Ciaran Carson, 1948
I fear the vast dimensions of eternity.
I fear the gap between the platform and the train.
I fear the onset of a murderous campaign.
I fear the palpitations caused by too much tea.
I fear the drawn pistol of a rapparee.
I fear the books will not survive the acid rain.
I fear the ruler and the blackboard and the cane.
I fear the Jabberwock, whatever it might be.
I fear the bad decisions of a referee.
I fear the only recourse is to plead insane.
I fear the implications of a lawyer’s fee.
I fear the gremlins that have colonized my brain.
I fear to read the small print of the guarantee.
And what else do I fear? Let me begin again.
Deaziare Grant, 2006
Growing up can be hard.
Growing up means
you have to sacrifice a lot of things in life.
Growing up is not easy.
Growing up means
more trouble and more consequences.
Growing up can mean more.
People can be trusted a little more.
Growing up is just a part of life.
Growing up means more responsibility.
Growing up is not going to be easy.
Growing up gets harder and harder.
Growing up is just another word in the ghetto.
Growing up to me is
like being someone you don’t want to be.
But yet, growing up, believe it or not, is the best part of me!
Julio Noboa Polanco
Let them be as flowers,
always watered, fed, guarded, admired,
but harnessed to a pot of dirt.
I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed,
clinging on cliffs, like an eagle
wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.
To have broken through the surface of stone,
to live, to feel exposed to the madness
of the vast, eternal sky.
To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea,
carrying my soul, my seed,
beyond the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.
I'd rather be unseen, and if
then shunned by everyone,
than to be a pleasant-smelling flower,
growing in clusters in the fertile valley,
where they're praised, handled, and plucked
by greedy, human hands.
I'd rather smell of musty, green stench
than of sweet, fragrant lilac.
If I could stand alone, strong and free,
I'd rather be a tall, ugly weed.
Bilingual poet Julia Noboa Polanco was an eighth-grader when he wrote “Identity.” Of “Identity”, the poet says, "The whole poem is essentially a search for my individuality-finding myself as a person, as opposed to being one in the crowd."
The Rose That Grew From Concrete
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.
Rites of Passage
Many aboriginal tribes of Australia send their young men into the wilderness for up to 6 months to test whether they are ready to become men. The boys must survive, unassisted, and keep themselves totally isolated. When they return after 6 months they will be considered men of the tribe.
Bullet Ant Glove
Deep in the jungles of the Brazilian Amazon live the Satere-Mawe tribe. Young boys from this tribe have to wear gloves made of bullet ants with inward pointing stingers as they dance for 10 minutes without flinching. Unfortunately for the boys, the bullet ants have the most painful sting of any insect. It causes paralysis and throbbing pain for up to 24 hours.
Mandan Okipa Ceremony
In order for a Mandan boy to become a warrior he had to fast for 4 days without sleeping. On the 5th day the boys were taken into a hut where wooden skewers were forced through their chests and they were hung from the ceiling. They had to smile through the whole, agonizing process, until they finally passed out. Oh, but we’re not done. Immediately after the boys wake up they cut off their little fingers as an offering to the spirits and are welcomed into manhood.
Fulani Facial Tattoos
Woman of the Fula people in West Africa must have their faces tattooed before they are considered adults. The process takes several hours and is usually done with a sharpened piece of wood. Similar to a Fula boy’s whipping match (#13) if the girl cries or grimaces she is believed to be too young, and must wait to finish her tattoos and marry.
Mentawai Teeth Sharpening
To the natives of the Mentawai Islands beauty is extremely important because if a person’s soul becomes dissatisfied with the appearance of its body, they believe the person will die. In order to beautify themselves, young female Mentawaians sharpen their teeth with a rock and chisel, and file them down to points.
Naghol (Land Diving)
Conceptually similar to bungee jumping, land diving is done with vines instead of elastic chords and the objective is to come as close to death as possible. Performed by the Vanuatu people, the jumper’s goal is to brush his head on the ground. If he survives, he’s a man. A very, very lucky man.