Poetry Club: I Am Here, Hear Me

“So what do you do?” is the usual question most of us have when we meet one a new person. My answer is always, “I am a poet and a teacher.” And when I tell them I teach middle school, the deluge of sympathies start to come. However, I always smile and say, “They aren’t as bad as you think.” It’s true because I have been blessed these last six years to teach some of the most amazing middle schoolers. Yes, middle schoolers. I teach those wonderful ages between 12-14. The puberty, adolescent filled ages, and nowadays tik-tok. Crazy enough, I truly adore it. I find them fun, engaging and insightful. They are old enough to understand my sarcastic sense of humor, but polite enough to say, “Thank you, Ms. Resto” when they leave my classroom. Last trimester, I combined my poetry life and my teaching life by advising the first-ever Poetry Club, and to my surprise I had nine dedicated poets (one 6th grader and eight 8th graders) show up every Wednesday afternoon ready to discuss poetics. They sacrificed their Wednesday lunch and sometimes Monday lunch times to provide feedback on each other’s poems that ranged from depression, sea cucumbers, swim lessons and millennials. Their poems were feisty and unapologetically vulnerable. Every Wednesday they taught me something new. They opened up in a way that I hadn’t seen in the classroom. We ran our club like graduate workshops, and at times they were more mature and thoughtful than some of my graduate school classmates. One of the outstanding attributes of the group is that cared about each other’s work and genuinely wanted to help each other make their respective poems clearer and more precise. Our trimester culminated in a Poetry Night (coffeehouse style) where we invited their friends, teachers and family. It was a beautiful, intimate evening where they, including myself, dressed in black (their idea). We borrowed bongos from the music department and committed to the whole Beatnik performance of the evening. We had a hot cocoa station with marshmallows, and parents donated pastries. I had them practice a week prior on the delivery of their poems. And when it was time to share with a full audience, these young poets shined and dazzled. I could not have been more proud of them. I beamed about them to my friends online, and on the drive home I could not stop smiling at the memory of seeing them own their voices and stories. Below is just a snippet of the brilliance of these young scribes.—Luivette Resto, AFLW Poetry Editor

Poetry Club: Here I Am, Hear Me

by Jared

I cover my feelings like a blanket
I walk out with a smile
I go back and cry myself to sleep
The pain is easy to hide for now
It grows
Like a beast from the darkness
I hold the tears back
No one knows how it truly feels
You may be thinking what this is
I call it

Jared is a 6th grader who enjoys poetry, piano and singing. He joined the poetry club because it was a chance to explore his darker and more serious side. Jared likes to be with his friends and is never scared to state his opinion, but he enjoys expressing his feelings through poetry.


Stop Complaining
by Regina

People need to stop the complaints
It is annoying
Please think about those who are less fortunate
living their life to the fullest
They say they don’t have enough
There are people who have almost nothing, but happy
They say their life is sad
There are children who passed away before living
They say no one understands them
They should give people a chance too
They say they’re not good enough
No one is
Be thankful
Stop complaining

Regina is an 8th grader. She likes Black Pink, K-Pop girl groups and debate. She hopes to attend a university in England in the future.


by Obehi

Don’t leave me
Hold my hand
Stay here
Be happy with me
Don’t leave me alone
Don’t isolate me
I will love you forever
If you stay here
Home is here
Happiness is here
I am here
Just stay
For another hour
Another minute
Another second
Stay here

Obehi is an 8th grader. She enjoys going to poetry club at her school and making poems to share with everyone. When Obehi has free time, she likes to play with her older brother, Jaydyn, and spend time with her family.


