For Maddie Elliot

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on the fragility of our human lives, the time limits on all of us that we simply cannot see. I know that I wrote it yesterday, yet I had no idea I was actually writing about one of the most beautiful souls kristina-m-m-158842I have ever known. I was yet to realize a wonderful friend and kind heart had just been lost.

This is for Madeline Elliot.

Though I knew her through classes and crossed paths throughout the years, even I could tell that Maddie was truly one of a kind. She was the kind of girl who could bring a smile to anyone’s face with one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard. Every time I talked to her, whether it was about something important or simply trivial, we always ended up talking for so much longer than we had planned because she was just that kind of personshe could connect with anyone.

From the moment I met her I knew one thing: this girl is going to touch so many lives. And she has. Because it isn’t about how long you live, but truly how you live. She did it beautifully. From someone who keeps their phone password as her birthday and the best friends whose lives were changed with her in it, to the strangers she passed on the street with a simple smile to lighten their day and the people who knew her, adored her, and she didn’t even know… This girl was incredible. Her presence was a light in so many peoples lives, including mine, and when I said in my post yesterday to tell people you love them, I meant it. Because things like this happen, we lose people, and loved ones are gone before they had a chance to make this life their own. But I know that Maddie did, she lived a beautiful life of faith, impacting so many people with who she was. Her loss is a great one, her love was infectious, and her memory will last forever in each one of us.


I wrote this for you Maddie.

I live for the strangers who smile at me as they pass by and those who always remind me that they care.

I live for the “have a good night”‘s from the elderly because they’ve seen enough of bad ones, they know life can be unfair.

I live for the people who know how to laugh, straight from the belly with their heads tipped back in abandon.sabine-van-straaten-280388

And I live for the people who have changed my life, and they never even knew how many pieces of me came from them.

There’s something about free spirits, the ones who’s hearts beat and it feels like the world is beating along;

Every breath they take, the wind blows a little longer. Every connection they make, their life grows a little stronger.

There is warmth in their smile, their hope, their being— that irreplaceable kind of energy that makes the world keep moving

and time keep changing, as the world around us moves, these are the kind of people who help us to get up and move along too.

But sometimes we have to slow down, we lose something big, someone important, and we forget about the moving,

the loving, the changing, the hoping… We might forget about the living to mourn those who can no longer do so.

So what do you do when the one who embodied the idea of life with their own, with their living and loving and hoping;

aaron-burden-195608The idea of making every breath one of beauty, of light, of changing the world by just being part of it.

What do you do when they’re gone?

You stop, take a moment, maybe two— take as many as you need— and you hold on to the blessing it is to know someone like that.

Take a breath, take a few, and remember what it means to tell someone those three little words, “I love you.”

Remember their heart that beat for the world to beat with them, remember the smiles they offered, the hope that they held.

Remember the moments they changed your life, the laughs they abandoned themselves to, the memories they made.

You hold on to the love they left behind for you.

And you spread that love, that hope, that faith; you spread it until there is no place in this world left untouched.

Make the laughter they held the healing you feel as time jerry-kiesewetter-189034goes on and the wounds of loss begin to close.

Say what you mean, those three little words, as many times as it takes for someone else to hear your voice.

And be there, in this world, be present in the lives of those you love. Because we never know how much time any of us have

to leave something good behind while we can.


My prayers go out to her family and her friends, to all those who knew Maddie, for my heart is with you. If anyone would like to support them in this time, here is the link to the gofundme page for Madeline.

In the words of Helen Keller,

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.”
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Another Week, Another Challenge

I am now two weeks into my second year of college and I’m beginning to remember what it was like to be constantly going— these are busy lives we live. Between early and late nick-morrison-325805classes every day, studying when I can, working when I should, and making time for the people that matter to me, there’s a lot to do these days. In some ways, I would rather be busy; it forces me to be productive with the time that I have.

But there are downsides to always planning productivity in free time.

