Dear Teenage Dirtbag

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

No matter what you think, there will always be some things that are out of your control. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you’ll stop being disappointed in people.

Notice how I typed, “the sooner you’ll stop being disappointed in people” rather than “the sooner people will stop disappointing you.” People aren’t actively disappointing you; you’re actively being disappointed in them. That’s something else you need to learn despite how cliche it sounds: the world (and its inhabitants) don’t revolve around you.

Writing poetry might be a hobby to you know, but you’ll go to college to perfect your skill. And you’ll never throw away those halfway-filled composition notebooks because you want to show yourself just how far you’ve come along. Not everything you write, however, will be worthwhile. And you will get discouraged a lot. But one Saturday night – or was it a Friday? – you will get on stage and share your work with strangers at a poet’s cafe. 

This will then lead you to start reading your work at a library, and you’ll get to know the people there. You will later get a job at this library. And while the job might not be the most beloved, you will build so many great memories at this job. Most of them will involve reading to children, and bringing stories to life through puppet shows.

I know you don’t care about most of this. There’s one question you’re dying to know. Yes, one day, you’ll come to realize that there are some girls who will actually find you attractive enough to have sex with you. And some of them will actually let you. However, when you least expect it, you will meet a pretty green-eyed girl who will be the love of your life. Unfortunately, you will meet her after you start a relationship with another green-eyed girl and it will be two years before the two of you start something. 

You’ll lose her, but gain something from the relationship. And I’m not just talking about your son. And it’s something I can’t exactly explain to you in this letter. It’s just something that you’ll have to experience for yourself.

Photo made on Canva. Those are actually high school photos of me. I’ve censored the faces of others in said photographs. And that background is an actual scan of a composition book I kept in high school. I censored the poem because y’all don’t need to see how awful it was.
Poetry Break

“Out of the huts of history’s shame”

This is not the post I wanted to write. That post is saved in my drafts where it may never see the light of day. There’s so much to say about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but I am not well-versed, and I know that I misspeak (or type).

I won’t be taking a step back from the blog, but the content may change.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

—"And Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
Poetry Break

“Orlando” by Andrea Gibson

I don’t want to talk about Uvalde. I don’t want to talk about the thwarted Patriot Front riot. There are half-written, angry-sad posts talking about Uvalde in my drafts. And none of them will see the light of day. Because it’s no my tragedy to talk about. It’s not my story to share.

It’s difficult to talk about it without bringing up what I was doing that day. And how the news gnawed at the back of my head.

Instead, I leave you with Andrea Gibson’s poem, “Orlando.”

Poetry Break

“To Shaun, on Your 10th Birthday”

Let my fortune be rich in stories
shared on quiet nights
as we lay in bed
drifting into sleep.
Let the inheritance I leave to you
be the sounds of our laughter
as the whispers of your childhood.
Let both be comprised of our memories
as we took walks through my childhood
neighborhood, as I navigated you through
places long since erased.

The origin of this poem started when I first heard the news about the Quintanilla family releasing a new Selena album, three decades after her untimely death. It was a mixture of fascination and disgust. That’s the only way I can describe the feeling of seeing a family continuing to exploit the work of their deceased sister. And I wondered what sort of things I’d leave behind for my son to find.

I never intended to take poetry outside of composition books. And I never intended to take it off the stage. And now as I’m in the last year of my thirties, I’m wondering why not? There have bumps and hiccups along the way. Events that pushed me out of the local poetry scene. And while I’ve allowed myself to be angry about it, and possibly will hold on to this grudge for a while longer, I think it’s time I just pick up the mic and where I left off a decade ago.

So what do I intend to leave behind for my son? Memories. Written. Recorded. Penciled in the margins of my books where he will find them should he one day decide to read them. I want him to remember our stories and share them with his children – should he have any, that is.

I want to encourage him to follow this music path where it ever it leads him, just as I followed my poetry path for a while.

Normally, I record an audio and slap it on stock video but this is still in a rough draft process. I believe this is the eighth attempt to write this poem. And I liked it more than the rest. But it’s not quite finished. Not quite yet. And the title isn’t the one I intended but it’s the one that made the most sense at the time of this writing.

So maybe one day I’ll break out the old Yeti and record it.

Poetry Break

“When They Look Right Through You” by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre

A friend of mine read Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, But Enough by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre, and it reminded how much I love his work. I’ve used his poem “Consent at 10,000 Feet” to celebrate National Poetry Month 2020, the year I decided to embark on this endeavor.

All roads led back to Button Poetry, it would seem. At least for me. When I first learned of the channel on YouTube, it introduced an entire world of new poets for me. Poets that might have gotten swept under rug for me. Poets that probably get swept under the rug for several people, actually. Because while their talent is obvious, poetry gets a bad rap. And I can spend a day and a half explaining why academia is a disservice to poetry, but that’s not the point of celebrating this month.

For a later date, maybe.