red jar This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Scattered and disorganized I am,
but I like to call it poetic,
the likes of e.e. cummings and William Faulkner,
I remember when I screamed and got sent
to timeout
because I wasn’t allowed to end my story
with a cliffhanger
but instead was forced to write:
“And that was what I did over the weekend”
in big ugly reluctant letters
at the bottom of the wide-ruled notebook page.
Writing a story is like making a wrap.
You need a conclusion
to roll it all up.
But what if I want
an open-faced burrito
with all the fillings
spilling out from over the sides?
And what if I want
to pick out the shredded-lettuce transition words
of “therefore” and “in conclusion”
and the diced-tomato topic sentences
and must-be-three-paragraphs rules,
because I don’t like my vegetables,
especially not the stale and soggy ones
that we must use in every wrap?
There’s only one way to make a wrap.
If you look at the rubric,
it tells you what to write,
and how to write it.
but the rubric says to “express myself,”
and how do I do that,
how do I become Dickens and Tolstoy
with their two-hundred-word-long sentences
when run-on phrases are the equivalents
of rotten chicken and moldy cheese?
They can break the rules
because they’re very good.
But what if I want
to be just like them,
Do I have to fold my burritos
by the only recipe that the
writing rubric gives me?
Yes. Because you’re just learning and
you’re not very good yet.
But when can I be good enough
to try a different flavor?
I don’t know, but it’s
certainly not today.
And the little wooden craft stick
with my name on it
gets moved from the green jar to the yellow jar
for bad behavior.
I keep quiet, because
even eating the same stale burrito
every day of second grade
is better than the red jar.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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