Archives for category: ME, AT 17


by Laila Simon

Without my permission, my mother signed me up to take the AP French test. I took three years of French class with Madame at Wilson High School but at this point I could say all of five sentences in correct French. I could say that I would like something, specifically steak and French fries, an assortment of clothing pieces, and who I was in a basic way: age,  dix-sept; name, Je m’appelle Laila; country of origin, USA. A typical class period included repetition, verb conjugation, and mass amounts of free study time. Madame liked to keep us on our toes and decided one afternoon that we were watching Not Without My Daughter, starring Sally Field. Then comes the morning of the test. I saw three girls standing outside the outdated library. They were all discussing French home-stays and a fourth girl soon joined in. Oh my god. Before I turned I could see them all wearing black turtlenecks and berets, eating baguettes and talking about how stupid Americans are. I stayed in the bathroom until there were only four minutes left until the test began. When I returned to the library the other girls had taken their seats in desks complete with thick booklets and to my horror, bulky machines that looked like tape recorders. Five of us total in the room, and all of them except for me had lived in France. I doodled a giant wolf’s head on my page until it was time to move onto the third and final task which was the speaking portion. Somehow I got through, speaking low into my tape recorder so that there was no chance that the other girls nor the proctor would be able to hear me making up words and cursing my mother.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at 17 in Norway for the summer. July 2010. Twirling Selfie.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I adapted this piece from a series I am working on where I write on small moments from my life at different ages. This is the second one I wrote as I am jumping around in my own timeline.


Laila Simon
is a writer based out of Portland, Oregon. She works promoting Scandinavian culture and is looking for her next adventure. Previously published in St. Olaf’s The Quarry, on the Rain Taxi: Review of Books website, and on the Thank You for Swallowing website. Visit her online.

PHOTO: The author at the Portland State book wall, downtown Portland (Fall 2016).

Along the Shore
by Munia Khan

It was the seventeenth September of my life
when my heart was floating
on the north side of the Alps; on a lake!
People named it Lake Geneva;
but I called it “Heart Lake”
as it flowed into my heart’s core
through the grace of its royal serenity

And in disguise of a fountain
Jet d’ Eau was there every second
to pump 500 liters of my excitement
to the height of 140 meters
towards the limitless sky
as if it wanted to be
the symbol of my youthful vigour
instead of symbolizing
Switzerland’s strength and vitality

I loved the afternoon sun playing
with its own rays along the shore
And while I was going to meet
the flowers and sculptures of Montreux,
I smelled Lord Byron’s ink
sweating an amazing darkness out
from the medieval body of Chillon Castle

Right away I had to stop
Yes, I had to;
not because I read “The Prisoner of Chillon”
but because of a magical effect
the castle’s external splendour cast upon me
They said “it was one of the most
feared dungeons in the whole world”;
but strangely my mind sensed something else
During those moments, I was happy being imprisoned
by a certain dejection I could never express
I felt I didn’t want to leave that place
I began to inhale the breeze
carrying ancient love and mercy
reflected by the lake
The architectural beauty
of the oval-shaped Château de Chillon
buried all its historical mortification and guilt

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, at 17 in front of Château de Chillon (Chillon Castle) in Geneva, Switzerland  (Sept. 2, 1998).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is inspired by my visit to my sister’s home in Geneva, Switzerland, 1998 when I was 17. It feels like just yesterday, as though time stands still along the shore of Lake Geneva. Through this poem I’d like to thank my one and only sister Fauzia Haque and my brother-in-law Enamul Haque for giving me so many precious memories in my life.


Munia Khan
 was born on a spring night of 15th March in the year 1981. Her poetry is the reflection of her own life experience. She is the author of three poetry collections — Beyond the Vernal Mind, published in 2012, To Evince the Blue, published in 2014 by Xlibris Corporation, USA and Versified, published in 2016 by Tiktakti Publishing Company, Tel Aviv, Israel. . Her poems have appeared in several anthologies around the world. Her works have been translated into various languages: Japanese, Romanian, Urdu, Spanish, Bengali, Irish, and so on. She is a member in The Poetry Society, UK, and also a founding member of Poets & Artists For A Different World Movement.


The Message
by Andrew Hunt

I was up on my roof. The only places better than my roof were my darkroom, and my girlfriend Samantha’s bedroom. I loved being up on my roof. I felt like a badass. Dad was a DIY guy, which meant I improved dad’s home, which was my home, but without the ownership part. This summer it was the roof. I learned to work doing such achingly difficult tasks. The copper-California mid-summer swelter burnt down; it toasted our heads, and our peeking butt cracks. I was almost becoming a man. Dad and I, and my best friend Tom, shucked, stuck and shoveled. Our muscles bowed and the dust settled dark in our skin creases. Only actual shit would have been dirtier. Filthy now, I stood all Marlon Brando cocky. But up on my roof I got a message. I was unprepared for this message. The comradery, the dust, and the baking heat did not soften or turn away the message. I hollered out manly things; “did you see that bitchin’ blue Corvette down on Crane?” And still the message stuck. It felt like 12-year-old me lighting 52 acres of grandfather’s ranch on fire. It felt like first confession; “Bobby Creighton and I robbed the five and ten,” I told the priest. Shame filled my temples like that. Innately I knew that a real man is honest the way a fly is honest. But honesty takes courage.

