Regrets & Attention Deficit

Jan Wozniak 

Forgive me  
for never following instructions 
never coloring between the lines 
& for never finishing my homework on time. 
Forgive me  
for not paying attention 
not sticking to plans 
& for not being more determined.  
Forgive me  
for the lies I told 
the excuses I made 
& for the promises I didn’t keep. 
Forgive me 
for giving up too easily 
always changing my mind 
& for not wanting a more ordinary life. 
Forgive me  
for my hypersensitivity  
my impatience  
& for never thinking things through.  
Forgive me 
& know that I tried 
know that I cared 
& know, that deep down,  
I always wanted to do better.  

Your Son 

Kayaking with Dad

Naomi Winders

My dad loved kayaking. Next to soccer, it was his favorite pastime. He had lived in Alaska before he married my mom and that’s where he picked it up. Being able to cut through the smooth water and glide across its surface was calming. It provided you with the opportunity to see nature you couldn’t usually and to experience a different perspective. My dad would go every weekend if he could, and he tried to. He had a single kayak of his own, and later he got a double kayak that two people could sit in. If you walked into our garage, it was obvious that kayaking was a definite hobby. With the two yellow and orange kayaks stacked on top of each other and a pile of oars and life vests surrounding them, there was no denying it. Dad loved to kayak. 

He hated practically everything else, though. He hated messes. When he would come home from work, if there was anything on the floor, even a single Goldfish cracker, he would yell at me and my two siblings to clean it up. His favorite phrase to use was, “We’re living in a pigsty!” He hated when we would be loud too. When we would shout and play games with each other. We were always told to play outside, which we were happy to do. He hated us doing anything poorly. If wanted to do a hobby, or do well in school, or anything that took skill, we would have to be the very best. If we weren’t top of class, Dad wouldn’t be impressed. At home, you never really could gauge how he would react or how he actually felt about something, he just always seemed angry and disappointed.  

He hated mom too, or at least acted like he did. He would always tease her or just insult her, out right. One time I even remember, he pushed her into the bathroom to yell at her. That was scary. To be honest, I don’t know if he even liked us. He hated children; he had already had four before us from two previous marriages. I’ve never really felt that he actually liked me. 

Dad got the second kayak so he could bring his kids along, and we were always happy to join him. We liked getting to spend any time we could with dad. To be specific, we liked spending blissful, quiet time with him. He probably only brought us along because he knew it was a way to get us to be quiet. We spent most of our kayaking trips focusing on our paddles and watching how they would cut through the water.  

Kayaking with him would always make us feel so mature. My brother and sister, both older than me, would have their own kayaks. I would usually be in the double with dad, following his commands of which side of the boat to stick the oar into the water on. I didn’t mind not being completely trusted to be out on my own. Being in the same boat with dad was almost more exciting, because it was just the two of us, steering our own ship.  

Mom never came kayaking with us, but that was okay. We spent more time with her anyways. She was the one who would always play with us and make us lunch and help us with school. Dad would always stay in his office. It was located in the room closest to the front door. When he was home, he would still be the closest to not there as he could be. We couldn’t ever go in that room. I don’t even remember what it looked like. All I know is that his old, wooden writing desk was in there, and we were not allowed to touch it. Even when I was older, and he hadn’t used or touched it in years, I was unable to pull open its drawers. 

On one weekend kayak trip with dad, we had to navigate through a swampy part of a river, filled with branches and plants blocking our way. Dad gave me specific and strict instructions in order to help him guide us out of there. I listened to them carefully and followed his orders with precision. At the end of the day, he told me how good of a job I did. “I would kayak with you anytime.” His complimenting words still stick with me today. I felt honored and special and loved.  

Looking back, I think those words meant so much to me because it was some of the only genuine and loving words I received from my dad, from what I can remember. Most of the time, when he would complement me, it would be something about my good grades or backhanded compliment. “I would kayak with you any time.” Hearing him say this meant it came directly from him, and I think that’s why I loved it so much. I never really picked up on what he actually thought about me. I still don’t think I have. But hearing that my dad liked spending time with me and wanted to spend more? Now that feeling felt good. 

I loved kayaking with my dad. It was quiet and nice and one of the only times dad wouldn’t be upset with us or mom. He taught us how to use the paddle correctly and what to do if we were to fall in. It was an activity I looked forward to every weekend. 

When we moved to Alaska in 2007, we ended up selling the kayaks. It was Dad’s decision. He had to work a lot. I barely even remember him being around. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t remember him being there in Alaska at all. But me and my siblings were older, and we had school and extracurriculars to focus on. We went kayaking less. 

