PONGO POETRY | You Will Find

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. In the spring of 2022, Pongo began mentoring poetry with young people at the Echo Glen Children’s Center, a juvenile institution for youth serving criminal sentences. Studies of incarcerated youth indicate that up to 70% suffer from a mental health disorder and that many have experienced childhood trauma. The isolation, economic upheaval, and turmoil of the last two years have only exacerbated this issue. Youth at Echo Glen have endured significant mental and emotional challenges in the last two years, including increased rates of depression, anxiety, sleep issues, and behavioral challenges.

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 learn more about Pongo’s work of inspiring healing and relief among youth coping with mental and emotional turmoil, join the Pongo Poetry Circle today.

You Will Find

by a young person at the Echo Glen Children’s Center

Inside me you will find someone who wants to be free
Inside me you will find a soul trapped in a cage, tired and beaten

Inside me you will find someone who is creative and happy
But forced to show a side that the real me would rather hide

Inside me you will find someone who is burning to show you that I care
To show you that I am there, to show you that dreams can come true

Inside me you will find someone who is like a book,
I have a cover of someone who has given up on life
But if you read my story, realize I am a hero triumphing
From the struggles that have been thrown before me

Inside me you will find someone who is like a mask
Hiding another personality behind showing one thing to the world
Waiting for someone who cares enough to reach

Inside me you will find someone who is determined to
To fight my way out of the cage and break free to show who I really want to be

I Am

by a young person at the Echo Glen Children’s Center

Today I am very bored
Yesterday I was mad
On the street I am happy and alone
In my room I am with my thoughts,
like just life on the outside and getting out of jail,
To my mom I am her sunshine,
she thinks very highly of me.

To my dad I am a better version of him,
in some ways we’re similar and some ways we’re not.

My friends think I am funny, goofy, level-headed.

Really, I am empty,
I’ve been through a lot of loss and a lot of bad stuff has happened to me,
I bottle it up and don’t really care about anything anymore

Drifting Away

by a young person at the Echo Glen Children’s Center

Today I am anxious, I don’t know,
I’ve been jumpy today
Yesterday I was calm and collected,
like the sea before a hurricane
On the street I am nothing,
no matter what you do you’re still just another statistic
I feel worthless.
In my room I am the center of gravity while I’m there it is as if it is mine,
but as soon as I leave it belongs to no one.

To my mom I am still a child, but if only she knew.
To my dad I am the spitting image of himself, no matter how much I try to avoid it,
he always tries to make it seem like he did the same as I am doing now.
It makes me feel like I’m not my own person.

My friends think I have it all figured out but inside I’m a raging fire waiting to escape.
Really, I am just another statistic on these streets paved with blood
where scholars turn to felons and children look up to villains.

📸 Featured Image: Illustration by Alexa Strabuk 譚文曠.

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