Little Boxes

I find myself looking out over a thousand hollow heads

Sitting like bitter underripe fruit on top of hollow, senseless bodies

Packed and pressed and neatly gift wrapped

Into little hollow boxes

Shipped all over the world and yet all of them reaching nowhere

Squeezed through hallway streams of meaningless

Marionnette silhouettes of purposeless persons.

We are all here.

And we are never truly leaving.


When we were in elementary school

They asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up.

As if we weren’t already something.

As if to be part of their machine we had to become molten

Before we’d even taken a solid shape

They brought us up just to melt us down

To fill their rows of pre-cut molds

Step into their concrete shoes and march single-file into the sea.

Every single one of us drowned.

And now, from the ocean floor, we’re told to swim for the light

That suddenly seems so far beyond our reach.

‘You want to breathe, don’t you?’


None of us point out that we’re only sinking

Because they put us here to begin with.

With lungs full of water and socks full of cement

We let out only strangled wet gurgles

As we furiously tread for the surface.

But we’ll never make it there.

For all our struggle, we’re all just

Endlessly spinning wheels

Carbon-copy cogs in a system we didn’t create

And we can’t use the tools they gave us to get out of it.


They told us ‘all the world’s a stage’

But they didn’t tell us that all this time

We’ve been rehearsing a puppet show on it

Dangling to the beat of their monotonous drum

Jaws winched into fixed wooden smiles

Or sealed shut with silver tape

We’ve been attached to their convoluted strings

Since our umbilicals were cut

There is no escape from this.


‘Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men’


In hollow boxes drifting between

Destinationless turns in an ever-curving road

There is no end to this.


When we were in junior high

They asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up.

They no longer wanted to hear “cowboy” or “princess”

Or in my case...“bird”

‘Come on, be realistic.’

I felt I ought to remind them that, last time I checked

Cowboys and princesses and birds are all real.


They were not amused.

Perhaps their spectacles were ill-equipped

To see the feathers sprouting out of my back

Is it too broad a concept to grasp that I

Could have wings?

They told me ‘just think about it’

I told them ‘I am’

It turns out

You don’t go to school to strengthen your imagination.


You go to school to have it crushed out of you.

To have the marginal coverts

Plucked from your shoulder blades

And the boundless bevel sky

Reduced to a tinted blue square

In a wire-glass window frame

There is no such thing as flying here.

There is rarely such a thing as walking here

And there is no way for me to explain

That there is nothing I can learn

With my mind and body

Sitting in one place.


I’m sure it would pain every one of my teachers to know

But although I have been force-fed knowledge

On the end of a spoon

For twelve consecutive years

I have sat and rotted in desk after desk

And learned nothing

Because there is nothing they can teach me about life

From inside the stucco walls of their little concrete box.



This poem is about: 
My community
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


Need to talk?

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