What does it mean to stand out?

To be that one person in a mass of thousands,

one step behind while everyone is two steps ahead,

to feel the wrinkles of your shirt ripple against your chest

when you enter the room like the sudden disturbance

of a peaceful stream.

To hear the silence forming around you like an

approaching storm condensing a few feet away,

to taste the fear in your mouth like an

unpleasant aftertaste left lingering through the night,

overpowering and overwhelming you

no matter how hard you try to rinse it out.


You try to bow your head as you shuffle through the aisles,

dodging the crowded couples and staying to the abandoned sides,

afraid to be the one rock that parts the smoothly flowing water,

but you always catch the momentary glance,

the seemingly stone-cold stare of someone in the midst of

something: their eyes accusing and judging your hair, your clothes,

your uneven, unconfident steps, and your careful, faltering breaths.


But what does it mean to be average? To “fit in?”

to be no different from the tired, trudging masses.

One two: every single step in sync, in time

with the steady beat of the everyman’s drum.

Three four: every piece of clothing from the popular fashions,

every hat, scarf, tie, blouse, cufflink, and watch

matching and at the same time catching no glances.

Five six: every handshake, eye contact

indifferent but not unkind, seeing but not seeing

each other’s nameless, identical faces.


What does it mean to be you?

To be one of one, the one and only you of the masses of not yous,

stepping, sliding, and swinging to the pep of your own step,

offtime, offbeat, and offstep,

letting the rain splatter when you splash in every puddle, and

wearing what you want because the only “fashion”

you know is your faded high school fandom club t-shirt

and jeans whose rips, tears, and grass stains tell of wild, summer adventures.


How will you choose to enter a room?





This poem is about: 
My community
Our world


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