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[Asterismos.]


A collection of poems

by Talia D’Amato


Table of Contents

Of the Night

Good Night
My Teddy Bear
Hallows Eve
Me and the Moon
Wolf Poems
Stardust
Continuum
Perhaps

The Self-Destructive Society of the Teenage Years

Pictures
Skin & Bone
I’m not like the Other Girls
Smile
For the Girl Who Chose to Make Her Own Mistakes
Words
Dear Freshman Girls—Beware.
Impermanence

Je Pense

The Human Mind
What’s in a Name?
Je Pense
Je Pense Beaucoup
The Fallen
The Existence of Evil
À la Bibliothèque
Confession
Falsities
On Relationships
Blood on Paper
A History of Kindness
“An Invocation to a Muse…”
Hallelujah

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Growing Up
Time Machine
Paradox
Life and Death
Beginning, Middle, and End
OK

Believe it or Not, I Write Comedy Too

Chores
Just Kidding
P.S.

The Flaws in the System

Homework Poem
Wishes
The Flaws in the System
White Noise

On the United States of America

The Capitalist Anthem
The Anthem of the Trees and the Bees and Me
Fact
What If?
War Zone
Why the World Isn’t Perfect
What Would You Do
Prayer
This Is the End

Of the Night

~
Good Night

Who are you?
Leave it alone.

Who are your demons?
I’m holding them back.

Who do you need
in this hour of darkness?
We broke it off.

What do you want?
Nothing.
That’s a lie.

You are a ghost.
You are an illusion.

You are your demons.
You are your greatest enemy.

You are who broke it off.
For what?
They are who you’d kill for.

Sanity is what you want.
You want quiet.
You want peace and innocence and light.

You can’t have any of that.
But you knew that already.

You want the darkness to go away.

It won’t.
But you already knew that, too.

Good night.

~
My Teddy Bear

He snuggles with me,
keeps me safe,
watches over when I’m not awake.
I take him everywhere,
I love him so much
without him I’d just be a pile of mush.

~
Hallows Eve

An autumn night, an owl’s cry,
A kiss good-night, a wave good-bye.

A gentle breeze, a shimmering light,
An eerie shadow, a bird takes flight.

A little girl, a darkened room,
A bedtime story, a flying broom.

A night of terror, a cackling witch,
A scream, a yell, a flick of a switch—

Another story and she’s fast asleep,
For teddy bear the watch does keep.

~
Me and the Moon

Oblivion.
That’s what the night reminds me of, right after the lights go out.
It is an abyss that cannot be escaped through anything other than time.
It is me, ceasing to exist for a few minute moments.
It is a taste of the end.

But my eyes always adjust
and the light shines through the curtains
and the moon is bright and big and beautiful. And far.
Nothing can touch the moon—not from earth.
Nothing but astronauts and light, anyway.

The moon will not slide in to oblivion and leave me here
in the dark
only to fade in to oblivion myself.

No, if either of us is to fade first,
it will be me.
I will fade slowly, with time,
or soft and sudden but with a lingering ghost,
like a candle,
or with a bang like two cars colliding in time and space.

Then, long after, the moon will fade too.
It will most likely be violent—
The end of a solar system is always violent, you know.
And the moon will also find itself
in oblivion.

Maybe there we will meet again,
me and the moon.

I think I’d like that.

~
Wolf Poems

This is no fairytale.
I am no princess in distress.
You are no knight and your armor doesn’t shine;
I think I know that now.
//
Flower? I am no flower.
Pretty? Yes. Small? Yes.
But I am not fragile.
I will not fall to pieces in your hands when you pick me up.
My defenses are stronger than thorns.
//
Porcelain shatters when it hits the floor
But I am not made of porcelain
Because I fell for you and you did not catch me
And when I hit the floor I picked myself back up and stood taller than before.
//
Dolls and flowers I am not.
I am a wolf that runs through the night.
I howl and the moon winks back.
I could tear your throat out with my teeth or my claws.
Do not underestimate me.
I am fear.

