for teens, by teens

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats.

Comfortable Curiosities

Jamie Lee

When I am asked who I am, I immediately think of who I am not.
 A thought, an equation to equate the distraught and mental slots     
Inserted into my head.
So maybe I think of the man on ginger-chewed wrappers and
cigarette tappers who carries the weight of his eyes like a business
 man’s suitcase.                                                                                             

Or maybe the woman who advertises thirty different ways to not
deal with your baby.
Maybe I even think of when someone had told me I should put        
makeup on my scabs because ‘little girls don’t get dirty’.                      

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between who you are and who
you’ve been told to be.

At least for me, I always wanted to be smart. But being smart didn’t
always go hand and hand with a girl faint of heart,
I was always pleasing others.

The way my mother’s mother was, I was taught that being                     
submissive is the way to be noticed.                                                          

With four brothers I learned how to covet things, how to not fear
and be focused.

I guess that’s what my preconceived notion was, before I
understood that                                                                         

I am not my skin.
I am not my nails.
I am not my hair.
I am not what I wear.

And if you release all the thoughts of being understood, you’re left
with what you could become.                                                                   

Yet it can be so hard to not succumb to the opinions of some when
you’re young.                                                                                               

So why can’t we seem to remember that we’re all born under the
same sun?

Putting more energy into being understood rather than being
catalysts ourselves.                                                                              

With goals of consumed happiness and progress stacked like

Higher than the city walls and laws that surround us.
As if being alive isn’t enough, we are taught to fear.                                 
From what I’ve learned, fear is the seed of disgust,
The promise of dying before we’re dead.
And in my head, when someone asks me who I am, I immediately
think of who I am not.                                                                                

Because what I am not is what I am,
And as I breathe I am nothing, I am everything.                                        
So maybe I think of the cotton-seeded old woman who had wolves

skin and never stopped smiling.
Or maybe I am the passionate young boy whose eyes are silver
beaded straws that embed the only piece of cloth that really matters.
Identity is a form of a question.
Constant lessons, based on perception
Waking each day with the hands we’ve been dealt with,               
I’m breathless.
So if it’s all relative, what the point in comparatives?
A declarative:                                                                              
We’re all human.


Jamie Lee is a seventeen-year-old from Northern California who attends Sierra College. She has been a writer since she learned how. Although, it hasn't been until recently that she realized poetry was truly the only thing that reminded her that she ever existed before this moment, that she felt, that she experienced, and that she is a part of much greater things than daily hassles and uplifts. She mostly writes poems about this feeling, and the senses that allow it to arrive, as an attempt to capture the momentary feeling of curiosity and gratitude for being alive. In all honesty, the combination of artistic expression, literary understanding and raw emotion within her writing is what keeps her sane.

© Canvas Literary Journal 2016
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