Dec 22


I'm obsessed
With stories
I'm obsessed
With the way light
Touches life I'm obsessed
With words weaving
Through one another and I'm obsessed
With capturing truth, beauty,
To mutate it into something
More beautiful, true.

I'm obsessed
With learning something new
Every day whether fact
Or fiction personal
Or universal inside
Or out and I'm
With sharing that even 
If it's just for my future self because
Recording it makes it feel
More real.

Am I obsessed
With putting pen to paper,
Fingers to keyboard,
Those actions which sometimes
Draw me in and sometimes
Repulse me, make me
Want anything else instead?

Am I obsessed
With something that seems so simple
Something that anyone can do
That takes no special skill?
Am I obsessed
With ink, lead, pixels, keys?
Or am I obsessed
Aug 10

what i will tell the hairdresser

Freedom, I used to think,
was long hair billowing
behind me in the wind
split ends and bed head and braids
down my back.

I used to mourn when
the girls I knew with long beautiful hair—
red, mostly, like tendrils of fire—
cut it all off.
Who would shed their phoenix feathers?

Now the hair which I took such care
to grow out, always growing out,
weighs upon my neck
strangles me when I lay it on my pillow,
little coils of rope, still wet.

I think I know those girls-turned-women
for I, too, thirst for an unfamiliar freedom—
one where the wind strokes my shoulders
instead of toying with dead cells—
a new kind of confidence, power, beauty.

When before have I wanted to shed the past?
Jun 24

Ode to Memory

Humans are a puzzle
Without a picture on the box
Designed to look finished
After every piece
Never able to find the next hole
Until it is filled
But as soon as the jigsaw edges snap
Into place
We exclaim, "there!
How much better that looks"
Forgetting immediately what we're comparing
The new and improved version to
What it is improved on.

Or sometimes we spend years
Searching for one cardboard shape
But as soon as we find it
We realize it's part of the background
An edge or even a
Corner, perhaps,
Yet so much less interesting
Than the pieces
We picked up along the way.

I cannot believe that humans stop growing
For then
Where do all the new experiences fit
Snap into place
If not a longer leg
A broader chest?
Do we just keep shoving them in
Squeezing them tighter and tighter so that
Feb 27


Editor's note: A small bug in YWP's audio recorder prevents us from eliminating the first, blank, recording. The SECOND player is the one you want to listen to -- a wonderful revision.

1 month ago today,
When 17 people were killed,
I felt nothing.

I could not feel the shock
Of 17 bullets leaving a gun
Could not feel the weight
Of 17 bodies hitting the floor
Could not feel the agony
Of 17 bullets entering 17 bodies
Or the devastation
Of 17 families losing 17 loved ones.

I am 17 years old
And I have already learned to forget
To push each new gunshot out of my mind
Because I tell myself
It can't hold any more
It shouldn't hold any more—
But I'm done forgetting.

Because the thing is, I'm right.

A 17-year-old mind
Should not have to hold
17 lives and 17 deaths
That could have been saved,
Could have been stopped,
Audio download:
Feb 27

I Don't Know (Number 2)

Today, I went to a slam poetry performance by a poet called Porsha O., and as I always do after poetry performances, I came back home inspired to write. Porsha O. self-identifies as a black dyke. I am a white bisexual, and sometimes, I barely even feel like a "real" bisexual, because I am in a serious relationship with a boy, but I have never so much as even kissed a girl. Porsha O. writes from the perspective of a black dyke. I am not a black dyke, yet her performance made me want to write.
Instead, I asked myself: is that okay?
I don't want to be like the white liberal in one of her poems who posts #blacklivesmatter then turns around and flips her dreadlocks. When she read that, I felt as if it were directed straight at me. I try so hard not to be that person, yet I want to support and write and speak. And I don't know how to do that.
Jan 30

My Other First Crush

I remember thinking of her.
I remember that I always envied her best friend,
How they'd do everything together.
I remember doing anything to see her alone,
Playing American Girl doll school in my room
Or aliens in the upstairs closet.

I remember hearing that my first crush liked her,
And I remember that I wasn't angry.
I don't remember thinking much of it except,
Good choice.
I remember feeling jealous,
But of whom, I'm no longer sure.

I remember wondering later, perhaps years later,
Why I never remembered her talking of boys.
Could she like girls?
I remember wanting so desperately to know a girl who did.
Little did I know
I always had.
Jan 30

Growing Up

"Winter isn't winter without snow."
Words I said a thousand times, 
or sometimes, "If it's going to be cold,
it should just snow."
The magic s-word, snow was,
a word that turned bleak brown days
into enchanted wonderlands.

I never understood why anyone 
would want winter
without snow.

This morning I caught myself thinking
of how grateful I was for the receding ice
which only half covers our driveway now
thanking the powers that be
for keeping the roads and the cars clear
for letting my drive to school last ten minutes
instead of fifteen.

I was shocked.

Had I really turned into one of those grownups
who groans at the thought of snow
sees it as a disruption, no,
a mere annoyance,
something to mention in the waiting rooms
instead of something to wait for for hours
wishing for its arrival?
Jan 26

Special Markers

The plate wasn’t always blank.
Before the dishwasher soap scrubbed it too clean
I had drawn on it:
A ladybug, red and black,
Colors that squeaked
As markers touched white porcelain—
Special markers, she said.
We each made a plate that day,
One, two, three, lined up to dry,
The extras still stacked in their box,
White as the snow that had kept them there.

We ate pizza on our plates,
Then ran off to play:
The first time I saw Silly String,
Blanketing the walls
In foamy pastel,
Shrieking as it touched my skin;
The first friend who had a phone,
Tapping out pop songs
In a room full of pillows—
One, two, three, lined up on her bed.

She told us the markers would never come off.

Audio download:
Special Markers.m4a
Jan 15

A List

I like driving home in the dark.
I like putting on music when nobody else is there to hear it.
I like not caring when I'm going to arrive, knowing that I'm done for the night, knowing that the next thing waiting for me is my bed.
I like the way my headlights illuminate a streak of the road in front of me and nothing more.
I like that I know where I'm going.
I like that I've done it before.
Jan 15


Sometimes we just crave
those mediocre store-bought baked goods
with their dough that's a little too chewy 
that doesn't flake the way we know it really should
and their filling that's a little too sweet

We see their pastel frosting
through the smudged glass
of supermarket display cases and think
that's what we want
even if we could do better

It's like how sometimes
we just want to play pop songs
with their melodies that pour out under our fingers
and their four chords that ring like reassurance
even if we know Beethoven

And how sometimes
we just want to reread
our favorite book from fifth grade
or rewatch that cartoon
whose episodes we used to have memorized

we just want everything
to be simple.