~
Stardust

We are stardust.
At this point that is common knowledge; the words have lost their immediate, awe-inspiring impact in favor of a simple, “oh.”
A single, “cool.”
As though the true realization has not hit them—it cannot have hit them, for if it had they’d be staring at the sky as though reunited with long lost siblings.
We are stardust.
Made of the same stuff as the stars.
We were stars, once.
We will be stars again, some day.
Isn’t that incredible?
To think, we humans, mere animals on a round rock hurtling through space, are made of the same stuff as the stars, were stars, will be stars again.
How can you not feel anticipation tighten in your chest?
How can you not look to the skies in earnest: a lady-in-waiting, a sunflower?
A sunflower that traces the closest star’s movements each day, does not give up, holds strong and true.
A sunflower that yearns to let go of the ground and fly into the sun, like Icarus.
How can that not be you?
You can trust that you, unlike Icarus, will not fall.
You will pass through the atmosphere like it is nothing.
You will get close enough to touch—and then you’ll burst
The next generation of supernovas: bright, wild, beautiful—
We are stardust.
That is all.
That is enough.

~
Continuum

The universal truth about stars
Is that they’re horrifyingly far apart
And the distance just seems to keep growing
The way a pen’s ink keeps on flowing.

~
Perhaps

You are not breakable.
How can something made up of indivisible parts be destroyed?

It can’t.
The law of conservation of matter states that matter cannot be
Created nor
Destroyed.
And if the pieces that make up your body make up the moon
Then who is to say you were not a moon,
Once?
We are stardust;
But maybe we are planet-dust and moon-dust,
Too.

It may be that your collection of atoms is breaking apart;
That they will eventually be disbanded and separate from
Each other.
But you have not been destroyed—your form has.
Your atoms may one day reconnect in the core of a molten
Star;
In the center of a frozen
Moon.

Is that destruction?
How can it be so terrible
To allow the reconnection of long separated parts of a
Whole?
In the beginning, all matter in existence fit into the amount of space
Taken up by a
Dime.
Everything we are, everything in existence as far as we know
Fit into the space
Taken up by a
Dime.

Perhaps all the people and things you have ever loved
Were by your side when the universe exploded around us.
Perhaps
Love is a universal bond
One that rivals gravity in its ability to pull stars into
Cataclysms
And planets into
Orbit
And moons into
Existence.
Perhaps
It is a force too strong to be reckoned with
And perhaps
I should accept that
I am being pulled toward
You.

The Self-Destructive Society of the Teenage Years

~
Pictures

Before we die, let’s take a thousand pictures,
In different rooms with different fixtures,
In open plains and snowy hills,
In dresses drowning in bows and frills,
With our hair done up and our makeup on,
We’ll smile for the camera at the break of dawn.

We’ll hold our heads high like we know we’re cool,
We’ll fall fully clothed into your backyard pool;
They’ll see us in parking lots at a quarter-to-one,
Where neon 24-hour signs shine like the sun,
Where we lie on the ground like the broken glass
Is in fact a new sort of summery grass;

We can stare at the sky ‘til we see the stars move,
Wearing our PJs ‘cause we’ve got nothing to prove;
We can drive around town and laugh ‘til we’re sore,
And even then we’ll probably just laugh a bit more—
Because when we’re cold and gone and dead,
They’ll look at the pictures and our story will be read.

~
Skin & Bone

pale skin
paper thin
worn bone
overgrown
all she is
is skin & bone

~
I’m not like the Other Girls

I’m not like the other girls,
who sit around and paint their nails
and curl their perfect, shining hair
and never eat for fear of scales.

I’m not like the other girls,
who get straight A’s in school
and play on all the sports teams,
which everyone thinks is cool.

I’m not like the other girls,
who wear designer brands
and have popular boyfriends
who refuse to hold their hands.

I’m not like the other girls,
who wear clothes much too tight
and smile all day with lips as red
as poor, sweet, innocent Snow White’s.

I’m not like the perfect girls,
who cry themselves to sleep—
because once I, too, was perfect;
now I’m buried six feet deep.

~
Smile

“Smile!”

“Smile,” they say,
“and all will be well!”

Except it won’t.
It never is.

“Smile!”

“Smile,” they say,
as though your troubles shy away from sharp teeth
and laughter

“Smile!”

“Smile,” they say,
like that’s the normal thing to do;
like everyone does it 24/7
even in their sleep

“Smile!”

“Smile,” they say,
so I smile…

And they say I’m too happy, too chirpy,
too optimistic and cheery,
too oblivious to the trouble in the world,
too carefree,
too perfect in my perfect little bubble of perfectly ignorant bliss.

So I frown again.

And they say,

“Smile!”

