A Poem for MSA 2011

It broke my heart that day,

Watching you all walk away,

Stepping into the car, driving away

It wasn’t the place, no –

It wasn’t the time, no –

Any other year, any other hall

They could have had us meet

And still captured us all

It was the world they showed us

It was what they could see

It was the broken cages around us

That’s what set us free

I can’t believe the words, the phrases,

That rocked my world those weeks

The summer that left our faces

With countless tears on our cheeks

It wasn’t the place, no –

It wasn’t the time, no –

There wasn’t one single thing

That gave way to the ground below

And set us away on wings

We were taught more than just facts

We were taught how to think

And though we received our wings

We were warned not to sink

And so, my friends, months have passed

Since we last held another

We hoped and prayed the time wouldn’t last

Until we were again sisters and brothers

But I beg you not to falter

No matter how long you’re away

Your cup has only so much water

And you must watch where you sway

Don’t forget the world you were given –

You were gifted with the truest of sights

And though the world tells you to stop living

Be that kid who keeps up all hours all nights

Searching for the truth – what’s right

And don’t give up, don’t ever give up

And don’t let your dreams leave your sight

Don’t go counting crayons –

You can’t win that game

But missing what you can’t have

And having what you won’t miss

That’s really all the same

Just start drawing pictures

Take the world you’ve got

Whether it’s ‘perfect’ or not

Because you’ve got the power

The first grader inside of you

Build something beautiful

You know you’ve got it –

Or maybe it’s got you?

I once was that kid

The one who never shuts up

About his school, his life

His boundaries that just keep coming

But I finally woke up

I saw the world as it is –

Not with stop signs or bumps or walls or dead ends

But with challenges to take

To learn from

To use

And those, my friends, are life’s greatest crayons

The things with which you have to mesh and blend –

Because where would we be

If Eminem stopped in Detroit?

Or if Ray Charles never touched the keys?

Or if Bill Gates gave up after college?

Or if you stopped, and decided you couldn’t contend?

Just another person

Wishing they had more crayons.


Here’s To You

There’s a world I’ve discovered

Beyond GPAs and test scores

There’s a me I’ve uncovered

I didn’t know before


I met a guy

Who didn’t care

I met a guy

Who went nowhere

I was that guy

Until I realized

Being that guy

Got me nowhere


So here’s to the teacher

Who taught me to be curious

Here’s to the system

That taught me to be furious

Here’s to the people

Who tried to kill my soul

Those serial killers

Who eat creativity whole

They demand test scores

They show us bubble sheets

They say life’s a bore

And a problem to defeat


I won’t give in

You can’t take it away

The heart I’ve got within

It’s here that it stays


Stop making me take tests

Stop taking away my fire

Don’t tell me I’m the best

Tell me something to inspire

Just let me be me

Because, the way I am

I want you to see

I will learn

Because I can


So stop denying my right to think

Stop telling me what to drink

This is my time

This is your hour

Hear my rhyme

Stand, don’t cower


Don’t let them choke out that fire

Don’t let them keep you from your desire

Don’t stop loving the things you do

And don’t – please don’t, whatever you do

Don’t stop being that wonderful,