Everything eats and is eaten, time is fed. - Adrianne Lenker
There’s a mug of peach tea on the kitchen counter.
I made it for you in the boiling and muggy, late august summer heat.
You left it there, sitting by the salt shaker and the olive oil decanter with a backdrop of chipping cobalt paint.
It’s cold now but neither of us mind.
It’s the thought that counts anyway, you say to me.
The thought of clinging to the lingering, steeping dregs of summer heat.
The thought of drying lavender above the sink.
The thought of Mary in her little yellow sundress out on the dock in the sunset.
The thought of standing on the dyke watching geese fly home overhead through an immense sky.
The wilting flowers in the jadeite vase on the windowsill.
The vinyl collection passed down from your mother.
The teaspoon in the honey jar.
The rusty coffee pot on the stove top.
The ant infestation.
The quart of blueberries we got at the farmers market last Tuesday. Now mushy and past.
The lazy dog sleeping in a puddle of sunshine on the hardwood floors.
The time bomb ticking down the days until school starts.
We sit on the deck and we philosophize over our untouched mugs until it gets dark and the bugs come out and we have to go inside.
We lie in the grass side by side and we try to see our father’s faces in the cloud formations. Don’t let go, You say to me, squeezing my hand.
I couldn’t if I tried.
We hum our little summer songs,
we dream our little summer dreams,
we delude ourselves into thinking this will last forever.
I didn’t realize it at the time,
but I was holding the hand of the earth,my fingers intertwined with the grass blades and the ant hills and the heat.
Ollie Perrault (she/her) is a 16 year old from Easthampton who has been attending writers workshop since before she can remember. She enjoys reading, writing, and running around barefoot on her family's farm. Ollie is a youth climate activist and a passionate advocate for reproductive justice. She has been a leading member of the Mass Audubon's Climate Leadership Program since she was 11 and is now the founder and director of Youth Climate Action Now which is a Western MA based environmental justice organization.
By Leah Mendelsohn
Lemon girls are only sweet when they’ve been dipped in sugar.
Sour smiles are only appreciated if they’ve been drizzled in honey.
Her acid words get drowned out in lemonade and it’s sugar sweat.
Her juice stings and nobody likes to hear it sizzle.
Nobody likes a kick to their palette.
Not by legs that are supposed to be crossed, under her citrus yellow dress
with beaded trees growing from the hem.
You pucker your face at her tart taste for dresses.
You call ‘too displaying, too declaring, too distracting’
You slice her open and squeeze her onto your ice.
She lays like a crescent moon on the glass rim of your cup.
Because she is only a lemon girl in a
Leah Mendelsohn is 15 years old and goes to the Amherst Regional High School. One thing she love about Woven word is the community of all ages and how their writing inspires her..
By Charlie Grace
“I’m sorry about the dust,” Noah said. It was a ridiculous thing to be sorry for. Allvilor stood in the middle of the room and he breathed out heavily. The man was disproportionately large, his bulk made more apparent by the delicate nature of the artifice in the room.
“No, I was too hard on you boy,” he said, “I’ll lock up.”
Noah nodded and headed back around the counter, toward the gloomy stairs leading to the upper floors of the building. The stairs creaked with every step. Some of the boards seemed so brittle that Noah would not have been surprised if one day, they broke under his feet and he fell into whatever abyss lay below.
The top of the stairs was a profusion of boxes. Heaped with materials for fixing up broken artifice. Old trinkets, a broken clock, a bench with flaking paint. Though it was possible the space had once been tidy and bright, all that had faded away. Noah’s room was at the top of the stairs, he hadn’t been there long, apprenticing with Allvilor, and he doubted he’d stay much longer. He had done this sort of work before, even occasionally thought this shop might be his future, but of course he was only fooling himself if he ever really imagined he’d stay.
Noah was, if nothing else, a wayward boy with nowhere to go.
He crossed the hall as quietly as he could and slipped a pair of slender lockpicks from his sleeves, inserting them into the lock on his door. Without a key, the picks were his next best option. It took hardly a few seconds for Noah to caress the lock open, despite the slices over the skin of his hands.
Inside, the apartment was almost completely empty. The walls of the single room were dim and gray, the unwashed windowpane letting in only the smoggiest of light. A dresser with broken drawers sat in a lopsided way against one wall, a rickety bed frame pushed against the other. The ropes in the frame had frayed and broken enough that Noah simply put his bed mat on the floor between the posts and curled up to sleep in a strange sort of nest each night.
