2020 National Flash Fiction Day Youth Competition

Guest judge: Hannah Daniell is the winner of the 2019 National Flash Fiction Day Youth Competition, and an active member of the Christchurch writing community.


1st place:

Exhaust – Minha Choi (age 17; Daejeon, South Korea)

2nd place:

Fish Hook Scars – Derrin Smith (age 16; Rangiora, New Zealand)

3rd place:

The Ballad of Light – Natalie Wang (age 17; Texas, United States)
Dragon Rider – Denika Mead (age 16; Lower Hutt, New Zealand)

Highly commended:

Do you remember? – Phoebe Robertson (age 18; Wellington, New Zealand)
These are my leaves – Samuel Turner-O’Keeffe (age 18; Auckland, New Zealand)


The Beans – Cadence Chung (age 16; Wellington, New Zealand)
On One Particular MRT Ride – Thee Sim Ling (age 13; Singapore)
Sugar High – Amanda Kay (age 15; California, United States)

Short list:

The Crazy Chemist – Izzy Harrison (age 09; Auckland, New Zealand)
Fairy Lights – Sophia Zhang (age 14; Chicago, United States)
Grey – Jorja Coyote Rosser (age 17; New Plymouth, New Zealand)
Islands – Eva de Jong (age 18; Wellington, New Zealand)
Narcissus – Stella Li (age 16; New Jersey, United States)
Puppeteer Awash in Salt – Penelope Duran (age 17; Frankfurt, Germany)
The Taniwha – Lucy Kennedy (age 12; Auckland, New Zealand)
Tea for Two – Hannah Wilson (age 16; Wellington, New Zealand)
Trek – Yejin Suh (age 17; New Jersey, United States)

NFFD awards night

Youth discussion panel

NFFD YouTube channel

Exhaust – Minha Choi

I am exhausted from this race. Each lap spews out oil and I gulp it down in gallons, afraid my mother might get a whiff. This course is one of deception—smiles that fracture into filial ruins, crimson paint staining the ground. In her broken tongue, Mom says, “Ddal*, make your bloodline proud.” And it’s always with the undertones of “marry a citizen”, like some tragicomedic fantasy we share as Asian immigrant women.
I’m a broken yellow daughter, for in my dreams, I picnic with girls.
In this race, I’m illegal. An alien. We don’t talk of invisible demons or loving girls in this household, of the visceral fear of being chased by time.
My heart tears, sinewy like the doe my father skidded over on our Busan trip, back when I could breathe my native acrimonious oxygen. In this soil, defects are eradicated with machinery. It’s embedded with ghosts—girls, and that doe in the mirror.
Heartburn, heartache, how I wish collision would occur.
I don’t deserve the airbag. I close my eyes—and slam the entire weight of my leaden bones down on the brakes. The doe is alive, not bursting apart, no scathing dust tearing its lashes. I’m done, the race has stopped, I vomit out ten years’ worth of shuddering gasoline—
Umma, I don’t want to become a white man’s porcelain accessory, and the closest I’ve felt to heaven is with a girl.
But even in this dream, I keep my tail lights on. I imagine my light-waste tainting the starglow of my lineage, my siren-sobs polluting my mother’s hymns.
And I decide they are my roars: sputtering, defying the holy sun with 13-volt light of my own, and maybe a faint wish that she will look for me when my engine fails.
*(Korean, “daughter” or “girl”)

Minha Choi is a 17-year-old writer from Daejeon, South Korea. She lived in Austin and San Diego for the majority of her childhood, and she is currently attending an international school, working as the editor-in-chief of Ampersand Magazine and the school newspaper. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Fish Hook Scars – Derrin Smith

There’s seafoam slipping on my cheeks and bubbling from your throat. You’ve had too much of the saltwater. You’re not thinking clearly. We really should go home. But the current is tugging at my waist and longing latches over me like a net.
It’s too early to go home!
I’m not hard to persuade. There’s streetlight dappling on the curb, and with your lightweight laughter, I can’t see a drop of bad intentions. Plus the washed-out city sights have a certain charm. There’s always something we could see again. Pearls, prizes, promises. I just hope we won’t get lost.
The constellations can guide us.
It’s an unnaturally brilliant night on the town and the moon is out in full force trying to tug us to the surface. But you’re right, as usual. The stars can still be made out so I agree to stay to lighten the mood.
Don’t worry so much.
You get a headache from all the light while we drift through downtown. The evening takes back its knife-edge and you’re pulled into a temperamental riptide. Yelling washes over the line in the sand; the roadside coral goes pale. As waves punch down you smell more of smoke than sea spray.
This is all your fault.
We come out of the fight in a place I’ve never seen. In the watery light of some back-alley, your fingers look like fish hooks. Oil is smudged beneath my eyes. Tied around my throat is a line to reel me back in.
I swear I didn’t mean it.
Come morning, when the city is beached on the sand, it rains hard enough to take the colour from my clothes. The hues blur together until they turn bruise-coloured and litter my skin.

Derrin Smith is a 16 year old student at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery who’s currently working towards achieving her lifelong goal of becoming a cryptid.

The Ballad of Light – Natalie Wang

No one understood the towers for what they were. That was what the man said, after all, pacing in front of our porch like he was trying to pry apart our very house.
“You’ve seen the towers,” he asked me, in the rare times he acknowledged my presence.
I bobbed my head up and down frantically like I was starving. I should have gone inside the house long ago. The man never drew close, though; he watched the sunset with me, the auric flushing out into a deep indigo gradient.
“The towers,” he began, and I resigned myself to a night on the porch, “are—have you ever been Far East? To China, Mongolia, Arabia? They have very strange architecture. They mold it out of—” He paused. “Beautiful stone. Ancient stone. You catch it at the right angle and it glitters. The sun beams along it and the place lights up like a lantern.”
“I see,” I answered. If I closed my right eye the sun would look like it was melting on Ms. Kaine’s roof; if I squeezed my left eye shut, the sun would break into golden splinters on the long runs of Mr. Korschafe’s daffodils. And if I closed both eyes, I imagined I could reach out for a world beyond a backwater town weathered by the heat, its roads spiraling out like a tendril of mist. At this time of day the street sloped downwards at a gentle angle, like the plane of the earth had tilted toward the cosmos’ chasms, and we were all inevitable pins and balls rolling to our fate. For now the man and I stood steady, grounded by the buildings around us and the flesh and bone knitting beneath our skin, but one day we would become dust.
Natalie Wang is a seventeen-year-old rising senior currently residing in Texas. Her writing has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Alliance, the New York Times’ Learning Network, and the Iowa Young Writers Studio, as well as several international and teen magazines. In her free time, she enjoys reading through film scripts and catching up on the latest books and webcomics.

Dragon Rider – Denika Mead

My sister laughs and I turn to look at her. I grin, my laughter mingling with hers as adrenaline courses through our veins.
Her face is radiant with joy as the dragon soars up, climbing higher and higher through wisps of cloud. She grabs my waist as the dragon dives, plummeting towards the haze of green marking the ground.
The dragon throws out its wings and we float on the air currents above a carpet of green. Winding blue rivers cut through the forest.
I glance at my sister. Her eyes are as bright as the dragon’s scales. We soar towards the horizon, lined blood red as the sun sets. We glide through the never-ending sky on a creature whose wings glimmer molten golds and sunset reds.
My mum touches my shoulder and I jerk upright on the couch. As I meet her eyes, fresh tears spill over my cheeks.
“It’s time to go.”
I nod. My legs are weak as I follow her to the door. I catch sight of myself in the mirror. Dressed head to toe in black. The only spot of color is the golden dragon brooch on my right shoulder. My sister had loved dragons.
My chest constricts. I run my hand over the brooch’s cold surface and follow my mum out the door for my sister’s final flight.

Denika Mead lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is 16 and has an unrelenting passion for fantasy and dystopian writing. She published her debut novel Royal Orchid, The Death-Hunters, in October 2019 when she was 15. The prequel to Royal Orchid, Into the Flames, was released on April 3rd, 2020. Her third book is in the early editing stages and is due to be released late 2020. Over the past few years, she has won and been a finalist in several youth writing competitions, including being a two-time finalist in the New Zealand Youth Laurate award 2018. Denika was a finalist in the Best New Talent category for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards in 2020. www.denikameadauthor.com

Do You Remember? – Phoebe Robertson

Do you remember being in Year Two? When we would pretend to be animals? Horses galloped across playgrounds that turned to meadows. Sandpits were the home of volcanic eruptions. Wooden structures would become homes, as we played pretend and crafted families of our own conception.
We turned into mothers and fathers. Looking after each other, we would mime the familiarity of life outside the classroom. Baking mudpies and concoctions from every color of the paintbrush. We would return with mud-caked hair and holes in clothing, but youth was enough to patch them, and ease our worries when they eventually opened back up again.
It didn’t take long for the mudpies to go stale, the concoctions to be tipped down the drain. Color running down the sides of volcanoes to fingertips and leaving nothing but black and white trails. The families split as cracks formed in reality and we grew further apart. No longer a collective, now shattered fragments of a once-perfect household.
Searching for the feeling of simpler times, liquor bottles scattered around rooms like the irregular patterns of a wild horse’s coat. We still ran, only it was to escape a reality that hunched shoulders and crushed backs under the weight of expectation. We walked a path to the future, full of brambles that ripped into clothes and made tears far too large to be patched by a mother’s sewing needle.
Connection was lost as the fragments scattered across the country, finding comfort in the contact of strangers. Those days of pretending seemed more like fiction than reality, as families were split and never heard from again. The occasional grain of sand in a bed sheet, mud trapped underneath fingernail, the only reminder of what once was.

Phoebe Robertson is poet studying in Wellington. Her work has previously appeared in Poetry NZ Yearbook, Flash Frontier, and Young NZ Writers. She spends her time loitering at Ivy.

These are my leaves – Samuel Turner-O’Keeffe

We went to the lake for a swim. It was cold. The horizon yawned and stretched its arms out, expecting to find nothing, but instead it plunged into a distant clump of greens and browns and dullness that lurked around the drop. Inside, the water sat and stank in its juices. Flaccid and flat.
The others scrambled to unroll the picnic blanket. Whooping, they dumped their clothes and their towels and their other things, and dashed towards the gloom. Sand kicked out from under their feet. Their fading laughter flashed, leering, cut in freeze-frame.
We took refuge behind a tree.
And it was under those branches, in the wind which blew through our hair and let your longer curls tickle my cheeks, that your eyes sparkled. You smiled. You murmured my name and snuggled closer. Your lips were centimetres from mine. And I nodded vaguely in acknowledgement. Uh-huh. I was watching the volleyball players behind your head, watching that younger one smack the ball hard over the net, watching this older one shrug and reply, watching the kicking sand and the laughter…
Do you remember
how I took your wrist instead of your hand?
I doubt that you even considered the prospect
that taking your hand was what I had planned
taking your hand on the flocculent sand
my face being kissed by your wandering strands…
I would have. I wish I had.
Now I’m scrambling on ice. Here I am, look at me! I’m green and brown and dull. These are my leaves. And those are my arms, stretching out
expecting to find your warmth
hoping to catch your fading, flashing laughter
plunging into nothing at all.
Samuel Turner-O’Keeffe is a university student from Auckland, New Zealand. A big fan of literature, he recently began writing creative pieces and hopes to continue doing so into the foreseeable future.

The Beans – Cadence Chung

The summer had come and gone; it was now winter, and the dry wrath of the sun had morphed into a blind white bitterness that tinged the edges of trees with frost. In their field, the beans trembled on their stalks, tossed by the wind as if leaning towards an elusive lover.
But there was something else, something that waited in the air like a slit-eyed beast. Not the searing summer nor the blinding winter, but something infra-black, a fever of malice. It trampled over the land with black paws, burning the trees and dousing the fields with sweet chemicals of oblivion. What is this creature, the beans wondered, that covers our home with such bitter waste?
This something else, it changed the humans, the hulking giants that routinely ripped their brethren from their homes. They would whisper to each other in hushed tones and hide in deep holes when the beast was nearby. What is this creature, the beans wondered, that frightens the humans so?
Yet the humans still followed it, chasing that charred-black, fiery beast with eyes chemical and hungry. They readied their metallic pods, releasing seeds in a rhythmic spray of death. Red stained the soil.
One day the beast came to the field, dropping fire onto the trees from above. The beast howled, and there the beans saw its trickery that fooled the humans so perfectly. It promises bravery, the beans thought, yet brings only pain. It promises glory, yet destroys everything that is glorious.
As the fiery death decimated the field, the beans hugged one another in their pods and prayed. Blackened with soot and set alight in flaming passion, the beans wondered, why do the humans follow this beast so blindly?

Cadence Chung is a high school student who loves storytelling, especially through poetry. She is inspired by classic literature and finds it fascinating how our past has influenced so many of our current-day attitudes.

On One Particular MRT Ride – Thee Sim Ling

The businesswoman tapped her smartwatch irritably. At the speed this train was crawling along, she would be three minutes—three minutes—late for her meeting! If she couldn’t make it in time, if she couldn’t secure a deal, if she lost the job which was her everlasting pride…it would be over. She needed her job. She wanted her job, not like the man with the cheap watch sitting two seats away. She would do anything—break a bone, sell her home, even risk her life—to succeed.
The entrepreneur glanced at his timepiece, the $5 plastic watch bought at a pasar malam, when he was a carefree child, like the schoolboy sitting opposite him. At the speed this train was zooming along, he would still be three minutes late for his meeting. Ah, whatever. The meeting had better be quick, though. He fished out his wallet, smiling at the miniature photo of his family. He would do anything—break a bone, sell his home, even risk his life—for his family.
The schoolboy checked his phone and groaned. After a long day of tuition, he was dragged to yet another cumbersome family gathering and he could do nothing about it. Like the useless fly outside the window. Why must he be forced to endure hours and hours of tuition—just for one moment in time called the “exams”? Why couldn’t he just have fun? He would do anything—break a bone, sell his phone, even risk his life—to have a little fun for once.
The fly outside the window flapped its wings desperately. It didn’t care about its job. It didn’t care about its family. It didn’t care about having fun. It only wanted to sur—
An insect hit the window.
The insect fell off.
Thee Sim Ling is a thirteen-year-old from Singapore, and this story was inspired by the local Mass Rapid Transport trains in her country. Her work has been published in KidSpirit, Skipping Stones, and The Stone Soup. She is currently addicted to puzzle-solving, website building (lucindathee.com), and finding out how to do mental math fast.

Sugar High – Amanda Kay

On a summer day, I sip ice cream like soup from the carton. The warm liquid rolls down my tongue. The kid beside me is sucking on a lolly, the red tip of it peeking out of his closed lips. I hear laughter from my right side, from my left—they are all so sweet. Artificially sweet, but still.
These are my friends, who revel in saccharine spirits, who dance on burnt marshmallows, the sticky substance leaving residue on their toes. They dance like fairies; they dance as if life was as sweet as candy itself. As if we weren’t broken, torn things. Sinners.
The afternoon sun bakes us into the red dirt, the remnants of the night before untouched. We are the gods and the devils, the angels and demons. Our dreams are all so blurred that I can’t tell one person from another. We are one living, pulsating organism, whose metabolism feeds on sugary sweetness, who pretends like the world around them isn’t all bitter.
Colors flash before my eyes, the world laced in syrupy sugar. I still remember the time so long ago when I spilled cola on your shirt, the brown liquid seeping into your pink shirt, a stain that no detergent could remove. I remember so clearly the effervescent bubbles, rising up and up until all we could dream about were the beginnings of stars in a fairy floss sky, their wings extending ever higher, leaving behind wisps of sugar on the earth below.
Amanda Kay is a writer based in the Bay Area. She is a rising junior at Santa Clara High School. Her work has been published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Second Revolution Magazine, and The Foredge Review, among others. In her free time, she enjoys walking sandy beaches and drinking tea hot enough to burn her throat.

The Crazy Chemist – Izzy Harrison

“Hmmm, based on my calculations, I think we should add some more of this.” Squirt. “Let’s stir that in, just a little of this one, I think. Let’s test it in the Testinator.” Tom felt nervous, he might have found a cure for COVID-19! He stirred it up and poured it into a test tube, then slotted it in the Testinator—whirr, click. “Hmmm, it’s gone green and the machine says it is a cure! I am going to save lots and lots of lives and lockdown will be over!”
“Tom, what is this mess!! All of these leaves on the floor, and my best china cups, and also my blender! What is your dad going to say! Please tidy up and wash your hands!”
Tom’s daydream might have ended, but who knows, he might grow up and actually become a ground-breaking scientist! Go Tom!

Izzy Harrison is nine years old, and lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Fairy Lights – Sophia Zhang

That time, we caught fairies. Sun sinking, pinks and reds dancing across the sky above the rustling grass fields. I was wearing gingham, and she was too—that tiny fairy whizzing around my head in a brilliant buzz. Her wings and eyelashes fluttered prettily as we watched, enraptured. Naturally, I had to keep her. I gently perched her on my shoulder and we returned to the picnic table, where there rested slices of toast. I took the strawberry jam and emptied the entire jar.
The fairy sat on the rim of the jar and dangled her legs in the glass pit, peering down hesitantly. I nudged her in and screwed the lid tight. Her limbs grew limp as we passed by with other fairies in other jars. The messy nest of red yarn lay tangled on her head, drenched with sweat, yet still she glowed true. I brought her in and out of life, each shock of my fingers flaying bone and blood of her soft body, carving chambers into her Tinkerbell heart. The jar lit up, lustrous strawberry-gold light finally freed. When darkness came about, we arranged all the luminous jars around us in the fields. That night, we ate strawberry toast by fairy light.

Sophia Zhang is a rising sophomore at Walter Payton College Prep and is fourteen in age but five at heart. She has been weaving stories and poems in her head since the dawn of time and is absolutely ecstatic to share them with others. Besides writing, Sophia spends her days playing piano, volleyball, or watching her favou0rite TV show on Netflix.