The Slap
by Gabriella

Anger builds up inside us
And we snap
That person who hurt us
Will get a slap
They should see it coming
If they don’t, who cares,
They get out of hand
Push them down the stairs
If we snap, we slap
It’s called self-defense
Don’t hurt our feelings
And you’ll be fine
This will make sense
In the nick of time
So to be safe
Don’t get out of hand
Cause we snap, we slap
Don’t be mad if my hand touches your face
It’s called self-defense
So stop acting like you own the place


by Joseph

Luck comes from many things
Holding horseshoes
Spotting rainbows
Finding four leaf clovers
But have you ever heard
Of kissing sea cucumbers
It may sound insane
It may seem disgusting
But I promise you
It brings seven years of good luck
Not all at once
Not right away
But over time
I think you’ll find
You’ve had seven years of good luck

Joseph is an 8th grader, and he is a marine biology fanatic. His poem was inspired by his trip to the Catalina Island Sea Camp. That is where he discovered the tradition of kissing sea cucumbers. He also enjoys soccer and being an epic gamer.


by Emily L.

With skin so dry it seems like tree bark
Hair so fried it is best left alone
Body so sore it is difficult to make it downstairs each morning
We are swimmers

Chlorine is our perfume
Food is our best friend
Normal people shop for clothes and shoes
Instead we scroll through websites of swimsuits and equipment
We are swimmers

We do more kicks than a soccer player
More flips than a cheerleader
More sets than a volleyball player
More yards than a football player
We are swimmers

Confined within a schedule that revolves around the pool
Stuck in a never-ending circle of fatigue
Trapped in cold when it is summer
Imprisoned in self-doubt about our own abilities
We are swimmers.

We are here to chase our dreams
We are here to push our limits
Man is made to fear the deep
But us?
We are here to find it

Who are we?
We are swimmers.

Emily is an 8th grader, musician, avid writer and Marvel movies enthusiast. During her downtime, she enjoys creating art on various mediums, playing video games and eating cheesecake. Swimming started out as a pain for her, but now it has slowly evolved into a love-hate relationship-at least that is improvement.


by Margaret

talk so much why don’t you ever listen
shut up, i don’t need your opinion
my life, my decision
living for you’s not my mission
so sorry i don’t fit your expectations
so sorry i make your life inconvenient
just realized i never was obliged to
change my mind to fit your opinions
change my plans to fit your convenience
change my future to fit your vision
change my life to fit your expectations

so don’t tell me who i should be when i grow up
i don’t need your directions—they’re all messed up
i exist i’m alive i can think i believe
not an object or thing that you have achieved
i don’t want your approval don’t care that you’re proud
just need you to be here when these voices get loud

Margaret is an 8th grader, and she enjoys hanging out with friends and sometimes her older sister, listening to all genres of music apart from mumble rap and eating pizzas with pineapples.


by Emily B.

A millennia of ideas to eradicate our addiction to technology,
A millennia of sadness about people dying,
A millennia of thinking about exercising more or making healthier choices,
A millennia of planning to clean drinking water around the world,
A millennia of wanting to stop climate change,
A millennia of not trying hard enough to save refugees,
A millennia of brainstorming unemployment,
A millennia of seeing the disabled being criticized,
A millennia of knowing that being different is ok,
A millennia of tries to cure cancer,
A millennia of thoughts about income gaps,
A millennia of despair of poverty,
Even if it was more than a millennia,
Would never be enough….

Until we act upon it.

Emily is an 8th grader, who can think outside of the box when no one else can, but gets a little emotional sometimes. She loves reading books and in particular loves rereading books like The Chronicles of Narnia, the entire Harry Potter series, the entire Hunger Games series, the entire Percy Jackson series and The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff. She is a skilled archer and piano player and is bilingual.


I am NOT little
by Mirabel

despite what you may think
i am not nine or ten or eleven
even if
people who have known me longer than ive known myself
mistake me for a third grader as i walk by
week after week

but today maybe i want to be little

because little kids don’t know how things work
they don’t worry about what anyone else thinks
little kids soak up sunshine and laugh at monsters
because they can
and to a little kid
that is enough

Mirabel is an 8th grader who enjoys math, spelling, reading and especially debate. She loves to play with words and has technically published nothing in the past, but really wishes she had a published piece to list in her bio.