Beth Tfiloh Creative Writing

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The following are the 13 submissions received from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School teacher Lizzy Solovey’s 12th-grade fall semester creative writing class. The first two writings appear in the Feb. 8, 2018, Jewish Times.

(Student photos by Marc Summerfield of Guill Photo)

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words | Jason Straus

A picture is worth a thousand words to me.

Not because it takes that many to describe it.

It is because there are a thousand ways to see.

Each different than the last, yet all valid.

 

We are drowning in information

But starved for knowledge

So many stories in the news

They play one after the next

 

The daily feeds feed facts to the masses

There are always stories to read

New news means the previous passes

Yesterday’s report has lost its need

 

We are drowning in information

But starved for knowledge

So many classes every day

They play one after the next

 

An hour of science and an hour of math

Learning pieces and forgetting the rest

College is the time to choose a path

For now, learn to prepare for the test

 

We are drowning in information

But starved for knowledge

So many shows on television

They play one after the next

 

Laying in bed and scrolling the menu

So many options but none worth it

As for great shows, there are a few

We search for that one that is perfect

 

We are drowning in information

But starved for knowledge

So many relationships started and ended

They play one after the next

 

People are nice when you meet them

There are always people around

It can be hard to make a real connection

Treasure the ones you have found

 

We are drowning in information

But starved for knowledge

So many moments in life

They play one after the next

 

Each moment feels like it will forever last

They appear clear with so much to see

But you forget the moments of the past

And details become a distant memory

 

We are drowning in moments

But starved for memories.

So much around, yet we forget to look

And regret it when we don’t remember.

~~~~~

Her Voice Often Calls | Elizabeth Galilov

Her voice often calls upon angels

It trembles with the last bit of strength she has.

She awaits the day they’ll come to her

To free her from what seems impossible.

 

It’s never been simple

To go out feeling free

For every time she does

She worries inevitably.

 

Her mother taught her

To appreciate herself.

Her father reminds her

To never let anxiety defeat her.

 

Despite her daily battles,

She continues to fight.

She fights the demons

That may haunt her through the night.

 

Soon enough she knew

She needed to show the world

What her parents

Raised her to embrace.

 

Her immense care,

Her infinite love,

Her compassion towards others,

And her beauty within…

 

Even when doubt comes creeping in,

She now reminds herself

That each day should not be wasted

For it’s another opportunity to live.