Grey – Jorja Coyote Rosser

The fourth horseman rides fast across the land, carving its path to mark its journey through our world. I’ve heard the gossip, but it’s just a flu, who cares? I lounge lazily in the sun as I half-follow a conversation my friends are having, waiting for the bell to ring. Minutes pass and we fight the steady flow of traffic to homeroom, not bothering to say goodbye, as we will see each other the next day.
The horseman crosses the sea, ravaging our towns, our people. Schools are closed, communities are closed, our world is closed. We are in a war zone. Masks and scarves cover faces, nobody can be trusted. A sideway glance is cast as the neighbour who pets my dog crosses the road to avoid me. The sun shines and the sky is clear, but there is no colour. Life has become grey.
 The horseman has many faces: your best friend, your neighbor, your own mother. He is nobody, he is everybody. This is what we read about in dystopian novels. We fight this modern battle. I sit in my house with my family, grasping at any small purpose I can find. I am waiting for everything to return to normal, for life to resume. Although the walls are only slightly off white, it just feels grey.
The horseman fights, but he cannot break our walls; our mana cannot be broken. We are not fooled by his faces; our united solitude scares him away. Defeated, he surrenders, fleeing across the land. The colour returns to the world. The sky is blue and the grass is greener than I’d noticed. The sun warms my bones and the exciting chirrup continues. My friends and I head to class. We make sure to say goodbye as we disperse.
Jorja Coyote Rosser is seventeen years old and attends Sacred Heart Girls’ College New Plymouth. In her spare time she enjoys baking, listening to music, and playing inline hockey, a sport for which she has represented New Zealand on several occasions.

Islands – Eva de Jong

Over a socially-distanced morning tea break, Max tells Mary he loves her. Mary is looking into her coffee when he confesses: “I love you, Mary.”
Mary pulls her dark hair behind her ear and removes a single AirPod.
“I’m good Max, how are you?”
“What?” he gasps, and then, “I—I’m good.”
Two metres of hollow space separates their tables. It is a government-ordered chasm, a distance that sets everybody apart for their own good. It could have been an ocean.
“Lousy isn’t it?” Mary holds up a limp mask between her fingers. Max thinks again about how she has the most beautiful pale hands he has ever seen.
“Lot of good it’ll do me; I can barely breathe in the bloody thing,” she sighs, and
Max gulps back the last of his coffee.
“It’s hard—it makes it hard, you know, to in some ways…breathe,” he agrees.
Mary looks at him blankly.
“Yeah,” she says, “You alright, mate?”
The curved points of Max’s ears are shiny and red, and he runs his hand over his glistening forehead.
“Yeah. Fine.” He drops his hand into his lap, eyes staying fixed on the wall ahead.
“I think the extra shifts are getting to everyone,” she says gently.
Max can feel her green eyes on him, soft and blinking.
“I better get back to work, Mary,” he whispers hoarsely. Then he leaps up from his seat and yanks his mask back over his mouth.
“Oh. See you soon then, Max!” She calls.
Max turns from his table and walks quickly away. There is a single moment, between turning and walking, when he could reach her table across the two-metre gap.  He could touch the hand that rests there, wrist upturned and the palm glowing white, like light pulsing from a bacteria-ridden angel.

Eva de Jong is eighteen years old, and lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Narcissus – Stella Li

The first time I met you, we were knee-deep in clay. I held you tight that day, maybe too tight. Do you remember? The smell of earth and silt and mirrored love. I wondered if you would ever know what it feels like to hold yourself in your own palms.
It was easy for the first few years. I taught you to ride, your chubby thighs straddling the silken muscle of Pistol, that speckled Appaloosa with a chestnut forelock. You shrieked in delight, you wanted more even after dust coated your lashes and your knees had begun to crumble. I had to repair you that night, wrapping your joints in new mud.
We were alike. Maybe too much so, the way you sneezed at the light and laughed with your head thrown back. You picked fights. Held grudges. You were too easily dented by others’ touch.
The first time we fought, I could see everything I never wanted you to be: cracked, crumbling at my fingers. It was something about a boy; you said the word freedom like it meant something. It was late at night; the fireflies had flickered out and the moths had begun to gather around the porchlight. You missed curfew twice after that, but each time you were gone again before morning, leaving a smattering of dust in Pistol’s stall.
It was an obsession. I couldn’t—wouldn’t—see you differently; there were times when I wanted to smash you to pieces just to know what it felt like. But then I wouldn’t be able to hold myself again; there would be nothing left of my art. This is my burden: you sitting on my loamy shoulders, my fingers caked in slip.

Stella Li is a rising senior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North in New Jersey. An alumna of the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop and an editor of Ephimiliar Journal, she has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Kenyon Review Short Nonfiction Contest, the National Poetry Quarterly, and her mother, among others. When not scribbling angsty poetry out at 1AM, she can be found in her bed, under the covers, dreaming about dipping her feet in the Temple of Dendur water pool.

Puppeteer Awash in Salt – Penelope Duran

The shopping cart bucked in my sweaty palms, seeking to escape as I circled the aisles. Apples. Milk. Paprika. Salt.  Four items and then I could leave this hell.  Ben used to shop for Mom.
Apples. Milk. Paprika. All I needed was salt.  On aisle five, I stood paralysed as memories consumed me: saline crystals coating the kitchen tiles, Mum’s ruthless scolding echoing through the house. Ben defending me, saying my mistake did not call for a scene.  It was only salt.
Ben was right.  There was no need for theatrics.  With clenched fists, I walked to the shelf, where packets of salt stood like sentinels.  My hands burned as I grasped a package and then dropped it to extinguish the invisible fire.  The floor shimmered in a familiar sheet of white.
Like a ragdoll, I collapsed to the floor.  Ben flashed through my mind.  His eyes were empty, his neck twisted like a marionette’s.  An icy hand still clutched the steering wheel.  Ben would not have driven to the store if I had not spilled the salt.
A comforting hand touched my shoulder, and with it were assurances that my error was not grave.  It was only salt.  As I lifted the remains of the package, grains filtered through my fingertips, cleansing the venial sin.
Apples. Milk. Paprika. Salt. Gathered together, I rose, a puppeteer entangled no longer.
Penelope Duran’s educational journey began at Dyer St. Kindy in Lower Hutt, Wellington.  As a child in a U.S. diplomatic family, she has also lived in the Philippines, Egypt, Poland, and Germany.  She is educated in the German school system and has achieved recognition for her poems, short stories, and personal memoirs in English and German.  In addition to creative writing, Penny’s other passion is physics, and she enjoys ballet and ballroom dancing.

The Taniwha – Lucy Kennedy

“Bye, Mum!” I call as I walk out the door of my house. I’m going on a morning walk, to get some fresh air and to get away from the large pile of homework sitting on my desk.
I am at the opening of the nature walkway (it is a new one that I have never tried before) when suddenly from behind a kauri tree jumps a strange-looking man who wears long, brown robes like the trunk of a rough tree fern, and a hat made of ferns with a tui feather tucked into the flax strip that is acting as a hatband. Tangled in his long, white beard are bright red pohutukawa bristles, and his eyes shine like paua shells glistening in the sunlight. He holds a branch wrapped intricately with flax strips, with shells hanging, jangling in the light breeze. At his feet slinks a taniwha, sleek and slippery, with shiny curious eyes slyly gazing up at me.
As I stare at him in awe, he reaches into his robes and hands me a wooden box that smells of wet rain in the bush. He winks at me and stamps down his staff, and in a puff of honey-coloured smoke he is gone. I open the box and inside is a beautifully carved pounamu, cold in the palm of my hand… I put it on and gasp as the slinking, shimmering taniwha, which was hiding behind the kauri, comes to me and sits at my feet. I understand that ancient, powerful magic has brought us together, and that he is mine now, forever and ever.  I must take care of him.
Lucy Kennedy is 12 years old and was born in Auckland, New Zealand.  She loves cats, cups of tea, chocolate lamingtons, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (would recommend), and Tim Burton movies.  Lucy enjoys writing short stories and is currently working on her first novel.

Tea for Two – Hannah Wilson

You look at her and wonder. She’s like a toy adult. Elfin, big eyes made bigger with the help of mascara and liquid eyeliner, lips impossibly red. Red like the roses you gave your wife on her seventieth birthday.
She’s supposed to be a child. A child. You always associated childhood with tree climbing and pigtails and note passing in class. It’s different now, you’ve been told.
You steal another glance. You don’t want her to catch you looking, but you can’t resist. Then you look away, focusing instead on the tea pot, milk jug and cups in front of you. Tea for two. Your gaze flits to the empty chair opposite you.
You can’t bring yourself to drink the tea.
Turning towards her again, you notice the people seated around her for the first time. They’re all angled towards her. She’s a magnet, and not just for you.
Your gaze zeroes in on the slice of cake before her. Obscenely sweet and chocolaty like the ones your wife used to make. You never liked chocolate cake. But somehow it tasted good the way she baked it. Chocolate cake and tea for two.
Maybe you should order some cake. You wouldn’t have to eat it. It could just be for show. Like everything else in this modern world.
What’s she drinking? You allow your gaze to wander beyond the slice of cake. A martini. She raises the glass to those impossibly red lips, and then stops to pick something out before handing it to her mother. The olive.
Shaking your head, you turn back to your own beverage. Tea for two. Well, that’s what it’s supposed to be. But it’s still as lonely as you are.
Hannah Wilson is a 16-year-old high school student living in Wellington, New Zealand. She has loved reading and creative writing her entire life, and hopes to continue writing and also become a psychiatrist when she has finished high school.

Trek – Yejin Suh

“I’ve never been on one where they won’t tell us why we’re here.”
“Me neither.”
“So why do you think we’re here?”
“Well, I’ve been on a lot of these. I’ve made a list of, you know, all the possible reasons.”
“What are they?”
“First, natural resources.”
“We’ve no gear.”
“Bounty hunting.”
“No guns.”
“And looking for new homes.”
“On a planet with no civilization? No way.”
“Then…that’s it. That’s my whole list.”
“Do you think…”
“No, tell me—”
“Do you think we’re in danger?”
“They’d—well, they’d tell us if we were, obviously.”
“How is that obvious?”
“Why would they—”
“Stupid, I know. Nevermind.”
“Do you think we’re in danger?”
“No. All we’ve been doing is walking. And the planet’s nice. Well—it’s nice, but it’s—”
“Quieter… she might hear us.”
“Sorry. The planet’s nice, but it’s kind of…”
“I’ve noticed, too. It’s—well, the obvious thing is the river…”
“There’s no way that’s a river. It looks like—”
“A mudslide? I know. It’s disgusting. There must be some kind of backlog.”
“And the glints.”
“The silver glints, they’re everywhere. In the trees, the ground…”
“Huh. I didn’t even notice.”
“What are they?”
“I don’t know…probably mineral deposits.”
“I heard that some planets do that on purpose. Push out silver everywhere. So from outer space, it just looks like a part of the stars. Camouflage.”
“That’s neat. Like it’s alive.”
“You don’t think—?”
“It could be—”
“Too loud—she’s looking back at us—”
“Sorry, sorry. You don’t think it could be alive?”
“Imagine the river…”
“The river…”
“…full of dead meat, people acidified alive…”
“…the silver glints, little bits of tech that the planet couldn’t digest…”
Yejin Suh is a student from New Jersey whose writing appears in Half Mystic, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Polyphony Lit, among others. She recently founded a speculative fiction publication, Wintermute Lit (www.wintermutelit.online).

NFFD Awards Night

Part 1: Guest readers and musicians
Part 2: Finalist readings (hosted by Renee Liang)

Youth discussion panel: Writing in short forms

See youth discussion panel here

Lucy Kennedy (age 12; Auckland, New Zealand – short-listed in 2020 NFFD youth competition)

Lucy Kennedy is 12 years old and was born in Auckland, New Zealand.  She loves cats, cups of tea, chocolate lamingtons, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (would recommend) and Tim Burton movies.  Lucy enjoys writing short stories and is currently working on her first novel.

Denika Mead (age 16; Wellington, New Zealand – 3rd place in 2020 NFFD youth competition)

Denika lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is 16 and has an unrelenting passion for fantasy and dystopian writing. She published her debut novel Royal OrchidThe Death-Hunters, in October 2019 when she was 15. The prequel to Royal OrchidInto the Flames, was released on April 3rd, 2020. Her third book is in the early editing stages and is due to be released late 2020. Over the past few years, she has won and been a finalist in several youth writing competitions, including being a two-time finalist in the New Zealand Youth Laurate award 2018. Denika was a finalist in the Best New Talent category for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards in 2020. www.denikameadauthor.com

Penelope Duran (age 17; Frankfurt, Germany – short-listed in 2020 NFFD youth competition)

Penelope Duran’s educational journey began at Dyer St. Kindy in Lower Hutt, Wellington.  As a child in a U.S. diplomatic family, she has also lived in the Philippines, Egypt, Poland and Germany.  She is educated in the German school system and has achieved recognition for her poems, short stories and personal memoirs in English and German.  In addition to creative writing, Penny’s other passion is physics, and she enjoys ballet and ballroom dancing.

Freddie Gormack-Smith (age 19; Christchurch, New Zealand)

Freddie Gormack-Smith is a poet and flash fiction writer from Christchurch NZ, currently in his first year of an English degree at the University of Canterbury. Before that he was a student with the School for Young Writers in Christchurch from the age of 11, who successfully converted him to flash fiction and he hasn’t looked back since. His work has regularly appeared in the annual Re-draft anthologies and Write-On Magazine, where he had the privilege to be a featured writer in 2019.

Samantha Jory-Smart (age 19; Christchurch, New Zealand)

Samantha Jory-Smart currently studies at the University of Canterbury and is an established poet. Her poetry has received many awards, including first place in both the New Zealand Poetry Society’s Anthology open junior section 2018 and the We Could Be Heroes Poetry Competition 2017. In 2018, Samantha worked with Ōtākaro Ltd. to curate a poetry mural on Armagh Street. The poems were linked through their multi-faceted approaches to the topic of climate change. Last year, she spoke at the Enviro-Past conference about the intersection between art and climate change. She has also worked with the School for Young Writers throughout high school.

Moderator: Lola Elvy writes music, poetry, and other forms of creative fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing, she is passionate about language, mathematics, and the environment, and speaks English, German, and Swedish. After living and travelling for seventeen years on a sailboat, she is now based in Dunedin, studying Music and Physics at the University of Otago. Her poetry has been featured in Fast FibresOlentangy Review, and The Larger Geometry: poems for peace (anthology, 2018).

NFFD YouTube channel – see authors read their stories

January 2020 Issue / Artwork: Red


[Untitled 01] – Ruby Allan (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand) 
New Zealand Fairy Tern – Ava MacKay (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Whisper of the Wind  – Kimberly Currie (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled 01] – Jana Thea (age 15; Dunedin, New Zealand)
Ice – Alexander Foulds (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Blue Duck / Whio – Tom Nalder (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words – Sophie Yu (age 21; Auckland, New Zealand)
Star Girl – Sylvie King (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Pieta Bayley (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled 02] – Jana Thea (age 15; Dunedin, New Zealand)
Storm at Sea – Natsuki Hastie (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled 02] – Ruby Allan (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Things That Bugged Bob – Eliza Sellier (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
A Silent Cry – Oshadha Perera (age 14; Invercargill, New Zealand)
[Untitled 03] – Jana Thea (age 15; Dunedin, New Zealand)
Naglfar – Pieta Bayley (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Still Life with Violin – Sophie Yu (age 21; Auckland, New Zealand)
Keep Calm and Carry – Charlie Knight (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Yellow-Eyed Penguin / Hoiho – Tom Nalder (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Feature interview: E Wen Wong and P.S. Our Beaches

[Untitled 01] – Ruby Allan

Ruby Allan is twelve years old and lives in Christchurch New Zealand. She has loved drawing and writing for as long as she can remember, and has been published in fingers comma toes and a few other writing companies.

New Zealand Fairy Tern – Ava MacKay

small, white, grey and black
feathers flutter wildly
twisting over the ocean
looking for a fishy prey
feet and beak shine
like newly minted coins
as they dive towards
the shimmering ocean
their ovoid eggs lie waiting
like hidden treasure
in a sandy dip
by the shore
Ava MacKay is eleven years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She enjoys reading many different books for inspiration for her writing. She also loves singing and is learning the piano in her spare time.

The Whisper of the Wind – Kimberly Currie

The whisper of the wind
slowly moves towards me
I glance out at the views
birds floating around me
I walk down the misty street
Raindrops glisten
a streetlight blazes down on my eyes
I fall further and further into the dream
my memories fly by
like a cloud on a windy day
I look up at the sky
the rainbow falling
down to the big pot of gold
at the end

Kimberly Currie is twelve years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled 01] – Jana Thea

Jana Thea is fifteen years old and lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Ice – Alexander Foulds

Cracks in the ice
Deep cuts like a saw
Big ball of white and snow
Feasting on a seal
Cracks grow wider
Joining together
Narrowing the escape of the bear
And the ice plate breaks off like a crumb of a cookie
He’s stuck
This is where he will sadly die
Reduce your fossil fuels and greenhouse gases
Save the bears

Alexander Foulds is ten years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Blue Duck / Whio – Tom Nalder

He calls you with his wheezy whistle
from the mountain river
of the Kepler track.
He begs you to catch
the caddis fly
for his lunch.
He dives into the river
and swims away
then towards you.
“Come and catch me
if you can.”

Tom Nalder is eleven years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. His favourite colour is yellow, and he really likes cheetahs and would like to learn a lot about animals. He would also like to be a scientist.

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu is a fourthyear medical student studying with the University of Auckland. Art has become a visual language that portrays her growth in ideas and experiences to all viewers. With these as her inspirations, she’s been able to create more original works that hopefully inspire others and evoke her viewers’ own interpretations.

