Twelve Words

‘You can be anything you want to be.’

‘You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.’

Growing up being told these things fostered a love for learning and adventure.

The world was mine and infinite things were possible.


At nine years old I was asked to research the job I wanted when I grew up.

As words and emotions fell from my head and to the paper in front of me

I knew that I wanted to be a poet.

But when I couldn’t find the salary information or employment rate online

I was told something that I had never been told before:

“You can’t be a poet. What if people don’t like your work?”

Twelve words and my dreams crumbled before me.


My love for poems slowly dwindled and I focused on more ‘realistic’ goals

Falling back into the shell that poetry had broken,

I stopped sharing my work and ultimately stopped writing.

Twelve words from a guidance counselor and my passions were broken.


Every year, poetry month would come around

And the little girl who volunteered to read her poems in front of the class

Would peek out from behind the curtain.

But I never let her out.


I didn’t find my voice again until sophomore year of high school

When the speech and debate coach said

“I want you to do poetry reading next year for Speech Team.”

Twelve words and a world opened at my feet.


Although I wasn’t allowed to write the poems I performed,

Speaking meaningful words aloud made me feel infinitely powerful again.

I memorized the flow of the words

And before I knew it

I was writing again.


Writing and reading

And watching and learning,

Poetry opened doors that I never knew were closed.

Twelve words and “you can’t” became a District Championship.

Twelve words and “what if people don’t like your work” became a standing ovation for a poem I wrote.


Words are powerful.

Poetry is beautiful.

And you?

You can do anything.


This poem is about: 


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