The only thing in the room treated with any obvious care was the backpack. It was made of fine canvas, straps of leather, buckles of bronze. Noah always kept it packed, kept it ready at hand. He closed the door behind him and regarded the backpack where it sat in the center of the floor.
“I’ve always wanted to settle down,” he said as he came to sit, cross legged on the floor in front of the backpack, “somehow… it’s never quite right, isn’t that so?” The backpack didn’t reply, but Noah ran one of the straps through his fingers and smiled. At least if he was to be wayward and wandering, he would be accompanied by only the best of the best.
“Noah,” it was the gruff voice of Allvilor through the door. Noah could hear the man’s heavy footsteps on the stairs, “you've left this downstairs.”
Noah hurried to his feet, expecting that he would find his carousel project in his master’s thick fingered hands. Yet when he opened the door he found himself face to face with something entirely unexpected for the second time that day.
“That’s not mine,” Noah said, looking incredulously at the letter his master held in his hands. It was sealed with wax, written on fine paper, the script gilded in gold. Of course it wasn’t his. Noah had nobody to write to, nobody who knew where he lived. Certainly nobody who would purchase fancy paper for the occasion.
“It’s got your name on it, hasn’t it,” Allvilor said. What might have come out of another man’s lips as a question or a protestation, rolled out of Allvilor’s mouth as a blunt statement.
“I don’t…” Noah trailed off, taking the letter carefully. It looked too pretty to open. Like a cake that was more party decoration than food.
“You’re an artificer, sonny,” Allvilor said, “surely you’ve seen stranger things than a bit of fancy paper.” Noah turned the letter over and traced his fingers over the name written there. Noah Briacar, it read in looping yet unmistakable script.
“Thank you,” Noah said, the words a whisper over his lips. But Allvilor had already turned away, stumping down the stairs in his club-like boots.
Noah wriggled his fingers under the lip of the envelope, carefully prying up wax and paper so as not to rip it. Finally it was open and Noah found himself with a small, embossed card in his hands. It was an address, a date, a time, and one word scrawled across the top.
Charlie Grace is a 17 year old author from Northampton Massachusetts. They have been writing and telling stories since they were young and so greatly appreciate the safe space that Woven Word cultivates for budding authors and poets to share astoundingly beautiful works.
By Edy Savage
It feels like,
Billowing around you,
Resting on your nose,
Covering your arms and legs and neck in goosebumps,
Your gaze lifted,
Eyes closed against the flurries,
It feels like,
Running your fingers through thick, soft hair,
Thick with harmony,
A constellation of flat fifths and minor sevenths,
Unbraiding a braid,
Noted twisted together into chords,
Rhythm pulsing through your hand,
Through your fingers,
It feels like flying.
Leaping off your feet and soaring,
Closing your eyes and feeling the wind on your face.
The air, a melody,
Open your mouth and let it in,
Open your eyes and let it in,
Through your skin,
The beat, your heart,
The beat, a kick drum,
Folding the space around you and picking you up and throwing you into the sky,
Weightless and elated.
And you open your eyes,
And time stops,
Your heart stops,
Your breath stops,
Frozen in the snow,
In the sky,
Your hands in the hair of the music,
Hovering over keys,
Resting against strings,
curled around sticks,
Woven into the strands of melody.
One second of frozen time,
Syncopated between beats,
An inhale held in your lungs,
A smile on your lips,
One second that lasts forever,
That is over before you know it was there,
And you are left in a world of nothing but the ecstasy of the rhythm.
Edy Savage (they) is a junior at PVPA. They love dancing, reading, writing, and especially playing music.
By Ellery Merand
Cheeto stared out of the bars that kept her locked in her cage. The only thing that kept her from trying harder to escape was the sassy dog that she knew was waiting, just out of sight, to chase her around the house as soon as she got free.
She walked over to her little hammock, grabbing a piece of carrot on the way, and hung there, nibbling at it. She was thinking about her last escape attempt, when, at last, she had gotten out of her cage and across the floor, only to be grabbed by the cold hands of injustice, and locked back up in her prison of steel bars and Timothy hay.
Just then, she heard the patter of dull claws on hardwood floors, the jingle of collar tags, and the loud barking that the neighbors complained about so often. This could only be one thing; the dog.
Ellery Merand (she/her) is a 12-year-old homeschooler who lives in Easthampton MA. In her free time she enjoys animating, hiking, playing with her dog, & generally being a weirdo.
By Katy McGinnis
Let there be more kids who wander.
Let them wander here.
Let them sit under this tangled tree.
