PONGO POETRY | Paint Me Without the Bad Things in My Life

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!

Paint Me Without the Bad Things in My Life

by a young person at CSTC

Paint me without the bad past
Paint me with a good past and future
Paint me without a broken heart
Paint me as a generous little boy and really loving
Paint me without CPS
Paint me like sunshine and happiness

A Light of Death

by a young person at CSTC 

In my self-portrait,
my eyes would be diamonds because I like singing
And my favorite song is “Firework”
It was also my mom’s favorite song

The background of my self-portrait would have
My mom and my dad
My mom had orange-colored hair
And hazel-brown eyes
When I was sad my mom would say to me,
“If I leave here just know that I’m always with you”

My dad has black hair
And blue eyes
I don’t know what he would say to me
Because he left when I was around three or four

In my self-portrait, I’d be holding fire
For revenge against the guy I don’t want to name
He was cruel
And he didn’t care for me

If I saw him I would say,
“I hate you
Get out of my life
I never want to see you again”

In my self-portrait, there would be fireworks
In the background too
That are red, gold, and green

I would like to give my self-portrait to my best friend
Because she appreciates my singing voice

The title of my self-portrait would be
“A Light of Death”
Because I am a light of death

Dedicated to V, the one who inspired me to love.

What I Care About in My Life

by a young person at CSTC 

I miss my family
I love them and care about them
and they love and care about me also
and I love my dog and my cats
and I don’t think that I can ever live without them
and I care about everything that I have now
and that I will have when I grow up

And I have my own happiness that’s unique
like everyone’s
and I have my unique way of my life
and I love my unique way
because it’s special
like everyone’s

My happiness is unique in the way I’m caring
I care in every way
I show my care in loving and in the happiness I give to everyone
I tell them that I care about them and never hurt them
and I show a smile
and I help with laundry
Every way is the most caring and unique way
and that is the most unique way of happiness

I dedicate this poem to the people I love; my friends and my family.

📸 Featured Image: Illustration by Alexa Strabuk 譚文曠.

Before you move on to the next story …

The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With around 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible.

If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn’t have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference.

We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!