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Lauren Jul 22
I find myself paddling against the current.

Those ahead ask why I am falling behind.
Those behind don’t see how every stroke wears me down.

It takes everything I have just to stay afloat.
"We began this race after you and have already overtaken you, how pathetic."

I want to give up.
"You have to keep going, you’ve already made it so much farther than us!"

I want to be better.
"Then BE better."

I don’t have the strength.
"You wouldn’t have made it this far if you weren’t strong!"

I worry the current is stronger than I am.
"It is no stronger than ours surely."

My canoe strains against the pressure.
"Your canoe is a GIFT, you mustn't waste it!"

I close my eyes for the briefest of spells, try to steal just a moment of rest.
As I reopen them… I realise that it’s gone.
My goal. What was my goal again?

I have been paddling in this current so long...
Where was I going again?

All I remember is the agony of each stroke,
The words of condemnation for my failures
The presupposition of my achievements.

"You’re a disappointment, you should give up."
"If you give up, you will be a disappointment."

"You’re not good enough to be here."
"You’re too good not to be there."

"Look at your failures!"
"Focus on your accomplishments!"

My canoe breaks, and I am plunged into the icy waters of uncertainty.
I have forgotten what my own voice sounds like.
I need to hear it.
I open my mouth to remind myself, but nothing comes out.
Instead, the current consumes me; inside and out.
What could have been and what could never be are gone.

I am gone.
Sasha Raven Apr 5
Have you ever heard, about the castle — Stain?
It is standing in so beautiful land, called Oberkrain ...
When I go there, my eyes have no time to rest,
that is the place of "mine" and I feel the best!
In the Spring, I listen to the birds, how they sing
and so far in the distance, the church bells ring ...
When I was young and foolish, it was like my home,
it sounds silly, I felt like a Ruler of the mighty Rome ...
I am so much older now and the times are hard,
but, they do not respect you, there is no regard!?
In my heart, all these memories will still remain
and, I will always know the laughter and the pain ...
Frank DeRose Jun 2018
two papers are due--
academia threatens
to swallow me whole
cassidy Jun 2016
five years old.

a wobbling mass of uncertainty
perched haphazardly on a bike.
daddy holds me upright,
his strong hands refuse to let me fall.
pedalling, pedalling, faster and faster
a weight releases
at last, I'm flying.

six years old.

first day of first grade
I clutch onto my mom's hand
so many children, both familiar and stranger
letters, numbers, a line on the wall
a smiling teacher. I let go of her hand
sit in a green desk, grab a crayon
one last glance out the door
but she is gone.

ten years old.

suspended in the cool water
skis strapped awkwardly on my numb feet
a lifejacket rises tight around my neck
my mom behind me, holds me
right side up in a firm embrace
suddenly, a massive force
pulls me up out of her comfortable arms
through the deafening spray of the water
my mother cheers.
I'm gliding, and I've never felt so free.

sixteen years old.

my hands caress the steering wheel
dad's in the passenger seat
cautious, careful, I proceed
the open road ahead of us
we pick up speed, but then
a deer. his hand grabs my shoulder
my foot slams on the brakes.
I'll pay more attention when I'm driving alone.
we take a breath. we're safe.

eighteen years old.

I scan the crowd as I sit in
my crisp blue robe. my strange square hat.
no more unfamiliar faces.
just layers and layers of memories
blended on top of each other.
my name is announced
I stand up, cross the stage,
again, a mass of uncertainty.
again, awkward in my high heeled shoes
my dad holds my mom's shoulder
my mom clutches his hand.

once more, I'm forced to let go
in order to move forward.
a diploma replaces my mother's hand
crushing realization replaces my father's security
again, I'm flying
but things will never be the same.

graduation is so bittersweet.
N Schlegel Dec 2015
She said “Describe yourself in a sentence,
We want to see what you do with constraints.”
So I thought to be clever and said
“My sentence will extend eternally, bound by infinite commas,
and perhaps, if I’ve very lucky; a semicomma or two;
you see the shackles that you’ve tried to impose are only a barrier if you let them be;
but me, I see opportunities where none should exist,
excuse me ma’am this may be and admittance interview but I see it as an investment opportunity,
my future, your gain… oh and period.”
She looked at her collegues, not betraying any amusements, annoyance, entertainment, nothing.  As if I had given the same answer as the last four people who sat where I do.
She rephrases, “How about a sentence with less than 10 words.”
I smile “I am worth more than a ten-word statement of intent.”
Eleven words. She noticed.
Twenty minutes later I am released,
apparently I’m not the right fit for their program.

— The End —