She’s Dead

The books lie behind the phone.
“To Kill a Mocking Bird” and “Murders in the Rue
Morgue” stand out among the titles.
The phone frowns at me accusingly. Judging me in
The ring screams out, making me jump.
“Mr. Ripply? We’ve found your wife,”
says the Police man on the other end of the line.
“She’s dead.”



Marianna Bergues lives in Narberth and is homeschooled. She loves to write fiction. Marianna participated in the Teen Lit Magazine workshop last year at Musehouse Center for the Literary Arts in Germantown. Two of Marianna’s poems were published in the premier issue of Philadelphia Stories, Junior.


For two minutes and forty four seconds,
I watch the night, in its luminescence.
Heavy clouds twist, like so many dark ribbons,
Dark velvet punctured only by stars, clouds overridden.

Pudgy cats yowl in alleyways deserted,
Shadows confuse them, their pouncing thus thwarted.
A beer bottle crashes, from nowhere, it seems.
The echo dies out like a soft, faded dream.

I wish it was warmer, or that the wind held better.
The breeze whistled through my threadbare yarn sweater.
Shadows were approaching, completely unencumbered,
Fright started slightly in a pit in my stomach.

The time seems but ripe, almost tangible to pick it.
Ripe for all creatures to emerge from the thicket.
For ravens, wings glossy, and rabbits, fur soft.
For stray cats and dogs, their heads held aloft.

Though I feel alone in this fantasy now,
I see a strange animal along the ground.
Feathers of speckled grey, black and white.
It cocks and bobs its head, into the light.

It take careful steps, its orange eyes are wide.
A pigeon steps into the quiet moonlight.
And as I approach it, one finger extended,
It climbs on with pink claws, and upwards we ascended.

Shadows less menacing, moonlight less dim.
As on it clambered, tail fluffed, neck prim,
My cheeks were glowing with happiness.
A pigeon was exactly what I needed, no more or less.



Calamity Rose Jung-Allen is a twelve-year-old singer, guitar-player, writer and actor from West Philly, the city of brotherly love and grafitti. She lives with her mom, her two cats, dog, and two rats. Recently declared a brace-face, she is short and loves peanut butter ice cream. She is one of the winners of the first “Teens Take the Park” writing contest.

My Dream Dog

He has dots on his face
and on his body
and he is cute as a heart

We play tug of war
and we go for walks
and I give him treats

I feed him dinner
and he follows me to bed
right beside me



Emile Johnson is a first-grade student at Belmont Hills Elementary in Bala Cynwyd, PA. She lives in Narberth, PA with her parents and big brother. She likes to read and write poems and stories and also likes to draw. She dreams of having a dogsomeday soon.

Ocean Trip

I see golf courses
The ferris wheel at the top of the night sky
I can see bubbles rising into space
I can see people hloding bags that are filled uo
I can see crowded stores
I touch the tickets
I can touch golf clubs
I can feel the cold metal of the rides
I can taste the cotton candy melting in my mouth
The water ice makes me shiver
When I bite into a fry, I watch the steam go up
At night on the boardwalk, I hear the waves
I hear music inside the stores
I can hear the screams of people on roller coasters
I can smell the salt in the water
Cold water splashes are loud
What an awesome trip!


Michael is in third grade. He has two cats and loves video games. He collects pencils and toy cars. He is nine years old.

I Do Not Cry

This is how I don’t cry.

When I’m going to cry dark clouds roll in and thunder

To stop crying I cross my heart and I settle down.

The clouds roll back, sun comes in and I start to think
about summer.



James is in kindergarten and likes to draw and write poetry. He also likes to play soccer and enjoys hip hop dance. He lives in Havertown, PA with his parents and older brother. His favorite book series is the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems.


Cute and cuddly
Oh, he is so fluffy
So soft and loves to play
Meow! Is what he says
Oh, how could I ever forget he is the best cat ever!

Grace Donia lives in Medford Lakes, NJ. She loves to draw, and she loves cats. They rock. She is 9 and likes to cheer, dance, and do gymnastics.

My Cat

I am
Black Gray and
I am indoor cat
I meow and purr
I like treats and cat food
I am fat
I like to watch squirrels
When I look at a squirrel
I am Riley the cat

Matthew McHugh is from Medford Lakes, NJ, and he likes playing soccer. His school is Neeta School and he is 8 years old.