Star Girl – Sylvie King

They have always said that no one can hear you scream in space. It is often used as a threat, but I never saw it as a comfort, until I was 10 years old.
Asteroids. Planets. Stars. A world of confusion. A dark, eerie setting. A home.
My tears group into asteroids, frozen ice from the soul. I have no one to hold on to but the comfort of the ever-burning sun. I lie awake at night, upon the surface of Mars, dust storms keeping me warm as I watch the Earth rotate by. Holding up a telescope, I look down to my long-gone home. I see the Commonwealth, the water, the grass. Every year, I turn the lights off. I put a pause on all energy. I make Earth whole again, because here up in space, I have control.
I have been here so long, the stars accept me as one of their own. I rest with them, I glow with them, and I burn with them. My friends are the planets, the exoplanets, the protoplanets. I watched my human friends burn up in the STS missions, Challenger and Columbia, and watched them land on the moon, Lunar in the Apollo missions. Every step humans take leads them closer to me, so I take a step backwards, shielded by the darkness and infinity of space. I climbed here myself after Earth didn’t accept me. Here, space took me in, protected me, taught me.
Some days I look down on Earth with jealousy. I see my brothers and sisters in the Royal Commonwealth, and I wish I was down there with all humanity, although peace no longer reigns. Then, I remember the connection I have up here, the spark of the shooting star that is my heart. I shield myself up here, and I watch, and I wait. And then I wait some more.
In years and years to come, I will be joined to the Commonwealth. I will be lonely no more, my screams and tears comforted by more than just the infinite, dark stretch of space. In years and years to come, I will run out of supplies, run out of the spirit that led me here. In years and years to come, I will return to what I once called my haven. In years and years to come, gravity will pull down on me once more. But for now, I live only with who accepts me. Hydrogen and Helium, the majority of space, accept me.
I place my star-crested crown upon my head, willing gravity to abide. I look through a mirror planet, see my graceful reflection staring at me. The crown rests slightly above my head, and I can see it rotating in my reflection. It spins slightly to the left, and I see the tiny gemstone that is my last piece of Earth. It was a gift to me from the Royal Commonwealth when they funded my solo space exploration. I treasure my last thread of connection to the Royal Commonwealth, my long gone home. I treasure it with my life.
I tether down my telescope to the surface of Mars. The Martian dust is eager to release my telescope from its grasp. I direct my equilateral frame up to Earth, the weight leaning towards Polaris, the Northern Cross. I look down towards Earth, and strength fills my mind. The telescope is so strong I can see the continents and countries. I see England, New Zealand, Africa, the Commonwealth countries, and I glance one more time at the life I used to have.
They say it takes years to call it “home”, but for me, it only took flying to the place I saw through my telescope. I have seen the unseeable, done the undoable. But here I am, in a world created years ago, in a world I recreated to include myself inside it. Here I am, the girl of the stars. Here I am, in space, looking down on humans, looking down on who I once was.
Here I am, in my home.

Sylvie King is thirteen years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Pieta Bayley

we’re building an altar to a broken world, I tell you. we’re pretty sure we can fix it.
but we wish we didn’t have to.
we’re using torchlight on our phones for candles, I tell you. the rage behind our irises
is fiery enough as it is.
we’re standing on its polished bones, digging up its ashes.
someone cremated it with fossil fuels while we were moonfaced and giggling
in a cradle they built for us from the thing that cost the least.

Pieta Bayley is fourteen years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She enjoys stories in all their forms—and, when they hide, will resort to telling them herself.

[Untitled 02] – Jana Thea

Jana Thea is fifteen years old and lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Storm at Sea – Natsuki Hastie

Waves crashing with anger
Sucking up dust
Clouds flying fiercely
The typhoon threatens my waka
My waka drinks the waves to make
Sure I stay warm and dry
I say a karakia hoping the typhoon will stop
A green blur in the distance
It’s land

Natsuki Hastie is 10 years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled 02] – Ruby Allan

Ruby Allan is twelve years old and lives in Christchurch New Zealand. She has loved drawing and writing for as long as she can remember, and has been published in fingers comma toes and a few other writing companies.

Things That Bugged Bob – Eliza Sellier

There were certain things that annoyed Bob. Bob was a worm. He hated how bees got so much attention, like water for the bees, or people saying, ‘Aren’t we lucky to have bees that turn nectar into honey?’ But actually, he had grown the beautiful saffron flowers himself. It made him nearly explode when the gardener put a net over the scrumptious cabbages or the superb snow peas—it looked so ugly. He screamed when the violet flowers were crooked. He hated parsley, it made his eyes water.
He made his decision…he was going on strike!
Eliza Sellier is a passionate ten-year-old vegetarian from Christchurch, New Zealand, who loves everything to do with animals, be it playing with them, reading about them or writing stories about them. While she loves bugs, her favourite animals are monkeys and orangutans!

A Silent Cry – Oshadha Perera

A silent cry within the heart
A massive loss for the world
Sad news for all of us
When a green tree is cut
The wail of animals fills the air
The cry of nature fills the world
The howl of the sky, the charge of fury
When somebody chops a tree
Tons of oxygen will be lost
Nature’s beauty will reduce
Food and fruits will be scarce
When somebody cuts a tree
Global warming will increase
Temperatures will rise high
Hazards, disasters will strengthen
When somebody chops a tree
Every single tree is irreplaceable
Every single tree is valuable
With every chop you place on them
You slowly lead humans to extinction

Oshadha Perera is a high school student at Southland Boys High School and has a passion for writing. An avid chess player, he likes to read in his spare time.

[Untitled 03] Jana Thea

Jana Thea is fifteen years old and lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Naglfar – Pieta Bayley

A Character Examination From The Wrong Side Of Ragnarok
Hel was glad to see the ship crowded. The sheer volume of beings on the deck did a good job of concealing its hideousness. The entire vessel was huge and grotesque, made of toenails instead of wood. They were mainly the toenails of outlaws and peasants who died alone with no one to remove their nails postmortem. Hence the material for the ship was poorly manicured, obnoxiously long, scraggly and yellowed. They were cold and hard; broken at the tips and sharp to the touch. They linked and folded over each other like roof tiles. She had no doubt some of her subjects could identify their own nails in the mess. The newer ones were much better, their translucent forms rounded and clean. One still sported the chipped remains of vibrant pink nail polish. She looked away immediately. She didn’t need another reminder that these had belonged to someone. She could hardly look at her feet without retching.
Jormungand seemed to think this was a grossly amusing paradox. “All those years among rotting dead folk? I would have thought you’d be more stoic at the sight of this.” His long, serpentine body curved toward her, gently shoving her in his best impression of elbowing.
“I’d have thought so too,” she said, shuddering.
Jormungand laughed. “It’s good to see you again. I missed you all a lot.”
“I missed you too.” She was painfully aware that his existence had been the loneliest of them all, trapped beneath Midgard. No subjects, friends. A pang of guilt writhed uncomfortably inside her. “At least we’re all together now. For the end,” she continued.
Jormungand approximated a smile. “Yeah. I’m glad. I mean—I’m scared. But if I’m going out by my family’s side, I’m okay. Not happy, certainly. But better than I would be alone. I’d be terrified to die alone.”
Hel ran the back of her hand under her right eye. It came back wet.
“I suppose so,” she said.
Jormungand gave her a little nod. “Good luck, sister,” he said. “Be brave.
“I will.”
He coiled his neck back towards the rest of him, slowly curling into himself like coiling string around a finger. His scales glistened beneath the icy waves.
She straightened purposefully, addressing the assembled draugr.
“I presume none of you are leaving now?”
The crowd rippled with shaking heads.
“Good,” she said. “I need not remind you; this isn’t a fight between good and evil. It’s just a fight. You’re here because you want retribution and, honestly, I don’t blame you. Perhaps you didn’t die like a warrior to get here. But it’s the end of the world today! Am I right?”
 From their grey lips sprung resounding cheers.
“Let’s die like warriors now!”
She punched the air, as their enthusiasm grew and overtook hers.
Móðguðr stood in the front row and clapped. She had to drop her axe to do that. Her smile was sad and proud. 
Hel’s heart fluttered as she mirrored that smile. She spent long as she could mapping the stars in Móðguðr’s eyes and decided Jormungandr was right. If this was Ragnarok—if her endless, inevitable, unavoidable death was just about to seize her—it didn’t seem half so tragic around the people she loved.
A person stood as close as they could to the figurehead of the ship. It was a dragon with a fanged mouth twisted outward near the jaw to form a crescent moon arc, as if someone had turned its lips inside out. Its eyes were hollow and its long, narrow tongue hung hungrily from its mouth.
The person was alone up there; perhaps to isolate himself, or to distinguish himself as a leader on the ship, or to be the first to see the battleground of Ragnarok. Fenrir stepped forward, but a hand reached out swiftly to stop him. 
“Don’t,” said the voice that hand belonged to.
He exhaled indignantly, facing the voice in anger.
“Why n—Mother?”
Angrboda’s hair was wild and black, caramel face showing no sign of windburn. Her eyes narrowed against the snow. Her demeanour was characterised by fierce determination. She allowed herself the barest hint of a smile at seeing her son again.
He leaned his silver head on her for a moment, the closest the two of them would ever get to a hug. They were the kind of prideful creatures who didn’t need words to express how much they cared. The kind of people who’d each spent sleepless nights wondering if it was possible to save their family and friends on Ragnarok by fighting hard enough. People who worked on the assumption that you knew they’d die for you. 
They stood there a moment, mother and son, nearly grinning at their reunion, nearly crying that it had to happen then. At the end of the world.
“Are you afraid?” Angrboda asked.
Fenrir shook his head. “Doubtful? Yes. Afraid? Never. And certainly not now. I’m too angry to be afraid.”
She brushed the hilt of her heirloom sword. “Let’s give them Helheim.”
He grinned a little, before remembering why he was there.
“Why can’t I go over there?” He tipped his head toward the lone person at the front of the longship.
“It’s not a good time to disturb him,” she explained.
Fenrir ducked her hand. “Too late.”
“Fenrir!” called his mother.
He turned.
“Don’t be shocked by his face,” she said. “It isn’t what you’ll remember.”
Fenrir scoffed. Of course it won’t be, he thought. We haven’t seen each other in decades. Shocked by his face! Gods, it’s Ragnarok. I won’t be shocked by anything.
Still, he braced himself upon approaching.
As he drew nearer to the person he began to feel worried for him.
He had the pinched and disproportionate look of someone who’d been very thin for very long and was only now recovering. He looked like a broken animal, shoulders shaking with sobs. His hair was bobbed in rough lines, cut with a blunt knife. His skin had a ghostly pallor.
Fenrir shivered.
He was inches away when he was heard; the figure spun abruptly to meet his eyes.
He jolted.
From the ridge of the person’s nose, it spread down his cheeks like tears: scar tissue, pink and raised, marring the skin like a battleground.
Fenrir’s gold eyes widened.
The figure hastily wiped the sorrow from his expression, running his hands over his tears and wincing when he touched the peculiar wounds. He smudged the black makeup that circled his eyelids and painted lines from eye to cheekbone on each side of his face. He rested his hand on Fenrir’s neck.
“I haven’t seen you in aeons. How’ve you been?”
Fenrir dodged his gaze. “Does it matter?” he said.
The figure’s brows furrowed, fears confirmed. “No,” he said. “I suppose not.” He didn’t even attempt to conceal the lie. It mattered infinitely to him, but if Fenrir didn’t want to talk about it…
His hand shot up to the scarring on their face, a reflex response to imagined pain. It was becoming a habit. “We’re chained monsters of a feather, you and I,” he said.
Fenrir shuffled his feet.
“How have you been?” he asked, afraid of the answer.
He laughed quietly and bitterly. “Does it matter?” he parroted.
“Was it—” Fenrir indicated with his head to the horizon, where the gods would meet them.
“The gods? Yes. It was the gods. And I was a fool.”
“I’m sorry, Father,” Fenrir said.
His father, Loki, chucked once more. Each time he expressed some shadow of his former self he seemed more ghostly.
“For what?” he asked quietly.
“That this happened. Any of this,” Fenrir said.
“It’s not your fault. This happened to us because of what we’re about to do. Let’s make the most of it.”
Fenrir started to leave, but a nagging feeling dragged his feet to a standstill.
“He’s my friend. Tyr. No; he was my friend. It might destroy me.”
“It’s going to destroy us all,” Loki said.
“How am I going to do it?”
Loki paused for a moment. “How do you feel?” he asked.
Fenrir replied, “Like all the rage in the world. And still, I could never hurt him over it.”
Loki could not kneel parentally. His son was heads taller than he was. He looked up and said with all the honesty he could, “I know how it feels to be fighting all your friends. It’s the most stinging guilt you’ll ever feel. The conflict of being a traitor. Because you think that, even though it’s not what you want, you should do what’s best for them. You should protect them. Because they’re your friends. I did what I wanted to anyway. I got endless revenge on them… Because they were bad friends. They really were. But I also loved them. I know that Tyr liked you far more than my friends ever did me. He was a good friend to you. He didn’t mean for this to happen.”
Fenrir dropped his head.
“But neither did you,” Loki continued. “And now you must die at each other’s hands.”
“It feels like it’s supposed to happen. Gods, I want to make them pay,” Fenrir said. “And it feels so wrong too.”
“It feels unfair.”
Fenrir nodded.
Loki sighed. “I don’t know why it has to be this cruel, but it does. The inevitability of all of this…that’s what killed us. My blood brother was eaten by paranoia because he knew that this was how it ended. He’d do all this—” He made a sweeping gesture to the crew of the Naglfar, wronged and hurt by the Allfather. “—to delay it. I’m sure when it comes it will feel like relief. Completion.”
“I just need the strength to face him,” Fenrir said.
“You want my help with that?”
The two stood in silent contemplation, on a ship that came from nightmares.
“Just think,” Loki said. “Is Tyr fighting you?”
“He will be.”
“Then you’re gonna fight back.”
Fenrir left. He thought about asking his father why he’d been crying, but decided not to.


Pieta Bayley is fourteen years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She enjoys stories in all their forms—and, when they hide, will resort to telling them herself.

Still Life with Violin – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu is a fourth-year medical student studying with the University of Auckland. Art has become a visual language that portrays her growth in ideas and experiences to all viewers. With these as her inspirations, she’s been able to create more original works that hopefully inspire others and evoke her viewers’ own interpretations.

Keep Calm and Carry – Charlie Knight

Keep calm and carry a quiet noise
like ninjas running along rooftops
acoustic guitars playing in the background
closing my eyes and looking into the empty abyss
watching movies flicker before me
feeling the wind rush through the open window
seeing the trees sway around me
colouring the blank canvas of people’s lives
walking down lonely roads
feeling the grass below my feet
water washing up the shore onto my toes

Charlie Knight is twelve years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin / Hoiho – Tom Nalder

She wears yellow sunglasses
Her black wings as smooth
as stone,
her chest as white as hail.
She loves to sing in Akaroa Harbour
and hide in dark side caves
under hanging cliffs.
This NZ bird of the year
is as brave as justice.

Tom Nalder is eleven years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.  His favourite colour is yellow, and he really likes cheetahs and would like to learn a lot about animals.  He would also like to be a scientist.

Feature interview: E Wen Wong and P.S. Our Beaches

P.S. Our Beaches – a Pollution Solution for Our Beaches (psbeaches.com)

“P.S. Our Beaches was founded by 13-year-old Cantabrian, E Wen Wong, as part of a 2016 Project Based Learning (PBL) initiative. From its humble beginnings as a plastics poetry project, P.S. Our Beaches has emerged as a diverse, nation-wide community, working to rid our beaches, waterways and oceans of single use plastics. At the heart of everything we do is a mission is to restore a positive environmental footprint for our oceans, both now and into the future.”

E Wen Wong is a year 13 student at Burnside High School. Since becoming passionate about poetry through Paula Green’s Poetry Box, E Wen has had her work featured in various anthologies, on the back of local buses, and on display in the Guernsey Airport. E Wen is on the committee of the New Zealand Poetry Society, and in 2019 placed first in the Poetry New Zealand Student Yearbook Poetry Competition and runner-up in the National Schools Poetry Award.

E Wen Wong speaking and reciting poetry at TEDx

fingers comma toes: Your website describes the project as emerging from a “plastics poetry project”. Can you tell us more about how that gave rise to P.S. Our Beaches?

E Wen Wong: In 2016, through a project-based learning initiative, I decided to use my growing passion for poetry as a platform for communicating environmental issues. I was honoured to receive two scholarships from the Bowseat Ocean Awareness programmes for the plastic pollution poetry anthologies I had written. These scholarships gave impetus to P.S. Our Beaches (Plastic Solution for Our Beaches), an organisation working to instigate change in New Zealand’s plastic pollution scene. Using this organisation as a foundation, we hope to advance the education and understanding of the effects of single-use plastics and the ways through which we can mitigate them.

fct: What are some of the other projects that P.S. Our Beaches has been involved with?

Tree planting at Styx Mill

EWW: In the past, P.S. Our Beaches has facilitated and promoted litter audits, awareness posts on sustainability initiatives and short interviews with organisations such as DoC and UNESCO. In April, we coordinated the inaugural EnviroPAST (Plastic and Sustainability Talks) Conference in which we welcomed over 100 young people to the Christchurch Art Gallery for two days of inspiration, education and action on environmental issues. The conference combined talks by leading academics, entrepreneurs and environmentalists, with workshops and tree planting at Styx Mill, thanks to the donation of 1000 plants by the Christchurch City Council and Trees for Canterbury. The support and willingness of organisations and individuals to share their expertise and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders was nothing short of incredible.

fct: In addition to P.S. Our Beaches, you’re also involved in technology and poetry, including your 2018 BIRD technology project about litter collection from beaches. Can you tell us more about that project?

E Wen Wong with BIRD

EWW: Attending the Limitless Conference in 2017 motivated me to build on the P.S. Our Beaches campaign to incorporate technology and solution-based thinking, layered between advocacy and awareness. Realising that Limitless’ guiding values of passion and purpose lasted long after the conference was over, I decided to combine my passions for technology and the environment by designing BIRD (Biomimicry Identification Robot Device), a UAV capable of detecting and georeferencing macro-plastics such as plastic bags and bottle tops. BIRD uses machine learning software and onboard GPS to provide georeferenced locations for any plastic pieces identified by the drone, which are then linked to a crowd-sourced beach clean-up app to guide users to each item of rubbish. With the intention of sharing the outcome I produce with the wider community, I hope that BIRD can serve as a further tool to inform, intrigue and inspire people to reduce your plastic usage and ensure that as little plastic as possible reaches our beaches and oceans.

Rubbish from one of the beach litter audits

fct: Is there a connection for you between the environment, poetry and technology?

EWW: Similarly to the BIRD project, the connection between poetry and the environment, for me, is also based off a drive to help build a better world, as well as the emerging youth movement. I have been a committee member on the New Zealand Poetry Society since 2017 and, through my work in this role, I am geared towards increasing youth involvement and ensuring that the perspectives of young people are incorporated within decision-making processes. Immersing myself in the arts in such ways has been empowering, as it has allowed me to draw parallels between dichotomous disciplines and ensure that I am always thinking in a way that is creative, dynamic and relevant to the world around us.

fct: You started this project when you were thirteen. What were some of the main challenges, for both the project itself and you personally, initiating it at such a young age?

EWW: One of the greatest challenges was recognising my lack of experience, being only thirteen. That, as you might expect, came with a significant lack of confidence and assurance in my actions. What helped me to overcome this was my intrinsic attitude of not being afraid to ask for help and obtain greater knowledge from environmental experts. A love of learning, as well as the environment at Burnside High School, where I am a student, meant that I was fortunate enough to be able to tap into the advice of exceptional leaders around me.

fct: What have you learned from the project?

