Model Minority | Jon Pejo | 1st Place

    Filipinos are the Mexicans of Asia—because they’re the brown, hardworking, Catholic branch of their respective continents. Both have their share of excellent dishes, raucous family gatherings, and a common history of being pushed around by white people, all while smiling and dancing through it all. Unfortunately, Filipinos also hold the label of “Asian,” and the unfortunate trend of 21st Century America is to throw all the short, small-eyed, off-white people into one big bag of “oriental.” That doesn’t sound necessarily bad especially when it’s compared to the plights of incarcerated black men, stereotyped Muslims, and oppressed migrant Mexicans. Realistically, the average American sees me, a Filipino or any other Asian, as the “model minority.” With the exception of being reduced to a stereotype, life is not too difficult to navigate. However, the plight of my people is not direct incarceration, discrimination, or oppression. Our plight is getting caught in the sinkhole of “almost white.”
    My last name is Pejo—it looks Spanish; it sounds Spanish, but I’m definitely Asian. I remember being able to “pass” as Mexican in grade school. Occasionally, some people even thought I was black. So, I gradually cleared up the whole racial hubbub by declaring my proud Filipino/Asian American heritage.
    “You don’t look it, though.”
    “What is the Philippines, anyway?”
    “Are there a lot of pine trees there?” 
These were the immediate questions, typical for white kids in a private school. Racial unawareness was practically guaranteed, but the ignorance still cut deep.
    “I am Asian, though.”
    “An island-chain in the Pacific.”
    “No, dumbass.”
    I had to apologize for the latter. But, when the “sorry’s” had been said, I suddenly became aware that most people are ignorant about Asia outside of China, Korea, and Japan. I also realized that, according to the prejudices of white people, I wasn’t Asian enough. Until then, I never thought about the size of my eyes or the pigmentation of my skin. What cut deepest, however, was when I was told I didn’t “sound Asian.” My parents never had strong accents, so I ended up talking like a white kid, while me classmates expected broken English with a lisp. An uneasiness came over me as if I suddenly lost my identity. From that day on, I strived to be the best at math and even convinced myself to learn piano.
    That ended about a month later when I scored the lowest in a math competition. The piano thing actually ended earlier due to sheer laziness and the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2. I grew disappointed with myself, believing I could never be Asian enough because I was already too white but not white enough. Literally, my perfectionist intelligence and relative eloquence garnered some respect from my classmates and their parents, but my chubby face, small stature, and moderate amount of melanin left me bereft of physical attractiveness. I learned how to make people laugh, but humor only goes so far in the dating arena.
    The feeling of “almost-whiteness” bloated in high school, considering I had all the education, qualifications, and interests of a white man without the social privilege. During this crisis, I uncovered my unspoken desire to change color, just to feel “more American.” That desire is the inner conflict of all non-white, first-generation Americans, overcome only through self-acceptance. The crisis of self is unique to the sons and daughters of minorities. In seeking success, in academics or romance, the millennial minority has the duty of striking a balance between his or her culture and American culture. I will never be white, but I can like what white people like, while still being true to my roots. 
    I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and I adored Carlton Banks, the preppy, nerdy, and incredibly lost cousin of Will Smith’s character. In one episode Will and Carlton try to join a black fraternity. While Will’s familiarity with the culture earns him easy respect and acceptance, Carlton must work twice as hard. His supposed brothers refuse to take him. Likewise does the child of the Asian immigrant and the larger minority in America struggle. Most may never return home, but more will never be fully assimilated into America. This crisis of identity cannot be solved. Although, its pay may be alleviated through the wisdom of Carlton Banks. When called a sellout, he says, “Being black isn't what I'm trying to be. It's what I am. I'm running the same race and jumping the same hurdles you are, so why are you tripping me up? You said we need to stick together, but you don't even know what that means. If you ask me, you're the real sellout."