Sense of one is a part of more
Feeling of interests in others’ worth
Walking on the same path, whether exciting or bore
Keeping all the secrets of our mind we swore.
Monotonous people, even them we hold close,
Being a part of something bigger is what we love most.
In this group we all feel like the host
So, to the sense of togetherness, I toast.

Davis O’Leary is 13 and a seventh grader at TE Middle School. He lives with his parents and big brother. His varied interests include spending time with friends and family, reading, writing, studying the Bible, football, wrestling and lacrosse. Davis is one of the winners of the first “Teens Take the Park” writing contest.

African Weave

“Hurry, Tibira! I want to get there quickly!” Niki’s voice echoed through the serene white noise of the forest.

“Niki, you want to get everywhere quickly!” I replied, quickening my pace to catch up with her.  “Maybe, but this is different! We are going to Ife! We are going to the place where the world began, and we are going to learn how to weave! How can you stand to move so slowly?” she said, stopping as I caught up with her.

    I paused a moment to look at her. She had stopped directly in one of the scarce patches of sunlight that penetrated the trees. It was highlighting her perfectly; her dark skin, her faded blue work wrapper slightly askew from running, and her wide, cocked grin that seemed permanently etched on her round face. Suddenly I couldn’t help but smile. “I am taking time to appreciate the forest! It is so beautiful here, it will be good to enjoy the peace before we must face the business of Ife,” I said, chuckling.

“Oh, I give in. You are right. Ife isn’t going anywhere,” she sighed. “But if we are appreciating the forest, let us appreciate Iya Mapo, Mother Earth, as well.”  Without another word, we both began to sing together: “Iya Mapo, Iya Mapo,” our song a sacrifice to the divinity as we walked through the forest.     Eventually, the forest began to thin, giving way to farms, and we stopped singing. We began to see more and more people, some carrying goods, some going to tend their farms, and the occasional person traveling, just as we were. Then suddenly, our path ended, and we stopped. It was then that we saw it. The gate to the Holy City of Ife.  When we approached the gate, we were confronted by the guards. We gave them some of the cowry shells we had brought, paying our tax to the Oba, and stated our reason for being there: to ask Niki’s grandmother, Tanti, to teach us to weave. They let us through.  I wondered how they knew who to let past, but decided that there would be time later to ask someone about it.  As soon as we walked in, we almost immediately began to feel overwhelmed. The sun glared in our eyes, and the city was so hot, and it felt even hotter after having been in the cool forest. The sheer number of people there was dizzying. The streets were fairly packed, and, with so much to take in all at once, combined with the heat and the glare of the sun, we quickly began to feel tired. We only just barely noticed the scenery. The shrines, the compounds, the murals; they all went by in a blur. However, we managed to remain alert enough to find our way. The city was complex, but before we had left our small village, we had spent much time committing the route to Tanti’s compound to memory. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we reached our destination: the weaver’s compound. It was a large compound, and the outside was a white background, decorated with colorful lines, which represented different entities. We opened the gate, and walked into the courtyard, which was paved in an intricate pattern of spirals and waves. Neither of us was sure what this represented. There were a few goats and chickens roaming around, and there were many beautifully carved and painted posts that held up the roof. There was a shrine to a divinity in another room. Ahead, there was a second doorway leading to another courtyard.        As we walked into the second courtyard, we saw a young man who looked to be around fifteen. He was sitting in the middle of the courtyard. He looked up as soon as he heard us.

“Niki! Tibira! You are here. Grandmother has been expecting you,” he said.  I realized that this must be Eyodun, one of Grandmother Tanti’s son-in-laws. He walked out of the second courtyard and into a separate room. Sitting in front of a loom and weaving sat Tanti.

“Excuse me, Mother, Niki and Tibira are here,” Eyodun said respectfully, bowing. Tanti’s smiling face peered out from behind the loom, her dark eyes glittering with happiness.

“Niki! Tibira! It is good to see you again! It has been a long time since I have visited your village, but it seems that this time we meet in my home. Have you been enjoying your time in Ife so far?” she asked, maintaining her wide grin.

“Yes, Grandmother,” we both answered, bowing deeply.

“Good, good. But you must be tired from your journey! Eyodun, would you please show these two to their room? Then they can wash up, and we can show them around the compound,” Tanti said.