“Samantha, I’m afraid I‘m actually in love with your parents, and that I just want to have sex you.”I couldn’t say it. I drove away knowing I hadn’t said what I came to say. Samantha turned and walked through her gate.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken in January of 1981. I was out with my best friend Tom, my photo buddy of many years. We were out on the coast near Salt Point, California. This is a self-portrait. This image is very much indicative of my pensive state of mind. I am 17.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ever interested in the written word, language, and telling stories, Andrew Hunt received high and strange praise from his high school and college English professors. “Hunt, you’ve got what it takes to write something wholly interesting, but you haven’t got a single comma or period in the lot of it; B-!” After a brief career as a professional photographer in Palo Alto, California, and a much more lengthy one, as a General Contractor, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Andrew finally met his true love in Santa Fe, while living in Portland, Oregon. The long distance fostered much writing. A few million words in fact. Andrew had met a prolific professional writer. And she had met an unexpected compadre. True love, Meridian Johnson, Poet par excellence, encouraged Andrew to put his work in the world. This submission marks the first such offering. Visit the author at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Seventeen is a proverbial time of change in any person’s life. The vagaries of culture meet idealism head on. Meridian counseled a dynamic present moment essay. “I want you to prick my finger Andrew; make it bleed a little.”Everybody has some experience in the year of Seventeen that delivers this kind of punch. “Don’t tell me about the moment; I want to feel the moment. I want to be there in the immediacy.” I lost my virginity, and discovered I had no tools to discuss this profound event. I had no schooling in the wash of feeling that welled up. My dad never said one word about his sex life. I had only fear around the potpourri of emotion. So receiving such a message, though not ultimately true, (I did actually love Samantha), rocked my world. I believed I had no one to turn to, that no one had EVER had such a feeling; and this is the essence of being Seventeen.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken at Multnomah Falls, Oregon, by my beloved Meridian, on my birthday, 2016. I am 52.

Keeping My Sanity
by Richard Harries

I was in a bad place
At seventeen
Four years before, my Mum had died
I was at boarding school
Wondering what my life would be
Where I would go as leaving loomed

Music kept me sane
The British Beat and especially Petula Clark
Threaded melody like a golden calming thread
Through my life
My father had remarried straight away
And she did not like me
In fact I was not allowed home

I always said that Cinderella was a silly bitch
With nowt to complain of compared
To Alice
So I stayed with relatives
And friends
Who would have me
And played my music

In 69 when I was seventeen
Roberta Flack exploded into my head
And her sweet music soothed my soul
Aretha and Motown
Sam and Dave and Nina Simone
Enriched me
And helped me
Get through my troubled life

It should have been fun
That time in my life
But it wasn’t
I had four strong women
Who stood strong and helped
And cherished
And loved and supported me
Thank God for them
They had no need to help
But they did
And they and my music
Saved me
Kept me sane

IMAGE: British singer released her hit “Downtown” in 1964.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have various ways of writing. Anecdotal comedy is usually from my own experience so i have the story and structure in place and the process is straightforward and once I settle the idea in my head the process is quick and easy. When writing blank verse and serious subjects I let the idea grow in my head and this can take days or weeks . Historical subjects I have to research and plan for even longer. Very different ways of writing for different genres.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Harries is retired and a pensioner. He has been performing for a several years and writes poetry in various genres including political protest, historical verse, children’s story poems and comedy. He appears at various festivals, most significantly The Freedom Festival at Hull and the Filey Folk Festival. He has a presence on the internet and his RCPOEMS channel has had nearly 70,000 hits.


One Thing Led to Another
by Marion Tickner

At age 17 I received a phone call that I believe changed my life.

Our church’s Christian Ed Director wanted to talk about Vacation Bible School. At first I thought she was inviting me to attend a class for teens . . . until she said she’d get the lessons to me. It turned out that I was to help teach a class of four- and five-year-olds. What had I done? I had already said yes and didn’t want to admit that I had misunderstood her. But that year I discovered that I loved working with children.

In college I majored in Christian Education and worked with children in the church setting for more than 25 years. Also volunteered to read to a class in a public school.

I became involved with Pioneer Girls, a scouting club similar to Girl Scouts . When PG Headquarters announced plans to publish a magazine for girls, I wrote a short story and submitted it as a contribution to the new magazine. Imagine my surprise when it was accepted and I received a check.