May more kids get to look into Rosie’s eyes,
and pet her loving body. Happiness at its purest.
May their eyes close, entranced by the rocking of a Houseboat.
A Houseboat who has seen nothing quite like them in all of its years of service.
Let there be more friendships born.
More inside jokes created.
Let differences and similarities once again blend into an invisible string.
Let it be reinforced as lives once again merge on a fateful Monday.
Although the string may weather,
Let it stand the Test of Time.
Let sighs of frustration and pens upon paper wander here.
balancing on the brink of youth and truth,
once again join.
Let them day after day,
summer after summer,
year after year,
return to where more than more than words are woven.
May their artistic voices be woven into existence here.
Thread by thread, story by story, and letter by letter.
Katy McGinnis lives in New Salem, and is a rising 9th grader at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School. She enjoys dancing, music, field hockey, softball, and of course, writing. She loves writing because it is a snapshot of herself at a point in time, that she can then reflect on.
By Leah Mendelsohn
This is a forever ache in my lungs,
the way you speak in your own tongue
will be ingrained on my own.
When you slip into my everyday words,
now I will never be completely alone.
Now I will never dot my i’s and tie my shoes,
and only like purple in the lightest hue.
How can I escape you when I still remember
your head on my chest,
But now it’s too heavy to breathe.
And I’ve confessed and kept it in an envelope
with no one addressed.
Leah Mendelsohn is 14 years old and attends Amherst Regional High School. One thing she loves about Woven Word is the community of people, “Anytime I share I feel people listen and give very thoughtful comments.”
By Elizabeth Rotunno
Science has taught me that bubbles are the best way to blind someone.
World History has taught me that premeditated murder is easier than you'd think.
English has taught me that a pool noodle and a ramen noodle
are equally precious on a deserted island.
French has taught me that slapping people
is more effective when wearing a ring.
Lunch has taught me that yanking someone's ear
is an efficient distraction to steal something from their hands.
Civics has taught me nothing but how to swaddle a baby.
Math has taught me various methods of thievery.
Band has taught me the best ways to exact revenge,
most involving oobleck and wind instruments.
Computer Science has taught me how to endure all manner of
unknown substances that may have fallen on the keys of a keyboard.
Health has taught me more about Chess than anything else.
Advisory has taught me that all good business occurs in Singapore.
Saying school doesn't teach you anything is like saying robbery
isn't a marketable skill: You're just not looking in the right places.
Elizabeth Rotunno is 14 years old and lives in Massachusetts. Some things
she likes about Woven Word are the creative opportunities
and the many fun prompts that provide inspiration.
By Sarim Chaudry
I am from a language that never gets used
I am from food I doubt you have ever eaten
I am from my parents complaining about people calling it chai tea,
chai means tea, you’re pretty much just saying tea tea
I am from eating everything mango flavored
I am from a place that's just grouped together with india,
personally I don't see the difference,
but don't get my parents started on it,
only the slow creeping fatigue will stop their wrath
I was going to write one about procrastination but I will just do it later
I am from a family of doctors
I am from too many missed opportunities
I am from doing the minimum on projects
I am from indecisiveness
I am from christmas happening in summer, but still being in America
I am from “that's a good deal, but let's wait until there is an even better deal”
I am from my parents telling me that back in their day
they had to outrun 3 cheetahs just to get to school
I am from never getting it right the first time
I am from never ending questions, wait does that make me smart or dumb?
Sarim Chaudhry is 14 years old and attends Hopkins Academy in Hadley. One thing he loves about Woven Word is that he doesn’t have to worry about possibly messing up with his writing. He likes to try new things.
By Ada Bouthet
I spent my girlhood wrapped in jeans,
in dusty rooms of poor-ish means,
and staring down, with all my might,
the kitchen's air, the orange light,
and here the hens who shared my years
would curl their hair and pierce their ears
and curse their growing, deadweight breasts
and plan their weddings, build their nests,
and press their mouths to mouths so sweet,
force boy-ish boys to soft-capped knees,
but tied to earth by poet's pens
I'd never live the lives of hens.
So now I'm old like denim worn,
like blooming rose, like photo torn,
my chin upturned by bloating soul,
forgotten breasts, and lost control,
and here's the salty beard of man
with long, long legs and massive hands
and curling hair and darkened eyes
of thoughtless looks - the killing kind.
I deemed myself a big, strong girl
for lack of love and lack of twirl,
but here's the salty beard of man
with long, long legs and massive hands.
I'd give these jeans a thousand rips
in hopes to kiss his bitter lips.