Does anyone else get tired of doing the same routines every day? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that I know when I can expect to be busy or not, but it gets a little boring after a while. We’re only two weeks into classes, so of course I’m still figuring things out here like everyone else, yet I know I’m going to get to that point of boredom and monotony soon enough. With the first day of fall finally here and classes back in full swing, it’s time to really look at what kind of year I want this to be.

Because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but undergrad is only 4(-5) years of our lives. I’m already down to 3 left. I’ve got to make every little bit count.

Last year I came into college with this idea that even though the next four years of my life were supposed to encompass a social life, responsibility, growing up, and living a good life, I felt like my primary necessity was academics. So when I came to Cal Poly, I did more than prioritize my schoolwork— it’s almost all I did. Sure, I had my fair share of late nights spent doing absolutely nothing productive or random movie nights to watch The Grudge or Insidious. But there were too many nights I said “no, I’ve got to study” or multitasked instead, even when I didn’t need to. Looking back, it may have been excessive.javier-graterol-16314.jpg

If you ask anyone I lived with last year about me, they would probably say that I was put together, organized, and oh so focused. I actually heard that comment from people a lot, especially when friends were coming back from parties at 1Am and they walked into the common room to see me working on a chemistry lab. The thing is, I don’t think those are the right words to use for what I was like last year— not quite. So I want to set the record straight about freshman me, the correct term for what I was: I was not put together, organized, or truly focused when I needed to be… I was stressed out, constantly. So I worked to try to balance it out.

Staying up late to study or finishing things early, that wasn’t me trying to be the best student I could, that was me trying to do everything I could to keep the deadlines and the anxiety from catching up with me.

It was me trying to make up for flaws in myself that weren’t actually there.

But did the studying and the working ahead help at all? For short term passing classes, I guess it did, at least according to my okay grades. In the long run though, I look back and see all the missed opportunities to get out of my own head for a little while and out into the real world. Instead of pacing myself, I was always going at full speed and in the process, I didn’t take the time to figure out more than just my own academic habits.

So this year I am making one big change: I’m going to go out and live a life worth living. Not just one of academics and late nights spent with a calculator, pablo-heimplatz-243307but also of quiet nights with my best friends, and weekends of beach hopping for bonfires, and gym time that doesn’t feel too scheduled or forced, and doing at least one thing I love every day. Even for just five minutes.

Because this is important.

For my sophomore year, I am going to live my life in a way  that feels not like an obligation, but an opportunity. Maybe that’s the opportunity to join some new clubs and actually go to all the meetings this year, or maybe it’s making more and more friends all across campus until I can walk into any room and recognize at least one face. At some point, I think we all develop our own conclusions about what this life holds for us, and right now, I’m changing mine. I used to believe that my schoolwork was everything, between track or soccer or school clubs; my schoolwork always came first no matter what.

Yet now, I see that it’s more complicated than that. A lot more complicated.

Because schoolwork is still a priority, absolutely, but now, so am I. I have to pay attention to how I’m doing, how empty or full my life feels, and what I can do to change that. There are things we cannot learn in a classroom or simply by reading a book. And there are things we need that we cannot get out of a purely academic setting, like love, or friendship, or experience, or motivation. Many of these things might start off in a classroom, but to live a fulfilled life, we’ve got to go further than that.luca-bravo-24241.jpg

Take it from Hercules, we have to go the distance to experience this life for ourselves and push the limits of what we can do. That means getting up early some days just to see the sunrise, or going out with a few new faces simply because you have no good reason not to. Whether we hit a few roadblocks along the way, run after a few busses here and there, or  ]fall down a couple times, that’s all a part of it too. This is about living these lives that we hold, and for me, living out these last three college years with all that I’ve got.

I’ll leave off with Langston Hughes, in a short poem of what this is all about, and I’ll see you all next week.

“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”

Intro to September: Here’s something you need to know

Here’s a little honesty for you: I miss writing. Not because I don’t do it anymore, clearly, but because I haven’t been doing it for me. It’s been a while since I’ve put up a new poem of mine because, well, I haven’t been writing anything. hans-peter-gauster-252751Sometimes we put little pieces of ourselves on hold for other things, things we think are more important or more necessary like school or work. But after some time, we might lose those pieces. We might lose ourselves.

