Abigail Nottingham - Sachse


I sit here, pen in hand, and I can't seem to put words on the paper. 
It's pitiful really. 
I mean you woke up, 2 am or 1 am, pushed yourself out of bed with cracking knuckles and provided provision and love. 
How could I be such a narcissist. 
How could I be so full of self pity that I don't even recognize the desolation, caused by the trials laid upon you. 
Born of the tribulations of a teenage pregnancy, 1978. 
Hands and feet bound by the umbilical chord of your predetermined kismet.
Planned by God, who loved you so radically, he gave his only son to die for your sins. 
Whose brain and flesh could hardly decipher the difference between right and wrong. 
Whose legs trembled as they stood for the first time,
But whose soul had already knelt. 
Raised in a Pentecostal church,
A preachers kid. 
Who was taught Gods love in adolescence. 
Whose soul strengthened everyday,
Seeming to be unbreakable, just like the broad smile that never fell from your face, 
That always reached your eyes,
Never forced,
Never fake, 
Always bright,
A soldier,
Egypt, Syria, England
Who, though a witness to the cruelest forms of evil,
Held that genuine smile. 
Who paraded through smug-faced crowds that held kindling eyes,
And was able to stand tall. 
Though they would never know the prison that hid within the folds of your pockets, 
That held every insecurity and every dark memory you would ever posses. 
Who views disloyalty and lies as gargantuan-gut galling Goliaths
And faced them with five stones,
Love, humility, forgiveness, compassion, and faith. 
You placed that Faith in a slingshot and slung it right at the head of the giants and left victorious. 
Abandoned by family. 
The same the family that promised you reinforcement
but instead provided you with 20 foot hurdles, blazing with serpent lies about who you were as a person, who your family was, and what your walk looked like. 
Who refused to allow your daughter to look upon the hurt formed into tears that leaked onto your cheeks,
The same cheeks that she used to kiss with delicate lips but whose lips had now touched another's in the most impure ways. 
Ways in which you would never hope for. 
Whose lover, 
Mother of your children,
had been a victim to the black smokey hands of disease. 
That had clutched onto her like a master, she was his slave. 
A slave to illness. 
And you stood idly behind, chained by the same illness.
Though it never touched you physically,
It had captured your hands and bound them to helplessness. 
But YOU,
You knew,
You always knew,
That God loves you. 
You always looked to God,
Whether you were running
Crawling- scraping your knees as you screamed Jesus. 
You always knew Jesus. 
You always come back to Jesus. 
You know his love. 
You know him. 
He wraps his arms around you like a father does to his son, come home from war. 
He is the battle paint you wear, red dripping down your forehead and into you heart where
He binds himself to you like an irreversible chemical equation. 
And you know this. 
You live this. 
I've never seen someone so strong,
So brave,
So loyal,
So loving
So compassionate,
And so Christ-like. 
And though your past may compare to seven-headed dragons your future holds nothing but promise.
For the plans God has for you are not to destroy you but to bring prosperity. 
You are the strongest man I will ever know and will always be a motivation and a role model to me. 
I am filled with regret of my actions and thoughts that once filled me. 
Now I know
Man of God. 
And I am so proud to call you,

Abigail Tow - Keller


someone loved you.
     someone called you flower not dead tree processed

someone cradled you in their mouth
     like an infant, swaddled your corners with careful fingers.

before I opened your ribcage and unfolded your right lung
     when you were pristine with fresh ink and the stale stench of glue

before I ran my fingers over your spine
     what an assortment of vertebrae this is

before I payed half-price for the used
     paperback with an orange cover and red printed woman

someone loved you
     she picked a pen with the blackest ink and wrote on your hand

"To sister alicia - walk beautifully." December 4th, 1993

she circled your prayers, marked the praises
     until every page was white black and highlighter yellow stained glass

when god first raked his fingers through the dirt
     and planted rows of trees and women he knew the way

words are vines that pull you by the ankle
     to where you need to grow,

and on that seventh day while he slept in the stars
     there she was legs crossed in the soil carving into Sonia's tree:

"To sister alicia, to sister alicia, to sister alicia."

