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  • Writer's pictureLynda LeVan

Excerpts from Manifest Voices

Below are selected poems from the participants in the Manifest Voices poetry workshop for teens this summer. This year we had 7 participants that participated in the poetry showcase on July 29, 2018


by Beth Day

Someday, I’ll learn to write Elizabeth.

Learn to not loathe the sound in my ears,

So many syllables spoken so fast it’s like A tin can thrown down the paved driveway.

I can already paint angel-wings in the form

Of a Z, the ones I sometimes dream I have,

Lifting my blue sneakers off the ground

Until the world is just a circle, but the stars

Are diamonds I can hold in my hand.

I dance with my wings too, barefoot in my room

Pretending to be a gypsy. It’s easy to pretend When you’re alone, harder when you’re surrounded,

Drowning in everyone’s sweat and searing gazes.

They see me and ask if I prefer Elizabeth.

I never prefer Elizabeth.

I prefer the sounds of violins And the smell of the ocean, salty and sticky like caramel.

One day I’ll have to love Elizabeth, but for now I want

Purple and blood red velvet, and the rich smell of

Chocolate in my nose. I want to keep pretending.

fawn & me

by mae buck

i can feel your endearing

tip-tap on my heart, dear

and outside i see the blank corpses you’ve


take it back, your daily cut and


and affording; your own currency

your eyes never saw it. head & heart

break your daisy chain, and your

steel lasso on brain matter, on


on exhaustion. fossilized

civilizations: your body’s diaspora


you could be. you probably aren’t. a tooth under the


set through millions of

avenues, backstreets and


you pierce, lively blade finding lust on doorknobs, another


breathe me next time


by sarah lewis

I know every bone in your body is being smothered

by the Devil’s big, fat, fiery fingertips & you are looking for someone to relieve that pain, but please, God, shut up!

The way your shoulder pops does not make

you anymore interesting & neither does the fresh batch of freckles you received from your six thousandth sun,

the only woman you can bring yourself to trust

& neither does the strength of your calves

nor the irrefutable burn in your back. Any physical feature is a statement that cannot be weighed upon by the heavy blanket

of people’s personal opinions, so wear whatever the hell you want! You are going to be cold.

If I had anything to say, I would want you to listen.

The ghost that has been lingering in your threshold

for sixteen years will hold off until the witching hour,

& maybe you’ll be brave enough to deal with him then. The incessant conversation of static radio chatter has been turned down & I know that you cannot live in the silence for long, but if I had anything to say, I would want you to listen to me.

There is no advice I can give to you because:

Your ears have just celebrated their eighty-first

birthday & they are not doing well for their age.

Spirits of field mice have been scratching at your

door for far too long,

& you have not slept in fifty three days. I know you think everyone is lying to you, & that’s a habit we are never going to break. If I had anything to say, I would want you to make an effort to remember it. Maybe you would cram my words into one of your folders,

or maybe you would cross your face three times & whisper a summary of my words underneath your breath before you fall asleep, to keep the bad things away from you, but “no bad dreams for Sarah,” has done nothing but protect you from closing your eyes

& realizing that everything will not be okay.

If I had anything to say, I would want you to listen.

So please, get some rest & try not to think about it.

Someday I’ll Love Claire Pouncey

By: Claire Pouncey

I’ll love the girl who makes too many mistakes

But learns from them I’ll love the girl who hasn’t had a heartbreak

She’s yet to love a man I’ll love the girl who is sensitive And will sometimes weep I’ll love the girl who is negative Though she tries not to be I’ll love the girl who is caring And will reach out a hand I’ll love the girl who is daring And has nothing planned When I love this girl I’ll have made it To a spot where I can be proud Because this girl never quit Even if allowed She’ll have stood through some storms And lived through some fights But even when she went against the norm

She always did what was right

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