Snapshots and Elephants

Narrative by anonymous

Snapshots and elephants. These two things have nothing to do with each other, under normal circumstances, but sometimes two things that don’t belong together, come together for a moment in time, only to become unrelated and separate once again.

Snapshots. The memories come in snapshots, bursts of clarity and memory, like an old fashioned camera going off in a dark room. Soon they are gone and I am left with ghost-like sensations, barely there, yet very prevalent. For a moment, before the memories fade back into the dark of my mind, I can almost feel what it felt like to be near him, what it felt like to kiss him. I can almost feel how, when we held hands, our hands didn’t quite fit together correctly – a key jamming into the wrong lock, a puzzle piece scraping over it’s false match – as though our bodies knew all along that the two of us were not meant to last.

Sometimes I remember little things. Like what he was wearing the time I went over to his house and watched movies (a red shirt and khaki-colored cargo shorts and white socks, and the white socks made him look like a child who had taken off his shoes). Like how he smelled every time he was close to me (detergent and general cleanliness, but no one I had ever met or been physically close to had ever smelled like that). But sometimes I remember the things I’d love – almost as much as I loved him – to forget. Like how I was always self conscious of how I kissed, how I was as a girlfriend (and how he only perpetuated this feeling of inadequacy, how he liked it best when I kissed him like She once did).  Like how I would say no (pushing his greedy, clammy hands away from me, but they pushed back, and they won, reaching towards me as I pretended to be okay with it).

Elephants. The pain was like that, like a circus elephant, or two, sitting upon my chest. Crushing my ribs until they poked into my heart. And I was scrambling, flailing, to move, but the sadness, the pressure of the elephant on my chest, pinned me down. I was going to die, I was sure of it, I was going to die, whether it have been of a broken heart or by my own hand, but I had never been more sure of anything.

Sometimes, when I’m near him now, when I sit near him in one of my classes, a little part of me feels that elephant’s tentative pawing at my still-healing rib cage. And sometimes, when he smiles at me – that completely platonic smile of complete innocence of his horrible effect on me in the past – I feel that elephant begin to dig in, like a cat carving out a nest in a blanket. And sometimes, while I’m looking at him, and I’m smiling stupidly, almost forgetting how I once felt, my mind reminds me of his words:

“I’m only perfect because I’m with you.”

And part of me, everytime my mind replays those words, breaks apart again.

Last Day

Poem by anonymous

Wake up, shower, meds

feel fake

eat breakfast, drive sister to school

already sad, why?

park in school lot, try to not think

feel like crying, stop.

Put on a brave face, somehow make it to class

no one knows, no one cares

Hide my thoughts because that’s what I do

can’t work, can’t explain why, I’m sorry.


Endless learning, be it in my head or in the books

learn about myself, well, what I tell myself

I don’t mean to be rude, I just can’t think of anything–

anything else, I’m thinking though.

So many acquaintances, they don’t know

I won’t tell them, my fault, my fault, my fault.

Wonder about what they think of me

they don’t, invisible, unneeded.

Try and explain to my mind it’s wrong

how can I be right and wrong at the same time?


Get home, hazily walk to my room

why are you here, lazy

Try and relax, where’s mom?

she doesn’t care either, no one does

Listen to music to drown out my thoughts

you can’t stop it, it’ll be here forever

I fantasize about being happy

you don’t deserve it

I day-dream about finding a purpose

I don’t deserve it


Mom comes to talk to me

she’s disappointed

It’s my grades, they’re shit

like always

She doesn’t understand

you’re explaining it wrong

I can’t explain

stop crying, stop crying, stop thinking

I need to run, I can’t take it

no one cares

Run, and run, and run.

where are you going?

I don’t know, away, far away

If no one talks to you on this run

Keep running.

Kill yourself.

Reach bridge

Look at that water, won’t that feel good?

Look out over the edge, think, cry, listen.

Stop crying and jump


I turn around, see an old woman.

My hope argues with my mind

Yes, yes, no.

Remember all my mistakes

every day feels like years, feels like decades

Think of all the possibilities

I want to be happy again

She disappears back into my head

My mind fights for my life

What do I want?


I sit there for hours, days, years.

I cry more than I knew I had

I think harder than I knew I could

I ponder why I fight

I don’t know, I don’t care

But I realize, I do care

I want to be here for my family

I want to live the life I was given

A step away from death

and I understand.


I turn to see the world

it flows through my eyes

beats back the tempest of my thoughts

rips the scaffolding of hate from my cluttered head

sets free the golden memories of happiness

unleashes my emotions, so long locked away.

The world welcomes me into its arms

I take its hand and leave the river

much more intact, filled with understanding

on my last day.


Essay by Miguel A. Garcia

The entire drive back to the park was a solemn experience. I was sniffling like a baby, trying to hide the torrential downpour of tears beneath my aviators, turning my face away, staring out of the passenger’s side window. I routinely looked at my sorry expression in the sideview mirror, feeling absolutely embarrassed for making such a big deal out of something that even I had considered petty. So your dog died? Cry me a river. And I did. I didn’t make a habit of practicing my crying, so I fought with my diaphragm every mile back home, which only worked for so long before I got spasms of hiccups. Those hiccups always haunted me. It was a strange condition that I could never shake. One of my old church pastors, an Argentinian, once said to me, “A Mexican never cries, but when he does cry, he really cries.” He couldn’t have been more right.

