“She Probably Cheated” by Mariah Jordan

She probably cheated,” he whispered under his breath, but I heard it loud and clear. The snickers of my classmates told me they heard it too. I was the lone student to receive an A on a middle school math test. My teacher directed me to help students with corrections. But because of three little words, I deemed myself incompetent.

I no longer looked forward to attending math class. The insensitive comment made me feel inept and that I didn’t belong. In fear of more ridicule, I no longer answered questions or interacted with my peers. I kept to myself, focusing only on my studies. But years passed and I continued to be a successful student, gaining confidence with every triumph.

My insecurities were unleashed when I sat by him during Advanced Placement Chemistry. I had grown into having an innate desire to do well, but now, I had something to prove. Until one day, I saw him blatantly look at someone else’s test.  I allowed someone else, cheater or not, to dictate what I believed myself capable. I allowed an unwarranted, negative opinion influence what I thought of myself. I’ve learned that how I perceive myself is the only thing that controls my future. I must look to the image of what I believe I can be to shape who I will become. My world is defined on my terms. The only person who determines my beauty, my image, and my success is me, and only me.

Adapted Semanteme Submission By Lily Roth

My mother has a texting language all her own.

Between abbreviations of abbreviations and sometimes entire sentences crafted out of punctuation,

It has taken me awhile to master… the letter “Y” actually means “yes,” … which can sometimes get confusing

The term “lot of veg” means; eat your vegetables! Make good choices!

And “THONGS. ARE. TERRIBLE… CLEAN!!!!!!” with 6 exclamations, translates roughly to: I hope to GOD you’re not with a boy right now but if you are, please be careful!


… And when she writes “XO”   – this is how she says… I love you.


… She doesn’t say it out loud


My mother has a texting language all her own, and when she asks, “U fine?” – This means that somewhere, very recently,


there was another bullet stop ending

There was another trigger parade,

Another ring of cases, day on fire, I went up to these blurry eyed notifications

These 5 letters coming into focus to let me know that somewhere

Very recently

People are gone.


The text tone vibration is as loud as the gunshot

Her hands on a keyboard, as theirs slip off the trigger


Very recently…


Virginia tech  — a campus  U fine?

Seattle  — the racer cafe      U fine?

Sandy Hook  — a classroom  U fine?

Chardon —   a high school     U fine?

Orlando  — a nightclub          U fine?

San Bernardino  — an elementary school,   U fine?

Parkland Florida — 17 gone,      U fine?

Marysville, Pilchuck, Backyard, next door, horror story,


I am counting on my hands but running out of fingers to type back to her that YES,

I am fine,

But the message can’t travel faster than the thought through her mind,

her mind

that it could’ve been me.

It could’ve been,



A handgun hides in a pocket as easily as a cell phone and

It costs the same amount of money to open a Verizon phone plan as it does to obtain a carry permit, Mama,


I know you speak simply because often you are left speechless.

As the smoke from the barrel paints another goodbye sky

And more people deleted like it’s a simple thing

… Like a text message


And you’re left with only your hands

Waiting for a light up screen to tell you your children are fine and I want to tell you that

I, am, fine

I am fine.

And even though

I know

I’ll only get that single XO in reply

I want to text you

I want to TELL YOU …

… I love you.

Let’s Build a Fort by Isabela Carroll

Let’s Build a Fort

and we can sail away with these light white sheets to guide us.

I’ll man the helm if you make sure no darkness peaks into our small little sail boat.

Let me lay with these twinkling lights as our stars and the infinite waves of your chest rising and subsiding.  You promise you’ll whisper so we are hidden from the roaring rain around us.

Everything slows down in here and I can gaze at your face a bit longer, count the dots that cover each cheek and the small hairs between your brows and how your nose curves ever slightly more to the left. Your eyelashes swoop daintily over your closed eyes, peacefully oblivious.

I wonder what you’re dreaming about that makes the corner of your lips turn so slightly up?

Each rising breath reasons my worries away until my ears only hear the sound of a heart beat singing my eyes to sleep.

When I open them again you are looking at me, the curve of my eyelids, the lines along my forehead, the way my nose scrunches up revealing a single left dimple when I notice you.

