By Cassidy Martin

2016 Nashville Youth Poet Laureate

We Aren’t Lost

Our parents can remember whole maps, but I am lost—

a modern day Columbus trying to find China.

I don’t want to drift into a path already made. I want

to find somewhere else, where I won’t push out the natives.

I’m still waiting for my mom’s generation to sail,

so I can take flight, soar above these roaring oceans.

R.I.P. to angry spirits, the product of middle passage.

Their journey ends here as they finally reach home.

I want to make my own path to a place where mothers

don’t rely on boyfriends that buy brown bags stuffed

with glass and whiskey, where bruises aren’t stamped 

with red lipstick kisses, sticky tears don’t cling

to cheeks, and smiles aren’t given up on. Our parents

remember whole maps, but their guidance is cloudy.

Vic wants to see a shooting star, not to be shot

because his back is brown, his blood will be red,

white, and blue. He says I have one chance left,

but I don’t want his music to get me lost. I want to go

my own way, to a place where lyrics won’t lynch us

to less promising graves, where we aren’t left on the streets,

decomposing, breaking down from the mindset of society.

Our parents’ map makers are hungry for our futures.

They try to set a way for us, determined to determine

our fates as bullets are tearing through the backs

of somebody’s baby, slaughtering the innocent.

Anger won’t hug the necks of children with its fingers.

We won’t choke on the rope this world is leading us with,

where pigment won’t determine who we treat better,

where wings won’t be cracked and can finally expand in sky.

So: Captain Abusive, Racist, Sexist, Misogynist, Sadist, 

and Emotional Masochist, those hungry for the tragic,

those trying to string me along, tugging the end of my rope,

trying to put out stones for me to fall on. Bang

the champagne bottle against the ship, but I won’t

wait for it to get to the horizon, because I’m not lost,

just going in another direction, I’ve already started flying!

… Have you?

Cassidy Martin is a sophomore at Nashville Big Picture High School, a graduate of Jere Baxter Middle School, and the 2016 Nashville Youth Poet Laureate. She has been writing since early middle school and has had her nose stuck in a book all her life. Learn more at southernword.org.

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