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4 years old, the boy,

Likes dinosaurs and legos

coloring things on white paper

he likes to draw butterflies and flowers

Tall, strong trees full of leaves


8 years old, the boy,

likes riding bikes and drawing;

Etching things on lined paper

Later he’ll use those lines for a story about


Tall, strong words full of meaning


12 years old, the boy,

likes drawing sunsets and waterfalls

The things he designs are “for girls”

He has to use his fists to defend himself

when he would rather use them to cradle a paintbrush

Like how his mom held him close

as he came home from school and yelled

“Mom! Michael didn’t hit me today!”

The other boys call him things

things that make him cry when he gets home

Tall, strong words full of meaning


14 years old, the boy,

Doesn’t really like anything anymore

He stays inside most of the time

and washes his hands frequently

because whenever the bullies had him on the ground

he noticed his hands were dusty; so he doesn’t like dust

He tries to be himself but that’s too hard now

No more words, half dead

Didn’t take art like he wanted to

Void of meaning



16 years old, the boy,

like music and poetry

and the solace of words

tall, strong beautiful words

He wants to be a musician someday

The other boys don’t like him, but that’s okay

Those times they pushed him around

Those times they made him cry

Later he’ll use those lines in his book he’s writing


He says he’s been growing the book for 17 years

From a small acorn

each page covered in those butterflies and flowers

He likes writing and he doesn’t care what people think of him

The book stands: a beacon

Tall, strong, a heretic in plain sight

And casting light on the darkness he feels

The book may not mean much to others

Like how you pass a thousand trees on your way to the grocery store

To pick up your 1,000th jug of milk

But to him it is tall, strong

and full of healing

This poem is about how bullying messes up your mindset and stops you from doing things you want to do. Sometimes it seems like the only thing you are is a victim, and there is nothing you can do to make that stop. Bullying is massive.