Hair Tie

by DeWayne

I carry it with me no matter where I go, my hair tie.
It’s wrapped around my wrist
like a $500 bracelet or expensive designer watch. My hair tie
is my best friend. It’s with me through thick and thin.
It knows my struggle, my pain, because it has walked it with me.
My hair tie never disappoints
nor does it oppose. It merely stays close to me
 like a lover that is entranced by my every being.
I have had plenty hair ties in the past.
Plenty rubber bands and hair ties
that were faithful companions to me.
Now it’s my strung-out no-stretch, black hair tie.
 I can’t use it for my hair anymore,
because it has lost the vigor of its stretch
and won’t wrap around my hair anymore.
So it didn’t get demoted or promoted, merely moved
to where it finally rests
on my right wrist. It’s not a definite move
but it is one that we are happy with at the moment.
Double-layered, it doesn’t fall too far down my arm,
or raise too high up my hand. No.
It sits comfortable at my right hand, through thick and thin.


This Planet Is My Safe Place

By Josh

The Earth and I are the same.

I feel safest when I am grounded to my planet.

I live freely, just as Earth does. Earth is abundant in resources, information and love the same way I am.

Earth’s purpose. Rotate around the Sun until the day it can rotate no more.
My purpose. Keep moving, doing and being me until the day I may no longer be.

I am here with the planet as it is here with me.
My body is as much water as the Earth’s.
We are the Same.

I have free will and can do what I please, the Earth cannot.
We are different.
The Earth is my best friend. I share with it my struggles, it points me in the best direction.

It shows me it’s own struggles, and I buck the system to make sure my friend’s voice is heard aloud.

Earth protects me, and I do my best to protect it the same.
I love my planet, and pledge to overcome those inconsiderate bitches who don’t know how to love it.
I will conquer, with my planet’s aid.

And my planet shall live longer with mine.
I am safest in nature.

When I Approach a Blank Page

by DeWayne

When I approach a blank page, the immediate feeling that overwhelms me is nerves. The kind of nerves that grip you before a fight.

The blank sheet is an enemy that can only be defeated by facing it. It sits there patiently waiting with no reaction to intimidation like a boulder needing to be pushed up hill or a stack of hay needing to be loaded on a truck. It knows no fear, because it has no chance at losing in this scenario. I’m the only possible loser.

I must stand up and face this enemy head on like a beautiful woman in heels. Lovely to look at and ponder the possibilities at what could be….

Both conversation and writing must be filled with leaps and bounds, ducks and turns, similes and laughter, metaphors and implications, illustrations and haikus.

One Thing I Carry

See the world through different colors

 By Josh

My glasses are small. Plain, black-plastic frame, with two tiny screws that fall out once a fucking day. When I first got them two years ago, they hugged around my skull so tightly that I’d constantly come down with headaches. Now, they’re so loose they make me think of my mother who has ten children. Gross. But unlike my mother, my glasses have been there for me. They make things apparent to me. They interpret my fuzzy, obnoxious world into a crystal-clear, high-definition Vizio flat screen playground.

I Am A Zine

By Josh 

I am a Zine, open to the public for judgment and interpretation, because no matter how you see me, at the end of the day I will still just be

I am a blog, not changing or editing my past posts, but rather examining them to better gauge what I shall post tomorrow

I am a lake. Slightly more capable of composing myself than an ocean, but still with consistent tides, ups and downs, dark area, light area and grey area just the same

I am water, whether it be a small pond or a beastly ocean, the rain hits me all the same. I welcome the passing ships that must cross my path with calm, open waters, and help where I can to safely put them to rest where they choose to land

Lesson of the Week: Sense-Imagery in Writing

By Zine Instructor Shaun

Good writers make things real. They transport readers to places they’ve never been and help them understand experiences they’ve never experienced.

A lot of people don’t know what it’s like to be poor. In trouble. Or homeless. And homeless youth feel that lack of understanding throughout their day.

Writing is one way to make people understand what it’s like. Writers do this by evoking the senses—sound, sight, smell, touch and taste. These are the ways we perceive things and from reflecting on our perceptions, we come to various conclusions.  If writers can make readers feel something, they can change the way they think.

I ask Ziners to pick an abstraction—an idea like freedom or peace or an emotion—like sadness or anger. Things that by themselves  aren’t physical. And I ask them to use similes that call upon each of the senses in order to make the abstraction a real experience. 

DeWayne picked “hunger” for his abstraction and here’s his poem:

By DeWayne

Hunger is the world that grips me
in the afternoon stretches of the day.
An empty loud, land
that screams with shrieks of intestinal pains.

Escape is no option, like being trapped
on a preserve and you are the wild animal,
panting and sweating, seeking, and thinking,
searching for your kill to come.

Hunger is Muhammad Ali
standing on the other side of the ring.
Just when you think you’ve dodged it,
Muhammad Ali swings with the right
and lands one right in your stomach,
making the pain unbearable.

Hunger is a parasite that would not be quelled
or satisfied until it has devoured
every morsel you try to consume.

In the world of consumption, hunger is poverty’s running mate.
First poverty strikes you down, and then hunger comes
running along like a sidekick bully
to kick you while you’re down and steal your lunch money,
leaving you poorer, hungrier, and in worse shape than you were before.
Now the deadly duo can strike again
with no restraint. At will.

Hunger is the title of a book
that recently made it to theaters
and topped the box office.
But for real—hunger sucks.

DeWayne defines hunger for us. The experience is visual, tactile and imaginative. The similes are idiosyncratic, intricate and fresh. After reading it we know what hunger is like for him specifically, but we’re also able to generalize it to the experiences other young men and women may be having in this city.

Even that last line alludes to the reality that some of us, who are distant from hardship, might think about hunger only as a movie.  But DeWayne closes with a reminder to keep things real.

Hungry for more? Check out our Zine Store to read more from youth describing their experiences through sensational writing.

Children of the Struggle

By Ashley

When I got to work one day, Shaun gave us the prompt: “I want, I need, I fear, I hope, and I love”. We only had two minutes to write about each idea. Here is my piece. Hope you enjoy.

The Children of the Struggle

worst day   beautiful

"Worst Day, Beautiful", by Ashley

I want to hear the crystal clear
water of the ocean
lapping up against the sandy sea-shore.
I want the world to accept me
for who I am,
and not a whore.
I want the gods
to guide me,
on a path that will bring me joy.
and I want to be treated with
not as a toy.
I need a blanket of love
wrapped so tight around my soul
that there is no way I could ever let it go.
I need my lips to be kissed softly,
and your tender touch on my skin.
I need coffee in the morning,
and a pick-me-up in the afternoon.
I fear failure and starfish.
I fear the loss of a person close to me.
I fear success and love .
I fear emotions,
but I will rise above.
I hope that one day,
my world can be harmonious,
and that life will be tremendous.
I hope the stars will not collide,
and that my cards will align.
I hope that I can learn how to make a difference in the world
so that one day the children of the struggle
don’t have to sleep in the cold.
I love that not everything has to be perfect to be beautiful.
I love that my smile is crooked,and that I don’t have to be a Barbi to be accepted.

I really enjoyed writing this piece because it was timed. I had to think of things to say quickly, stay on topic, and also sound good at the same time.