Long Road Home By Mo Campbell and Jacob Coller

Angel is you

By Mo Campbell

Behind the curtains

Metal is cooling my skin

When nerve starts to lurk in

I kick it away once again

A few songs, in heaven I’m able

To play in absolute bliss

They say beauty is angel

I guess angel is this

I was friends with this one girl

Said we’d be best friends for eternity

Played with dolls, church on Wednesdays

And we put on shows full of harmony

Do I know what she’s up to now

Do I really care

Maybe she got a boyfriend

Maybe dyed her hair

I’m sitting at home now

Awaiting my call

In front of myself, I bow

But all I see are faults

Everybody’s getting a label

They stick till the end

They say beauty is angel

I guess angel is friend

I was friends with this one boy

We solved Rubik’s Cubes sitting on the floor

He taught me a special technique

I still use it now when I’m feeling bored

During a group project

He taught me about 80s fashion

Didn’t understand it then

But I still love Michael Jackson

It feels like I’m dreaming

I’m moving so fast

We’re running from demons

And it’s much too late to ask

Right now, I’m stable

But I’m still not sure what I should do

They say beauty is angel

I guess angel is new

I was friends with this one girl

Met her at a school on a Friday night

She wore a skirt, I wore a trench coat

And we danced to songs in the dimming light

It was one great night for me

I think I learned enough

Because I knew when I saw her face

We would fall in love

Underneath the spotlights

I felt you by my side

We smiled when the time was right

And if not, we cried

The perfect song on the turntable

I knew this was true

They say beauty is angel

I guess angel is you


Angel is you


By Mo Campbell

I remember the day I first told someone of him

They told me to grow up and forget the lies within

They said he wasn’t real, but I believed it all too well

They don’t understand that I’m stuck in eternal hell

Smile when you think you’re sad

It’ll make you look your best

And if you’re heart is beating too much

Shove it right back in your chest

You can’t be scared of noise

It’s not coming for you

Ignore the feelings you have inside

It’ll make me happy, too


By Jacob Coller


Named for the moon, a looming reminder that I didn't get enough sleep last night


The name of my close friend, a constant sign not to favor any one over the others


The middle of the school week, a notice that I need to study more


A rather uneventful day, a hint that I should try doing something more with my life


The end of the school week, a message telling me I have a little time to relax before it's back to homework


A day with too much time to think, bringing back a memory of something I regret from years ago


Named for the sun, a looming reminder that tomorrow the endless cycle begins again

Somewhere strange

By Jacob Coller

Across the sea

Somewhere new

Feeling terribly

Wishing I knew

The flight was awful

Customs sucked

I don’t want to dawdle

It’s poor conduct

I’m haunted by travel

It pains me to say

I’ve flown off the handle

I’m running away

Home is so far

And change is so near

I’m somewhere bizarre

And it fills me with fear

The Library

By Jacob Coller

I sit, my back to the wall, head in my hands, lost in the library. I’m somewhere in the shelves. The shelves tower above, looking down at me with disdain. They murmur amongst themselves, bragging about their contents and discussing the pitiful little person crying in their domain.

I look up at the shelves. They hold countless books on everything I can imagine and some things I can’t. There’s books on war, walruses, and wallpaper, books on chemistry, cooking, and cosmetics. How did anyone ever manage to read all of these?

The shelves mill about, stealing glances at my curled up form on the ground far below them. I’ve barely brushed a single book they hold. There’s no way In could ever stay at it long enough to make it through a shelf.

A shelf off to my left snickers at me. I slowly turn my head to face it. The moment I meet its gaze it scurries away to blend in amongst some of the taller shelves.

I pull myself off the floor and begin making my through the crowd. The shelves put in the least effort possible to clear a path for me. One doesn’t even move, so I have to circle around in order to continue.

I continue to wander through the crowd of shelves, trying not to hear what they have to say. Whether they’re talking about me or their accomplishments it still hurts.

I spend a long time wandering, but eventually reach a pillar with something pinned up on it. “You are here!” it exclaims, a red dot marking it clearly. The map doesn’t show anything particularly clearly. From what I’m able to discern I’m somewhere on floor 4.38 and the nearest exit is five meters clockwise.

I sigh defeatedly. Looks like I’m stuck for a little while longer. The shelves smirk at my realization of helplessness.

I head to the nearest doorway. It leads to a nearly identical room with just as many shelves. They glance at the doors when I swing them open. One makes for another exit, but doesn’t quite fit through the doorway.

When I see the shelf bang against the doorway it makes me think. They can’t leave their rooms. They’ve trapped themselves with their own books. In their pursuit of greater height they’ve imprisoned themselves

I, however, can leave. I’m free to move as I please. I have options as to where to go.

I finally realize: I don’t need all of these books to be successful. I sprint towards the nearest wall. The wall stands before me, unamused at my actions. I know exactly what I must do. Hesitantly, I step forward and through the wall. My foot hits the pavement outside the library’s entrance and I open my eyes to see the outside world, laid at the bottom of the vast grey staircase.

The night sky smiles down at me. I smile back. We stay that way for a moment before I decide to begin my trek back home.

I pad down the steps quickly and run off into the night. I've finally escaped from the patronizing stares of the shelves.

To those trapped in the library I leave this message: always remember that you can do many things you can do that shelves can't. They've inhibited themselves by stacking themselves higher and higher to the point that they're stuck within a prison of their own shortsightedness.


By Mo Campbell

I remember the emptiness of my dining room

as I sat in a foldable chair,

binder in hand.

I remember the strange faces I saw walking down the street,

each heading to the long house on the corner.

And the day I first visited that house on the corner.

Foot after foot in a pair of skateboarding Nikes,

leading me closer to something I wanted so badly.

Book after book as I learned the rules

of sports they played on the street.

Hook and a cook and a firefighter down the street.

Photographer and artist I’d later meet while at the house.

A party. My first Saturday, football.

And pool. And cornhole with the kids and water pong

on ping pong tables and chatting and snowmen.

And these inside jokes we all found funny.

And I remember the tree and the head.

Everyone gathered in our kitchen as my brother bled.

And conversed. About past times. So I went upstairs,

To my room, to escape the voices.

The voices.

The voices that made up my first adult conversation.

That built confidence in my choices.

The voices that played with me my first game of words. Of language.

They hear me. They know me. And I know them.

And I know that they will follow me and keep me in line.

And take me away from the emptiness of the dining room,

filling it with chairs and tables, taking away the echo

of my own voice spitting back at me, telling me,

“there is no home, leave here.”

But I know

that this is closer to home than I’ve ever been.

And I’m still going.


Photos taken by Jacob Coller at the Portland Japanese Garden

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