Sweat rushing my eyes.
A cat’s got nine lives.
How many have I?
I don’t want to die.
Not even if I tried
To live the perfect life.
Cause there’s no perfect life.
I’m losing what I love
And gaining what I want.
A gain that I don’t know,
But I love you, bro.

There will be a day when I cry
(Though you never heard me do it.)
And I’ll sigh.
And they’ll try
To say that it’s alright.
But you know that it ain’t
Cause you know that I hate
To grow up at this rate.
To not plan my whole fate.
Just to have a clean slate.
The whole world tells me go.
Oh, but I tell it wait.
I think we used to dream.
And yeah, it’s getting late.
I just try not to scream.
As we reach that strange date
When my life starts to change.
Yeah, my childhood deranged.
I hope we’re not estranged
By the noise, bruh.

They say branches go out, yo.
Though they started together.
Then they end all alone.
So it started off better.
I can’t lose hold of home.

So I’m setting out now,
From my hobbit hill.
Not an elf chasing stars though,
Got a dragon to kill.
And this ain’t no will-power.
Got no power to will.

I am only resisting,
Mouth wide open screams still “No!”
They say go.
I say, “Yo,
What you got is a brother.
What you gain’s a degree.”
Terrified to be a lover.
College makes that of me.

But you gotta pay bills, man.
Independence is real sad.
I don’t know what I want now.
Wanna love this girl real bad.
Without money and paychecks,
Got divorces and fams wrecked.
Love is more than just plain sex.
Gotta grow. Be a man. Yep.

Is it you or is it her, bruh?
Is it knowledge I should know?
Is it money or lives formed?
Can I do without it?

You don’t need a degree. No.
I will hold my history, yo.
And my writing is so slow.
It’s the thing people do, so
Gotta do it for real growth.
You know, go with the flow.

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Night Visions

My eyelids close with a boom.
I gave up too soon.
The fight was harder
Then I thought it would be.

Now here come my friends
That darkness sends;
Claws and teeth
Swirl around my mind.

I feel their stares
On my naked back.
Curl up smaller;
Can’t stand up taller.

These heavy blankets
Are my shield and fortress.
I’m sweating on purpose.
The heat will fade.

I can hear them crawling,
Underneath my bed.
“Only dust mites,”
Is what Mommy said.

That isn’t just a shadow;
It crept in through the window.
That isn’t just an afterglow;
It’s the ushering in of terror.

All alone and fatigued,
I convulse in fear.
It’s like this every night.
I cannot stop a tear.

It rolls down my cheek,
As I sob and sigh.
Will I really die,
If they get me?

I’m older now,
An independent teen.
What does that mean?
Am I still alone?

My friends have left me.
They don’t creep in the night.
In fact I miss them;
They don’t bite.

As I walk along the road–
The road of this life–
I find a discarded knife,
In my back.

In fact there are many.
Sharp blades make me scream.
I have been betrayed;
I am losing my steam.

Oh dear, oh my,
I am not practically perfect.
I can smell and detect
Another man in my body.

His name is Jekyll.
He looks like my old friends
That darkness sends.
My only friends forever.

Now I just lay,
Fighting off this Jekyll inside.
My name ain’t Hyde;
I am only Alone.

Trying to be cool and normal,
I slowly destroy myself.
Perhaps I need some help
To finally go to sleep.

My mind flies away;
My hopes start to stray.
I fight off the questions I face.
Please don’t go there!

What am I living for?
I feel so alone.
Is there more in store
For my life?

Who really loves me?
My bed starts to creak,
As I toss and turn.
I am so lost.

Jekyll starts to laugh.
He thinks that I can only live,
When I keep everything I can give;
Stay selfish forever.

I can see my window;
I hear the noise.
But what’s my choice?
To live in denial?

Denial of my real desires.
I can’t face them.
They are too horrifying.
The knives I cannot parry.

My friends have left me.
Why did I hate them?
I could not see
The lessons they taught.

Now my thoughts struggle.
Think about your success.
Jekyll wants me to forget
All the pain and stress.

