sometimes being drug free

This is probably my favorite poem of all time. Please read it, you won't regret it.

When I was a kid,

I used to think pork chops and karate chops were the same thing.

I thought they were both pork chops.

And because my grandma thought it was cute,

And because they were my favorite,

She let me keep doing it.

Not really a big deal.

One day,

Before I realized fat kids are not designed to climb trees

I fell out of a tree

And bruised the right side of my body

I didn’t wanna tell my grandmother about it,

Because I was scared I’d get in trouble for playing somewhere I shouldn’t have been.

A few days later the gym teacher noticed the bruise

And I got sent to the principal’s office.

From there I was sent to a small room with a really nice lady

Who asked me all kinds of questions about my life at home.

I saw no reason to lie

As far as I was concerned life was pretty good.

I told her,

“Whenever I was sad my grandmother gives me karate chops.”

This led to a full-scale investigation,

And I was removed from the house for three days,

Until they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises.

News of this silly little story quickly spread through the school

And I earned my first nickname,

Pork Chop.

To this day…

I hate pork chops.

I’m not the only kid who grew up this way.

Surrounded by people who used to say that rhyme…

About sticks and stones.

As if broken bones hurt more than the names we got called,

And we got called them all.

So we grew up believing no one would ever fall in love with us.

That we’d be lonely


That we’d never meet someone to make us feel like the sun was something they built for us in their tool shed.

So broken heartstrings bled the blues

As we tried to empty ourselves

So we would feel nothing.

Don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone.

That an ingrown life

Is something surgeons can cut away

That there’s no way for it to metastasize—

It does.

She was eight years old…

Our first day of grade three

When she got called


We both got moved to the back of class

 So we would stop getting bombarded by spitballs.

The school halls were a battleground

And we found ourselves outnumbered

Day after wretched day.

We used to stay inside for recess,

Because outside was worse.

Outside we’d have to rehearse running away,

Or learn to stay still like statues,

Giving no clues that we were there.

In grade five…

They taped a sign to the front of her desk that read

“Beware of Dog.”

To this day,

Despite a loving husband,

She doesn’t think she’s beautiful

Because of a birthmark that takes up a little less than half her face.

Kids used to say

She looks like a wrong answer that someone tried to erase

But couldn’t quite get the job done.

And they’ll never understand

That she’s raising two kids

Whose definition of beauty

Begins with the word “Mom.”

Because they see her heart

Before they see her skin.

Because she’s only ever always been



Was a broken branch grafted onto a different family tree.


Not because his parents opted for a different destiny.

He was three before he became a mixed drink of

One part left alone

And two parts tragedy.

Started therapy in eighth grade.

Had a personality made up of

Tests and pills.

Lived like the uphills were mountains

And the downhills were cliffs.

Four fifths suicidal,

A tidal wave of anti-depressants,

And an adolescence of being called “Popper.”

One part because of the pills,

And ninety-nine parts because of the cruelty.

He tried to kill himself in grade ten

When a kid,

Who cold still go home to Mom and Dad,

Had the audacity to tell him

“Get over it.”

As if depression is something that can be remedied,

By any of the contents found in a first aid kit.

To this day,

He is a stick of TNT lit from both ends,

Could describe to you,

In detail,

The way the sky bends,

In the moments before it’s about to fall.

And despite an army of friends,

Who all call him an inspiration,

He remains a conversation piece between people who can’t understand,

Sometimes being drug free

Has less to do with addiction

And more to do with sanity.

We weren’t the only kids who grew up this way.

To this day,

Kids are still being called names.

The classics were

“Hey Stupid.”

“Hey Spaz.”

Seems like every school has an arsenal of names,

Getting updated every year.

And if a kids breaks in a school,

And no one around chooses to hear

Do they make a sound?

Are they just background noise

Of a soundtrack stuck on repeat,

When people say things like

“Kids can be cruel”?

Every school was a big top circus tent,

And the pecking order went from

Acrobats to lion tamers,

From clowns to carnies.

All of these were miles ahead of who we were.

We were freaks.

Lobster claw boys and bearded ladies,


Juggling depression and loneliness,

Playing solitaire,

Spin the bottle

Trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves,

And heal.

But at night,

While the others slept,

We kept walking the tightrope.

It was practice,

And yeah,

Some of us fell.

But I wanna tell them that

All of this—

Is just debris,

Leftover when we finally decided to smash all the things we thought we used to be.

And if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself,

Get a better mirror.

Look a little closer.

Stare a little longer.

Because there’s something inside you that made you keep trying

Despite everyone who told you to quit.

You built a cast around your broken heart

And signed it yourself.

You signed it,

“They were wrong.”

Because maybe you didn’t belong to a


Or a clique.

Maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball

Or everything.

Maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth to show and tell

But never told,

Because how can you hold your ground

If everyone wants to bury you beneath it?

You have to believe that

They were wrong

They have to be wrong.

Why else would we still be here?

We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog

Because we see ourselves in them.

We stem from a root planted in the belief

That we are not what we were called.

We are not abandoned cars stalled out

And sitting empty on some highway.

And if in some way we are,

Don’t worry.

We only got to walk out and get gas.

We are graduating members from the class of

“We made it.”

Not the faded echoes of voices crying out

“Names will never hurt me.”

Of course,

They did.

But our lives will only ever always continue to be a balancing act

That has less to do with pain,

And more to do with