~~~~~

English Rap | Ben Nawy

We’re nearing the end of creative writing

It’s frightening, this year is flying by so fast the speed of lightning

What class should I choose next like what class is the best

I must confess in photojournalism I got no interest

Maybe I’ll choose satire, but if I don’t like it I’ll fall dead like a flat tire

Yet apparently this class involves some parody

And that is what I care to be involved in yeah that’s fair to me

I will learn how to write a present some quality vignettes

And I will perform better than Squidward plays his clarinet

I’m on fire right now, call me a lit cigarette,

Maybe I will love the class as much as I love my pet

His name is Happy but I call him the Hapster

He be making headline so I call him a disaster

He runs a lot faster than me because of my asthma

To him I am my brother, not just a master

Or I could choose Stoop Stories taught by Mrs. Steinberg

Oh my gerd, look at me now like I am Busta Rhymeser

Don’t want to have excessive work, don’t want to stuff my binder

I must be careful with this decision like fine China

But 20th century literature is not my style

Yeah that class is nasty, call it pico de gallo

It’ll make me sleep for a little while, I promise you this class cannot inspire

Me to write more often it’ll put me in a coffin

I will be stressed out like a mama cooking stuffing in the oven for Thanksgiving

Or sweet potatoes with marshmallow fluff and I am not bluffing

My flow is so sick I need some more Robitussin

My brain’s all over the place I think I got a concussion

Anyways thanks Ms. Solovey for this class

I can speak for the mass when I say it was a blast

Yeah it was my cup of tea, so I call it sassafras

And it stinks that this class just has to pass

~~~~~

His Newest Insight | Jonathan Arking

He looks as if he just woke up,

Although he’s been wide awake for hours.

Hair clearly unbrushed, beard untrimmed,

Flowing much too far down his neck

And dipping down beneath his unabashedly non-dress code t-shirt.

He slouches deep into his chair, his head nearly even with its top.

Arms crossed, head moving from side to side, as if unable to focus.

Yet his eyes remain fixed on their goal.

And as his hand shoots up, his façade dissipates.

Replacing that disheveled, disengaged boy is a budding adult with a damn strong opinion he damn better share.

He slides back into his seat, sitting perfectly straight.

His hand quickly runs through his hair, giving it at least some semblance of order.

He’s frozen, save for his hand creeping higher, and just a little higher,

Face full of anticipation, excited to share his newest insight.

As the teacher’s eyes meet his, they seem to beg, to plead for a chance to talk.

But lo, it is not meant to be.

And he returns, once again, to his role as disinterested student.

~~~~~

What is Life? | Toby Berman 

What is life?

You do not choose to be born.

Your parents decide to have a child,

And you are the result.

What is life?

For your first two years you depend

On others to change your diaper.

As you start figuring out that

You can walk, talk and

Comprehend most things around you.

What is life?

By the age of five,

You officially begin going to school.

Learning how to read and write.

Five days a week, maximum 6 hours a day.

What is life?

As you transition into lower school,

You begin to experiment,

With language, social settings, teachers and behavior.

To the point where you get in trouble at least once every few months.

What is life?

By the time you begin middle school,

Everything changes.

People get taller, begin going through puberty.

More drama arises, as do the pimples on everyone’s faces.

What is life?

At the end of middle school,

You begin thinking you know the meaning of life.

You think you know what you want for your future.

Then high school starts.

What is life?

A new setting, a new school, new teachers, new perspective.

Overwhelmed with work, making sure your transcript reflects your best work.

Stressing over college applications over the span of two years.

What is life?

Go to college for four years, maybe go to graduate school.

Get a job, and work for the rest of your life.

Work until you die.

What is life?

~~~~~

Shai | Natan Gamliel

He is a man of his middle name – Shai –

To say the least.

For we know that the least is all he’d prefer to say.

There’s nothing quite wrong with him,

That’s not to say he’s perfectly perfect either,

He simply finds comfort in quiet,

That’s all.

Those of us who know him, really know him,

Not just his name or what he looks like,

Know this:

He often retreats into the depths of his own mind,

Not because this world overwhelms him,

But because that’s where he finds himself most…

It’s difficult to attach a word here

To convey adequate emotion.

Content? Sure.

Happy? Perhaps.

Calm? Hardly.

Often we’ll find him completely blank,

Externally at least.

Which quite contrasts his mental chaos

Swelling and crashing like the ocean in a storm.

We can’t see that part, of course,

But we know it’s there,

When we, having called his name,

Receive only a flicker of agitated eyes

After yanking him – if only briefly –

Back to reality.

Other times,

Though perhaps less frequently,

He allows this external void to envelop him,

Taming his thoughts to the likes of a circus lion,

Subtly brooding, scheming,

Yet allowing for the illusion of submission,

At least for now.

In these moments,

“Nothing” answers “Whatcha doin’?”,

Truthfully at that,

And hopefully we know better

Than to linger any longer.

He’ll rejoin us eventually,

Of that we’re certain,

Though we must give him time

To dwell within the silence.

~~~~~

Jeremy Goldstein

A Copying Machine and His Hotel Doorman | Jeremy Goldstein & Aaron Ness

I beep in terror as the door man approaches. Usually only the building manager uses me. No one else has his hands or his hypnotizing eyes. Also, no one else is trained. Least of all the door man. He knows as well. I can sense the sweat on his brow as his shaky hands lunge towards me.

