Ode to Never Fitting In

Ode to Never Fitting In

“Wanna smoke?” Nate asks at the basketball party
And all I do is check Facebook on my phone
“SAT Prep Party #neerrdddzzzzzz” indicates Jessie’s status
And I click “like,” but we all know I wasn’t invited
And I’m not really sure what the “S” “A” or “T” stand for
“Yeeah! Hardcore rap! Finally!” calls out Pete “All that other shit sucks!”
I don’t know who is in the speakers right now, but there are a lot of uses of the n-word
On the patio, Jerry and Phil are stealing their dad’s whiskey
But my dad let me try his once, and it was terrible.
“What am I doing here?” I wonder.
To my right, four girls I don’t know are practicing their cheer routine
While some girl watches from the side, silently mouthing the words the squad will never hear
I guess I thought my friend Tom was coming to this thing,
But he texted me his older brother was home from college.
If I had an older brother,
I’d probably not be cool enough to hang with him and his friends.
I’d ask my mom to pick me up, but she says I need to experience my teen years
I think she just wants a date night with Dad.
I take the last sip from my solo cup of ginger ale, thinking
“seriously, what am I doing here?”
That kid who sleeps two seats behind me in class is passed out in the chair next to me
Is he ever awake?
The pyros are starting a bon fire
I don’t mind fires, but three feet tall is my limit
In line for the bathroom
Jake, the quarterback, is literally making out with two girls at once
I don’t have that kind of time management
A stoner tells me to try his hoodie: “Dude it’s sooooo soft!”
I say sure, thinking I have nothing better to do, so I pull it over my head and
It doesn’t quite fit.


Social Currency

It is folded, like so many before it,
Into an energetic, rushed triangle
My name is boldly labeled on one side
And the other side features the subject heading:
OPEN NOW!!!!!!
I decide to disregard the command
I’ll savor this during history
Nothing important even happens in history
Delicately unfurling the paper, I begin to notice
Lots of capital letters
And repeated usage of the exclamation point.

This is time sensitive material
Top Secret, Confidential
There are only three people who know this:
Jenny, the girl who experienced the whole ordeal;
Ben, the perpetrator; the ugly so-and-so who
Ruined so much more than last Friday’s dance,
And Sadie, the triumphant reporter.
For my eyes only.
Only my eyes have been trusted with this.
Well, my eyes and my locker partner –
How can I keep this to myself?

Susan darts to the absent kid’s desk
Next to me
As Mr. History Sub drones on about some woman,
And I have a social currency, a networking commodity,
My own note, recently written and
Folded into an origami star
“Susan” is written in my best cursive since the third grade
And each point of the star features an exclamation point
My note, somehow longer than Jenny and Ben’s relationship,
Regales an epic, award-winning plotline and
As I pass it to her eager fingertips,
Susan looks at me like a sister,
Like we’re sisters.



is it more cool to like what everyone else likes
or should I try to find something unexplored?
am I uncool, by definition, if I want to be cool?
it feels like one of the great paradoxes of adolescence…

does cool happen to you
like so many other pieces of high school?

is cool like armpit hair?
one night you go to bed,
just hoping to be like all the others
and then in the morning mirror,
there you are: cool…

is it, perhaps, like so many other things,
some fleeting thing you pass by
because you’re looking too hard to find it?

or maybe cool is more like calculus:
you try and you try and you try
and you fail the midterm
and then suddenly
the numbers quit stomping around the page
and the mystery dissolves

could it be that cool is like
those old Bible stories
where God shows up like some disheveled beggar
and just when you couldn’t think anything less of something
it reappears as the most brilliant form in the world
promising you eternal prosperity

as for now, we’ll all just agree
that cool is quietly yet fiercely protected
deep down
past the broken mine shafts
in the darkest, bottomless cave