We lay with the twinkling stars and the rising waves on this small little sail boat

Both knowing if we could, we would stay in this fortress forever.

who am I in space? by Jocelyn Ting

who am I in space?
am I the astronaut?
the technician?
what is my role?
I am in a play for the first time and I am getting tired of myself so quickly
of one mood
I tell myself to explore every emotion I have felt.
I admire my boyfriend because he is the master of acceptance
he knows that we are not so varied
we are not a 3 minute piece of music
we do not need Rises and Falls
sometimes days, weeks can be a monotone.
we are not spectacle actors
this is not a play
since 7th grade I have not been single a single year
in space
cold, lonely floating
beholden to no one
held by no one
Today in blocking I was uncomfortable in my space
I wanted my director to give me every block
play with fork
slam fork
stage left
sit on the table
but she did not
instead, I flailed
walking, “I should be doing something right now”, turning back, sitting, sitting is comfortable, standing standing
standing is not
they are both stillness
but standing, the potential tells me “I should be doing something right now”
sitting the inertia tells me what to do
I am a creature of momentum, inertia
I follow the laws.
The beginning of every spacewalk I lose my orientation
the ground no longer has to be down
I think to myself- “What should I do now?”
I like to paint the sky
or watch the sky paint itself.
This is an easy choice the sky is beautiful
and I have watched many movies where the characters spend hours
staring out the window
there is sonorous music so it must be valuable.
I see a painting in my room and wonder if it is crooked
so I can wonder if I should straighten it
because it is something I have seen people do with their time
I wonder if they know something about balance that I do not
if their paintings don’t slip right back down

Warm Place & Old Folks by Marg Bart


I had another moment of humanity present itself recently. I think the retirement home lends itself well to exhibiting humanness. She is old and frail ; probably only 5’2 and she has tubes in her nostrils.

She smiles when I smile,

and she tells me when shes ready to walk in the garden.

We sat on a bench together and she told me with a smile that she feels a bit sad today. Its the 3rd anniversary of her husbands death. She told me people are too scared to talk with her about him, but she wants to remember, she told me; being sad is good sometimes.

I wondered if David would want her to be sad on the anniversary of his death, and she told me, “he would want me to be sad, if the roles were reversed, I’d be angry to look down on him happy.”

I asked her what she missed most about him.

Every day before bed, she brushed her hair in the bathroom as David laid on the left side of the bed. She braided her hair, and she washed her face. In bare feet, and nightgown, every night she would emerge from the bathroom as David moved to the right side of the same mattress she still has. She slid under covers to that place on the bed that he had made warm for her. She fell asleep on that warm place, in that warm place, every night for 58 years. A simple nighttime routine through 5 children and 4 cities and 3 mattresses.

She doesn’t braid her hair anymore, and she says that she misses that warm place the most.

White Coats by Mariah Jordan

As a little girl, I believed love and compassion could cure illnesses. I healed Cat’s fractured leg with a band-aid. I treated Domo’s broken arm with a hug. I cured Bella’s aching heart with a kiss. Cat, Domo, and Bella are stuffed animals. But in my infantile eyes, they were my patients.
Appointments with my grandma’s doctor’s filled my early summers. I sat in waiting rooms reading medical pamphlets and idolizing the doctors in their white coats. They symbolized wellness, trust, and everything I hoped to be. However, my grandmother had a different idea about the profession and believed she was being provided subpar medical care. Her frequent criticisms forced me to question her trust in science, and accordingly her sanity. My participation in three medical programs at the Cleveland Clinic (Charles R. Drew Academy and Junior Ambassador Program) and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (Scientific Enrichment Opportunity Program) exposed that her seemingly unreasonable opinions were more than just delusions.

The Charles R. Drew Academy focused on the intersection of race and medicine. After studying the story of Henrietta Lacks and the Tuskegee Experiments, I concluded that my grandmother’s criticisms developed from her awareness of the historical medical mistreatment of African-Americans by white doctors, who failed to sufficiently solve health disparities and demonstrate loving and caring sentiments for black patients. Additionally, as a student volunteer in the Junior Ambassador Program, I cared for patients and completed clerical work for employees, solidifying my understanding of the importance of encompassing empathy in the medical field.