Barbed Wire and Broken Bottles | Jake Polichene | 3rd Place

    Jamaica has everything, yet nothing at all. I visited Kingston’s trench town, and it does not have much. Shambling shacks offer soft drinks and beef patties. People reside in crumbling abodes. Most, however, amble aimlessly along the street. Wild goats and dogs scatter around the smelly trenches that run so deep. In these trenches lies a hateful concoction of dirty water, human feces, soda bottles, and ancient wrappers from old processed foods. This stream of sorrow snakes around the entire town.    
     To an outsider, it is a mystery of how the people get up every morning. From an American youth’s perspective, there would be no reason. From a Jamaican’s perspective, there is always a reason. I have learned a great deal from Kingston, much more than it could ever learn from me. Its people’s resilience in the face of the world’s worst poverty shocks and saddens me. Happiness gleams through the paucity of the city. Most of all, the people are grateful for what they have, and are even more grateful just to speak to another human face. The Jamaican people showed me who I could be if society ever tries to flatten me. 
    Our first destination was a children’s hospital. Chaperones herded us onto the seafoam green bus. We did not know where we were heading. Unlike the bus ride from the previous night, there was no darkness to hide the destitution of our surroundings. Sights of barbed wire and broken bottles filled our eyes and fed our anxious minds. We arrived at the hospital, and our stomachs dropped. Hundreds of mothers and their shrieking children stared at us as we shuffled by. For the first time in my life, I was the minority. 
    Once in the hospital, I was told to go to the west wing. My mission was to comfort a dying baby, all by myself. A copy of Hurtle the Turtle and a bag of finger puppets were tossed my way, and I was off. Never before in my life was I given so much responsibility. After bursting through its double doors, I slowly tiptoed through the west wing. I saw children, both young and old, crowded in the same room. I immediately knew who my target was. In the back of the room stood a sobbing toddler in his crib. I formally introduced myself to him. Unimpressed, he looked at me and continued his shriek of pain and tears. I tried everything. I went through half of Hurtle the Turtle and all my finger puppets before I realized that I was powerless. This child was dying. He needed his absent mother, not a foreign stranger. It was a situation that brought a tear to my face. I felt true empathy for this child, something that many cannot understand. His image is engraved into my brain. For once in my life, I had to accept defeat: I could not end his misery. 
    I was trudging back to report my defeat when I was stopped by a mother and her baby. She saw the lifeless finger puppets in my hand, and my long face. She smiled, “Can ja make him smile?” I was puzzled.  She saw my failure in the other room, so why did she have any faith in me? I pulled out the puppets, one by one, and put on a goofy show for my one-man-audience. He giggled and smiled at my pitched voices and silly slapstick comedy. His mother smiled along. The show continued to its second act where I proclaimed the silly stories of Dr. Seuss. A tear gleamed in his mother’s eye.

On Love | Mr. O'Kane

    Movies and television make relationships to be full of extremes, amazing or broken,  beautiful passion or deceitful destruction. This is why we are so fascinated with marriage. Two people making the decision that even with the possibility of potential tragedy they see on display in movies, television or even some of their friends’ lives, the possible amazing is worth the risk. For a long time, I thought this assessment was spot on, but boy was I wrong. Love doesn’t live in extremes. Love might visit, but it spends most of its time in the middle of the give and take that is necessary to sustain something truly beautiful. These are the marks of true love–mutual respect, selfless support, boundless belief. I know what you’re thinking. What do I know, right? Not much, but I have paid attention. Believe it or not, I had a third row seat.
    Years ago, I was at a wedding where the bride and groom wrote their own vows. Not only were they heartfelt and personal but they both mentioned the importance of building each other up, never tearing the other person down. They meant it. She spoke about how much she admired him and with a purposeful smile on his face, he looked right into her eyes and said that he would always be there for her. In that moment, I remember thinking, “THEY are in love.” They spoke with calm, yet excited, conviction.
    The focus on mutual respect and support is something I witness with my own mother and father. No matter what is going on, something that is not tolerated is breaking down the other person. There are stressful arguments at times, but it never devolves to personal attacks. Before it gets to that point, it is almost as if they look at each other and know. Arguing is one thing, but desecration is another. Devolution to disrespect is off the table. They teach me that we don’t need to worship the person we are with, but we need to cherish them, at all times.
    My father works with contractors and knows a lot about the intricacies of how things are built. Once he told me about a building in NYC–432 Park Ave–that is extremely tall (425.5m), but has a base the size of a postage stamp. The building has a 19:1 ratio of height to width. There even needs to be built in floors that are open in order to let air flow. 
    If architects did not include these open floors, then the building would not be able to stay standing if with strong winds. They also have a humongous suspended weight at the top of the building. In order to maintain balance, they move as the building sways. In order to create something so inspiring, a great deal of effort needed to go into creating an intricate design that would stay standing in a storm, just like my parents’ marriage.
    In the grand scheme of things, they occupy a postage stamp. Neither has interest in notoriety, nor do they feel the need to take more than they need. In raising my sister and me, they give their time, effort, emotion, resources and most importantly, they share their foundation. Their values influence the way they live their lives each day. When my mother was a teacher, she emphasized the importance of empathy and respect. Whether the students were four or fourteen, she made sure they knew how important they were to her and that if they focused on the golden rule, their life journey would be filled with meaning.  She brings that same attitude home and always makes sure my father feels loved. He does the same, thoughtful gestures, kind words, and relentless support are hallmarks of his love. Together, they spend time on making sure there are those built in spaces that allow the both of them to be their own person. They sway, and at times, it takes the great weight (their faith) to keep them balanced, but because they have dedicated their lives to building one another up, it is going to take a lot more than some wind to bring them down. 

