Editor's Note: Each year, Nueva students submit their work to the Bay Area Scholastic Writing Awards. This year, 16 students received recognition (for 21 different pieces) from a panel of professional novelists, editors, teachers, poets, librarians, journalists, and other literary professionals from more than 2,300 submitted works. A few students have offered to share their winning pieces with the Nueva community. This piece was written by sophomore Lachlan C., who earned a Gold Key for his poem, "A Maybe Life." He shared a brief artist's introduction as well.
I wrote this poem from a perspective that I had never had, nor seen written by someone else. All of my information was from resources; nothing first-hand. To have received recognition for this was an affirmation that my attempt to model writing off of an impersonal experience struck a chord with at least one person. I now have an increased confidence in my ability to perform this feat in future writing.
A Maybe Life
there’s a morning window of summer.
Here I wake to a cloud-high city:
dead night and
an elegy of almost-sunken stars—
the fiesta lights here are
rain-rusted bars &
blustered old Carlos’ talking box.
a television screen meets life.
The figure trapped in the frame begins to speak,
but it’s too dark in his place
and the window is too far.
I don’t know most of the men next door,
but he is called Carlos.
Carlos who I find myself watching:
While the stove ticks, my hands sweat-spat,
full with the buns I had picked up on the way back from work.
On Sundays of dry switchgrass and burnt sun-oven slate.
On Saturdays of shrill ice-air and beard-white wind.
I put on a jacket that covers my arms & pants that cover my legs & gloves & shoes on those days.
I don’t like those days because I like my arms & legs & hands & feet. You liked them.
When there is nothing to do but sit,
and the books are too hard
& the work is too hard.
Milky evening splits brisk into somber night; I can see the stars now.
The grass feels wet, and it feels green. It was one of those days yesterday.
& it rained last night.
“I can see yours up there, Papá.”
I remember him telling me how his star was the tiny one being scooped up by the big spoon.
I never told him that it was really the big dipper.
I add that to the list; after
Tell dad the plural of “mouse” isn’t “mouses”
Tell dad he pronounced the word “refrigerator” all wrong
I see him chuckling when I read it to him.
I see him asking me how to say perro,
chuckling when my words are more broken
than his spirit.
I knew he couldn’t hear me, but sometimes it’s better to say things out loud.
I knew he couldn’t hear me, but sometimes it’s also better not to say things out loud.
(Like the broken taillight
or the four parking tickets.
Or the fact that I sold
his old T.V.)
I stood up
and walked back home.
But I didn’t want to be back at that apartment.
I didn’t want to be home on those cold days
where I covered my skin
& I didn’t want to tell dad that I kept his papers since
November 4th 2009—
—So it never made it on the list.
I stood up
and walked back home.
& I walked to Carlos’ door because
I wanted to watch his T.V. that
never turned off.
I never knocked.
& Carlos never answered,
& Carlos never smiled his big brown, bearded smile
& Carlos never said it was nice to meet me
And come in, come in.
in a maybe life,
I’ll promise to stop by for a drink.