Youth Poems, Adult Poems, More Poems…

In Their Words: Appearance

Youth in our programs explore many themes, ideas and perspectives in their poetry, art and creative workshopping, and they often have some remarkably profound insights. We thought we would share with you some of the most prevalent themes we see, and some of the beautiful and life-changing discoveries that come with them.

To start, here are some youth poems centered around the idea of appearance.

“I Seem To Be…But Really I Am”


I seem to be a troublemaker
But really I am a peacemaker
I seem to be a failure
But really I am a success story

But really my future is bigger and brighter
Than you think



I seem to be a thug
But really I’m a good kid
I seem to be a Dad
But really I’m a father
I seem to like sports
But really I’m a baller
I seem to be a Raiders fan
But really I’m a Broncos fan


The way the world sees me as an animal
The world sees me as a devil
The world sees me a demon
The world sees me as a devil’s favorite child

The way I see myself is I’m a baller
I see myself as a care giver
I see myself as a successful man
I see myself as a positive guy
I see myself as a positive role model



I seem to be a bitch
But really I am not willing to trust everyone
And let them in
I seem to be white
But really I don’t have color
Because my heart is more than that
I seem to be a mother
But really I am not perfect
Nor is any parent
I seem to be the class clown
But really I am hurting deep down


Natalie T.

Most people look in a mirror
And see what they don’t want
Someone who is ugly and disgusting
Like the person who told you what you were
The image holds power and meaning
Interpreted by yourself
Because each reflection is different
Each negative thought is different
But you are different
And that’s what makes you powerful
And that’s why it’s significant



Zee’s Transformation

“I don’t get poetry, and I don’t like it,” she said. 

The young woman, new to our drop-in poetry and spoken word workshop looked around the group with tears in her eyes. “But I’m here because my best friend loved it, so I’m doing this for her.” Zee shared that her best friend had committed suicide while the two were talking on the phone—and that not only did others blame her for her friend’s death, but she blamed herself, as well.

Weeks passed, and Zee began showing up more regularly. With each workshop, she blossomed a bit more—cracked a small smile, lent a listening ear to another participant, and shared her poetry with the group.

This heartbroken 16-year-old wrote of fear and loss, of determination and misperception, and slowly a light began to flicker within her.

She had stoked the flame of self-discovery, ignited by the safety of a creative space in which to share her struggles and learn of her promise.

Today, Zee throws back her head and laughs along with the others who attend the workshops. She has been here every week for months and has sustained friendships with the drop-in youth who have shared their own stories of triumph, sorrow, and hope. She has performed for the agency at First Friday events and plans to continue to represent our programs in the community.

Even though Zee began coming to Art from Ashes to honor her friend and will always remember that is why she attends, she has embraced her own voice, as well as her creativity and her potential.


Here is some selected poetry from our Positive Alternatives Through Home Services (PATHS) youth.

I Seem to Be… But Really I Am
by Christian, age 17

I seem to be in a lost world that I can’t find a way out
I’m the only one who understands me
People see me as a monster
But really I am a good kid who made a bad decision
I was at the wrong place at the wrong time
I try to stay out of trouble
But somehow it keeps finding me
It has me trapped
Every time I get up
It knocks me down
I am a bright young man
I try not to judge
In order to not be judged
I choose to be the kid that everyone has
Something nice to say all the time
The person that people look up to
Most importantly
The person my brother wants to look up to

Upside Down to Right Side Up
by Tay, 17

Something goes wrong
Then something gets fixed

Went from fucking and smoking weed
To becoming pregnant and drug-free

Went from ditching school and fighting
To making the honor roll
And receiving more friends than enemies

Went from getting cussed out and put out
To becoming stable and settled

Never giving up has brought me thus far
Being hard headed has opened my eyes

I Remember
by Gloria, 19

I remember when everyone doubted me
They said I was never going to get my son back
I remember when my mom disowned me
She said she should have aborted me when she had the chance
I remember when my dad almost killed my brother
He beat him so bad his face was a bucket of blood
I remember when I almost killed myself
Everything was reminding me of why I needed to be dead
I remember when I lost it all because of drugs
I thought they would take my pain but it added more
I remember when I had my son that day
I had never seen a baby angel before
I remember when my brother lost everything
He said I am a worthwhile sister who deserves it all
I remember when my son said I love you
He just made me feel so important
I remember when my mom said I love you while she was sober
She almost made my wish come true

by Harmony S

My dad was never in my life
But because of that
My big brother raised me
And I’d never change that for the world
I am who I am today
Thanks to my brother
I am strong because of all the things I’ve lost in life
My brother always taught me
No matter hard it is
You need to move on from the past
And it can’t hold you back
I can smile like I do today
Because of the hurt in my past

