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Baldwin High School 10th Grader's Powerful Poem Recognized

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran Invites Rachel Lyons to Recite Her Work

After listening to the poem, "The Hill We Climb," by Amanda Gorman, Baldwin High School AP Seminar students were given an opportunity to create a spoken word perspective poem. Despite the title, "powerless," tenth grader, Rachel Lyons, submitted her particularly powerful poem to the Nassau County Youth Council Contest, “Coping Through COVID.” In the spirit of art for healing/social change throughout the past year, the contest was meant to enrich conversation on the importance of mental health, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. High school students were invited to submit any original work of “art,” including photography, sculptures, and poetry. Impressed by her unique submission, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran invited Ms. Lyons to recite her poem at the contest ceremony.  

Watch video of Rachel Lyons, Baldwin High School 10th grader, reciting her poem or scroll down to read her words: 

"Powerless" 

there are things the mind
refuses to acknowledge
until a certain point in time
when everything is so clear
too clear, even, that our eyes gloss over
and our ears don’t hear
the ringing of cries
the pitter-patter of tears
the elementary school playground
so significant in the minds
of children producing screams
as they run after each other
until they pause
but only to catch their breath
maybe fix their little shoelaces
before taking off once more
off to the side
two girls sit
on a simple wooden bench
one holds a secret
while the other speaks
words flowing in one ear
only to fly out the other
what is a secret to a child?
at first, secrets are exciting
they grant a sense of importance
of value, of mystery
but as the clock ticks, they grow
they morph and they twist
they develop and they crush
and at some point in time,
it becomes easier for her
to simply suppress and to make herself forget
we stumble upon
the concept of a subconscious secret
one that claws at the inside of your skull
pleading to be let out
begging for even momentary acknowledgment
time and time again,
countless courtesy clashes are fought
within a girl who wants nothing more
than to forget and never again hear
the stifled murmurs
of her subconscious struggles
but, she can’t win
as she grows older, our little friend never ceases
to continuously evolve
we get to a place
where to ignore is something much more attainable
than to forget
time goes on and she tries so, so hard
to do just that, ignore
but if she failed in doing so the first time,
what in the world made her believe
that this goes around, things would end differently
better, even
simply put, she was wrong
she allows this secret to boil over
a tea kettle of fear, of anger, of confusion
letting out a queen of the night scream
ultimately suffocated by the resounding silence
of stifled sorrows
she’s had enough
forgetting had shifted to ignoring
and gradually, ignoring must resolve to embracing
the battles brought on by
years of a refusal to cooperate
slowly simmer silent
they no longer have to be waged
wedged into our growing girl’s conscious
still, she will have to fight
her whole life
maybe not with herself,
because from that war, she has already emerged victorious
but with the world, she has been born into
battles over the manifestation of trust,
somehow a convoluted concept
on this twisted planet
and she mourns
the countless children who will one day have to learn
that something so inherently sacred and beloved
is scorned
and the harsh reality of human life on our planet earth
is that nothing is fair
and there is nothing our precious girl can do
to fix the horrors that will haunt the rest of her life
all she can do right now is swing her little legs
on that wooden playground bench
unknowingly preparing herself
for a life of constant push and shove
of never-ending trials of power
she will always be powerless
in our power-hungry world

By Rachel Lyons