poetry

We Can Change

When a human
with a beating heart
and a crying soul
is falling apart,
We need change.
When a human
with tired eyes
and scarred arms
wants to die,
We need change. 
When their tears are dry
and their heart is hard,
When they’ve locked doors
and pulled up their guard,
We need change.
When their bellies ache,
but the ache is deep,
When they scream for help
but the world still sleeps,
We need change.

When the world awakens
and listens close,
When our eyes pull open
and see the hearts that broke,
We can change.
When we stretch out arms,
and give our ear,
When we ask questions
without feeling fear,
We can change.
When all have beating hearts,
and all can be whole,
When all have rested eyes
and a hopeful soul,
We’ll have changed.
When gates are opened,
and locked doors have a key,
When cries are heard,
and forests catch the tree,
We’ll have changed.
When blind eyes are opened,
and arms are thrown open wide,
When judging is shameful,
and love doesn’t hide…
We’ll have changed.
But until then, my friend,
We’ve got work to do,
so nobody can say
“If I only knew.”

Blog Post: 34/52.


Featured Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I Have No Words.

Sometimes,
Writing is an escape,
A place to feel at home.
Sometimes,
Writing is a way to build,
Stories and poems,
Worlds that may not exist.
Sometimes,
Writing is communication,
A way to express
What is clogging my heart.
Sometimes –
Writing can take a moment,
A deep breath,
A bit of time off.
Writing can step back,
Have to be woken from its slumber,
When I must write.
But this week
I’ve been living,
Reading,
Loving.
Sometimes…
I don’t need words.
And words don’t need me.
But I made a promise.
52 weeks.
Whether words and I
Are together
Or taking a break.
So here.
Here are my words.
Sometimes,
it’s important to live
To be able to have
What to write.
Sometimes
Words must sit inside my heart
Before I can allow them to live
On paper.

 

Blog Post: 29/52

Featured Photo by Jelleke Vantoogeghm via Unsplash.

I’m No Slave

This week in my class, I discussed slavery. Well, I asked my students to discuss it. Real slavery, not metaphoric slavery. What does it mean to be someone that is held against their will, abused and forced to do something everyday that they are not receiving  wages or benefits for. I asked them to each write something that depicts slavery in an honest way, that forces them to think about it is as a real experience that real humans struggled through. We talked about how in our heads slavery is a thing of the past, but slavery is still happening today, in 2018.

The specific reason I brought this discussion to my class is because Passover is next week, and it is a time that we spend celebrating our freedom, but more in theory than in practice. I wanted my students to take a moment and realize – woah. I’m not a slave.

We discussed. We wrote. Some more than others. The realization was had, I hope, by everyone.

I managed to be able to write my own poem during this class, and it’s been awhile since I’ve had the chance to do the same assignment I’ve assigned. But I thought about it. And I realized that I am no slave, metaphoric or not. I am the one who holds myself back – I hold my own key.

This poem is not my best, it was written hastily and mid-thought. But perhaps it will spur more of you to have the same discussion we had in class, because it’s a conversation worth having.

 

My legs are not in shackles,
My hours are my own.

No whips are taut above me,
No gates keep me contained.

Freedom of speech is granted,
Freedom of growth allowed.

I am not a slave in Egypt,
I am not a slave at all.

They say it is our prison,
They say we must break free.

Do I feel as if I’m broken,
Have I secured my fate?

Have I hidden my own key
Or am I truly free?

 

Blog Post: 27/52

Featured Photo by Evan Kirby via Unsplash

Be A Good One

The other day while I was washing the dishes, this poem began to write itself in my head, starting with what became the third paragraph.
I immediately dried my hands and sat down to write it. But it wasn’t finished. At 1 am, as I tossed and turned, I wrote another paragraph.
In the morning, as sleep still sat heavily on my eyes, I finished it.
So, it was a bit of a journey.
And the more I wrote this poem, for my future children, putting down my hopes and wishes for them, I realized something.
Yes, I hope to one day share this with my children. More than anything, I hope for them to take on this attitude towards life, to face life with their hearts open and their minds strong.
But I realized that really, deep down, this poem is not addressed to them.
This poem is addressed to me.
 hey
hey
Child,
I want for you
to be a dreamer
a tryer
a fixer.
I want you to demand change
to make others uncomfortable
with how much you believe
in something.
I want you to shake this earth
with your words
and your actions
and demand change
when someone deserves better.
For everyone
at some point
deserves better.
hey
hey
Speak up
speak up

speak up
my child
Don’t let anyone tell you
that there are things
that can not
be changed.

 hey
hey
For all the people who will tell you
to stop fixing things
that ain’t broke
you hold up that broken screw
and show them
just because
it’s not broken
to you
does not mean
that it’s not
broken.
 hey
hey
They will tell you
This is the way it is
Stop trying
stop trying
stop trying
and you’ll tell them
My mama told me
to never stop trying

so I’m going to keep trying
until I have no more try
inside.
hey
hey
Break the rules
Break the boxes
Don’t let anyone
Scare you
Don’t let anyone
Be the reason
You don’t do something
For we all
Come from earth
And return to it.
hey
hey

Tell everyone you love
That you love them
Give people
Compliments
I like your shoes
Your words
Your heart.
Tell them.
hey
hey
Child,
if you’re anything like me
there will be days
that the world pains you so
that you fall to the floor
with your heart in two
tears wiped on your sleeve
and you’ll ask G-d
why
He made a world
so full
of cruelty.
hey
hey
Child,
if you’re anything like me
there will be days
that you will laugh
as hard
as you ever have.
Your heart will feel
like it’s bursting
and you’ll ask G-d
how
He made a world
so full
of beauty.
hey
hey
We are not put on earth
to be satisfied
with how things go
we are put on this earth
to shake things up
to pull things out
to build and re-build
to mend and to fix
everything
that
we
see.
hey
hey

At least,
that’s how I see it.
In times of crisis
Child
Be the helper.
hey
hey
And although
it hurts
and it takes a lifetime
to understand
I hope you are
one of the ones
who knows from the get-go
that there’s no use
pretending
there’s no use hiding.
Those who matter,
those who care,
will love you.
And they’ll love you

for who you are.
hey
hey

Blog Post: 13/52


Featured Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

Perspective: 5 Years Later.