Anne Kalinowsky - Lakeview


They say ““Protect the Children””
Mothers cover their children's eyes when they see us on TV
To deliver them from evil
And do right by their god
But their god is not my god because my god is loving and my god doesn't watch me through his fingers.
But his sons and daughters say the Lord's Prayer and carve hate into the Bible with a blunt kitchen knife and
It makes me sick but I know better than to speak up

(“Try not to taste the copper candy in your mouth
just swallow it down like the rest of us”)

““Protect the Children””
Mike Pence supports a plan to divert money from HIV treatment to conversion therapy camps that have two phases:
To steal the love and identity from the minds of our youth
And then to mold them with dirty fingers into something empty and cold
Broken pottery shards of a person
Sick barb wire twists of a mind hung up on the fence as a warning
“You don't belong here”

(“You can wash your hands in the bathroom sink but you'll never be any cleaner”)

“Protect the children”
Do their mothers and fathers know that half of conversion camp prisoners kill themselves within the first 6 months?
Maybe they wouldn't sign their kids away if they knew that the counselors all sit around a card table on Friday nights
And bet cigarettes on who will show up to group therapy next week
And who will be found strung up in their closets by a thread
Like swaying marionettes
(“Remember their faces, they died as they lived.”)

“Protect the children”
I fell in love for the first time in 7th grade with a girl named Lily
She held my hand and my heart skipped
Without meaning to, I lost myself in her whiskey brown eyes and in the music of her hips
She felt just like a cool breeze in the heat of summer and I swore to god that I could breathe her in like that too
But that was before I knew what it felt like to trace my fingers over pottery shards
Or bite my tongue so hard it bled and then harder
Back then, all I knew was that I loved a girl
And she loved me

So they say “protect the children”
But we were children too

Barbie - IDEA School

Where I'm From

Because even the biggest of them all can still fall. They don’t want to know it but the truth is still there. Because even a smile can gracefully fall from someone’s face. See, where I’m from, the ground is our bed. Where the dirt grows its plants with our tears. Where La Sabila can’t heal the cuts and bruises that He left behind. Where the Albuquerque Mountains are the calmest and safest place to be and not in His arms as they say to be. Where in the winter, snow covers them like a white blanket all while we leave our traces on them. Where we can slide down and scream of joy but when He slides us off our bed, we scream. Not of joy, God forbid, but of fear and hurt.

Where I’m from, houses were block away and trailers were our home. Where we could step outside and smell the wet dirt, so fresh you could almost taste it. Where we can see the hot air balloons rise from the ground and become stars in the sky.

Where I’m from, getting dirty is normal and good for you. Where even our dog hides from Him. Where he has learned to not get in his way or else he would get a beating as well.

Where I’m from, we needed to learn things quick or else consequences would come our way. Where we had to be the best or be nothing at all. Where one mistake means double to beating. We had to be perfect to please. We HAD to be perfect.

Because where I’m from, no one likes someone who can stand up for themselves, at least that’s what He taught me one midnight.

Where I’m from, we could see the high sky bruised with colors of red, blue, yellow, and purple and see it as a beautiful thing. But when we saw those colors on our skin, there wasn’t anything beautiful in it. Because the sky is a masterpiece of God, while the masterpiece on our skin, well that was from Him. And I quickly learned that where I’m from,  Fathers are painters and their families’ skin are their canvases.

Cassandra Jobman - Lakeview


Mama tells me to stay away from matches,
She says "Baby, You don't want to start a fire."
I wonder if she can smell the smoke yet.
Because I have been lighting fires ever since Dad left.
I remember my mother
Beat by words and threats
Although never a fist.
just a victim of my father's razor blade manipulations,
it didn't take me long to realize
I could not protect her.
And when I would get angry
She would crawl into my twin bed
Pretending it was Superman’s fortress
and whisper that it was harmless.