“Alright Jaques, It’s just an object. I can do this. Nothing to be afraid of.” He narrows his eyes, breathes deeply and attempts to load his flyer into my tray.

 This is going to be terrible. I beep in agony.

“Well that’s not quite right. I feel like there shouldn’t be this much resistance.”

THANK GOD. Realizing his mistake, Jacques opens my Original Tray and puts in his paper. Close it. Close it. Close it please.

He b-lines for the control panel. “What do we have here. Screens now, huh? I’m so out of touch. In my day, you just put in the flyer and hit it until it spit out what you wanted. I’m just gonna try this and see what happens.”

Really? Why do I not believe that you want to fax this? I display the fax number screen reluctantly. “Ohhh, not what I wanted.”

Really? Couldn’t have guessed.

“How do I get out of this screen? This gear seems like a good guess.”

That’s settings, Jacques. This is getting dangerous now. If he messes up my settings I could be in real trouble. Tread lightly Jacques.

“Mmmmm, this is even more confusing. What do these words even mean? Maybe I should just….”

Oh, please no! Not the pow….

~~~~~

Pushing Through | Brady Greenberg

I drove out of the parking lot, waving goodbye to the girl on the sidewalk. She was running, not walking, up and down the pavement. Even with the large apparatus holding her upright, she was flying. You would have never known that just months ago, this little girl was in a hospital with a machine helping pump her heart. Right when she showed signs of progress, her health would regress; the sporadic spikes were unpredictable, and any hope of a steady recovery was blurred.

But eventually, the machines were unhooked and her heart kept pumping. Now, watching her run, truly inspired me. There is a lot to learn from this girl who stands about two and a half feet tall. We all go through ups and downs in life, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep going and pushing through. This girl has been through so much, yet she keeps running forward with more vigor than ever imagined.

~~~~~

Coming of Age | Eden Hariri 

Adulthood came in a peanut butter sandwich.

It also came with apples and champagne grapes.

I didn’t know it was hurtling towards my life

Until of course, I had packed that last apple wedge,

And shut the lunch box, locking away my childhood forever.

With that one clink of the clasp,

Adulthood parked permanently in my brain.

 

People say it’s a gradual change–

Childhood to adulthood.

But there’s nothing gradual about making a peanut butter sandwich.

No one lingers on spreading butter.

With one quick flick of the wrist,

The peanut butter spreads over the slices,

And adulthood spreads a thick creamy hand all over childhood,

Burying it forever.

 

Mom asked me to pack my lunch like it was no big deal.

Like a fool, I packed my lunch like it was “no big deal”.

I bet those apples really had the last laugh that day,

Because surely, they knew what was coming.

They were glad to see my innocence slip away.

Apples and I never got along.

 

The minute I accepted some inkling of responsibility,

Was the same minute I disowned my youth.

Mother expected more of me,

Not just in terms of lunch making,

But also in laundry terms!

Long gone were the days where I had little to worry about it.

No no my friends, I was entering uncharted lands,

And I was notorious for my awful sense of direction.

 

I felt like I got slapped in the face with a peanut butter sandwich.

I was hopelessly lost.

The world of lunchmaking and laundry made my head spin.

And yet, despite my flummoxed state,

I found myself relishing it.

Because for the first time in my life,

My lunch was under my control.

 

Sayonara apples,

U suck.