While we were in Alaska, there was one day we decided to rent kayaks and explore these three connecting lakes just a couple miles from us. Mom came along that trip, but she never really had before. I was in a double with my dad, despite being older. I insisted because he’d said he’d kayak with me anytime. At the second lake, my mom ended up falling in and she lost her glasses. We had the kayak rental company come pick her up while we finished touring the last lake. Dad was annoyed. Mom was cold. We didn’t really go kayaking after that. 

At some point, my dad completely left. It was before my parents were officially divorced in 2012. He left in waves. He began to be there so little that when he was completely gone, it was hard to notice a difference.  There was, however, a moment that I remember knowing he was fully gone. 

I had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV with all the lights on. Normally when this happened, my dad would come home, turn off the TV and lights, and I’d wake up knowing that he came home and made sure things were taken care of. This time, I woke up on the couch in the very early morning – still dark outside. The TV was playing Disney Channel reruns and all the lights were still shedding light onto the emptiness. Dad hadn’t come home.  

I clicked the TV with the remote, turned off the lights, and went back to sleep in my bed upstairs. That night I felt the weight of loneliness in my blanket and the next day I slept until two in the afternoon. 

The last time I ever went kayaking with my dad was on a trip to Whittier, Alaska. We had driven down to explore the city and see the Prince William Sound. There we rented kayaks for me, Dad, and my siblings. Mom stayed in a hotel lobby and read a book she brought. This time, I was in a kayak alone.  

It was absolutely beautiful being surrounded by mountains, still snowy at the tops. I was scared that an orca whale would appear and tip my kayak over, but none did. Since I was on my own this time, it was up to me to guide myself. Dad wasn’t there to give me directions on what to do. At some point, I had gotten tired and I wanted to turn back, to go and read with mom in the hotel lobby. I still remember the piece of wisdom that my Dad gave me. “A man was once running a marathon and he got tired at the halfway mark. He decided he couldn’t complete it and ran all the back to the start.” Kayaking the rest of the route, the memory I have is just me in a kayak alone with the mountains surrounding me. I don’t remember Dad being there for the rest, even though he was. I just don’t have any other memories of him on that trip. He went far ahead of us, and my siblings went further ahead of me. I was on my own, navigating my way back, and I was able to find my own comfort in it.  

I still have a love for kayaking, but I haven’t been since. 

I miss you

Leighann Summers 

Do you ever look back and wonder what happened? 
I do. 
I miss you. 

I miss the way you laughed. 
I miss the way you grinned. 
I miss the way you always got so excited when you winned. 
All that’s over now. 

I have to face it, you have changed. 
Not even your smile has remained the same. 
I get sad looking back at what we used to have. 
All that excitement and joy that got taken away by a careless boy. 

Do you ever try to pinpoint the day? 
I do. 
I miss you. 

I remember the crisp breeze. 
I remember the vanilla ice cream 
I remember the autumn leaves blown two and fro in the streets. 
All those fleeting moments, gone forever. 

I have to move forward, you are gone. 
Sometimes, I cannot even remember your name. 
I suffer from a fading memory, one where you and I were once the same. 

Sometimes, I look back and think about what happened. 
That dreadful accident. 
It took away my mobility, and half my brain, but 
It did not take away my pain. 

Do you ever look back and wonder what happened? 
I do. 
I miss you. 

Swollen Smile

Tayla Vannelli

I tried to eat a cookie that day 
Do you remember that? 
They were peanut butter 
Mediocre ones from the store 
It was the first solid food I had eaten 
Since my wisdom teeth had been yanked 

You had only just met me 
I said, “Hi person I don’t know” 
As you walked through the door 
You seemed startled that I’d address you 
I didn’t know that I was interrupting 
Your own ideas on how to say hello 

You found an open seat next to mine 
I pretended to be too busy to notice 
I was catching up with Marcy, you see 
To be honest, I was well aware 
But to keep my heart from fluttering 
I fixed my eyes on my friend 

Remember that cookie I tried to eat? 
Well, I broke it piece by piece 
The crumbs were falling 
My swollen cheeks forgot how to chew  
You had no idea I’d had surgery 
I guess you thought I ate like that normally 

You asked me questions about my plans 
I had to tell you I was leaving soon 
I’m always going somewhere 
I kept my heart in check 
Because the last thing I wanted was 
Another person who didn’t like my goodbyes 

I thought there was every reason for you to  
Forget me the moment you left the room 
I was leaving for Georgia and  
I couldn’t even eat a cookie 
Guess you liked my swollen smile 
Since you pursued me the next day 


Tayla Vannelli

She flits and she zooms 
Her energy is sustained 
Lifting the petals of others 

What if she stops? 

