this is the turning point

Message to Readers

i still am editing a piece i do not love

it is 10:37

these are the words i will never tell you #firstraycontest

November 8, 2018


once my parents let me travel alone in new york city.
at 15, i rode on one of those rental bikes,
travelling north of midtown.
i don't remember the date - 
somewhere near christmas eve.
i sat down at the steps of the public library.
it was closed. 
that morning i wrote a poem
about a homeless man playing chess by himself.

before that, i was in japan.
i did not want to be there,
because no one ever spoke to me.
the bus ride in kyoto is one i still remember. 
the english teacher asked me why i was crying,
i saw when some of the girls blamed it on themselves. 
it was nothing personal, we were young we didn't know how to deal with ourselves
i laugh about that now. 
whispers on her tongue,
she will never forget what she didn't tell me in 
that morning i wrote a poem,
about the grandfather who walked with me onto the highway. 

the following year i went to france.
i met a girl there. 
she taught me how to watch children dance in nice,
when we had 30 minutes, we always took 45. 
once we ran, without paying for our chocolate milk. 
i still left a 10 euro tip. 
i dont think she still remembers.
i felt so reckless then. 
she heard me when no one else did,
she films me busk near the alleyway.
this is where an old man approaches me, asking me 
do you sing janis joplin

the thing is,
i used to be scared of them reading my poetry,
in case they thought it was about them.
now i hope they taste every word, like sour patch kids
like a trip home from woolies.
because i have grown from these people,
even if i blame them for it. 

the rays of sunlight will forever hit me 
like the molten core of marshmellows,
watch the sun fall onto their skin
like the freckles, they spend so much time tanning to count,
do they not know their kindness has been enough? 

thank you. 

- claire staas engelman

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

  • Aarushikrishnan

    Contest results are out :)

    10 months ago
  • Aarushikrishnan

    Oh, wow.
    This was insanely well done, I'm speechless.
    I've tried to fathom my feelings into a review, hopefully it did your piece justice.
    Thank you so much for submitting for my contest!!

    10 months ago
  • Anha

    Wow, this is such a poignant piece, like a series of vignettes. It gives an insight into your life and moments that impacted you, both seemingly exotic and mundane, but the contrasts flow because you make everything seem poetic. I feel like I'm repeating things, but the woolies part of the last stanza doesn't hold that much significance with me, so I suggest growing those two lines, or omitting them all together. This was a great piece, even if you aren't happy with it yet.

    11 months ago
  • R.j.Elsewhere

    I feel as if each stanza is a different part of you, it's like meeting a new person within each and having them share with you their life story. The only stanza I feel which broke this flow would have to be the last one. I agree with @Araw about the whole sour patch kids statement. Other then that, I felt this piece, and while sitting here and reading it and enjoying the hell out of it, it resurrected my envy for how well you manged to write something so real and personal. Great work like always, and keep this type of writing up, I loving it.

    11 months ago
  • Araw

    This is really awesome work, dude. One thing, however (though it is quite finicky of me to point out) is when you mentioned sour patch kids somewhere in the last stanza. Though I do understand you are trying to use it to create a sense of home, it doesn't seem to fit within the overall atmosphere of the poem to me. Though, it may just be me and it's the only thing I felt I needed to point out. Overall, your work is very well written.

    11 months ago