Cigarette | Nicholas Kristy

I love that murderous, roguish vixen.
Her heat is intoxicating;
Her smoky taste addicting.

I’ve tried to get away.
She keeps dragging me back in.
All she does is break me.

I blow a puff of smoke
And release her from my hand.

Reduced to Rubble | Greg Peterson

The wrecking ball on the end of my machine
Swings like a dizzy fly: I punch
Structures with the force of an air strike.

Broken pieces fall
Like birds shot
From the sky.
They shatter
like a vase.

The structure
Releases its debris cloud
Like the fumes of an old car.

I control the fate
Of homes and businesses
With the pull of a lever.

My man-made
Machine grants me
Godly power.

The Wind | Matt Tan

    It’s Wednesday, which means that every grade in the school goes outside to the parking lot to watch a flag be raised and to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Each grade from Pre-k to Eighth grade has a spot to line up in a column facing the flagpole, and each grade has a representative that comes forward to assist the raising of the flag. The pre-k through third grade representatives hold the flag, the fourth through sixth grade representatives stand there, and the sixth through eighth grade representatives hang the flag. The other students watch the flag, as it rises to the peak of the pole and start to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but I’m looking at calamity around me.
    The limbs of the trees whip back and forth like waves crashing on the shore. I hear the ringing of the door-chimes, as the wind pushes it back and forth. The American Flag flaps frantically, and the metal rings, holding the flag clash against the pole like swords and shields colliding. I hear the wind screeching; it fluctuates to a high-pitch when the wind blows the strongest. All of these create fear for me. I try to distract myself by looking at the ground and singing the song faster, as if my voice alone will cause the other students’ voices to speed up as well. Eventually, the song ends, and all grades return to their classrooms. 
    I go to a Montessori school, which means I can do whatever I want, as long as I complete all four categories (math, language and arts, science, and social studies) by the start of lunch which is at 11:00 AM. I grab my vocab book, sit on a chair, and study the words in front of me. I cover my ears and limit my vision to only the words on the page, so I can’t be distracted by the devastation that the wind is causing outside. Then, I hear and feel a burst of wind shake the building which slams open a door that was slightly ajar. Origami cranes hanging from the ceiling detach and scatter around the classroom like a flock fleeing from a tree in unison. Teachers run to close the door, and students pick up the cranes. I help to pick up the cranes, but my heart starts beating rapidly, and I can only think of the wind sweeping me off my feet and throwing me off the Earth.
    I decide to go to my safe place, the one-person bathroom, since there are no windows. I dash to the sign-out sheet and scribble my name, the date, and “9:00” in the sign-out box. I rush to the bathroom, sit on the toilet, and try to rationalize why I’m scared of the wind. The devastation that it causes, its piercing cries, and its strong shoves are reasons that come to mind. I think: “I can avoid the sight of the wind by narrowing my vision. I can avoid the sound of the wind by covering my ears, as if I were stressed and trying to ease a headache.” But I realize that there is nothing I can do to evade the feeling of the wind, and I lose all hope of dodging this fear.
    “Anyone in here?” says a student knocking on the door. I flush the toilet to make it seem as if I just finished, wash my hands, and walk out of the bathroom. I walk into the classroom and sign in on the sheet. I return to my seat and skim more words.
    Friends come to me and ask if I want to make paper mache heads with them and others outside. I go outside and see the wind rustling everyone’s hair, clothes fluttering rapidly, and a mask rolling away from a table. I fear as I hear the wind cry. I also hear laughter and see the students smiling at each other. I pause and let the wind flow around me and howl. More paper mache heads roll off the table and onto the grass, so I run to help the other students catch what is theirs.

