Thursday, September 25, 2014


This is, in some ways, a hypocritical post. I'm often leery of amateur poetry, especially deeply personal amateur poetry. But for today I'm taking a step down from my high horse and sharing two poems that I wrote, separated by a span of about two years. This is a post about change, about growth, about sorrow and happiness, loneliness and life.
When I was in high school, I experienced a phenomenon I'm sure many people have encountered: selective invisibility. Throughout most of my adolescence I was present but not there, seen but not noticed, in but not a part of. And the worst of it was that my isolation was neither malicious nor even intentional -- I simply went unnoticed.
This is a poem I wrote when I felt this invisibility most keenly.

I am invisible
I cannot be seen
Cannot be heard
Cannot be touched

I am invisible
I am alone in this crowd
Even my friends forget I exist
There are other friends dearer than I

I am invisible
Why do you ask a question,
Then turn away before I answer?

I am invisible
Clearly I matter little
You don't care what I say
You'll never hear what I think

I am invisible
My lips may sing
My mouth may smile
But there are tears in my eyes

I am invisible
I stand on the brink of tears
They glisten, one escapes
No one cares to see it

I am invisible
You see me, speak to me
But only for a moment
Then I am gone, ghost of your perceptions

I am invisible
Can't you even listen for a moment?
Can't you even care for a second?
Don't you want me to answer your question?

I felt this way for three, four years, maybe more. My life almost as far back as I could remember was a gray haze of loneliness.

But then I came to college and suddenly people saw me. When I talked to people they talked back, when I smiled they smiled, when I was upset they noticed. I soon had friends I could talk to like I'd talked to almost no one before, and I could hardly believe my good fortune. I went back and read the poem I'd written what seemed an age ago and decided that a sequel was in order. Call it a reprise, a rebuttal, part two -- it expresses the human I am today, a contrast to the shadow I was yesterday.

I am alive
For the first time,
For a lifetime,
I am alive

I am alive
Joy and sorrow surge
Ebb within my soul
And in their motion set me free

I am alive
Cicada-like I've slept
Concealed beneath the loam
Now I rise and rejoice

I am alive
No longer unheard
No longer untouched
No longer unloved

I am alive
After eighteen years 
After lonely tears

I am alive
And now the world will hear my song.

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