I cannot forget.
I cannot live free.
I lay here awake,
And can only blame me.

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As different as rain and sun.
As similar as a book and the words inside.
As necessary to each other as the day and night,
Yet set apart just as those hours of life.
Let me see sunset and sunrise.
Let me see a pink, burning sun making peace with the night.
Let me see the sun shinning through the clouds, through the rain.
In love.
Let my pen no longer be blocked in inky ice.
Let my fingers no longer shake at the parchment.
Let me write,
And read the story that comes out.
If love is pain, then this is love.
If pain is the tearing of my arms between two poles, then let me be squeezed in the middle and then I will be whole
Because I know my sacrifice has brought my love to life.

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What If. . .?

Here is a sick life.
A virus attacks my soul.
I cannot stop thinking.
I could always end this life.

Questions bombard
Every shuffle-step I take.
I feel so ungrateful,
My distrust so distasteful.

I have found my reason,
My reason to wake.
I am a Son of God,
But what does that mean?

I do not have to worry.
I do not have to stress.
No more debate.
Well that’s just great!

Why do I still wonder?
Why do I still strain?
I feel my dearest breath.
I fear my nearest death.

All these roaming thoughts,
My shower reflections,
My bedtime speculations,
Are they a venom in my heart?

Shut up mind!
Can’t I just be normal?
Can’t I just love God?
But I just love myself.

There is so much “fact”
Swirling around in my mind.
I seem to have a knack
To refuse the simple answer.

Capture my denial.
Force it to change.
Torture my vain style.
I am unoriginal.

There is no consistency;
I am a rolling mess.
Where does my mind go?
Anywhere but God.

My emotions are scattered
Guided by the restlessness,
Of my love and heart.
Where will I find faith?

What is my future?
What are my skills?
What is the point?
What if I stopped?

When I think,
Have I gone too far?
When I question,
Am I spitting in your face?

Can I let go?
Whitened knuckles are so tired.
My feet are moving slow.
I have so little faith.

I am a student of Your will.
Can I completely erase,
This sense of standing still?
If not help me.
Help me to think.

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Christmas Without You

I stayed awake all night to look for you.
I fell asleep because you didn’t come.
I searched the stars. Do reindeer fly or do. . .
My parents lie to me. The chimney. . .
It was an empty shell. I saw the stars.
I lost the elves. The snow just fell asleep.

I tried to fake. Pa, you were fast asleep.
I felt like I was loved, and I loved you.
The big. The best. You made me reach the stars.
But then you yelled. A fist you left. Please come!
Mom cried. Divided home. The chimney. . .
Felt cold. No fire could calm my storm. You do.

The spring was chill. The grass was frozen dew.
I heard your name. Love whispered in my sleep.
I chose rejection—bent on broken knees.
Come touch. Come hold. I’ll say, “I don’t need you.”
I can not trust enough to let you come.
You’d tear my flesh and leave to chase the stars.

I wed. Became your dad, my morning star.
My wonder gone. You follow all I do.
I play the game of awe. Santa will come.
I see you play it too, tossing in sleep.
Extremely young to own the doubt in you.
You see the truth. Long fights with mom. Bled knees.

They know I lied. Awe left to never come.
Now I feel old inside. I’m on my knees.
I’m still searching. Mid-life. Mid-night. No sleep.
The mid-December blues. Searching the stars.
I hear a silent scream. The dying dew.
The icicles. Somewhere must be a You!

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From Jason: Today we have a guest post from Drake Jaatinen over at Ocean Ties. You should really check out what he’s doing!


Drake Jaatinen is a 17-year-old, budding writer. He loves any kind of music and hopes to write it someday. He has written a few poems and is working on two books with others and one by himself. He wants to work on his public speaking skills and hopes to minister someday.

Silence is my only friend;
I welcome when he comes;
All other friends leave in the end,
But Silence never does.

All other people leave,
Some due to necessity,
Others out of greed,
Taking the best in me.
But not Silence.

Anger comes and destroys,
Followed by the regret.
Of all angers awful ploys,
I would rather just forget.
But not Silence.

