lost in old libraries, tracking sand in the house
middle of the ocean, a sea of stars above, being alone
casino lights and music in the glassy, midnight harbor
rose quartz, moonstone, marble, lapis lazuli
nightmares and pill bottles and being lost in a storm
the sweet, soft darkness fathoms bellow your racing keel
bruised knees, old star charts, late night texting, twins
paint stains, calloused feet, the last line in a poem.
Lanky extremities explored the infinite room
Coiling and swiveling to the cello
Her body gleamed with sweat
Glistening and tender and beautiful
Chiffon flew around her
An upheaval of fabrics
Tackled the air
As she floated in a merciless battle
Against her body
The sweet essence of vanilla perfume and sweat
Filled the room like a steam
She could taste the salt drip into her mouth
Tangy and delicious
To the harsh shutters her body
Was awakened to
A drop rolled down her forehead,
Slowly slithering to her cheek
In soft rivulets
But she continued gliding
Her heavy breathing was faint
to the too-loud music raging
In the infinite room
The pads of her feet
Softly hit the wood floors
With a delicate ‘thump’
Her eyes glazed across
Her body being her only focus
Her mind was in a ballroom
A euphorium of ecstasy
Her bones felt weightless
The rocks turning to feathers
She flowed into a screeching love of her body
The ancient forest was home to conifers and fruit
The limbs of the trees
Twisted and dying
Apples once bright red and green withered to black
The deep forest gently gave way to a small path
Sweet sap and pine
the canopy above began to filter in soft white sun from the heavens
But something was off
I closed my eyes
I saw the now-ancient trees as seedlings
I saw Yankees
Locked in battle
Brother against brother in combat that will leave no winner
Civil hands making civil blood unclean
The battle cries softened
I opened my eyes and the clearing emptied
Flowers blossoming on the unmarked graves of the abandoned were still and soft
But something still felt off
Hours of walking eventually lead to a small brook
The hot white sun faded to cotton candy
I looked down
My shoes were torn and ripped
My legs scratched beyond recognition
The pale lace of my dress a Jackson Pollock
I tried to fly away
From this life
But gravity was a noose.
- Keely McConville
A Story is A Story
In media res - start the story in the center of the action. They are not beginning, they have indeed already begun, but they are beginnings for us, and that is enough.
Have it unseat you. Have it throw you out of your chair. Have it make your heart beat and your breath quicken have it make you sit there, unsure of what to do, because it said that, and that is such a beautiful thing.
Titles should be those strange things that don’t make any sense when you start and don’t make any sense when you finish. Except they do.
Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Say it again and again and again. Say it three times, because things like coming in threes. Say it again, because it needs to be said more than once. Say it with no meaning, and then say it again, when it suddenly makes all the sense in the world.
Use grammar, but only to your advantage. Use big words, but only in the attempt to sound ethereal and poetic. People don't use “epidermis” in real life.
The beginning of a story is a seed. It is the very essence of everything that will ever come next. It is everything, but it is never enough.
So what? Why did you write this? Why the **** did you write this?
Write. Don't revise until it’s done. Don’t think about it until it’s done. You are merely filling a box with sand so you can one day build a palace.
Clear your throat. Let the beginning be the phlegm that lets you speak clearly because yours is a story to tell.
And finally, know that anything and everything that I just said is completely disregardable. Ignore me if you like, ignore anything and everything you like because this is writing for god’s sake, and rules do not apply to us here.
-O. F. Bailey
Written during the Creative Writing Day Workshop with Gibson Fay-LeBlanc
An Open Letter to Ophelia by Lulu Rasor
There are stars so far away
that by the time we’ve glimpsed their light
the source has dimmed to ash,
light streaming from nowhere–
an endlessly echo shout from a vanished mouth.
I think you may be the same.
My copy of Hamlet is battered
and soft from the fingers
of a thousand students.
Shakespeare has been pushing up
daisies for centuries.
There’s nothing rotten in Denmark
anymore, and I know how the story
ends before I’ve even begun.
And yet I still think of you.
Cold winter mornings,
cheek pressed against the bus window
an escape from stifling heat
and clanging radiators.