That’s the thing about growing up, losing pieces is a part of the process— as long as we find new ones. I’ve learned in my first year of college that people are going to come in and out of our lives. It doesn’t always matter how long they stuck around for, but really how they change us while they do. Some people give us more strength and happiness, other people give us more stress and misery. The trick is to find the right ones.

The people we surround ourselves with has a high impact on how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves can really change how we feel. September is World Suicide Prevention Month and this post was a very important information piece to me last year. This year I want to go in a different direction: I want to talk about us.

Every single one of us comes with flaws, I understand that fact— we wouldn’t be human otherwise. Growing up, I’ve been told that I’m a bit of a pushover. And I know that, patrick-tomasso-352184sometimes it’s been a good thing. Other times, not so much. But just because we all have our quirks and little thing we could do to be better, that doesn’t mean we should have to change who we are for anyone else. Health and well-being is extremely important for every single one of the 7.4 billion people in this world; it is such a big part of this month, of our lives. And it applies to every one of us when I say that you deserve to surround yourself with people who make you truly feel like it’s a life worth living.

So here’s to finding out who we can be with the people we deserve, flaws, fading adolescence, and all. Here’s to getting back into my writing and here’s to being okay with letting things go when we need to. Even when it’s hard.

Here’s I’m sorry

I’m sorry

I’m a pushover, I know.

People tend to exploit that

and that’s okay.

Because when you love them,

and they make a mistake, they might hurt you.

But you don’t blame them,

no, you couldn’t.

You simple apologize and move on. You let it go.

It’s better that way.

sawyer-bengtson-264361I’m sorry

We haven’t talked for awhile and it’s sad.

I got busy, you got busy, that’s how life goes.

Maybe there was time, somewhere,

we could have made things work.

But we didn’t, distance was too much,

and in the end

we couldn’t stick around for each other.

I’m sorry

I should have walked away back then.

I let bad things happen when they didn’t have to

but they did.

I got hurt trying to pull you back

I kept trying, always trying… But it was never enough;

with you, I never was.

There was never any good enough,

there was just you and there was me.

I was hoping for a change of heart

A change in us maybe.

But the only thing you ended up changing

was my mind.

kristopher-roller-110206So I’m sorry…

But I’m not, not really.

I am not sorry.

Because sometimes things don’t work out

and people get left behind.

Sometimes we grow, we find what’s best for us,

we learn how to cut strings that tie us up

instead of letting us grow and move on.

Sometimes, we need to learn when to stop apologizing

to people who cannot see our worth,

and instead, be okay with walking alone

until we find people who can.

 

So to health and well-being, to World Suicide Prevention Month, and to all the love people deserve to feel in this world: Welcome to September.

Inside Out– A poem

Today’s the day— Nick and I are moving into our first house this weekend. As summer classes start Thursday and we make our way towards sophomore year, it seems that a lot of things are changing. Little pieces of our adolescence are being left behind along the way.

anders-jilden-307322Call me nostalgic or simply at a loss for how quickly time passes, I’m not sure which one is more true. But in the spirit of out with the old and in with the new, here’s a new poem for you.

These past few weeks have had me reflecting on freshman year, from the Milo protest and needs for  safe spaces, to learning how to start over and figure out where we belong all over again. It got me thinking: if we were always surrounded by safe spaces, like a welcoming campus without any offense or absolute and free expression, would it make us better or would it simply shelter who we could become?

So I decided to take that thought and run with it; the direction definitely changed, but in the end, this is what I came up with. I would love to hear what you think and how you feel about the idea of “safe spaces” on college campuses. Here’s to new writing:

Inside Out

 

Even when you’re a part of it, you’re not;

you never really were.

It’s like stepping inside the circle you tried so hard to get in,

only to realize that even then,

you still stand out.

So you wonder, what’s the point?aaron-burden-261110

Why bother pushing against walls you know

will never crumble,

if every time you go left they tell you to go right?