EWW: Establishing P.S. Our Beaches and coordinating clean-ups, plantings and conferences has refined my organisational skills; it has taught me to prioritise and strive towards an end goal, to think globally, act locally and inspire change. To me, looking from this lens is invaluable as it keeps me grounded, grateful and growing while helping others to realise what they can achieve for themselves and the world around them.

Microplastics talk at EnviroPAST

Each individual project—for instance, EnviroPAST—has also taught me so much. Realising the impact the conference had on its delegates has taught me that EnviroPAST is much more than a conference. It is the collective body of people who are engaged and excited about making a difference, who are equipped with the tools they need to do so and the community that will support them from start to finish. It is my hope that the EnviroPAST conference will have a multiplier effect on our community, helping to spark similar events and actions which are led by the community we have built around the event. The experience has helped me to appreciate both the small wins and the bigger ones, the impact it has made on individuals and the wider community. I have learnt to combine creativity and environmental initiatives through poetry, virtual reality and live polls, increasing the confidence I have in communicating an environmental message. The experience has changed my attitudes by making me believe that my passion is not limited to my individual actions. The skills I have gained include the appreciation that leadership can take many forms, the importance of teamwork and critical thinking, designing runsheets, budgets and communicating with stakeholders. It has changed my actions by adding fuel to the P.S. Our Beaches movement, delving deeper into microplastics and social, entrepreneurial spins to the issue, while teaching me to use my passion for the environment as a vector for increasing public awareness about environmental issues.

Thanks to E Wen Wong for participating in this discussion. 

August 2019 Issue Space


Mx. Universe – Liberty Tidberg (age 16; Elkhorn, Wisconsin, United States) 
Morphogenesis – Josephine Parker (age 07; Christchurch, New Zealand)
A Wasteland of Beauty – Reuben Veenstra (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Space Between the Walls – Adaeze Chukwuka (age 16; Maryland, United States)
Safe Space – Adaeze Chukwuka (age 16; Maryland, United States)
Coming, Going – Chloe Henkel (age 16; Darlington, Maryland, United States)
The Museum – Matthew Marshall (age 22; Hartford, Connecticut, United States)
Vacancy – Jana Heise (age 14; Dunedin, New Zealand)
Shadows from space – Naomi Dana (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space – Ida van Kan (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space – Max Henkel (age 17; Darlington, Maryland, United States)
The Waiting – Sylvie King (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Mural 1 – Kaufering Bahnhof] – Montessorischule Kaufering students (ages 14 to 18; Kaufering, Germany)
[Mural 2 – Kaufering Bahnhof] – Montessorischule Kaufering students (ages 14 to 18; Kaufering, Germany)
The Clinic – Margaret Li (age 17; Auckland, New Zealand)
The Moon of Cheetahs – Tom Nalder (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space – Rain Wang (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Reflect – Hillary Walker (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Music of Movement – Jasmine Ryan (age 16; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Lost Moon – Millie Sarjeant (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space to dream – Emma Geddes (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space – Sophie Yu (age 20; Auckland, New Zealand)
Meaning Is Attached – Lauren Sanders (age 16; Austin, Texas, United States)
Space is a blanket – Chloe Wu (age 07; Christchurch, New Zealand)

Mx. Universe – Liberty Tidberg

Liberty Tidberg is a rising senior at Elkhorn High School in South-Central Wisconsin. Along with having a passion for the visual arts, Libby is an active member of her local Parkour gym. She currently works as a camp counselor for the rec department and as the social media consultant for the United Way of Walworth County and Dementia Friendly of Walworth County.

Morphogenesis – Josephine Parker

In space
form shapes.
One hundred
hot planets
make one sun.
Long ago
tormented the sun.
Parts of the sun
flew away like tears
and got colder
turned white
and formed stars.

Josephine Parker is seven years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Josie lives with her mum, dad, two older brothers, five cats, three goldfish, a pony, a dog, and too many chickens. Her favourite cat is black, fluffy, and named Ziggy. She especially enjoys writing poetry, drawing, and playing with Ziggy.

A Wasteland of Beauty – Reuben Veenstra

shimmering stars
as far as the eye can see
raging sun invades the night
colossal craters scattered across  planets
engulfs me like a warm blanket
black holes stealing stars
sweltering mars like an infinite desert
determined rockets hurtle into the abyss
mysterious  creatures scuttle across earth
a wasteland of beauty

Reuben Veenstra is eleven years old. He grew up in Hamilton and now lives in Christchurch. He enjoys playing football and writing poems.

The Space Between the Walls – Adaeze Chukwuka

Adaeze Chukwuka (16) The Space Between the Walls

Adaeze Chukwuka is a digital artist based on the eastern coast of the United States. Her work is inspired by the bright and colourful children’s books that she was obsessed with as a child. She likes to experiment with contrasting colours and lighting, creating pieces that demand to be looked at.

Safe Space -Adaeze Chukwuka

Adaeze Chukwuka (16) - Safe Space

Coming, Going – Chloe Henkel

There are a million people
And gaps the size of the sun
Between us
Are you pushing through this cluttered space
Or is it only me?

Chloe Henkel is an American artist and poet. When not writing or painting, she can probably be found playing the ukulele, listening to music, picking flowers, or catching up with friends. For more of her work, check out @chloe.creating on Instagram!

The Museum – Matthew Marshall

——Museums are labyrinths, their blueprints architected like a crossword—drawing you along each piece of the puzzle until its collection of white squares builds a solved installation.
——There is a couple behind me whose bodies, so tightly intertwined, are a Möbius strip of interlocked hands and feet. Their microscopic separation holding an infinite past.
——Paintings are one-way mirrors to interrogation rooms. Depending on proximity, you’re detective or suspect. With one canvas, you’re behind the glass, investigating, hoping the case isn’t as clear as yesterday’s clue: six letters for “we’re done.” The next, you’re wanted for questioning and see yourself in the reflective frame.
——The couple is in my elevator. One wants to view the fifth floor, the other the sixth. The disunity separates the lace of their knotted fingers. One hand, cold from the other’s evaporating sweat, touches two buttons.
——This painting, the one whose strokes demand attention like a torturous memory, is my barometer—gauging the pressure behind my eyes, inside my heart. Today, it reads: don’t text her.
——The couple splits. One is next to me, trudging through the exhibit, clinging to any image capable of distraction. The other unknowingly copies every stride from the floor below.

Matthew Marshall is a recent graduate of Michigan State University with a B.A. in English. While unpublished in the world of fiction, he has been awarded numerous creative writing scholarships and nominations, including the Anderson Essay Award, Creative Writing Award, and ultimately winning the Ambrose D. Patullo Scholarship for literary analysis in poetry. He lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

Vacancy – Jana Heise

Jana Heise (14) - Vacancy

Jana Heise is fourteen years old. She’s grown up on a sailboat and is intimate with the colour blue.

Shadows from space – Naomi Dana

Naomi Dana (14) - Shadows from space

Naomi Dana has loved space ever since a young age—she has at least twenty books on the subject, and her walls are plastered with posters about the solar system. She is fascinated with the colours that come from beyond this world, and loves knowing that there is more to life than we know. She is fourteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Space – Ida van Kan

The forever travelling sky
Dancing so the world can see
Space, please tell me where you are
I can be seen but not heard
If you look around I’m everywhere
Who am I?
I will forever look for you
What do you dream when the sun takes your place?
I’m clueless without you
Tell me where you go
I move freely but no one knows
Where I go
What am I?
And when you do, teach me how to
Dance like you
And listen to me sing like an angel
Stars in the sky that I behold
My face is the planets and
The stars are my hands
Who am I?
Space, please tell me what to do
When the sun is at its peak
Where is your starry face
That warms my heart through the troubled nights?

Ida van Kan is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Space – Max Henkel

Max Henkel is an aspiring composer. When he’s not writing music, he enjoys walks in the forest, stargazing, and playing the piano.

The Waiting – Sylvie King

No one hears us scream
The everlasting bash of supernovas
Tell stories expected in the past
Of the protoplanets
Predicted to hold life
The life that could sustain us
In an exoplanet far away
We wait and we watch
Through our telescopes
As we set them on planes in the air
And we search until someone
Calls to join us in our void

Sylvie King has been contributing to creative writing for around five years. She has been published in a selection of sources, including Otago Daily Times, Toitoi, fingers comma toes, and The NZ Poetry Box. Her passions are writing, space, astronomy, engineering, and hanging out with her friends.

[Mural 1 – Kaufering Bahnhof] – Montessorischule Kaufering students

The Montessorischule Kaufering students are between fourteen and eighteen years old, and live in Kaufering, Germany. These two murals were painted as part of a school project in 2018, and can be found in the underpass at the Kaufering train station, located near the school. Photographs: Jael Hecht. 

[Mural 2 – Kaufering Bahnhof] – Montessorischule Kaufering students

The Clinic – Margaret Li

The clinic is empty apart from the receptionist and a tired-looking older woman. Flickering lights bounce off her garish lipstick – the flaky kind you buy at the pharmacy. She picks at the plaster blistering off the walls; her belly swells under a tank. Guilty, my eyes swerve away to the posters above her. Their furled edges morph into sneers, murmuring lies like safe and quick.
Under their unforgiving glare, I sink deeper into my chair.
Somewhere down the hallway, a door creaks open and a teenage girl comes out. My heart flutters thinking it’s my sister. It’s not.
This girl is older, her apple-pie cheeks swollen with innocence. A doctor waves her toward the front desk. The receptionist – not much older than me – pushes a form and a pen in her direction.
From the back, her broad oak-shoulders shudder.
Reception girl slides a box of Kleenex at her.
A warm draught, strawberry-scented and baby-powdered, crawls into my mouth. The bitter-sweet combination lingers in my throat, choking me.
‘Th-th-thanks,’ she stutters, blowing noisily.
Reception girl smiles through sooty lashes while taking another drag of her Marlboro.
I catch myself recoiling as the new girl drops down into the seat next to me, a wad of snot-smeared tissues clutched in her fist. She is near enough that if I reached out, I could squeeze her hand. Instead, I sink deeper.
The older woman seems to feel differently. Across from me, she tugs at her tank top. Beads of cold fear glisten at her hairline before rolling down her left temple. Behind closed lids, she replays that night. That man. That moment.
The second-guessing game consumes her.
The woman moves closer to the edge of her seat as if ready to bolt, and at the same time, frozen – a deer caught in the headlights of nobody’s car. Her knee jiggles up and down.
Up, down.
Up, down.
The silent war unfolding in the scrunched-up space between her brows echoes through my head. I cover my ears. But it’s too late.
Up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down.
I watch my seat rattle.
Get me out of here.
The burning gaze of the room devours me as I rise, the plastic edge of my chair digging into tartan-skirt flesh. Breathless from not-running, I slam my palms into the door and push hard.
Freedom. Finally.
The cold air rushes to hug my cheeks. It’s breath, raw and dry on my skin, knocks the feeling back into my bones. I swill it down, thirsty to purge myself of the clinic; the people in it, the taste.
But the relief is short.
And too soon, the air is nothing more than a splash of water to the face.

Margaret Li is in her final year at Saint Kentigern College in Auckland, New Zealand, and is interested in pursuing a Language and Literature degree in the UK. She reads widely in her spare time and enjoys the creative writing process, particularly with short stories and script writing. She approached the theme ‘space’ by describing the senses evoked by The Clinic, exploring the often overwhelming pressures faced by young adults.

The Moon of Cheetahs – Tom Nalder

The moon protects
a living planet of Cheetahs.
They run with the wind.
They sleep with the wind.
They chirp with the wind.
At night the moon
carries them up to a bed
of silky yellow fur.
From there they watch the moon
make shooting stars.
From there they watch the moon
light the African forests.
You can see them
through your telescopes,
sleeping between spaces on Saturn’s
mysterious rock.

Tom Nalder is 10 years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. His favourite colour is yellow, and he really likes cheetahs and would like to learn a lot about animals. He would also like to be a scientist.

Space – Rain Wang

Rain Wang (11) - Space

Rain Wang is eleven years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She enjoys reading and drawing. Her artwork Space, published in fingers comma toes‘ August 2019 issue, is her first publication.

Reflect – Hillary Walker

Hillary Walker (13) - Reflect

Hillary Walker is thirteen years old. She likes swimming and photography in her spare time. She also plays netball and does extracurricular activities. She doesn’t have a lot of time for photography, but would like to start focusing on it more.

The Music of Movement – Jasmine Ryan

You pulled me back and with a sweeping motion my hand reached towards yours, circling the air as we took bounding steps backwards, astronauts in zero gravity. My body glided closer to yours. My controlled movements matched yours like symmetry as the song brought us nearer, our fingertips within reach, our arms extending towards each other.
You got so close, but you were pulled away before I could reach you. The next line was sung; it took our bodies into different steps and as the music changed, you turned your back on me, and I on you. With the great, lilting melody and dreamy, driven music, we were swept across the stage in motions and movements of grace, of a flow that matched the run of the ocean between two continents. The current brought us together and then it threw us apart. We were but helpless waves in a vast sea trying to make our way to each other, but every time we got close, the space between us was stolen in larger and larger proportions.
With a rise in the music like a tidal wave drawing into the bay, it rose only to crash down, one final, dramatic note ending the song. We stood with our backs to each other, reaching up at the air as if it held something for us, and as the music stopped we stayed like that. The choreography ended with a gap between us that seemed like the distance of the vacuum between two galaxies, and I could feel your warmth but I could not feel your touch. The audience stood to clap and cheer for our dance that had taken the stage like the poetry of movement, but I wondered why it had to end this way, why the song had to emphasise the space between the two of us when all I wanted was for us not to act like two opposing continents, planets, universes. When all I wanted was for space to be a distance that was possible to cross so I could see you up close and hold you in my arms.

Jasmine Ryan is a sixteen-year-old year 12 high school student from Selwyn, Canterbury. She has been long-listed for the National Flash Fiction Day competition, and writing is something that she uses to express her creative ideas that she hopes can inspire thoughtfulness in readers.

The Lost Moon – Millie Sarjeant

Rain tickles the misty, remote mountains.
The possums tug my hair.
The smell of ash still lingers from the flames.
Sodden leaves brush my shoulders.
Midnight shakes hands with dawn.
Moss hugs a bridge as it bends above a stream.
Leaves swirl and scatter in a distant paddock.
Turf still glints with dew from the evening frost.
Musty, degrading bark.
Fresh, bubbling water.
A forgotten waka sways.
Jubilant takahē cry to each other.
Emerald brown ferns reach out to grab me.
I should be there in the inky sky,
My arms reaching out to take you home, but I’m gone.
I’ve been swallowed by the forest.

Millie Sarjeant is very interested in space and NASA and loves writing fairy tales with a New Zealand twist. She has been doing creative writing for two years, and has been published in Toi Toi, Extra, and The Jillion.

Space to dream – Emma Geddes

Emma Geddes (9) - Space to dream

Emma Geddes is nine years old. She really loves animals and wants to be a vet when she is older. She also enjoys school, reading, and all her sports, which are netball, dance, and water sports. She loves hanging out with her friends. She has two cats, Charlie (six months old in Space to dream) and Smokey.

Space – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu (20) - Space

Sophie Yu is a third-year medical student at University of Auckland. Although she’s had to choose between science and art upon entering university, painting is something very important to her, and she hopes to maintain this hobby throughout her whole life.

Meaning is Attached – Lauren Sanders

“Physical location does not distance memory,”
a man once told me in response to my “if only…”
A hundred miles and I won’t feel this way.
Two hundred and it’s my baptism,
though I’m not religious anyways.
The moment is the only true definition,
our hours bathed in ever-shifting haze.
To hold onto these former pains is futile…
They are but ashes from the flame that, as I smile,
I call The Past.
I laugh I laugh I laugh.
I stare into the face of the cruel irony of it all—
over thoughts that once claimed my consciousness,
over a disorder that stole my identity.
This is a day that is brighter than bombs,
the day I choose to live.
This is the day all things must pass.
Today I am reborn. Today nothing lasts.

Lauren Sanders is sixteen years old, and lives in Austin, Texas. She is a guitarist and bass guitarist, as well as an indie rock enthusiast, who enjoys psychology and writing. One of her poems recently won the Texas Night Sky Festival contest and another has been published in the anthology series Upon Arrival.

Space is a blanket – Chloe Wu

Space is a blanket as soft as a feather
Space is inspiration for a bird passing by
A little tree reaches up to the sky
And says good bye
As it gets chopped down
A goldfish jumps
Over the moon
And lands in a galaxy
Of water
And flies through space
With excitement

Chloe Wu was born in Christchurch in 2011, and is a year 3 student at Ilam School (Christchurch, New Zealand). Chloe has had her poems published in the Otago Daily Times, and the New Zealand Poetry Box. Chloe enjoys reading, writing, playing piano (ABRSM grade 3), and dancing ballet (BBO grade 1).

January 2019 Issue Forest

Guest Edited by Russell Boey


Light – Sophie Yu (age 20; Auckland, New Zealand) 
Stars in the forest – Coco Brady (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Kiwi – Evelyn King (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Leaves – Tom Nalder (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Margaret O. Spainhour (age 17; Mount Airy, North Carolina, United States)
behind the apartment block – Harry Waddington (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Broken – Sophie Schneideman (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Warrior Wolf – Leela Kingsnorth (age 11; County Galway, Ireland)
the whispering forest – Johanna Holzenkampfer (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Forest Riddle – Tom Nalder (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
No Trees – Lachlan Foulds (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Forest Moths – Samantha Lascelles (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Forest – Sophie Yu (age 20; Auckland, New Zealand)
The Great Wall Of Leaves – Rebecca Howard (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Rosie Allen (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Lost – Sophie Baynes (age 08; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Red – Millie Sarjeant (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Forest Speaks – Sylvie King (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Lamia Cinus: novella excerpt – Max Deeley and Justine Lang (ages 14 and 18; Panama City, Panama and North Carolina, United States)
Dark – Sophie Yu (age 20; Christchurch, New Zealand) 
Postcards to the Rain Forest – Tom Nalder (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand) 
Belladonna – Harry Waddington (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)

Light – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu is twenty years old, and lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Stars in the forest – Coco Brady

Wind gushes through
the narrow trees as
the mist whispers to the
cold damp forest floor
the ferns hold down
the dying leaves as they
wish to be blown away by
the flowing wind
as the stars shine the
forest settles for night
the gushing wind stops
the mist settles down
and the ferns loosen their grip
but the stars don’t rest till
night time is dawn

Coco Brady is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Kiwi – Evelyn King

The forest was broken by the chaffinch’s morning call
A dew filled morning predicting a sunny day
Like a tiger nestling in a prey filled nest
The forest was broken by the chaffinch’s morning call
Pine and honeysuckle embrace the forest culture
Nestling, hunting, awaiting
Behind me
A kiwi scuttles to its safe place
His beak weighing him down
And his foot
Dragging along a hunters trap
He pauses, sticking his beak into the ground
Then falls and lies still
Broken by the chaffinch’s morning call

Evelyn King is twelve years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Leaves – Tom Nalder

Yellow leaves
diamond leaves
have been found
by the woodcutter.
He takes them
off the trees
and puts them
on the top
of his Christmas tree.
He makes wishes
for them.
He wishes those leaves
would have the power
to fly again
all the way to the moon.
Sometimes at night
when the woodcutter
looks up at the stars
he sees a portal
of leaves.