With a new interest in writing, I have since been published in several magazines for children, both on line and print. My stories also appear in some anthologies.

As I look back over the years, I believe that one thing led to another. Elsie Auringer has since passed away, but I still thank her for introducing me to the joys of working with the little ones.

PHOTO: “Fountain Pen On Typewriter Keys”  by Garry Gay. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I hadn’t had my eighteenth birthday yet, so I was still 17 when I graduated from high school. It was that year I got a taste of working with children when asked to help out in Vacation Bible School. I think that one thing led to another and an interest in writing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marion Tickner has been published in several magazines for children, both print and online, as well as other publications. Her stories also appear in a variety of anthologies, including  Mistletoe Madness, Summer Shorts, When God Steps In, The Christmas Stocking, Treasure Box, One Red Rose A Valentine’s Day Anthology, Nightlight A Golden Light Anthology, God Still Meets Needs, Gingersnaps and Candy Canes, To Love Deeply (Kindle only), Blizzard Adventure (Kindle only), Nancy Drew Anthology, and A Celebration of Mothers.

PHOTO: The author reading her story from Mistletoe Madness to a second grade class at Porter School, Syracuse, New York.

by Karen Sawyer

I take one last look
at the people I’ve known
for so long.
It all looks so familiar,
so routine. But I never
dreamed I would finally
be the one wearing the
cap and gown.

The speaker talks
and we impatiently
listen to words
about life and what
our place is in this
world. This will stick
with some and others
will forget before
the ceremony is
over. But that’s typical.

A part of my life is over now
and as I leave my school
and friends, I also leave
a part of me. Most of these
people I will never see again.
I’ll forget some them
ever even existed.

Pausing as I walk past
familiar faces, I look for
words but they stick in
my throat so I smile
and walk past, reflecting
on memories of past
years and events.

I guess I should be happy
but somewhere deep inside
of me there is a feeling of
nostalgic loneliness. I don’t
really know where to turn.
But life goes on and so will I.

PHOTO: The author at 17, high school graduation.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is actually a poem I wrote for my senior English class when I was 17. It was my last semester of high school and I was about to graduate. Life was full of mystery and excitement but I was also feeling nostalgic and unsure, as comes across in the poem. My teacher was quite pleased with the poem it catapulted me into the world of writing!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Sawyer’s work has appeared in Loving Moments, Silver Birch Press, Precious, Precocious Moments, Wounded Women of the Bible, The Secret Place Devotional, guest posts in Mother Inferior blog and Unsent Letters blog, Girlfriend 2 Girlfriend magazine, and MONTROSE ANYTIME magazine. She has contributed numerous articles to ehow, and Demand Media’s other web-based sites. She taught elementary school for seven years before her children were born. Karen lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband of 29 years. They are the parents of two adult children.

Giving voice to thoughts
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

Oh! Sweet Seventeen, I entered high school
and tried to befriend strangers till then
New classmates, new teachers, new ambience,
new opportunities with inter-school fests

The limelight of stage was so alluring
Few minutes to leave a mark, open to judgement
No one wanted to participate in writing events
The loss of names left our teachers perplexed

They challenged us, motivated us to channel
our thoughts, understand the power of words
My shyness dragged me down, but my defiance
won the battle and I slowly raised my hand

When the topic was given, I first felt blank
The force of words hit me, from all directions
Till then, a voracious reader — writing
felt like finding my way in darkness

One word and one step at a time, the thoughts
flowed, finding their voice —  like a butterfly
fluttering its wings for the first time —  I
soared into the sky of poetry, tasting freedom

IMAGE: “Theme & Variations Plate #96 (Butterfly)” by Piero Fornasetti(1913-1988).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem talks about my first attempt at writing poetry. I went on to participate in many inter-school fests and wrote for radio programs. I am grateful to my teachers who challenged us to listen to our inner voice and told us that creative writing was as important as public speaking.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar released three books of poems, Explore, Reflectand Inspire, all of which are bestsellers. Her submissions have been published in Silver Birch Press, Nancy Drew Anthology, Poetry Marathon 2016 Anthology, Sometimes Anyway: Pride in Poetry Volume II, Forwardian, Triadae Magazine, iWrite India, Dystenium Online, and Taj Mahal Review anthologies. She has appeared as guest speaker in colleges. A participant in the Poetry Marathon 2016 (24 poems in 24 hours, 1 poem per hour), she has reviewed and edited poetry and fiction books. She participated in NaNoWriMo 2016 and completed her first novel in November 2016. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

My Busy 17th Year
by Marion Deutsche Cohen


I didn’t want to kiss Conrad.
I didn’t like those cold slippery lips.
I didn’t know I wasn’t in love.
He should not have been my first kiss.
Once he took me to a concert and then while he was kissing me goodnight I
began humming that Beethoven.
“Hey, you’re singing again,” he said.
Like, you’re crying again.
The trees were swaying and the porch steps were still.
The moon was somewhere in between.