So you take those rights and yet somehow you’re still wrong

and in every mirror you see reflected back at you

all the ghosts of your past. And in the corner

the skeletons are spilling out of the closet door ajar—

the closet you don’t dare step out from, for the inside…

Well, it’s comfortable there, it’s safer there,

so you keep telling yourself.

Yet it begs the question:

when in your life has a safe space ever stayed that way?

For when you’re right, you’re still wrong,

and when you’re in, you will always stand out.

Because in your bones you know those spaces never existed.

They were never really safe.

shttefan-280960

But if a child cries out in a place they believe to be safe

and nobody is around to hear it,

does it ever really matter if they even cried out

to make any sound

at all?

The Indefinite Emotion: Love

“Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Creole Proverb

As we come closer to the month of June being over and head towards that of Independence, I wanted to take a moment (and a blog post) to appreciate what is known as the past of LGBT poetry.

kc-luk-188412.jpgPoetry, like any other art form, is one of many histories and expressions. Though there truly is no telling who our greatest poets of the past are, I would like to celebrate just one for this month’s topic who was said to be a part of the community: Walt Whitman.

This poem is just one of many he wrote, however it is part of a group that came from his Leaves of Grass collection, also known as the “Calamus” cluster. This selection of poems is one of the main reasons Whitman was considered to be homosexual, so today I share with you the best known of the cluster.

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing holds within it solidarity, loneliness, and the love of men— considered at the time to be quite taboo. For he saw himself in the symbol the poem holds, from the Oak tree itself to the branch he broke off and took home as a token, one of self-expression even without companionship in its own abundance. So in the celebration of poetry of the times and what is now considered Pride month around the world, here is Walt Whitman:alvaro-serrano-133360 (1).jpg

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing

I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,

All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,

Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves of dark green,

And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself,

But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there without its friend near, for I knew I could not,

And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a little moss,

And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room,

It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,

(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,)

adam-kool-11868.jpgYet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly love;

For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana solitary in a wide flat space,

Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near,

I know very well I could not.

365 Days Later…

This week may have been our final week of classes here at CP and my freshman year may be one week away from being over, but today I wanted to celebrate something very special with you:

erik-lundqvist-221875.jpg

Last Sunday, Kwilliamsbooks turned 1.

A year ago, I graduated high school and decided to get a head start on my future and my upcoming (now almost a year old) book— so I started a blog. Who knew that my most viewed post (231 views) would be my fourth post ever, back in July of last year, or that this would become something so big in my life that I dedicate at least an entire 24 hours total to it every week? Yet here we are, one year and 57 blog posts later, right where I started: writing.

So today, I wanted to say “happy birthday” to my site by sharing more of what got me started in the first place— poetry. It’s been a few weeks since the last Poetry Place, but this is a special week after all. Here are five of my favorites:

 

Number one

Collateral Damage

She held within her heart a love she could could not tame,

monsters in her mind of which she could not name.

And when the two came together, into the same budding rose,

the dark collided with the beauty and she became the collateral damage.

sebastian-molina-fotografia-101308From the thorns in her side and the voices she could no longer hide

screaming out in agony from the wreckage her heart had just left behind

with the broken pieces amongst the thorns that rose grew up to contain;

every bit of love and light it held countered with a little bit of pain.

Yet she kept going anyway, knowing there was light up ahead.

The light she created with everything she had when she finally let herself

Get Lost.

Number two

Out of Place

Does tired even compare to that feeling anymore,

that hopeless, empty, insignificant feeling—

that she’s trapped in a place where she does not belong;

in her life surrounded by all the things she is not?

Her beautiful friends and their beautiful minds

of which she cannot compare to.

Her too smart classes with her too smart classmates

of whom she does not fit in with…evan-kirby-263913

Somehow she’s here, existing between the lines

where people do not look, do not care.

Do not see her here, past the beauty and the brains,

back to where she is stripped down to nothing but a face.

That nobody remembers and nobody needs to,

as she is just another person in this world.