Just Another Day | George Welsh

I take a deep breath. 
The crisp mountain air chills my nostrils,
To my lungs. 
The aroma of pine in the air
Is like a tree farm during Christmas. 
4,393 feet high in the clouds;
My view is magnificent. 
The green mountains, the picturesque covered bridges, the wild rivers, 
In my own Utopia.
The miles of lush wilderness, the white piles of snow,
the lack of human presence. 
I snap on my bindings—
Ready for another day.

Seasonal | Cole Hendricks

The leaf, yellow as a New York taxi,
Dangles from the tall oak wavering
In the gentle breeze of an autumn afternoon.
I ask my valet to get my car.
I want to be alone with my thoughts.

I peer out the window of my car to see
the leaf blowing in the wind.
When the breeze picks up
just enough to blow the blonde hair
of the lady walking on the street.
She has two perfect scoops of vanilla
on her chest.
The leaf is plucked off its branch.

It falls slowly, rocking side to side
like a ship, back and forth,
until it hits the ground.
My thoughts spin around,
and I am the yellow leaf,
falling to the ground,
only valued for the brief time I have.


Untitled | Henry Ballentine

    Salted air fills my lungs as the summer sun heaves itself above the horizon. The sky is blue as the water green, and both invite me out into the river. Only a bike ride lies between me and the waterway. I kick my sandals below the cockpit, and I feel the white knackered deck against my feet. Three pulls of the cord make the engine roar to life, as I prepare to unshackle from the shore. I tap a playlist on my phone, and speakers jolt to life. Above, a mother osprey prepares her nest. Her partner searches for their next meal below the green current. Plying through the channel carefully, my hands guide me out to open water.
    I leave the channel and enter the frothing waters. I cut the engine and hoist the main. Then, I cleat off the line when it stands fully raised. I glide up and down the river’s water. Every second feels like spirited debate between the wind and me. My hand steers the tiller along; my eyes search for a puff of fresh breeze to fill my sails and push me faster.
    I find it. The gust rockets me along the river, past a waterman checking his crab pots. The hiking straps dig into my ankles, as I lean out to bring my keel back into the water. Passing by an abandoned lighthouse, I reach the mouth of the river. Beyond me lies the Choptank. I unfurl the jib, then set the sheets in their blocks. The wind sweeps forward, filling both sails with power. Familiar shorelines drop out of sight, as I cruise into the vast waterway in front of me. I slip into autopilot, my movements guided by muscle memory and instinct.
    My mind runs wild. Finally, I am free of responsibilities, the crowd, and the persona I wear. I surge through the tide, chasing the clarity that I might just be able to brush up against. That meditative state is fleeting. I push myself forward just to try and feel it one more time. My eyes are drawn to the faraway shore, a nagging reminder that I can't stay out forever, that I must return to what I’ve left behind.
    The sun’s fading light brings me back to reality, and I make my way back to shore. I slide up beside my dock, lower the sail, tie the lines down, and put my sandals back on. Then, I hop onto dry ground, excited to navigate the world and whatever it throws my way once more.

