Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Have Seen...

Today I learned that a former student, and dear sweet girl died. Authorities are looking into the possibility of suicide. They suspect drugs were at play.

When I first met Ashley, she was 15 years old. She had run away from home, and she was scared. She walked into my classroom in the juvy looking as if she was about to cry and swearing she would never be back.

The problem was, Ashley kept running away. And when she ran away, she ran to the arms of a much older man who introduced her to meth. Meth took over Ashley's life.

And promise as she would to never return, the call of the meth was always too strong I guess, and Ashley was back time and time again. Each time she was a little thinner, looked a little less healthy, looked a little harder around the edges.

But inside she was still just a girl. When Ashley laughed the whole room lit up; she shined. Everyone seemed to love Ashley. She was kind, and funny, and wanted so badly to live a good life.

When she was 17, I wrote this poem for her, and a few other students at the juvy who were 'repeat offenders.' I was inspired by Allen Ginsberg's epic "Howl." And while this will never be anything like Ginsberg's literary accomplishment, I offer it now in memory of the sweet spirt I saw in Ashley.

May she finally find the peace she sought, and may her soul finally feel free. Rest in Peace, sweet child. You were loved.

I Have Seen

I have seen your generation.
I have seen your mind.
I have seen the best minds of your generation given over to self-despising, apathetic, complacency,
"This is how it is…
This is how it is…
It is NEVER going to change."
I have seen you walk in
Eyes glazed over and soul-less
A body of skin and bones
I have looked into you
And seen nothing but darkness
I have seen you eaten away by meth,
by an addiction you give your life for,
as you say
"This is how I am…
This is how I am…
I am NEVER going to change."

I have seen you cry.
I have seen you cry,
and I have seen the tears wash away the cloudiness.
I have seen the flicker in your eyes.
I have seen the fire in your soul.
I pray for the day you see freedom.
I pray for the day you fly.
I pray for the day you shout to the world,
"This is who I am…
This is who I am…
I am free at last."
I have seen the best minds of your generation.
I have seen you

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dear Daughter

Dear Daughter

I hope you draw your world like Harold, with his purple crayon, only I hope you have a whole box of crayons…the big one with the sharpener, Crayola. ‘Cause they’re the best and your mama wants only the best for you. I hope you color your dreams in aquamarine, sunglow, timberwolf, cotton candy, and wisteria on canvases the size of Kansas.

I hope you stuff those little feet of yours in pink plastic princess heels and imagine yourself royalty, because anything is possible, and honey, when you dream, your eyes sparkle.

And then I hope you kick off those heels and sink your toes in deep oozy mud. I hope you search for worms and frogs, not ‘cause you want to kiss them and turn them into princes, but because you are curious just what this world is made of.

I hope you stomp those feet and say “no” like you mean it. Heck, I hope you do mean it.

I hope you give those lungs of yours a workout screaming “no!!!” because there is power in no and you are powerful. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Not even yourself.

There is power in no, and there is courage in being different, and there is strength that comes in being you no matter what.

I hope you hug. I hope you hug and hug and hug some more. I hope you hand out hugs like candy; that they are like bandaids for healing hearts and mending broken friends. I hope you love without judgment. But when it comes time to pick the one you hug forever, I hope you pick one you don’t have to heal.

I hope you learn to sit by yourself, to be alone, to be at peace, to just BE. I hope life finds you many times at the beach with waves stroking your feet and God playing with your hair.

I hope you buy yourself some rose colored glasses, and if you can’t afford them, then baby, you can borrow mine. I hope in your eyes dandelions never become weeds, but are always wishing flowers. No matter how much of this world you drink down, I hope the glass is always half full.

I hope you laugh. I hope you laugh the kind of laughter with your best girlfriend that makes your face hurt and other people look at you like maybe you’ve lost it. They’re just jealous sweetie. They want that kind of light inside their souls too.

I hope you feel joy. Not happiness, though I hope that for you too. No, I mean joy, where warmth rises from your toes to your eyes and then radiates. Joy, where it feels like a thousand butterflies have simultaneously emerged from their cocoons into a fluttering mass in your chest. Joy, where you know you can be anything and you know true freedom in your soul. Joy, where you’re pretty darn sure that if only you had a set of silk wings, you could fly.

And when your wings tear and you fall from the sky, I hope you brush yourself off, sit yourself down, and start sewing. ‘Cause if there’s one thing your mama has learned it’s that there’s no point in crying about yesterday and it does no good to worry ‘bout tomorrow, so best get down to business today. Your wings doing have to be perfect sweetie. They just have to be yours to fly.

I hope you learn yoga, how to make chocolate chip cookies chewy, how to shoot a gun, and the art of not procrastinating on doing the dishes.

I hope you listen to your mother, listen to your friends, but most of all, listen to that voice inside of you.

I hope you sing.

I hope you dance. And I hope you don’t care if anyone is watching.

I hope you stand up for the underdog, stand up for yourself, and stand up for what’s right.

And when the world gets a little overwhelming, I hope you remember that nothing is as big as it seems, except for your mama’s love.