Translating My Bad Teenage Poetry

Like many other writers in training, I wrote a lot of embarrassing stuff as a teenager. In fact, from junior year of high school to my sophomore year of college, I kept a word doc called “Writings” that spanned over thirty pages of weird free verse poetry. The subjects are all rather vague and serious (They’re so unfunny that they’re hysterical) so I figured I would repost some of the gems on here and try to explain myself for this horrible no good very bad type of writing. Warning: The following things you’re about to read are from a very scared and sad gay teenager. Do not judge me.

If Someone Asked

If someone asked what our love felt like, I would say that it felt like the paintings everyone saw in the sixties where the color was never well defined but always memorable. And if someone asked me to remember every detail, I would only be able to remember sleeping the days away with a boy naked on my mother’s bed. And the one time when you made me sob & all I could look at was the torn fabric in your jacket because if I looked at your face, I would realize how ugly you were & I wanted to think of you as beautiful.

If someone asked what our friendships felt like, I would say it felt like one of those shows you see on the television with everyone laughing and crying together. And I would say that together we all made mistakes & we put that stuff up our noses because we could and because it was Saturday and there was nothing to do. But at least we were together. If someone asked how close we all felt to one another, I would say that our parents drank & loved us when they could but our friends all drank together & we could love one another all the time. And that time when you let that boy push your face in the ground, we were there to pick you up even though we knew it would happen again. We weren’t going to feel stupid when it did happen again. If someone asked me if we were all perfect, I would say no but it makes perfect sense for us to be all together enjoying one another’s imperfections.

If someone asked me if this what I want, I would say one mustn’t ask so many questions.

But yes.

Sadly, this is one of the best “pieces”. I don’t really know what I was thinking when I compared my relationship in high school to a painting in the sixties, but whatever. Also, I feel like I should clarify that I never did coke in high school. When I wrote “put that stuff up our noses”, I really meant “smoke that joint and have serious paranoia”. I was actually terrified of coke back then. There was a time when all of these 14-year-old freshmen were doing it in my high school and it blew my mind. These kids idolized bands like The New York Dolls, wore glitter to school and occasionally even went gay for each other! Are you kidding? When I was fourteen, I was listening to The Cranberries and looking up photos of Antonio Banderas on the internet. When did everyone become so advanced?

The Evolution Of Our Hearts

Is it easier to know our hearts or anatomy? I would like to know how I work so I can explain it to the boy whose heart I smashed into a million pieces. Do you think he could understand? How long do you think I can get away with it all? I’m just loving people like mother & father do. I should know better by now but I don’t. I pushed him off of me right when he said he loved me & I kicked him when he fell down. There are waves & waves of grief just sitting on my doorstep & I don’t know what to do with any of it. When all your mistakes stare you in the face, it’s easier to punch than kiss. I don’t want to love.

I was obsessed with this idea of our hearts being like a really emotional person instead of a part of our anatomy, and writing “&” instead of “and’ because it looked more precious (Okay, I still do that sometimes on my Tumblr. Blog habits die hard).

Old Timer

Turning twenty isn’t as profound as one thinks it to be. You start paying bills & you start looking for jobs that aren’t such a bummer. This is enough to make you feel adult. But you’re still falling down drunk in the street and sleeping with that guy who doesn’t know how to spell “monogamy”. What does a twenty year-old deserve exactly? You’ve got so many crutches that’ll be there for you now and when you’re thirty. Age really is just a number. You can take those drugs & you can sleep with those boys until you decide to start swallowing vitamins instead of Vicodin and start sleeping with men rather than with boys. Who really wants this change? I guess we all want a simpler kind of life down the road. Everything loses its luster eventually and no one wants to be that obnoxious old guy at closing time. Closing time happens when you’re twenty & it’s up to you to leave or keep treating yourself like the sweet piece of flesh you were at sixteen.