Oreos and I got along just fine.

~~~~~

In Charge | Benny Klein

About 7:30 PM on a Sunday night late Summer/early Fall. I am currently “in charge” of the household, my irresponsible younger brother, and apparently the most important—my dog Zelda. It’s usually relatively simple. Feed her once in the morning and once at night, take her out at least once a day for a walk, and of course, let her outside into the backyard, or as I like to call it, the inescapable fenced courtyard. Or so I thought… At approximately 7:42, I hear a faint bark. It’s not Zelda’s. I sigh of relief and thank Hashem I don’t have to go all the way downstairs to let her in. About nine minutes later, I hear an obnoxiously loud howl—it’s Zelda for sure.

Without moving a muscle, I call out to my brother, “Aryeh! Could you let the dog in please?” He calls back up to me from somewhere in the basement, “I am [inaudible noises] in the middle of [inaudible noises].” A moment passes, and I squint as I try to decipher the message. I shake my head giving up and turn my swivel chair to face my bedroom doorway. “What?” I yell out. The howling continues again at the exact times my younger brother tried to respond. Every time he tried to respond, the high maintenance dog interrupted as if she was secretly listening to our conversation and blurring out all the important information. “I can’t because—arooooooooooo and then I’ll go—arooooooooo but if you—arooooooooo”.

I sigh, this time of exhaustion, and I drag myself out of the comfort of my soft reclining swivel desk chair. I trudge my way down the stairs and to the back of my house. I open the door and step onto my porch. The dim lighting from the sunset paired with the nice late summer temperature gave me a sense of relaxation and stillness. Unfortunately, that calmness lasted only momentarily.

I snap out of my space out and realize I have homework assignments to attend. Who am I kidding, I was watching Netflix. Anyway, I look at the full 180 degree-porch view of my backyard and nothing. She’s gone. Is she still inside? Oh, I know what happened—Aryeh undoubtedly let her in—what a nice little boichick. I lock the backdoor and call out to Aryeh asking him if he already let her in. “Nope. Why?” I run back outside and investigate. The gardeners left the gate open! Ah, man! At that point, I thought my night had taken a turn for the worst. Zelda had been ‘outside’ for almost two hours now and it was getting dark. I had to find her.

I grab my jacket and throw on my Adidas slides. “Aryeh, Zelda ran away. I’ll be right back! I have my phone if you need. Stay here.” I swing open my wooden door and before I can take one step outside, guess who comes tramping up my front steps. Santa Claus—Nope. Zelda. What a brilliantly annoying and irritatingly amazing pet.

~~~~~

A time that I felt I wasn’t a child anymore | Rikki Margalit

Thursday

My eyes open and I see darkness engulfing me. I look around to see what woke me up from my sleep. My mother sits on the side of the bed whispering my name. “Rikki, I’m going to New York with Brenda for the burial. Take Dani to school, make him a lunch and when you get home make food for Shabbat, Friday and Saturday, ok? I love you, keep me updated. I’m taking Abba’s car so you can have mine.” I nod, mumble an I love you back and attempt to fall back asleep. However, the stress of taking care of the house kept me awake, and I decide to get out of bed and start making lunches. I look at my phone: 5:50am, it’s so early. I take a shower enjoying the sounds of the hot water muting my brain as I repeatedly tell myself it’s not so hard. As I get out of the shower I get a call from my father asking me to take a delivery to school for him, and because I don’t want to let him down, I agree to take it. An hour and a half later, as I pull the car into school, I tell myself that I cannot cry, I need to be strong from my little brother, who doesn’t know what’s happening, for my mother who needs my support so she can be a good friend, and for my father who works so hard for us.