Sadness blankets a mood,
Leaving it calm,
Even if it is rather crude.
It’s a healing balm.
Just like Silence.

Laughter strikes like a blade,
Shining like a light.
He always comes when baid,
And turns the silence bright.

Silence is there when no one else is;
He sings me to sleep at night.
One truth that always is,
He’s there after a fight.

When the whole world leaves,
And no one cares,
Silence still comes,
And He is always there.

Even when the sun hates me,
And the moon turns away–
Silence, he comes,
And brightens my day.

People come, and people go;
The world is a cruel place;
Feelings fade;
The scars they trace
Are the ones they made.

But Silence is kind.
He calms the noise;
He restores my mind
And aids my poise.

Silence won’t forget,
And Silence won’t bend.
I never regret
Having him as my friend.

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Disappearing Mist

 Hey everyone. This is our last post of Life 2.0.!! Super excited to finish this. Jason and I had a lot of fun writing this together as our first big writing collab. Thank you to all our faithful readers and for your input each and every week. Julian’s story couldn’t have happened without you. I hope you enjoy this final installment, and let us know in the comments what you thought of the whole series. Should we do another one? What did you like about it? What should we have changed or done differently? You can read the beginning and rest of Life 2.0. here.  Again, thank you so much, you guys are awesome! 

Whispers turned into murmurs of unconsciousness. Murmurs turned into headache-inducing shouting. Couldn’t Abbi stay quiet? Blaring sirens swirled around in the air. Sirens?

Wind, cold and bitter, swept across Julian’s face. A dog barked somewhere far away. Darkness still surrounded everything.

Then he opened his eyes. The sun glared through the heavy Sixeko mist into Julian’s unaccustomed pupils. He couldn’t see anything but the blurry blue sky above him.

“Julian.” Marcus’s voice sounded like a piercing scream, “Julian, sit up.”

Could he? To Julian’s surprise, his legs obeyed him when he moved. When he spoke, he felt his throat contract.

“What? Where are we?” he gurgled.

Julian’s back went rigid as he remembered.

“Where’s Abbi?”

There was no Abbi, only three greasy brick walls. Julian was terribly cold and found himself sitting in a puddle. Marcus rubbed his eyes underneath his glasses.

Was this real? Julian repeated a question he feared already knowing the answer to.

“Where are we?”

A grimace spread across Marcus’s face. He looked into Julian’s eyes without fear; there was no apprehension.

“Where else? Sixeko.”  

Julian felt like he could throw up. Was this real? There was no guarantee.


The word sounded alien and sour in his mouth. Did he really want to be back in Sixeko? Marcus glared at him weirdly.

“Julian, you’re acting weird. That hit to your head probably caused more damage than I thought.”

Hit to his head? Was he talking about the countless times that Abbi had smashed Julian’s head against the wall?

Slowly reaching up to rub his scalp, Julian found that there was only one tender spot on his head. The scrape was scabbed over, and crusty dried blood surrounded it.

“I didn’t hit my head,” Julian muttered through his teeth, “Abbi beat the daylights out of me, and then I crushed him.” He threw a hand at Marcus, “You were there, remember?”

Wait. He wasn’t there; he had disappeared. He had run away like a little bunny. Had run away down the rabbit hole.

Marcus walked over to Julian and looked him directly in the eyes. His cold hand gripped Julian’s shoulder.

“Julian, I’m sorry you had to go through that. I remember when Abbi used to scream at you. Every time I would run up to my bed and hide underneath the covers.”

Why was he talking in past tense? He had to remember what had happened moments ago!

His eyes hardened. “But I don’t know how that is relevant to where we are now.”

Julian sat up stiffly. What did he mean? He had just killed Abbi! The possibility that they were back in Sixeko made no difference to what had happened. Standing up on shaky legs, Julian prodded a finger into Marcus’s chest.

“You know what I’m talking about! I was just…” Julian pondered for a second on what he thought he had experienced. “I was taken through, for God knows why my mind and soul.”

Not just Julian though; Marcus was there too. The prospect was numbing.

Marcus peered at Julian through slitted eyes and let out a sigh.

