Movie Stars and Boys

Movie Stars and Boys

Her heart just about leaps
out of her
B-Team field hockey jersey
as she tongue flicks her new braces.
Awkward.
Fully Aware.
She strides directly to him.
And just there,
between lockers 237 and 239,
Katherine – now Kat –
learns that true love is
not just
for movie stars,
and boys
really do
notice girls who wear
their hair down.
Because, to her,
“Hey.”
is the sweetest,
most beautiful poetry
she’s ever heard.

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The Nature of the Word

The Nature of the Word

A name called,
a cruelty allowed.
Even the bathroom mirrors
are two-faced.
And we’re told to “settle down.”

And where are you
after all that?

They say salt water,
rising in tides,
smooths,
reshapes and eventually
disintegrates boulders.

It takes centuries,
but eventually, there’s no reminder
of what once stood so boldly,
no echo
for that which never once made sound,
no mourning for what never held breath.

If that stone is struck,
it fissures or breaks,
but it remains;
withstands shipwrecks
and dynamite.

It may be the
forceful attack
that crumbles the spirit, but it is
the constant, recursive nature
that makes it
disappear.

Secrets

Secrets

Jessica sits like she always does:
Criss cross legs and slumped to the left
Oh, John! she giggles.
You can’t tell anyone!
And I nod conspiratorially;
I listen.
I hear about the boy she kissed,
And how she felt like the movies.
Our secret… she says
Well, hers and the boy and me I guess.
And we giggle.
She playfully punches my shoulder,
And we move on.
We plan for Friday night;
Pledge our hatred of Mrs. Benson;
And after she asks me for the thousandth time
What it’s like in the boys’ locker room,
I think this is a good time
To mention that I’m in love
With Sam Collins,
And I want to kiss him
Like she kissed that other boy,
And I want to hold his hand,
But she never even asked me
if I had any secrets to share.

Aftermath

Aftermath

In the middle of everything,
Tessa told everyone!
My face blanched with shock
My notebook slipping from my control
My eyes dart from
some cross-armed sub
to Jessica riding Tony’s back
and Shawna’s looking at me, though
Her eyes are equal parts
surveillance and judgment
Did I or didn’t I?
These questions remain unasked.
And maybe I don’t even know the answers.
I only know three things:
My life was most likely ruined
during a bathroom break in Algebra
It’s time to move on
to seventh period
And I’m left alone with the
aftermath

Kids These Days

Kids These Days

“Kids these days…”
You throw this phrase in our face
As you speed up the pace, and we’re outweighted
In a spontaneous race that only you created.

“Back in my day…”
You all say, looking away,
Gritting and gray
Forgetting the horrible ways
You told black people to “know their place”
And claimed shock therapy could cure the gays.
Your women were meant to be kept in the kitchen
While you reckoned children should just listen
while you misfired your pistons,
mired in your staunch positions.

Don’t pretend that everything was better
When unsettling regret sets in forever because
Our day is today and though you maintained labels
We’ve sustained inviting everyone at our lunch tables.

In these duplicitous days, your infelicitous ways
Are revealing the real actions and what really happened
In your “good old days,” sending us reeling,
Feeling we have no say, but now we have the impetus
To change your iniquitous wickedness,
So we vote and you choke on the words you spoke
reinvoke us to act, and provoke us,
And learning kindness is not just hocus pocus!

We used to wait for permission –
The condition of our ambition –
But now we grant it ourselves;
Our candor compelling us as you’re dwelling
on the childhoods you put on the shelves,
telling us we don’t listen or appreciate what we’re given,
That we only think of ourselves, but you keep
Dispelling our memories of you yelling
And telling us we are misremembering and embellishing

You harass us with the past, but
We run fast and we will outlast you
And we will pick up your slack and take it back and
We adapt while you react with little to no tact, we
Overcome your lack of self-reflection
With each election, you change the direction, eternally lacking affection,
spurning our need for protection, reinforcing our perplexion,
Because, yeah, we journal and question
And we yearn for suggestion and learn from correction.