At the end of the day in the school parking lot, I try not to stress as I make the schedule that would somehow fit my homework, cooking, and helping my little brother with homework when again my father asks me to take a delivery, except this time it’s 20 minutes away, so it would take me an hour. I could feel the stress flowing throughout my body, as if it’s in my bloodstream. Taking some deep breathes, I leave the parking lot, blast my music to calm me down, but it won’t work. Tears threaten to pour down my cheeks again and I struggle to keep them in. Be strong I chant in my head, “I need to be strong” I thought. I decide in the car, I will order in dinner, to take that off my plate. This thought calms me down a sliver, and my flushed cheeks become normal color again. When I return home from the delivery I attempt to balance cooking fish, soup, chicken, and kugel, while eating dinner, doing homework, and helping my little brother with his homework. I realized that mothers are superheroes and I didn’t realize how hard it was to take care of a house and family. It was that night when everything was done, and my little brother was asleep did I allow myself to finally cry. Both from stress, and pride that I didn’t let my family down. I understood what it was like to be an adult and I felt that I can be one, I’ll be able to handle it.

~~~~~

Alphabet Story | Josh Silber

Ash (n.) – Lotion of warriors. When the flame no longer burns, its remainders serve as my blanket.

Benevolence (n.) – A sacrifice for my hollow stomach. A friend that’s long forgotten.

Crabs (n.) – Running around with a stick, I bludgeon the fortified, skittering sacks of meat. As the salt wafts up from the shell’s surface I reminisce about seafood family dinners back on the east coast.

Drifting (v.) – I see never ending blankets of turquoise and teal. Mist. Salt. Heat beating on my grimy face. I imagine waking up swaddled in the comfort of my bedsheets.

Echo (n.) – people think of loneliness, a sound with no originality, a remnant of what once was spoken. But sometimes I hear my best friend speaking. I speak, and he responds immediately. I listen to the rattling chambers of a cave and relinquish ownership over his voice. He helps maintain my sanity; that’s what friends are for. What is left of me?!me…me……eee……ee…

Fire (n.) – Man’s greatest ally. Man’s only ally. Bringer of destruction and messenger of immolation, and my only hope for survival.

Ghostly (adj.) – I thought I met a stranger today. I was coming back from fishing, and I passed by a recently formed obsidian formation running along the eastern cliff coast. It’s been awhile…His face was pale and scruffy. I asked what his name was and he asked back.

Hope (n.) – My life preserver. My illusion. My Brother.

Isolated (adj.) – I once read an article about the inhumane conditions of prisons. Beaten by others, forced into a constant state of depression, and traded around like pawns in some larger system…a larger system…a system. God, I would love to be part of that system, just give me a cellmate.

Juxtapose (v.) – Life was vibrant. The color was artificial. Lights were unnatural, colored white. There was peace and my heart didn’t beat as fast. I never noticed the sunrise and sunset; it was just night or day. Water was just there for you. Food was just there for you. A toothbrush was just there for you. A microwave was just there for you.

Kissed (v.) – My mother was always distant. Sometimes I would fake being sick just to spend a day watching television with her. It was the only time she made me feel secure and warm. She was superstitious, something she got from Mee-maw. A churchgoing woman, Mee-maw would “embody the healing powers of Jesus” through her magical chicken-okra stew. My mother’s unconditional love seemed more and more out of grasp as the years passed. When Mee-maw finally passed, I think mother had realized that she only had so much time with her son. What I was left with was the dry, coarse touch of her lips on my forehead, a sensation which felt brand new for both of us.

Longitude (n.) – That’s the sideways one, right?

Meat (n.) – The carnal instincts kick in. I’ve become dependent on my natural senses and skills. Dirt is my mask, smeared across my body, possibly mixed with feces. Stalking critters in the treetops, I hope to catch a juicy boar. As I hear rustling in the bushes, I don’t hesitate to strike my prey.

Noisy (adj.) – You would think it would be annoying…………………NYAAAAHHHH! BWAAAAHHH! LALALALALALALALALALA! OHHHHHHWEEEEE! …Ah! ……Ah! ………ah…I bellow wild sounds just to feel the sensation that noise creates—anything to disrupt the serenity. I miss the bells and whistles of the Bronx.

 Ostensible (adj.) – Nature is beautiful. Water is the liquid of life. You shouldn’t play with fire. Home is where the heart is. We all need some alone time.

Party (n.) – To be surrounded by loved ones in an exciting setting, along with balloons, streamers, and a clown. To be surrounded by loved ones in an exciting setting. To be surrounded by loved ones. To be surrounded. To be.

Quails (n.) – I don’t know why Dick Cheney had such a hard time hunting these things.

Rhapsody (n.) – Call me Odysseus, a vagrant in the lands where the wind hath taken me. I am left to start my journey, my epic, by the will of Poseidon.

S.O.S. (n.) – Nobody • will • come • for — me — I — am • not • worth • saving

Tyrannosaurus-Rex (n.) – My childhood stuffed animal, Ray-Ray, would follow me wherever I went, until beaten up and dusty. Mom said that Ray-Ray was going to someone who could take care of him. When I was old enough, I tracked down the exact whereabouts of Ray-Ray, bought him back, and fixed him up with patchwork. No price tag would’ve been too big. “Rawr!!!” I immaturely cry, as I jostle the bundle of twigs meant to resemble my soft, lifeless plushie. I ease the intense fears with childlike tendencies.

Useless (adj.) – [see entry for letter ‘H’]

Vacation (n.) – a window to a world of trauma. A façade, baiting me into the Devil’s dominion.

Wrecked (adj.) – They said it was sturdy and weather would be fine for my long-deserved hiatus. But now I’m wading in nowhere.

X (n.) – There is no treasure where I am. No spot marked by an X.

Young (adj.) – I never savored it. The passage of time is blurry here. I’ve felt abandoned all my life, why should this be any different? I’ve lived on my own island for years. My escape. My Eden. Now fate has cruelly subjected me to an eternity of loneliness. I was my neglected by my father, begrudgingly raised by my mother, and separated from my brother during the split. Love is a feeling that has been withheld from me. My desert island was built one grain of sand at a time, long, long ago.

Zen (n.) – The waves, buffeting the sides of sea stacks. The patterned chirping of birds, trumpeting above all other sounds of nature. The whispers of the wind, streaming its song among the branches and leaves. The vast emptiness. Emptiness. The drop off a mountainside, which may liberate me from the hell on this remote island. Grant me peace! Grant me p—