          Just words.
          Just ultimatums.
          Just his love language.

at school I learned it bore the name domestic violence.
The lead cause of injury to women ages 15-44.
More incidents than
          car accidents
          And muggings
But she still calls herself lucky.
Says we shouldn't talk about it.
   Don't play with matches.
       Don't start a riot.
          Just keep silent.
But one in four women challenge me otherwise.
My chapped lips part to break the generational curse of silence
And zip ties strangling weak wrists snap
To strike a match
For my mentor Sandra
Whose ex husband was so paranoid and bent on abuse
That when she called a friend about an aquarium to put in her classroom
He thought she was talking in code
And beat her until she was would "submit to her master"
Did I mention that he was a pastor?
He called it biblical.
Each match I strike-
A blinding spotlight on the domestic violence that destroyed our households long before I ever put them near a flame.
strike a match and see
Every repetitive question sizzle to ash.
Every "Why didn't you just leave?" And "Why didn't you just call the police?"
And "what did you do to make them angry?"
I am armed with gasoline and lighter in one palm and a pencil in the other,
To carry out the justice of an arsenic.
I watch flames devour myths and pain and hurts and fear

Because women before me have been lighting fires for centuries.
Breathe in the aftermath of our destruction:

          strike a match to every excuse for domestic violence,
          Every silent cry from the women too afraid to leave.

          strike a match for my father who refuses to acknowledge and confess
          And for my mother who lets him.
          For the women who stand by the side of men
                    Even when they shouldn't.

Like my mama and
How she always tells me to stay away from matches.
She says "Baby, You don't want to start a fire."
But mama,

We are going to keep lighting fires
          we run out of things to burn.


Esther Lorenz - Sachse


Here's to life and all the joy and struggles it brings. Here's to all the pain, the heartbreak, the joy, and sadness that both weakens and strengthens us.

Here's to the children getting bullied on the playground, in the halls, or online. To the kids, teens, and adults alike who believes a cold blade can dull any pain that weighs them down. To the suicidal who believes that the cold embrace of death holds a warmer promise then life. To the men and women being abused daily behind closed doors. To the people who have fallen to the chains of addiction.

There is hope.

I am here to tell the bullied of all race, gender, and ages that you are beautifully diverse in a cold hurtful world. You have a kindness, innocence and purity that your persecutors not only lack they yearn. I am here to say no matter how big your bully's grow stay strong and do not loose yourself because when you are gone your bully's win.

I am here to tell the people in pain who are attracted to the glint of a blade to put down your scissors, to put down your knife, to put down your razor and Stop. With every fresh cut made the numbness of the new found pain always fades only leaving another scar you have to face everyday. There are people who care about what you do. People who love you enough to help take away your pain who wait silently for you with a warm embrace.  

I am here to tell the suicidal to keep away from death and continue living. To tell them there are people here for you besides a counselor who yearns to see you grow and strive in past adulthood. There are people who love you and your death will cause a ripple effect creating more tears to fall then you have ever cried.  

I am here to tell the abused there is a way out of all the darkness that has taken control tell of your life. There are people to help you, brave men and women willing to risk their life's to face your tormenter. To help you to safety.

I am here to face the addicts to tell them your addiction to drugs, sex, or alchol does not control you. Your addiction is only what shackles your mind, hands, and feet.

I am here to say all these situations can be changed but it starts with a decision.

I am here to tell all these people the bullied, the cutters, the suicidal, the addicts, the abused, along with the students and adults in this room that these situations are what produces heroes. When the bullied children stand strong or seek help, when the cutters throw out their blades, when the suicidal turn from death, when the abused turn from their tormenter risking it all, when the addicts break the chains and turn from their drugs, or when an ordinary person stands up to help someone else. Heros are made.

Some are silent. Some are brave enough to save others from the same devious decision they once made.