Tom Nalder is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled]  Margaret O. Spainhour

Margaret O. Spainhour is seventeen years old, and lives in Mount Airy, North Carolina, United States.

behind the apartment block – Harry Waddington

the jungle lies hot and steamy
where washing lines become jungle vines
where hanging socks become poisonous fruits
the apes sprawl over the front stairs
hooting and causing trouble
their eyes bloodshot
from chemicals bred in a jungle
not too different from this
metal sheets rust
but when the wind floats by
topple like mighty brazil-nut trees
the city hums
like a giant beehive
full of insects monotonously floating
through life
a homeless man lifts the lid of a dumpster
an anteater flips mounds of earth
scrabbling through the roots
to find a morsel for the next day
an elephant rolls by
picking up today’s rubbish
with its mechanical metal trunk
mosquitoes hum past
sucking the blood from society
to earn their bright red gang colours
preying on innocent creatures
robbing their bank of blood
tall buildings coat the skyline
as a canopy to the creatures below
blocking the sun from scraping the ground
the thrum of the city is ceaseless
when the tired workers come home to rest
from a long day hunting
the humming still continues

Harry Waddington is fourteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Broken – Sophie Schneideman

Leaves crunch under my feet
The tears of Tane ripple the creek
Autumn spins into winter
Rocks as sharp as the whisking wind
Leaves crunch under my feet
The smell of the pine not so fresh
Whisking, whirling, crashing, falling, broken
Behind me stumps and a single trail
My footprint engraved the mud
Leaves crunch under my feet
One footfall into the creek
One sharp stab into a soft crease
A creek that is now a bloodstream
A cold abandoned daughter
An endangered heart takes a rest

Sophie Schneideman is eleven years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Warrior Wolf – Leela Kingsnorth

Ragnar pushed forwards with his back legs, his heart pounding from beneath his furry chest. He’d almost lost it when…there! Just a glimpse, but yes. He was the fastest runner in his pack, but this year the bracken had stayed up longer, and so had the meagre plants underfoot, so deer like this one had places to hide. ‘It will cause the downfall of us wolves,’ the leader of his pack had prophesied. And truly the wolves were weaker and more hungry by the second.
So he had to catch this one.
Yes…he was gaining on it…he could see it properly now…weaving in and out through the trees…closer…closer…now it was clearly in sight…its dappled back…muzzle flecked with sweat…tense, desperate legs… Now! He was right behind it…his only chance to spring now. He leapt, his strong back legs pushing off from the tightly packed leaf litter. Now he was soaring through the air… But! His teeth met on thin air, his outstretched claws fell back to earth!
He had missed. Missed. Never, not once, had a deer evaded him in such a time of need. The pack had relied on him, trusted him, fallen back to let him catch it for them. There was no chance of him catching anything now. He had truly and utterly let them down. How, how, could go back to them now, empty handed as he was, and tell them that he had failed? He couldn’t. He just couldn’t.
It would be too shameful to endure.
He had to leave, go further into the forest, become a loner, a hermit, a vagabond. It was, to him, the only option. So he ran on, thoughts of failure crashing in his head. Here, the trees were more deciduous than anything else, not with smatterings of conifers like where he had come from, but were spaced slightly more sparsely. He kept on going, to where the dappled sunlight shone through the boughs of the huge trees, to where the fallen leaves crackled pleasantly underfoot. He began to forget his worries, to enjoy the afternoon-evening.
Then…! There was a growl and a snap behind him, he felt his neck gripped by strong sharp teeth, and he was flung to the ground.
‘Trespasser!” snarled a throaty, anger -filled voice.
Ragnar painfully rolled over to his back and saw a huge, muscular wolf with squinting, pig-like eyes scowling down at him.
‘Now, now,’ said a smooth, untrustworthy-sounding voice behind him.
A sleek, dark wolf padded into Ragnar’s sight.
‘Let’s not be unnecessarily violent. I haven’t seen him before, so he’s not” – she spat the words – “a Gumachu. Even though…” She stared curiously at Ragnar’s left ear. “…he has the marking. However, this is our territory, and, especially since he has the marking, he should leave. Right now.’
She glared at Ragnar.
Surprised, he got up and limped away as fast as he could, still hurting from being thrown down, and puzzling over the strange conversation. What marking? Did he have a marking? Who were the Gumachus? Why did that wolf hate them?
Then, a little way off, he saw an amazing sight. Another pack of wolves, big and busy. Little pups frolicked in the dust, mothers licked their young clean, fathers chatted casually. But they all stopped when they saw Ragnar. The stared and whispered:
‘He’s not one of us!’
‘But he’s got the marking!’
‘He can’t have!’
‘He does, look!’
‘He really does!’
‘But how?!’
Then: ‘Quiet!’ An old, white wolf stepped out from the crowd. ‘Quiet, wolves!’ she barked. Then, more softly, ‘Let us see what this young stranger has to say for himself.’ She then addressed Ragnar. ‘ I am Adole, pack leader. What is your name, and for what reason do you come here?’
‘I,’ said Ragnar, ‘am Ragnar, of the pack of Elfesto.’
And he told his story.
‘Well, I can tell you that the pack that caught you were the Omachos, our deadly enemy,’ said Adole. ‘But what is strange is the mark you have. Our pack, the Gumachus, bite our young on the ear at birth to mark them, so we know that they belong to our pack, and so we can beware of the unmarked ones. We, you see, are a pack of warriors, fierce, fighting warriors. And you have definitely got the marking.’
That would explain my conversation with the Omachos, thought Ragnar.
‘And yet you are so clearly from a completely different pack. I cannot understand it.’
‘Often I feel the thrill of fighting and wish to fight all the more,’ offered Ragnar eagerly, ‘I truly believe that I am a warrior.’
‘Then…I suggest that you go back to your home pack,’ said Adole, ‘and ask them where you really came from.’
——-* * *
At last he came to the glade he knew so well. The wolves were surprised to see him. Some treated him with delight, some with contempt, but most were glad that he was back.
Panting and breathless, he poured out the tale of what had happened to him.
‘I think, wolves,’ said Edaer, his pack leader, ‘it is high time we tell this brave young wolf where he really came from.’
There were murmurs of heartfelt agreement.
‘Good. Well, then,’ said Edaer, relieved.
‘Tell him!’
‘Yes, tell him!’
‘Come on, tell him!’
‘Well,’ began Edaer, ‘less than a year ago, when I, too, was a feisty young wolf, there was a great battle. The Omachos, even though it was against the law of the gallant warrior wolf, invaded the Gumachus in their home glade, taking them unawares. What followed was a terrible massacre. Most of the Gumachu were killed, and the rest ran, as far and fast as they could. When both packs had left, I went to survey the battleground. It was a terrible sight. I thought to myself, there is not a living soul in this terrible place.
‘But I was wrong. A tiny wolf pup, shielded from the battle by a tree stump, lay there, abandoned and whimpering. I brought it home, gave it a name, had the pack care for it with me. It was you, of course. I was sure that you were one of us, that you always would be. But,’ he said rather sadly, ‘it seems that it was not to be.
‘As I’m sure we all agree, the path of Ragnar’s life that he has been faithfully following for so long has split into two, and it is up to him and no other to choose which one he takes.
‘So, you have a choice: stay with us and live in this part of the forest, or become a warrior wolf and a Gumachu. Ragnar, tell us, which do you choose?’
—-* * *
Ragnar pushed forwards with his back legs, his heart pounding from beneath his furry chest.
He kept on going, to where the dappled sunlight shone through the boughs of the huge trees, to where the fallen leaves crackled pleasantly underfoot.
—-He felt a new wolf.
—-——-A warrior wolf.

Leela Kingsnorth is eleven years old, and lives in County Galway, Ireland.

the whispering forest – Johanna Holzenkampfer

Johanna Holzenkampfer is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Forest Riddle – Tom Nalder

I live in dreams.
I sing in tree tops.
I wear rings.
I dig deep to find food.
I write rain spells.
I never created fire.
I never built an axe.
I never invited the flood.
I never invited the earthquake.
I’ve forgotten who I am.

Tom Nalder is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

No Trees – Lachlan Foulds

The sound of a rusty diesel engine starting up
A frosty crisp day
A disturbed feeling like a family member who passed away
The smell of too much insect repellent
Chopping, sleeping, working, eating, living
A dirty forest clearing with no trees for what seems like miles
The sound of a rusty diesel engine starting up
A low paid worker
Another colony of birds lost.

Lachlan Foulds is eleven years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand

Forest Moths – Samantha Lascelles

They rise from
rosy blossoms
their eyes glow like
fluro lamp lights.
At bath time
colours spread
through their bodies
red, blue, green.
At daylight, they disappear
like they weren’t there.

Samantha Lascelles is eleven years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Forest – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu is twenty years old, and lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Great Wall Of Leaves – Rebecca Howard

Crunch I hear a stick snapping underneath me
Fallen autumn leaves block my path
Like a wall in the way of a galloping horse
Crunch I hear a stick snapping underneath me
The leaves give off a fragrance so breathtaking
Ducking crawling dodging weaving thrusting
Behind me the rushing rapids falling down the waterfall
Crunch I hear a stick snapping underneath me
A koala throwing leaves and sticks
A monkey in an all black disguise
Misbehaving like a dog without its lead
Ducking crawling dodging weaving thrusting
Pushing through the leaves
As if I were an owl flying in the dark
Maybe next time I go adventuring
I will be building Noah’s Ark

Rebecca Howard is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Rosie Allen

I’d like a garden
dark as a forest
with trees bigger than the Eiffel Tower
swaying in the storm
oak as strong as steel
a forest in my garden
with kiwis from the forest
running around
like a wild ocean
swimming away
through the trees.

Rosie Allen is nine years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Lost – Sophie Baynes

The sound of trees clashing together
Frost on vibrant green grass on a cold day
Wind like a strong sand storm
Dirt flying around the grass
The smell of minty plants
Trees crying screaming cut down into paper dying bleeding
Behind me a shadow as big as a horse, a big gorilla standing and staring
I am a scared girl in an old room
The room is creepy, a broken light is hanging
Glass is shattered everywhere across the floor
Transparent dangerous broken pieces
Soon I will get out

Sophie Baynes is eight years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Red – Millie Sarjeant

Owls hoot in the distance, barely audible over the screaming of wetas.
A cold, sour wind seeps through the fog and lashes against my face.
The fog is mysterious like seeing a shadow in a dark alley, but no owner.
Owls hoot in the distance, barely audible over the screaming of wetas.
The smell of plant oils crawls along the ground and onto the trees.
Clawing, crying, heart beating, running, watching.
I look behind me: no one, just the silver, white moon.
I see a dark shadow run across the path ahead, the footsteps clawing the earth.
Owls hoot in the distance, barely audible over the screaming of wetas.
Crying birds flee from a tree and flock into the dark, starry sky.
Heart beating, my red cape sticks close to me.
Owls hoot in the distance, barely audible over the sound of a wolf howling.
Now running, a biscuit falls from my kete.
Beady and bloodshot eyes are watching from steady haunches.
I scramble forward up the gorse path and fall into the house of my sick grandma.

Millie Sarjeant is twelve years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Forest Speaks – Sylvie King

Cold metallic grass wraps around my feet
Frail sun casts ghostly shadows of trees
Strangely warm bark cuts deep into my hands
No pattern ever the same
Soft fur of a hibernating hare
Insects crunch in the lining of my boots
Rugged socks hold my heat
No wind can extinguish my fire
Flax whips and ties up my wrists
Sharp wind scratches my icy back
My bare head nods then turns
To face the axe

Sylvie King is twelve years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Lamia Cinus: novella excerpt – Max Deeley and Justine Lang

East of the kingdom of Aurora, west of the old realms, south of the northern wilds and north of the harsh desert lies the feudal land of Caligo. This region is dominated by the extensive forest of Umbra—a forest capable of hiding many things. Thieves and bandits are prevalent, but they are far from the worst things the people in this country fear. Creatures of myth and magic hide in the darkness, out of sight of those that hate and fear them. If a person does meet another being away from the main road, then he or she should pray that the being only strayed too far from the path, for those that intentionally walk in the shadows of the trees only do so if they have something to hide. 
——-* * *
The girl has a walking stick in her hand, a cloak on her back, and beautiful, sparkling emerald eyes framed by black locks. She’s leaning against the pines with a sense of ease that suggests she is more at home here than the well-frequented trail. Just before I ask her who she is, she fires the question at me. “Who are you?” she asks bluntly.
Something pulses in my brain. Danger. Something is wrong. This girl emanates power, but I can’t tell how. Shake it away, Lamia.
“I was about to ask the same thing of you,” I calmly respond. The girl stands up straighter, in a defensive stance. Furtive flickers of green behind her half-closed eyelids suggest she is trying not to be seen. That is something that can be said for anyone straying from the path, even me.
I decide to act kind rather than defensive. I pull the cowl back from my face and tip my head courteously. “Lamia, at your service.”
The girl looks taken aback, her eyes now focused on me. Even though she tries to hide it, she can’t stop staring at my violet eyes. My statement must have piqued her surprise—and curiosity as well.
“Cass—no, Cassandra. I’m Cassandra.”
I chuckle at her stumbling over her words. “Well, Cass, where are you off to? I’m making my way to my family myself. They live not far from the Shadewell Marketplace.”
The girl seems even more surprised by every comment I make. I suppose she’s not used to meeting many people in this area of the woods. Her mouth opens and closes slightly several times before she speaks, bewildered at my address to her.
“Cass? No, that’s not…never mind. I, uh…I guess I’m going the same way.”
She looks similar to Myra. Didn’t think I would find another person that looked like her. I wonder if she is the same as us? Surely not. I ask her, “Well, how would you, Cassandra, like to accompany me to this wonderful town? I may not know you, but it would be far worse not to have someone accompany me.”
She does not lower her walking stick, seemingly wary of me. If anything, her grip has shifted, as if she means to brandish it, and I wonder briefly what other weapons she has concealed.
I am broken from such musings by Cassandra saying, “The journey is dangerous. Not many people travel this way.” She pauses before continuing. “Another companion could make it…different.”
I smile at her declaration. She is so cautious; I can tell just by looking at her. What does she have to be so worried about? Again, she reminds me of Myra, always serious. I chuckle to myself and reply lightheartedly, “So serious. People don’t go the way I’m going, or we’re going, I guess. Thieves and bandits don’t hide in the woods; no one goes by to rob. Those that do go by—well, they’re not the kind to mess with. Besides, I happen to know a shortcut if you don’t mind getting wet.”
I then gently move Cassandra’s stick down, away from where the edge threatens to poke my eye, and pull her insistently by the hand as we march.
My new walking companion yanks her hand away, quickly. “I can walk myself. I will accompany you but I don’t like being touched.”
So now she is acting exactly like my dear little Wendy. She hated me hugging her without her knowing first.
A raven croaks from the sky, breaking my thoughts. Its sound penetrates the dark clouds, even while its form is hidden behind them. Hidden even from my vision. Wait, rain clouds? The blue sky has turned grey, almost instantly, it seems. Unless Cassandra and I have been standing for longer than I thought.
“We should look for shelter along the way. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really suited to walking in the darkness,” Cassandra pronounces.
I nod in agreement and then resume walking, keeping my hand away from hers. In the ensuing awkward silence, I respond to her statement. “Strange, I don’t remember it being gray before. We should hurry; I can feel droplets already.”
With that, I continue walking through the Umbra Forest, my tall steps keeping my boots from tripping on thick oak roots. “So, the adventure begins,” I declare, my eyes fixed on the uneven ground. “The path that never ends begins.”

Max Deeley is fourteen years old, and lives in Panama City, Panama. Justine Lang is eighteen years old, and lives in North Carolina, United States.

Dark – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu is twenty years old, and lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Postcards to the Rain Forest – Tom Nalder

Postcards to the Rain Forest
Dear Rain Forest,
The bamboo I eat is becoming
hard to find because I need more
to feed my babies. I also need space
to hide from the hunters.
Love Panda.
Dear Rain Forest,
My family is growing smaller.
I don’t want my babies to be scared
or hurt by the big trucks
that have begun to come into our
forest to steal our trees.
Love White Tiger.
Dear Rain Forest,
I am afraid, for many of my family
are chased by hunters for their
valuable ivory tusks.
We need many more trees
to build shelters to survive.
Love Elephant.
Dear Rain Forest,
We need trees and water so we
can live in peace.
When we hear the loud saws,
we know we are in danger.
Love Tree Frog.

Tom Nalder is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Belladonna – Harry Waddington

extending from undergrowth
she lounges in a gap
nestled between the shadows
purple buds breathe frosty wind
that runs through icy woods
her black eyes move through fog-filled pines
broken light through the trees
casts a patch of light on her
she flicks her green leaves against undulating saplings
embedded near her in cool soil
her magenta flowers open into cold morning air
spiralling around towering pines
she pirouettes to echoing bird song
a wandering child exhales a warm wheeze
he plucks her with numb fingers
her roots dance in winter
for the last time
he replants her in his book
she breathes no more

Harry Waddington is fourteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

About the guest editor:
Russell Boey is a student in his final year of studies at St. Andrew’s College, Christchurch, New Zealand. He has an avid love for science and math, but despite this maintains that he will fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a struggling author. He has been published in fingers comma toes in the 2016 Issue Rust, as well as New Zealand’s national newspaper The Sunday Star Times for winning their short story competition. He likes stars, quasars, black holes, and all the places in-between. Unlike Lola and Tristan, if he ever leaves dry land again, it will have been far too soon.

