On March 11, 2021, the New York Times published a special section, called “Teens on a Year that Changed Everything,” with art, photographs and quotes from teenagers across the country. They were responding to the year anniversary of the pandemic reaching our shores and how it affected their lives. Today’s piece is a cento combining lines from some of their quotes.

Teens on a Year That Changed Everything I
-a cento 

Finding a way to be happy in hard times is essential to making it through.
Flame-colored sunlight would dance through windows, 
and water would trickle below trees.
Politics has dominated everything this year,
from racial, social and economic inequities 
to the simple act of wearing a mask.
No longer do I talk about boys or paint my nails,
but start to recognize the part I can play
in fighting for justice 
and
how to tackle my implicit biases.
We have never ceased to stand upon a needle 
to weave various strings into a solution.
I found the only things I had patience for
were small doodles and quotes.
Despite my best efforts, nobody took me seriously.
I look at the last few months and realize
this is what growing up in a global crisis looks like
for low-income families.
There are only 24 hours in a day,
and seven days in a week,
and I was always missing out on something.
I felt like I was in this by myself,
and no one could help me.
I’ve welcomed the alone time.
If you’re reading this, take five deep breaths.
Being young is about growing and stretching.
“Hands up! Don’t shoot!
Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
The chant quivers its way from my hoarse vocal chords
to join the hundreds of others
echoing through the charged air.
This tumultuous year has left us appreciative
of daily social interactions,
and hopeful for the day the school bus
will return to us again
The air was toxic so you had to wear a mask
when you went outside.

©David Siller – 2021

*****

For the first 100 days of the Biden administration, this website will feature a new poem of What’s Next!? These pieces can be calls to action, calls to attention, or calls to anger. They will light the way and guide the fight. They will get us moving and keep our momentum. They will be filled with hope, with anger, with sorrow. They will get us into good trouble and point out the trouble we need to stop. They will be polished gems, or rough-cut drafts of rage, or in-process pieces searching for peace. They may be haiku or tanka, limericks or lyrics, verses free or fettered.

#100Days100Poems of What’s Next!? wants your poems, your prose, your visual art (photos, drawings, sculptures), your music, your short films and animations. Interpret the theme as broadly as you’d like.

If you would like to submit to this endeavor, please send an email, with your visual art (as .jpg or .pdf) or your poem saved as a word document (.docx) to waxyandpoetic AT gmail DOT com. Include a short bio (2-3 sentences) and social media/website information. All rights remain with the author. Please address any formatting preferences in your email. Waxyandpoetic.com will post submissions time permitting, with at least one per day beginning 20 January 2021.

Read, follow, share, submit, live, love, spread light! Don’t forget to use #100Days100Poems !

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