Luckily for my pride, James, the park manager who had been kind enough to take me to the animal hospital and to cover the costs, was a dog enthusiast. I hadn’t known him all that long, but I did know that he had served with the Marines for ten years before settling down in Iowa. He looked over at me as I hugged the cardboard box that held my late dog, Blackey, or Lackey, as I had grown to call him. “It’s okay to cry, y’know. I was pretty broken up when one of my dogs died last year,” he said to me. I responded by shaking my head. Crying never did any good for anyone. Crying is weak. Crying is overrated. Crying is not a release, it’s a trap. Or, so I thought.

James let me out of the truck and pointed me patch of grass next to a lagoon beside some train tracks on Scott Blvd. That was the spot. I walked over with a shovel in hand and tried for China. Through the tears, I dug angrily. The whole time, I blamed the driver of the car. I fantasized about paying him a visit. When that subsided, I blamed myself for being asleep at noon. I blamed the dog, even, for being such a dumb pup. I stopped after reaching the clay at knee-depth. I walked over to that cardboard box and picked up his inanimate, petite, eight month old body. I held him close to me one last time before I wrapped him in a towel and tucked him into his earthen bed and said goodbye. Just then, a train roared past. Some might call it an interruption, some an omen. The wind blew harder and the ground shook. I got the message and headed home.

I cried a bit more that night, but it was a different kind of crying. I wasn’t over it, not for a while, but this time, I was happy for him, wherever he was. Even if it wasn’t with me.

Souls for Breakfast

Poem by Annie Hartley

For breakfast last Monday,

I ate a soul because there was

Nothing left to eat in the pantry.

I sautéed it with a little bit of

Olive oil and just a dash of basil.

The light dancing tones of Mozart

Covered up the anguished, burning screams.

On the plate, the soul looked like an

Egg omelet in a black and white photograph.

It tasted like fresh baked cookies.

I think her name was Reyna.

Now even the coldest ice cream burns like fire

In my mouth, and when I look in the mirror,

My tongue is charred and bloody,

And my gums leak a clear, slimy pus.

Another soul will take the pain away,

But the supermarkets and organic food stores don’t advertise:

“Fresh caught human souls for sale. Only $4.99 per pound.”

It’s too bad, really. It would be a good money maker for them.

I killed my first victim today.

I drove my butcher knife into her throat,

And held a mason jar up to the wound to catch

The slippery soul as it spilled out along with the thick red blood.

I left her body for the police to find and bury.

I owe her that much at least.

This time, I made scrambled eggs, and they tasted like garden grown tomatoes.


Poem by Anna Baynton

People say when you’re in love,

You forget your sweetheart’s flaws,

But only for a while.

They say after the glamor has worn away

After the scales have fallen from your eyes

After you see what is and not what might have been,

You come to know each of your darling’s faults and failings

And you choose, albeit painfully, whether you’ll accept the whole

Or leave all in your past.

But I’m here to tell you

That although that’s absolutely true,

‘Only for a while’ is different for everyone.

For me it’s lasted nine hundred and seventy-three years – next Monday.

She has a very strong glamor.


(Oh – don’t think I’m stupid, because logically,

And academically,

I know she’s evil, totally evil,

And I realize she thinks nothing of me.

But who cares?

Not me.

Not yet.

Not yet.

My heart’s delusional and won’t listen to my mind

Which has been trying to play psychiatrist to an organ.)


Poem by Maeve Ward

Like a fish,

I swim in warm harmonies

before careening into a new chord.

As I drift into C,

I feel my soul vibrating

in sync with my reed.


this collection of humans

what joyful sounds we make.

How privileged am I

to be able to partake

in this group of musicians?


As I dive into a new wave of sound

I feel at home

because somehow

this harmony knows me,

familiar with all the inner

workings of my mind,

just as I know each note

and all of the secret passageways

that lie beneath the melody.


I feel a certain affinity

with all of the people in the room.

This song is bigger than all of us

and so it swallows us whole

and makes us one.


I pay attention to my fingers

no longer.

Instead I let them dance and flutter

while I relax into the sound

they have gifted to me

and it is joyful and hopeful and

bursting with warmth and wonderment.


Although I may try to manufacture

an experience like this,

I know I won’t be able to

so I just sit back and sigh

and let my problems disappear for a while


and I smile

Math Test Poem

Poem by Natalie B. Holmes


The class dramatically,


Unsheathes their over-priced calculators,

Off to battle inequalities and algebraic expressions.


Pencils flit on paper as 3 wrong answers,

And 26 correct ones are hesitantly scribbled.

One dumbo plugs 3+10 into their over-priced calculator.

There will be 9 more

Stupid reasons for calculator use.

8 total prolonged glances at the teacher will occur,

Begging for an understanding of the

Lack of memory that has recently overcome these 9 students.


As they place the paper before the teacher, always hesitant,

Their various expressions are as follows:

11 Confidents

7 Desperates

3 Scareds

6 Okays

1 Who Put 42 For Every Blank And Honestly Doesn’t Give A Shit.

So goes the math test.


Poem by Anna Baynton

Child is sitting.

Child is sitting and singing,

singing songs child learned in choir

at school.

Child is sitting, and singing, and swinging child’s legs,

back and forth,

back and forth,

leaning deep into the old wicker chair.

Poetry Contest 2015

The City High Review is excited to announce the beginning of our annual poetry contest! From now until midnight on April 30th, you can submit up to 3 of your own poems. Soon after, the Review staff will deliberate and decide on winners. The Grand Champion receives $50 and 2nd and 3rd place receive $30 and $20 respectively. Send your poems to