A Summer Dinner Ten Years Ago | Nicholas Kristy

    Bright, yellowish-orange rays of sunlight pass through fingerprint smudges that cover the glass sliding door. The light brown carpet, warmed by the sun, has cat hair and dirt speckled within. I hear the door squeak open, revealing the sound of sizzling meat on a grill.
    “Hey guys,” my father calls to us, “Steaks are almost done.”
    “Okay!” my younger brother and I say, almost in unison, still looking at the television.
    My brother, Patrick, heads for the door, dodging the wooden dinner table and paint-chipped stools. I hop up from the gray La-Z-Boy and walk to the white fridge to grab a soda. My feet are muffled on the carpet, but start clapping against the kitchen tile as I near the icebox.
    “Alright, Patrick, grab your plate,” I overhear Dad saying. “What’s Nick doing?”
    “I dunno,” Patrick says.
    “Getting soda,” I say.
    I snag the grainy fridge handle and hear the familiar clanking of bottles. I tug the door. The smell of juicy, tender meat prompts me to search faster for my soft drink. Finally, I find a single can in the back. I reach in to clasp my hand around the cool, moist aluminum.
    My father pokes his jet-black hair through the doorway.
    “C’mon, Nick.”
    “Alright, alright,” I say.
    One of our cats mewls from inside, as I step onto the scorching concrete. After jumping across my plastic chair’s armrest and placing my can on the glass patio table, Dad sets my plate down. I pick up my knife and fork, cut the steak into pieces, and stab at the first bit. A little juice comes out as the prongs enter the steak, and the first bite enters my mouth. Grilled, not too chewy, rich — perfect. Dad always makes the best steak.
    In the middle of chewing, Dad pipes in. “Damn, this is good,” he says. “What do you guys think?”
    “Good,” I say. Patrick stays silent.
    The sound of chewing and crickets chirping fills the air. We fall silent again. After a moment, a question pops in my head.
    “Dad, can David stay over tonight?”
    “Sure,” he agrees, nodding his head. “Get him after dinner.”
    Later, my father gets up and opens the door again. Winter, our brown, white, and black cat, steps onto the porch. “Here you go, babygirl,” Dad says. She points her brown, slanted nose to the ground, and sniffs. She drifts lazily towards the table, rubbing against my bare legs.
    “You guys want seconds?” Dad asks.
    “No thanks,” I say. Patrick stays silent.
    Our chairs screech as we scoot them out from the table. I then dump my paper plate in the trash, walk past the grill, and grab my orange Mongoose bike, on a quest for a sleepover.

Koi Fish | Charlie McFadden

    The man opened the door and stepped onto the street. He could hear the roaring engines and screeching of the tires, but on his street, everything was still. He felt like he was in a painting. He looked up at the sky and saw the sun peeking out over the horizon, as the moon and the stars waved goodbye and turned away.
    The birds began to chip and sing to no one but him. He thanked them for their efforts to brighten his spirits, but their efforts were useless. His heart is broken, and there is no amount of singing that can mend it and stitch it back together. The man didn’t know why his heart had shattered on the floor of his stomach, but he knew that he couldn’t do anything to change it.
    He started to walk down his silent street and look for anyone who may be in the same pit in which he found himself. The sun had not yet brightened his part of the world, so the only thing he had to rely on to see were the street lamps that lined his march. The lamps sprayed orange light across the street, and the man wondered if the light was orange because the bulbs were orange or because the casings were. 
    He looked up again at the moon, as it blew him a good morning kiss goodbye, slowly escaping to the other parts of the world. He knew that he would see it again, but he could not help but feel like someone he had once trusted left him alone again.
    Along his walk, he approached a diner. The white light that it gushed and leaked transformed it into a holy place for him. It struck out against the moon’s abandonment and the sun’s neglect with its own bright white light.
    He walked into the diner and ordered two cups of coffee with two creams and no sugar. The woman serving him brought them out quickly and shuffled off into the kitchen to make sure everything was ready for the day. He drank one of the cups of coffee and remembered the first time that he drank coffee: he was very young. He remembered asking his mother for a taste of the black elixir that had been promised to him by all of the television he had watched. Instead, he drank a bitter sludge that made him cringe and spit. His mother laughed and drank it, ignoring the spit. 
    Now, his taste buds had soured and dulled to the point where he could drink it. He then took out the match book that he had hidden away in his coat pocket. He lit one of the matches, let the fire go out on it, and then threw it into the empty cup. He did this again, and again, and again until the book was out of sacrifices for him. He drank the second cup of coffee.
    He walked out of the diner and waved to the cars that passed him on his walk back home. Goodbye cars, he said quietly to himself.

Fairground | Rothman

The fairground is said to be a great place
With animals in cages, 
And countless children at play.
I fail to see the allure.

All I can remember when I find myself here,
Is walking around in circles,
While losing the one I was drawn to.

Yet I find myself here,
In this ghastly place.
Gates flooded with joyous faces
Looking to bet on horse races
And get cheated by underhanded games.
All the while I try to turn the page
And find a better beginning.

