Dear Todd: I Hate You Now. You Broke My Heart. Your Words So Mean Tore Us Apart.*

May 30, 2010

Note: I’m leaving today for Washington, D.C., via train so will be posting when I can. Connectivity is uncertain on the rails.

That’s the way it is with poetry. When it is incomprehensible, it seems profound, and when you understand it, it is only ridiculous. • Galway Kinnell

I remember sitting in the back seat of the car while my mother drove us to some sort of church meeting that I’d been looking forward to until my heart got broken. As my mother and her friend talked in the front seat, I watched the rain on the window and cried silently. I didn’t want them to hear because I didn’t want to hear anything about how I’d get over it. I knew I wouldn’t.

Skeeter Davis was singing “The End of the World” on the radio. It’s the perfect breakup song, letting the breakee know that s/he isn’t alone:

Why does the sun go on shining,

Why does the sea rush to shore.

Don’t they know, it’s the end of the world,

Cause you don’t love me anymore.

I share this bit of history because I’m officially kicking off my BADolescent Poetry Contest. I will personally provide $50.00 to the person who submits the best angst-ridden poem about adolescence. The contest is for anyone who is—or ever has been—a teenager. Length? Long enough to be meaningful and short enough not to be annoying. Details to come.

You can post your poetry as a comment at badolescence.wordpress. Find it at http://www.badolescence.wordpress.com/. I’ll be posting some favorites I’ve saved over the years. Revel in this sample from 1993 of what you can expect:

If my boobs were bigger

And my butt weren’t so wide,

Would you love me then, Keith,

Or would you still hide?

If my hair were curlier

And my zits went away,

Would you love me then, Keith,

Or would you still say,

“Let’s just be friends, Jill.

I like you a lot,

But some girls are for dating,

And you, Jill, you’re not!”

All these years later, I still can’t hear Skeeter Davis sing that song without thinking about my first love and my first broken heart.

Do you have a memory—or a poem—about young love or other adolescent experiences?

At fourteen you don’t need sickness or death for tragedy. • Jessamyn West

* Name changed to protect the guilty.



  1. Save Me From My Fate
    Oh my goodness look at my face-
    There are red dots all over the place.
    Red ones, black ones, white ones too-
    They are all over you!
    Then there’s the problem of asking someone out-
    They’ll turn me down without a doubt.
    Mom may I have the car please?
    You know I steer it with such ease.
    I’m an athlete your such a great star-
    We’re both trying to figure out who we are.
    There is smoking and drinking that you can try-
    But be careful while trying so you do not die.
    Where will I go to college I think?
    I don’t want to end up in the drink.
    Decisions, decisions, weighing over me-
    When all I really want to do is flee.
    You’re ready to enjoy this time in your life-
    You won’t complete it without any of strife.
    So take the plunge and don’t you look back-
    All you can do is jump off the track.
    By Patti McKenna

  2. Patrick was his name
    he liked to play mind games
    I thought he was my soul mate
    He was so cute, so funny, totally great
    He was from the wrong side of the tracks, a little bit bad
    This made my mother very mad
    I decided that I would give him my heart
    And hope and pray we would not part
    But Patrick liked to play around
    He was smoking and drinking all over town
    This made me like him all the more
    Mom tried to pull me away, I was tore
    Patrick won, I wouldn’t listen to her, didn’t want to mind
    But then Patrick got bored, I was in a bind
    He decided he was tired of me
    What did I do wrong, I could not see
    I begged and pleaded for him not to go
    I had given him my heart, I thought he loved me so
    He said goodbye
    I had to cry
    Mom didn’t say “I told you so”, she just opened her arms and said don’t cry
    Someday you’ll find the perfect guy

    (his last name was Hornick, hence…)

    He broke up with me
    I didn’t want this
    Later that night I cried, wondering how…
    Then came the brain worms
    My fingers did the walking
    I called to see if
    1. He was as miserable as me
    2. Out with someone else; or
    3. Home alone like me

    I listened to his “hello” and hung up
    I hoped his misery matched mine
    After hearing his voice on the third nights call,
    I hung up feeling smug in the knowledge that he wasn’t having fun.
    Just then a call for me
    I answered happily to hear the caller quietly hang up the phone.
    I see that I am a stalker.

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