What I Would Say To You If Only
by Gloria, 19

I cannot be perfect so please just accept me
I feel so lost at this point
I feel like I am not even me anymore
I am too busy trying to be a person I am not
Who I don’t know if she exists
Please just understand I am not a perfect person
I know it is said God gives
The hardest battles to his strongest soldiers
But I am not that strong
I need a break

So please stop pushing me to be something
And just please accept who I am for once
Who knows you might start to like me better
If I may get my chance up a bit more
You might find out what a best friend just means
So please understand I am not perfect
So just please just stop
And give me a break

Give me a chance to show you
I am not just another Mexican girl
And learn that I can be more
Than just the person you want me to be
Please don’t torture me any more
With the things that happened way before
Learn that it’s good to just be you
And that I am fine just the way I dream to be

I just want you to understand
I am not perfect
I don’t want to be perfect
I never was perfect I will never be perfect
And this is exactly what I would say to you
If I could only get you to listen to me

Poetry of June 2015

Enjoy some of our favorite poetry from June 2015!

Lyrical Miracle
By Kevin, 17

I am a lyrical miracle
Diving in through my words
Like a swimming pool
A criminal, snatching meanings
And dissecting them to a minimal
I am a scattered brain
That has no pain
And feels no shame
No regrets, place your bets,
Write down my name,
So you don’t forget

By Jodi, 12


Drawing on Air artwork by Solomon

Shy wears boring colors
Blending in with the crowd.
Shy lives in a house
Like the others around it.
Shy only talks around the people
She trusts.
Friends, family
Sometimes even pets.
She eats plain food
Nothing too fancy
She wants people to see her
But in a way they move on
After a few seconds
Being the center of attention
Makes her uncomfortable
So she hides whenever she can

By Jose, 10

Happy would wear regular clothes
A t-shirt, a yellow t-shirt
And pants with sneakers with strings
Happy lives in a house
With small dogs
And toys
Happy works as a baker
Making cakes for birthdays
And cookies

By Gabriel, 11

Love is the color of
Red like roses
Cool careful
And loving so it won’t die
Love is never ending

Love is the sound of
Wind chimes wind going
Threw and crystal like sounds

Love taste like warm huggs
In front of the fireplace

Love feels like everyone
In the family cares about you
And it like and oversized
Stuffed teddy bear

Love moves like a
Slow hugging and feeling
Like a million bucks

By Jesus, 12

I am a tree poet
I live in the ground
The tree grows seeds first
My poems the roots come out
Of the tree
The rain comes out
Then the branches come out

I am a snow poet
I fall out of the sky with clouds
The snow is white and on the floor
My poems do fall freeze then on
The floor then it gets big and bigger
Until the ground is full of snow

I am a flower poet
I am a flower and the flowers come
Out of a seed
My poem’s a seed
And seeds and water
Grow and the water
Makes flowers grow

I am a grass poet
I need water to grow and dirt
To make roots
My poems are making dirt and water
I need seeds and water
And I need dirt

By Matthew, 8

I am a dragon poet
I like dragons and they are cool
And they breath fire
My poems hunt
Be the best dragon

I Seem To Be
By Shada, 16

I seem to be smart
But really I am genius
I seem to be happy
But really I am super duper happy
I seem to be capable
But really I am able to do anything I want

Poets of Emily Griffith

CPT at Emily Griffith

Click here for a video clip.

Art from Ashes has partnered with Colorado Public Television to provide Phoenix Rising wordshops for youth at the Emily Griffith Technical College. Below are some of the 3-minute poems produced and a couple of videos!

Rant, written April 6, 2015
by Walter, 18

From the time I could remember
I’ve wanted to die not because I was sad but because I’m tired of living
The one thing stopping me is the fact people will always need art
And the one reason I’m still here is a faulty round or bad firing pin
Or something told me or compelled me to puke up the pills I took
People make me sick honestly
I know firsthand with my brother raping and killing one of his own cousins
Or a father not calling me until I’m 14 to sell drugs for him
My art is not out of anger
But it is of the good in my life
And the good times
Honestly I’m not ready to die
But I’m sick of living