Finland: Land of Lies | Jack Connolly

    According to its national website, Finland has a population of 5.4 million people (Finland Promotion Board 1), or at least, the majority of the world believes so. However, Finland hides a deeper, darker secret: Finland does not actually exist. When asked if she believes that Finland exists, Loren Connolly answered, “Yeah, isn’t Finland one of those countries in Northern Europe?” (Connolly 1) Connolly’s answer represents the views of nearly everyone living on Earth: Finland exists. However, I have found evidence that Finland in fact exists for the sole purpose of Japanese fishing rights, as well as to serve as an example of working socialism.
    The United Nations “created” Finland in order to allow Japan to harvest more fish than allowed. Raregan, a user on the popular social media site Reddit, described the so-called “Finland Conspiracy” as: The actual land mass that is known as Finland is really just Eastern Sweden. The United Nations edits all produced world maps to include Finland, when in reality water takes up all of the space. The idea that an organization could fabricate an entire country seems so extreme that people would just believe it without questioning and that someone could invent an entire country just seems so ridiculous; it cannot hold any factual merit. This skepticism has kept Finland’s secret nonexistence a secret for so long but not anymore.
    What could motivate the United Nations to fabricate an entire nation’s existence? What drove Finland’s creation? We see the answer in a Japanese delicacy: sushi. The Japanese wanted to harvest a huge amount of fish, but due to tight regulations, they could not fish as much as they wanted. As a result, Japan agreed with Russia to invent a “landmass” where the Japanese could fish as much as they wanted. The Japanese felt that they could get away with overfishing in this body of water, as nobody even knew that the body of water existed. The Japanese would then transport the fish through Russia and pay Russia a small portion of the fish they caught. Russia agreed to this proposal to save the lives of the Russian people, as many Russians starved to death under Stalin’s reign, which coincided with the period of time that the United Nations founded Finland. Japan’s naming of their invented country tipped off investigations. What did the Japanese need from the country? Fish. How do fish swim? Fins. So what do they name the country? Finland.
     According to an Android forum, Apple iPhones rule the market in Japan (AndroidPub 1). Why, then, would Japan so heavily import Nokia phones? They don’t. The Nokia phones disguise the fact that Japan actually imports some huge sum of fish every year. The United Nations would like to have everyone believe that Nokia has Finnish ownership; however, Japan really owns Nokia, and “imports” the phones to disguise the fishing trade. According to Sachi Azumi, “Nokia stopped doing business in Japan in 2008” (Izumi 1). Why would Nokia stop selling phones in Japan ten years ago? The Japanese realized that their business began to attract attention. Japan’s hate of negative attention surpasses its love of illegally-sourced sushi.
    Not only does Finland exist to bolster Japan’s fishing hauls, but it also serves as a fabricated example of working socialism. The USSR pushed heavily for the creation of Finland, as the USSR wanted the West to see socialism from an unbiased view. The USSR knew that the Western World would be more likely to view a socialist Western nation favorably rather than a socialist Eastern nation. I talked to self-proclaimed Finland expert, Drew Potter, about his opinion on Finland’s existence, to which he responded:
    "America really hasn’t been a fan of socialism, right? Between how we’re kind of on the end of the spectrum and the Cold War and tensions with China and all that, it hasn’t been something that has gone over well with us. However, outside looking in, Finland seems to be a great country where they’ve near perfected it. One can argue that other countries have simply made up Finland in order to make it seem like socialism can actually work, and can work even better than capitalism." (Potter 1)
    Potter describes just why countries, such as China, for example, would support the creation of Finland. Finland acts as a propaganda tool to convince easily-swayed people to turn to socialism.   In order to counteract any sort of bias from Mr. Potter leaning towards a certain political side, I interviewed Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy specifically requested to be referred to as “Joseph McCarthy (Not the bad one)” (McCarthy 1). McCarthy stated his opinion on the Finland debate, saying, “Death is the solution to all problems. No man – no problem. –Joseph Stalin” (McCarthy 1). When asked to elaborate upon his statement, McCarthy refused further comment. McCarthy’s statement further describes how socialism truly results in the death of all men, and socialism can only successfully function as a political system in a made-up country. The ironically named Joseph McCarthy shamelessly describes how Socialism has no end but in death, and yet he still pushes for the implementation of Socialism worldwide.
    To sum up, the United Nations fabricated Finland both for the purpose of allowing Japan to illegally harvest an exorbitant amount of fish, as well as to try to convince the West that Socialism is a viable economic strategy. Finland’s fabrication shows us today that we as a society need to look with more awareness, and a lens of skepticism at all times. If the United Nations can create an entire nation without anybody finding out for all this time, what else have they or other international organizations done? What do they have the ability to do? If we begin to take greater care in how we look at the world, we can take the wool from over our eyes and see the world as it really exists.