“Yes, Mother. Come with me, please,” he asked us, bowing once more to Grandmother before leaving the room. A long time later, after we had seen the compound, washed, eaten, and settled in, I sat on my mat, going over the day’s events. I could hardly believe we were really in Ife! And with my best friend! It was like a dream come true. Niki and I had always wanted to learn to weave, but we lived in a small village with no weavers and only obtained cloth through trade.  Becoming the talented weavers we wished to become was a very unlikely prospect.  Then, one day, a messenger had come from Ife, saying that two of Tanti’s apprentices had left the compound to move to another village, and we were invited to come to the weaver’s compound in Ife in two months time to learn to weave.  It was better than anything we could have hoped for. Tanti was one of Ife’s most talented weavers, and it was almost more than we could bear to wait the two months.

But now we were here, and we were settled, we were ready, and tomorrow, we were going to start to learn how to weave. I lay down on my mat, smiling. It really had been an eventful day.     The next morning, I woke up to the shrill voice of Niki’s seven-year-old cousin, Duni, ringing in my ears.

“Elders! Niki! Tibira! Wake up! Grandmother wants to see you!” she yelled as she ran back and forth, alternately shaking us. Grunting sleepily, I opened my eyes and groggily rolled over to see her shaking Niki, who was covering her head and whining in irritation at the rude awakening. Duni turned to face me, leaving Niki to continue to hide from the bright sun streaming through the windows.     “Ah! Elder! You are awake,” Duni said, as though it were a surprise. I stared dumbly at her for a moment, collecting my thoughts. She was big for a girl of seven, almost the size of a ten year old, and very smart as well. Her blue work wrapper hung loosely around her small form, thin but strong. Her unusual, bright, copper-colored eyes stared at me eagerly as she tilted her head, waiting for a response.      She will make someone a good wife someday… I thought, my mind wandering.

“Yes, Duni. I am awake,” I said after a long pause.

“Grandmother wants to see you and Niki,” she said in her bouncy, cheery way.

“Alright. Niki, wake up!” I called over at her sleeping form.

“Please, just five more minutes…” she groaned.

“No, Elder! Grandmother must see you now!” Duni retaliated.

“Yes,” I joked. “You must do what Oba Duni says!”   That woke Niki up.

“Tibira! Do not joke like that, it is disrespectful!” she cried.

“You are right, I am sorry,” I responded.  A few minutes later, Niki and I had gotten up and washed, and were standing outside Grandmother’s room.

“Grandmother? You wanted to see us?” Niki called in.

“Yes, yes. Please, take a seat,” came Tanti’s voice from inside.  We walked in, bowed, and sat down.

“What did you want to talk to us about, Grandmother?” I asked.

“Well, you see. I have been thinking about your weaving. You both look very talented, and I think you would make excellent weavers, but…” I held my breath.     “…I think we should speak with the Babalawo first, to see if this is the right path for you two.”  I inwardly sighed in relief.     “That is a good idea, Grandmother,” Niki said quietly.

“Thank you. So then, you two get ready, and we will head off as soon as you are done,” Tanti said.  After some light preparations, we were once again walking through the streets of Ife, but this time our destination was the Diviner’s compound.  I felt so worried, and even in the warm morning sun, I was shivering. It was just a yes or no question, a simple toss of the Diviner’s kola nuts, but what if they landed dark side up? What if the answer was no? We would be crushed. Niki and I had wanted to learn to weave since we were both very small, and now we had come so close. But what if it was all in vain? I did not know. The fear of the worst happening wrapped itself around my heart like a cold hand.

We were finally there. We walked inside, and sat down on the floor. The Diviner sat in front of us, on a brightly colored mat. He was wearing all white, symbolizing the bloodless sacrifice.  I threw a brief glance at Niki, and, judging by the look on her face, she was feeling as tense as I was about our fate. I only saw Grandmother give the Babalawo the cowries, and I watched her lips move as she explained our situation, but I heard nothing. I just kept repeating a little prayer over and over in my head, “Please let the answer be yes, please let the answer be yes.”  I shut my eyes tight as the Diviner began the brief ceremony, as if my not seeing it would prevent the bad result I feared was coming.  My hands were balled against my knees, and I shut my eyes tighter and tighter, scared of what the answer would be, until suddenly…


I opened my eyes.

