a literary anthology

Words by You Guys! (featured submissions)

Art by Julianna Montenegro

Meaning of Sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—and has an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

A Note from the Literature Editor

Everyone has a story to tell. “Sonder” is a section in CONVO Magazine where we feature carefully curated literary content from public submissions written by the youth. They may range from flash fiction to short stories, as well as various kinds of poetry. 


In a world where everyone’s story matters, literature provides us a compassionate space to heal our wounds through words. We hope that these entries allow you to do that, as well as ignite that hidden spark of creativity. To the writers and the readers, may you let your imagination fly free and your hearts open wide.


“What are we to do now?”

Words by Bella Engalla, 17,  She/Her/Hers

It’s been two months and a half

Since it started. And the answer to the question

That everyone is asking floats in the air, 

Like a perpetually hot air balloon—

Looming. We don’t know.


Things change and stick and twist, constantly

Like a child molding a ball of play-doh.

We have as much stability as a kayak afloat

Amidst a storm, not forgetting the ravenous ocean,

Preparing to envelop its entirety.


But we can’t afford to think about that now. Never, not once

Since we find solace in making ourselves feel “productive”. 

And when lives return to their usual humdrum, at least 

We have something to discuss with acquaintances

Over Sunday brunch.


Perhaps it’s how we were raised.

Brought up to believe that our worth

Depended solely on the hours

Spent working for slack-bellied men 

From the Good Ole Boys Club.

What are we to do now?

Continue to bottle up emotions, 

Filtering through a fine sieve,

In an attempt to seem more palatable

For the opinions of insignificant people?


Or do we finally learn that being vulnerable is not weak?

Those feelings shouldn’t be hidden and forgotten. Instead,

Transparency connects us to each other, opening your soul

And letting others recognize themselves

In you.


Don’t mask your vulnerabilities

From those you know that care.

They aren’t perfect either. 

Acknowledge them. Appreciate them. Share them. 

This, alone, is what it means to be human.


Photo by Gigi Engalla


“From STUCK to S T I L L”

Words by Noelle Encar, She/Her/Hers

"Inspired by the lecture of Jaimey Hamilton Faris on "Looking for Leviathans," I related my experience of the quarantine to the idea of the ocean as a "conceptual delay". The lecturer noted how the "delays" in the ocean allows us to take a break from our fast-paced society, a similar occurrence that we all are currently subjected to."

People Walking
People Walking
People Walking

     P A U S E

the break that we were unprepared for,

a glitch in the system that was once running every day,

that breeds the same fear,

the fear of the unknown,

fear of inaction

fear of vast nothingness


in a flash

the pause tuned to uneasiness,

pumping adrenaline to your veins,

emanating the sense of danger

of being stuck like

bodies falling into quicksand

every movement causing us to fall deeper, farther

until its abyss is what we are now covered


how immobilizing, tantalizing, anxiety-driving suspension


    W A I T

to be patient in this recess is all that we can muster

but then flows an image, even a memory

of the sea whose vastness lies no answers and tells no future

its waves playing along with our eyes that rest on its every dip and rise


imagine now at this moment

afloat on the still waves that wrap our skins,

each touch bringing comfort and ease

bodies gently bobbing to the waters strange beat

how freeing, calming, oxytocin-filled breather


for though we are stuck, we can learn to be     s  t  i  l  l


Words by Casi, 19, She/Her/Hers

Like ferocious, roaring lions in the jungle

Or wild beasts in the mountains

Perhaps, wolves that howl in the fullness of the moon


These are my thoughts at night

They can be scary or frightening as they can be


But—like a fox that outwits its hunter

Or an eagle that flees when a storm is approaching

Perhaps, a phoenix that sits patiently in the darkness


Just wait. 

Because in the morning, we will rise again.

Rise above the ashes, the predators thought would consume us.


Photo by Gigi Engalla

Personal Instagram: @clrxcsi​

Poetry account: @theunpoeticwriter​


“The Rise of Bust-Born Leaders”

Words by Angelo Pagulayan, He/Him/His


Who do you call in a battle with the unseen?


A dark menace crept across the planet. It scared everyone and brought the greatest nations to its knees. Leaders were called to act, but even the 'strongmen' found it hard to breathe. But even before our world was masked by pestilence, it was already masked with male dominance and patriarchy.


For centuries, women continuously brought warmth to every household. Their unfathomable benefactions gave birth to and forged the lives and futures of generations. As the world has come to a halt, humanity seeks refuge in this time of outrage and fear. For every touch of protection they give with their utmost attention, women truly are at the heart of care that appeases the raging situation—care that is not only felt in every home but by everyone across the world.


Women before are believed to be a symbol of frailness and are treated as a minority. Their rights and voices are silenced and oppressed, thought to be forever bound to inferiority and submission. But the tables have turned. Not all men wear suits and carry briefcases to work anymore. Instead, they stay at a place that is often misconceived as the only domain destined for women—Home.


