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I don't know who I am.

This may sound strange,
but it's how I feel
many 20 somethings
know this feeling is real

"This is normal"
"You're not alone"
But this lack of identity
Makes me feel thrown

For years I was the "smart one"
Strove for the highest grades
Lost that identity for a bit
Momentarily lived in the shade

I reclaimed that feeling in first year
Academically, feeling strong
But wanting to excel was challenging
Anxiety and depression tagged along

I excelled for four years to leave options
Working myself to the bone
Hoping my hard work would mean something
My path forward would be shown

But now I'm left with burn out.

It leaves me at a crossroads
Not sure which path to take
Not confident in myself
Or the changes I hope to make

Building a live worth living
Is more challenging than you make think
When you're used to craving excellence
Anything less feels like an empty link

I have to find a way forward
To make sense of all that is
Accept that life isn't always fun
But know that doesn't mean my life is done.

I want to be an optimist
In a world that's sad and cruel
Find where I truly belong
Hope will be my tool.
Mark Toney Jul 5

driving home to you
unfortunately I died
~ text said I love you


driving and texting
new car for graduation
~ hi guys guess what I'm


busy city streets
need to text spouse I'll be late
~ pedestrian hit


can't wait to see you
didn't see car stopped ahead
~ text never sent




© 2020 Mark Toney.  All rights reserved.

https://www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org
7/4/2020 - Poetry form: Senryu - stoptextsstopwrecks.org - © 2020 Mark Toney. All rights reserved.
Freshman year:
"Creepy-Crusty Freshman"
We thought we had it together,
but everyone else knew.
We were just beginning,
We were separate, naive and secluded.

Sophomore year:
Forgotten students.
Not ready for college
Yet not a new baby to coddle,
We were simple floating and following the beaten path.

Junior Year:
Most stressful endeavors
ACTs, SATs, AP tests
Do good they said,
Prepare for senior year,
"It goes by fast"
So do this and do that, but don't do that.

Senior Year:
Apply for colleges!
Don't be late! Meet the deadlines!
Senioritis.
We wanted it to go by fast and they said it would, and it did.
So fast that our last day was March 16th
Instead of May 22nd
We had no idea that we would never say a proper goodbye,
that we would never throw our caps to fly high,
that we would never dance to tacky music for the last time at our 'senior prom'
We had no idea what senior year would be.
But we now know what it was not.
It was not easy
not simple or complete,
straight-forward or whole,
Not ordinary and certainly not fair.

2020 Seniors did not get a senior year.
We did not get open houses for the masses,
Or graduation with peers from our classes.

In kindergarten we were told to stand tall and speak up, and chin up. Make friends because they'll be with you your whole school life. One day you will cross the stage with them.

But senior year we were told to be quiet, wear a mask. Stay inside, don't say goodbye, good luck on your own. You'll graduate alone.
Coming from a 2020 senior, this year has been rough on us and extremely weird. This is just to try and make it a little clearer for people who don't understand how it has affected seniors. I have personally seen adults attack seniors for sharing their emotions and to say that we were overreacting. But this is a global pandemic that has LITERALLY stripped us of our senior experiences. I had bought my prom dress before we knew we weren't coming back, i bought my cap and gown and was looking forward to walking the stage. Unable to do these things, it affects us.
Jordan Hudson Jun 14
Now I graduated, I feel so honored
The time I waited, a junior scholar
I made it, in an open world I feel smaller
The feeling I have there's no words
The competition it hurts
Some fall behind and I know that's worse
Some with the wrong crowd can't go back there's no reverse
Some feel pain and live in vain and feel so cursed
Some live a few years in days they lay in a hearse
A grave they lay, no return
Friends and family feel the burn
Flashbacks play the present blurs
Pleading for help their words all slurred
Can't think can't speak they are never heard
Yelling at this point no more words
Screams and sounds of what they were
Unrecognizable by now
Then some get by I don't know how
Now I graduated, I feel so honored
The time I waited, a junior scholar
I made it, in an open world I feel smaller
The feeling I have there's no words
The competition it hurts
I can see some fall I'm just tall
They don't call they just crawl
Staying down trying to climb
They then drown out of time
Can't help them up I don't know how
I feel fine but they all crying
When I rise they fall it seems like
Am I the one pushing them down?
Could they get up if I jump out?
They suffocate, can't breathe
I feel great, look at me
How can I help? Just dream
Don't proceed, just stay, don't flee
Now I graduated, I feel so honored
The time I waited, a junior scholar
I made it, in an open world I feel smaller
The feeling I have there's no words
The competition it hurts
levi eden r Jun 13
i came in afraid. three years plus some of being afraid. no kid should live like that but it happens and it happened to me.
three years plus some, entering a new world. "these will be the best years of your life.", they told me but i couldn't help but imagine what life after death would be like. i came in afraid.

year two and i wanted things to get better but then i lost him and it was like a hurricane. my heart was ripped out of my chest and my papers have tear stains on them.
four years plus some of imagining my next life. this year was the worst. counselor offices and confused faces of adults who just didn't get it. my lowest of the low. yet i still stand.

i came in... well still afraid. 360. i remember sitting there and it all came to me. it all became clear and the thunderstorms above my head, the war in my heart,
Quiet. i see light, i see it all. i see me. warmth. closure. forgiveness. light.

i made it now. unafraid. i heard them all scream my name as i walked with pride, as i walked with my head held high in front of my entire class, in front of their family and friends.
i
made
it.
the thunderstorms seemed so far away, they still do. i am strong. i am light.
i made it.
help me get out of my abusive home : $blipofjoy
Murakami May 1
I used to spend hours looking down
At the thousands of small critters
I used to look at the caterpillars
Checkered, bristle-covered enveloped bodies
As they roamed the soil for growth

A breeze, a storm
Enough to flood the land
The caterpillars gasped for air
Lost, alone.

But the sun struggled through
The storms calmed
And the caterpillars emerged from the water
Ready to fly,
Ready to metamorphosize.

Now I look up, up to the sky
and I finally see
Momentary beauty, splendid nonetheless:
Purple wings glistening through the wind.

That’s what I aspire to be.
"I'm graduating"
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