2019 School Lunch Archive


i am six when i am called fat for the first time.
late spring, snack time at daycare, two oreos on a paper plate.
a still life, if you will: outside the window the peonies are blooming,
so swollen & violent with the fullness of being. i feel overripe,
too soft, like a cosmos-bruised plum from the supermarket clearance […]

Ujjwal Sagar, Nightingale and Nature, Photograph

Nightingale and Nature

A brief idea about “True Love and Nature”: A nightingale had laid three eggs in a nest of a small Christmas plant at my house. Since then, the nightingale cared for all three eggs.[…]

Poem for Graph Paper / Three/One


summer days
spent in the
science lab […]

To Live

[fiction] Emma Williams woke up at ten o’clock on Saturday morning, darkness flooding her window. She blinked twice. She forgot her dreams. Shouldn’t there be sunlight? she thought to herself. Peering helplessly around her room, she fumbled for her glasses in the dark, stupidly discovering that they could not help her see a thing in the pitch blackness […]

Skins / For Helena

sparks of lust shoot from it
yet with our fingertips
we create a circle of trust
a circle of us
the misunderstanding: […]

Blood Drive

flowery wine-scented air rises from cotton
swabs that have cleaned so many arms.
now they are little litter-poppies
loitering about the needle and syringe […]

One of Your Ceramic Angels Fell from the Mantel, It’s in Pieces

[creative nonfiction] In Philadelphia. I don’t normally carry a backpack, but today, practicality prevails, and my shoulder bag has been replaced by a maroon two-strap from an earlier decade. With it I am wearing a white dress shirt, green cotton pants with an unforgiving elastic waistband […]

American Alien

I am an alien
My eyes, my skin color, my being
Jump out like a wilting wisteria in the midst of
A perfumed garden of pruned, perfect, and pretty pansies […]

A Time for Dying

[fiction] My grandfather’s eyes turn old before he does. We watch them as they yellow—changing from a pure white into an egg yolk, runny and discolored. The way he watches the world around him changes too; he seems to watch now in quiet anticipation […]

This Vision Makes Us Beautiful

we have folded into a day
where we can see any
color we want: royal purple,
recesses of indigo, […]

Letter to the Intelligentsia

In this cage of preconceived notions,
—in the crevices of God’s palm,
You’ve seen me wallow in my sorrows in the cortex
And scream to the heavens of insanity […]

Four from the Graveyard

[creative nonfiction] In China, you are expected to conceal your emotions. Sometimes, it helps to comfort yourself with a fictitious, whimsical story on death, like that of the bone carver. But when you are helpless, lost in the sea of your emotions, there is nothing left to do but to let the waves pull you down […]


[creative nonfiction] The magnolia tree in my front yard blossomed in early March; the branches weighed down with huge white flowers, only a breath away from the ivy-coated ground. My brother and I used to swing from these branches, flipping over them and putting our weight on thinner […]

from a queer man who grew up with whitman

I. “In the stillness his face was inclined towards me, while the moon’s clear beams shone, And his arm lay lightly over my breast—and that night I was happy.”
that night i was happy. and it was not moonlight i saw but instead the orange glow of the lights[…]

The Flow of Madness

[fiction] Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock; he stared straight, unblinking, at the obnoxiously white wall. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, as he stared, he began to notice figures forming from the tiny ridges and divots that made up the texture of the wall. He saw a boy with no face and a girl […]

Garden of Remembrance

[flash prose] Monday. There is a stranger at my door. He won’t stop knocking, won’t stop peering through the windows. He swears that he once knew me. I could remember, he says, if I’d just look at him. I shut the blinds. *     *     * Tuesday. There are no longer any mirrors in […]

Seven Confessions

1. My childhood ended when the dog arrived. *     *     * 2. It was late August. The stream of freedom inspired by the beginning of summer had mellowed to a trickle, and we stuck our tongues out in hopes to catch a drop. My younger sisters and I would wallow in the shallow end of […]

Blurred Faces

[flash prose] When you first open your eyes, all you can see is the brightness. You don’t know what it is, but you feel your stubby fingers reach for that light. Pale clouds of cream dot your vision as you squirm, your back brushing against a fur blanket. You feel tender hands wrap delicately around […]

Far From Normal

[creative nonfiction] Given my personal perspective as an autistic person, nowhere in my personal vernacular does the word “normal” appear. It’s something I’ve never experienced. Neither is it something I have aspired to become. Perfectly “normal” is so far from my life goals that you might not believe me when I say that I would […]


[creative nonfiction] Well, this is gonna hurt like a female dog (unfortunately I have to watch my profanity, so just use your imagination). The autobiography of seventeen-year-old me, that is. I feel like I have some insight, enough insight on being a black young woman in America. Being born so, I’m automatically important and destined […]

Three Shorts—Strawberry Hill, Spotlight, Revolution

Welcome to our new occasional series, School Lunch. A youth spotlight, School Lunch is a curated bi-weekly feature offering fiction, poetry, flash prose, personal essay, YA, and CNF, from writers ranging in ages 13 through 17. Please enjoy. ~The Editors   Strawberry Hill [fiction] On the last day of summer, Brynn sits in the blackberry […]