Valued: A Poem


What of value? —
in their eyes we are worth
what we can do for them.

This is not dystopian:
It’s coming home three minutes
past curfew when angry faces
look more red in the lamp shade.

“You kids got it made”
We are made of you. We are misshapen
clay figures you crush with your work boots.

We are nervous disasters,
self-destructive, sinners, stained,
on the way to hell but taking
different routes.

“What did we do?”
In their eyes we are accidents.
Chalk dust kids who grew up
with the same habits they knew.

We’re punishments, aren’t we?
Punishing ourselves long after
you’ve stopped. But you never
really stop, do you? You’re in
every doubt we carry. Every
burrowed pain plaguing.
Every broken mirror
that makes our shared blood
run down our knuckles
because we can’t look
at ourselves without
seeing some reflection
of you. We’re wrecks.
We’re the aftermath
of your collision.
We’re you.

Published by Jennifer Patino


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