Imaginations of death 
Force her tiny body onward 
Without her, the flowers 

Suffer and wilt alone 

When she slows long enough 
To sleep at last  
Hibernation overtakes 

Is it worth it? 

Her paralyzed wings 
Cause ripples across the water 
Earth would tremble 

Surely, it wouldn’t survive 

Pausing in place 
Even in stillness, her wings 
Travel faster than the eye can see 

Relaxation is exhausting 

80 flaps per second  
As she hovers at the window 
Sacrificing flowers for easy nectar 

Replenishing is selfish 

Little girl touches the glass 
Lashes fluttering like wings  
Tilting her head in curiosity 

Why does the birdie fly so fast? 

Sweet bird falls to the ground  
Humming replaced with silence 
Little girl cries in confusion 

Why wouldn’t the birdie just rest?  

Pet Store Fish

Leighann Summers 

Days go by in a blur 
No two different from the last 
Everything remains the same as I swim past 

Why keep me sir? 
Surely the awe will fade 
Afterall, I am manmade… 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 
To some I am seen as a catch. 
To others I am as pretty as an itchy rash. 

Fins glide through the water. 
Blues and greens flutter and flash. 
Every “breath” feels like my last. 

How long will I live? 
My stomach longs for more than shrimp. 
I have not eaten since you went on Vacay. 

Fins rot in the tank. 
Glass clouds and water stinks. 
Oh how I wish I could go down the sink. 

Light fades. 
Bags are set down and dust is disturbed. 
You look for me, but bone is found. 

Was I not good enough to be returned to the ground? 
No, water was my intended home. 
You flush my remains and I am replaced. 

Is that all I was? 
An insignificant tank dweller? 
I suppose that is the life of a pet store fish. 


Leighann Summers

Still, cool, droplets creep down dark veins-
Falling far along the deep crevices dawning every day.
Pooling into soft ponds polluted with bright fluorescent algae.
Gills pulse through miraculously oxygenated currents.
Flowing red fish migrate through the wondrous white waters every year.
Growing their numbers in hopes offspring survive them.
Pills, beating with the heart of an unhatched fry are abundant-
Floating mindlessly in the riveting ripples.
Soaring above the waves, curious creatures prepare for their next meal.
All attributed to the pioneers of it all.
The rigid autotrophs responsible for energy availability.
The grass, the trees, the leaves of this world-
All made up of one color.


Griffin Smith 

Distant classrooms  
and long passwords 
reside inside the tide  
of my mind.  

Thoughts on Saturn,  
Heads on backward. 
Thinking of patterns. 
Is it dead? 

Drive for success 
while I’m depressed. 
I must confess, 
I miss the dread. 

I miss the long lectures  
and wild conjectures  
about science and checkers.  
Now I feel sadness instead.  

I won’t let it die.  
That raging fire inside.  
A burning desire  
to be something else.  

They question my intellect  
and slight my return 
to the fiery pit of knowledge, 
where I know I belong.  

In memoriam 
to the ones who doubted me. 

A Study in Crimson

Griffin Smith

Pages burning
and ears yearning
for a new purpose
til the day ends. 

Ages turning
and hearts churning.
Is it all worth it?
I hope it is.

Determine the worth of a mind
by a mere spectacle; I’m sinking.
Wondering why people hate me
for my dialectical free thinking. 

No matter how many hard fights,
card swipes, star sights, or sharp spikes,
You’ll still confuse wrongs from rights.
Equip yourself to ascend the heights. 

Accepting your defeat is quite bizarre.
Evaluating the masses like a binary star.
Taking the hard classes won’t get you far,
but hard times make for a good memoir. 

October night sky with a glass of rye.
It’s a scary day when your pride 
attempts a double homicide. 
That empty feeling will leave you compromised. 

Love and self hatred,
a life of balance and anguish.


Emalyn Sharp

There’s laundry in the dryer,
A wine glass in the sink.
Dirt is caked to the floor,
The computer screensaver blinks.

The dishwasher is half full,
A towel hangs on the bathroom door. 
A pretzel jar sits by the desk, 
Waiting for you to take some more. 

There’s a razor on the bathroom counter,
A get-well card fixed to the wall. 
Jacket tossed over the arm of a chair,
Your phone lights up: another missed call. 

Events still marked on your calendar
Appointments you can no longer keep.
The days that were all crossed off,
Stopped sometime last week. 

It’s all just how you left it,
But now there’s silence in the air. 
The life’s been drained out,
It feels so wrong without you there.

Frozen in waiting, the place will never change. 
The hospital records cannot be erased.
It’s now just a house — no longer a home,
and the laundry in the dryer will forever sit alone.