Writing Heals! Alumni Rich Shares their Poetry

Rich had been a Free Arts participant and alumni for two years.  They are a gifted writer and will be attending college at Arizona State University this fall to pursue a degree in creative writing.  They are a 2020 Nina Mason Pullium Legacy Scholar.

Where Did the Time Go??

This poem was created at the spur-of-the-moment and is  about how the world has become a timeless trudge and how I’ve grounded myself back on track.

Where’d the time go?

My skin sings restless

Dread cloys like syrup in my lungs

I wake to work

And lose myself in the blur of

Thoughts grinding between my teeth

A hand on my shoulder and “Dinner’s ready”

Has the day passed on this empty, blinking cursor?

Or have I twinned with evening?

Where does the time go?

Forgotten reminders of dropped plans

Events corralled out of sight

Play out a parallel daydream

Calendars void into slashes

And the tapestry drains

Deadlines, either sylph or suplex

Murky takedowns that swell and crest like waves

Was there a direction before?

Where is my time going?

Until, there

A steadfast date, an aureate anchor

The brassy reflect stirring the gray

Just enough for a hint of an artery

To tightrope across

Back to life

Alright, where’d my pen go?


This piece was written for the completion of Free Arts’ new building, the Bob and Renee Parsons Place for Art and Transformation. It’s a tribute to the growth the organization both experienced and engenders in young people.

Transformations are often regarded in past tense, in moments taken to step back and admire the contrast from before to after, a now simple hop between images or concepts. And it can be absolutely inspiring, seeing how all of this has stemmed from a yard sale for fifty kids and the enduring dedication of a few to so many.

But we tend to lose sight of the important process inherent to the word ‘transformation.’ We hear it and think ‘one thing into another,’ see the results as suddenly there, with the mind skipping over that between stage of becoming. So we may take for granted the amount of effort put into the projects and people we endeavor to create.

But a shift in emphasis from the result to this journey would bring to light the sheer strength and drive it took to reach where and who we are now.

And how do we go about this journey of becoming? It can be hard to thrive when you aren’t sown a pretty lot in life. You can’t always claw your roots up to find more forgiving soil; we’re often left with at least traces of our upbringings, no matter how barren.

Because there’s no total demolition of the past, no complete razing of a life already lived. There’s always a skeletal structure, a foundation left. And it is what we choose to build off of it, how we choose to grow along that trellis that finds us in this process: this active answer of growth.

Through growth, the bad becomes wisdom and the good is magnified in the new. You have to let yourself be bigger than the bad, make room within yourself beyond the shame and guilt for your joy, your talent, the knowledge of your worth. Have it be the type of growth that allows for more growth, because you’re never your final you. And sometimes this growth requires a nurturer.

It’s easy to admire a flower in passing; it takes a caring eye to realize the verve of a stalk uprooted time and time again, survivor of bulldozing and pesticides, as it dares to blossom anew. It takes an even more devoted gardener to nourish such trampled buds back to vibrancy.

Perhaps even more immense than looking back at how far we have come is to see it in a future tense, to rewind to the root and think of how far it is to go. This corner, this seed, this pin drop of sanctuary was founded by the courage to start.

Compassion not dwarfed by the number of those in need, these people started where they could and venture always to do so much more. They did not start here; we are in the midst of the journey of this cause. In becoming capable themselves, they now cultivate that efficacy in others, from a couple of classrooms to entire campuses worth of us.

They see us now, those left behind with the audacity to want better, the nerve to dream for more. To them, we are not wilted, we are not decayed, we are not gone. We are dormant but for a season, having weathered too much too soon. We are perennials, everlasting.

And here is where the kindling of healing starts to show, because when you nurture something, it grows, and it blooms, and it flourishes. And you can read that love in these walls, in the way children’s drawings climb like ivy, in how sunlight slants in and sparks belonging like photosynthesis. Like a heart, arteries into veins back to its epicenter, this landmark in green renewal and white inspiration has an openness so many of us aren’t afforded, haven’t been allowed before. There is room to move, to make, to be; a stage to showcase and promote, a garden for leaves of grass to sing songs of ourselves, to let reluctant roots finally settle. And all around are those gardeners who bolster us to transform our stories from tragedies into triumphs.

Above it all is canvas ready for decades of memories made in the pursuit of resilience, and a decade can promise so much. And just like twenty-five years or a lifetime, it starts with a day and a decision.

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