You are viewing an archived copy of the old YWP website. Visit our current site to add new content or contact users.



Jul 23
poetry challenge: Writing 2022

My People (As Anchors)

Brown bodies sink, 
are weighted, stick 
to the ocean floor, falling
from overcrowded rafts
into the arms of their heathen’s heaven.

Brown bodies are shot over 
the border like cannon balls.

Brown bodies heave 
and churn in masses of Squalor and 
Torment, brown bodies match 
their mud-stained houses, 
brown bodies fall into event horizons 
like it’s a tradition and brown bodies 
juxtapose the endings of every 
body of water, because on the news, 
brown bodies cling to each other 
and to the hope of land.

Brown bodies become beautiful
when they are disposed of namelessly
and then are captured by a white man’s 
sympathy, become beautiful 
throat up, stretched out like sodden 
flower petals in the baking sun.

Brown bodies are collateral damage 
like beat-up dolls lying stray 
on your child’s floor. 
Nov 08
poetry challenge: Urgency

Bluebird song

Climate Change Contest: Gold

I wish I hadn’t been born in the Age of Extinction, 
I really don’t think my origami heart was made for this,
This list of things that disappeared into the folds long before I was 3, 4, 5, 
How many last ones am I throwing in the trash? 
How many last ones am I scraping on my tongue? 
Where are the last papyrus makers in Egypt? 
Where are the last speakers of my tongue? 

You didn’t know the spirits talk to me, 
But they do. You don’t know that there is a ghost following me, 
But there is. You ask me to define immigrant for a prompt in our English class
& I say someone who doesn’t need an English class. You ask me 
To define broken in our English class & I say my butchered mother tongue.
Then we go read an article about a species we will never see, 
A type of bluebird that I can’t remember the Latin name of, 
Sep 09
poetry challenge: 9/11/21

An American prayer

This is an American prayer. 
This is a mother lifting her child onto her fingertips. 
This is our planes leaving. 
This is a blurry green shot of a soldier. 
This is a history book. 
This is a list of my sins. 
This is everything we have done wrong and everything we haven’t done wrong. 
the things we didn’t do we still got wrong. 
This is two hundred people at last count. 
This is the bullet in the head of a female judge. 
This is my comfortable full size bed. 
This is American, so it cannot be my prayer. 
This is my crop tops and short shorts. 
This is guns we gave away and can’t get back. 
This is a rebel leader writing an op-ed.
This is blood-stained sewer water. 
this should not be an American prayer, but it is. 
we work everyone into our twisted salvation, don't we? 
This is crying in the dark. 
This is the flames that eat lists of female students. 
Jul 22


the earth tells me i am too small
and i grin back all bloody corners and chapped lips.
i have never looke innocent a day in my life, i know, i know.
my smile has always been too hungry to satisfy.
i am continuing the long tradition of men
i am wanting more than i can have
i am biting off more than i can chew
i am running faster than my legs allow me to.

the earth tells me i am too small
and i know it's true, i have known since childhood that i am nothing,
i am a single lamp in the cacophony of light that is a city.
the universe is cold like a biting winter's day,
you can feel it, i swear, from all the way inside,
i can feel it just sitting on my bed sometimes
the chill of the universe has seeped its way inside of me,
the dust settling into my lungs like
something we call allergies.

the earth tells me i am too small
and i scream, scream until it feels like my lungs will give out.
Jun 25


I miss girlhood.
My bones ache with the longing of it,
The way that our legs would swing
Around the metal of the monkey bars
Warmed by the afternoon sun
Shoved uncomfortably under our knees,
Our hands reaching for the mulch.

Yes, I miss girlhood.
My mismatched clothes didn’t mean anything
Because they would become dirty 
By the mid-afternoon, dirt-smudged across 
The squirrels that were embroidered onto my shirt.
This was long before I saw a man behind me 
When I looked in the mirror. This was long before 
I needed to look good in case I ran into someone 
In the middle of the woods. 

Can you please take me back 
To the summer-tinted pictures. I mostly want to 
Go back because my skin was clear then but 
Also because I can still feel the imprints that 
The grass made on my knees after I crouched down for too long, 
Red pressing their patterns into my skin for long 
Apr 16

it's been a year

Maybe it's been a year, 
I know this house like 
The lines of my mothers face now.
My life is contained 
Inside four walls, five rooms 
And three bathrooms, specifically, 
A projector in the basement 
That we made exactly a year ago.
I don’t know what else to tell you 
Except that my cat likes to 
Sleep next to the couch in a cardboard box
With glittery purple tissue paper inside. 
Please know that this is not a metaphor
For my loneliness, I don’t need metaphors
To make my loneliness palatable now, 
I just want to tell you that I am sick of my bed
And the glow of my computer screen. 
I bury myself under my old interests 
Like a worn out blanket, hoping against hope 
There’s some joy that I can pull out
Of this threadbare garment. Blankets used to keep me warm, 
But now I'm just using them to keep the cold out. 
I want you to know that this poem is not a metaphor
Mar 24

marie curie

Marie curie’s grief is buried 
In a lead-lined coffin, 
Thick and unyielding 
The taste of dirt on her tongue 

I want to dig her up and ask her 
How to get over the things you love 
Breaking you open and carving 
Out your guts, 

How long is fifteen hundred years? 
How long is a lifetime? 
How long is long enough to wait
So that the thing that you slaved over half your life 
Will stop rotting inside of you, 
Like an apple gone soft in the flickering kitchen light. 

I want to ask Marie Curie 
Whether her grief made her glow green in the night, 
Whether she can still feel the vomit
At the back of her throat, i want to 
Wipe her tears while she cries even if 
They come out glowing like a string of little suns in the sky, 

Our fate was to be forgotten, 
I read it in the keys between my fingers 
And your husbands name on that grand prize, 
Feb 01

The Great Poets Challenge

Jan 17

your poem

I am trying to write a poem about a tree, 
I look outside and there it is, another tree,
There are trees everywhere, really,
Can you tell that i have never been good at writing
What other people want me to write? 
My pen wanders away before i can corral it,
Always directions to go other than the one I have chosen. 

Right. Back to the tree. Let’s imagine our tree, shall we? 
Imagine our tree stretching up, stretching down,
It must be painful for the tree to be constantly stretched 
Out like that. Am I using simile? Metaphor? Personification? 
Am I comparing the tree to me? You decide. After all, 
It is your poem. No, i insist. Take it. It’s all I have left to give. 

Never mind the devices, let’s talk about cutting down the tree,
Lets talk about feeling the wood splinter 
Underneath your fingers, and running your hand over 
Rings upong rings, 
Jan 08
poetry challenge: Spoken

an open letter

(Inspired by Allen Ginsberg) 

America, you’re scaring me. America, it’s not funny to turn out the lights like that. 
America my mom told me you’re fragile. America, there’s a man with buffalo skin dancing 
At the edge of my eyes. America, I wish this was a joke. America, how does it feel
To have so many people put faith in you? America, how does it feel to fall so hard? America, 
Did you build that wall that you told me you were gonna build? America can you stop 
Trying to kill me it kind of hurts. America my teacher said that when someone upsets me 
I should ask why they did it. America, why did you do it? America, you're being selfish. 
America if this is heaven I wonder what hell is like. America, if a man with a gun came 
Into my classroom, would you save me? No, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. America, 
I’m not going to school anyways, there’s this virus that kills people. America you don’t