August 2018 Issue Wild


[Untitled] – Georg Schreiber and Jonathan Plachetka (ages 18 and 17; Igling, Germany)
Wild river – Phoebe James (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Bells are chiming in the jungle – Sophie Schneideman (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Garden in Summer – Nika Fredrickson (age 08; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
Squishies – Jana Heise (age 13; Annapolis, Maryland, United States)
The Wild Garden – Cara Birch (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Wild Barrier – Tom Nalder (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Howl – Srinika Guha (age 08; Auckland, New Zealand)
Wild Moon – Xanthe Pearce (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Wild West – Adele Sherborne (age 08; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Jana Heise (age 13; Annapolis, Maryland, United States)
Thunder – Lily O’Halloran (age 08; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Insect City – Pierre Montelle (age 15; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Wild – Khadija Sheikh (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Jana Heise (age 13; Annapolis, Maryland, United States)
The Fire That Killed Everything – Greta Jenkins (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
When I Walk into the Jungle – Robbie de Groot-Tsuji (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Cosmina Werneke (age 17; Igling, Germany)
Wild – Lizzie Jessep (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Before the light fades – Sophie Riggall (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)

[Untitled] – Georg Schreiber and Jonathan Plachetka


Georg Schreiber is eighteen years old, and lives in Igling, Germany. Jonathan Plachetka is seventeen years old, and lives in Igling, Germany.

Wild river – Phoebe James

The angry river charges like a bull
out of a paddock.
It smashes the rocks
as if they were in a boxing match.
It throws itself over the
dam, wanting to be free.
Weeping willow branches
tackle the wild ride,
while they are thrown under
the wild river.

Phoebe James is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Bells are chiming in the jungle – Sophie Schneideman

Danger steaming all around.
King of the forest unawakened.
Not looking up to see the trees.
The outside world hunting our homes.
Me in the last unharmed tree.
I look down on my rested blue-feathered friends,
Looking back on what used to be home.
The memories of macaws soon fading,
Extinction in my eyes.
The wilderness inside me grows,
The axe takes a hit –
No time to spread my wings and fly,
I’m gone in no time.

Sophie Schneideman is eleven years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Garden in Summer – Nika Fredrickson

The garden in summer is sweet
Like chocolate
It shines like a diamond in a dream
But when it’s winter
My garden is the opposite
It has tall shadows
And it rains
With the wind blowing hard
Like I am in a forest
Leaves falling from the trees
Then it’s summer again
My garden turns as delightful as before

Nika Fredrickson is eight years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Squishies – Jana Heise


Jana Heise is thirteen years old, and lives in Annapolis, Maryland, United States.

The Wild Garden – Cara Birch

The vine climbs the fence
Each leaf a new hand
Steadying his wavy stem
As the butterfly swoops over the dandelion
Her antennae brush the stamens
Contagious fairies
Pirouette down
Plant their feet into the group
Land in first position
For a creature so minuscule
She is so daring
For wings so delicate
She is so strong

Cara Birch is twelve years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Wild Barrier – Tom Nalder

The wild barrier
is a wall
that only opens
for the wild ones.
To be wild is to be fearless
An unknown man
was determined.
A bear was fearless
and brave.
Together they walked
to the wild barrier,
to the golden city door.
The unknown man
looked determined.
The bear looked fearless and brave.
The wall cracked open
and the man and the bear
looked happy.

Tom Nalder is nine years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Howl – Srinika Guha


Srinika Guha is eight years old, and lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Wild Moon – Xanthe Pearce

The moon shines down on the lit pathway
Playing with the shadows
Confusing the wind as she makes her way in the sky.
During the day, she can still be seen faintly, not wanting to miss out.
She teases the clouds then hides behind them.
She breaks away then pops up full
Like lightning from the ashes.
Wilder than the wind.
Wilder than the darkness.
She fills the sky
With her wild glow.

Xanthe Pearce is eleven years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Wild West – Adele Sherborne

The Wild West with a cowboy
And a bandit. Clock ticking,
Waiting, waiting, sweating, sweating,
Bang! Bang! Bang! Cowboy shoots
Faster than his own shadow.

Adele Sherborne is eight years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Jana Heise

Jana Heise is thirteen years old, and lives in Annapolis, Maryland, United States.

Thunder – Lily O’Halloran

Thunder sounds like the clouds
are banging together and
Thunder sounds like
drumming monkeys.
When I hear thunder
I hide
under my blanket.

Lily O’Halloran is eight years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Insect City – Pierre Montelle

The crackle of the bushes in the wind –
Do you wonder what that is?
The wind?
It’s an insect city
Deep in the gorse
A young man, inhaling death, walked past
Justice patrols the park
The young man discards his cigarette
He runs
Death spreads her burden over the insects
A wild flame engulfs the park
The crackle of insects

Pierre Montelle is fifteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Wild – Khadija Sheikh

skin, silky smooth skin
venomous teeth sharp as knives
eyes pitch black
it slides through bladed grass
waiting for its prey

Khadija Sheikh is eleven years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Jana Heise

Jana Heise is thirteen years old, and lives in Annapolis, Maryland, United States.

The Fire That Killed Everything – Greta Jenkins

As the fire grew
and the forest fell,
the birds flew and foxes yelped.
People fled for their lives.
Houses burned down.
Firefighters fought the angry flames
but they grew and grew.
They danced with the wind
and fell with the trees.

Greta Jenkins is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

When I Walk into the Jungle – Robbie de Groot-Tsuji

When I walk into the jungle,
thick vines block my way.
Tall trees climbing to get to the sun.
Snakes striking
at the sneakiest possible moment.
The cassowary is fast, but
when you turn to look at him
he’s gone.
When I walk into the jungle,
I taste the sweet, sweet air
and smell the smell of rain.
The birds sound like
The Puppy Concerto
on the piano.
When I walk into the jungle,
I feel calm
like a sloth.

Robbie de Groot-Tsuji is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Cosmina Werneke


Cosmina Werneke is seventeen years old, and lives in Igling, Germany.

Wild – Lizzie Jessep

Waves crash down like footsteps
Squishing sandcastles
Black and green seaweed lines the shore
Crabs scuttle out of the storm
Into warm crab caves
Engraved in the rock
Broken nests
Dragged into the sea
Eggshells and jagged rocks
Seals retreat down to the depths
Camouflaged in their glossy backs
A cupboard with a broken handle
Damp with sea water
The wind howls

Lizzie Jessep is twelve years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Before the light fades – Sophie Riggall

I hear her soft breathing
Tinkling almost like a lullaby
Soft breath turning rapid
Her braid whipping as she runs
Hoofs bright as stars flashing past
Disappearing into the wind
All good things are wild and free
Just because her path is different
Doesn’t mean she’s lost
The colours of the wind
Swirl with the mountains
Wildness floats around her
Chasing the stars until daybreak
Swooping through clouds
Only to find her again

Sophie Riggall is eleven years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

January 2018 Issue: Unthemed


Backfield Sunrise – Jaia Harris (age 10; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
Divine – E Wen Wong (age 15; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Bryn Hill (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Te Moana – Grace Newman Holt (age 09; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
[Untitled] – Reva Hunter (age 09; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
tiny things – Jack MacKay (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand
[Untitled] – Graeme Campbell (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Eiffel at Dusk – Chloe van der Ree (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Mountains of Moon – Tom Nalder (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
An island at night on Jokijärvi – Elisa Holmstrom (age 05; Tanga, Tanzania)
Cry of the Lions – Hannah Withers (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled]  – Lila Collins (age 09; Sunshine Coast, Australia)
Italia! – Ava Deeley and Marina Haynes (ages 12 and 12; San Blas Islands, Panama and Secret Harbour, Grenada)
[Untitled] – Bethany Webb (age 10; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
The Scrapyard – Harry Waddington (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Griffin Wittwer (age 10; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
Scouting Flanders Fields – Joshua Persico (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Max Heuze (age 10; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
The Onu – Theo Cooling (age 10; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
Fȗr Beethoven – Sparsh Johri (age 13; San Jose, California, United States)
Entwined – Monica Koster (age 15; Christcurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Maeva Fe’ao (age 09; Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
Fire in Winter – Xanthe McElroy (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Tree of Life – Jana Heise (age 13; Richards Bay, South Africa)
Though Sometimes We Burn – Kailani M. Clarke (age 17; Centreville, Maryland, United States)

Backfield Sunrise – Jaia Harris

Jaia Harris is ten years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Divine – E Wen Wong

Steam ascends into the air,
like the Hogwarts train
approaching platform 9 and 3/4.
Gazing at the chips,
we have the prying eyes
of seagulls.
Fireballs of impatience
linger in our stomachs,
our fingers shaking with temptation.
The edge of a chip grappled,
paper ripped,
gone in a millisecond.
Chips made to savour,
salt licked meticulously
from our hands.

E Wen Wong is fifteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Bryn Hill

Bryn Hill is fourteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Te Moana – Grace Newman Holt

Fierce undertow
She calls me into her arms
I let her take me
The colossal waves
Draw me beneath the sea
I’m gasping for breath
The waves send me back
Smashing on the soft sand bed
I have been set free
Waves build before me
Mist like a thousand diamonds
One by one they fall
Te Moana’s beauty
Can hold you and let you go
The ocean calls me

Grace Newman Holt is nine years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

[Untitled] – Reva Hunter

Reva Hunter is nine years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

tiny things – Jack MacKay

ants creeping in between cracks
of an old house
cookie crumbs sticking
to stinky feet
clear lego spuds
sucked up by a vacuum cleaner
rattle, tap, ping
pins fallen on the ground
right side up
one letter words,
speck, spider, molecule

Jack MacKay is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Graeme Campbell

Graeme Campbell is fourteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Eiffel At Dusk – Chloe van der Ree

Chloe van der Ree is thirteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Mountains of Moon – Tom Nalder

The moon is protected
by layers of dusty rock.
When it is very dark
the moon comes into the sky
and shines like the sun.
You can’t buy the moon.
On the moon the telephone
is connected to earth
so I can call Mr Money.
Mr Money tells me
the earth is inside
a bottle. I pour
a glass of earth
so I can have
enough money to buy grapes.

Tom Nalder is nine years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

An island at night on Jokijärvi – Elisa Holmstrom

Elisa Holmstrom is five years old, and lives in Tanga, Tanzania.

Cry of the Lions – Hannah Withers

 I stand here with my pride
And we’re all about to hide
With these new animals killing us
We must do what we can
I’m worried about what would happen if we all ran
We’re planning on what to do
But we need to think it through
I stand here with my pride
But we need to leave
We just need to heave our heavy hearts
And go

Hannah Withers is nine years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Lila Collins

Lila Collins is nine years old, and lives in Sunshine Coast, Australia.

Italia! – Ava Deeley and Marina Haynes

Ava Deeley is twelve years old, and lives in San Blas Islands, Panama. Marina Haynes is twelve years old, and lives in Secret Harbour, Grenada.

[Untitled] – Bethany Webb

Bethany Webb is ten years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

The Scrapyard – Harry Waddington

An old desert road
Littered with stones
Thrown from the wheels of trucks long passed
The scrapyard rests
Silent and deserted
Sheets of metal
Their faces marred by time
Never to be used
Old chains lock the fence
Once as strong as granite
Now falling at a slight touch
An old office crouches in the corner
Its windows dusty
Its furniture crumbling
A car’s corpse sleeps
On a bed of old bolts
The paint destroyed
Replaced by the orange flakes of rust
An old water bowl
For a dog long gone
A splash of blue and green
Showing the visitors
Daryl Was Here

Harry Waddington is thirteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Griffin Wittwer

Griffin Wittwer is ten years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Scouting Flanders Fields – Joshua Persico

Because they strap a gas mask on him lined with rabbit fur
He believes he is going on a rabbit hunt
He believes he will run across Flanders Fields brushing by poppies
Barking down holes to first expose the furry enemy then attack
He imagines the fear in their glassy eyes
Instead he smells fear in the trenches in Flanders Fields
He hears the cocking of guns and the releasing of safety catches
He sees the fallen soldiers and smells the scent of fresh wounds
He’ll never forget their eyes

Joshua Persico is thirteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Max Heuze

Max Heuze is ten years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

The Onu – Theo Cooling

Theo Cooling is ten years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Fȗr Beethoven – Sparsh Johri

The Sonata in E major echoed off the nondescript walls of the room, as Ludwig van Beethoven played in concentration. The hardwood floor was masked by a thick layer of dust, music notebooks, and papers. A glass chandelier hung low from the ceiling, swaying to the four-four time of the first movement.
I found myself thinking about what another great musician had prophesied. I remembered Mozart’s words like they were said yesterday: “He will give the world something worth listening to.” Certainly, as Beethoven’s favorite piano, I could attest to that. He was a musical genius, balancing his commitment to form with astonishing creativity.
My thoughts were interrupted as he abruptly took his fingers off my keys and rubbed his hair. With a dissatisfied expression, he muttered, “No, no, that’s not right.” Ludwig experimented with a different series of notes, shaking his head each time. Finally, the perfect melody came to him, and, brightening up, he wrote the correction over the previous notes, further smearing the already blackened paper. This was how our day functioned. Sometimes a patron would ask him to perform a symphony; sometimes his day was free. However he passed the day, music was the center of his life.
One day, Ludwig came down with a serious illness. It started with some coughing and headaches. However, it soon became severe. For several weeks, he was bedridden and weak. Fortunately, he recovered, and was able to resume his normal routine rather quickly.
A couple of months later, Ludwig came home with red eyes and an upset expression. After his performance, he had not heard the applause of the crowd and left abruptly. Later, his patron, the Count of Vienpolis, asked, “Why did you leave?”
“I compose for those who appreciate me and my music, not ungrateful cavemen in fancy attire,” retorted Ludwig in an icy tone.
Sparks of anger blazed from the count’s eyes. “How dare you speak like that to your betters! The applause was thunderous! Are you deaf? Leave this place immediately!”
Ludwig was too stunned to give a final scathing reply, or do anything except comply. As he signaled a carriage and rode home, he felt the words cut into him like a blade. Are you deaf? The next day, he called a doctor. The man was very tall and thin, and had short, black hair, a beaky nose, and a serious demeanor. After an examination, the doctor confirmed Ludwig’s worst suspicions.
“Your hearing is indeed subpar. At your present rate of deterioration, you shall become totally deaf in…”
By then, Ludwig had tuned out. He stared ahead, oblivious to almost all but the privacy of his own thoughts. Like a man in a daze, he paid the doctor and showed him out.
After that, he sat in a chair, facing me and his violin. “‘Are you deaf?’” he repeated, over and over again. With a sudden, bitter grin, he turned to the ceiling and screamed, “Yes, I am deaf! I shall lose all that I value!” Ludwig took the violin bow and hurled it across the room, then put his head into his arms and sobbed.
As the years passed, his deafness grew. At home, he played louder and louder. His violin, cello, and I needed to have our strings repaired every month. His anger and anguish found their way into several symphonies and sonatas, and his overall style became more emotional.
His temperament became suspicious and irritable. He distanced himself from his friends and family. Ludwig never shared his feelings, never let anyone else know how he felt inside. He let the feelings fester within him, fueling his resentment against the world. At times, Ludwig would cease playing altogether and leave. Melodies came into his mind more easily now, but it was so hard to project those notes into reality.
His practice time reduced to two hours. He barely spoke now. Finally, all of his depression and stress culminated, on a particularly bad day, when he made thirty big mistakes in as many minutes.
“That’s it!” he yelled. “I dedicate my life to music, and I am cursed with this affliction! Well, then, I shall stop music forever! I shall sell my instruments!” And with three ominous chords, he left.
Three days. Three horrible empty days passed. He didn’t come at all into the music room, even once. The entire mansion was filled with the nothingness of silence. Perhaps he is right, I found myself thinking. Perhaps he will stop creating music. The thought distressed me more than I could convey. We, his instruments, had failed.
On the fourth day, suddenly Ludwig came back, a smile on his face. He didn’t speak a word, but from his expression, I knew that he would never abandon music. It took me some time to understand, but I finally did. Over the three days, the loud absence of music must have made him realize the value of it. Music had been the guiding light through the storms of his father’s tyranny and the escape from the prison of early rejection. Before fame, music was all he had. How could he give it up?
Beethoven never did stop being surly; it was in his nature. However, he never stopped composing. Long after his death, the deaf musician left behind a legacy that changed music, paving the way for the emotion of Romanticism and setting a foundation for the future. He accomplished all this simply by triumphing over his inner demons. No, it went deeper: he changed his destiny instead of letting it define him. On some days, I wonder if it was his pain that made him strong. Was it his loss that added meaning to his life? Maybe. Maybe not. I cannot truly say. Today, I am so badly out of tune that my C sounds like an Ab. My wood is starting to rot, and my strings are almost gone. I have played my part in history, and I hope that I have played it well. I shall soon join Ludwig van Beethoven in the eternal orchestra that plays for all to hear, the music of hope and spirit, music that transcends the elementary restrictions life chooses to place.

Sparsh Johri is thirteen years old, and lives in San Jose, California, United States.

Entwined – Monica Koster

Monica Koster is fifteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Maeva Fe’ao

Maeva Fe’ao is nine years old, and lives in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Fire in Winter – Xanthe McElroy

the thin arms of pines
are covered in a blanket of white
a lynx attempts a useless camouflage
a flare dances in the reflection of his lustrous eyes
he prances through the thicket
and out into the eyesight of the fiery dancer
that turns
and tumbles
he returns
hysterical to the winter desert
and into the night sky
he limps away

Xanthe McElroy is eleven years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Tree of Life – Jana Heise

Jana Heise is thirteen years old, and lives in Richards Bay, South Africa.

Though Sometimes We Burn – Kailani M. Clarke

For Chester Bennington

There are days I would give anything
to be changed.
These are the days when all I see are ghosts.
I swallow them.
I catch myself on the nooses
they hang from the ceiling.
These are the days there is broken glass under my palms
and I think I put it there.
But then, harsh and brightly,
my mind is a mirror, reflecting the times before
when I kept my head above the water
and kept myself above my head
and I am grateful to have limbs
a long neck
a loved heart
so I may do it again.
Grateful too for the darkness.
Those flint teeth in me, against whom
I spark fire
which gives me words and colours
which makes the ghosts in my belly scream
and lets those screams come out
as songs

Kailani M. Clarke is seventeen years old, and lives in Centreville, Maryland, United States.

