What I learned in High School...


What I learned in high school is...

is the useless knowledge
engrained in my brain
by ridiculous riddles and rhymes:
“The quadratic formula’s negative B
plus or minus the square root
of B squared minus four A C
all over two A.”
Pop goes the freakin’ weasel.

is rules and regulations agreed to
by the box
(“I read, understand, and accept the terms and conditions”)
ignorantly check-marked
the moment I crossed the border
between sanity and school.

is the rubbish chute
running like a highway
ear to ear
straight through my sore and suffering brain,
efficiently delivering, disregarding, and deleting
each date, definition, and debate
spit in my face by
an inherently baleful whiteboard.

is the smoke in my lungs
that chokes me,
brings me to my knees,
turns blood to stone,
then dissipates in a
defeated sigh,
shamelessly fadinginto the tension-riddled atmosphere.

What I learned in high school is
What they are,
what they’re called,
what they do,
where they’re sold;
How to get them,
how to hide them,
how to use them,
how to buy them.

is dress code:
what not to wear,
what to wear;
what makes me a slut
what makes me gay
what makes me ugly
what makes me desperate;
What’s too tight,
what’s too short,
what’s too small,
what’s too offensive.

is self-worth:
I am a student,
an athlete,
a leader,
a volunteer,
a worker,
an activist,
a sister,
a daughter,
a friend,
a fun-loving, hard-working, respectful, attentive, responsible, intelligent, honest goddamn

And I rebel.

What I learned in high school is that
I am not an angry, red number,
permanent and unforgiving,
carelessly scribbled across
a scrap of wrinkled paper.
I am not a GPA or a grade or a score.
My mental and physical health
are no less important than my
highly anticipated,
incessantly demanded
educational success.
I am not a scrappy soldier
trampled by the others.

I am a student.
I am a teenager.
So what did I learn in high school?
A recipe for disaster:
depression, anxiety, and insomnia
mixed with bad decisions
and sprinkled with malignant friends
boiled to melting point—

a juicy,





Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741