I want to belong among the cool ones,

The confident and clever,

Who seem to breeze through life.

I want to belong among the wise ones,

The thinkers and dreamers,

Who cultivate ideas and courage.

I want to belong among the odd ones,

The shy and thoughtful,

Who prefer the company of a page.

I want to belong in friendships.

I want to belong in family.

I want to belong in career.

I want to belong in community.

I want to belong, and stay belonging, and belong unconditionally.

I want to belong in my own skin,

The flaws and the journeys,

Someone who knows, and owns, and loves.


Red Bandanna

She wears a black hoodie every day,

Extra large and long,

A red bandanna around her neck.

Her long hair in a ponytail, slightly greasy,

Out of her face, though strands slip across her forehead.

An outfit that deflects attention,

Lets no one know she is changing underneath,

Leaving behind those simple years of childhood.

She glances up and then quickly down,

But she also wears a smile. 

She has friends.  She knows it.

She is eager, wry, attractive in her carelessness.


I approach softly, observing,

Knowing the type – being the type, once, in a way –

Waiting for a cool entry.

Then manga.

She shows me her sketches and her books,

Drops names like shojo and Sailor Moon.

I can’t keep up, but I try to stay curious –

Howl’s Moving Castle?

Try to make connections, Hmm, sounds cool.


We can’t build bonds from manga,

Me feeling too dated to dive into that world,

Her wanting a private escape

That sets her apart from daily grief.

(Later, I learn: mother is in jail. 

Dad – not doing well.)

She still tucks her chin within the red bandanna,

Pulls her hoodie around her.

But she looks up at me, and she begins to trust.

The One-Uppers

You moved to the suburbs?

We bought the whole farm.

You’re proud of your clever?

We’re oozing with charm.

Your dog learned to beg?

Ours twirls on one leg.

Your kid earned straight A’s?

Ours wrote the whole play.

You cook with some garlic?

Gourmet in our stomach.

You like jazz and rock?

We’re only for Bach.

You want us to leave?

We’re staying till three.

You’ll slap us, you’re sure?

We’re so insec—