Something You Should Know

My English 9 students and I wrote, for our first entry into poetry, versions of Clint Smith’s poem “Something You Should Know” (something else you should know is that you should read Smith’s poem). With their permission, I have provided some of the student work below.

Something You Should Know—James

Is that as a kid, I made a lot of jokes.

I talked the talk, I Seldom Stuffed the sock. 

Anything from your mother to that’s what she said, I talked and talked

But in the quiet I learned, 

Without the talk I’ve got no “walk”

Without the jokes I’ve got no “folks”

Which left me worried for the Curtains back,

To obsess over punchlines and sit in the dark, hoping like hell

that I’d have a hoot to hurl or a pun to present. That is why, even now,

I can need so Entirely to make you laugh, and why even now,

I am afraid to see myself in the silence of the spotlight,

Without a joke to tell, or a laugh to share, Exposed, In this silence.

 

Something You Should Know – MJ 

Is that as a kid, I was happy. 

I colored pictures 

of animals like lions, dogs, 

pandas, and elephants. 

I watched cartoons that continued 

to amaze me even after seeing them a thousand times.

Which left me dumbfounded by the thought that I had

to grow up, to be mature, to go to school, 

to dress myself, to be a big kid. 

Perhaps that is when I realized 

that I couldn’t be a kid forever. Perhaps 

that is why, even now, I can want so desperately 

to be a kid again, because I’m afraid 

of growing up, exposed, in the adult world. 

 

Something You Should Know–Elisha 

Is that as a kid, I was a tech intern.

I fixed Chromebooks

of students like middle schoolers, freshmen,

juniors, and seniors.

I watched students continue 

to crush their Chromebooks, crack their computer

screens, then complain about them.

Which left me upset at the students,

to intentionally break their computers that way, reflecting their attitude. 

Perhaps that is when I became so quick to judge people. Perhaps

that is why, even now, I can need to desperately

let things go, but am more afraid

of meeting myself, exposed, in His judgment.

 

Something You Should Know—Sophia

Is that as a kid, I wanted to be a paleontologist.

I  dug for dinosaurs

From the Jurassic, Devonian, Cretaceous, 

Mesozoic, and Cambrian periods

I watched as my hands continued

To pry objects from the ground, deftly dusting dirt from them

Examining the possible fossils,

Which left me disappointed when they were only rocks,

Ordinary pieces of earth that had never been full of life

And had never walked the ground that I now walk.

Perhaps that is when I first became wary of trusting.

Perhaps that is why, even now, I can want something

With all my being, but barely let myself hope

For fear of being let down.

Left vulnerable and exposed,

Wallowing in my own disappointment.

 

something you should know—Macy S.

is that as a kid I always wondered about the future

I imagined

where I would be

what I would be doing

where I would be going

 the past always gets me

which leaves me worried about the present

to be worryless

about what’s in front of me

worryful of what if

perhaps I should look

at what is in front of me

perhaps let go of worrying about the past and future

that is why, even now, I try to forget

and live in the exposed now version of me

 

Something You Should Know—Aubrie

Is that as a kid, I played with my siblings. 

I dressed the dolls

Of different varieties, baby dolls, Barbies, American Girls, 

and Polly Pockets.

I watched my brothers continue

 to run, jump, play, and pretend they were plummeting

to from a peak and pretend all again. 

Which left me sad that I couldn’t play, 

and upset I was alone for a few days.

To need my siblings there by my side.

Perhaps that is why they became my best friends. 

Perhaps that is why, even now, I need them so desperately, 

but am more afraid of meeting myself, exposed, without them.

 

Something You Should Know—Kennedy

is that as a kid, I decided to play basketball.

I didn’t understand the rules

of the game because I didn’t play any sports like volleyball, softball, 

soccer, or track

I watched the coach as he continued

to explain things like how to dribble, pass, and 

how to make a layup by hitting the corner of the box on the backboard,

which left me so scared because I didn’t think I could do it, 

to get the ball that high, to even get it into the net seemed impossible

to live her entire life trying to succeed at one easy task

to feel good enough. Perhaps that is when I became a person who 

tried to please everyone before my self. Perhaps 

that is why, even now, I can want so desperately 

to make sure everyone’s happy, but am more afraid 

of caring about myself, exposed, in this world.

 

Something You Should Know—Macy T

Is that as a kid, I loved strawberry shortcake.

I smelled the hair

of the toys like strawberry shortcake, orange blossom,

lemon meringue, and plum puddin.

I watched the peculiar purple pieman of porcupine peak continue

to steal strawberries and watch strawberry shortcake

To eavesdrop on the information of Strawberryland.

Which left me concerned that he was going

to ruin their plans, 

to take her strawberries for his own,

to feel evil. Perhaps that is when I become obsessed

with my strawberry shortcake pillowcase. Perhaps

that is why, even now, I can’t always trust people

even if they say they are on your side

of the fence, rejected, by their personality,

Exposed, in mine.

 

Something You Should Know—Emma K

 

is that as a kid, I wanted to play sports more than anything.

I watched games

that involved sports including basketball, volleyball, 

softball, and dance.

I watched the majority of teams continue

to immensely improve and impressively win

with the help of multiple good plays and mistakes made by the opposing team.

Which left me sympathetic for the other teams, 

who had to repeatedly find out what they did wrong, 

and realize that they may be unable to fix their mistakes, to be

embarrassed. Perhaps this is why I’m constantly afraid 

I’ll mess up and become embarrassed in front of my peers. Perhaps 

this is why, even now, I can want so desperately

to fix my mistakes and continue trying, but am more afraid

of meeting myself, exposed, in front of my peers.

 

Something You Should Know—Bryton

Is that as a kid, I liked building with Legos.

I built models

of big things like houses, ships, 

rockets, and airplanes.

I pretended to fly the airplane

across oceans, seas, continents, countries, and cities around

the world in search of new places.

Which left me in awe of exploration, 

to fly around all free that way, to get 

to live my entire life exploring the world 

to feel joy. Perhaps that is when I became fond

of exploring the woods. Perhaps

 that is why, even now, I can want so desperately 

to stay inside all day, but will eventually 

meet my previous self, exposed, in the smell of nature.

 

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