“The answer is yes. This is the correct path for you,” the Diviner said solemnly.  I could have jumped up right there and hugged Niki, but I managed to contain myself, silently thanking every divinity I could think of for their kindness. Grandmother Tanti nodded.

“This is good news for you girls,” she said, smiling. After we had left the Diviner’s hut, and were walking back through Ife, Niki and I were doing our best to act composed, but we would give each other overjoyed looks as soon as Grandmother Tanti wasn’t looking. Suddenly, Tanti stopped.

 “Congratulations, girls. It will be hard work, but I will teach you all I know, to the best of my ability. When we get back to the compound, we will begin your lessons on how to weave,” she said.   Niki and I grinned at each other again. It was the start of a good day, and an even better career.

Aislind Waters is 12, in sixth grade, and loves to write descriptive stories, poetry, and song lyrics. She also loves reading and drawing, and lives with her mother, younger brother, and her two cats. She had read many book series, including The Hunger Games, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, Tunnels, and all 21 Redwall books. 


Falling. Falling into darkness. It won’t end. There is no end. I keep going. The wind makes my spine crawl. I feel my heart beating. It’s in my throat. I clench my fists. Force a smile on my face. When the bottom comes I want to be…

            I jolt. This room, its full of light. I’m back. It was just a dream. But it felt so real. I could feel myself plummeting down.

Why is it so silent? Not a whisper being spoken nor a footstep placed. Mom should be home, its Sunday. Dad doesn’t go to work on Sundays until late. There will probably be a note on the kitchen counter written on thin paper with sharpie so it bled through onto the white granite. Mom always does that.

My room is hot, uncomfortably hot. The heat can’t be on, it’s August. I push open the glass window to let the fresh, windy breeze in. But there is none. Just heat.

On the counter, there’s no note. But there is a piece of paper. Scrawled across the paper are notes. Music notes. They aren’t in any pattern though. They just seem to stretch across the page, blown around and left there. As scattered as possible and still on the staff lines.

In the middle of the page there are five words written, barely legible. I know nobody with that handwriting. It reads: Someday soon you’ll understand.

I take it to the piano. Now that I look at it, it’s pretty simple. Only three notes. B, E, and G. Odd combination though. B, E, G. G, B, E. they slowly get softer. Since I started playing, I’ve known of that soft touch. My teacher told me about that talent when I was three. He called me a prodigy. At the time, I had no idea what he meant. A prodigy. It was an interesting word. I just loved to sit down and play. Just let out myself into the keys. That was about the time I refused to talk.

Now they are too soft. I’m not playing it that way. I pound it. nothing. I glide my finger over the key. Nothing. What is happening. The birds stop singing. I need to hear the music. I need it. It’s my air. It’s what I need to breathe. Is it the piano, or is it me. I’m still playing: Painted Glass, the first song I composed. I was four. Instead of getting that rush, feeling the connection, being one with the piano, I feel nothing.

My sight goes blurry. I’m sobbing. I scream. I need to hear something. Anything. My feet lift me. The faucet in the bathroom is on, but I hear no water. Nothing. I can’t hear the creak of the floorboard, I can’t hear the piano. I can’t hear. Looking up, I see a monster. Red face, blue eyes popping out of a head. Wet streaks down cheeks. Crooked teeth.

The piano calls me back. I pound. No song, just notes. Anything. I try the new piece again. B, E, G. B, E, G. Nothing. I hear nothing.

Music is how I speak. Now, I can’t hear what I say.

B, E, G. Someday soon, you’ll understand. B, E, G. Someday soon, you’ll understand.

I need to beg. That means I need to talk. I can’t beg if I don’t talk. But how will I know what to say? How will I know if I sound right? I need to beg to hear.

Who in their twisted mind would do this to me? Who gave me that music? I’m sobbing so hard I feel my body shake.

Wait. I run through the living room into the kitchen, rip all of the papers out of the drawers. I need that prescription, the one Doctor Clay gave me. This is his handwriting on the music. Its undeniable.

He found something. That test he did. He knew something was wrong, but he wouldn’t tell me. How could he? How could he not tell his own patient that she would lose her hearing? How could he do this to me? Is this really Dr. Clay’s way of getting me to talk? Anything else but this. Take away anything, but you take away my music, my hearing then you may as well take away my life.

Maria Dulin is a student at Villa Maria Academy and one of the winners of the first “Teens Take the Park” writing contest.