~
For the Girl Who Chose to Make Her Own Mistakes

Shining lights
City skyline
Fake fights
Neon sign.
Dark alley
Empty beers
Dropped keys
Lost years.
Laughing voices
Clinking plates
Simple choices
Excessive dates.
Days slept away
with curtains drawn
Nights spent drinking
and dancing ‘til dawn.

Stolen breath
Cold snow
White death
Innocent foe.
Mistakes made
Drugs done
Feelings fade
Money—none.
Heart broken
Cigarettes burned
Words unspoken
Lesson learned;
Don’t live life crazy
because you’ll regret
Always looking back
when you can’t forget.

~
Words

For everyone who says “it’s just a joke.”
For everyone who says
that my asking you to be politically correct is
censorship.
For everyone who does not understand
why I stomp my feet and glare
like a five-year-old throwing a tantrum
whenever they say
“She’s such a bitch,”
or,
“Why would I talk to her? She’s a whore,”
or
any time you tell a
“rape joke”…

This is why.
It’s because if I bothered to let myself focus on that simple sentence
with that one word
or that so-called joke
for very long at all…
I’d be forced to think about what I face,
what my friends face,
what women and girls everywhere face
Every
Single
Day
and I’d know that it
Isn’t
Our
Fault.

It’s words’.

Because words have never
Just
been
a collection of letters made up of jagged and curved lines;
words can move mountains
and start revolutions and…
stop them, too.
Words raise entire generations;
they form our cultures,
they tell our stories,
they explain who we are.
They are everything we have known
and everything we know now
and maybe they are everything we’ll ever know.

But what words are not is
“nothing.”
They are not “just” anything;
not just a name,
not just an insult,
not just a joke.

Do not laugh
if I stomp my feet when you call your ex-girlfriend a whore.
If I cried instead, you would tell me
that I am too emotional,
that I am on my period,
that this is the real world and I need to grow up but
Fuck
That, because
Yeah this is the real world, but I am not the one who needs to grow up.

I already did.

I grew up the first time a boy tried to kiss me without permission,
when all the kids around us laughed, as
I struggled and cried for him to leave me alone, as
he grabbed my jacket and I shrugged out of it, as
I ran down the stairs to get away get away get away!
I still cannot wear the color red,
(Age 7).

I grew up the first time someone asked if I was a virgin,
when everyone around us laughed,
because I didn’t know what it meant,
because I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing,
(Age 10).

I grew up the first time I learned that some of my friends had been abused,
when I struggled not to feel glad
it hadn’t been me;
(Age 12).

I grew up the time a man followed me home from the bus stop,
when no one on the street bothered to ask
if I was okay
or
if I knew him—
(Age 13).

I grew up the first time I was asked out in high school,
when I said no
and the boy asked for a hug
and wasn’t it rude not to,
even though we had never hugged before?
(Age 14).

I grew up the rest of that semester,
when I sat scared at my desk because we sat
Right
Next
to each other,
and I was afraid that he would try to kiss me because
it had happened before
(Age 14).

I grew up the first time I realized that rapists do not got to jail,
that attending college is one of the most terrifying things a girl can do,
that I am not safe anywhere
(Age 15).

I grew up the first time a male classmate said “women’s rights are a joke,”
and they all laughed and I did too
because I knew them,
and they didn’t mean it,
and it was just a joke…
(Age 16).

I grew up the first time we pressed play on a sexual harassment awareness video,
during the school culture chats,
when boys and girls laughed
as the girl on screen woke up on a couch
to a camera in her face
and three guys surrounding her.
Because it’s just a joke.
Right?
(Age 17).

I grow up all over again
every time someone tries to convince me that I have nothing to be afraid of
as though they know what I’ve been through better than I do,
as though I don’t cry for all the victims
who’ve seen worse than I have
who’ve survived worse than I have
who’ve vanished the way I haven’t—
All because nobody seems to understand.
All because words, to them, are Just the minuscule particles
that make up everything we think
and say
and are…

If you hear something, say something.
Words are
not nothing
when they make up
Everything.

~
Dear Freshman Girls—Beware.

Dear freshman girls—
Beware.

Do not be tricked by the light in his eyes
when he smirks at you;
You are not making him happier,
You are not giving him butterflies in his stomach and
You are not making his heart skip a beat.
You are only reminding him of a mouse
and he is the cat that will play games with you
until he gets bored.
Do not be tricked into thinking you are having fun.

Do not laugh, not even nervously,
when he its next to you on the bus;
His hand on your leg is not meant to make you uncomfortable,
His eyes are not intended to make you squirm and
His comment is not supposed to make you close your legs tight.
Or is it?
Because it does.
Do not laugh or he will think you are having fun.