For two summers, I independently conducted biomedical research at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine to gain familiarity with research practices and molecular interactions within a cell. In my research project entitled “The Role of Epha6 in African-American Colon Cancers”, I learned there is a genetic predisposition to disease. Previous studies in my lab identified Epha6 as a gene significantly mutated only in African-American colorectal cancers (CRC), suggesting Epha6 plays an important role in the advancement of African-American CRC. My research project identified whether CRC associated mutations in Epha6 impact its endogenous phosphorylation, altering the downstream signaling cascade and promoting tumor development. The data shows the prevalence of higher mortality rates of colorectal cancer and diverse cancer types in African-American populations, suggesting molecular differences between the tumor landscapes of African-American and Caucasian cancer types. By understanding these genomic differences, through research, we can develop more comprehensive treatments to reduce the disproportionally large cancer mortality rates in black communities.

The unsatisfactory level of cultural competence, ethnic sensitivity, and biomedical research to understand the landscape of African-American health cultivated my dedication to serve my community as a medical doctor and researcher. I desire to eliminate health disparities by compassionately assisting families and demonstrating that there are culturally competent and ethnically sensitive doctors available to provide help.

In Advocacy of Bullet Journals by Caitlin Cullina

I see a nice journal and I just have to have it. I might have ten ones at home filled with blank pages, but I can’t resist the urge to crack the spine open on a new set of pages. I’m partial to a nice moleskin but I’ve also recently fallen in love with a type called a bullet journal, from the brand Leuchtturm1917.

I do more bullet-journaling than chronicling these days, but I find them both quite therapeutic. A bullet journal is basically a do-it-yourself planner that was created by Ryder Carroll (Click this link for more info on bullet journals ). You can create different pages to keep yourself organized in your scheduling and getting things done. As the illustration to the left suggests, it’s somewhere in the middle of a diary a planner and to-do list. In one of the original versions, there is an index and then a yearly spread to start off. The hierarchy sort of branches out from there with more and more specific pages called monthly and weekly spreads. You can also personalize different markings like a check for something that’s finished or an arrow as a reminder that a task was migrated to a later date. I heard about it a few years ago and was immediately obsessed. I LIVE for organisation and stationary. The ability to personalize made the idea very appealing.

I use my bujo (a cute little abbreviation) as a planner for school and it helps me stay sane when I’ve got so much to do. I have two pages that cover each month at a glance, followed by two pages for each week in that month separated by day. Then under every day I have a line for each subject in the order that I have my classes. I make mine very minimalist because I’m not super artsy, but that is the benefit of having a system you can make your own. There are so many ways to mix them up. You can have mood and spending trackers, monthly and weekly spreads, really anything you want. I’ve spent hours tumbling down the youtube rabbit hole that is bullet journal planning. So many people make videos showing how they set up each month; there is a never ending-stream of inspiration. People even use fancy calligraphy and washi tape to style the pages. I don’t usually go that far. I might use a fancy pen or highlighter to spruce it up, but I stick to what I know. But I particularly like when I have extra pages in between months so that I can add a nice quote or make a quick doodle just to separate out all the chaos.

I advise making a bullet journal if you feel like you need to get organized, or even if you’re just looking for something new. It has helped me revolutionize my checklists and school work tracking.

My Cocoon by Madi Hart

As a little girl, we never had a nice backyard. Between two garages, it was an 8-foot by 10-foot space with pebbles and mud instead of grass and sat unused for many years. Every once in a while, I’d beg my parents for a playset or a firepit or a trampoline. My begging was for naught.

We moved out and moved back in, and when I had more autonomy, I bought a hammock on Amazon. It came on an overcast day last summer, but the forecast wasn’t going to stop me from using the outdoor space I had always wanted to. I hauled it onto the muddy pebbles and set it up by myself, bolt by bolt. The sky blue and lime green stripes looked inviting, and a breeze began to blow. I climbed in. The backyard that was once so uninviting became my haven. I called the hammock my cocoon, and my parents began to call it that as well. Every afternoon when the sun was in the right spot, I’d pour myself a glass of iced chai, lay in my cocoon, and read.

When the leaves began to turn, we took the hammock down. “See you when the sun comes out in a few months,” I said, as I put it in its bag. As crazy as it sounds, I have a soft spot for Cleveland winters, so I was excited enough about the coming months that losing my cocoon wasn’t too heartbreaking. When the sun came out the other day (for the first time in what felt like years), I yearned for an afternoon in my cocoon. I yearned to swing gently in the warm breeze with a glass of iced chai in my right hand and a book in my left. Maybe I’ll finally get to set it up this month.