Lasting Impression

We are our status updates
The world spins or whatever
And it records our thoughts
Flowing through the imprecisety
Of ellipses
Ending in uncertain question marks
Question marks curled around the top
But finished with an affirmative dot
Like some inexperienced exclamation point
As if to pronounce indecision with definitive conviction
As we take solace in hiding in the anonymity of worldwide publicity
We constantly define and redefine and undefined
A blinking cursor
The click of a mouse
Those are the heartbeat of the twenty first century
The hugs and high-fives of the future-present
And it’s awesome, right?
We live in a u-no-it world, and we rlly do no it!
The world spins or whatever
Like a whirring hard drive
Keeping fragmented copies of our fragmented thoughts
Everyone remembers
One small step for a man
One giant leap for mankind
The ultimate status update
But somewhere we tripped
And someday someone will find the record of
That time you posted
lolz im bored

The Waiting

The Waiting

I guess I figured the dawn was nigh;
I thought this endless night was gone by;
I mistook my longing for hearing a reply,
but long is this night, and heavy the sigh.

I’m tired of this waiting – stuck on standby,
“I want out!” I scream through teary eye.
For each step forward takes all my try,
But long is the wait, and heavy the sigh.

I know someday I’ll be nimble and spry,
And on that day, I’ll feel like I’ve arrived,
And everyone’s doubts will surely belie,
But long is my wait, and heavy am I.

That Juneish freedom is my rallying cry.
Sweet images of glory fill my mind’s eye,
And my heart applauds in affirmative reply,
But long is this winter, and heavy my sighs.

Doomed to idle this road’s shoulder am I.
I hope, while pulled over, it will not dash by.
Impatience and expectation in oversupply,
But long is this route, and heavy the sigh.

“The clock is broken,” I try to imply –
Hands on the face we expect to fly.
I look upwards, and shaking fists, testify,
but long is the wait, and heavy the sigh.

We learn in sadness and in beauty, hereby:
Worthy the wait and useless the sigh.

Well Rounded

Well Rounded

I don’t have time for student council elections
I’m not on the dance team
you’ll never find me practicing with the cheer squad
and I don’t do band

I can’t worry myself with a Model UN
I can’t spend three hours editing the newspaper
and I don’t have time for an art club

I take my classes each day, and I do my homework
I don’t even have time for extra credit, so
I must get it right the first time
then I go home and take care of my triplet sisters

Sara loves books
I read them to her
she likes to make up new stories based on the pictures
I write them down for her
we giggle as she changes the ending

Sage wants to dress up every day
she’s never content with just normal clothes
and once a lawyer –
just like mom was –
I have to help her coordinate because
she’s only four

Sadie is allergic
to everything
I’m always making sure she doesn’t
you know
she likes movies
loves cartoons
but most of all, she enjoys life

But you’re all going to tell me
because I didn’t wear a uniform
I don’t make minimum wage
I don’t put my pretentious pretend poetry in some literary magazine
or eat my lunch in the yearbook room

that I’m unfit
that somehow I lack the life experiences
developed inside a school building
carefully observed by someone
to be accepted into four years of red plastic cups,
hacky sack on the quad, and a deeper examination of the question,
“hot lunch or my own?”

you’ll all look at my scores and grades and assessments,
rub your chins, and smile at my achievements,
and with one turn of the paper, glance at your
formula for acceptance with disapproval –
“Why wouldn’t she want to be more involved?”
you’ll all ask and applaud for asking
“Now, that’s a good question!” someone will say

And my file will be shut
just as my plans and goals will be
and you’ll label me somehow
not well-rounded

Why I Yell

Why I Yell

I yell because I’m angry!
Your turpitude aside,
You’ve made something inside feel broken,
you’ve skipped in line; you’re too outspoken.

I yell because I’m exhausted.
…because how many times do I have to say this?
You really are wearing me out.
And I know my last-resort shout will fade behind your ears,
but sometimes all you have left is something primal.

I yell because you hurt me.
…and there’s a lot of me to go around.
You’ve pushed and you’ve torn, and
when it feels like I’m in danger,
my angry voice is my shield.

I yell because you’re my reflection.
In some unexpected way, you’re behind the glass.
You’re all that lasts of what I remember passing
and because it was so long ago, my voice
needs to carry across great distances.