Dear freshman girls—
Beware.

Do not go for a drive with him
if he will not go with you to the dance, first.
Make sure you are not just a pretty thing to be taken advantage of—
(To him you are just a pretty thing to be taken advantage of).
Do not let him think this is all about him.

Do not smile shyly
when he brings more friends than you did to the party.
If his friends get drunk, “they cannot be blamed.”
If your friends get drunk, they can.
Do not let him think you are okay with being prey.

Do not hold your breath
when his friends touch you in the back of his car
Scream at the top of your lungs.
Kick, fight, punch, bite.
You are not helpless.
Do not let him think you are helpless.

Do not roll your eyes as though it is nothing
when you recount your tale to a boy on the bus who is
Just
Like
Him.
This one is another kind of predator.
This one is not safe either.
Do not let him think it was no big deal.

Dear freshman girls, beware.

There are many things the older boys will know
that you will not.
They will know how to get to class without getting lost.
They will know where the bathrooms are and how to buy lunch.
They will know which teachers grade easy and which do not.
And they will know that no one has told you this.

Because they will know
that you will not trust the adults who tell you to watch out
Because the adults only warn you about senior boys
and tell you it’s your shorts’
bra straps’
stomach’s
fault
that the senior boys want to fuck you in a bathroom stall.

Maybe you are right not to trust them.
They were wrong about the seniors;
those boys are too old to go after freshmen like you.
They were wrong about the shorts;
it is not you who teaches boys
that your body is an object to have sex with
and nothing more.
They were wrong about it being your fault.

Dear freshman girls:

They are wrong to say “I told you so,” and
They are wrong to make you feel alone in your discomfort.
But they are not wrong to warn you.

Dear freshman girls—
Beware.

The boys will crowd around you,
will laugh at (not with) you,
will take advantage of you,
Because they have not been warned.
The adults will laugh at you, too,
Because you have.

~
Impermanence

People change like fleeing clouds, always moving, morphing shifting
Into something new (or not) that some may find is (not) uplifting.

We grow old and (occasionally) wise, our thoughts like wisps of smoke
Vanishing without a trace like dreams do once you’ve woke.

Emotions hit as hard as storms—some soft, like a little rain;
Others are as harsh and violent as a deadly hurricane.

Feelings are still valid, thoughts still define who you are,
But you are changing constantly, and their permanence does not extend far.

No matter how you feel today, the pain will go away:
Your darkest hour never lasts; nothing’s here to stay.

Je pense.

~
The Human Mind

The human mind is a terrible place
With demons and devils that steal your grace
And make you doubt you have a place
To live and breathe and show your face.

~
What’s in a name?

Names?
Whose names?
You mean my name and his name? or hers?

What’s in a name?
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Names are given to us to train us
to give us something to own
to answer to
to be identified by—
it is your barcode.

Your date of birth
and your full given name
and your social security number
are your identification.
They are how you do not get lost in this world;
how other people do not lose you.

You are your name. Aren’t you?
If not, what else could you be?

Take away the name and what’s left?
A face.
A body.
A mind.

Would you respond without a name?

How would you know who you are?

What’s in a name?

~
Je pense

Nothing.
Absolutely nothing;
Except
silence.
Silence is something,
I guess.
Isn’t it?
It is the
absence
of sound.
And the
absence
of something
is still something,
right?
Because the
definition
of nothing
is no thing,
but nothing
is a
word
and therefore
is
something
after all.

~
Je pense beaucoup

Silence
can be
deafening,
especially
when it occurs
in a
room
full of
people.
There is a
growing urge
to end
the quiet
to end
the void
to end
the soundless noise.
But there is also
a prayer
that
someone else
will end it
first.

~
The Fallen

First there was Lucifer
Then there was Icarus;
Or was it the other way around?
Whose fall is glorious, and whose is a fall of the damned?
Who is the evil, who is the good?
Who is to say?

Was the sun merely the sun, or was it a God?
What lesson should we take from that story—
Don’t dare get too close to heavenly bodies?

Was Lucifer in fact a red-blooded revolutionary, and not a cold-hearted villain?
What lesson do we take from this one?
Do not attempt to overthrow the divine?