Ada Bouthet is a senior at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. She’s been a member of Woven Word for five years, and has enjoyed every single one. She values it’s openness to poetry, prose, and experiences of all kinds. She spends her free time writing in her school notebooks, advocating for social justice, and watching romcoms.
By Maddie Raymond
I stand here before you to showcase my proficiency
in the heavily marketable skill of grinding myself into dust
I have not slept in seven weeks, and do not plan to anytime soon
I have earned badges in crying,
writing out my tax forms by hand,
and tearing out little clumps of hair when I think no one is watching
I am skilled in pretending nothing is wrong when I feel little bits of my humanity flake off and fall into the growing void inside my body
Before you, I can attest that I have not felt real sunlight in at least the last quarter My contributions are unmatched, my people skills are beaten into me in a perfect spiral
I have savings
I have a car that I can drive with my eyes closed
I’ll gladly take my earrings out
Dye my hair
Dye my eyes
I’ve heard blondes are better for customer service
I have logged hundreds of hours
and I haven’t even turned eighteen
I pay all my parking tickets the same day
I have honed my skill of becoming nothing
just so someone I don’t know personally c
an become a god
And I prostrate at their feet
After all The greater good is just a code word
for someone that’s not you
I am happy for you
I am only happy for you
Of course I’ll wait fifteen minutes
I have infinite potential
Growth sitting in my belly
Just enough fire in my eyes
To give me a good attitude
Learning is a skill
And I have learned the skill of servitude
I’m very good at being okay with being nothing
I stand here before you to reiterate my skill
in giving everything I have to someone
who would never do the same
And forcing myself to love every minute
Maddie Raymond is 17 years old and lives in Goshen. Through writing, she has gotten to explore new perspectives, discovering things about herself along the way. What she loves most about writing is getting to experience something other than the day-to-day. Her favorite part about Woven Word has been the friends she’s made within the local writing community.
By Leah Mendelsohn
Your mind is filled with trinkets and tinkers,
tying into words only spoken by drinkers,
your name is all over the walls and empty halls, leading to vines,
leading to gardens of wilting flowers where ‘she loves me, she loves me not’ is written on every petal.
A kettle is screaming waiting to be poured and served,
strings of steam pulling up from the cup,
a white button up with a velvet coat,
afloat on cloud 9 with a glass of red wine.
The poet mind is a place of messy pages and rages.
Leah Mendelsohn is 13 years old and goes to Amherst Regional Middle School. One thing she loves about Woven Word Young Writers is the atmosphere created where she knows she will get positive feedback. It’s somewhere where she can experiment with her writing.
By Serena Gross
I prefer my words when you repeat them back to me.
You make them sound like poetry.
Real poetry, not the kind of stuff I pump out for a deadline.
You treat my words like sugar glass.
They are sweet and delicate and light.
They must be handled with the care they deserve and be served atop honey and lemon cake along with tea in cups that were kept on the top shelf waiting for special occasions that never came.
I like how you think I think about the meaning behind my words,
Use every stroke of my pencil to start a new movement.
When in actuality, I am relying on you to find the metaphor for me.
I write my words like beautiful women,
deadly if you stick around too long.
I write my words like dried petals,
Delicate and difficult to hold without them shattering.
I speak them like shards of painted over mirror
And you manage to return them to me as sugar glass and poems and daintily gift-wrapped tea cups.
Serena Gross is a seventh grader at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School and has attended Woven Word since third grade. When she is not writing, she enjoys musical theatre, fashion, and listening to podcasts. She loves Woven Word because it pushes her to be more creative with her work and exposes her to “out of the box” styles of writing, courtesy of her fellow writers.
By Ollie Mae
Leopold Baker had wasted most of this life locked in his study trying desperately to write something real. He often joked with his close friends that an author spends all of his life arranging and rearranging the twenty six letters of the alphabet over and over again. It was enough to make anyone insane. On the night that Leopold Baker died he had been sitting at his desk, staring at his typewriter and the blank page before him. At around 2:30 in the morning, surrounded by cigarette smoke, crumpled pages of forgotten first drafts, and half full mugs of lukewarm coffee, Mr. Baker had a heart attack and died peacefully. Or at least, that was what Mrs. Baker told the police.
