When I was five years old and first stepped into a classroom I had lint and skittles and hope stuffed into my pockets. My firsts clutched at them so hard that when they made us shake hands with one another I extended a rainbow palm to my partners. They gawked at it for a second and then took my hand and we were stuck together with a bond that only innocence and sugar can provide.
When we were kids we built our trust out of sticks and stones--a bond that would come to be stronger than sugar and innocence and hope--you would lead us through waters we were not sure we could wade yet.
In 7th grade the spaces between hallways and classrooms are where I learned that silence breeds intolerance and apathy. Our trust was no longer built on sticks and stones, but on those moments when we chose not to be silent--when we were thankful that someone said anything to us at all because life only ever matters when you know you exist.
And so I will write you letters so that you know that I see you.
Dear Girl In Class That Listens to Boys Making **** Jokes,
I see you. I see those boys too. And they will see me when I reach down their throats where the hate they spew lives tell them that I will not meet their intolerance with tolerance.
I’ll probably get a phone call from mom.
Dear Boy In Class Who Changes All Of the Pronouns In His Poems Because He’s Scared Of The Students Around Him,
I see you, I see those edits you make too. You’re beautiful and so are your words. Stop making bad edits.
Dear Boy In Class Who Thinks Gay Is A Synonym For Stupid
I know that all hate is learned and that you learned that this was okay because no one ever told you it wasn’t. I’m telling you now. Stop.
Dear Students In Class Who Are Afraid To Speak Up
I’m writing this poem for you. I want you to take this poem with you when you leave. Turn it over in your mind like the cool side of a pillow when you lay down to sleep. Let it support your head and your dreams.
Repeat it like a prayer so that these words will stick in your mind, even when I’m not there: Just because school is a weapon free zone does not mean that you leave your mind, your heart, your thoughts, your questions, your voice at home.
Take this poem and place it beneath your feet. Stand on it, use it to meet your adversaries at eye level every time they try to look down on you.
Let this poem catch you when they try to blast you back with backwards rhetoric.
Use this poem as a shield--hold the words around you so that when the world tries to drop bombs on you you’ll be able to appreciate the beat.
Keep it like a secret and when you’re alone and writing and the words are stuck in the ink of your pen remember that poetry doesn’t come from words, it comes from a willingness to love and to be loved. I know this because the first poem I ever heard was when my mother held my head in her lap and told me the only Spanish I would ever remember--todo para la familia--everything for the family.
And so I’ll leave those words as a mantra for you and I hope that you’ll understand some day that you don’t need this poem and you can crumple it up and throw it away because your voice matters and even if it’s met with silence, nothing will change that.
To The Teachers That My Students Write Poems About,
Take this poem. Use it as a warning.
My students are better poets than me.
Spoken word piece performed as a sacrificial poem for my students.