A loving mother and little daughter sitting on couch at home hugging with closed eyes

PONGO POETRY | Monster High

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 children at the Child Study and Treatment Center (CSTC), the only state-run psychiatric hospital for youth in Washington State. Many CSTC youth are coping with severe emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Approximately 40% of youth arrive at CSTC having been court ordered to get treatment; however, by the end of their stay, most youth residents become voluntary participants.

Pongo believes there is power in creative expression and articulating one’s pain to an empathetic audience. Through this special monthly 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 among youth coping with mental and emotional turmoil, join the Pongo Poetry Circle today!

Monster High

by a young person at CSTC

When I was younger
one of my grandmothers supported me
to be who I wanted to be
She would give me Barbie dolls: Monster High
My other grandparents told me
it would just be a phase

My grandmother—her name is Diana—
she’s lived with me since I was a baby
Even if she didn’t have enough money
she’d always try to figure out a way to get me
Barbie dolls: Monster High
I had like 10, I’d play with them,
make them play together
I’d be in my closet

She told my parents no matter what
I was still going to be their child whoever I was

When Caitlyn Jenner came out
my grandmother kind of knew
and she still supported me
And then when I came out
she supported me full on
She is an amazing woman
and an amazing support that I have
and I’m scared to lose her

She’s just the most important person in my life
and I care about her very much

She stood up for me once—
I had Barbies and I’d play with them in the bathtub
These boys came over once and said
“Are these Barbies!? Do you play with Barbies!?”
And my grandmother said, “He doesn’t play with them! I do!”
She saved me from that when I was younger.

She was loving and supportive and protective
She’s like a French Classic Barbie
Barbie blonde hair
Perfect inside and out


by a young person at CSTC

Failure is like stiff bristles of grass.
It can be tough but at least still stands up straight.
It is hard but encourages you to do better.
It’s not easy but you have to keep pushing forward.

Failure is like a Black hole.
It will suck you in and eat you up
if you don’t do anything about it.
Be upbeat, be hopeful
Because you cannot undo what has been done.
But you can move forward.

Thank You

by a young person at CSTC

You are always there for me
Sending letters
Opening up your home when I have nowhere else to go
Being my #1 cheerleaders

You do a lot
Too much to put in words
I am very grateful to have you
And even when I pushed you away
You were still there

I don’t know why I pushed you away
Causing so much stress in your life
In my life too
I am sorry
Sorry for how I acted
I am sorry

Thank you for still loving me
Thank you for giving me so many opportunities
Thank you for being my family

📸 Featured image by fizkes/Shutterstock.com; image editing by Emerald team.

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