By Clio Barrett
Content warning: description of injury and death
I was scrolling on social media and my eye caught a rather shocking headline. This poem is about the article I read and how very serious news is made palatable.
Snapchat news titled the story “Man Dies For $2.75” because he broke his neck after propelling himself over the turnstiles of the New York Seventy-First street station, and because Snapchat is cooler than the snap of someone’s vertebrae, even the sudden cutting of one’s nervous system needs a catchy headline. The video footage shows him gathering up his momentum before bolstering his legs over the three metal arms and taking a few steps peeled away from gravity, spinning over himself like ragdoll timber. His feet hesitate in midair as if he is trying to walk on water, or else the sewage of the MTA, and dash right up to heaven. His body, folded neatly, was then (and only then) covered in static and content warnings, fuzzy and blurred so as to not give it all away to the readers. I slide my finger up to watch the video in its entirety but it pauses just as the man tumbles, freezing for a few seconds before the screen goes black. I think about all the dollars and quarters I have not had to pay. How many chances to fold up, shatter like a sheet of porcelain, a paused, omitted neck, a censored hop. I keep scrolling.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
I first wrote this piece on a whim. I then discussed it more in depth and workshopped it with my mentor, speaking about its deeper themes and purpose. In doing so, we were able to identify the essence of this poem and relate it back to my personal experience as a New Yorker and an impermanent individual in this city. We discussed how social media warps even the most serious topics in order to gain attention and how every person who spends time on social platforms buys into both the consuming and influencing of eyes. It was eyeopening being able to describe both the article and the effect it had on me.
Clio Barrett is a 16-year-old Asian-Ameircan writer born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Clio loves poetry, dogs and silver jewelry and when she isn’t dreaming up new obscure metaphors or scribbling random thoughts into her notes app, she spends her free time with her friends and family exploring the city and trying new foods.