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I Know What It's Like This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I know what it's like

stretching that paycheck

that just won't reach

I know what it's like

searching for change

underneath the cushion of a seat



I know what it's like

going with Mommy to make

that tiring journey down the welfare line

I know what it's like

watching her at the kitchen table

figuring out how she'll ever pay the bills and rent on time



I know what it's like

being ashamed of where you live

growing up in the same old projects for nearly 15 years

And I know what it's like

flinching at each bullet boom

as I try, without success, to hold back the tears



I know what it's like

not knowing how we'll keep on going

will we get through another day

worrying about what's going on inside Mom's head

wondering if she can go on this way



I know what it's like

being the optimist at times like these

praying it'll get better as time rolls by

trying to plant the seeds of hope

within a cloud way up in the sky



I know what it's like

to try to figure out the meaning of hope

this four letter word pleasant to the ears and soft to the touch

wondering if we can rely on its empty dreams

and hollow promises a little too much



I know what it's like

thinking how on earth

could hope possibly help anyone living here

but I can see the answers in my mom's face

one of faith and determination and not a hint of fear



Hope seems to be on her side

even when things are looking pretty bad

it's never once run, or dared to hide

She clings to hope with all her strength and might

head raised up high for all to see

ready for the struggle, and prepared for the fight



It's the little things that make the fight all worthwhile

when she can look at a tall stack of bills in dismay

but still turn to me and offer a warm smile

Or how she comes up with a few extra dollars for me out of thin air

even when I'm sure it could have served a better purpose

she'll hand it over without a second thought, as I simply gape and stare



On the wings of hope she soars

far above the jagged cliffs of pain and anguish

allowing herself to let go, be free, and practically ignore

She glides in close to me

enshrouds me in the warmth of her wings

and I am effortlessly carried away, and I know true peace.



Oh, yes, I know what it's like

I've been there many times before

not knowing quite how you'll satisfy all your many wants and needs.

But I most definitely know what it's like

in the face of all these headaches, heartaches, and pure hell

to come back, overcome, and succeed.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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