January 2017 Issue Snow


[Untitled] – Eleanor Bennett (age 20; Manchester, England)
The Changing Snow – Peyton Vernon (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Snow – Henry Russell (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Painting – Xanthe McElroy (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Snow filled – Hazel Harris (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Memories – Mel Leatherland (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Clouds – Sophie Yu (age 18; Auckland, New Zealand)
Snow – William Foulds (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
fox with fear – Bella Rose (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Snow story – Lizzie Jessep (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Super Snowdog – Sophie McKague (age 09; Canada)
The Leaving Of Snow – Emma Cawood (age 11; New Zealand)
Ice – Sophie Yu (age 18; Auckland, New Zealand)
[Untitled] Fergus Barnard (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Snow in Spain – Emma Espino (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Where have all the children gone? – Erica Taylor (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
My friend is melting – Imogen Twiss (age 15; Christchurch, New Zealand)
no eyes – Ryan Tuzyk (age 26; Toronto, Canada)
Snow – Sophie Yu (age 18; Auckland, New Zealand)
Snow – Frances Stanley (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Snow Fisher – Joshua Persico (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)

[Untitled] – Eleanor Bennett


Eleanor Bennett is twenty years old. She lives in Manchester, England.

The Changing Snow – Peyton Vernon

On a cold night,
Where the world never speaks
And when you dream
You always seem
To fade into a nightmare
The only shadows there are ran away, never found
Cold is cold,
Like stones, smashing you down
But then there is change,
Snowman, sleighs, snowball fights, ice skating
Which make you smile
A warm smile
And laugh.

Peyton Vernon is nine years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Snow – Henry Russell

I come from a world no one else lives in
I’m stranded in the thick snow no one in sight
Nothing to see but long white clouds of snow
It’s like I’m a boat in the middle of the ocean
Nowhere to go
But to just slowly melt with the snow
And wave goodbye to the world I was in
Now I’m back
In my house
Snuggling close to the fire
Remembering the wonderful world I was in

Henry Russell is thirteen years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Painting – Xanthe McElroy

The blue strokes danced across the canvas
Spots of yellow swam through the deep blue
Reflections swayed in the milky water
The boat was thrust along the rough harbour
Snow fell around their steps hiding them under layers
They huddled close and dragged their tired feet along the cold icy ground
The once awake city slept under watch of the lights above
All frozen in the interpretation of an artist

Xanthe McElroy is ten years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Snow filled – Hazel Harris

outside my window
where we danced
in the garden
all afternoon.
then the look
of wonder
filled her eyes
the light snow
filled her arms
a wide smile
grew across her face
now I just
sit staring
at snow

Hazel Harris is thirteen years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Memories – Mel Leatherland

I sit in front of the cliff
My old wooden house behind me
I remember when my parents were here
How happy they were with me
How the weather used to change so quickly to hail
I remember we all ran and dodged the snow
I sit with the eagle
As sad as ever
As black as the eagle’s eye

Mel Leatherland is ten years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Clouds – Sophie Yu


Sophie Yu is eighteen years old. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Snow – William Foulds

I see snow out the window on this isolated mountain.
I would go skiing but the winds are rough and thick.
Snow piles up foot by foot to make an abominable snowman.
It clatters on the door and all the pots fall down in a bang.
I get a bat and open the door and swish, he breaks into thousands of pieces.
I stare out the window and see the sun, I think I’m wanting to go skiing.

William Foulds is nine years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

fox with fear – Bella Rose

long grass
once covered the land
no longer seen
hot nights, sunny days
were once a dream
winter nights are now a reality
a fox creeps through ancient trees
which stand above
the forest floor like burning rocks
the fox who is not wanting to touch danger
dodging bullets as the fox climbs
over trees avoiding evil
dead, broken trunks which have
fallen on the harsh ground are pathways
to freedom
they don’t go forever, they face the end
his footprints now
thick sheets of snow

Bella Rose is fourteen years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Snow story – Lizzie Jessep

The snow falls softly in the blue sky
As the snowman
Dreams of a warm day.
The sun shining bright
And the glistening grass
With little water droplets
The snowman opens his eyes
And cries but they turn into ice
Plink plink plink
Then he sees the soft cold snow
So delicate
So beautiful
He realises that winter is a time for
Fun, warmth and love
And winter is done.

Lizzie Jessep is eleven years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Super Snowdog – Sophie McKague

It is a cold snowy day and all the snowdogs are playing outside in the snow. Snowflakes the snowdog is building a snowman with his mate Frost. Everyone is having fun. After some time, Snowflakes gets cold and decides to go inside. So he leaves Frost alone to play in the snow and heads into the den. Snowflakes has no idea what is about to happen.
Just then disaster strikes. A snowstorm has come out of nowhere. All the snowdogs run inside to the safety of the den except one – Frost! As Frost stays to play in the snow a little bit longer the snowstorm gets closer…and closer… until…Ahh! Frost is covered in snow.
Snowflakes hears Frost call and dashes out into the pearl-white snow. The snow becomes deeper and feels colder. Snowflakes cannot find Frost. Frost is buried under the snow. Frost breathes in the crisp air, shivering.With the last of his energy Frost shouts ‘Help!’ Snowflakes’ ears perk up as he reaches to grab his friend. The two friends return home safe and sound. They cuddle up to the fire to have some hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Sophie McKague is nine years old. She lives in Canada.

The Leaving Of Snow – Emma Cawood

The hissing of wind
as it threw the snow into the air.
The crackling fire
as it spread throughout the house
lay only in a broken picture frame.
The burning sun now reflects off the broken glass.
The heat now covers the earth banishing any snow.
The only snow left trickles out of a crack in the picture frame.

Emma Cawood is eleven years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Ice – Sophie Yu


Sophie Yu is eighteen years old. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Fergus Barnard

Light snowflakes falling
Raging snowballs flying
Stiff glaciers crumbling

Fergus Barnard is nine years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Snow in Spain – Emma Espino

It’s Christmas time
Snow is falling
It is cold in Spain
The Olentzero is coming
To all the good kids
The hidden toy cake and the devil cakes are on the table
Waiting to be eaten
Everyone is playing outside
Making snowmen
Making angels
Time to come in,
Let’s have some hot chocolate!!

Emma Espino is nine years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Where have all the children gone? – Erica Taylor

Alone in an abandoned park,
Whispers of the past behind me, tickling my ears.
The future calling me,
Cold, damp, crying, concrete.
Memories flicker in my eyes,
Bars, Ladder, Slide,
Sleety raindrops start falling,
And the children slowly come back from the shadows,
Their smiles cause a chain reaction in everyone around.
Blizzarding down, the snow stealing the children.
Until only I am left,
And my smile fades into the white coat,
The quiescent surroundings bringing peace to me.

Erica Taylor is thirteen years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

My friend is melting – Imogen Twiss

She is ashamed to admit
she puts butter and icing sugar
on her popcorn
her breath blows avalanches
she hides in the clouds
she makes
she is my flower
she cowers in the shadows
of broad oaks
she is my early crocus
purple, blooming out beneath her eyes
over her skim milk face
her winter cheeks
too thin, too fat
she is melting away from this world
I see her through cataracts
like frosted glass
too quiet
dancing at the corners of my eyes
she appears, disappears
my arctic fox in the tundra
she lies in the mist
I think I missed
her life is spilling from her mouth
her throat is burning
she is dripping away
like an icicle in the sun
she is destroyed
my friend, why don’t you know
you are beautiful
you are my snow angel

Imogen Twiss is fifteen years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

no eyes – Ryan Tuzyk

you have no eyes
snow eyes, waterfalls
tangled in, uncover you
always a brother, you
hid it, gave it, took it
i read your book, but only pages
you have no arms
bare skin, thin lines
torn skin, broken bones
soft spoken, paper folded
i couldn’t wait, i
never did it right
i used to watch fireworks
then we started getting tense
i used to go to the beach
used to flow to it
scars heal
words freeze and thaw
the next time it snows
i’ll go, i’ll say i’m sorry
tongue out, catch the glistens
hope you listen

Ryan Tuzyk is twenty-six years old. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

Snow – Sophie Yu


Sophie Yu is eighteen years old. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Snow – Frances Stanley

The sun is rising
And white crystals are everywhere
My boots crunch on the ground
This time it is snow, not leaves
Now all I can see is a layer of white, inches tall
Painting the valleys of crops and grass

Frances Stanley is nine years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Snow Fisher – Joshua Persico

The leaves collapse.
The first snowflakes cling onto my oars.
The thick smell of a salty sea comforts me.
My line twitches.
Behind me a flax kete with two blue cod.
The waves collapse.
The clouds start to soften.
Snow is the promise of water.

Joshua Persico is twelve years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Fingers comma Toes Logo Final

August 2016 Issue Rust


Memento Mori – Sophie Yu (age 17; New Zealand)
The Trophy Has Rusted – Maddy Horton (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Rust – Harry Knight (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
the night – Lottie Heywood (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
I’ll Be Watching You – Jana Heise (age 11; Lamu, Kenya)
Rusty – Maya Wylie (age 08; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Rust – Daisy Aaron (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Ant – Maia Cardew (age 10; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States)
Summer Freckles – Kristine Brown (age 25; United States)
Piano – Monica Koster (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Rust Maker – Hugh Ryan (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Rust – Xanthe McElroy (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Rust – Millie Murray (age 04; Mount Maunganui, New Zealand)
Rust flower – Amelien Fox (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
A Night in Madrid – Ellarose Riddle (age 14; Maryland, United States)
The Ladder – Jana Heise (age 11; Lamu, Kenya)
Sunflowers – Sophie Yu (age 17; New Zealand)
To a Broken Sky – Russell Boey (age 15; Christchurch, New Zealand)
He Digs with a Suit – E Wen Wong (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)

Memento Mori – Sophie Yu

01 - Sophie Yu - Memento Mori

Sophie Yu is seventeen years old. She lives in New Zealand.

The Trophy Has Rusted – Maddy Horton

Squeak said the mouse
Squeak said the cheese
the trophy has rusted
the moon has turned blue!
Use fire said the mouse
Use water said the cheese
the trophy has rusted
the dog said meow!
Wash the rust said the mouse
colour the moon green said the cheese
the trophy has rusted
a statue came to life!
So they talked and they whispered,
and they shouted and they yelled.
The trophy has rusted
and we know what to do!
So they all took the trophy
and said the secret words,
and the trophy became silver
shining red and gold.
Now the trophy stands
proud and tall
Squeak said the mouse
Squeak said the cheese.

Maddy Horton is ten years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Rust – Harry Knight

My old house was as neglected
as a wheel barrow outside in the rain
the colour of burnt toast
like a bronze Olympic medal
smelted like old golden syrup
rusty, rickety crumbly bricks

Harry Knight is eleven years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

the night – Lottie Heywood

the vivid outline of the fascinating moon
strengthens the hope around me
the misty night sends some thoughts
shuddering down my spine
the wall between reality and dreams
never opening
the black cat creeps on the rusty board
the light of this magnificent moon
blinds me
as strong as it will ever be
the black cat creeps on the rusty board
the rusty surge comes whispering
the piercing water eddies and swirls
the black cat creeps on the rusty board

Lottie Heywood is twelve years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

I’ll Be Watching You – Jana Heise

I'll Be Watching You

Jana Heise is eleven years old. She lives in Lamu, Kenya.

Rusty – Maya Wylie

Rust covers the window sill
Blocking the view of the whale.
The dog scratches at the door,
I open it.
The cold air brushes my hair
I see the whale stranded
His eye is rusty blood.
His back, hot and dry,
Burning in the sun.
I have a wish
On all stars falling
May the world of whales
Stay safe.

Maya Wylie is eight years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Rust – Daisy Aaron

Today is my 9th birthday!!! And I got… oh. A
screwdriver. I’ll leave it in the garage. To be old, to be
forgotten, to be nothing.
Today is my 10th birthday! My dad told me to look in
the garage for my present!!! I got a new bike and—oh. A
rusty screwdriver. I find some sandpaper. I scrape the
rust off and it falls like morning rain. Underneath, the
screwdriver is gold. Solid gold.

Daisy Aaron is nine years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Ant – Maia Cardew

My instincts tell me not to move,
But I find myself under hoof.
While tigers, grizzlies, and polar bears
Find their bodies sold at fairs,
I tumble forever on the ground,
My body spinning, ‘round and ‘round.
I’m just a silly, blank, old bug,
To humans unworthy of a rug.
Eventually, I’m ground to dust
My destiny to die in rust.

Maia Cardew is ten years old. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States.

Summer Freckles – Kristine Brown

Summer Freckles - Kristine Brown

Kristine Brown is twenty-five years old. She lives in the United States.

Piano – Monica Koster

rustic music
___glides from yellowed keys
crooked legs sway to the beat
____pedals clunk, burnt stardust sifted
___________over metallic shapes
paint peels, plastering
___the ground with shards of age
a legato lullaby drifts… a melodic trill,
___a few staccato riffs
my fingers fumble,
the piano is rusty,
and so am I

Monica Koster is fourteen years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Rust Maker – Hugh Ryan

A clear blue sea making grains of solid rust,
a gold for fools,
a sign of intelligence and age.
A wise rusty anchor,
a rusty pipe,
the skeleton of a sunken ship.

Hugh Ryan is nine years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Rust – Xanthe McElroy

like a painting
dancing upon the old metal car
complaining as the engine tried
to put itself to use
like the one that must decide
when something is too old
when something must be forgotten
the rust enjoys taking over
eating up the goodness
until it simply has destroyed
and taken all beauty

Xanthe McElroy is nine years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Rust – Millie Murray


Millie Murray is four years old. She lives in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand.

Rust flower – Amelien Fox

The land where the water flows in rusty shades of brown
the trees sing whispers to the once green leaves
the galloping horse’s shining brown back
glowing in the light of the sun
the forest of the copper winged birds
there falls the night sky where the stars don’t shine
the bodies of the fallen
the colour of the world is lost
rust grows over the remains
except for the red poppy that brings hope

Amelien Fox is ten years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

A Night in Madrid – Performed by Ellarose Riddle

Ellarose Riddle is fourteen years old. She lives in Maryland, United States.

The Ladder – Jana Heise

——I am not of the hard scales and fire of dragons, nor the soft, tough armor of a fish.
——I am not of the shiny, hard metal of a flashy watch, nor the over polished chrome on a power boat, hardly used.
——I still feel myself dissolve and melt in the arms of the not-so-blue salty water that chips away all my defenses. My muscles unclench, spin out and stretch. And then they seem to disappear, and I feel like exhaling. I want to sink, deeper, deeper, deeper, then below the sand and rock and coral, dead just because we like the flavor of king prawns and caviar. I will become one with it all. I will be like the ladder on the raft. The one that turned red, and flaked over the holey wood planks and then finally gave out, falling into the water, slipping down, coming to settle in the mud.
——I am not iron. Steel? Nope. Just me. A human, capable of rusting, capable of recovering, capable of disappearing beneath the waves when the water finally distorts me to the point of failing. To the point where fingers can’t cling to the surface, where lungs can’t generate enough to float, where eyelids can’t open, where no amount of WD-40 will breathe movement back into my stiff joints.
——I will reach that point. And then exceed it.

Jana Heise is eleven years old. She lives in Lamu, Kenya.

Sunflowers – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu - Rust [Photograph; Untitled]

Sophie Yu is seventeen years old. She lives in New Zealand.

