I Don't Write for You

"I hate poetry," my younger self says.
She says it’s boring, that it doesn’t make any sense.
Says it’s too much, and says she doesn’t want anything to do with it.
She wonders why she doesn’t like it, wonders why it’s frustrating.

"Iambic pentameter," teachers say, while spouting off names of famous poets.
The assignment is to research them and write a poem in their style.
Copy their rhythm, their rhyme, and their spirit.
Turn ourselves outside in to match their inside out.

I didn’t like this. I wanted to write my own things.
Find my own rhythm and rhyme, and not steal someone else’s spirit.
I wanted to look into myself and discover what needed to be said.
But instead I was stuck writing three stanzas of pretended vulnerability.

So now I write for my younger self.
I write the poems she wanted to read- ones with no end point and no boundaries.
I write for her so she can say what needed to be said,
And I write for the free spirit that is somewhere inside me.

I write poetry because I have to, and I write poetry because I need to.
I have my own way of doing this, and you don’t need to like it.
I write the poetry my younger self wanted to write but was told it was too much like prose
Too much of a narrative and had too few descriptions

But I am not them. I am not Wordsworth, and I am not Shakespeare.
I am not Browning, and I am certainly not Neruda.
I am me. I can only be me.
I can only write my own thoughts and speak my own truth.

So I don’t write for you. I don’t write for your rules or your boundaries.
I don’t write for your restrictions or your guidelines.
I write because I have to, and I write because I need to.
I write because that’s how I breathe. I write so I can live.

 

 

In My Backpack

I have an old tube of chapstick;
Multiple crumpled up ideas;
A few hand me down insecurities.

I have a broken watch;
An old train pass that probably expired last year;
Dreams that are growing ever so slowly.

I have a copy of my favorite book of poetry;
A thin sweater with a slightly torn sleeve;
A broken heart that is slowly mending.

I have a broken pen I’ve carried for three years;
Homework I should have turned in two months ago;
A pile of “um”s “yeah”s and “mmhmm”s.

I have perfume that hurts my head;
A few letters for my best friend;
A foggy memory of an untaken antidepressant.

I have a crunched up granola bar;
Another crunched up granola bar;
A prayer I’ve been saving for later.

I have a CD from 2007;
A stick of gum;
And the rough draft for this poem.

 

Fear

They will try to break you.
They will try to make you into something you are not.
They will try to bend you, twist you, change you.
Do not believe them.

Do not believe the daggers in their eyes,
Or the fight that is in their hands.
Do not believe the venom in their mouths,
Or the anger that is in their feet.

They will force you into their idea of perfect.
They will force you into their metaphors,
Into their idea of self. Ignore them.
Become your own self.

See with your own eyes how precious you are.
Use your hands to do what you know is right.
Speak words of kindness like I know you can.
Do not let anger trample you.

Do not let the fear break you.
Do not let it make you into something you are not.
Do not let it bend you, twist you, change you.
Do not believe it.

 

 

America

America, on the fourth of July,
I stare up at the fireworks, and can’t help but ask why
This country is now the way that it is,
Where hope turns to fear and nothing is ours- it’s his.

Over the past few years my patriotic heart has been shot,
Months filled with news that’s hard to handle, and I always thought,
That this country was built on dreams fit for growing,
But now a bullet has penetrated the calm and instructed the storm to start blowing.

I know, I know, this poem may be hard for some to hear,
But discomfort can be good, and I won’t censor my tears.
So listen up, because I’m angry at all I’ve been seeing,
Angry at this country, and the actions of some human beings.

First of all, we are all human beings, and we cannot forget this,
We all want acceptance, and we’re all trying to escape the abyss
Of suffering and evil, so why aren’t we helping each other?
We are separating and hurting, instead of acting like sisters and brothers.

Stop pretending to love if that’s not how you feel,
At least have some sympathy, and don’t make excuses for the evil.
We are all to blame for something, so accept your consequences.
Do what you can to make things right, and help tear down these fences.

Stars and stripes and thoughts and thoughts and prayers,
Stop being enough when no one really cares.
I’ve read word after word of lives turned to ruin,
It’s like our hopes are gone and destruction has been blown in.

If this is not who we are, then more needs to be done
We’ve had protests and parades, but we can’t stop ‘till we’ve won.
Until everyone can laugh, learn, and love as they please,
Until our animals are safe, even the ones in the trees.

America, I still want to love you, but you’re making it hard.
You’ve closed up your hearts, and your borders are bared.
But someone once said our darkest nights lead to brightest days,
So I’ll look for the helpers, and try to count out the ways,

I’ve seen the hope through the hurt, and the good through the bad,
I’ve seen people makes others smile, and lend a hand to the sad.
I’ve watched the helpers become heroes, because that’s what they are.
I’ve watched strangers have empathy, no matter how far.

So give me your tired, your hurting and ill,
And I’ll give you my shoulder, a blanket and fighting will.
I’ll do what I can to set this ship back on course,
But I need you to join me, to be our fighting force.

 

Ode to My Gazebo

You have been my place of comfort.
My place of security, and my place for solace.
I go to you to find a quiet space to read, to think, and to be.
You are my happy place.

You watched me in my loneliness, in my times of distress.
You watched me fall in love slowly, never all at once.
You saw me cram for tests during lunchtime as I ignored the sandwiches,
and you saw me help others study as they ignored their own.

You have watched me laugh, and you have watched me cry.
You have seen me shudder in the cold as I wrapped my coat tighter around my body.
You watched me notice the new kids come and go,
and you watched me turn pages slowly in the crisp wind.

When I leave you, be there for someone else.
Be there for their laughter, and for their tears.
Be there on their cold and lonely days, and on the days where they can’t stop smiling.
Be there when I can’t be.

Be there for the new girl who doesn’t know where she’s going next,
And be there for the boy who loves the girl and doesn’t know how to say anything to her.
Be there for the teachers who are running to a class they’re late to,
And be there for the fifth grader who fell and is trying to look strong.

You will always be my gazebo, though I’ll have to leave you soon.
You have given me ideas worth galaxies, and a place to lay my head after nights of no sleep.
You were there when no one else was, and when no one else wanted to be.
Be there for the new kids, and thank you for being there for me.

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