The voices in this collection have so much to question, so much to grieve. They have so much to celebrate, so much to rage against. They’re ready to speak up and begin the conversation — with you and with the world. More than thirty uncensored poems are accompanied by Nina Nickles’s masterful photographs, which sensitively capture the moods and essence of adolescence. Here, painted in the words of teenage girls, is a portrait of their dreams and desires - a record of hope, disillusionment, anger, joy, sadness, and most of all, strength.
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Do you know my secret,
Did I tell you it last night,
Were you listening to my dreams,
Were you hiding out of sight?
Do you look to find my secret,
Reading letters, reading notes,
Picking up sometimes on phone calls,
Opening books to see what I wrote?
Do you really want to know my secret,
Will it answer all your questions,
Take away your mass of worries?
Or maybe, you could ask for my suggestions.
Do you ever think to ask me about my secret,
Being honest and forthright,
With no lies or hidden feelings?
Only then will my secret come to light.
Jessica L. McCloskey, age 16
I look inside me and I don’t see it
I don’t see the power
The confidence you say I have
You say I can do anything
That I’m sure of myself and my intentions
And I wonder
But I don’t know
If it’s all there
Waiting for the opportunity to jump into you
And try to help you
Why? Because I don’t know
I wait anxiously
Feeling my stomach
A block of ice
Chipping away, melting,
then freezing up again
Who can I follow?
Cuz I don’t want to lead
I ask myself every question
There are temporary answers
But I know more
Like everybody seems to know more
And I still don’t know how
Cuz it’s nice to ignore confrontation
Watch my rainbow
And let you watch yours
But the universe knows more
I must take this test just like everyone
I am closing in on the sky
Hoping it will try to escape
And I know I will let it get away
Like I let a lot of things get away
Cuz then I won’t have to continue the search
For my power
Theresa Hossfeld, age 16
Today I gave up a promising career of "truth."
Profound state of love stepped in like a puzzle piece.
Completing, no, not the Empire State Building,
not Mt. Rushmore or van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
Completing instead my departure from "honesty."
Can I find a balance between me and the box I call my family?
I want equilibrium.
I want subtle change.
I want to tell the Truth,
not the truth of the woman who snapped on a collar and named me alive.
I found myself a place to be, to play a day went by or maybe two no thoughts of you to crowd my empty mind
I find my body is to me as lovely as a budding tree a cat with grace and emerald eyes so unconcerned with shapely thighs just me
Invisibly a girl inside this shape a woman’s hips and breasts so much wider, softer than the rest
I found myself a crystal blue like nymphs or faeries do
I never thought of you or what you’d think of me
I found my body was a mass of ground the earth inside of me behind my vinyl walls of picture perfection
I was the earth, the sky it made me want to cry to shout the softness
I have never dared let out my curves, my hair a part of who I was a blonde in a clear glass pond myself a flow of nature alone finding joy
Marissa Korbel, age 16
Words fly across the paper like blackbirds across the sky and I think to myself why oh why oh why why why,
Why would anyone use words like
I hate and
I can’t and
I quit therefore I won’t and
Why not take that beautiful skill and use words like
I love and
I can and
I will or at least I’ll try and
Hello . . . hello,
because I believe in word conservation and if you’re going to use a word at all it should be one that glides off of your tongue
I know I am strong both in my convictions and in myself.
I know I am beautiful both inside and out.
I know I am powerful and growing more so.
I know I will do just fine.
Laura Veuve, age 15
Things I Have to Tell You. Copyright (c) 2001 Betsy Franco. Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA