My Teenage Flirtation with Poetry

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I kept journals. During my senior year in high school and throughout college, and again for two years in my early 30s after my father died, I filled more than 20 blank books with the minute details of my inner and outer lives.

A few months ago, I found them in a box in my basement. After reading a few entries, I quickly realized I wasn’t ready to revisit my past. I closed the box, put it back on the shelf and returned to my daily routine.

As the year progressed, the carton periodically beckoned, daring me to rediscover my younger self. Until the other day, I studiously avoided the temptation. I’m 47 years old. I started the first journal 30 years ago. Would the me of today even recognize the me of 1986? I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

Although I haven’t yet mustered the courage to read the journals cover to cover, I have perused some of them. In the process of gently dipping my toes into the past, I’ve discovered a prolific teenager straddling adulthood who is now, decades later, a stranger to me. The discovery is simultaneously poignant and disconcerting.

Although I’ve spent only a short time with the journals, I’ve already realized that there is a lot I don’t remember about that time in my life. I was unfiltered, passionate and woefully insecure. Is this what an out-of-body experience feels like, I wondered, as I flipped through the pages?

My first discovery? It turns out that I dabbled in poetry when I was a senior in high school. I had no recollection of this pastime. I wrote treacly poems about the life cycle, romantic love, college applications, loneliness, friendship, war and peace, and wanderlust.

My short-lived attempt to join the ranks of Rimbaud, Whitman and Dickinson coincided with my suffering through an unrequited crush on a friend. I hoped against hope that he would come around and admit that he had romantic feelings for me too, but our relationship remained frustratingly platonic.

Despite my disappointment that our friendship never turned into something more, the stress it caused wasn’t entirely for naught – at least it got my creative juices flowing in verse.

I’m slowly working up the nerve to dive deeper into my journals, which I imagine will provide all sorts of writing fodder.  In the meantime, in an effort to encourage all of you to dig up your old poems of teenage angst, I share three of my masterpieces with you.

In the category of a little bitter, are we?:

A time will come
When love, peace and happiness
Will prevail.
There will be no more hatred
or poverty.
The world will unite
into a whole.
And when this happens,
only termites will live to
appreciate it.

In the category of gag me with a spoon:

The beginning of life
The blossom of a flower
An ethereal beauty
The kiss of two lovers
The union of the sky and the sea
The cycle of life
Free, Spontaneous, Surprising
Free, Spontaneous, Surprising
The cycle of life
The parting of the sky and the sea
The separation of star-crossed lovers
An ethereal beauty?
The wilting of a flower
The end of life

In the category of woeful attempt at a Shakespearean sonnet:

Follow me to the waterfall of life,
Where woes flow to the bottom and cascade
Into a spring cleansed of hatred and strife.
Where flowers bloom and the sun does not fade.
My love, we can be content in this place,
Without any worries to interfere
With a romantic kiss or an embrace.
And all that the heart expresses is dear.
Every day is a joyous occasion,
Only wonderful thoughts enter the mind.
Words that are said are all celebrations
Of the friendship and love everyone finds.
Right now this land is only reverie,
But it can be real if you come with me.


Did you write poetry when you were younger? If you’re game, feel free to share one of your old verses in the comments section – they must be safe for work – and I’ll reproduce the poems I receive (with links to your blogs) in a future post!

2 thoughts on “My Teenage Flirtation with Poetry”

  1. I wrote poetry in high school and somewhat after. I dabble from time to time. I still journal. I actually like reading things from the past. It’s a great way to increase your compassion for yourself. 🙂

    Your first poem is so typically youthful and optimistic! I loved it.


    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Daisy. I like your comment: “it’s a great way to increase compassion for yourself.” Reading the old journals definitely puts those younger years into perspective!

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