~~~~~

The Island in 2010 | Eli Wilcox

The late February storms dumped an enormous two feet of dense snow on the ground. Avi and I rushed to bundle ourselves in our snow gear before charging out the door. With our gloves and hats on, we slowly picked up our legs high enough to clear the snow. Approaching the street, we raced past the parked cars and rushed to the island ready to play. However, shovels appeared in our hands before we could make it anywhere. Work came before play and shoveling became the task at hand.

We took constant breaks to run around and enjoy the weather. The island in the middle drew us in. The perfectly round red curb filled with mulch and painted with flimsy bushes around the exterior. Eyes always focused on the centerpieces of the spot– the wooden bench and thorny evergreen tree. All of this, covered in a few feet of snow as shoveling ensued.

The ever so rising powder buried the neighborhood in a thick white layer. Neighbors rushed from their houses to free their trapped vehicles. The process of lifting the snow, walking to the island, and dropping the snow with a sigh of relief filled the scene. We dismissed the occasional requests to assist in any way.

I along with my brother and neighbor tumbled through the snow watching the adults panting and socializing. Soon our running halted as our eyes discovered the growing hill on the island before us. Upon our approach, we instantly began remodeling five-foot-tall mound of solid snow as we packed down areas to create walls and carved slides down one side. The addition of an unfinished tunnel and snowball molds prepared us for anything the world would throw at us. Day in and day out we refined the fort as the snowfall continued– smoothing the walls, widening our escape slides and restocking the defense system. With each new inch, our time was spent adjusting and reorganizing this base, along with hourly breaks for hot chocolate. Our team, three strong, made our last adjustments as we prepared for battle.

Enemies hurtled their ammo towards us. We took turns returning the favor and supplying more snowballs. After a couple minutes of brawling, we declared victory as we watched our enemies recede back to their island at the other end of the neighborhood. Victory, but it was only temporary. The rivalry ensued. We took turns on the offense side. Ultimately, we accepted a draw. However, nothing could prepare us for the next day.

We arose from our beds and peered out the window. Terror sent shocks down our spines. Our fort, gone. The street, visible. Not only had it been destroyed, but also it was covered. No way could the other fort have done this, they sent in the pros for this job. With a goal at hand, we suit up, charging out the door to rebuild our island, now with double the material.

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