A cumbersome, catatonic existence can burn at my hands
and I'll keep the torch with me, an old friend caught between young palms,
ash and emotion make me stand:
the sensations of being are too great a reward for me to turn down,
even when it means facing tomorrow and the rest of life's overwhelmingly pure pressure.
Walk without arson in my small, trying town.
I breathe in winter air
and it almost sears my lungs like hot-white stars, crisp, clean, colder than my mother's stare
when I told her the first time.
But my friends and I can still laugh at midnight,
clutching those same lungs,
feeling mirth travel down our ribcage in a symphony of glee and pain we wouldn't trade.
We make ungraceful snow angels despite the better sense we don't have; we throw snowballs across the yard even when the neighbors yell. We move to places where no one can find us and no one will tell, and the cigarette smoke won't follow our heels like things we shouldn't know.
The air in New Mexico smells like dust and spices,
a faint aroma of a flower that blooms only once;
the earth is red and remembering and I breathe it in. No trash cans.
My new form of oxygen is closing my eyes and transforming into the land,
my legs are powerful, long, lean -
I can run for the rest of forever, through the desert, if I want to.
I am a strange collection of bones, lungs,
Kiss me beneath the sun, above the fire.
I like the burn of ultraviolet rays,
the burn of ultraviolent stays,
at night when I know I should be home - so what? I'm not done. Drown me. I love to be alive, but I'm not the one. Crown me as the girl who's still getting away.
It is incredible, unnerving, intimidating, awesome in the thirteen forms of wonder I know when I'll meet them all. To be seventeen and crazy is to be here, in your eyes, having suddenly forgotten how to lie.
This structured society profits from my self-doubt, but we are acts of rebellion, in love with ourselves after the lessons we each learned at the river, cold and shivering beneath the stream, reaching around and out. We build from the ground up -
a phoenix generation, having seen no great war but the one inside ourselves,
having finally learned to fight without getting stabbed in the back by our own hands.
Raise me up. Make me stand. I am already there.
We drive at night with the windows down and the music higher than our ears permit,
but our hearts don't care,
hurt is a paltry cost at the wonder of chords and memory. The moon is still fair when life falters at justice's altar. Concerts will be our judge.
Wyatt sings at the place above his vocal chords, drifting too fast around a corner,
and Melany screams and Jonas laughs, the bravery in his movements
as he grabs her waist to steady her and she, almost imperceptibly, leans in.
Kindness amongst us is just another form of courage, for us to wrap our wounds from keen sins, and proceed to offer each other a light.
We are young and we believe in
We can reverse climate change, decrease pollution, prevent the earth's death from the exponential mathematics of population growth - claw our way to hope - we can reform education, mental health, and the prison system, because we will never be caged again.
Purpose is our new god.
The world changes when you begin to impact it instead of absorb it,
and there is no point of return, not for anyone.
Do not look back.
You are not going that way.
Little sisters, lemonade stands, shoelaces, and the coincidental collision of a radio song crashing straight into your cultured heart -
let your morals fight your mind, let your aloneness and togetherness give you sight,
let the world be as grand and magnificent as it already is and has been from the start:
you need only to step forward with your eyes open, into the battle for yourself.
Skateboarding boys and girls in Nirvana t-shirts, art classes and lopsided grins,
throw chalk across the table with yesterday's math homework and the last of the red paint,
dark hair, bruised shins.
We are a team, not quite done fighting ourselves.
One of your teachers will get it. At some point, someone will unlock a door for you despite protocol.
We're still human, still proven to understand when called to be.
The world is inevitable, irreversible, and almost as insatiable as we are - you of little faith, watch us move and watch us hunger. To breathe is awesome, to hold the hand of a heartthrob is awesome, to taste Italian cooking (particularly after a cafeteria lunch) is awesome. We cannot be pulled under.
To play pranks on the teachers, to remember your dreams, sitting beneath the bleachers and feeling the eerie permanence of temporary August
never what it seems
dirty jokes, a slightly insubordinate essay, and combat boots -
all of it is awesome, aerial, addictive, and astounding in the mildly dangerous art of stepping into yourself and living there, out loud. It will take guts to exist as you existed before you met the crowds.
No matter, this is the now, and then comes the awesome after, the spiraling ladder to the world you can have if you reach with both hands.
We believe in the good things coming. We put the pills down, the blades away, and the black-ink pens back into our power. We believe that to be merely alive, as organic matter, is awesome in itself. We just hadn't known it yet, so be brave.
Beneath the stars and above the earth, in army jackets and pullover hoodies, we see our worth:
valid because we exist,
we are awesome
and we know this.