Poetry From the Mouths of Babes

“Poetry consists of words and phrases and sentences that emerge like something coming out of water. They emerge before us, and they call up something in us. But then they turn us back into our own silence. And that’s why reading poetry, reading it alone silently takes us someplace where we can’t get ordinarily. Poetry opens us to this otherness that exists within us. Don’t you think? You read a poem and you say, “Ah.” And then you listen to what it brings out inside of you. And what it is, is not words; it’s silence.” Marilyn Nelson in a recent OnBeing podcast.

During this particular time in my life as an American citizen, my heart delights and finds rest in poetry. From the Psalms to the words of African American poets to those of children, poetry reaches something deep down inside my soul. On a recent stressful day, I filled up my bathtub, sprinkled in baking soda, Epsom salt, and essential oils, and I just floated. I moved my limbs through the steamy liquid, and it pulled the worries and anxiety right out of my rigid body. That is sometimes how it feels when I listen to or read poetry. Other times, my heart is touched, and I am propelled to ponder the deeper, more complicated sides of life. And sometimes I am moved to action.

About a week ago, I showed up at a downtown park to hear my seventh grade daughter, along with her fellow classmates, read or recite “change makers” poems that they had written. It was a gorgeous, blue skied, North Carolina day. I was both inspired and comforted. Our American future looks bright. These kids are thoughtful, passionate, and full of grace. They will work for justice.

In my daughter’s poem, there is one section that makes me squirm a bit. I am not a savior, though I have tried to be one at times. I have MUCH MORE to say about that matter in my upcoming book – Adopting Grace: A Parenting Journey Out of Legalism. Stay tuned…

Taking a cue from Marilyn Nelson, I will share a few of the poems that I took in as I stood in a downtown square.  I will end this blog without commentary. I hope that you are then, “turned back into your own silence.” Enjoy.



By Barrett D.

(edited by me. Barrett had a lot to say!)


I walk into a store

And turn my head to the right

I see the boys section

Blue, black, and red

I turn my head to the left

I see the girls section

Pink, sparkles, and ruffles


I ask why?


A few terrorists make a mistake

All of sudden

The whole race is bad


I ask why?


I turn on the TV

Sports is on

It’s always boys playing

And girls are the cheerleaders


I ask why?


Growing up in a world of lies

Everybody says the world is perfect

But it’s not

I discovered that this world is far from perfect


So I ask why?


You say people who love

the same gender as they are,

aren’t equal

That you can only love the opposite gender

You say they're not right


I ask why?


We are all humans

We need to accept people for who they are

And not for what they could be


So live life on the edge

Gain momentum as you go along

Don’t let the opposing force of others

Bring you down

And definitely,

don’t let others push you around


I’d ask why again but

I’ve asked so much already

So instead, i’ll say

My  motto


There will be a day

When there’s no more tears

no more pain

No more fears


There will be a day

When the presence of this world

Will be made new

Will be made great


And there will be a day

When people will change

When people accept

And people will forgive


There will be a day

When you will know my name



Hidden Children

By Hannah W.


In a room that slowly pulls away faith

When you walk in

a glimmer of hope emerges in their face

Through their eyes you can read everything like a book

They wait for the first page of hope to be written

They have so many torn pages behind them

that the true story becomes unclear

Blackouts on almost every page


When they talk

they hold out fresh pages waiting to see what you write

They give you something special and

one wrong move will upset the balance

To them they are forced into a box

blocked from their own voice


I should know

I was in an orphanage at a young age

Trying to balance not being loved

With not being heard


My book tells a story

Ripped pages behind but clean ones before me

What changed?

I found a home

And parents that love me


400,000 children across the US without homes

Find your own voice

Help one person so that they can help themselves

and then maybe one more

Start a ripple of new beginnings in a polluted ocean

You can’t erase the pages you wrote

but you can choose what gets written next

make a change



Unbalanced, Unfair

By Parker F.


This is how it is

Our friends and family afraid

Afraid of coming out

More afraid of themselves

Than being bullied and teased

Afraid of being put under at the dentist

In fear they’ll say something to give it away


This is how it is

Vanilla so much more valued than chocolate

Chocolate fighting to stay on the menu

Just because of the food coloring

Dark chocolate beat and neglected

Vanilla praised and living the life

Just by default


This is how it is

Our mothers and fathers. Same job

Daddy’s balance rising faster

Mommy with a fifth less

Ratio: 80 to 100

Still no women president

Ratio: 0 to 45


This is how it is

Islam, a bad thing

Muslims rightfully fearful

Scared of being a victim of a hate crime

Government officials can’t get back home

Refugees fleeing war can’t get a new start

Stuck in a select few countries


This is how it is

Pulse Nightclub, Orlando

Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X

Women get $0.80 for a man’s $1.00

Yaseen, Hanna, Sulaiman, Rayann

This is how it is

Forces pushing and pullingf

Unbalanced, unfair


We can change how it is

You know it

You’ve seen it

You can change it

Spread awareness, don’t remain silent

Make our world balanced, fair