When do we win, if we can neither get close nor challenge?
Are we committed to being held at arms’ length by someone who we are supposed to worship?
Must we remain on our knees forever?
Are we never to reach the gates on the high hill?
Is that as it is predetermined?
Is that how it will always be?

We cannot get close enough to ask.
We cannot fight back and not lose.
We cannot win—
But we will try.

Humans.
We are so insignificant, yet we strive to know all there is in existence.
We call ourselves philosophers.
But how can we know anything at all?
Especially if we cannot get close; cannot fight back.

We are all the fallen.
Or are we?

Maybe we are all Gods.
Maybe we are all monsters.

~
The Existence of Evil

The existence of evil likes to evade mankind,
Only allowing itself to be seen
On screen
In movies and the like.

Not camera-shy at all,
It merely hides
From the human mind.

~
À la Bibliothèque

An ancient
used
book
is often
defined
as much by its
smell
as it is
by its words.

For that
first
whiff
upon the
first
turn of a page
greets you
long before
the first word
is ever
read.

~
Confession

I could write about depression,
But I’d only get depressed.
And in all honesty, my confession
Is that there’s nothing I’ve never confessed.

~
Falsities

We forget, sometimes, the falsity of love:
That it only lasts until right is proven wrong,
and innocent is proven guilty,
and truths are proven lies.
We forget, sometimes, the falsity of hate:
That hate itself is merely
the leftovers
from an overzealous
love.

~
On Relationships

Invented shadows, twisted plights,
Sometimes ending—always fights.

Passion; yellow, orange, blue:
Golden weapon, built for two.

Kill two birds with just one stone—
That’s its motto. Should’ve known.

~
Blood on Paper

What is this madness?
Are you as lost as I am?
Do you lose your thoughts once they’re on paper,
When they’re no longer threatening your life from inside?
Do the feelings die down completely,
And are you unable to recall the passion
And the heartache
That forced you to write in the first place,
The second the poison in your veins
Is spilled on the paper in front of you?

Have you met someone and refused to write about them yet
For fear of losing the poison too soon?

I haven’t. So here goes.

We don’t talk.
What the hell was I thinking?
What is there to write about someone you’ve never spoken to?
Someone you’ve hardly looked at?

What is there besides dark hair and awkward eye contact
That’s only awkward because you are?

What is there to write about
When you don’t know why you like that someone
In the first place?

Is it just chance?

Is it a childish infatuation that will be gone by next week?

Is it something to weather through
Or something to squash before it flourishes?

~
A History of Kindness

If you ever meet a person
Who never wears a frown
And who’d never speak a word
Against a lawyer or a clown,
Then they’ve got a history of kindness…

and they probably don’t exist.

~
“An Invocation to a Muse…”

Do you think they know they are lucky?
Do you think they spend even a moment pondering the fate of the rest of us,
after the moment their lives change forever?
Do you think they’d care if they did?

Would they bother to cry? Would they shed a single tear
for the miserable and non-existent love-lives of their fellow human beings,
if they had a perfect one of their own?
Would you?

If all of your nightmares were suddenly scared away,
All of your fears thrown to the dogs,
All of your hopes and dreams washed up in Paradise, half drowned but Alive,
All your wishes granted, your prayers answered—
Would you stop to ponder things as you once did?

Would you think of the tragedy that used to plague you,
Or the guilt that used to degrade you,
Or the pain that used to keep you up at night,
chasing its tail through your too-full mind?

Would you want to feel somber if there was every reason to be laughing,
Or would you want to throw caution to the wind
if there were nothing to be cautious about?

Would you cry if you could laugh?
Would you break if you could run?
Would you die if the rest of your life was to be spent in the sun?

I don’t think I would.

How do poets die, you ask?
They find their muse, I answer—
The one they’ve been chasing since the beginning of time—
The one that had always seemed just out of reach
or too blind to see
or too dull too feel until—
BAM
They’re right next to you, holding your hand.

From then on you have no need to call for them;
No need to send them letters signed in your very blood,
No need to bleed your heart onto paper to ease the pain—
The pain is gone.
They have healed you.
Your wounds are hardly scars,
Let alone bruises you can poke at to feel the ghost of a sonnet
Or the lingering pain of an unrhymed limerick.

Does not the best poet a broken heart make?

Does not a poet in love—
In requited love, mind you—
The most travelled road take?