I think of love letters, butterfly-wing fragile,
snatched by strict hands,
a father wielding his daughter
like a bait hunter’s game.
And later, the snap of a branch
breaking underfoot, and the cool
embrace of water.
I think of tresses trailing
in river current like waterweed
and of two men arguing their love
for a dead girl as if she was a doll.
I think of all those scholars sliding you
beneath a microscope and examining
you through the lenses
of femininity and madness and suicide and love,
taking your almost-nothing
and shaping it into anything,
theirs to mold as pleased;
a marionette jerking on the strings of academia.
I wonder why none of them ever let
you simply be a girl, who can
bite into a rich, ripe peach and lick the golden
rivulets of juice off her wrist,
and who can slip her shoes off
on a blazing summer day
and splash in the mirror-shallow, crystal depths
of a stream, face tilted
towards a gilded ecstasy of sun.
Salt Lake City Salt Flats
by Sophia Skinner
By Pie Rasor
He was born hungry,
and he has lived his entire life hungry,
but he will not die hungry.
He tells himself this as he lies,
chained and starving,
lying in eternal darkness,
fed only enough by his jailers to keep the shadow
of death away.
He tells himself this when the hunger threatens to consume him,
when he thinks he might give in,
try to break his chains,
rage against those who have captured him here,
become nothing more than
bottomless hunger and wolf skin.
Sometimes he thinks he is nothing more than a vessel for that hunger,
which seems far larger than him,
larger than the entire world,
larger than he had ever dreamed of before he came here,
imprisoned on a dark island by those who betrayed him.
He knows what he is hungry for.
He thinks he might always have known,
since the moment he was born,
small and helpless
and already filled with hunger.
He imagines, sometimes,
what eating the sun might taste like.
Hot, burning hot, searing hot,
each bite eating away his hunger in return,
until none of it is left,
and there is no light left in the world.
it is all that keeps him alive in darkness:
imagining that first
white-hot bite of the sun.
A field of blush-tinted lupines.
The frayed edges of an armchair,
a ribbon straining to hold a celebratory bouquet.
The sound of raindrops hitting the pavement.
A carnival, its neon lights bright against the night sky,
flashing distractions and attractions blindly.
The last shards of glass from a broken plate.
A forest during the cool autumn,
the tornadoes of leaves and the circles of trees.
The ocean, the depth, the darkness there;
the unknown awaits.
A stadium where battles are fought under bright lights.
The local supermarket, the thesaurus.
A jungle. Two camouflaged tigers left to fight.
A deserted tennis court on a summer night
where early leaves fall,
thinking it is their time.
Don't Wait by Sage Watterson
Performed at Studio B Millhouse by Sage Watterson
That one dull knife in the chopping block,
it’s dull twinge of mirrored
gunk, grime and
hard, relentless work at (most days)
around 6 pm, or
the cloudy atmosphere, identical of
the journal of events and mistakes, like
that old, emerald covered book
left out in the rain on Saturday,
recovered by the pink hairdryer on Sunday.
Once dry and new,
perched on the wooden shelf with all its twins,
until a man with a soft beard going grey
paid $14.35 with exact change.
Who was the man?
With that discombobulated stack of papers
now laying on the floor because the intern tripped
over her red, 3 inch
heels, mimicking designer products she wished
she could afford.
But from her single bedroom apartment and
her red, embarrassed face, she
is almost getting through, even
that smile I see every other day
from across the room,
a fresh face in the continuous atmosphere
of frowns and hate that pile up
on top of each other until
everything falls into
That patch of flames.
My mind is a zoo.
Filled with all the animals and people and personalities
who make up who I am.
Playing with multi colored yarn in the corner,
given to her by her grandmother,
is a fierce, powerful lion who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
The chimps shriek at each other from across my mind.
Decision making has never been a strong suit for those chimps.
In the same wild zoo the ring master,
who keeps all in line, loves to paint and perform
but hides the pieces away in a small cupboard.
Overhead, the thunder and lightning are like the chimps
a constant call and response, never any quiet.
Through it all, a lost and curious girl wanders
alone but not yet lost to figure out how she could find
a way to climb the black cloth of the sky
and sit upon that bright, friendly moon.