4 poems about friendships written by Pittsburgh kids in an era of hate
Higher Achievement hosted its annual “Love Out Loud” literary poetry evening on March 27, partnering for the first time with Community Day School. This year’s edition of “Love Out Loud” focused on the theme of “Love Thy Neighbor.”
With Higher Achievement kids coming from some of the city’s most underprivileged neighborhoods, and with Jewish kids from Community Day, the experience crossed racial lines and promoted understanding and communication between participants.
Here is a sampling of the evening’s readings:
“The Girl on the Other Side”
This poem was co-authored by two girls, Samari R. and Sophia L – one from Higher Achievement and one from Community Day School.
Morning rolls around, and out the bed I go.
Thinking about what catastrophes come next.
Being black is nothing new, but having fears is what I’m used to.
Oh, nothing I ever felt but straight defeat.
I open the front door, stepping into the afternoon sunshine,
and the air is fresh and sweet and pure.
My thoughts wander, a seamless stream of water,
the day’s doubts swept away in the current of change.
I open the white door, to a polluted type air.
It’s nasty, drug-filled and disgusting.
Holding my own breath, feeling like there will always be a target on my own back.
Unknown to the world, is what I am.
I wonder how I can change it.
I see a girl on the other side of the street,
hair pulled up, shoulders back, headphones in.
I wonder if she is walking through a different kind of world,
lost in music or her own roaring thoughts, fears
I walk to the beat of Rihanna
Forgetting the world around me.
I see a girl on the other side
Walking a small brown dog
I wonder if life is treating her well.
My community is my oxygen; I never hold my breath,
so I bounce a smile to her, hoping she can share this calm, this peace
And I wonder what life is like on each side of her front door.
What music plays in her neighborhood? Birds? Traffic? Silence?
In this world, I learn to hold my own breath
Not knowing when it’s my last.
In the windows, I look into.
Escaped life, is what goes down my spine.
I cross the street.
So does the girl on the other side.
It’s like the road is a mirror—
I can only see what’s on the surface
My thoughts are protected, but I want to set them free
I want to know this girl on the other side of the street
Who’s standing beside me, just for a moment
I keep walking but I continue to wonder
What it would be like to say hello
To meet the girl beside me
I’m tired of hiding behind the fear of the unknown, so
I let the mirror be swept through my thoughts’ steady flow.
I turn back to the girl, and I say
“More than a Neighbor”
By Jordan R., Hill District Achievement Center
Not the same mother, not the same father
But you’re more than a neighbor, you’re a sister / brother
The skin is different, but you’re not another
When crisis rise, we have to be there for each other
Love is love, we have to love one another
Hate is a sin, so don’t hate each other
Think like each other, be like each other
Don’t hate on each other, love on one another
“Neighbors and I”
By Sierra S., Homewood Achievement Center
Have conversation, snap simple sports, and spend time together.
Being a good friend and giving gift baskets.
I see spring and fall, coming with beautiful flowers and leaves.
Happy Spirits, Happy Spirit!
Team Spirits, Team Spirit!
Here comes the team spirit and neighbors.
“Love My Neighbor”
By Grace S., West End Achievement Center
Though so far away,
We may cherish this day.
You seem so clear,
With the touch of a button,
Like the touch of a seer.
You always care when I’m broke,
I love you as a neighbor
And I will not joke.
It is like a joy
To see you every day.
I am proud to be friends with you,
Even a country away.
“Won’t you be my neighbor?”