if i could write a book on all the things that i’ve seen go sour in the center of my high school

you’d get papercuts from trying to turn all the pages

my voice would become hoarse from trying to read the words aloud

you would tell me to come back tomorrow because i’d be wasting your time

if a high school student slips under the surface and they still have all a’s, do they make a sound?


if i could write a book on all the students i’ve seen go sour in the basement classrooms of my high school

i wouldn’t say names

i’d say situations

pregnant homeless depressed destroyed out on the streets no good raped alone spends the evenings counting the cuts on his wrist

hopeless fading no friends no money no future was college bound but burned her own bridges desperate lonely addicted to the things about himself he can no longer control

more often than not you can tell which hand a person writes with by reading their scars

not to say they don’t try

but more often than not their slope is more slippery than anyone can understand their lives are not graded by letters on a computer screen but by how grateful they are to be alive in the morning


if i told all this to my teachers

they would understand

in their own way, nodding their heads as if to say they’ve seen it all

and maybe they have, but this fire that’s burning at the heels of these kids that crowd like sheep in the hallways seems alien

i’ve seen more self-destructive faces than in a prison documentary on the way to first period i’ve seen hell in the smile of a friend i’ve seen that fire burning slowly up my hands

if i told all this to my teachers

they would understand

but there are things you cannot say to make them see the whole picture they are trained to see over the heads of those that fall in favor of the ones who can make it out

if a high school student screams in the middle of a hallway, do they make a sound?


i have been filling out scholarship applications

i am asked to define myself by the numbers that report back my self worth

grade point average social security family income sat act scores class rank class size they ask you who you are but “1-9 characters only” please try again

i am worth more than these numbers on a 4.0 scale i am more than the 9 digits of my social security i am not 1-9 or a-z i am 100 percent h-u-m-a-n

my access to my future shouldn’t be a safe where i am the dial wasting my time trying to find the right combinations

my eligibility to become something shouldn’t come after a “3-point”


if i could write a book on how many times my anxieties have been invalidated in my high school

it would not be in words that i would show how i was affected

but in blank pages


five classes and five different workloads five universities in question and 500 scholarships so i can make 5000 to go to a school whose tuition is more than the sum of all these numbers

friendships failing confidence flatlining and uncertainty and terror renaming me atlas, i hope you’ll understand why sometimes i can only say that “it’s hard”

and i just want you to know, even though sometimes i feel like i’m lost in the dry-erase stains on the whiteboard, that i am trying

that even though i do make a sound it’s only too easy for me to fall silent

we are all trying

we are all scared and confused afraid of slipping through the cracks fighting home lives that shrivel and relationships that combust

our demons come knocking and sometimes it’s hard to remember to tell them no

so it becomes your job to remember that our lives and high school are not direct bloodstreams

you can make the separation clean or we’re going to do it ourselves and believe me, it will get messy

we are more than the crumpled up math homework at the bottom of our backpack and the college essay we turned in 2 hours too late, we are not a summation of a presentation that didn’t match your opinion

we are trying


if i could write a book, the first line would be that there are 26 letters in the alphabet and A, B, C, and F don’t spell a fucking thing




I pretty much almost broke down crying at this, it speaks to me on an motional level. Thank you for spouting what everyone else is afraid of saying!1


This raw emotion is so easily relatable.  Wonderful piece.

Queen Susan

This is incredible. You've taken thoughts I know we all have and expressed them in a way that is passionately accurate. Congrats on winning!


i'm not going to say Good Job, or Congrats. I am currently sitting in an Aid class, wondering how I'm going to make it throught till i graduate (a whole year and semester away) while scrolling through Power Poetry. I'd seen your name pop up in a couple of things on here, but finally decided to read it our of curiosity.


                And to you I say: thank you.


Hi everyone,

The amount of support and wonderful, kind, inspiring comments that have been left in the past few months are really mindblowing! I never thought my words would have such a profound impact on so many people. 

I just want to say THANK YOU for all this support, and beyond that, letting me know that my voice is not one that screams alone, but one that choruses together with thousands of people just like me. To everyone who has felt like they can't make it through high school, that they aren't good enough, or that success is not attainable: you can make it through, you are good enough, and every success available to you is yours for the taking! Never doubt yourself, because you have what it takes to overcome anything thrown at you. High school is temporary; you are going to go so far beyond it, and remember that your self worth is not defined by any high school grades, teachers, or assignments.

Thank you for your kind words, and thank you so much for showing me that so many people can find solace and camaraderie in a spoken word poem. You are all amazing and I'm so grateful. 

~Sierra Lindsay


This is literally genius! You're watching out for us high school students


Flawless, so incredible. This sums up my feelings regarding high school in a simplistic, realistic, relatable way and I am so impressed and proud that you won the award. You, without a doubt, deserve it. 


"if a high school student screams in the middle of the hallway do they make a sound."

Wow. Just wow. I love that.




This is an amazing poem! I loved it!! Congrats on winning the scholarship!!


Amazing poem! That last line killed it!

Kitty Cat Sarah

Really good poem! I especially love the last lines


Beautiful poem, it spoke a lot of truth, Congratulations! You earned that!


Beautiful poem, it spoke a lot of truth, Congratulations! You earned that!


You understand...


Captured beautifully!


I teared up by the end.


All i could say to this was "Geeeeet eeeemmm!" So true! We are trying!!!


that last line hit me so hard. oh my god. you tell em


This was amazing. Dropped the mic after this one ;)


You brought tears to my eyes, it was so emotional and so real. No one has been able to descride it like you did but thank you for saying what needs to be said.


Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing... http://upcccam.org


LOVE IT. Great piece, such color. The text and sound was brilliant. Congrads on the win. 


I read this poem, and about halfway through I had to stop and reread it aloud to myself, because the emotions coming through are just to strong to be read in my head. Keep up the writing, and I hope one day you do publish a book beginning with that first line.


This was amazing..... like FrFr


This was amazing..... like FrFr


All I can say is thank you.


This is great and totally accurate. You totally deserved that scholarship. 


This made me speechless for a good five minutes. But now that I've found my voice again, BRAVO! I absolutely love this. It is 100% perfect in my opinion. Extremely creative. I hope to be able to write as well as you one day. You seriously are incredibly talented. You may take you bow! 



This was so unbelievably awesome! I great job!


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