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A Maybe Life
Lachlan C. '24

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

Somewhere else
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.

30 feet
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:

One (sometimes). 

While the stove ticks, my hands sweat-spat,
full with the buns I had picked up on the way back from work. 

Two (usually). 

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. 

Three (always). 

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. 

So tomorrow,
in a maybe life,
I’ll promise to stop by for a drink. 

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A Maybe Life

Lachlan C. shares his poem, "A Maybe Life," which recently earned a Gold Key in the 2022 Bay Area Scholastic Writing Awards. 

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