Hickman High School’s Nancy White has built a powerhouse for student poetry. Using the poems of these local students, we challenged our photographers to let the words inspire them and collaborate with the poets to create a visual interpretation. Follow along as our visual journalists and an array of Columbia’s finest poets present — Visions of Verse.
Poem by Grace Gomez-Palacio, Photos by Alexandria Wells
i am what i forgot what i did yesterday i was a memory (wasting away) we were alone and speech doesn’t keep
i think but i don’t and i can’t remember my dreams
i whisper to myself inside my own head i watch time slip away while i download a bed i lie awake sometimes and try not to think
i measure my sorrow by the tea that i drink
soul searching is hard if you’re blind to all souls believing is just how we contemplate (w)holes often i wish i could explain what i mean
i’m far too young to be what i seem
i’ll trade an ego for half the world’s time i’d stop a clock to petition for mine honor and valor are suitably dead
someone yell something or unplug it instead
murmur and shout and riot ‘till dawn city lights hardhat sites (my power’s still on) i wish i read more and i wish i could fly
please stop wondering what it’s like to get high
crush curiosity and scramble the codes let no one find you but let them all hope a sentence (like most things) isn’t sacred or cheap
until it’s preceded by “death” do we weep
patience was abusive, kindness just isn’t there don’t tell me how it’s supposed to be fair i’ll do it in time and i’ll finish if i want
i wanted people to be what they’re not
nobody listened because you didn’t scream a tree falls in a forest but it fell over me a charity case just got closed in court
don’t try to pretend you’re just here for support
love isn’t lust isn’t love isn’t fear
someone define how to compromise cheer asking for sympathy is why it comes with a price revenge is more than a side dish for life
blood may be thicker but water can run whisk me and sift me and bake me well done pull on that suitcase and fill up the plane the inverse of heartbreak is an antonym of pain
In art we learned the proportions of the face
The eyes are halfway down the head
The pupils line up with the corners of the mouth
The edges of the nose line up with the inside of the eye
And the space in between the eyes is the size of another eye.
But when I look at Rosy I see Eyes the size of Jupiter
There’s no way another could fit in between
I see a slight upward slant of the outside corner
Creating a constant look of sweet trickery
I see a long Nose with nostrils flaring way past the pupils into the
I see a Smile that can stretch all the way to her ears just like in a cartoon.
All I can say is my art teacher must have never met Rosy.
You looked across from me
“I don’t see color”.
Who knew Four Words could carry such
w ~ e ~ i ~ g ~ h ~ t
And as you sat there,
smirk plastered across your
“I’m just joking” face
already I could feel
in the count of Eight.
See, what I think
you meant to say
And yet the contrast
of White on Black
Black on White
is not the task
colorblind find so hard to achieve.
See, colorblind is not being blind of color
See, there are three main branches of colorblindness
one results in the elimination of privilege
See, colorblindness is not a choice
See, Seeing is exactly what
you chose not to do.
You took your blue eyes,
made Daggers out of your fear
until all that was left was what you wanted
Stabbed them until blood made a
painting of your face,
Red brush strokes scribing
Falsities into your cheeks,
“Shh, if you act like it doesn’t exist, then maybe it’ll go away”
Stabbed them until
Ignorance became your
Stabbed them because
you preferred seeing
rather than seeing
You’d rather throw away your Cracked Compass,
too scared to
cross the ocean it takes to acknowledge
we don’t all come from the same place
Now too blind to
recognize ain’t nobody
got the same origin
got the same story
Too blind to understand
come from all around the world
You got your back
turned to that ocean
Feet scrapin’ over that
You burn every atlas you see.
Years of my life spent eating fruit
That provided me no nutrition.
Just pretty flesh with a foul core
Running down my throat with a hard swallow.
It is nothing new, fed to the open mouths of our children.
Molding the mess of feeble minds,
Equipped with bright colors to mask the decay.
Lies masked in glucose,
Telling me how fabric too close
To skin makes my ambitions loose.
