Author: Em


It’s been
a while.

Now we’re here, my borders
don’t you dare come near
I’ve drawn a line now in the dust,
left from all those dreams you

I will not harbor you anymore,
you are not welcome here
Go fly away to the open sky, and please

written for daily prompt: territory


you mean too much to me

She calls him her older brother, though they aren’t related at all.
He always hugs her, makes her feel safe. Forehead kisses, like butterflies brushing against her hair.

He gives advice while smiling, hypocritical advice that he himself doesn’t follow but wants her to keep in mind. “Because I did the wrong things, and I have regrets,” he told her.

He says the same things often, forgetting that they’ve talked about it before.

He talks to her in a way that really anyone else would identify as condescending, at first glance. But she never feels that way, not really, because he is her older brother and he calls her his baby sister.

She loves him.
His laugh — she loves to hear him laugh.

Even when she knows he’s laughing at her.

Soft hair and a beautiful smile, long thin frame that seems almost as if any second it might collapse, he smells like fruit and flowers and baby shampoo.

He makes eye contact when he talks; he has dark, inquisitive eyes framed by long eyelashes.
He tells her that the birds he sometimes sees remind him of her.

He says that he loves her. She wants to believe him.

written for daily prompt: meaningless

And Justice for All: Bridging the Global Wealth Gap

In 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded American citizens that “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Roosevelt’s words, as well as the concern he demonstrates about widespread socioeconomic inequality,  are as applicable now as they were 80 years ago, for both the United States and the global community.

One of the most prevalent injustices that plagues not only America, but the world as a whole, is the massive socio-economic disparity that defines today’s global landscape. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 43 million Americans were in poverty as of 2015. Worldwide, extreme poverty is a reality for 1.6 billion. At the same time, 50 percent of the entire world’s wealth is in the hands of the top one percent of the socio-economic hierarchy, whereas the bottom half of the global population holds just one percent; that gap is only continuing to expand.

There are two primary ways in which society can move towards addressing the issue of worldwide socio-economic inequality: first, by establishing the right to adequate housing, and second, by promoting universal education.

Access to adequate housing is a prerequisite to the rights to work, healthcare, social security, vote, privacy, and education. Without a place of residency, people are severely limited in terms of what they can access in order to improve their socioeconomic standings. The lack of safe and secure housing perpetuates poverty and homelessness, which in turn widens the wealth gap by fueling a vicious cycle of income inequality and poor quality of life. Providing access to stable places of residency creates the environment necessary for household level socioeconomic security and growth by enabling the socioeconomically disadvantaged to access other societal needs. Because of this, implementing the right to adequate housing is essential to escaping the poverty trap.

In addition to adequate housing, providing quality education to disadvantaged populations is critical to bridging the world’s wealth gap. Access to higher education directly increases socio-economic mobility, and is thus a first step to addressing systemic poverty. Because it is fundamentally linked to economic security, education of all levels – primary, secondary, tertiary, and beyond – is key to unlocking the cage of income inequality . By extending more education opportunities to lower-income families throughout the world, it is possible to grant access to greater economic stability and thus maximize social justice. Inclusivity in quality education is vital to the development of a solution to the global wealth gap; it is central to creating a more economically equal future.

The worldwide issue of socioeconomic inequity is by no means one that is simple to solve; however, access to housing and education are critical steps in the right direction. The world has experienced incredible growth over the course of the last century; this progress ought to be reflected in the way in which we respond to the injustice of socioeconomic disparity. Today’s world is characterized by an ever-increasing divide between the top one percent and the rest of the population; today, it is time to bridge that gap.

written for SVR Teen Essay Contest 2017

Paper Sky


The sky is the color of dirty paper —
it is the color of
yesterday’s news
dropped in a puddle, clinging
to the cold dead ground

It is the color of
cheap ink
running off the newsprint and bleeding
into the rain (the sky is crying)

It is the color of
Choking grey to fill a world
too real


She holds her pen like a syringe
ready to inject the ink
into her veins
so that when her eyes
and her vision goes
she can breathe in a world
of beautiful words
and stories
can fill her soul

College Acceptance: A Validation of Self-worth

UC Berkeley will release its decisions at the end of the month, on March 30th.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m stressed, that I’m hoping against hope for an acceptance. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was pretty torn up about getting rejected from Stanford, from UCLA. I’m not ashamed to admit that I care, on a deeply personal level.

I poured my heart out for my personal statements; I spent hours trying to force myself to memorize every formula I needed for the AP Calculus BC final; I made dozens of phone calls to ensure that my transcripts were being mailed out on time; I think about college day and night.

For me, and for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of others, applying to college is more than filling out a form and writing a few essays. It’s not even selling yourself; after all, universities are the ones charging.

It’s tearing yourself open and laying your heart and soul and blood and sweat and tears out on a table, and then chasing after colleges and paying them to glance over and give you a chance. It’s giving faceless admissions officers VIP passes to your vulnerabilities and failures, and hoping that they think you have the right ratio of human to perfect to send you that elusive acceptance letter.

So rejection hurts, and acceptance is a relief. Finally, you think. I’m good enough. But that’s only if you get accepted. Rejection is more than a bruise or a scrape or a minor issue; it’s consuming. Because a college rejection rejects you on a very personal level – they know your life stories, your struggles. And they still don’t want you. And maybe the most painful thing of all is that you were qualified – your GPA was high enough, as were your test scores. You had a glittering resume of extracurricular activities, and you had amazing time management, and you didn’t get in because this year, College X was looking for nationally competitive crocheters. Too many speech and debaters are already in the system, and you fall by the wayside.

At the end of March it’ll be over. And by May 1st, we’ll have committed to a school. But until then, we pray for acceptance.

Hopefully, eventually, we can accept ourselves as well, and measure our worth by our own metrics, not by the colleges we get into.

written for daily prompt: acceptance


“Don’t move,” he says
“Look here,” he says
So she glares into that mirror eye staring back at her, unblinking
White light swallows up the choking dust for an instant, and then the world returns
He takes her callused hand in his and smiles; she does not smile back

She has seen photographs – oversaturated
stills that fail to capture
the gritty sand, the shuffling feet, the heavy silence amidst the constant noise,
how red blooms on white linen and sinks into the dirt
She hears the promise in the shutter click
and it falls hollow to the ground

Because here
the blue sky bleeds death and the bombs scream as they fall
to shatter already-shattered city bones
This is always and forever and she can hardly remember
when clear skies meant kites, and laughter, and life

So she knows no camera can solve the pain, but still –
the sun never stops rising, and the stars all shine at night
so she hopes against hope that
that promise in the photograph
can one day ring true

Minimal Damage

Strange that her aesthetic is so clean cut
When she herself overflows with
of red paint, dragon scales, endless flower bouquets
that she never speaks of

Strange that she can’t laugh it off
when he tells her it was nothing
and poison boils bitter inside her

She knows for him, for them
it is just a hiccup in the grand scheme of things
A small scrape at most
just minimal damage

But for her it means the world
(or the end of it. Sometimes she’s not sure)
because maybe it’s her fault for
not telling anyone

How can she though
when just one mocking half-thought can
take root to tear her apart the way

Strangler figs choke the breath from trees

written for daily prompt: minimal