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Nepsa Merge

High school kids have a lot to say. Fortunately, in Aspen, there are several vehicles through which they can be heard, including Aspen High School’s literary magazine.

Nepsa Merge – “Nepsa” is Aspen spelled backward; “Merge” represents the joining together of high school students through creative pursuits like writing and art – is produced annually by a staff of AHS juniors and seniors. “Lit Mag,” as the kids call it, is not a class. Rather, it is an extracurricular club co-sponsored by the high school and the Aspen Writers’ Foundation.

“The exceptional quality of Nepsa Merge speaks to the talent and dedication of these students. It is so refreshing to see young people enthused about the literary arts, and we’re pleased Nepsa Merge offers them an opportunity to be heard,” says Julie Comins, executive director of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation.



Charged with selecting material for publication from hundreds of student submissions, as well as designing and producing the magazine, the staff of Nepsa Merge published this year’s edition just before graduation.

Here are a few excerpts:




Tasting August

Ripe peaches…

the sacrifice to the end of summer

the toll of leisure,

the bittersweet closure of bliss

Sinking teeth into mellow-sweet fuzz

I feel tongue-ecstasy

A siesta-like serenity

A kiss of summer rolls off my lips

My senses demand more …

I smell 100 acres of Eden,

fields of cinnamon orange trees

as I take the last bite of summer.

– Nicole Hernandez

Our Friend the Cliche

The end is near. In fact, the end is less than two hours away … of speech class at least. I have spent this entire semester avoiding passive verbs, comma faults, vague generalizations, and cliches. Ahh, cliches … the fertilizer of the English tree. I have had to omit these linguistic gems from my vocabulary, until now. It’s the end … what have I got to lose? Call it freedom of speech, or spite, or I’m sick of being told what not to do. I dedicate this speech to our friend, the cliche.

So, you’ll give me a penny for my thoughts? I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you my two cents. I’m at my wit’s end, the end of my rope. Popinchalk may argue that cliches in any form are as useful as a screen door on a submarine. Mr. P., you have it bass-ackwards; you’re off your rocker. Cliches are the best things since sliced bread. They are cooler than the other side of your pillow. That’s the naked truth. The only way to make ends meet is to, once in a blue moon, get your fill of cliches. Something good always comes out of something bad. Good things come in small packages; what’s smaller than a cliche? So if cliches are small bad things, think of all the good I have coming to me. There is more here than meets the eye: originality is not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s my way or the highway. Cliches are the way to go. These phrases, coined and overused, leave original writing in the dark. It has dawned on me that cliches make or break an essay. They are a melting pot of cultures and dialects, and hold a spot very near and dear to my heart. Nothing personal, Mr. P., but I love to sink my teeth into a mouth-watering cliche.

Sometimes, in the game of life, you’re the windshield, and sometimes, you’re the bug. We need to swallow our pride, surpass these stone-faced villains, use a few cliches and call it a day. It’s a piece of cake, easy as pie, duck soup. Don’t worry, Mr. P., I’m not trying to rattle your cage. There is meaning to this madness. All’s well that ends well, I say.

Cliches are as good as gold, but did you ever stop to think about their origin? I did. For example, the phrase, “straight from the horse’s mouth” derives from horse racing, meaning straight from the original source. The expression, a boast of confidence from a racetrack tipster, who claims he gets his information from the horses themselves; thereby assuring the gambler that the information is the most accurate.

The saying, “bite the bullet,” meaning to endure the pain and move on, refers to early attempts at surgery. Prior to the advent of anesthesia, patients (usually whose limbs were being amputated) were given whiskey and a stick or bullet to bite down on during the operation.

We all know that “to let the cat out of the bag” means to divulge a secret. We don’t all know, however, that this phrase originates from medieval times. Traders at the markets would display live pigs for sale. The pigs would be given to the buyer in a burlap sack, still wiggling with life, along with specific instructions not to open the bag until they were home. When the unsuspecting buyer finally opened the bag, they found a cat, rather than a pig. Letting the cat out of the bag was the moment when the con man’s secret was revealed.