He was shorter than me and I didn’t want that to be the reason. I wanted him to be not so nice or not so considerate or believe in capital punishment.

I didn’t want to not want to talk about him to the girls at school and they’d ask What does he look like?

I didn’t want to be worried when he asked me out dancing.

My mother said this was a mature affair, based on common interests. I didn’t want it to be a mature affair based on common interests. I wanted it to be an immature affair based on no common interests, no music, no art, no deep thoughts, just soft, soft feeling, nothing but relief from the past two years.

I didn’t want his love letter to me to cross in the mail with my un-love letter to him.

“I have been saving certain words to say to the one and only woman in my life. They
are new, untarnished, and thus far unused. I hope to be able to say them to you.”

I still wonder what those certain words would have been.


I wasn’t as concerned as I wanted to be about Caryl Chessman‘s scheduled execution at 3:00 PM. And I wasn’t as unconcerned as I wanted to be about whether Jeff Cohen would phone and ask me on another date.

Would Chessman be pardoned again at the last minute? Would he be allowed to go back to his cell and write more books and prove his innocence? I tried so hard to spend the whole day asking Chessman-type rather than Jeff-type questions.

When you’re waiting for something bad, like a medical procedure, you don’t know whether to urge time forward. If you do, that bad thing is essentially already happening. If you doh’t, that bad thing won’t ever be over. But waiting to be executed is different. You hold on tight to every second because you know you won’t be feeling relieved when it’s over. Or maybe you’d rather start not feeling right away. I tried to spend the day thinking thoughts like that.

Oh yes I tried. I try did try. But it was no use. I was doomed from the start. Every person is herself. Her very own self. every person is in that self. And she can’t get out.

IMAGE: “Young Woman on the Shore” by Edvard Munch (1896).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Some of this poem comes from my diary, which I’ve been keeping since age 11, while other parts are purely from the way I remember it. I was a writer then but I think I’m more of a writer now. For the record, Jeff Cohen did in fact phone, and in fact he became my first husband.


Marion Deutsche Cohen
’s latest poetry collections are Closer to Dying (WordTech Editions) and What I’m Wearing Today (dancing girl press – about thrift-shopping!). Her books total 27, including two memoirs about spousal chronic illness and including Crossing the Equal Sign (Plain View Press – about the experience of mathematics). She teaches math and writing at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, where she has developed the course Mathematics in Literature. A poetry chapbook about the interaction among students and teacher in that course is currently in press (WordTech Editions). Her website is

Troutdale, 1990
by Shane Moritz

I’d cook up breakfast before practice.
Always woke up dog-tired.
Sleepwalking was becoming a problem.
I hated basketball practice and did most of my running to the toilet.
Bit of a leaky gut to boot.

My roommates had waterbeds.
I napped roughly three hours a day on a twin bed.
The upstairs neighbor loved White Zombie.
He had a deformed hand and a glamorous girlfriend.
The relation of these facts plagued me.

He had a homely roommate named Cinema.
She had a ghostly pallor, and seemed suited for hallways.
Her voice was like a bird bursting from a shrub.
“Get out,” she said one night
after I had tiptoed into her great room and got into bed with her.

I played basketball for one year.
My knees had gone derelict.
I moved back to Hillsboro crestfallen.
One day my dad slinked into my room
choked up and I can’t remember why.

PHOTO: The author at 17.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Troutdale, 1990” documents my freshman year at Mt Hood Community College in Troutdale, Oregon.


Shane Moritz
is an Australian/American made of good, honest maple. He has an MFA from Georgia College & State University. Visit his blog at Total Moritz of the Heart. He is presently a Baltimoritzean. Troutdale, 1990 documents his freshman year at Mt Hood Community College in Troutdale, Oregon.

by Katelyn Roth

Maybe you wrote a poem, but I couldn’t
work a pen on that bench we shared, our sides just
breathing against each other, tips of sleeves meeting
and quivering back into place unwillingly.
This was a hard bench, and you were solid next to me,
all rigid angles encasing a whirr and a buzz.

Maybe you wrote a poem; I wanted to see something
in the painting on the wall, but the strong blue square
was you, down to the sloping edges, and the bright green
streak across the middle of the piece was all nerves
and laughter and there was a pink sheen to the thing
so it glowed and hummed right off the wall.

Maybe you wrote a poem, but this was a poem,
and you are the poem and who could write
a poem with that glowing pink sheen
in her head?


Katelyn Roth
graduated from Pittsburg State University with degrees in Creative Writing and Psychology. She has been previously published in the campus literary magazine Cow Creek Review. Currently, she resides in Pittsburg, Kansas, with her husband and dog, working at an insurance office while on hiatus from her Masters in Creative Writing.