I recently found my notebook from my high school creative writing club and chanced upon this one exercise we did. We were challenged to write a poem about 3 big things that we had opinions on: marriage, the future, and our career goals.
As a 16-year-old, I was very sure of my thoughts. I never shared this poem anywhere because I remember not thinking it was very good. But today, almost five years later, I’m going to share it.
Together with a follow-up poem about where I’m at now.
Who knows; maybe I’ll keep writing updates for years to come. And yes, I feel pressure to outdo my younger self. If I haven’t become a better writer, what have I done?

Past Etti:

At most I am a skeptic,
a non-believer in the tried and trusted,
a mocker of those who live blindly.
A realist, or is it a pessimist?
I struggle to see the beauty
in words repeated.
Marriage is a far off life,
a place where you must be a wife,
I only search for late night walks,
and a fairy-tale happy ending.
I find myself always searching,
for something better, something nice.
I’m the future
I want to be a woman
who can answer to “What do you do?”
with the words “I change the world”
and change diapers too.
For yes, I want to see the world,
and fix all that I see,
I want to be different,
Powerful, bold and strong,
but motherings my thing.
I search for a career,
that feeds that very need.
Working with children
more special than I’ll ever be.
So this is my perspective,
on this g-d forsaken world,
I wonder what will cross these pages
in a year or two.

Present day Etti:

What is it like
to be sure?
“Are you ready?”
“What kind of guy?”
“What are you studying?”
“What do you want to do?”
Questions
that some days
have answers,
and some days
do not.
Having the answers
is comforting,
content,
safe.
Not knowing
means
you still have a chance
to make it better;
stronger;
more alive.
I live in fear
of living a lie
of living a life
I never intended to.
My days are meant to be filled
with digging deep
and building up.
I’ve always wanted to help
so I was drawn
to those who called for it.
Now,
I search for those
who don’t know
how to call.
While babies
and diapers
seem foreign to my
day-to-day life,
My half-of-a-soul
is calling to be whole.
As each day comes,
and then it goes,
I’ve learned
we are in even less control,
than we think we are.
Blog Post: 7/52

Feature Photo by Vitaliy Paykov via Unsplash.

When hate becomes art.

Last week, for my creative writing class, I posed a difficult challenge for my students.

I asked them to take hate, and turn it into art.

I called it “A Poetic Debate.”

I gave them the topic: Should there be a wall between the United States and Mexico?

Then – I asked them to write their argument as a poem.

It was a tall order, and there were a couple of groans.

Rather than have them choose their sides, like a nice teacher, I chose for them. I randomly chose half the class to be against, and half the class to be pro. I presented them with some research information to base their argument on and let them have at it.

As they sat down to get started, I got started as well, having taken the side of pro to make it even.

It was an incredibly difficult assignment, and I began to feel a bit guilty about giving it to them.

But they were bent over their work, and I couldn’t help smile as I looked around at them, hard at work.

The next class, we held the debate. The first girl got up to recite her poem, and I couldn’t help but feel so deeply proud of her.

Reciting your poetry is probably one of the scariest steps for a writer to take, and here they were, doing it like the experts.

Because I’m the teacher and I’m in charge, I told them that I need to share these poems with the world. About 5 of them agreed with me.

Before you read them, please remember that these are not necessarily the girl’s views. I did not ask, and they stuck to the assignment that I gave them.

These poems are beautiful, creative and thoughtful. They bring a poetic human side to a hate-filled topic.

Imagine if we all communicated through poetry? Imagine if it was forbidden to fight without turning it into something beautiful first? It takes the anger out and leaves the human in.

I am unbelievably proud of these poems and the girls who wrote them, and most of all, I am so proud of them proving to themselves and to me that they can work hard at something that doesn’t necessarily come easy.

The one lesson I wanted them to learn most.

And now, after that ridiculously long introduction, here they are:

the poems

Blog post: 6/52


Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

Hide and Go Seek

hiding

 

When I was a kid,

I used to play hide-and-go-seek.

Pretty early on I learnt
Anywhere can be a hiding place
If you do it right.
When I grew up I discovered
That nobody stops playing
Because anywhere can be a hiding place.
Honest poetry is a hiding place
If you use words nobody will understand anyway
And
behind a mountain of chocolate is good too.
When you hide behind pretending to love your ugly body
Nobody seems to find you.
You can hide behind a group of friends
Or a big pile of money,
The game will take just as long.
You can hide in a hobby,
Or a bad relationship,
Or facebook posts that claim nobody loves you.
You can hide behind a smile,
Or an early bedtime,
Or a bedtime that never comes.
What’s interesting is
That nobody plays
The game of hiding and seeking
Without the seeking.
At the end of the day,
The game is the same,
And when somebody finds you
It’s finally game over.
Trust me,
One day…
Somebody will find you.