simmered voices

by Jean E., 18

Like the big smack

The ears and their unwillingness 

That cracks upon hearing harsh confrontations

Soon will turn back  

And react 


Me, I have confidence, I don’t 

Lack that

Cause her saying that

Talking to me like that

Man that’s kinda wack

She shut me out

And pushed me back, but

Like a boomerang, I came

Right back, just like that 

And now I’m in a better place 

One where her words aren’t placed

Like a foot on my neck as I gasped for

Air upon a dreary gaze

Like she’ll never believe this

But I made it to a higher place

In the better space and I like it

But my brain and what it lacks

The words that came and I couldn’t place

Them onto my heart, they just wouldn’t sit 

It’s like I had a heart attack attacking

Like a child who doesn’t want his broccoli

So he had the chair rockin’ 

It’s like how I heard the thunders strike and striking

And how the cracking

Had my attention

Drifting from whatever she was


And the pain had come 

As people were watching, so I tried

To maintain a fake smile only because I

Felt ashamed at her questioning

Her words were drifting and blackening

My mind till she was out of my sight

Like a log fading away

Or a puppy leaving where he’ll stay

But now gone away and astray

I could still feel the presence of the harshness

Because when I was vulnerable

And I felt weak, it meant 

That it was time for her to feed

When my mouth was shut

And I didn’t say anything 

Or do anything 

Cause if I did

I’d end up in the pound like a pup

Like my people that knew, they’re 

Talking about who was fighting 

With peaceful protest, that’s how they fought 

That doesn’t mean that they’re soft 

Against the violence we sought

It’s the fact that you can’t add more fire

To fire just like today that fire will stay

The same because that fire, if we add more

To it, will just become their desire

So we’ve been able to stay mellow but

We had fought and we had enough

Have you ever been in a war that you didn’t

Intend while you were peacefully protesting?

Because it’s tough

Because you’re fighting against a gun with 

Your peaceful voice is rough

So I wanted to bite down like a big mutt, like

The squirrel that chews and chopped his nut

But I didn’t, I just didn’t fuss 

Because I was in my

Grown age, not the stone age

Which would have been thought

To be a new age but still, things have 

Changed, and we were so close 

Because like the woman

Who was thought to be weak

But strong enough to stay in her

Seat as they tried to make her move

To the backseat 

Like the many attempts to make us stay on our knees

That didn’t succeed

So they’ve grown to anger

And the great became the assassinated 

As he stated he had a dream 

Do you understand? I’m saying 

I’m not taking it anymore

Like the lion, I’m roaring as emotions are shell-

Shocked and shattering and I’m coming

Out of them and I’m stopping this

From ever happening because I have a race

I’m representing and the up and coming

Whose now up for teaching cause they don’t

See us as kids 

But as grown men who are on the

Verge of going straight down the 

Pipeline because that learned characteristic

To hate is from the conception of thought

So what I’m going to do along with you 

Is simmer down with a calm voice

Cause it speaks loud louder and

More effective than the invisible

Shackles and whips that hit

Because when they thought

The hit was tremendous

And looked at us when 

They thought we fell

In agony, we had only

Rose likes the beautifully bloomed ebony.

Asbury Park, New Jersey

Notes from our interns on selecting this piece: Excellent rhythm. Unexpected line breaks. Words that practically read themself off the page. Crackling similes and strong details. This is a voice that demands to be heard.