I don’t feel particularly bad about it now, but I do have to shake my head flipping through this massive brick of “1997’s Who’s Who of High School Poets.” The title of this post is in no way targeted to those pieces of work inside this twenty-five year old plus tome except for one in particular. Mine. It is bad. Truly bad. And the sad thing is, I thought this particular poem was the best I had to offer for a long time. It was a big deal to get those “Who’s Who” letters in high school. I thought it was a big deal up until I saw the monstrosity we purchased for fifty bucks. It felt like a scam, and it could very well be. But when my child told me about how their poem was selected for the elementary school equivalent of the “Who’s Who”, that excitement returned. It was about being seen. My child was seen like I was. Even if it’s a money grab, those victories are important. External validation was important to me like it is now. I simply didn’t have the term for it in my high school vocabulary, nor did I have the mechanisms to try and build self-worth via other means. My own victory doesn’t feel as strong anymore. At least not the publishing part. The poem is awful. I did type it up and file it away in my digital catalogue but it is very much tucked away in a folder titled “Horrible High School Poetry.” My main take away is that I had an obsession with noting the dates for when I wrote a poem just as I do now. And this one was written April 9th, 1996. Twenty-seven years and one day later it’s a writing lesson. I often tell my creative writing students that you have to keep writing to improve. That is just basic skill building. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since writing this poem. For my students, they are light years ahead of where I was at their age. If they sustain the same level of growth then there is no upper limit for any of them. Some I’ve let read the work of my high school era and they’re too polite to say anything. They’re fascinated if nothing else. I like to think it is because they see how one can grow. The other part is, despite how awful I find this poem to be, I know someday I’ll revisit it and revise it to bring it to my current standard. Then I can take it out of the folder marked “Horrible High School Poetry” and let it live in my “Poetry Gen Pop.”
Masks of a Darker Gray by Kyle Brandon Lee
The taking of one's life,
The beginning of eternal strife,
To one, lies the key to the past,
To another opens what the mind has cast,
The lights shows to fight suppression,
Yet darkness falls to bring depression.
Inhibited by only what is here,
Dwelling on a splintered mental spear,
Doomed to live infinite years,
Cursed to shed eternal tears.
Innocence from a child's sigh,
To the reality of a sinner's cry.
Empty with sadness glooming,
Full with joy endlessly blooming,
Falling into a blacked light,
Motionless to one's heightened sight.
Words with no meaning to the world,
Only chills left and blood lies curled.
But like all, the course will follow the day,
And masks will of a darker gray.