To Critics of the Artist

The first time I set pen to paper
Words played catch and release with
The chambers of my heart.
Like Lucifer casting lines into pools of desire,
Hooks snagged onto right brain matter.
You didn’t know it yet
But you lost me then to a lifetime of loving
The way a syllable can call revolutions and revelations
To arms in the same breath.
My lungs expanded—
The empty air is a waiting room for prefixes
Rioting for recombination.
Sentence fragments
Intimate with their own gravity
Petition for a glimpse at reality.
Better men than me have folded to doubt
Yet I cannot help craving creation.
I have listened too many times to
The exaltation of the electron
at the expense of the easel.
Don’t dismiss Degas.
Don’t tell the girl who picks the pen
she won’t earn a dime
And then bemoan the state
of American innovation.
Debris drives decay;
The poet’s fall is collateral damage
On a quest for modern enlightenment.
My brother once instructed me to think practically.
His eyes shined wide,
two blank checks
walking themselves to the bank.
He is the champion of clarity and now charity
But you should look to me
only for vulgarity;
Bowed on my knees, I surrender to art.
Monet painted the river Thames
Almost one hundred times because he said
He liked the light.
All I’m asking for is one chance
To try what feels right.

poem by Haley Lee, age 16
2014 Gold Key, Silver Medal
BASIS Scottsdale, Scottsdale

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