Mrs. Baker often joked with her close friends that the only thing her husband had managed to accomplish in his forty two years of life were those first three pages of his novel back before they had been married. She had fallen in love with those first three pages, that love letter he had sworn was inspired by her. They were the most beautiful arrangement of words she had ever heard. But he couldn’t continue it. And years later, in a drunken daze, he had spilled liquor over it one night and the ink had all bled together into one great smear of gray. An entire life's work, gone in the amount of time it took for her self-righteous husband to knock a glass of brandy over. Mrs. Baker had taken it all with a rather dignified sense of amusement, as if she was observing some old fashioned sitcom. After all, it was funny. Wasn’t it? That she had devoted her life to this man, this poet in the attic, enveloped in smoke who smiled like he knew who she was, who she really was. That one could go from loving someone to despising them so fast. That she had stood at the altar with him and given him her future, given him everything she had just so he could have the chance to write something real. And he had thrown it all away in the amount of time it took for him to spill a glass of brandy.
At her husband's funeral, Mrs. Baker sat in the front row of the church pews and debated what people would say if she didn’t cry when they carried the casket away. Mrs. Baker had never been one to cry. That had been her husband’s job, to feel all these emotions, this insane spectrum of humanity, and then turn it into poetry. It had been her job to fold the laundry into two matching piles on their bed and collect the empty mugs of coffee off his desk each night. Mrs. Baker had spent most of her mornings standing over the sink, staring down at his dishes. Wishing so, so badly that she had been the one blessed with his gifts. Mr. Baker often talked about his gifts. He talked of how he had always known he was a writer, even as a young boy. He talked of how god had blessed him with this talent to bend and twist language to his will.
At the funeral, while she sat staring at the casket that concealed her husband’s dead body, Mrs. Baker wondered what her beloved Leopold would have written about his own death, if he had had the opportunity. He often wrote about Death. But he wrote about Death as if he was a person. A living feeling being who remembered every life he had taken. Mrs. Baker had always assumed this was a strange habit of her husband's that he had acquired as a young boy to cope with his own fear of death. But as Mrs. Baker had stood in her husband’s study the night that he died, staring at the back of his head as his fingers furiously flew across the keys, she could have sworn she felt him. Death, like a shadow dancing at the edge of her vision, waiting as if he already knew what was to come. The outcome of decades of abuse, spilled brandy, clouds of gray smoke, and dirty dishes. He stood, hands outstretched before her husband, reaching for the oblivious writer. And Mrs. Baker almost laughed at the thought, that even with all his gifts and blessings, Leopold Baker had no idea when Death stood over him.
Mrs. Baker thought she would live a happy life after she killed her husband. But instead she spent every day watching her back and her nights lying awake in bed, hands shaking, terrified that he would find her. It wasn’t the police she was running from. No she could handle them. It was her husband's old friend, Death. The one that had cursed her with this creeping paranoia, this crazed obsession, and this bitter disposition. Mrs. Baker never stayed in one place for too long. She had become familiar with hotel bedrooms and strangers’ living room floors and the cold wood of park benches. And every new place she saw, every new experience, she wondered how her late husband would have described it. How would he have described the light that filtered through the dirt stained window of the taxi cab, the floral wallpaper and moth eaten couch in that overly friendly bartender’s apartment, the condensation that swirled from her lips when she slept out in the cold, the frills of the maid’s cleaning uniforms as they bustled down hotel lobby hallways?
After a decade of this, her running turned to chasing. And she found herself chasing after the ghost of her husband. Mrs. Baker went to his childhood home, to the room he had been born in where God had blessed him with his gifts. And she went to the city, where he had spent his early twenties standing at bus stops wondering how all these strangers' lives connected and intertwined and overlapped. And she went to the Grand Canyon, where she stood on the cliff edge and imagined that she was flying. And when she finally made her way home to the cluttered office where her husband had wasted most of his life, Mrs. Baker sat down at his desk and, with shaking fingers, began to write.
Ollie Mae is a 14 year old homeschooler who has been attending writers workshop since almost before she can remember. She loves reading and writing, cares deeply about climate justice, her best friend Morgan, and her two dogs. She knows that writing will always be a part of her life whether she goes on to become an investigative journalist, a forensic psychologist, an astrobiologist, or a poet.
By Moloaa Daterao
I walk while I think,
I think about a red fox I saw while at a skating rink,
The blueberries sit at the tip of my tongue,
While I remember the birds that had just sung,
A butterfly comes and sits on my nose,
While minnows in a stream tickle my toes,
I smell bittersweet pine needles while I walk,
And just feel the urge to talk,
To talk about the forest wonders,
At the same time rain come down and so does thunder,
Here I wait beneath a tree at night,
Waiting for the first sign of light,
Soon light filters in and I walk away,
Good bye I say,
And that’s what I remember to this day!