I yell because you’re tuning me out.
…because can you even hear me?
because there is so much noise in the world
and we must shove things in our ears to cancel it.

I yell because I am frightened.
There are nights I don’t sleep,
and you’ll never know –
…because do you know
how many dinners I’ve thought of you
instead of the person across from me?
There are days I take patience and stay
and every breath of my prayers is shrouded in your name.

I yell because I love you.
And maybe you don’t hear it enough.
And maybe it’s lame, but
you’re the reason I’ll never be the same –
you’ve sunk your teeth in
and I don’t feel the pain.

I give my life and all that I am
I stand right here and
I pause just there and
I pace.

And I stand, arms folded at the door.
I smile and remind; I call you by name
I see who you are, and I see who you want to be
I hear what you say, and I know what you think
I repeat what you’re looking for,

and I yell
big, booming lives,
big, stomping voice,

I yell because you’re still not listening,
I yell because have I made myself clear?
I yell because I’m actually here to,
and I yell because do you see anyone else here?

I return daily, insane they say,
I stand here
right here.

I yell because are you talking to me?
And my voice echoes in your ears
and I hope you never wonder
if I was talking to you.

Mrs. Blackmere’s Last Day

Mrs. Blackmere’s Last Day

My fifth period is literally a zoo –
Uncontrollable terrors running fro and then to,
And here I am sitting just trying to read.
People rush past me with immeasurable speed.

The teacher is yelling; I don’t think she knows
Where the energy comes and where it all goes.
Mrs. Blackmere clears her throat and begins
to teach the class English, but she never quite wins.

Paper airplanes zoom by and boys belch ABC;
My friends and I sit, wondering what we can say.
I think someone’s crying; I hear sobs from the back.
I bet it’s Old Blackmere starting to crack…

Her hair’s gone white from the stress of the boys’ fun;
she began a brunette, and she’s only thirty-one!
She used to stand firm with her hands on her hips;
Now she hides, trembling, tearing paper in strips.

The bell is ringing; it’s beginning to snow;
The period’s over, and I think we should go,
But it’s clear Billy still has one final trick –
I’d tell you what happened, but you might get sick.

Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation

My best friend since 4th grade is Jen
She and I used to drool over him on the bus
Her hair used to be all ponytails
Now she’s got this side bun thing going
Anyways, she swears she knows

Ernie, this kid who used to go to our school
but now he’s in a private school
Saint something-something Catholic all boys’ school
or something like that
Anyway he apparently plays lacrosse for their Freshman team
I didn’t know religious kids liked sports, but
He is pretty sure he once played a game against

Tim who is this senior for some high school up in the mountains
And this kid, Tim, is probably gorgeous, right?
Anyways, Tim is in an honors physics class with some crazy lab minimum
something like four labs per week
Crazy, huh? I would literally die
Anyways because there’s all these labs he needs a lab partner

Juliette (what were her poor parents thinking?!?)
Jen swears that Ernie swears that Tim was not lying when he said that
This girl, Juliette, didn’t originally grow up in
And that she’s originally from Los Angeles
or is it Las Vegas?
Some place beginning with “los” or “las”
And she used to take dance classes
No, art classes
Anyways some elective at a summer program where they had to have some crazy performance
evening or somethinglikethat
And while she was singing or describing her sculpture or whatever, she met

Cassey, this college girl who was volunteering at the program
And who said that when she was four she was next door neighbors with this family

The Johnsons
and the dad, Edward, was like
college roommates with him or something…
So, yeah… I guess I’ve never actually met him, but you know,
That’s something…right?

On the Other Hand

On the Other Hand

My dad says, “Be a man – let it go!”
When I burn my thumb on the grill.
He says guys
are supposed to have scars
and bruises –
Makes ‘em tough, he says.
“Suck it up – don’t cry about it!”
He gruffly slaps my shoulder.
On the other hand,
Jenny tells me
“You hold too much in.”
“I don’t know what you’re thinking half the time
I can’t tell what you want.”
While we sit next to each other
In the field
Behind my dad’s garage.