Three Poems in Imperfect II: Poems about perspective

an anthology for middle schoolers


“Being human means to sometimes lose perspective,” says the back cover of Imperfect II. “We focus on the one negative comment we received instead of the ten positive ones …” I love the idea behind this collection—that poetry can help us put things back in perspective. If you have a young friend or child of your own who might need a perspective assist, consider giving them this collection edited by Tabatha Yeatts as a gift. Here are my three poems included in this collection: “Hello, Fear,” “Derailleur of the Heart” and “I Don’t Know.”

Hello, Fear

There I was, making tea in my kitchen,
when fear hit me like a school bus.
I didn’t need a scientist or therapist
to tell me it hurt.
I screamed: Arghh! I shouted: No!
But after smashing into me,
fear just opened the folding glass door
of the bus, yanked me on,
then plopped me into a green vinyl seat.
I’m scared, I said.
Yeah, fear said. ’Cause I’m scary.
Yeah, I squealed, as the bus careened
through the couch, through
my bedroom, through the splintering
dining room table.
What if I lose everything? I said to fear.
Yeah, said fear, what if you do?
And who will I be when everything changes?
Yeah, said fear, who will you be?
Then he opened the door
and shoved me off the bus
and I was standing again beside
the familiar green counter,
tea cup in hand, not a drop spilled.
Who will you be? he shouted
from the half open window.
I took a deep breath,
not knowing how to respond,
then stepped into my life,
determined to live into the answer.  


Derailleur of the Heart

Because our conversation
feels like riding a bike uphill,
I think of gears. I think
of how easy it is to shift
lower, how a simple flick
of the thumb makes the impossible
possible. Where are the gears
for love? There must be better
ways to use our teeth
than biting words. There must
be a series of notched wheels
in the heart that allow us
to move forward with less force,
some mechanism to make
the chain hop from one sprocket
to another, changing the way
we engage. I want to find that gadget,
those gears, the ones that help us
hear each other, the ones
that help us say what must be said,
the simple tools that allow us
to move forward at all.


I Don’t Know

Today, I notice something green
spearing through the dirt
in the garden, and only
because there are eight such spears
rising in perfect rows do I vaguely remember
last year I planted bulbs there,
but I don’t remember what they are.
How much of the beauty we plant
do we forget?

There is so much in me that grows
because of words you have sown.
I doubt you remember them,
I don’t remember them, either,
only that your words were kind
and now they have taken root.

Who knows what the flowers
will look like? I water them, though,
trust I’ll be delighted when they bloom—
into a garden of beautiful I don’t know.