My mouth rots at the fruit being fed to me,
My teeth grind,
Senseless words beat between cavities,
Words covered in coveted familiarity,
Fed through spoken word
And the Puritan spoon of generations.
The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree,
The same syllables lilting off the same tongues,
Telling me what will keep me pristine,
Keep me pure,
Keep me marching to a structure built by shame,
A tree fertilized by stigma.
Commanding marches, compacting the dirt,
Seizing the soil they cross.
My mouth rots at the fruit being fed to me,
Senseless words beat between cavities.
Senseless words spewing lies that the state
Of my thighs testify to the state of my moral compass.
I take a bite and the juice dribbles
Down my stained chin.
Imprinting itself in my memory and my instinct,
Linking itself to my neurons…
I can’t think without the echoing message of what will keep my pristine,
The vine bears a playbook of what a good girl should be,
Covered thighs and bare face,
Yes they want a natural girl
Hidden decolletage and a clean mouth,
A glued together modge-podge of what is ladylike.
But this is for girls who stomachs churn
At hidden lies
For the girls who spit at rotten fruit,
Who stomp on putrid berries,
Mash the flesh of wretched harvest,
Our mouths rot at the fruit being fed to us,
Our teeth grind,
Senseless words beat between cavities,
spit out the seeds before they sprout in me
She is a city-hick chick raised on the ashes of reality-split
Charcoal limbs sided by downtown traffic
Her moral conflict and divergent existence
Blazing trails like those found on her hips
Or flame-kissed thighs and seared spine.
She is a cane plantation under a sun in Cuba
The ripe bananas under the leaves in Honduras
The snow veil over the mountains in Argentina
A maiden’s embroidered dress in Bolivia
She is spreading her locks from sea to sea, piercing the soft silt
Absorbing only the finest of prophecies in hopes it could feed lost memories
She is from around the world, the gypsy spirit runs in her veins. Never staying in one spot.
She fits in everywhere, but you gotta be careful. She can push you away quicker than you can blink. And she can pull you in any direction she wants.
She’s the resonating peal that sparks off your lips when
you preach of adventurous thrift or hipster habit
Or a flame-family extending beyond the borders of propensity
Her sisters, they combust across fire-lines and alternate realities
Rebirthing the soil they scorch so tenderly
Skin made of leather, withstanding any weather
The spine of the planet is her mountain range
Factory smoke counting down the days
Tilting graves on forgotten surnames
The sun that is born and the day that dies
Pollution of the favela poison her leaves
As they shrivel and wilt with each act of selfishness
she creates beauty in the most simplistic organisms
She is the sustenance of life.
We touch the hearts of everyone around us. We allow others to take a breath to calm down. We can rush through places, causing a tornado of pain. Or we can be like the gentle breathing of the night.
We are the embodiment of her creation
We are the monarch flying freely against the breeze knowing of our admirers. Gazing in awe as we dance with each gust of affection.
They dream of the day they are in favor of our sweet butterfly kiss upon their finger. Delicate and savory.
We are what is left
The slanting cliffs where fruits cascade down into your expecting mouths.
The field workers hands, tanned and scarred.
Eyes seeped in broken feathers, lips drenched in holy water
A political discourse without a cause.
We are her lungs with which she breathes
We are the coal-fueled rage that slays misogyny-made kingdoms
The patroness of freedom free from hellish demons
We are candle that refuses to extinguish, surviving your feeble attempts to choke and seize us
Don’t you know, Inferno Queens devour Kings for breakfast.
Nature is a Woman and her children are a force to be reckoned with.
Poetry by Grace Gomez-Palacio, Naomi Garson, Aubrey Atkins, Sophia Domenico, Amy Lemuz-Guerra and Aubrey Atkins.
Poetry selection by Nancy White.
Photography and Videography by Alexandria Wells, Claire Hassler, Yanchen Liu, Emmalee Reed and Lia Waldrum.
Visuals edited by Jacob Moscovitch and Bailey Valadez.
Project produced by Jacob Moscovitch, Bailey Valadez, Jessi Dodge and Brian Kratzer.