By Shana Liddell

Sink or Swim

The divide appears so wide 
It seems impossible to swim to the other side
But you must keep going
So you swim on against the tide
You had always believed that being all knowing
Or having the right zip code or connections was your ticket to growing
A life of success, the ultimate win
A life of admiration and power showing
But in a time of sink or swim You understand how true strength comes from within
A force you never even knew you possessed
Radiates through you to begin
The biggest fight of your life, the true test
And you swim feverishly and obsessed
Until you reach the shore
Determined in your conquest
And you make it, your lungs burning
Your muscles languid and only yearning
For your loved ones and rest
The state of your laundry so utterly unconcerning..

Only This Moment

The woods are stark like my childhood memories

Old wise trees
Speak to me
Outgrow me
Long snarly branches snatching
Like old lady fingers

The morning sunrise infinitely reborn signals 
another day

Pink and violet
The bleeding of a child's watercolor painting
One day the bleeding of a broken heart

The translucent snowflakes fall
Unrepeatable beauties
Before they fade into the background Never 
to exist

The frost indented by my footsteps
From beginning to end
Eventually untraceable

I breathe in life
I exhale the fear
And stay in this moment

Good morning!

Today is a new day!
A great day to learn and play!

Hurry up and brush your hair
But brush your teeth with care
And pick out an outfit to wear

Now that you are dressed
And looking your best
It is time to eat some breakfast and look over your spelling words for your test

After you rinse your cereal bowl and give your mom a kiss
You hurry to the bus stop so you don't miss
Your ride to school for this

Big day to prove your knowledge and continue to learn
Taking in new information at every turn
And always trying to earn

Good grades and accolades
But most importantly what never fades
Is being a good person in everything you do
Because each day is an opportunity to be the amazing you!

Open Your Mind

Open our minds

Embracing opportunities of all kinds

And we will achieve

No matter what gets in our way
Keep building a little each day

Take advantage of every hour
Knowing we have the power

The path may be worn
But don't feel the need to conform

Keep pushing the pedals
Envisioning those medals

Surpass our fear
Keeping our supporters near

Letting go of those that undermine
Never giving up our radiant shine

School Days

Sitting at my desk piled high with looming projects due
My     mind     wanders    to    days 

when work was only graded

I can still feel the satisfying crunch of the first fall leaves 
under my sneakers laces double knotted as I walk to the 
bus stop

I sit next to the new boy with green eyes,
Our tan and scrapped knees touching
He offers me a stick of gum
Which I decline In sixteen years he will ask 
me to be his wife and I will accept

I take out my pencils and notebooks carefully labeled,
The start of my OCD
Ms. Volpe's animated voice
Instructs me to write about my summer vacation 
My mind goes blank
As I stare at Julie Brown's perfect French braids
In front of me,
Behind me Bobby Shore groans at the absurdity 
of being asked to write something

In math my cuticles bleed as I pray that 
Mr. White won't call on me The smudge 
on my paper grows
From erasing my hesitant answer

Throngs of excited chatter
Echo through the halls
Laughter and screams ensue
Until the bell rings
Reigning us into the next class

A class spent 
Daydreaming Or 
attentively taking notes
Worrying about not being asked out
Or restlessly tapping
Anticipating the next test score
Lunch is a turkey sandwich 
An apple some carrot sticks 
And a broken cookie
With a note from my mother
Telling me she loves me
That she is proud of me

Sydney Stuart leads the conversation at the head of the table 
Or rather a monologue
As all the girls gaze at her wantingly
I could care less

I run as fast as I can
But still the slowest
Not having been gifted with my sibling's athleticism My 
lunch bouncing in my stomach
"Go Sadey, go!" They cheer
And I try to go faster

Then I fall
And I want to cry
Not from the pain
But from the embarrassment
Knowing that the new boy with green eyes 
Had witnessed it.

