2021 Poetry Ourselves: "This is a poem about failure" by Soojin Park

A companion to Poetry Out Loud, the Poetry Ourselves competition gives students the opportunity to submit original poetry. The 2021 competition was open to state and jurisdictional champions.

Soojin Park, Alabama’s 2021 Poetry Out Loud Champion, is the 2021 Poetry Ourselves written poetry runner-up for the poem “This is a poem about failure."

"This is a poem about failure."

The curtain opens to
The HOPEFULS stand at center stage.
In the cavity of willful destruction we
long for the Sisyphean
we break our bones so they will
                               grow back stronger
break bowls so we can
                               fill the cracks with gold

we knew the gold in our hands were rocks in disguise
as though graphite dipped in sun were not still lead
                 paperweight tied to feet kissing
                 the bottom of the sea

we pull up the head attached to the shoulders
that pull up the torso attached to the legs
that stand on two shaking feet
pulley and lever simple machines
strings attached to sinews of tendon between
and back to blade of shoulder
we claim the weight of the world on our shoulders
as if it were ours
spike in heart
chip on shoulder

and yet
convention adds insult to injury
affirmation adds pain to perjury
we are safely endangered but
                               do not know it
acting naturally but
                               fooling no one
it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts


The DISILLUSIONED exit stage right.


Two worlds divided by this ocean curtain
Wallow in this perfect pity, drowning
deaf to the               talking truth

But know,
Look up and you will see light
Walk and the ground will rise

My dear,
this silence was never dread—
they are simply
still waiting
for the encore