These hallways are a battleground.
We smear on war paint with a side of toast.
In our backpacks we wedge weapons of self destruction in between our textbooks.
We have paper shields for protection,
Perforated graph paper to show our peers a different us.
An “us” that’s deemed safe from slurs and verbal punches.
They squash empathy and beauty; make sure you don’t show any.
Your body is a weapon but it will only ever destroy you.
Your life becomes a calendar,
Each day is a tick mark closer to your demise.
Become a body hanging from a newly blossomed tree.
Hear the bees hum under your limp limbs.
Become a body buried under the row of tulips.
Feel the roots entangle themselves around your tangled being.
There will be no more “goodmorning”s or “I love you”s.
Only goodbyes in the form of empty desks and unwritten papers.
They’ve got suicide notes in their back pockets,
But the teacher doesn’t care ‘cause that wasn’t the assignment.
The death threats and traveling whispers are swallowed with an “it happens”.
A mother mourns her child’s death with prayers− “Oh God, what did I do wrong?”,
A father can only bear to look at himself through the bottom of the glass,
And a sister grasps the concept of loss as her brother is nailed onto the cross,
But it happens.
Become the boy in the school speakers,
Your name echoes through empty hallways.
Become a hurricane of sorrow to people who never knew you,
For the people who abused you.
They could never mourn you between passing time
Because they were only ever just passing time,
Chipping away until there was nothing left to say.
Become a grain of salt in an hourglass,
Falling through the cracks.
The sand doesn’t sit at the bottom waiting for a restart.
The grains are gone and you will never get a second chance.
Kai wrote this poem as an 18-year-old in Plymouth, Minnesota.