Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Time is Now


My face
is a book

of invisible
scars. Each 

scar tells
a story.

Each story

Back when I
was small.

Alex G.
Southwestern High School
InsideOut Student
Detroit Public Schools

This bit of tenderness from a six-foot tall, puffy-faced high school student who didn't like to talk. 

I wish I'd written this, yes, for sure. 

But I'm glad that, as a kid, I didn't see myself in this particularly skewed way—or maybe I did but I simply didn't know how to put words to what I was seeing—a way that made Alex, when he looked into his mirror, see a face that was "a book of invisible scars."

Only the poet in us knows what I like to call "the real me, the one nobody sees." I borrow this line from Sandra Cisnersos' The House on Mango Street and use it to get students to look closely, to dig deeper, to feel and then speak and make art from that feeling.

Sometimes that "real me" is larger than life, a spiritual giant of sorts.

Take a look at this poem by Quin'dara, one of those rare students who was born to be a poet.


The real me
that nobody sees
is walking
on mid air.

When the wind
blows hard
I do not fall.

There is always a piece
of mid-air wind
that I alone
am walking on.

No one understands
that I am the one
bringing the wind
its destination.

The wind stands over
and watches over
everyone. I am like
another God

that nobody sees
walking across the sky.

Quin'dara G.
Southwestern High School
InsideOut Student
Detroit Public Schools

Once again, I wish I'd written this.

I hope you'll consider making a donation, TODAY, yes, the TIME is NOW, to the InsideOut Literary Arts Project through the Community Foundation's challenge grant. Go the website NOW (the site goes live at 10:00 a.m. EST) and stretch your gift to InsideOut by 50%.


Help more poets like Quin'dara see and give voice to "the real me." 

Help more students like Alex G. give themselves permission to say what they otherwise wouldn't be able to say.

That's what we're all about here at InsideOut.

What is inside us, waiting unseen and hiding unheard, needs to be brought out.

As real as I can be, 
Peter Markus

P.S. A big THANK YOU to all of you who read these email pleas and THANKS to EVERY ONE of you, whether you can donate now or not, I've appreciated all the kind words written and spoken back to me in response to the words of these InsideOut students.


  1. It's a burner, for sure. Later appeared in Hanging Loose if you know the mag.