Sunday, October 7, 2012

a poem

A few weeks ago I attended the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in Kansas City, MO. It was an amazing and wonderful conference for a multitude of reasons, but today I'll share with you just one: a poem.

In one of the sessions I attended I met a librarian from Kansas who puts together a literary magazine with submissions from teens across the nation. Yesterday I opened the sample issue she gave me at random and read the following poem:

I have problems
and I'll swap mine with you like trading cards.
Long lovely disorders go over the lips like chocolate,
but honey, we've been writing about these pits of darkness
long before shrinks slapped name tags on them.
While the rest of the world cringes and looks away
together we will scribble from one breakdown to another.
It is a saga marked by the usual trappings of our kind:
I have dizzy spells, you cry at night, I have pills,
you describe flowers, I see through hypocrisy,
and we both lose love like loose change.

I have problems.
I used to eat the skin at the tips of my fingers
but my bad habits are now limited
to searching out the human condition
and touching my face a lot.
I name and shout my problems
through the glittery curtain of metaphor
because who wants to hear misery unless it's diluted
by pretty words?
There is something uniquely rewarding
about well-written suffering;
poetry is the confetti at a pity party.

I have problems
yet writing helps me and it's mine.
That's why I read it to other people
when I'd never post my x-rays in the waiting room.
Look. Here's the crow and chips
I ate last night, the break in my heart,
the back pain from always looking to the sky.
If you find your condition
between my lines, if this makes you ache
I'm sorry. I mean't to, but I'm sorry.
No one ought to feel this
but at least we can share it.

I have problems
and poetry doesn't solve them
like pills might, but it goes down easier.

The poem is called "The Difference Between Simile & Self Medication" by Rachel Franklin, a high schooler at Shawnee Mission East High School, which I can only assume is in Kansas somewhere.

I've been taking a Beat poetry class this semester and really been enjoying it. Perhaps I'll post a few of my favorite poems from that class here too. But, until then, I hope you've enjoyed this one.

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