To a Broken Sky – Russell Boey

There was deathliness in the air.
This was not so simple as the stench of rot, or the colour of blood. This was a deathliness of a darker kind, one which originated from absence rather than destruction, one spawned from a vast abyss that seemed to cover this land. Ashe sighed. This was air that would chill the blood, more than any cold of the Long Night.
He stepped forward, holding his lantern high. It felt remarkably clumsy, traversing the junk with only one hand. One false step would bury him in a rain of bronzed iron. He was not built for such terrain – this was a place meant for the lithe and the fearless, not for one scrawny and exhausted.
His lantern illuminated great heaps of rubbish all around him – metal pipes, astrolabes, telescopes – all cast away in hatred or frustration. The only thing that seemed relatively stable was a toppled statue of some saint, his crossed shield providing some sort of footing for Ashe’s feet. He made for it, clambering up until he reached its melted face. One jump took him over, skidding down with the clattering harmony of iron as his accompaniment.
She certainly would not fail to notice him now.
Having crossed over the initial barriers, Ashe took a moment to look around himself. This place was not at all pleasant – the miasma that hung over it seemed stronger now that he was within. But at least some kind of pathway existed, lined by the remnants of rusted solar systems. He threw a bronze Earth away from his feet into the piles around him, listening to it clatter in steady rhythm until it struck the ground.
“Knock, knock,” a voice breathed beside him.
Ashe whirled around, hand at the dagger that was never far from him. But he did not draw it as he saw the speaker.
Nothing about her had changed, it seemed, but her voice, now hoarser – she still wore her girlish innocence, so out of place against her strangely sad eyes. “Finally decided to pay me a visit, Ashe? I’ve been brilliant, thanks. So why are you here?”
Ashe watched his old friend sadly. Perhaps something of her had changed after all. “You were not always so direct, Raina.”
“Well, I appear to have tired of you already,” she retorted. “Why are you here?”
Ashe sighed. No point in arguing with her – he had never won any of those before. “I thought you ought to hear something.”
“Did you? Out with it, then.”
“Must we remain on such bad terms—”
“Really?” she interrupted. “After all this time, you want to try to befriend me again?”
“No. But I would prefer not to tell this to a girl who hates me.”
“Just get on with it,” she hissed, and he would not argue with that voice.
“Ari’s dead.” The words fell out of his mouth with strange simplicity – her voice had surpassed all the emotions that came with saying them.
For a moment Raina stared at him blankly. He did not break the gaze.
Finally, she shook her head. “Damned fool,” she said, but her voice did not contain any vehemence. “He and you both. Idiots. Goodbye, Ashe.”
She turned, and he did not bother to call for her. She would not even pretend to act as if she cared.
He sighed again, and turned away, but for a moment his dead friend’s words played once more in his ear. My sister is not as strong as she seems.
He paused, looking back, and then up towards the heavens. The stars were out for now, taunting as ever. But all seemed safe.
“You will torment me even in death,” he muttered, and followed Raina’s trail.
For all the torment you caused me in life, he seemed to reply, laughing.
She seemed to notice him at some point, turning. “I don’t need comfort from you, Ashe!” she yelled across the plain.
Stubborn girl. He ignored her, following after her swift silhouette. Where had that girl who had run along the shores with him gone?
He supposed that no one had remained, really, after the Long Night.
A few more steps, and she had disappeared from sight. Still he stepped forward – she was no ghost, and she could not simply vanish.
His lantern was guttering. Too late to turn back now, whatever else.
But his search proved fruitless – only the dirt greeted him every step of the way. The lantern turned black.
Finally, a little fear set in. If he had only one flaw, he decided, that would have been it. Fear found its way to him far too late for it to be of any use.
Still he walked, until his legs ached and he had to sit. He had failed Ari in all else – he would ——-not fail him in this. Even if it was only for the sake of a forgotten friendship.
He could not deny that he missed their days of running in the sand.
A small smile crossed his face. The three of them had made good children together. Yet one of them lay forgotten in the dust, and Ashe seemed soon to join him. There would be no more light – morning was as far away as it had ever been, despite his best efforts. Raina was right – he was a fool, more so for bringing another into his foolery.
“God, you really are persistent.”
Ashe jumped again, but still treasured the little relief in his heart. How the girl could see him in this darkness was a mystery, but one that he did not need an answer to.
“I won’t have you and my brother both dead. Come on.” Her voice was frigid as it had ever been, but at least there was no underlying fury now. Perhaps grief had driven it away.
She was moving again, but loudly enough for him to hear. He hastened to his feet.
“How can you stand it here?” he called out, as much for her location as the answer. “It is so—”
“Deathly, I know. You get used to it. Do you know why?”
“It is empty,” he replied with little thought.
“But why is that?” At his silence, she continued. “It is failure, Ashe.” He heard her stop, and could imagine her face – tragic, in that way it had been when he had first met her. “The legacy of man lies dead here.”
They walked on in silence for a while longer, until at last a flickering light came into view. Ashe marvelled as he drew closer – it was electric, no doubt. It had been years since he had seen anything of the like.
“You’ve done well for yourself,” he commented. “Surviving here for three years.”
“Well, we both know that I can handle myself. And there are a few treasures here. More than anywhere else on this half, I think.”
As she ducked beneath the bulb, her hair was the brilliant red that it had been when they were children, and the sun had still shone. He could not stem the stream of memories that that sheen brought back, but only one among the torrent appeared in all vividness – a smaller girl, then, carried in the arms of her bloodied brother.
Her abode was similar to the rest of this place, albeit a little more structured. The walls were even, but no roof existed – though it was not as if one was needed anymore. She sat down, leaning against the old metal with a quiet sigh. “Why did you do it, Ashe, really?”
“What?” He stood uncertainly, fidgeting under her gaze.
“Come on. You’re not an idiot. When the world gets ripped in half, you begin to realise that there’s nothing much to do about it.”
“There was.”
“Temporary, we all knew that, and ridiculously dangerous. You knew that someone would die.”
“But to give up on all hope—”
“The stars themselves tore the world in two!” she cried, with a passion that she had hidden for years. Even their parting had not been so violent, despite him ignoring all that she had implored. “If there is a god in heaven, Ashe, then you are trying to fight against him. When the Earth gets halved and refuses to spin, you begin to realise that some things are beyond man.”
“You were not always so cynical,” he said.
“The world was not always like this. Sit down.”
Cautiously, he did. “How did he die?” she asked, after a moment.
“Fell. Struck the burning rocks.” Ashe laughed sadly. “How else do our kind die?”
“Our kind?” Raina sounded as if she had failed to even smile for a long time when she laughed at his words. “Do you consider yourself something different to me?”
“Noble, first. And foolish. You are right. One does not fight against gravity.”
Raina nodded, as if such a thing had never been in question. But at the sadness in his voice, she spoke. “Hell, Ashe. If you weren’t so noble, I might’ve died as a child.”
“If I weren’t so noble, your brother would be alive now.”
She changed the subject. “So why do you carry that dagger? I’ve never seen you use it before, and I doubt it would help against the Earth’s molten core.”
“Your brother gave it to me. For luck. Because he wanted to keep me safe, repay me for what he thought he owed, or something. I see that now – no one ever believed in hope but me.”
Ashe bowed his head. He’d already shed tears for this death, well and long, but the grief did not stop. It was his doing, after all – his mistake.
“I hope you are wiser now,” Raina said. “Ashe, you ought to have listened to me. That was what hurt most of all, you know – after everything, you still thought that I did not have your best in mind.”
Ashe leaned his head against the wall. “I never doubted you had my best. Only that my best was not enough.”
“Nothing’s enough, Ashe,” she replied. “You’ve travelled far to get here. You must be tired.”
“Are you trying to be rid of me?”
“No. Go to sleep. There is no point in blaming you for this.”
“Then you forgive me?”
“No. But I’m not angry with you, not anymore. Just go to sleep.”
As he lay down, he realised that his eyes had been yearning to close ever since he had stepped within. And it was safe here. Far away from the broken edge of space, from the wild, unfathomable gravity that drew them day by day further from the sun, and from the memories of his dead friend.
In a moment the sun shone in the sky above him, and he squinted against its glare. Raina’s hair glowed red in the light, as she dashed down the beach and yelled out for her brother to join her in the waves. Ari smiled his cockish smile, pushing his windswept brown hair out of his eyes as he turned to Ashe.
“I appreciate this, you know,” he said.
Ashe smiled up at him. “You do what you can, don’t you?”
His eyes followed Raina’s wild path across the sea. Hard to believe that only a few days ago he and Ari had carried her limp form to a doctor – she seemed as well as any other child.
“I don’t want to go back home,” Ari said suddenly, watching her. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to help her next time.”
Ashe grinned a little and punched him on the shoulder. “Well, you know where to find me.”
Ari watched him severely. “Do you mean that?”
“Of course,” Ashe replied.
Ari turned around with a disbelieving shake of his head. “Perhaps the world has some hope after all.”
When he awoke, Raina stood with her back to him, head bowed low.
The ground at her feet was wet, and Ashe made no comment on it as he rolled up. He was fairly sure of what he would see, but it still jarred him to see his friend’s corpse. The fall had distorted his face terribly, so that only a sliver of his brown hair still existed, and all else was unrecognisable. But Raina’s tears were confirmation enough.
“I was waiting for you,” she said, as she hefted something from the ground. He did not bother asking how she had got all this so fast – she had her own ways, now, ways far beyond him.
It was the shield, he realised, which he had clambered on earlier. The cross emblazoned on it was red with rust.
She thrust it hard into the ground above Ari’s head, her hands shaking as she released it.
“Do you have a shovel?” Ashe asked.
“Don’t need one,” she muttered. “It does not do, for him to be like this.”
So saying, she withdrew a flask of oil. This scrapyard truly seemed to hold everything. Pouring it over the corpse quietly, she turned her forlorn gaze to Ashe. “Don’t you dare go back,” she said. “I hated my parents, but then you know that well. In all my life I cared only for my brother and my dearest friend, and I won’t lose both of you.”
She raised her glass high, in some sort of mad toast. “To a broken sky and an endless night.”
Ashe looked at her blankly. “You know that I can’t agree with that.”
“Even now?” She wrapped her hand in cloth. “Don’t you see that there is no way to end them? Let it be, Ashe. We won’t be the ones to die.”
She grabbed the lightbulb, still hot.
“When your brother met me,” Ashe said, “he told me that the world still had some hope in it.”
Raina laughed. “Lot of good that did you two.” She hurled the bulb towards the corpse. It went alight in spectacular fashion as she came to stand by him.
“Raina, I—”
“Just watch,” she said.
And he did. The smoke filled the air, but he did not turn aside from the smell. Instead, he watched it rise, deep into the starry sky, far from the failed legacy of man.

Russell Boey is fifteen years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He Digs With a Suit – E Wen Wong

He digs with a rusting spade
its face coated in cinnamon,
playing its card
as the cosmic tree of life.
He digs out a crimson heart
speckled with beads of sand,
playing its card
as hope, warmth and light.
He digs out a shard
of raw, tinted glass,
Replacing a stolen diamond
A club will follow suit.

E Wen Wong is thirteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Fingers comma Toes Logo Final

2016 January – Blue – Inaugural Issue


Goody Goody – Vanessa Choo (age 04; Singapore)
The Second Full Moon Is Blue – Ella Stephens (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Auhora – Hugh Ryan (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Dreaming Cat – Sofia Verina (age 10; North Carolina, United States)
The Hunters – Finn Pearce (age 08; Christchurch, New Zealand)
where the ice met the sea – Lucy Jessep (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Buxton Apothecary – Eleanor Bennett (age 19; Manchester, England)
Offscreen – Ryan Tuzyk (age 25; Toronto, Canada)
Arm Doodles – Samantha Jory-Smart (age 14; New Zealand)
Blue Tiger – Cameron Doherty (age 11; Auckland, New Zealand)
Space – Lachlan Merriman (age 08; Auckland, New Zealand)
Ocean Eyes – Imogen Twiss (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Blue Fish – Alanah Peters (age 07; Bluff City, Tennessee, United States)
Blue Duck – Joshua Dillon (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Autumn – Gray Hackett (age 07; Larchmont, New York, United States)
Seated Drive – Eleanor Bennett (age 19; Manchester, England)
Hungry – Judith Jewell (age 15; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Brothers – Ralph Clink (age 15; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Flurry of Bonfire Night – Eleanor Bennett (age 19; Manchester, England)
Blue Butterfly – Bryson Chen (age 15; Christchurch, New Zealand)
I Start at Blue – Georgina Scott (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Untitled] – Zelle Logan (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Penguins – Jeannie Hird (age 09; Wanganui, New Zealand)

Goody Goody – Vanessa Choo

01 - Vanessa Choo - Goody Goody

Vanessa Choo is four years old. She lives in Singapore.

The Second Full Moon Is Blue – Ella Stephens

the boy
and the lamb
hidden behind
the blue tarpaulin
a world that is their own
the sea
the sky
the second full moon
a ladder leans against
the blue cottage
a china tea set is blue
the kettle whistles
they hide
out of reach of truth
behind reality
they live in
a world that is their own
but a blue tarpaulin

Ella Stephens is thirteen years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Auhora – Hugh Ryan

The Auhora
Slowly crosses the horizon a minute before dawn
As cars get driven and chainsaws get used
The CO2 makes the boat rise
On the melting ice
Of the Arctic
Up and up
It goes until the world is flooded
And all that is left is the boat

Hugh Ryan is nine years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Dreaming Cat – Sofia Verina

04 - Sofia Verina - Dreaming Cat

Sofia Verina is ten years old. She lives in North Carolina, United States.

The Hunters – Finn Pearce

A seagull sloping
down towards the waves
Froth parting the arrow
in the wing

Finn Pearce is eight years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

where the ice met the sea – Lucy Jessep

between the frost
and the sea
a figure stood
half crystallised frost,
formed from a single breath
on a moonlit day
half wild sea foam,
shaped from murky depths
dark and distant
she would climb onto a sleigh
pulled by deep blue horses
and ride towards the moon.
she wondered what
the sea would look
like if it froze
sheets of ice
stretched tightly
over the ocean
like a glass cover,
the ocean whipping it,
forming spider-web cracks
in a frozen wasteland

Lucy Jessep is twelve years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Buxton Apothecary – Eleanor Bennett

07 - Eleanor Bennett - Buxton Apothecary

Eleanor Bennett is nineteen years old. She lives in Manchester, England.

Offscreen – Ryan Tuzyk

I’m the chief scientist on an exploration class starship, and I’m also a robot. Or at least I’m pretending to be.
Robots speak in a steady, measured cadence, because there are no emotions to distract them. I keep my voice neutral as I impart life-saving information to the crew.
“Captain,” I say, “Quorium readings are dangerously high.”
The director yells cut.
When I get home there’s a note on the door. I’m going to live with my sister, it says. The children are coming with me.
I go inside and open the newspaper, because I haven’t read it yet.

Ryan Tuzyk is twenty-five years old. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

Arm Doodles – Samantha Jory-Smart

Blue pen-ink
blots my skin
and spreads till it
entwines my veins
swirls adorn the moon
and seep into my arm
in wobbly blotches
of midnight
twenty stars tingle
on each of my
fingers and toes
an owl hoots
from my other wrist
I collect
memories of the night too,
you know.

Samantha Jory-Smart is fourteen years old. She lives in New Zealand.

Blue Tiger – Cameron Doherty

10 - Cameron Doherty - Blue Tiger

Cameron Doherty is eleven years old. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Space – Lachlan Merriman

I’m floating in an infinite world
High over the earth so beautiful and blue
I can see the stars and they look like glitter spread over the sky
I’m in a sea of tranquillity.

Lachlan Merriman is eight years old. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Ocean Eyes – Imogen Twiss

I see them
I don’t hear.
Muffled voices collecting in a haze
their timbre is dead, monotonous
a dull globe of noise, thudding
Indistinguishable sound pollution
I am in the center
but no one acknowledges me
my life goes on, long walks in the park
I see no colour
I see sadness, I see being alone.
But it is only me in my loneliness
The blue is others’ happiness through a filter
that is my eyes
They are normal, I am the odd one out
I look in the mirror
And I see blue
My blood runs cold, always
There is a sinking sphere
Lead in my chest
It pulls me down, so that everyone else
Is above me
They laugh, but not at me
They are looking elsewhere, happy
They do not notice my pain
They do not notice me
Their lives are fulfilled
I am invisible
I am the one who sees blue
Blue is all I see
Everything is blue
I’m drowning
I’m seeing my whole life before my eyes
My life has always been blue
I was born and put in baby blue
When I wanted pink
When they laughed, at me, this time
I saw everything through ocean eyes
Cried cerulean tears
I’m falling down, the bridge called to me
I watch the shimmering surface of the waves, undulating
The lead where my heart is, pulling me under
Drifting to meet the sea floor
A cold bed
But I’m not seeing blue anymore
I see purple
Now red
My blood is being drawn from my lungs before me
And now I see black

Imogen Twiss is fourteen years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Blue Fish – Alanah Peters

13 - Alanah Peters - [Untitled]

Alanah Peters is seven years old, and created this artwork at the age of six. She lives in Bluff City, Tennessee, United States.

Blue Duck – Joshua Dillon

She swooped down onto the crescent shaped rock, her brown, wrinkled, webbed feet planting on the granite, made smooth by decades of swift currents. She lowered her head delicately, and came back up with a beak full of crystal clear water, leaving behind a pulsating ripple. She straightened her neck, droplets falling from the end of her beak, and shook her feathers. This was her favourite spot, far enough away to not be disturbed by her brothers, let alone those tall creatures with big shiny machines, always making noise.
She was majestic, candy for the eye, nature’s finest. Her feathers were of a glorious array of blue and green that stood out perfectly against the background. Her soft furry underbelly was snow white, peppered with dots of cherry. Her feet were so intricately designed, with seemingly hundreds of layers and textures. She rubbed the top of her head on her underbelly, trying to sooth the irritated skin around her deep scar. It was engrained in her memory.
After cleaning herself, she took off in search of her brothers. Surely they had found a tasty morsel to gobble, or else she would go starving. Her wings flapped in a monotonous beat as she soared through the air, with a bird’s eye view of the snaking, blue and white river, cutting through the land. Then she saw it. Something out of the corner of the eye, out of focus, but there. She turned her head as she saw the tall creatures, holding long shafts, looking up at the sky. She turned her gaze back to the river, confused. The next moment, she heard a loud BANG and her feathers parted, as the hot sharp object tore through her skin and pierced her heart. She dropped like a stone, and splashed hard down into the water.
The blue duck sank to the river floor, one of the last of its kind, taken for granted. A waste. The charm of her blue enigma was lost for good. The hypocrisy of mankind.

Joshua Dillon is fourteen years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Autumn – Gray Hackett

Fall leaves are many colors
Flying from the trees
Flags waving in the wind—slow

Gray Hackett is seven years old. He lives in Larchmont, New York, United States.

Seated Drive – Eleanor Bennett

16 - Eleanor Bennett - Seated Drive

Eleanor Bennet is nineteen years old. She lives in Manchester, England.

Hungry – Judith Jewell

I look down at my beef. Cold. Blue. I look up at my daddy. Cold. Blue. His coldness is driven by an eternal storm of violence, but no one else sees it. Coldness of the beef is driven by a lazy cook. I wonder if the cook has a storm as well, and pray he doesn’t. It’s a shame my few spots of sunshine can barely hold up the rain my daddy hails down on me. Cold. Blue. It’s a shame my bruises always show up blue against my pale skin, so I yet again come up with excuses as to why my pale flesh is constantly interrupted by fields of damaged nerves that insist on sharing my secret. Daddy’s little secret, he says while tapping the side of his nose, the same nose that constantly drips little bundles of snot. Cold. Blue.
I look down at my beef, and begin to eat. I tear apart the blueness, tear apart the storm with my sunshine. I laugh with confidence in my voice.
My beef is gone, and I like it that way.

Judith Jewell is fifteen years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Brothers – Ralph Clink

The coffins fall from the clouded sky
Jump, or burn, jump or burn!
Pale arms, reaching for the surface
Legs still, hearts still
The coffins fall from the other side
No longer stars and stripes
Jump, or burn, jump or burn!
Tanned arms, reaching for the surface
Legs still, hearts still
No longer enemies
Yet not allies
But brothers
Brothers of the sea
Blue cares not for colour
For it encompasses all

Ralph Clink is fifteen years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Flurry of Bonfire Night – Eleanor Bennett

19 - Eleanor Bennett - The Flurry of Bonfire Night

Eleanor Bennet is nineteen years old. She lives in England.

Blue Butterfly – Bryson Chen

The butterfly flapped its wings,
Sending shockwaves through the air.
She exhaled,
Her blue breath clouding the sky,
Swirling like an icy dragon.
The dragon cried,
Shaking the air with its new-found powers.
Another flap of the butterfly’s wings,
And the dragon’s inferno was extinguished.
Forming from the smoke,
A tree grew.
A tree
As wise as the owl that perched on
The branches of navy.
Strong and sturdy,
Caring for the dragon infants
That rested on it.
The butterfly stopped flapping its wings
And a dire axe appeared.
Without any hesitation,
It slammed into the trunk of the tree.
Down and down, it
It was silent.
No more breath.

Bryson Chen is fifteen years old. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

I Start at Blue – Georgina Scott

Numb lips
Frost bites
Cold hair
Dead eyes
Sunken ocean
Ships fading
Winds hoarse
Balloons empty
Icy walking
Iceberg melting
Colors frozen
Pendants hanging
Elbows, knees
Time frozen
Grief ridden
With Blue

Georgina Scott is twelve years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

[Untitled] – Zelle Logan

22 - Zelle Logan - [Untitled]

Zelle Logan is twelve years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Penguins – Jeannie Hird

They waddle cutely
across the ice
Their bodies slide too.
So free when they swim
I know who they are
and hope you do too
They are…the penguins.

Jeannie Hird is nine years old. She lives in Wanganui, New Zealand. She is the first person ever to submit to fingers comma toes.

Fingers comma Toes Logo Final