~
Hallelujah

The swelling in your chest as the sun comes out again
as the curtains are pushed aside
as the light streams into the room

The warming of your skin as the glow hits it again
as the birds begin to sing
as the trees sway softly in time

The curve of your lips as the fog lifts
as the cold evaporates
as everything becomes a little clearer

The stillness of your soul as it rests at last
as the fears vanish
as the worry dissipates

The sighing of your lungs as the air slides through them
as the world shifts into place
as you breathe easy once more

The tears on your face as the realization hits
that you are no longer alone
that you are going to be okay after all.

Tick tock, Tick tock.

~
Growing Up

Innocence is looking
toward the sky
to watch the planes above your head.
A lack thereof is waiting
for one to drop
like a ball of lead.

~
Time Machine

“Keep your enemies close,” they say,
But what if you get hurt?
“Keep your eyes open when you sleep—”
And waste your energy staying alert?
How do you know when to draw the line,
And when to take a breath?
When to stop and pause each time—
And when to start again?

Life’s a circle with no end
No beginning or cover page.
With one set speed you travel through,
The same lit-up numbers on the gage.
There is no telling where you’ll go
Or where you’ll be in the end
But you know where you’re from and that must be enough
To start that science trend.

Because there is no going back, but I know you’ll try
To build yourself a time machine the day before you die.

~
Paradox

Always moving, never ending
Who knows when to stop pretending?
Life is long, or so it seems—
Like walking on high balance beams

Life goes on, and what of this?
A revelation, based on this:
That some people say that time is money,
“Spend it wisely, darling.” Ain’t it funny,

If time is money, then money is time.
So why is it then that all rich people die?

~
Life and Death

Life is a curse as much as death,
For you are in both as you take your last breath.
And while this may seem like a strange thing to claim,
Isn’t it cruel to give hope to the maimed?

~
Beginning, Middle, and End

The art of survival
of being alive
of living

The aesthetic of sight
of touch
of sound

The ardor of fireworks
of a battle cry
of puppy dog eyes

The aura of sunlight
of a swimming pool
of the cool breeze

The anguish of crashing waves
of heartbreak
of nostalgia

The absolution of oblivion
of tragic death
of The End.

~
OK

“Hello,” he says as he walks through the door.
I smile and nod back.
“How are you today?” spills out of his mouth
ink on paper
paint in water
messy and out of control and beautiful.
I stare and say, “Okay.
How are you?”
“Fine.” It cuts
like a bullet through water,
fast and deadly turned slow and harmless—
He is tired.
I do not mind.
I hold out an arm. He slides under it.
“Thank you,” ghosts across my neck;
a sigh lifts my hair.
I do not say it will be okay.
He knows.

Believe it or Not, I Write Comedy Too.

~
Chores

Chores will be the death of me,
I swear it on my life,
Considering how fast the trash piles up
And the number of times I’ve been cut on a knife;
And with the way the vacuum
Likes to lap at my Achilles heel,
I doubt I’ll even get to
Clean the tub or start the meal.
And if you find me on the floor,
Bleeding out and dead,
Just know my murderer left a note:
It reads “Chores List” and they left it on my bed.

~
Just Kidding

I write comedy, too
Just kidding
That last poem was it
All of my work is depressing
Have a nice day

~
P. S.

P.S.
Poor Pluto.

The Flaws in the System

~
Homework Poem

Too much homework
Projects galore
Mom is yelling,
“Why haven’t you done your chores?”

Grades are due
I’m failing math—
“You need to go to college
Or you’ll take the wrong path.”

Mental breakdowns;
Stress; depression.
“Is something wrong?”
I have to make a confession…

One more fail
Or impossible assignment,
And I’m quitting school,
Changing the stars’ alignment.

I won’t be a doctor,
Or a lawyer, or a priest.
I’m going to be a writer—
And I’ll be happy, at least.

~
Wishes

I wish I was back in pre-school, where naps were for a grade
and lunch was more than thirty minutes, so we played and played and played.

I wish I was back in grade school, where math was two plus two
and science meant a field trip to garden or a zoo.

I wish I was back in middle school, where history was a breeze
and English meant writing a poem about a cloud-catching keeper of keys.

I wish I wasn’t in high school, where everything is such a bore
with essays every other day and math homework galore.

I wish I was in college, so I wouldn’t need a pass
to pack up and get up and leave this damn class.

~
The Flaws in the System

The system was built to destroy creativity; need I say any more?
We are told to “sit down” and to “shut up and listen” and that questions are a total bore.
But here are the reasons, in case you don’t know;
In case “more” is explanatory and helpful and on, so…

By the time we are eight we have lost our love of learning
By ten, the fire-y love of reading’s stopped burning
By twelve we hate everything school-concerning
And at fifteen none of the love looks like its returning.

