Punk Kids

Senior Year

17 and 18 year old punk kids

Who used to be prodigies, geniuses, beyond their years

We were told we were so smart

When A+ math tests were immortalized on fridge doors with magnets

We got dollars and quarters for every A on our report cards

 

But now it’s senior year

I’m practically an adult now

A’s are expected

Intelligence is expected

But when intelligence is spoken

When I speak of the things I know

Beyond my notes

Beyond the math test

Beyond my books

When I cite the words of witnesses

When I watch the world burn

From the ground up

Up from the unanswered questions

Up from the kids bruised by classmates

From the insults to the wars

From the receiving end of the world that’s been set up for us

I’m only a child

I need to put my nose back into what you tell me

You tell me I need to pay more attention

You tell me I’m growing up and I need to learn more

But social skills and world news won’t give me points on our test scores

While my intelligence is measured from A to F

 

It’s senior year

Now the world that’s been set up for us punk kids is shaking from the roots

Crumbling

Mike Brown in Ferguson

The fall of democracy in Hong Kong

43 missing students in Mexico

The suicide of Leelah Alcorn

The shooting on Chapel Hill

Genocide, war, rape, abuse

Racism, sexism, homophobia

Hatred

Not to mention our money is being stolen from our pockets

It costs as much to get the higher education you say we need to live

As is does to buy an island off the coast of Maine

 

It’s senior year

I learned from countless essays

How to do research

I grabbed facts from a plethora of websites

And they were all deemed trustworthy by English teachers

Though I was always told to stay away from Wikipedia

Now when I show you why the punk kids are screaming

I showed you live streams and videos of what is happening

You told me I can’t trust what I see on the internet and told me to read a Wikipedia article

You told me to watch the news more

And you silenced the words of witnesses

But guess what

MLA and APA formal research formats

Now have citation for Twitter posts

 

The punk kids are burning their vocal chords

We’re crying for change

We’re marching for a world that we can live in

We’re screaming for simple safety

You can’t grant us our lives

You don’t give us our rights

That’s why they’re called rights

You’re not letting us have them

Our freedom of speech

Is met with riot gear

Our right of assembly and peaceful protest

Is met with tear gas and rubber bullets

You’ve silenced enough of us

You’ve told us we don’t understand

 

It’s senior year

My friends are joining the army

My friends are stepping into the world now

My friends will guard the country you praise

The punk kids will protect the stars-and-stripes flag

That you respect more than the kids sitting under it

We’re turning in the papers that will pave the road

That we’ve been leveling since we were children

But as children, we never noticed the rocks left behind

By the past generation’s tangled highways

We’ll run the stores and serve your coffee

We’ll fill the schools and streets

We’ll fill our minds and hearts with resentment

For the world you left us with

The world we’re trying to change

Together

 

But first, for now, we’re finishing senior year

We’re doing our research

And asking you now

When will our words matter?

When do we stop being punk kids?

Soon, I’ll finally be an adult

But, of course, right now I’m only 17

I don’t know anything about the world

This poem is about: 
My community
My country
Our world

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