doesnot cannot

My best-friend-just-barely is not real.
I have not touched him. I cannot hold him.
He exists in others ways, somewhere else,
to somebody else, surely, as something else.

My best-friend-just-barely is a ghost,
a theory, unproved. I must squint to see him.
He walks the tightrope of fiction and reality;
of friendship and oh, this.

Does best-friendship always begin so beautifully?
—two ends of the earth are bloated with yearning.
Is just-barely always like this?
—the pressing unsaid is gutted with absence.

I message him everyminute everyday then I do not for months.
I leave first so he doesnot cannot leave me.
(somebody who goes wandering as I do
must have just as many homecomings.)

My best-friend-just barely has me in limbo,
has me dreaming when I am awake.
I carry him; an oracle followed by wraith.
This is the evolution of longing.




The fact is your eyes make no impression
but that they are blue, blue eyed-muse
of everything.
Blue roadside rain to windowless Atlanta fever,
stained beatitude blue of rafters.
Somewhere blue sleep
by the washing machine.
Spin-cycle siren song,
water drips slow in the kitchen sink.
Blue of college sweatshirts, somewhere
you are the blue curled lip of tide, boundless gills
and expired horoscopes that people the fridge.
Fabric for reddened accolades of loving you so,
you are blue of elegies, of the freezer aisle at night.
Blue ballad stuff, cares in the body of a thimble.
The fact is you are the moon
before you are a symbol,
wary of sidewalk movers and all else yellow light.
Overworked as a mermaid or a rose,
no longer living but emblemized.
Blue bodied muse of too much.
The fact is you knew before all the stoner boys with guitars
that our grandfathers on veteran’s day spoke old whiskey sonnets,
that some girls can only be described like first cars,
the way they can’t brush their hair without inspiring
the next hundred silk similes
and all the bluest love songs from across the room.
That the moon tonight is doomed
to outshine all else blue light,
and the poets will go on about it for decades.




How we appreciate the echoes in the
church room like we coddle our pride,
tenderly. The prayers are skipping stones
in staccato rhythm, singing holiness. But
I see holy in the water the stones missed,
gorgeousness in the shadows the splashes
casted. What’s left of us when the parish is gone
is our homeland unfurled from God’s wrath.
Nature’s bruises after winter are beautiful.
The heavens we devoted our forever to
is our bayou, somewhere in Florida.





In this photo, I hold onto two lifetimes.
There is some city in the background
and I’m dreaming about the sudden transformation
between the soil and its butterflies.
             No, between violets and the war.

This picture was never about me,
the small figure set behind city garden
buried by violets, by sweeping carnations.
I could have died for a reason as
easy as the weather rising, as the time.
Does knowing matter?

I do not know what I am looking for.
The world in which rain boils the flowers?
The world in which the clouds burn but
no one has to die?

In this photo, I hold onto a different lifetime,
One in which butterflies fall from the sky.
                           one in which I shatter
But the unburied bird still flies.




If you want wings
you must rearrange the bones in your arms and fingers
then stretch the skin over a period of forty days.
To breathe underwater
means no more voice in your gills
conjoining two legs into one tail.
Colonizing new planets
first requires thirty years in cyrostasis
thirty years' worth of time to think about what you've sacrificed
and what has been gained from the loss.




the summer i turned pretty
i left you between the sunspots

weary on butterfly sheets
concealed in blood and power, suffocating.

i salivated for curd milk
and let the blueblack turn me

solid like a hard-boiled egg.
one without the oozing yolk, sticky soul.

i lined the road with ribs
pulled from your own grave,

ground them down into sandpaper dust
and watched as you blew away.



Jillian Miele is a seventeen-year old aspiring writer and cryptozoologist.

Ella Schmidt is a student at John Burroughs School in Saint Louis, Missouri. In 2016, Ella was named a Saint Louis Youth Poetry Ambassador by UrbArts. She is the recipient of River Styx Magazine's 2017 Founder's Award and two national medals in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Her work has previously been published in Canvas Literary Journal and The Kenyon Review Young Writers Anthology: Ascension.

Claire S. Lee is a student from Southern California. Her writing has been recognized by Tinderbox Poetry Journal and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and can be found or is forthcoming in Noble/Gas Qtrly, Rising Phoenix Review, Blue Marble Review, and *82 Review, among others. She works as the managing editor for COUNTERCLOCK and as an editorial intern for The Blueshift Journal. Though she loves poetry and nonfiction, her favorite genre is historical fiction. 

Joyce Zhou is a student of Neuqua Valley High School’s class of 2018 in Naperville, Illinois. Her work has been nationally recognized by Princeton University, National Poetry Quarterly, Penguin Random House, National Council of Teachers of English PRESLM Awards, Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The Adroit Journal, and The Blueshift Journal among others. She currently serves as a genre editor for Polyphony HS, senior editor-in-chief of her school’s literary magazine The Essence, and website manager for Textploit.

Catherine Lu is a high school student from Toronto, Canada. Her work has been published in the The Heart of Solstice 2016/2017.

Isabelle Jia is a seventeen-year-old writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, CA. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming in the Winter Tangerine Review, The Blueshift Journal, and more. She has been recognized by the Walt Whitman Poetry Foundation and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Currently, she works for Tinderbox Poetry, The Blueshift Journal, and Glass Kite. 

Albert Zhang is Head Editor for The Westminster Schools Bi-Line, the school newspaper and oversees as Sports Section Editor as well. He is also Co-Editor-in-Chief of Evolutions Magazine, The Westminster Schools’s annual creative writing magazine. Albert attended The Kenyon Review workshop, was a SCAD Silver Scholar, and has been published in Celebrating Art Magazine and exhibited at Atlanta’s High Museum, Capitol Building, and National Fair.

Connie Liu is a high school junior living in Pennsylvania. She has been drawing for a while now, and has had her traditional and digital art recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Philadelphia Classical Society, and the United Nations. She is an art editor at her high school's literary arts magazine and occasionally dabbles in writing. When she isn't doing something art related, she can be seen playing tennis or singing excessively.