Poem: The Lost Unknown

I wrote this as a junior in high school after participating in a Life Chain event in town. It’s a silent, prayer-filled protest against abortion while also offering a public witness of people who want change, other options. I had been joining my parents in these events for many years, even if I didn’t always fully understand what it was about. But it meant standing on the sidewalk along a busy stretch of road and holding signs, like these.

I knew abortion was wrong. I had some stereotypical ideas in mind of what might prompt people to choose to go through with an abortion. As I got older, I would come to understand more and more of why this decision is such a struggle for many.

After attending the Life Chain event this particular year, I felt inclined to write about it. I remember reaching for pen and paper on the short drive back to our house.

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4 poems: Creating a persona

One concrete example of being competent and in charge of an English class group assignment happened during 11th grade.

I was in the regular version of this English class, not AP. I remember receiving a bit of flack about that from the teacher, who was fully convinced I was taking the easy way out by not going for his AP class.

Anyway, we had a group project where we had to create a persona, create the background of a character: who this person is, what they are doing. And then somehow we needed to tie in some type of literary piece. This was an English class, after all, so it wasn’t merely about writing a paper; it required some creativity.

I know our group settled on a female student who was studying different key events in history or was at least interested in history. We decided to create a journal for her where she reacted to various moments in history. Somehow we created journal entries and then also established that she wrote poetry. Yes, I’m sure the poetry aspect was all me, but I was happy to volunteer to make that writing my responsibility.

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Poem: The Golden Days

In some ways I think this is the high school version of the poem Road ahead is closed.

There will always be a sense of longing for times in the past that seemed easier. But that ease is mostly because that particular situation is now familiar and comfortable; the emotion completely overlooks how challenging and daunting it was in the moment.

This was written during tenth grade

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Poems about peacefulness

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Most people probably have a spot they like to go to for peace and quiet. It might be a daily place of refuge or more infrequent. It might mean going to a physical location or just closing your eyes and creating a special environment in your mind. Or doing a daily Bible study and meditation which helps to start the time with a proper frame of mind.

In high school and college, my happy place was with a journal. Writing out my thoughts and feelings offered me peace. I could vocalize what I needed to there without having to worry about pleasing anyone or needing someone else’s approval. So, yes, despite all the uncertainty that encompassed my life, there were still moments of seeking calm and peace … and finding it.

These poems were both written during tenth grade. I have no idea what prompted the first poem, although it was written before I had any concept of yoga. The second was written after finishing my biology final exam.

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Poem: Grandma

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My maternal grandmother died when my mom was 16, so I never got a chance to meet her. I had a relationship with my step-grandmother, but it was still a bit distant and formal. My paternal grandparents lived several states away so we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together either.

Generally speaking I got along with my step-grandmother, but we weren’t super close. We would spend time together a few times a year, usually going out for lunch. In many ways she was the classic Southern woman, and she tried to teach me manners and social etiquette. Not that I was an animal, but I had a preference for eating burgers and fries that she wanted to change. The  biggest restaurant moment that stands out is her insisting I try chutney with my meal. (I must have branched out with a chicken sandwich.)

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Poem: Dancing Fairies

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At the end of ninth grade, I approached my English teacher about the idea of a literary magazine for the school. She really liked that idea and said she’d look into it. We had a small student newspaper, but there wasn’t a whole lot in there.

I had helped on the literary magazine during eighth grade, and it was a cool experience to see submitted writing and artwork from students. It was also a challenge to put it together. When you’re not directly involved, you don’t think about the details and the process: having to evaluate submissions, handling pieces submitted anonymously, which piece seems right to be first or to close the collection .

I had shared some of my writing with her during the year, some things I had done outside of class. And she encouraged me to submit to a magazine for young writers. (I forget what the magazine was called.) I sent in a bunch of things, but “Dancing Fairies” is the one they published. I can’t say it was a favorite of mine, but at least someone else liked it.

This is another poem that I believe was inspired by a phrase I drafted using the magnetic poetry pieces.

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Poem: The Unknown Cause

I wrote this in ninth grade, as well. But the idea for this poem came from a session of using magnetic poetry. I had a pack hanging on the wall of my room and would play with the words. I believe the image of sun-streaked hair and the purple convertible came from the magnets, and then I somehow created a story to go with it.

I believe the title comes from the man in the poem, his attitude. Many times when people are abusive or violent they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. So when things unravel it comes as a surprise.

But looking back, I’m excited to see that I could write a poem about this kind of topic. Mostly, I’m excited that I wrote something where the female wasn’t just a victim, forever taking the abuse. She got out. She broke free.

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Poem: Darkness


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You could say by 9th grade I had a lot going for me. I got along with my classmates, even if there wasn’t a lot of socializing outside of school. I had a few close friends who went to public school, and we still got together often. I was playing basketball and had made the varsity team. And that first year of high school I was making good grades and doing well in class. And yet …

Yet somehow there was still room to write this.

I honestly don’t remember what inspired this poem, what specific thing happened to prompt writing this. It was kind of a shock to find when looking through old files, but there are a few lines that seem familiar. No matter. It’s another clear indication that things weren’t okay. There were definitely problems beneath the surface, problems that for whatever reason I didn’t feel I could vocalize directly.

This was written at the end of my freshman year in high school.

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Poem: Insanity

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I wrote this at the end of ninth grade. Apparently I was going through a phase of trying to determine how poetry works for me. Does it have to rhyme? Should stanzas be the same number of lines and similar syllable count? Should it kind of have a sing-song quality to it? This poem accomplishes all of that!

It’s a goofy little thing about writer’s block.

Or, another way of looking at this, is that experience of you know what you want to say or write, the idea is on the tip of your tongue and yet the exact words are just out of reach.

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Poem: I Am

Struggle of wanting to help but not being sure how. Can one person make a difference?

In eighth grade we were asked to complete a form poem. Each line began with a certain phrase and we had to finish the thought. A typical response for this assignment was a bunch of random thoughts that somehow added up to introducing you a bit more, showing likes/dislikes/interests. Mine turned into something with a more mature theme.

I’ve included the template we were given to follow.

Given the content of the poem, I see this as proof for myself that I did want to help people in whatever way I could.

Yet, I’m still not sure why being kind, listening to what others say, being available and helping others were seen as secondary characteristics and behaviors. Why was seeking academic success, athletic abilities and other talents seen as more valuable? Those abilities can be taught or learned. But how you treat other people, whether you care about others or only yourself, that’s more of a fundamental thing. That really has to come first.

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