sealed off from all oxygen
snuffed, starved of fuel
the towers of papers all around me pile above the skyline
i’m surrounded by Qs and Ps and guidelines
due dates and deadlines
and i can’t breathe
i take a break, i take a walk, i take time
the mountains loom and the clouds swim
edging closer and closer to rain
i can’t stop the screaming in my brain
buzzing rings through my ears
i bite the ropes that bind my wrist
but they tighten
cutting off my circulation
praying for patience

i really can’t breathe
the battery is dying as it sinks under the water
i’m no longer cold even as
ice crystallizes under my cracked and broken nails
the cycle of exhaustion and insomnia eats me from the inside
and i’m sorry for all the times i lied
degrations and failed tries
i need you save me its all blurry
i can’t see anyone anymore
please i cant breathe
punctures in a letter with a furious pencil
tears wet the paper, Zs and Ds run and bleed
ink drains and pools on the floor
i avoid my mutilated reflection
i can’t let go as my fingers slip
the cliff swallows me as i step over the ledge
scratched off lines and a broken pledge
help me i cant breathe

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Zelda is a member of the class of 2025 at Williamsville North High School in Buffalo, NY. She likes to bake and play video games when she is not doing homework. Zelda hopes to one day have her novels adapted into a Netflix show.
Accompanying photo: “Entrance to Heaven” by Sonja Lippman