Sometimes I write poetry. Poetry helps me explore and express my ideas and emotions with family, friends, and peers. I have no formal training and am not particularly talented. I am just a human that has explored meaning through the art of poetry.
Recently, I pulled together and reflected on the dozens of poems I have written over the years. This page is a collection of a few poems that are particularly meaningful to me.
I’ve included brief commentary to help you understand the context and meaning of each poem.
Poems For My Family
My mom battled with severe depression during my college years. It was a very challenging period. She was in and out of hospitals and saw many therapists and doctors. Although I was 1,000 miles away at school, I constantly looked for ways to help her endure and overcome the deep pain of her reality.
During two particularly dark periods, I wrote her poems to express my gratitude, support, and love. She kept these poems posted on her bathroom mirror until the day she passed.
Before my existence,
You faced more hardship than I could ever fathom,
BUT you made it
Giving me life on that fateful New Year’s Eve.
Tom may have left too early after my birth,
BUT a wiser and more refined Tom took his place
We moved: between schools, between houses, between boyfriends,
BUT we made it.
Then came the Icelandic icicle
Who quickly melted away in the non-forgiving Florida heat
You did your best, but his watery remains soon evaporated,
BUT our strength propelled us forward.
All through that I excelled, I prospered, I achieved,
BUT mostly because you were always there
Supporting my endeavors
No matter what they were.
Now I’m in a new place
Experiencing all that life and the world has to offer,
BUT I have not forgotten all that you did
So that I could live this fulfilling life.
It pains me to see you struggle now
To see you feel so hopeless and lost,
BUT you must always remember
We made it through the past and we can make it through this.
Across the country or across the planet
I’m still here to fuel your strength
And to assist you through your difficulties,
BUT you must realize your own abilities.
I’m in a new life and new places,
BUT I will always need Your Strength,
Your Happiness, and Your Courage
To continue moving forward on this difficult journey.
You may be confused now
And feel much despair,
BUT you can always rely on me
To help you find your way again.
Life is a twisted, jagged, and dark road,
BUT together we can find a flashlight, a map, and enough batteries
To get back on the smooth and clear path
So we can continue the journey of life together, like we always have.
“Our Glorious Past, Our Promising Future”
Remember that time, we drifted away
Gliding on the wind, on that cold foggy day
Remember that time, we walked the ropes
Moving quickly, with all kinds of hope
Remember that time, we adventured the beach
The oceans call was the only screech
Remember that time, you brought that crazy dog back
Me, you, and tubs gave him a “whack”
Remember that time, you did my homework
I barely said thank you, I was kind of a jerk
Remember that time, we got rid of that guy
He was no good, he didn’t let you fly
Remember that time, you dropped me at school
It was special, something fun, something cool
Remember that time, we bumped in my car
That was many times, the next won’t be too far
I look forward to the times that we will have one day
When we sit together, and watch my child play
I look forward to the moments we will spend together
Even if it’s just talking about the weather
Our past, our future, it’s all special to me
I’m so elated to know you’re smoke free
For all that you’ve given me, I appreciate, I could never repay
But here’s my effort, my appreciation, on your glorious birthday
My maternal grandparents have always been pillars of strength and support in my life. While I had given public speeches about my grandfather, I had never paid appropriate tribute to my grandmother. But then I found inspiration on a bumpy bus ride along the coast of Brazil. I was returning to Rio de Janeiro from a small coastal town called Paraty. Sitting at the back of the bus, I silently observed the lush green landscape. The thick and healthy trees got me thinking about my roots, and that’s how this poem for my grandma was born.
“Never Forgetting My Roots”
As I branch off into novel areas of life,
Exploring foreign cultures and terrains,
My leaves flower beautifully,
Enriched with exciting experiences, new friends, and opportunities.
But as my branches grow, my flowers bloom, and my leaves multiply
I do not forget the often overlooked,
Yet vital component of my existence.
Without YOU (My Roots),
My achievements, experiences, and friendships cease to exist.
Forgetting the value of my roots is not an option.
As I continue to grow and progress,
My roots are there to provide strength, nutrients, and unwavering loyalty.
Many trees devalue their complicated and entangled foundation,
But not me.
Poems From My Travels
I took my first trip abroad when I was 19. I’ve had a deep curiosity about the world ever since. I’ve now been to over 30 countries and have a goal to get to 100 before I kick the bucket. At times, I’ve expressed the emotional and creative inspiration I’ve found in travel through poetry.