Works Cited
AndroidPub. “Apple Vs Android - A Comparative Study .” AndroidPub, AndroidPub, 1 Mar. 2017,
Connolly, John C, and Drew Potter. “What's Your Opinion on Finland's Existence?” 25 Mar. 2018.
Connolly, John C, and Joseph McCarthy. “What Do You Believe about Finland?” 25 Mar. 2018.
Connolly, Loren A, and John C Connolly. “Does Finland Exist?” 25 Mar. 2018.
 “Finland in Facts.” ThisisFINLAND, Finland Promotional Board, 15 Feb. 2016,
Izumi, Sachi. “Nokia to Cease Sales in Japan.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 27 Nov. 2008,
Raregan. “What Did Your Parents Show You to Do That You Assumed Was Completely Normal, Only to Later Discover That It Was Not Normal at All? • r/AskReddit.” Reddit, Reddit Inc., 27 Dec. 2014,

Not Just Water | Graham Lindner

    As the official blows the long whistle, I step up onto the block, towering above the pool. In front of me, the blue water stretches on for what seems like hundreds of miles. To the right, opponents perform their pre-race rituals while the floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the scene in sunlight. To the left, the diligent spectators and my teammates wait at attention, ready to burst into cheers the minute the buzzer rings. Behind the blocks, the timers prepare for yet another race and swimmers mentally ready themselves for the next grueling event. The Loyola Blakefield pool carries a myriad of sights to the attention of the anxious swimmer standing on the blocks.
    As I look in front of me from my elevated vantage point, the deep blue water dominates my field of vision. Ripples flow across the surface and wash into the gutter like waves lapping gently onto the shores of a lake. The water possesses a deep blue tint, contrasting sharply with the white bottom of the pool. On the bottom, the black line guides the path of the lane, ensuring that even the most wayward of swimmers can keep a straight course. Between each lane lie the only barriers that separate an orderly race from complete chaos. The blue and gold lanelines extend from one end of the pool to the other, like ropes tethering together two ships. Finally, at the top of my peripheral vision, I spot the backstroke flags, watching the pool from above. White letters spell out the words “Loyola Blakefield” on alternating blue and yellow flags strung out across the width of the pool.
    To the right, my opponents on the other blocks each act out their private rites to prepare themselves for the race. One swimmer swings his arms haphazardly with his eyes staring straight ahead, completely unaware of anything around him. Another looks around nervously, while a third simply stands stock-still with an expression of apathy painted on his face. Beyond the other swimmers, great floor-to-ceiling windows tower above the pool. Sunlight streams in, bathing the pool in bright yellow light and almost blinding anyone looking directly at it. In between each window lie sections of concrete adorned with the championship banners of swim teams past. The dark blue banners with their white lettering and trim seem to flutter against the backlight of the sun. Underneath the windows and banners runs a long wooden bench covered with the colorful bags of dozens of swimmers.
    On my left, the spectators and my teammate’s faces contain numerous expressions and emotions. My coach bends over in trepidation with a pained expression mixing anxiety and excitement. My teammates line the side of the pool. A few stand with headphones, heads nodding to the beat of their pump-up songs. Others, who receive a boost of energy from the fast swims of their peers, wait with fists raised in anticipation of the buzzer that signals the beginning of the race. In the metal bleachers behind the glass barrier, two different groups make up the spectators. The first group, composed mostly of parents, have once again donned their blue and gold shirts, blue and gold beads, and blue and gold pants. The second group, made up of unwilling siblings and uniformed casual observers, sit on their phones with blank and bored expressions on their faces.
    Behind me sit the faithful volunteers of every swim meet as well as swimmers soon to be in my position. The timers stand as still as stone and stare at the official. One wields a stopwatch while the other holds a clipboard. A similar scene is played out behind every other block. The swimmers preparing for their races each work themselves up in a unique way. One wears a winter parka and sweatpants and does jumping jacks, while another in just his suit, cap, and goggles simply shakes out his arms and legs. A six foot four behemoth slaps his chest while a five foot eight runt talks amicably to the timer. Above all looms the clock. Alternating blue and gold letters spell out the names of the swimmers and their teams. Next to the swimmer’s team lies a black spot, soon to become the difference between victory and defeat.
    To a swimmer on the blocks before a race, the Loyola Blakefield pool contains a myriad of emotions, expressions, and sights. In front, the lanelines, flags, and water of the pool captivate my thoughts. To the right stand my opponents, engrossed in their rituals, and the blinding sunlight streaming through the great windows. To the left stand my coach, teammates, and the spectators, most waiting anxiously for the start of the race. Behind me, timers and swimmers mingle while the enormous clock oversees the whole affair. And suddenly, all of these thoughts retreat back into my head as the official mutters those fateful words. “Swimmers, take your marks.”