Just so you know, old school is for the old and the tired,
and we don’t do as told, cause we conspire to break the mold –
Behold! Your old road is potholed, but our story’s yet untold,
so we will uphold the lessons you don’t know each of you teaches
as your lies rise and reach us, but each of us beseeches
what the other preaches because
If we keep memorizing what you memorized
as you closed your eyes and studied only rich white guys
and believed the lies, how will we ever rise and grow
and show what we know and go where we need to go?

We organize and create; we debate and delegate
and initiate while you bloviate and get irate
and miss what happens because
you don’t want to appreciate or participate.

But we fix all your messes,
And let dudes wear dresses,
And while each of us confesses, the Lord
Still blesses us because we give applause and
we are careful of stress and pause is pressed
lest we forget a cause we want to suggest!

You mourn your days and you scorn our ways
and bullhorn our laze, warning the craze of being overpraised.
But our mainstays are healthier, our weekdays are wealthier,
and we raise our hearts for more love in this place –
you started the race and you try to outpace,
but we embrace even as you backspace,
and we will amaze and liaise so nobody strays
from the finish line you secretly created and discreetly updated
The bar is rising and you keep criticising
but we keep surprising and actualizing
without your apologizing.

We keep enterprising, opening closed doorways,
ignoring imposed clichés because the way we appraise,
this generation’s success is unswayed, and it stays
All because of the kids these days.

Why I Refuse to Comply

Why I Refuse to Comply

I refuse because I’m sick of everyone telling me what to do!
I refuse because don’t you remember
how exhausted it makes you to get up
and go to school everyday?

Because every molecule is telling me to run 10,000 miles an hour,
and you want me to sit silently
And look at the board.

I refuse because nowhere else in my life do I feel like I have choice.

I don’t comply because there’s nothing else to do,
And you can’t make me.
Seriously, what are you going to do?
I refuse because, you and what army?

Because this is dumb and bull and a waste of my time.

I refuse because no one asks me what I want.
And because, have you noticed outside?
And because, don’t you sometimes care more about later than now?

I refuse because I don’t care about this.

Because you won’t let me go tot the bathroom.
Because your condescension mocks me.
Because, don’t you sometimes not listen?

When She Sits Next to Me

When She Sits Next to Me

All at once she makes me sick to my stomach, and
also feel like I’m Superman or something, and
my palms are dripping faucets; and
somehow even my eyeballs sweat.

Has she always worn her hair like that?
Is that a new dress?

I sink deep into my seat, and
even though I haven’t figured it out,
I wonder if I’ll ever be able to do trig again.
A weakness of the knees;
a quickness of the heart, and
my face hurts from all this smiling!

My IQ and my heartbeat
have an inverse relationship now, and
I swear she smells like sunshine and strawberries, and
everything that is light and joy and summer and perfection, and
why do I suddenly care how my hair looks? And
why do I hear her name in every song I hear? And
why, when she sits next to me, do I do everything I can
to avoid making eye contact?

I fumble my pencil as I think,
it feels like there’s a first period pop quiz and I didn’t read; but
it’s more than a crush –
crushed is how I feel when she walks hand in hand with Taylor.
It must be, regardless of what my older brother says,
inescapable, undeniable, and
unrequited
love.

Scrub My Skin

Scrub My Skin

Imagine me with freckles
In a world of unmarked faces
A world of unscarred, creamy,
Smooth skin…

This poem isn’t about color –
It’s acknowledging feeling like
An other.

Like, there I am with freckles
Not like I want freckles
I hate the way they photograph,
But they’re there.
They’re me.

And suddenly, everyone’s all
“Freckles just don’t look normal!”
“I knew a guy in college with freckles,
But I just don’t want my kids around them…”
“Maybe your freckles are just a phase?”
“Freckles are reckless and infectious!”

So now I try to hide them.
Wherever I go.
Whenever I’m out.

I even scrub my skin until it’s raw.
Until I think they’re gone.
Crying, trying to hide them
Pretending I don’t have spotted skin.
Concealer doesn’t work.
There’s nothing I can do, though,
I have freckles!
I was born with them,
Or maybe some showed up as I got older –
Plus, they always show through
Any trick I try.

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.