But with four hours of homework a night
And with chores that we never do right,
With siblings and parents who just want to fight
And with basket-case neighbors who can’t be polite—
Who can blame us?

We don’t get enough sleep for our brains to function;
We feel like they’re subject to internal combustion.
We’re tired of sitting for hours on end—
Our backs are aching; they’ve started to bend
—into that stupid test taking position.

Grades are everything, aren’t they? “Get an ‘A’ or else.”
Or else you won’t get into a good college
Or else you won’t get financial aid
Or else you won’t stand out from the competition
Or else you won’t paid
—at least not much.

But we are also supposed to play sports, and to volunteer all our free time;
To have a part-time job and to join clubs that meet during lunch time.
All of our time needs to be devoted to doing things; none is left to spare.
We can’t have hobbies that aren’t useful or career-oriented, even if they’re rare.

We are only fourteen when they tell us this, still kids with growing pains;
Yet we’re told to grow up and to “act our age” and to work harder than is sane.

We’re kids, for God’s sake, give us a break! Let us have our fun;
Heaven knows it will help us stay away from drugs and guns.

~
White Noise

My math homework hates me
My teacher’s a bore
The kid sitting next to me
Dropped his pen on the floor.
I’m sick of the tests
And the free-response questions;
Please let us replace them,
I’ve got plenty of suggestions:
An optional assignment
That’s not worth thing;
A quiz on the origin
Of Burger King;
A paragraph on love
And its effects on the heart
(For all teens know
That love is an art);
A speech on the stupidity
Of modern education;
A poem about leaving
On summer vacation;
And last, but not least,
My final request,
Is that I stop writing this poem
And start studying for my tests.

On the United States of America

~
The Capitalist Anthem

Corruption
is essentially natural
for
without corruption
there would be
peace.
And with peace
there would be
a sharing
of ideas
and a
set
idea
of right and wrong.
And no child
would die
because of its gender
or its sexuality
or its race.
And no person
would die
unless of old age.
And no teen
would feel helpless
and no adult
would feel stressed
and everything
would be
perfect—
except
one
thing:

The streets would be crowded
the landfills would fill up
the ice would keep melting
the earth would keep warming
and we couldn’t
possibly
keep up.
Peace would mean
population control.
Peace would mean
Communist executions
and prison camps.
Peace would mean
that a crime
meant death
because
no war
no disease
no killers at all
would be regulating
our population.
We
would need to
regulate it
ourselves.
Peace
would eventually
mean death—
just as corruption
means death
eventually
too.

~
The Anthem of the Trees and the Bees and Me

You can talk about money as much as you like
But remember next time you tell us to “go take a hike”:
The hills aren’t as pretty without animals or trees,
Or good-smelling flowers pollinated by bees.

Clean air and clean water is better than not
The animals need them—without them they’d rot.
(Here I’ll point out that we’re animals, too;
Don’t think you’ll escape your own concrete zoo—

“Humans aren’t on the Red List, so why should we care?”
Maybe because we’re the reason certain species are rare??
And it’s not only that—I know your kind well
Appealing to morals won’t undo wealth’s spell.

But this bit of info might just change your mind;
It’s not just the pandas getting left behind.
That you aren’t above this, that it’s not just the bugs
That will die out slowly, like blue sea slugs—

We will die when the air is no longer clean
When the forests are deserts and the icebergs are lean
When the rivers are oceans and the horizon is thick
And the sunlight has gained a reddish-brownish tint.

We will die slowly as our planet does too
There will be no Mars to planet-jump to
Do not think you can escape this concrete zoo
Just because you can afford a Ferrari or two.)

~
Fact

Humans lie
and
cheat
and make promises
they can’t
keep;
I’ve known that since,
what,
second grade?
But somehow it
still
tastes like
bile
as the words
rise
up
and excuse themselves
from my
mind,
racing a mile
a minute
through my
veins.

~
What If?

What if love was filled with hate,
And beauty gone without a trace?
What if kids were raised at arms,
Playing with guns instead of toy cars?

Would the world be dark, and cold, and red:
The blood of martyrs and soldiers—dead?
Would the sun never rise and the stars not shine,
Giving way to darkness that’s out of line?

