This group of poems by young people from San Luis Obispo County marks the last week of National Poetry Month. These poets fully embrace the free verse, or unrhymed, poetry form. They write clearly and directly, approach things head-on and reveal a broad sensibility and a rather astonishing understanding of the real world. They also use individual and unique responses to life — even when they are writing about the same thing, like love, play or loss.
The variety of poems about loss of loved family members is especially poignant. The poets’ emotional expression belies their early years, revealing their inherent depth and strength. Emotion is basic to poetry. If words are the tools, like paintbrushes are the tools of painters, then emotion is the paint of poets. Note the emotional range shown here — from indifference to pain, from resentment to gratitude. These youngsters are already adept at knowing themselves, at posing the questions that life brings up and often never answers.
Our thanks to The Tribune for helping all of us celebrate the art of poetry. Its tradition of publishing poetic works every week during April is one of the delicious benefits of living on the Central Coast. We especially thank Sarah Linn, Tribune entertainment editor, for her efforts to keep the finest of the arts in the forefront of our minds. Thank you, Sarah, from us all.
Marguerite Costigan, San Luis Obispo County poet laureate
An American Soldier
A nation’s culture
resides in the hearts
The souls of its people
Not in its ego and power
Victory of a nation is not won by losses or gain
But through the will
and pride of its soldiers …
the attitude and fight of its people
Dead or Alive
Captured or free
Weak or strong
You are a soldier and
No matter what you do
or who you are
or where you are
You’re never out of the fight.
You’re never defined by
your appearance or your strength
nor your abilities or disabilities
but by your actions and pride
You are …
An American soldier
And you’re never out of the fight …
Luke Stephen Johnson, 14, Pismo Beach
I come from a loud family,
When we’re together it’s like a pack of hyenas,
A family that loves,
A family that brings out the best in me,
Like I don’t have a care in the world,
A family that has its ups and downs,
But always seems to come around,
I’m so happy to have the family that I do have now
Sechelia Valdez, 14, Arroyo Grande
Butterflies in my stomach when starting a soccer game.
Soccer is life.
It makes me throw up happiness.
when scoring a goal is like cameras flashing on you while
Fouls are penalties and freekicks fear goes into you
feeling scared, thinking of missing the shot.
Getting a red card is like being a pig making fouls and
Brayan Salvador Arreola Cisneros, 13, Oceano
I miss my grandma
I wish I had more memories with her
She was a great grandma
Kind, pretty and helpful
She was like a caring mother
That would do anything to help her kids
But she is gone now
Everyone misses her
She was a great person
And her memory will never fade away
It will always be in our hearts
Ameena El Sayed, 13, Grover Beach
My grandma always called me Henry
She always wrote me letters saying
“Hey, Henry how was your month?”
We were so close like peas and carrots
To have what death can touch
Her life lived mine
Her words were gifts
A fearful thing to have, to hope, to dream and to be
To remember this brings painful joy
I read your letters to bring joyful noise
Remembering you with peace in my heart
I will always love you with all my heart
Tucker Inman, 14, Arroyo Grande
His eyes were blue like the sky
He could fly the sky
He could do anything in the sky
He was one of a kind
Who died having a fun time
He would whine and cry
When he wanted food or our time
He was soft like a bear
From the forest of the air
He was depressed
Depressed like the ocean
With no settle movement
For us to care
Jeremy Jerome Watkins, 14, Arroyo Grande
Life is once, it’s never twice
We should love it and never hate it.
Life is like a flower blooming from the ground
Ready to have its life.
We should be happy even when it’s bad
Life will never be perfect but we should make it worth it
Life is like a flower dying
From the ground
After the period of its lifetime.
Maggie Cerda, 13, Oceano
Life is short
History with my grandma was not long enough,
The short time we spend together was the most precious of my life,
During school my mind would count the passing time like a clock,
Impatiently awaited for school to end,
When I would arrive home I anxiously waited in the living room,
When my grandma would come home on her wheelchair, it was the happiest moment of my life,
With one look I could see the wrinkles on her face,
To me her wrinkles were the softest in the universe,
Every morning and night she’d give me a goodnight kiss,
Every kiss was like a spell,
When I go to sleep she is my guardian angel
Rosa Elena Gonzalez, 14, Oceano
It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return.
But what is more painful is to love someone
and never find the courage
to let that person know how you feel.
Maybe god wants us to meet a few wrong people
before meeting the right ones,
so that when we finally meet the right person
we will know how to be grateful for that gift.
The gift of love is like a present on Christmas.
It makes me feel special.
But love is hard to find like a pair of two matching socks.
Love is when you take away the feeling,
the passion and the romance of relationship
and find out you still care for that person.
A sad thing in life
is when you meet someone
who means everything to you
only to find out in the end
that it wasn’t meant to be
and you just have to let go.