Walter-imageWithout Fear, written May 18, 2015
by Walter, 18

My life would be easier
I’d be able to wake up
And say I’m happy
How about yourself?
If I were given the chance
I’d always wake up fearless
With the ability to love my fellow man
And he would be able to say
I love this planet
And everything on it
Including you
It is a nice dream to keep

Video of Esther, 19

What I Would Say to You if Only You Would Listen
by Tamara, 20

I’m talking to the cord or am I really talking to myself
I feel empty my heart is out of beats
I fake my last breath of life and say
God forgive me for my sins
I’m not perfect, you know
Maybe it was the pain that made me come in rage
Where were you mom no one can explain
I still respect you and love you
Because in the end I am a product of you
But then again that’s not true
I’m Tamara let me say that again
I don’t drink because of you
All the time I got alcohol abused they wanted me
To follow your footsteps
But I refused to be something
That I could never even like
You hated me but I loved you
I know you were hurt
Has a kid who could ever know

Video of Darrian, 19

Affirmation Poem
by Lilly, 17

I love and approve of myself.
I accept the difference between us
Between you and me
And not only do I accept you
Most of all I accept me
I am the raging wind carrying the shadows over a raven’s wing
Never stopping to ask, just knowing that it is
I am the blood in your veins working you alive
Working us alive and you never give me a second thought
I know what I do is worth it
I know I matter
Without the sound on your tongue



Below are some of the 3-minute youth poems written during our Phoenix Rising workshops.

It’s Time You Spoke
by Dakota, age 15

Changing yourself to satisfy others
Committing harm to yourself
To feel the pain being released
Is your pleasure
Closing yourself away
To hide what people dislike about you
Why, I ask?
This isn’t another song
Telling you to stop
This is a message to you
From you

You’re a stranger to yourself
A distant picture on your mom’s fridge
Fading away
You walk to the mirror above the sink
You see a person filled with hope
And the power to lift the sun
You listen to people who tell you no
That say change your look
Do a bunch to stay
In a soon drifted away craze
Speak this
Take this
Drink this
Now is the day to speak
Say no

Say yes to what you want
Not what they say
After you’ve done this
You see the picture coming back
You see what you wanted this whole time

Who I Am
by Myth, age 12

Who am I?
The question that comes most unanswered in the world
It is the easiest question but still goes unanswered
Everyone is afraid
But no one but you can know the answer or the outcome
In the deepest way, you already know
You know who you are
But who am I?
I am the earth, wind and sky
I wield the elements of fire, wind, earth and water
I am life
I am you
I am the universe learning about itself
I am Myth
Who are you?

My Poems
by Estefania, age 17

If I were a white poem I would be free
To express my emotions
I would be what everybody wants me to be
If I were a tiger poem I would let myself be free
I would speak of nothing but of everything
I would have freedom to say what I like
If I were a tree poet I would write about broken things
I would write about the things people want to hear
Just so they won’t tear me apart
If I were a cold poet I would shoot down the negative people
And just be myself
I would be a cold poet who doesn’t do what people want

I Seem to Be... But Really I Am
by Christian, age 17

I seem to be in a lost world that I can’t find a way out
I’m the only one who understands me
People see me as a monster
But really I am a good kid who made a bad decision
I was at the wrong place at the wrong time
I try to stay out of trouble
But somehow it keeps finding me
It has me trapped
Every time I get up
It knocks me down
I am a bright young man
I try not to judge
In order to not be judged
I choose to be the kid that everyone has
Something nice to say all the time
The person that people look up to
Most importantly
The person my brother wants to look up to

Paper Moon
by Hibaq Osman, 17

Under the paper moon
She thinks she has the basics
But then a demon grabs her dreams
And makes a break for it
It’s a simple equation
Dreams and creation
I’m in love with the person I haven’t me
And that one place I’ve never lived
Please tell me how you can lead a life of 17 years and never live
Chained to a chain link fence
Woven by the hearts which you’ve torn from their place
It’s not a ‘whatever you think it is,’ darling It’s an arms race
And I swear, I scream at the top of my lungs
I swear
I will make a change to this world
I will change the voice of freedom
Bestow power amongst the girls
And I’ll make it to where color doesn’t matter
And race is just a four letter word
Where being queer is not weird
Where homophobia is absurd
Where society links arms with the misfit toys
And welcomes them to their island
Where the raped girl doesn’t cry when she sees her young boy
Because she wished his father’s actions didn’t define him
I swear
These faulty pieces do not define us
I swear the skies are so clear on the other side
I swear the sun will wake you up from this nightmare
And say “It’s okay honey, you don’t have to hide
You’re absolutely fine right by my side”