Sarah Ryu

The Facade

She, who hasn’t seen her sister for years,
finally has a paid visit
to the most isolated country
in the world.
Soldiers in
stiff green suits
observe with hawk eyes
as they tearfully embrace.
She wraps her arms
around her sister’s frame
and feels the bones through
the pale skin.
Her presence alone
can swallow her sister whole.
“Welcome to our home.”
In a tidy apartment
the furniture
is almost new
and the floors are clean.
The great leader watches over all
with a painted smile.
The family bows respectfully before
the portrait, thanking him for such a blessing.
Her sister stands
in the corner
shoulders slowly shrinking
into its sharp edges.
Eyes unmoving from the floor.
She is quiet.
Overwhelming plates of warm food.
Gaunt bodies are seated at the table.
They are careful.
Gushing over how flavorful the dishes are,
despite their growling tummies.


A Different Value of Love

“How much do you love me?”
I ask.
With a toothy grin,
drool dripping down his chin,
he stretches his arms:
“THISSSS much.”
And I laugh at his way of measurement
because this world runs on numbers.
The span of his arms
is only
2 feet long.
No numeric value.
No worth in the world.
Truly he must realize
his gesture
means nothing.
But through the determination of his eyes
and his bright, beautiful smile
I know
that it has more value than
anything math can measure,
than the world can comprehend.
Because this naive boy
who is 5,
can only count up to 10,
3 and ½ feet tall,
and is still in kindergarden,
has yet to grasp
the concept of numbers past 10,
the concept of infinity,
knowing nothing of the real world.
Yet he does know
what love means.
What it means to be loved.
And he understands that
love has no “value,”
love has no limits,
love has no boundaries.

So when he stretches his arms past what he is capable of
and struggles to keep his balance.
I look to him
stretch my arms as far as I can
and say,

“I love you ‘THISSSS much’ too.”


Barbie’s World

I live in a world
beauty defines
a woman.
Where I am squeezed into
a mold
pre made by society
that pinches and tweaks at my imperfections,
shoves me into these expectations
that I, as a woman,
must comply to,
crushing my bones,
bruising my skin,
cutting away at my flesh,
as tears stream down my plastic skin
from my lifeless eyes
and into my forced smile.
I stare outside the toyshop window
and wait for someone to
pick me,
love me,
play with me.
Why can’t I
be the one in control of how I look.
Why must I be self conscious
of this body that was given as a gift?
Why can I not
be loved for my faults and flaws
and not have them tell me
that Ken
will only love me
when I fit into
their confined
idea of

I will not be your clay
for you to just mold
into whatever you please
I will not let your judgement
seep through my thick skin.
My body is beautiful.
My body is mine.

I will not be your “Barbie Girl”



Don’t be afraid to touch the fire.
When you find it grab it tightly in your fists.
Let burns and scars form and create callouses on your fingertips.
Do not let it run away.
Not again.
Waft the fumes of future victories through your nose.
Breathe it in and let it fill your lungs.
Let it swirl around in the cage of your chest.
And brush against the bones of your ribs.
Test the waters.
devour it.
Take it by the tips of it’s sharp edges, and feel the oranges and reds gliding on your eyes as you
gently lower it into your mouth.
Swallow it so it can’t run away.
Let it glide down your throat like rich honey and lace your voice with a heated confidence.
So when you talk about your dreams and desires
you are strong.
Let it run through your veins.
So that it flows infinitely through your body.
You can hear faint sounds of a wild river
when you are completely still.
Let the fire be the fuel to keep you running.
To keep you alive.
A will.
Befriend it.
Embrace it.
Master it.
Conquer it.
Be the kiln
Be the cauldron
Be the fire.

All poems ©2016 by the author. Used with permission.

About Sarah Ryu
Sarah Ryu is a 17-year-old high school student who is attending Bergen County Academies. Currently, she is in their Visual Arts program, learning about the many elements of design. She is actively involved in the many art and writing programs offered at her school. Writing and designing are her passions. She loves taking trips to the city for inspiration, observing everyday things and her own life in different lights. She keeps a small tan notebook everywhere she goes, creating infinite supplies of unfinished ideas lost within its pages waiting to be re-discovered. She’s a dreamer who loves music and watching animations, especially Studio Ghibli for their storytelling and creativity. She lives in the small town of Leonia with her parents, brother, and a small chihuahua named Haru.
Writer's Statement
When you are able to create a connection with your readers, it provides such a satisfying feeling. I believe that writing allows me to form a creative world in the minds of the readers. It can translate human emotions, which are so complex and fluid, into beautiful words and phrases. I’ve always used poetry like a diary because it has been a way for me to express how I feel in a more artistic manner while making a personal connection with the readers.