Illustration of a person in combat boots on a ledge, one foot raised up into the air, against a backdrop of spiraling clouds

PONGO POETRY | Memories and Love

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 in youth coping with mental and emotional turmoil, join Pongo’s certification pilot program this spring!

Sweetheart Kind Expressions

by a young person at CSTC 

My life is like a cake that’s been smooshed in half,
Thrown away, and forgotten about
My heart has been broken more times than I can remember
Like a bone that’s been fractured and destroyed multiple times
My memories are happy and never doubt
That you won’t be a good person
Kind, funny, nice, generous, and happy
Always remember to be happy
When you do, it makes you smile
With a tingle in your bones
It makes you want to hug someone
Or listen to songs that make you happy
Keep living a good life

Memories and Love

by a young person at CSTC

I feel new like a fresh new person
With a fresh new start
Because you need to put the stuff behind you
That was spoken to you in the past
And you can be a better person no matter what
You say or think or do
Use happy thoughts that can make you
Really happy
Or stop and think it through
With a kind heart
That bursts into flames
And gets reborn good, happy, and healthy

My New Friends

by a young person at CSTC

My new friends are adorable
I met up with them, but we don’t know if we’re friends yet
It’s that time when you fall in love
but you don’t know if you’re friends

We only have limited time together
so we don’t know yet
but I hope everything goes ok because
they made me laugh and they made me happy
They say funny things, cheesy things
We eat together—Buffalo Wild Wings
I hope we get to know each other more

Once I’m out I can have real friends
but I don’t know when that will be
The first thing I’d do when I got out
is take them out to eat Chinese food
We’d have fried rice
and I’d say,
“On my Mama, I’d never leave you guys!
Now we’re friends!”

📸 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 over 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!