Some Words from Ring | Mason Rush

    “And there I stood, in my clean tuxedo, sweat at the brow, and lights real low. I stood there with my girl in my arms, her head set gently upon my chest. I looked up at the crest of Blakefield and listened as the DJ played Forever… because somewhere deep inside me, while at the same time far away in the realm of time, this moment will always exist.”

Childhood | Frankie Andrews

          Piece by piece,
                         But never completed.
                              An endeavored journey,
                                   Slowly building,
                                        From now until
                                             The pieces are quickly stripped away.
                                                  Rebuilt no more. 

War Pipe Bong | Damian Stifter

With high times going on
in a White House-underground bunker,
where Donald is glassblowing
American taxpayers’ money.

He’s got heavy munchies
of Jughead hero dreams.
Telling his kitchen cabinet
to pass his Twitter messages along.
Tell the world “the alt-right ain’t never wrong.”

And in his underground bunker, he
drops some tweet bombs, 
scaring all of the Muslim moms.
Donald is getting his practice
hitting the “anti-peace pipe bong.”

The Little Rocket Man soon finds out,
and he wants in on the anti-peace pipe,
so he can suck in the helium smoke and
blow out high-pitched nuclear giggles.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un,
just your typical Cheech and Chong.
Two kamikaze kings,
passing around that war pipe bong.

But in the underground bunker,
pushin’ comes to shovin’. 
Kimmie and Donnie start fighting for power.
Little Donnie whines, “No, MY big red button is the biggest red button!”

Donald Cheech and Kim Jong Chong
are arguing in the underground bunker.
They both snap while fighting over that war pipe bong.
In their inebriated stupor, they slam down
on their big red buttons,
sending nuclear bombs

And when they emerge
from that underground bunker,
they discover the verdant earth
bombed gone.

Ramen | Andrew Melvin

He grasps the styrofoam cup.
He moistens his cracked lips
With his tongue. 

He rests his appetizing cup
In the microwave.  He stares, 
Watches as the cup rotates.
His stomach aches.
He pulls out his hot dinner from the microwave
And slowly brings the cup to a table.

He allows no juice to spill.

The cup comes closer
To his lips. He slurps
Every drop of juice and noodles.

The Staple Remover | Brendan Leonard

Its skull, a fulcrum of devastation and power.
White scales on head, silver fangs glistening in the light,
The rest hidden underground.
Fangs ready for attack.
The metal mice
Hold together papers.

This venomous creature sits calmly on a desk
Full from feasting, bloated stomach at the point of bursting
A new species of snake, dangerous to all surroundings.
The no-legged beast lives
In solitude,
Freely roaming wherever it pleases.
The scientific name: “Staplerus Removerus,” 
A noble name for a malicious being.

Upon the Passing of Winter | Jeremy Hannon

The boughs are filled with flakes of silver snow,
And the jagged gusts of winter blow.
Through frozen hollows and barren fields,
I wait for respite, but it never yields.

Though the silent snow falls, there is no beauty,
For without you, this life is but dreary duty.
To be done through the years with nary a scrap,
Of peace, or joy, or of thy sweetness perhaps.

The youthful passions of summer night,
Have been quickly quelled by winter’s bite,
And when the blossoms of spring erupt from the earth,
No joy will I have, lest you replenish the dearth.
Of love in my heart, O lady fair,
For I wish, with thee, my days to share.

Forgive me my dear, if too forward I be,
Yet I cannot contain my boundless love for thee,
For it is like the golden sun of summer sky,
Shining like a fervent fire in thine eye,
For though it may be hidden by night or by rain,
It is forever present, through tragedy and pain.

In the spring, my love, this meadow will lie
In wait for lovers such as you and I,
Verdant, silent, anointed with misty dew,
Foliage as soft as my feelings are true.
Fireflies as numerous as the stars hung above,
Outshined only by the brilliant flame of our love.

I implore you, my dear, there is nothing to fear,
But that my heart may be broken by thy recusant reply,
I shall have naught to do but to shrivel up and die.

I, along with the buds of roses,
Await the warmth this winter opposes,
The warmth of thy heart, united with mine,
Till this age fades into the shadows of time.