Fire Escape

Legs swinging back and forth over the alley below, arms wrapped loosely around warm metal bars, she tilts her head back to squint into the sun. From her pale fingers dangles a lit cigarette, thin trails of smoke filtering upwards, disappearing into a musty oblivion. The street below moves rapidly along, unstoppable, catching in its wave anyone who dares take the first step. Leaning her head against the rail, she closes her brown eyes, deeply inhaling vapors held within the tiniest of killers. A cloud of smoke settles around her, permeating her clothes, seeping into her skin. She could care less. Let life continue on without her, just for this moment.

But moments turn to minutes; minutes to hours. Opening her eyes, the sun has begun to set behind the skyscrapers; the laughs and shouts of the nightlife float off with the cool breeze. A labored sigh leaves her lips as she pockets her cigarette pack. Resting her forehead on her arms, a tear escapes down her cheek, dragging specks of mascara along. Not even the fire escape can save her from Time’s iron grip. And as she wraps her arms around herself, she hears his laughter in the distance.

~ Hoài-Linh

**I don’t condone smoking, but let’s be real, it makes for some interesting artistic content when put in the right setting…

Through the Eyes of a Teen

“Land of the free and home of the brave.”

A phrase that surrounds me each and every day.

But I look all around. Do I truly see freedom?

I turn on the news. Is it freedom I’m seeing?

The stories I hear, the things that I see,

Can’t possibly make the freedom bells ring.

Out on the streets, young and old are abandoned,

And skin color dictates how people are treated.

Women must fight for a voice of their own.

Suppressing religion is becoming a norm.

When voices rise up, a deaf ear is turned,

Leaving the helpless to fall, crash, and burn.

They call out for help, but all is in vain,

For those meant to help them put victims in chains.

I’m looking around through the eyes of a teen

Thinking, “Where is the freedom that I should be seeing?”

All these and more leave my young heart in pain,

Cause God knows what’s coming if things do not change.

– kh.

© January 2015 | Sacramento, California