But then his hand reaches down to me
And he lifts me up
His face full of concern
The face of concern I will grow to know all too well
From such a tender hearted man

And then my phone rings
And I am brought back
My husband lets me know he will pick up Haley after school
And then I take a deep breath and start writing

More than Things

A pair of running shoes that saw him to the finish line

A beautiful gown that projected her femininity once clandestine

A blanket in her great great grandson's school colors she knitted with feeble fingers for his graduation

A book he "accidentally" dropped which his now wife automatically retrieved when they first met at the train station

A blazer jacket she wore with confidence to her third interview and solidified the beginning of her successful career

A tiny pair of pants he took his first three steps in before landing promptly on his rear

A mug with a small crack that ensued when moving into their first home

A desk he did his homework at countless nights until his parents found him far too worldly and grown

Designer jeans she saved diligently for with her babysitting money now a fraction of the cost

A tent that provided shelter and family camping memories never to be lost

By the Sea

Soft ocean breeze
Whisks away our worries, Instantly putting us ease

Infinite grains of sand
Elicits such a wonderful feeling for the lost at sea or simply the burnt out to land

Ever changing tide
Evolving but never leaving our side

The contemplation of life as vast as the ocean's abyss Suspended by the clear laughter of children in pure bliss
Suntanned skin
Temporarily reminiscent of where we have been

Ceaseless, powerful waves
Etching the coastline as our memory engraves

These indelible moments by the sea
Where we are always drawn to be

I Am Thankful…

For the feeling of warm sunshine with an intermittent cool breeze 

And those who still say "bless you" after a satisfying sneeze

For our potential to be open minded with the challenging of paradigms
And the constant evolution of progress even in difficult times

For the fulfillment after an intense and nearly painful laugh
And the way a glimpse in time can be captured in a photograph

For the way a good book or series captivates us late into the night
And how we can at least count on our favorite pair of sweatpants fitting just right

For our capacity to forgive and move beyond our mistakes

 And our desire to succeed no matter what it takes

For how we get lost in space and time when we find our flow
And how this world of wonder keeps us learning every day, humbling us, we will never truly know

For that feeling of accomplishment when we check off another chore
And the relief when we finally let go of keeping the "perfect score"

For those who take the time out of their day to really ask you how you are
And our potential to stay in touch with our family and friends, whether near or far

For the ever-changing beauty of the seasons and sky
And the year-round gift of giving with the annual occasion of pumpkin pie

My Hope for the World

A life without violence and unrest
Hatred, bigotry and detest
Towards those with different values, cultures and interests
Will be the ultimate and true test
To use our strength in words and divest
Our egos while fighting for the oppressed
Finding a place in our home and hearts for the dispossessed
Helping the vulnerable and distressed
It is not too late to redress
Our wrong and progress
Appreciate our distinctions while we still coalesce
As one united in our mutual quest

Autumn Days

I feel the fall leaves

Jumping into abundant piles

Crunching under my knees
The satisfying stomp walking the couple miles
To school, backpack slung over one shoulder
Laden with books
The weight of being older
Yet still oblivious to the potential deceit of propaganda and acceptable looks

I smell the scent of bonfires lingering on my clothes
Contained for only Roasting s'mores
The fire dances and glows
Dissipating before it roars
A sky splattered with stars
Endless universe and possibility
Before undue pollution and scars
And the superseding need for survival and stability

I hear wind whooshing, trees teetering just so
Their branches like knobby, impossibly old fingers
Reminiscing of when they just wanted to grow
And yet time lingers
Eternal days to fulfill
Now we're reluctant to turn another year
So savor each simple thrill
And hold these pure memories near


Words are love
Encouraging us to keep going or take the step to begin
Words are weapons
Penetrating even the thickest skin

Words are beauty
Expanding our senses beyond tangibility
Words are ugliness
Triggering devastation beyond manageability

Words are wisdom
Inspiring us to believe, to achieve
Words are shallow
Sucking meaningfulness with every breath we breathe

Words are truth
Allowing us to be moved by verity,
Words are lies
Perpetuating     undeserving     asperity 

Choose your words carefully


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