Ever wonder why you tell someone to “break a leg” when you mean good luck? It springs from an old superstition. People used to believed in spirits called Sprites. These malicious spirits were said to hear a person ask for something, then try to make the opposite happen. By telling someone to break a leg, the spirit in turn had to make something positive happen. Let’s just call it medieval reverse psychology.

But enough is enough. It’s time to move on. Hey, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. And when I last checked, I ain’t fat, I ain’t singing, and this ain’t over yet. It’s not over till it’s over. This is my last hurrah, and I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. Got milk? This is good till the last drop. This is the light at the end of my tunnel. The ends justify the means. After all, a cliche is a cliche is a cliche.

– Lindsay Landis

The Adventurer

Robbie had guts,

Like we’ve never seen.

He took boundaries and challenged them,

He was always the king.

Robbie had no enemies,

Not one who would put him down.

And we all know that no matter his mood,

You rarely caught his frown.

His sunshine smile,

That could light up a dark room,

Will be greatly missed,

For he left us too soon.

He achieved and experienced more

In his short life on earth,

Than most of us will encounter

Ninety years from our birth.

He possessed our trust, faith, and,

Of course, our respect.

For a great man like Robbie,

Was hard to neglect.

A sailor, a friend, a brother, a son,

Robbie, at best,

Was the heart and soul of any fun.

Adventure ran through his bloodstream,

Curiosity was embedded in his soul,

Sheer kindness was a part of his being,

And spreading happiness was his primary goal.

He never walked by and ignored you,

For his politeness was truly high,

And you left a conversation with Robbie,

Knowing you’d encountered an exceptional guy.

His wildness may never be matched,

And his maturity never understood,

And to try to equal his sense of humor?

No one even could.

With a heart of gold,

and nerves of steel,

Make way for Robbie,

The iron man who could feel.

His unparalleled positive energy,

Will never be surpassed.

Because an optimistic aura like his,

Was created so it would last.

He carried with him,

An atmosphere of cheer,

And a laugh that was truly,

A privilege to hear

Of nothing was Robbie incapable,

He will always remain irreplaceable.

Robbie touched us all,

In his own special style.

Now he’s sailing in the clouds,

With that same special smile.

We all believed in him.

He died so young.

We’ll never know,

What Robbie could have done.

With a sling on his arm,

And a grin on his face,

Robbie remains in our hearts,

Forever embraced.

Red-lining the RPMs to 6007,

We know that Robbie’s four-wheeling

Up that stairway to heaven.

– Lizzie Suiter

That Night

It was evening. I think in the winter. I was young, about ten, and entertaining myself as my brother was not at home to entertain me. When Mom finished with the dishes she said, “Mosie, we need to tell you something.” She said it in that tone of voice that means the next sentence is going to be something bad. I knew immediately that whatever was about to be said was something I didn’t want to hear, and Mom’s voice indicated that she didn’t want to tell me. I had butterflies in my stomach. She sat in the rocking chair, Dad on the couch, I in the leather recliner. That chair should have swallowed me; I wanted it to. I hid in it, knees at my chest. Its distinct smell of old polished leather still reeks with the memory of that night. After a silence in which I sat motionless, Mom’s words came. They were shaky at first, hesitant with fear and sadness. Then, “Daddy has cancer.” Just like that, like a bomb in the silence. Time froze. I fossilized. The air was shocked and stale. The slanted walls of the old living room intruded on the stillness.

Dad heroically broke the silence by telling me in a semi-stable voice that he would recover. He was moving to Denver for a few months so he could get radiation therapy. He said he would be fine and we could go hiking and camping again as a family in no time. I got up to sit in Mom’s lap as though I was afraid of whatever my Dad had become. She told me that Dad was not contagious and to sit on his lap. I did, and he held me in his strong arms. I think he may have let a tear out at that point, but I was not looking at him, only feeling the steady inhalations and exhalations of his chest.

The air in the room softened. The house re-tilted itself to its usual angle, and the furniture again became simple material. The only remaining change was a subconscious knowledge that disease now haunted the house and the room and my Dad. It would follow him like a shadow, a shadow that could slowly consume my favorite person until it had devoured him.

– Maureen Fox