One without the beauty and one without the brains,

one that nobody seems to want to claim.

And that is okay too; she knows that it happens

when she looks in the mirror and sees who she is.

Because in the end it’s her life, something of her own making,

and she is just simply out of place.

Number three

Pretty People

It’s a shame to see such pretty people so sad.

All the beauty in the world cannot fix these broken souls.

And as the time runs out and the days wear thin,

splitshire-9614

the night comes on back, leaving only darkness to hold

the beauty of light fading to the sadness of the soul.

As we walk, your hands and mine on this lonely dark road,

together we are here and our thoughts echo off the walls.

While I can feel that you are broken, I can hear it in your heart.

And it’s a shame to see such pretty people fall apart.

 

Number four

Restless

As I lay my head to rest

Instead I rest with

Thoughts of you.

 

Running course through my body

in everything

you do.freestocks-org-206394

 

Like the way I watch you care for others;

you’re the only

one who

 

showed me how to fall in love…

Some days I wish

I never knew.

 

And number five

Skeletons to Burn

There are skeletons in my closet, far too many to count.

For there is another one in a darker corner, the back shelf of my mind.

And honesty has never been enough to truly bring me back, to give me

the oxygen I need to breathe, as it chokes me with charred hands.

Quietly, I am extinguished, the flame of my soul slowly burning out,

as the pain never felt so real, engulfing everything I am and

everything I could be until there was truly nothing left.

annie-spratt-218458Nothing but those skeletons in my closet, taking up space

the way the secrets of our past always do, complicating this life

much like that skeleton left in the back of my mind, silent and holding,

sharp and true, waiting for the moment to come out to play.

They say that bones may dance and sometimes, secrets may catch fire,

but truly there is nothing left of me, not even the burning outline

of everything I used to be and the secrets I used to hold,

for it all went to hell right where I will see it tomorrow as I find my way

downtown through the noose. It is over now, the burning has become a quiet calm,

and for the first time in my life it seems

there are no more skeletons left in my closet.

There is nothing left of me.

amwriting-metters

Happy Birthday to my site— I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has supported me or looked at my blog in the past year. A writer is nothing without their readers but empty words, and I thank you for giving me some place to fill. Here’s to the end of my first year of classes here at CP, my final exams next week, and another beautiful year of embracing my future.

There’s no mom like my mom

Welcome to the beautiful day in which we celebrate the mothers of the world. Whether they are the dads who played both roles or the moms who did everything they could, there are certain people in this world that make the world go round.alex-pasarelu-223684.jpg

I have two special things for you today as a way to show my appreciation for the mother I am blessed to have. I know that I am lucky enough to have my mother still around in my life to appreciate and I intend to remind her of that as often as I can. This morning my mom sent me a video (click that link) that I wanted to share it, not to spoil the punchline, but I think you will enjoy it. Along with that video, I am sharing a poem I wrote for my mom— another Poetry Place, this one dedicated just for her.

So here’s to the beauty of having mothers to fully appreciate and the one and only mom I am lucky enough to have. To all the mothers who deserve everything in this world: Happy Mother’s Day.

 

To the One and Only

 

I remember looking at old pictures

of the woman you used to be,

before this new life existed,london-scout-27289

before the kids— before me.

There’s something about that smile,

the carefree way you posed;

eyes right on the camera with that look…

I gotta say mom, you’ve got me shook.

With your strength, your beauty, and your poise,

it’s no wonder you’ve raised two wonderful boys.

Not to mention the best daughter ever, I know

I may be biased, but some things go to show…

You’ve done a good job, you taught me right

I mean I know how to win a fist fight.

Not to forget the intelligence to boot,

let’s just say, I know my roots.

18493563_1205753656218066_1675709340_oCause the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

And I got lucky with how much you’ve taught us

I’m nineteen years old already, yet still

I’m you’re only little girl, be that, I always will.

Cause in those old photos I see so much potential

for who I can become, from the woman I adore.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and I truly hope you do

enjoy it, because you deserve it all and I love you.