Closing time happens when you’re twenty? LOL. You can’t even go to bars yet. Reading this on the eve of my 25th birthday makes me feel actually old and like I need a big slap in the face.

HYPOCRITICAL NOTHINGNESSS 

There’s a pressure to do nothing. To do nothing but pat yourself on the back. It’s a time of indulgence and narcissism. These days, all you need to be a celebrity is a v-neck and a drug habit. Excuse me while I make myself gag because this is already sounding too self-aware, too jaded and too redundant. I apologize. SO where is love, love & love? Love only exists in the pages of books and films. And those aren’t always the right books and the right films. No one seems to be open to love in this city. They love themselves too much to love another soul. They speak in tongues, they speak in names, they speak in dollars. They don’t speak in empathy and they don’t speak in happiness. Today and tomorrow, we will be having more sex and less love. We’re feeding our weaknesses and starving our strengths. All just to be another wasted boy on a hip street corner. As long as there is a camera and as long as people want you, you’ll feel better getting the drip and the come down and the queen size bed you sleep in alone. I want to be funny but you all won’t let me. Let me make you laugh. Let me get something out of you. I’m going to give up soon and just join you. Sniff, sniff, glug, glug. God, you wouldn’t know what was real or fake if it killed you. Blend it all together and you get one confused era. And what are we supposed to tell our children? “Sorry about the global warming and smog but Daddy was too busy masturbating to himself.” Go away internet. Go away Los Angeles. Go away drugs. Go away gossip. Let us all find ourselves again through conversation, late dinners and important records.
THIS IS ALL SO FAKE. I WANT INTERNET FAME, I WANT LINDSAY LOHAN, I WANT XANAX, I’LL TRADE MY HAPPINESS FOR A COBRASNAKE PICTURE!

Ugh, I wrote this when the whole Internet It Girls thing was happening in L.A.. I was living in San Francisco at the time and I remember just feeling this combination of envy and disgust while looking at these pictures of drunk sixteen-year-olds. Six years later, I guess the message is still relevant. This is getting to be mortifying. I can only do one more.

To SF

i want to be marie antoinette & i want to let them eat cake. i want fridays off & i want my big apartment to not feel so big. i want to get drunk with people i have nothing in common with, if for no other reason than to get something in common with them. i want to over-accessorize & i want to bare my arms, chest & legs. i want to spend a lot of money on anything & everything. i want to figure out how to love someone who doesn’t want to love me. i want my best friends to develop various addictions & beat them. i want to shoplift with people who like to shoplift & i want to get caught. i want to be engulfed in fog. i want strawberry lemonade & fine dining. i want to listen to “bedsitter” by soft cell & think about why i was friends with the girl who dressed like a dinosaur for so long. i want to discover every nook & cranny of this city & i want to know that i’m happy here & that your homes & my homes have been sanctuaries for all of us. i want us to know that we did it. that we successfully made new homes for ourselves without mom and dad. i want you to know that for as long as i lived in this damn city, i was a homosexual in theory but not in practice. i want to love the stability that i’ve been given. i want to master the art of never going to class but having your grades tell a different story. i want the park, you know the one, with the sunshine & hot boys and girls. i want mistakes made in the privacy of house parties. & most of all, i want the city to know that i care & say thanks & no thanks to all the experiences i’ve acquired whilst living there.

I wrote this after I left San Francisco at age twenty and I stopped writing this weird stuff shortly thereafter. When you’re younger, everything is larger than life and very dramatic but that’s because you don’t know how to feel things any other way. I think that’s what sticks out the most to me about being a teenager—feeling things so much and not realizing that it was cheesy and over the top. That was who I was though and I didn’t know how to experience things in a quieter way. As traumatizing it is to read some of this stuff, it makes me happy to know that I’ve grown up a little. And I’ve stopped talking about out “hearts” and “&&&&&&&&”. Thank the adult gods! But on the real, does anyone else still have the bad stuff they wrote when they were a teenager? If you do, please share them in the comments section! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

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