Jealousy raging through the streets,
Pounding the ground in a steady beat:
Trampled and bloody, war without end;
Distant enemies and even farther friends.

A world war that’s like no other,
Child versus child and mother against mother.
With tragic death and despair like Rome’s,
The monsters inside us are bound to leave home—

Wreaking havoc like Peeves is what they do best,
Pitting strong against weak, then winner against the rest.
An end will come: there’ll be no more fights—
But you can’t erase the sounds or the sights.

This concrete jungle will now be a zoo,
Ruined and empty, yet, not so, too.
This place that’s now empty, forsaken, forlorn,
Is a reminder that the mended could, again, be torn.

~
War Zone

Cities fill with blood and bones,
forests burn and kids throw stones.
Hunger starves as food is rationed;
Water is luxury; homes are fashioned
out of rubble and salvaged sheets
half torn, half burned, much like the streets.

Lies have grown as black as night,
become worthy of the absolute worst plight.
The ground quakes each time bombs rain down;
villages quickly turn into ghost towns.
Storms made of mustard mist and bullet hail
follow the rain and fire to no avail.

And in the middle, side by side,
henceforth dubbed as “those who died,”
are the people fighting for someone’s cause—
blindly human and void of applause.

~
Why the World Isn’t Perfect

They want world peace and they rally for change,
But when the time comes they can’t seem to exchange.
Their previous habits are far too inviting—
We humans love comfort, and normal, and… exciting…

A life lacking drama and arguments seems
Like playing a game without picking teams;
And how could a game be the least bit fun
If it lacks a winner when all’s said and done?
We need motivation—a prize of some kind—
Something that makes it worth our time.

Most Americans feel like war keeps us safe;
They feel ropes in other countries starting to chafe;
They think that we’re safer with “boots on the ground”
Then they cry over flags instead of bodies not found.
But the people who fight are just pawns in a game;
Their sacrifice has meaning only ‘cause they aren’t to blame.

What a world we live in, where women have the right
To choose who they marry—hey isn’t that tight?
Because it’s not like she’s getting paid 23 cents less—
She’s too busy raising kids to notice the holes in her dress—
(Or that her luck isn’t the worst, because she’s only white
It’s people of color who earn the least money for the same bloody fight.)

Every day is a struggle to make ends meet—
Unless you’re the CEO of a corporate company,
In which case you make about 400 times more
Than a worker at the bottom of your chain of stores
One who works hard, maybe harder than you,
One who has two jobs and college to get through
Or a family to support on top of all that,
People who greet each day with a tip of their hat.

These are the people you so often call lazy
For not voting in elections where candidates’ motives were hazy,
These incredibly hard workers who can’t spare their time
To research each liar and examine their crimes.
They are the ones whose voice needs to be heard,
Yet they aren’t out voting, and the outcome is absurd.

Nothing will change unless the people on top
Decide to let the working class have their shot
But that won’t happen—they’ve got the power.
Who would give that up to pay $15 an hour?
(It’s not like these are the people dumping millions of dollars
Into political campaigns that could even confuse scholars.)

~
What Would You Do

What would you do if someone had a gun to your head,
told you to shut up and to get on the bed?
Would you fight back, if he was ten times stronger?
Which would you choose: your life or your honor?

~
Prayer

No more chains
No more locked doors
No more burdens to carry
No more Atlas Hands
No more growing pains
No more good-byes
No more…
No more loss of innocence
No more—

No more.

~
This is the End

This is the end.
We are all going to die.
We will never look back and laugh.
We will never look back again.
We are not the future;
The future does not exist.
It is merely a creation of the human mind designed to keep us alive.
We do not really exist;
Therefore death cannot be so bad after all.

Tell the plants and animals we said good bye;
We will see then again someday when they join us in our extinction,
When they, too, have breached the line
Between conscious and unconscious.
When they, too, have failed,
And they, too, have felt loss.
When they, too, have decided that there is a right and a wrong,
That there are rules to follow or break;
That a God governs the push and pull of the tide—
That the moon is that “god”;
That conscious beings are superior to those that are not,
That this divide is not self-proclaimed, but proven through procedural experimentation and observation;
That beings born billions of light years away could someday shatter the tranquil lives lived on Earth;
That industrial waste produces gases,
That gas is a form of pollution,
That pollution leads to ice ages and ice melts,
That the planet is slowly dying, choking on the fumes of its existence as it burns,
That nothing can be done;
The end is inevitable.
That this is it.
This is the end.

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