The summer after my first year of college, I put together all the money I had and bought a ticket to Norway. I moved into a house with a former uncle and his parents in a small town called Tonsberg. For a few months, I earned money with manual labor and learning to paint houses. The money I earned helped fund travel to Denmark, Spain, and Luxembourg, where I stayed with the U.S. Ambassador.
During my time in Norway, my uncle’s mom cooked for me every day. She made thin pancakes with delicious fruit jam in the morning and fish with boiled potatoes in the evening. For dessert, we would eat fresh Norwegian strawberries. Her generosity, kindness, and tasty cooking inspired me to write “Mmmmm.”
The smell of fresh pancakes surrounds my sleeping head
And drags me downstairs, away from my comfortable bed
I hope to eat only two,
But I can’t resist the fresh raspberry goo
I head to work in the fields after five tasty treats,
But I never stop thinking about what’s next to eat
All day I wonder what will be for dinner
I always know that the dish will be a winner
Covered in paint, I begin to devour the potatoes resting on my plate,
But it’s the strawberries and ice-cream that I cannot wait
Three hours later I hop down the stairs
Finding the lady of the house in her elegant white chair
I stumble around to find more to consume,
Heading back upstairs to hibernate in my room
I will never forget the delicious food that I ate
Especially when I look at the scale and see my new weight
It was a pleasure to try all your Norwegian foods
Now it’s time to eat again so this poem must conclude.
In the summer between my second and third year of Princeton, I took a seven-week culture and language course in Rio de Janeiro. It was my first time living in a city and visiting South America. It was also a fascinating time to be in Brazil. There were dozens of protests with hundreds of thousands of Brazilians protecting political corruption.
During my time there, I had new experiences and emotions that I decided to explore through poetry. I carried a small notebook at all times, becoming more attuned to my surroundings and senses through writing. I found a deep interest in the mundane, including my daily bus rides, an experience on a cable car, and shopping in local markets.
In the two poems that follow, I attempt to unpack my sensory experiences with different forms of public transportation. While “Roaring Beast” highlights the striking loudness and domineering nature of the city’s buses, “Mechanical Bird” captures the fluidity, soft sounds, and tranquility you experience while riding the Complexo do Alemão cable car over the favelas below.
Emitting raucous sounds
The rusty engine drowns
All it surrounds
All it surrounds!
What I like least
About this unrestrained beast
Is a pair of wailing tires
Desperately demanding grease
Exacerbating this poisonous potion
Is an awkward motion
An indicator I have paid
For this obstreperous ocean
Roaring without rest
With all sounds oppressed
A sickly poodle squeals,
But nothing is heard
Gliding above the vast
Complexo do Alemão,
A mechanical bird
It allows music to penetrate
Its wings and gradually fade
Flying fluently in
Its humble tranquility,
It acknowledges the playful puppies
Quarreling in the streets below
Slowing systematically to breath
And embrace new friends,
It never drowns its company
In its own thoughts
Poems From High School
I wrote “Moving On” a few months before I left Orlando to go to Princeton. I had worked incredibly hard to get into an elite school, but I was struggling with the idea of leaving my home life behind. I liked my life, didn’t know anyone in the Northeast, and had never seen snow. An excerpt from my journal at the time highlights my struggle,
“It frightens me that I will soon be leaving for college, leaving my home and life for something significantly different. I felt more ready 6 months ago. But I am enjoying my last remnants of youth before I move into the sophisticated global environment.”
I knew that taking a leap into the unknown was a necessary step to grow and succeed. But I feared what it would mean for my relationship with the life I was leaving behind.
It’s like a ripe grapefruit,
Bitter, yet sweet at the same time.
It drives into my skin like a knife,
Piercing good and bad emotions.
It leads me to success,
Yet at the same time to failure.
My drive will propel me to the top, but
For some reason I like the taste of the bottom.
I’ve always had a deep curiosity what drives people to do what they do. One way in which I have explored this is through trying to understand how normal humans can transform into monstrous beings given particular contexts and circumstances. The Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide are two events that I have studied in-depth to understand this process better. “Unforgotten Tears” is about the Holocaust and how the pain from that period still exists today.
Warm, salty droplets
Falling from the eyes
Like rains falling from skies
Yellow stars flooding streets
Hearts shattered, tears flowing
The end will bring defeat
Terror rushing through their minds
When will the madness end?
What’s happening to mankind?
When will their hearts mend?
Flash forward 70 years
The smell of burning books still reeks
Constant thoughts, constant fears
Flowing tears, ghastly shrieks
Pictures show the lost generations
More tears, more frustrations
Rage fills bodies, minds, and souls
Anger with those who sat there, complying with Nazi control
These tears are unforgotten
Their tears are unforgotten