“Unless your mind and soul came in the form of a freak hail storm, then I have no idea what you’re talking about. A storm swept in almost an hour ago as we were walking to our dorms.” Marcus scratched his head. “In fact, you were unconscious for most of it. A massive piece of hail smacked you on the head as the storm started.” 

Julian’s face must have held complete disbelief because Marcus walked out of the alley and came back holding a golf-ball sized chunk of hail.

“This was what was coming down on us, and I had to drag you back here so that we were under some cover. You were senseless until a few minutes ago when you woke up.”

Why would Marcus invent this explanation? Julian rubbed his face. More importantly, why couldn’t Julian believe it? It was so much more simple; Julian had been hit on the head with a piece of hail and had a crazy, coma-like hallucination about being trapped in his own tormented soul. It made much more sense than Julian’s own theory.

“No, no. That can’t be true. Arianna, Vivek, the gold statues?” Julian grabbed him by the shoulders, and Marcus shied away. “Tell me you at least know who Sophie is?”

Marcus opened his mouth. Not realizing it, Julian started praying inside that he would give up a simple, yes. He wanted so desperately to not be crazy. His brother’s lips formed around the one word that destroyed his hope.


That was it then. Julian had dreamt it all. If Marcus wouldn’t confess, it was Julian’s word against all other fact and truth. He had not killed Abbi, even though he had felt every blow with a deeper pain. No one would know his violent capabilities. No one else would know that he had stood face to face with every dirty, ugly part of himself.

 “Just get me up and out of here.”

 He struggled to stand up and felt Marcus duck underneath his arm to support him. They took two steps forward before Julian had to stop. His legs were stiffer than leather.

 As he stared at the red, brick wall, he muttered, “Marcus, have you ever had a bizarre dream that you wish were true?”

He didn’t turn his head but nodded thoughtfully.

Julian snorted. The sound was hard on his ears.

“I think I’ve had the extreme opposite experience.”

A genuine laugh burst from Marcus.

That was the difference between them; Julian was forced, and Marcus was real.

A nervous chuckle escaped his throat.

“Marcus, I am a terrible person.”

There was no flinching from Marcus. No shock on his face. He appeared to have expected this.

“You are human, Julian. I am human. We are all terrible people.”

Julian’s lip curled in distaste. No one could be viler than him.   “Yeah, and none of us want to change.” Julian scoffed.

 At the end of the alley, people clipped by aimlessly. Probably not even thinking about anyone but themselves, Julian guessed.

A gray-haired man halted directly in front of the alley and stooped to tie his shoe. He was distressed and rushed to finish. A young boy clung to his hand. The boy’s eyes never seemed to rest in one place, like they were looking for something. Julian wondered if he knew him. He seemed familiar.

The boy’s eyes locked onto his.

“Damian.” Julian clawed Marcus’s shoulder and pointed at the boy, “Marcus, is that Damian?”

It couldn’t be. Damian was only half the height of this boy the last time Julian had seen him. A year ago. His heart started thumping.

 A joyous smile spread across Marcus’s face.

“Yes. Yes, it is.”    

Damian heard them and peered into the alley. Julian wanted to hide. Immediate recognition and relief flooded the boy’s face. He started pulling on the elderly man’s sleeve and pointing in Julian’s direction. Then the man turned.

 Marcus tightened beside him.

 “And Abbi.”

It took all of Julian’s strength not to punch the wall. Here was Abbi, straight out of Julian’s nightmares. What would he do to him?

But … But he looked different. His face looked old. And grieved? Grieved? Was he really in Sixeko, or still trapped in his soul? Should he put up his fists or run? Impulsively, Julian tried to take a step forward to meet his mind’s enemy. His judgment.

“Stay calm Julian, you don’t know why he’s here.” Marcus quickly grabbed his arm, “This is reality.”

What did that mean? What was Marcus not letting on?

Abbi met Julian’s eyes, and for a moment he thought he saw joy. It couldn’t be. This was only Julian’s mind trying to trick him into finding hope.

“Why is he here Marcus? Why is he antagonizing me?”

Marcus remained silent.

