H, 11th - Oakland, CA
Heaven where only the good goes mom says
Heaven where life's secrets unfold dad says
Heaven where nice people go brother says
No food in the cabinet
No warm water
Mom is working hard not to miss a payment
Heaven where there's kool-aid barbecue chicken, and tacos mom says
Heaven where everyone you loved and lost is waiting for you dad says
Heaven where the streets are made of gold brother says
Bullets shattered my window
Bullets killed my brother
Where the — is heaven?
Heaven where all the bad gets kicked out mom says
Heaven where there is no more fighting dad says
Heaven won't look like this baby girl
I fall and cant get up
Ay it’s yo brother again Heaven is beautiful you ain't got
to worry no more just keep working you
will find your way up here
Wyeth, 8th - Los Angles, CA
The man gently sits himself down before the easel; the stool creaking below him. His all-black funeral garments are itchy, but he doesn’t shed them yet. Instead, he allows for the lingering scent of sadness clinging to the cloth to send his mind into a sort of psychedelia.
All his brain can see through the shades of black and blue is his face, the face of his father, the banker; who now sleeps six feet under the ground, who always used the pretentious spelling of his last name. Augustin de Gas - what a very grand name for only a moderately wealthy man. His father, the banker; how he dreamt for him, his eldest - Augustin had five children, yet none could ever compare to Edgar, the oldest, Edgar, the lawyer - because remember, you must be a lawyer, Edgar - Edgar, the boy who made a room in their house into an artist’s studio, the boy who changed his last name to the less pretentious spelling, the boy whose father wanted him to go to law school, the boy who did.
That boy, no longer a boy, is the one who rests on the stool; staring at a blank canvas. He has finished law school - Faculty of Law of the University of Paris, how very grand and pretentious; his father had loved it - and traveled the globe; copying the masters of the Renaissance. Art has always been a hobby - nobody will ever like anything you make, boy - nobody will ever like anything he makes, but now, with his younger brother spiraling into business debt, now, with the family name - De Gas, how very grand and pretentious for a lower upper class family - on the line, now he must sell his house, now he must sell his work, now people must like his work, now they must like his soul etched into paper, now they must like him. Now, in order to preserve his father’s dignity, Edgar - the boy with a man’s face, the man with a boy’s eyes - must do the very thing his father hated.
Paint, boy, he can hear his father whispering from the grave.
And he, the boy who always does what his father asks, paints.
Small, frenzied strokes born out of the blackness of his funeral clothes. Pale pink pastels spilling across the page. Tints pulling a sense of movement - no, not pulling, exploding kinesthesia outward. Little girls in tutus performing for their dance master who leans on a long cane, staring indifferently. One girl, a center girl, twirls and twirls and twirls; around and around and around - the master does not care. But does she?
And he paints.
And he paints.
And, for the first time in a long time, he smiles.
Humanity's Futile Search
Bortybo, 11th - Oakland, CA
In Samuel Beckett’s award winning play, “Waiting for Godot”, the audience follows the mind boggling dialogue between Estragon and Vladimir as they endlessly wait for someone, or something, labeled: Godot. They cross paths with the equally strange Pozzo and Lucky, who, like Estragon and Vladimir, also seem to not know what they are doing. The indirect use of language leaves room for much interpretation and forces the reader to conclude their own meaning of what the play is trying to get at. The perplexing story and eccentric behavior expressed by the characters in “Waiting for Godot” symbolizes and mocks humanity’s search for purpose and overall way we choose to live our lives as a society.
The endless cycle of waiting shown by the characters represents the futile attempt to find meaning in life. Pozzo, Lucky, Estragon, and Vladimir all wait for their purpose, whatever it may be, and they wait without questioning what they are waiting for or why. Pozzo, expressing his fear of futility, laments, “but is it enough, that’s what tortures me, is it enough?” (Beckett 30). Pozzo is overwhelmed by the fact that no matter what he decides to do in life, in the end his actions may all be pointless. Meaning in life cannot be achieved by simply waiting for it to find you, you must go out and experience life and search for purpose itself.
Pozzo anxiously ruminates with Estragon and Vladimir on how time will inexorably pass, marked by the light of day slowly losing its hues until it comes to rest in darkness. He exclaims, “but behind this veil of gentleness and peace night is charging and will burst upon us pop! Like that! Just when we least expect it” (Beckett 29). Pozzo expresses his anxiety surrounding the fact that we have no control over the passage of time and what is to come as a result. The path of accepting indeterminism over fatalism will predict people's attitudes towards the future and what it has in store for them, that being good or bad. Pozzo invokes the idea that it doesn't matter when something is to happen, because eventually, with time, it will happen. He aims them to the point that they might as well live in the present and disregard all anxiety directed toward the when of life and to break their redundant performance of doing the same thing looking for different results.
Vladimir analyzes society’s perpetual bond with habit, showing how habit can interfere with one’s ability to achieve a meaningful existence. Vladimir comes to the realization that he’s been living his life in a cycle devoid of meaning. He laments on this fact saying, “we have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener” (Beckett 81). Vladimir has become the stereotype of people. He lives a life situated around a single goal of waiting for purpose and repeats the same tedious process to achieve it, which he now knows will never help him. By living this life composed solely of routine, the only thing that is guaranteed is that he will grow old and die. Unfortunately for Vladimir, he knows far too well at this point that in the end, his life of meaningless perpetual habit will result in a meaningless end. He comes to this conclusion while thinking aloud to himself and asking, “when I wake or think I do, what shall I say of today? [...] I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Probably. But in all that what truth will there be? He’ll know nothing” (Beckett 81). The reflection of one’s existence being forged in habit will conclude to having learned nothing. Vladimir bears uncertainty about everything in his life due to the fact that the truth of his existence rests upon him living in a endless routine that leaves him in a stand still lacking progression.
The basis of the play “Waiting for Godot” ridicules the way humans try to find meaning in their existence and how society forces people to obtain purpose through routine. One way this is represented is through the perpetual waiting the characters undergo by waiting for godot. Vladimir shows the audience that humanity’s bond with habit can take away from finding true meaning in life. The relation to real life and society found in “Waiting for Godot” is used to show what an awful template for life society and its constructs have left people with. Making it harder to find meaning in day to day lives, making it more difficult to connect with the world around us and leaving us with an empty soul.
Drowning in Reality
Daisy A, 11th - Oakland, CA
In my deep dreadful slumber, I dreamt
Of new beginnings and different endings
Brighter days and darker nights
Warmer winters and cooler summers
But the polar bears still drowned
As they abandoned the abysmal air, I inhaled the burnt oxygen
As they swam, I waited for the elevator to reach the 40th floor
They fought to reach the top but I fought to stay on the bottom
I never realized how important it is to fearlessly float
In the end we both saw green
When I was awakened by the assailants
I lifelessly ran without fear or fraudulence
I swiftly fell off the steep bumpy faith glacier
Then I realized I was looking in a cracked mirror, still asleep
Not even the pleading roars could wake me
Never late, always early
Better to be safe than sorry
Better to be sweet than salty
It's better to be alive than dead
But not when the struggle is among the breathing ignorants
Threatening silence rules over the loud noise
But one word can shatter the silence into a million pieces.
Students 6th-12th Grades