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.

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Teenage Tinman

Teenage Tinman

With one sharp word, you can chop off my arm.
With another, you can remove my heart,
but I will be covered up bit by bit:
Chromium steel, iron, and tin alloys.
Make it work! Quick!
Before they see!
Nothing can show!
Each step down the center of a hallway
full of perfect, towering boyfriends and
their doe-eyed Dorothys –
wizards of flaws –
they hide behind curtains, control masses;
each sneer and every whispered, hushed glance
chops off one more of my targeted limbs.
“You’ll be stronger than before,” they tell me
as I rebuild, reconstruct, replace, and
add even more to my now heavy frame.
Plate by plate, locked into place,
but no one knows,
no one sees what these hands have created
as they fasten my formidable gloves…
“Protect yourself, see?” they advise again
as my borrowed eyes look down, observing
a body I no longer recognize:
bolted feet lead to
soldered legs, lead to
fused eyes and brain and face,
lead to mechanical heart, valves, and veins.
A smile hidden by a glowing screen;
thoughts silenced by rage words I haven’t said;
digital emotions that blink and buzz;
and careful clothing I was told I liked.
There’s no blood moving through these coarse tubes.
Alterations improve, but nothing stays;
I am metal, but there’s no glint, no shine;
I am dinged, dented, rusted over, piecemeal,
and no amount of oil can unstick me.

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?

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.

The big, bad back row

The big, bad back row

Slick, snickering tricksters with their
brisk quickening fixes and their
risks flickering
insist “time is ticking too slow…”

Whiling their time, riling the aisles, these
piling peeves styling their trials after
compiling files of reliable rivals
smiling and beguiling in the big, bad back row.

Crass rasping and classless asking while
fast acting, these
tactless taskers blast nasty
basking in places nobody goes.

Earning their spurn over burned bridges, they’ve
learned to yearn for their turn;
they subtly adjourn, rarely
returning when anyone knows.