"Angel Honey, Cover Your Mouth"

As the art of good writing seems to grow more imperiled by the day, last night’s PEN Center USA awards dinner was a welcome celebration of the glorious work that continues to happen.

I found even more to celebrate in one of my table mates, a teenager named Lali Foster who recently founded a literary magazine called Polygon.

Lali, who attended the awards dinner with her dad, poet Sesshu Foster (who was a judge in the poetry category), is a student at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Despite (or because of ?) the Internet and iPods and MySpace and the 24-hour news cycle, Lali and several classmates created an old-fashioned, paper and ink journal in which to express their innermost thoughts and feelings (of course there’s a website too).

The work covers the requisite sex and anxiety-driven adolescent angst. But it also employs sophisticated imagery and word play to plumb the harsh realities of growing up.

Here’s one entry, by a contributor identified as Natalie:

Angel Honey, Cover Your Mouth

He was a baby fresh doper
Pockmarks leaving
plateaus for
Mama's grilled cheese:
Salt & Oil,
Same things he used to
rub on his knuckles
to fight the slugs
on the stone gnome outside.

And he'd put ketchup on
his lips
And grape jelly to stain
one eye
And kick his squished opponent,
spitting Chiclets out of
his mouth.

So that it was a true victory.

Now he spends time with
thin-necked thugs.
The kind who slather their bodies
not with adolescent condiments,
But premium, under-the-table
Whale Blubber.
Slick film to slide out of
tenement windows.

And they know what it means
to look at a
cashmere blouse

And "X"-
Mark the spot.

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