PONGO POETRY | Looking Out the Window While Driving

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with youth at the Children & Family Justice Center (CFJC), King County’s juvenile detention facility. Many CFJC residents are Youth of Color who have endured traumatic experiences in the form of abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. These incidents have been caused and exacerbated by community disinvestment, systemic racism, and other forms of institutional oppression. In collaboration with CFJC staff, Pongo poetry writing offers CFJC youth a vehicle for self-discovery and creative expression that inspires recovery and healing. Through this special bimonthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery. To partner with Pongo in inspiring healing and relief in youth coping with mental and emotional turmoil, register for Speaking Volumes 2022, its fall celebration.


by a young person, age 14

I am addicted.
I am addicted to street signs.

In my addiction, 
my life is filled with little victories,
and many losses.
In my addiction, 
I am glad to feel happy
and still be going thru so much.

I am addicted.
I am addicted to staying out late. 

In my addiction, I hate to think about going inside.
In my addiction, the real me becomes hidden

I am addicted to betrayal. 

In my addiction, 
betrayal comes in the form of smiling faces
and friendly gestures.

In my addiction, 
I struggle to do the right thing
and turn my back.

I am addicted.

I am addicted to money.

In my addiction, 
I am hiding my true feelings
of disappointment over betrayal
If you let people know
how you’re actually feeling,
they might try to take advantage
or have some power over you.

In my addiction, 
I’m in a constant battle with good and bad. 

I am addicted

Where I’m From

by a young person, age 18

I’m from a city of rain
Where it will never change
People getting locked up
And getting put in chains
was something not to be 
surprised about
Trouble was like cancer
in the city — it spread fast and hit hard.

Traumatized by shootouts
depressed from taking losses
brothers dying from not being careful
now that’s a real fact 
The only way to be the top dog
is to kill the bosses.

But as they say not every story has good endings.
Prepare to take more losses. 

Looking Out the Window While Driving

by a young person, age 17

As I grew older, life was like riding in a car
with trees rushing by. 
There was so much to see
like people coming and going
thru my childhood. 

Life rushed by far too quickly
and before I knew it, 
I had left places behind
like my first backyard
where we played football. 

There are people I wish I could see again
like my grandma that’s in Mexico. 

When I think of her, 
I miss conversations I had with her. 

There are some things I don’t miss.
It’s hard to think about being with my baby momma drama. 

Looking out the window, I think about where I’m headed. 
I wonder if I can achieve my goals 
like spending time with my baby. 

I wonder what obstacles there might be along the way —

Looking about the window while driving, 
though my past is along for the ride, 
there’s also my destination, 
my future where I’m being a father for my daughter,
providing her with my knowledge.

📸 Featured Image: Original photo via sutsaiy/Shutterstock.com; editing by Emerald team.

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