Abbi approached slowly, his arm wrapped protectively around Damian’s shoulder. The boy wouldn’t stop staring into Julian’s soul! Their father froze a yard away from Julian, arms hanging limply by his sides.

“Hello, Abbi.” Marcus nodded politely.

A dull headache started to throb, and Julian clenched his teeth. He returned his father’s gaze. His soul’s enemy. A thousand thoughts swirled behind his pupils.

Abbi’s jaw was set against any emotions. “You’re alive.”

Julian waited for more, but it didn’t come. That was it? Was he really that ignorant?

“Is that a surprise?” Julian asked hesitantly.

 Abbi was about to answer, and Damian pushed past him towards Marcus. He gently put a hand on his shoulder to halt him.

“Marcus, we were looking for you forever. Where were you?” Damian glanced at Julian, “Is Julian okay?”

He bent down towards his brother and started talking with him in a hushed voice.

“It doesn’t matter too much where I was. I’m here with you now,” Julian could feel the heat on his back, “He will be fine.”

Shock flashed through Julian. He snapped his head to peer at Abbi.

“You’ve been looking for us?”

Rubbing his stubble-covered chin, Abbi nodded.

“You’ve been gone for two whole days.”

His tone held traces of… worry? He had actually been looking for them? Why? Why did he care about where Julian was? Besides, Marcus told him that only an hour or so had passed.

“Well, I’m sure you survived without us.”

Why did Julian have to give a sardonic response? Why did he always have to have the last word?

Abbi’s eyes tightened, “Well, your mother would still kill me if two out of her three sons died.”

Julian stared. And sighed. So that was still it? Just Ammi.

Abbi’s mouth hung open like he needed to say more, but he continued to stare awkwardly at Julian. Julian gulped down another retort. Say something, you stubborn man!

An expanse of silence followed, and Julian refused to break the ice. There were dangerous waters underneath. Abbi opened and closed his mouth again, licking his dry lips. Marcus stared at Julian. Waiting. Accusing. Julian would make this Muslim speak first!

“Abbi, will you allow Julian to come home now?”

Damian’s gentle tone carried through Abbi’s adamant demeanor. He flinched.

He glanced at the ground and stammered.

“I-I don’t know about that.” He scratched his head and met Julian’s gaze. “There’s no…”

He halted his sentence once more. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed in hesitance. Julian almost whimpered. Say something. Anything… please. Just give it to me straight! Don’t leave me hanging.

When Julian flitted his gaze to Marcus, he found him with his eyes closed. His mouth moved in a seamless prayer. What could God do now? Julian didn’t deserve any love.

“That’s it then!” Julian stood tall and broke the silence, “I guess we’ll continue in our vague lives; you in your Muslim dedication, and me in my straying” Julian felt his face turn red as he screamed. “We can pretend that we both don’t exist in each others’ lives and be content with that.”

Suddenly Abbi was on his knees before Julian. All the rage disappeared as Julian found tears streaming through his father’s wrinkles. His words were barely discernible through his sobbing.

“No, Julian! I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

The words were like knives in Julian’s heart. Red hot knives that penetrated all of him. It couldn’t be. But he just wanted more.

Give me more! Give me! Tell me! Tell me you love me, Abbi! Please.

Abbi continued as he stared at his son. “I was so wrong. I treated you so badly. You needed a father who loved you, not just one who looked out for your dedication to Islam.”

Julian shook his head fervently. This was too crazy to be true. The most stoic man in all of Julian’s life was now sitting on his knees in surrender. He had won. But it wasn’t just a bitter victory; it was a deadly victory.

“No, I understand now.” Julian’s chin shuddered. “I’m a horrible, vile person. I don’t deserve any forgiveness. Especially not yours. Don’t waste your energy on me, Abbi.” Julian ran his hand through his hair. “As soon as you trust me, I might stab you in the back. I’m not worth your time.”

Abbi was in agony. He stood up tall and spoke firmly.

“Julian, I will take as many knives as you give me, as long as we stay a family.” He outstretched his hand. “I love you, Julian. I finally love you. Will you forgive me?”

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