As the world has come to a halt, women are hell-bent and vigorously ready to wrestle with the menace, bearing the responsibility of holding societies together. Their words speak of compassion, their embrace offers warmth and tranquility, and their bearing displays courage and bravery, and their eyes envision hope. They make up most of those leading on the frontlines, standing firm and proving that they run the world.

Photo by Gigi Engalla

Instagram: @royxlrxven

Facebook: Angelo Pagulayan


“Birthday Wish”

Words by Noelle Encar, She/Her/Hers

"Happy Birthday", exclaimed from the small crowd surrounding me. Some of which were family members, some were close acquaintances.


With their joyful energy, they told me to put out the flames on the confectionary in front of me. Or in simpler terms, "blow the candles on the cake".


I find it quite humorous to do such action, for it isn't the first time I had to extinguish a bright and warm being. In these past years, I had to say my farewells to the many lives that sprung within me. It seems, in my mind's eye, a cemetery was fabricated, with tombstones etched with each persona forced to die. And now I have to kill another spark. Indeed, what a bad joke.


Whenever another year is added to my age, a haunting of these diseased beings occur. I see the young schoolgirl with a messy appearance, a result from her much amusement, holding her mother's hand tightly, features made uncertain by the fog that envelopes her. As I mentally stride in this self-made cemetery, the child was watching me with curious yet knowing eyes. I wonder if she knows, if she is prepared to lose the hand her fingers are tightly woven into, to feel the numbing loneliness that is about to come. On another corner lies an almost translucent soul of a dreamer, with a chef's hat, perched loosely on her small head. Oh, what could have been, lest I let her live.


Ah, it seems more souls have joined the haunting. Funnily enough, these ghosts do not exhume any sinister or ill feelings to their killer. If anything they were quite genial, displaying a certain kindness similar to that of a warm family's.


"Don't forget to make a wish", an outside voice shaking my thoughts.

Almost instantly, the young girl's hands enveloped mine, eyes carefully watching mine that was aging. In the most loving voice she could muster, she whispered,


"Please continue to live".


With that, I welcome my new age; knowing full-well the new pains that I will embrace and the new lives that I would make.

Cake Whisking
Cake Whisking
Cake Whisking


“Excitement on the Iris”

Words by Noelle Encar, She/Her/Hers


Photo by Gigi Engalla

It doesn't take a burning star

Or a natural phenomenon

to see a wonder such great

as those of eyes of love

an organ that illuminates the soul and

the emotion of the beholder,

a keepsake from their many encounters

but most of all,

what's more astonishing

is not the view from these windows to the soul

but the reflection it displays,

a reminder that the being at the center of such exuberance

is the one staring right at them


“From: Sun

To: Moon”

Words by By Karissa, 20, She/Her/Hers

I was about to sleep from a long tiring day

Clouds beside me

Pulls me to lay in deep slumber

But I was mesmerized by an art,

I never knew I would catch a glimpse 

Of your beautiful face, 

Before I set to close my eyes, 

I only took a peek – 

A peek that even a goddess like you doesn’t deserve

For she deserves to be stared long enough

To see those details a naked eye couldn’t distinguish


A bright soul that glows while the night weeps

A bright soul that gives a soothing lullaby while she cradles the stars

A bright soul that only minutes of my time can glance,

And a love only I can witness

Image by Chris Barbalis


“if i lived in an alternate universe”

Words by By Anonymous

The Stars
The Stars

if i lived in an alternate universe, 

what would my dream be? 

what more would i want, and what more would i aim for? 


if i lived in an alternate universe, 

who would my friends be? 

would i be the first to start a conversation, 

or would i wait for someone else’s “hello”? 


if i lived in an alternate universe, 

would my skin be white? black? brown? 

what would my political beliefs be, 

and how would i distinguish right from wrong? 


if i lived in an alternate universe, 

where would i be living? 

would i be in a house where my needs are taken care of, 

or would i be left with nothing but the goal of surviving? 


if i lived in an alternate universe, 

who would my family be? 

who would be the friends beside me, 

and how would i be treated by the world? 


if i lived in an alternate universe, 

what are the reasons i would cry for? 

what would make me smile? 

what songs would i find comfort in? 

what food will i be craving? 

and who will i be, aside from flesh and blood and bones? 


if i lived in an alternate universe, 

would i also be in my bedroom, writing about what i would be in an alternate universe? 

would i also be wondering if i am happy, 

if i am content, 

if i am passionate, 

if i am hardworking, 

and if i am also the same soul, unchanged, 

for no other parallel dimensions can alter who i am within, 

but me.

Thank you for reading our first issue’s “Sonder : a literary anthology”.

If you have a creative piece you want to share to the world, feel free to submit your work for our next issue at For more details regarding public submissions, you may email me at Let us promote healing through literature together. Keep writing!