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.


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.

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

Voices We Hear in the Hall

Voices We Hear in the Hall

It’s hard to believe that you’re perfect
When ev’ryone says that you’re not
And no one could ever feel pretty
When you’re faced with the face that you’ve got

We’re starting to learn the real message –
There’s a fine line between right and wrong;
But we’ve begun to hear distant rumbling
And it’s the bass line of this, our new song.

They tell us, “celebrate diff’rences!”
While they’re out and about fighting wars
And we’re supposed to try to be winners
While they tell us not to keep score

We’re starting to learn the real message –
There’s a fine line between right and wrong;
But we’ve begun to hear distant rumbling
And it’s the bass line of this, our new song.

They’ve forgotten how it’s difficult
To concentrate in class above all
They tell us to keep facing forward
Ignore voices we hear in the hall

What if there’s no multiple choice
For saying it all in my own voice?

I guess we’ll just have to keep trying
To figure it out on our own
Since the massage we hear gets all mixed up
As we navigate this unknown

We’re starting to learn the real message –
There’s a fine line between right and wrong;
But that rumbling has begun taking over
And it’s the bass line of this, our new song.

Celebrate Diversity!!!!!!!!!!

Celebrate Diversity!!!!!!!!!!

Attention Students:
This year for Diversity Day,
we will learn the danse macabre
and eat crêpes for lunch
we will watch Disney movies in Mandarin
and everyone will wear a Yarmulke!
Because we’re teaching you real culture, kids…
we’re exposing you to the world
you’ve never experienced.
So now you can understand diverse nations.

And for Women’s History Week,
you’ll all select a famous woman
(e.g. Marie Curie and Queen Elizabeth 1)
to research and dress up as –
that will encourage you to appreciate all women and respect them
Won’t it be fun?

For Black History Appreciation Month, we’ll read
that Maya Angelou poem
and watch Amistad.
Because those experiences will help you understand black people.

Oh! And don’t forget to watch your television on mute tonight
to fully understand the complexities of being deaf.
Make sure to show your support at our save-the-deaf bake sale!

And we’ll all listen to that blind motivational speaker
for 30 minutes
before our pep rally.

Next Saturday night is our “No Two Snowflakes are the Same” dance,
hosted by the
Committee for Understanding & Learning Together, Uniting Relevance & Equality.
Wear your shiniest, whitest clothes to stand out in the crowd!

Also, don’t forget your permission slips for the evening performance of the rain dance
for Native American Night.
Bring your parents for the FUN!
Maybe they’ll buy you a supercute monogrammed headdress!

And make sure you
sneak a peek (while you still can)
at the “Tolerance Forever” mural
temporarily suspended by the gym
for the next two weeks (because we need room for all those trophies)
to show our support for all those who
struggle and suffer with being different.

Things Instead of Clouds

Things Instead of Clouds

Remember that time when we were little
And I mean little little like really little
Like little little little little?
And we would stare up into a great big sky
and think we saw things instead of clouds?
Maybe a giraffe or a bunny
or whateverwewantedtosee?

What if, like now that we’re older
And I mean older older
Not just olderish
But like older older older older!
Maybe we stare out into a great big world
And think we see things instead of monsters
Maybe a cute guy or a body type we wish we had
or something there that isn’t?

And, like, we’re supposed to be smarter
not like, kindasorta smarter
But smarter smarter smarter smarter
And we need to base our decisions on like
life experience orsomethinglikethat
maybe we look back on our life
and think we see things instead of success
maybe missed opportunities or failed attempts
but maybe they’re actually lessons

Maybe we needed them all
Like needed needed them?