Michael Noriega, 14, Grover Beach
Music calms me down, excites me,
trips me out, makes me happy,
makes me feel sad
in a car,
on a walk,
in the shower,
or anything else
I usually have headphones in
as loud as can be
my speakers thumping to the beat
music is powerful, a movement like Martin Luther King
when I work out it pushes me
to parts of myself
I didn’t know were there
music makes me empowered
it can also make me feel weak
Iszaeah Arissol, 14, Oceano
My life is crazy like a roller coaster but not as fun.
And most people wouldn’t understand.
That’s why I must pretend,
Pretend to keep others from feeling guilt or pity
And I do say I don’t mind it because I’m used to it and where I
Come from you shouldn’t expect any better, but
Seeing others with no worries makes me feel even better,
Like it’s a way to get out of my troubles but
Once I found out people and some friends pretend like me
I really started to think
And it did hurt to know others have the same or
Even worse pain than I, pain like a knife
stabbed in the heart
So I changed
Changed to keep them happy, changed to make them smile
And now I changed to keep myself happy.
Gabe Olivas Rosas, 14, Grover Beach
Most people take this for granted,
They actually don’t know how important it is,
Until it’s too late,
As if to losing a beloved family member,
You become unknown of what to do,
Or what you do,
You miss yourself,
Because you didn’t get noticed.
Skyler Brownsilva, 13, Arroyo Grande
Once and Soon
once we were 5,
once we were 10,
soon we will be 20
soon we will be 50
life goes fast. it goes like a roller coaster.
when life goes slow, it’s like a cruise flow.
life is a snap in the face.
once, you were 5.
soon you will be 20.
Madelyn Morrison, 14, Oceano
Reading is one of the best ways to ease your mind.
It helps you relax.
It takes you to a new world.
Every book is like a new adventure.
Each page sparks more curiosity.
Reading helps you in many different ways.
It’s a good way to calm down.
Ever since I started reading it made my vocabulary a million times better.
Shyanna Cash, 14, Oceano
School and videogames
I sit in class, with a stone cold face
Wanting to snooze
I think of my comfy bed
I comfort myself in my desk
I sink in my chair
Like an alligator getting ready to strike
I put my head on my arm
I doze off
dream of a life I wish I had
Life is hard like a game where teachers are villains
You have one shot
You win or lose
I hit a hard object
I snapped my head up leaving my day dream
I look up at my classmates
Laughing at me
Like I was the world’s best actor
Vivian Farias, 13, Oceano
I love the way I feel the graceful heat,
I love the sound of leaves below my feet.
I love the smell of spring flowers,
(they smell oh so sweet),
winter is really cold,
but also really cool,
yet the best thing about the seasons,
is spending time with you.
Talia Ramezani, 9, San Luis Obispo
The Broken Shield
My Aunt was the sun in the rain
She was my light in the dark
My shield, my hope
The kind one, the funny one
She was like a second mother for me
With a puzzling disease
Even when she was broken
She’d fix the broken pieces
But her shield was slowly breaking
And her heart slowing down
Then her shield in a million pieces
Never to be repaired
But my shield is strong
With the pieces of a broken shield
Ashley Walsh, 13, Grover Beach
The forest is a home for the big and the small,
For the strong and the weak,
With the early birds sing
To the sound of Mother Nature voice speaking with the wind.
The forest is like the city
And the animals are like the people
Working hard to make the forest a safe place for their children
People are the same as animals
We want to make the world a better place for our family
Ashley Walsh, 13, Grover Beach
Success is a game
waiting to be played,
Life can neither stop
Throttle through the tough time
Take a hold of victory …
Walk through the flames,
Never give up on your dreams,
Nothing worth anything
comes without a price,
this game is called life …
and it’s waiting to be played
Kyle Allen Barrios Auberry, 14, Grover Beach
(The Wall) was built
It surrounds them from freedom
Closing in it hard to believe
Why does this happen to innocent people
Shoved from the other side of freedom
Tears running down their faces
From people wouldn’t care
Burn their money away on luxury
Should us the people help not hate
Daily lives die just crossing the lava to the other side
Wishing to see water again soon they die
Harsh winds like a tornado blow them away
Their eyes see fire
Their body is like the dead that came to life
I say let them be free
Let them explore
Become one with the land
Juliana Cisneros, 14, Oceano
That little girl who used to be all smiles
is now gone
She left a little early, but slowly trying to
Come back to life
She has two lives to live at once
She isn’t herself anymore
She doesn’t just think about
because now she cares for a
with brown eyes
lots of dark brown hair
dark tan skin
The baby boy is the little girl’s other life
Rebecca Jara, 14, Oceano
Skating is like flying,
Every time you jump
You go flying forward,
Like someone is pushing you,
But your feet are like magnets
They don’t come off the board,
When you are pushed you can
Do cool tricks in the air, and fun
Obstacles to challenge yourself.
Jake Langston, 14, Grover Beach