So here's to heros big and small and to life along with all the joy and struggles it brings.

Jade Pina - Lakeview


(After Aracelis Girmay’s “Invocation”)

Come displaced Palestinian Arab sweeping sins across the borough
Come mothers who were common ground, but not enough to bridge the gap
Come incubus who leaves you asphyxiated and dilated
Humming short breaths in prosodies
Come biromantic with catatonic tongue that lashes apathetically, come

And box-cutter accompanied by duct tape
Stay silent, come as you are
Bleeding mascara, hog-tied to a bar sink
Be that as it may, come
Mutilated Barbies
Come Saturday night skinny dippers
“I love you, now taste the skin above my bones.”
And suckle, leaf, twigs and branch
Come five generations of plantation soil


Rise roots

The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, WuTang
Come intangible peace, love, and soul and
A kick down a thirteen step stairwell
Do not worry, rock bottom welcomes you in a flood of Irish Neat
Come blind eyes
And Mister Sandman, come, bring me a nightmare
That doesn’t follow the classically conditioned faith of a fist

Come leaden paralysis
Come soporific drug cocktails

Belfast Pagans
Faye Dunaway
Wire hangers on stove eyes after honeymoon

Come: A euphemism
Cat calls
White walls
White Stripes
Candy stripers

       Come iambic pentameters
       And eight syllable sonnets



Come anaphora:

How many times can you clean the cataclysm of a night crawler’s

Cold, calloused hand?


How many times did you self-diagnose as a paraplegic?

How many times were your vocal chords just duds locked in your throat?

How many times did you comply before you could defy?

Kirsten Hawkins - IDEA School


I want to look at you with pure eyes
But my eyes are swollen from the last time you laid your hands on me

With eyes that see nothing but the best of you
But all I see is the hatred that you have for me every time you call me names

I want my eyes to sparkle every time I look at you
But all I see is the shadow of your fist

I am Worthy

I want to be so in love with you that nothing will break that
But I don't know how that would happen if you're one that is breaking me down

I want every time you look at me, for your eyes to be filled with happiness
But I’m afraid to look you in the face to see because I don't want to upset you

I want your eyes to light up when you're around me
But all I see is the laziness in your eyes from the cocaine

I am worthy

I want our kisses to be filled with passion
But I want to vomit from the spell of alcohol that I can spell from a mile away

I want the kind of love that is enviable and that can never be broken
But I don't know how many more slap and punches I can take.

I want you to make sure I'm okay and not to just take my word for it
I want you to truly be sorry for your actions

I am worthy

I want you to love me not lust for me

I want the kind of love that is never willing to give up on me
But I feel like you rather kick me down instead of picking me up

I want my eyes to sparkle with joy everytime I look at you
But my eyes are filled with fear instead

I want life to be unbearable without you
But instead like is unbearable with you

I am Worthy

I want the kind of love that betters us
But everytime I try to give my input you accuse me of trying to change you

I want the kind of love that will never cheat
But I feel hopeless when you call me other girl’s name

I want the kind of love that is always willing to be their for me when I need you
But even when you're around I feel so alone

I am Worthy

I want a guy that I can always be myself around
But I’m afraid

I want the kind of love that doesn't hurt in a bad way
But every time you come home from drinking with the boys you're the one that hurts me

I want the kind of love that hurts when we're not around each other
To be honest I feel way safer when you're not around

I am Worthy

I want the kind of love that is easy to communicate with
But slapping me in the face is your way of communication

I want the kind of love that recognizes my worth
But I don’t know how that will happen because you treat me worse than a stranger on the street does

I want every feeling we have for each other to be mutual
But this relationship sometimes feels so one sided

I want the kind of love that yearns to be in each other's presence
But instead I find myself yearning for your love while you're constantly drinking

I want the kind of love that is filled with God
But everytime I try to get you to go to church you curse me out
left and right

I don't want that graveyard kind of love where you will rather kill me than to let me be happy without you

I am Worthy to be purely loved