Dance Like Only 8th Graders are Watching

“Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde is all about being 14 and therefore I love teaching it to 14 year olds to get their reflections on her reflections – and to also show them that she survived that obviously tumultuous time. I also ask them if they feel weird dancing in front of other people, to illustrate how we lose something of being carefree from when we’re dancing babies. But inevitably, a goofy young lady has almost without fail offered to dance awkwardly in front of everyone to show she doesn’t care. I will maybe ask this question in a different way next time I teach this poem.

Mrs. Taylor
8th Grade, 1st Period

Refugio V.

I’m fourteen
and I still don’t know what to do
Which shoes are the best?
How should my hair look?
What if I get laughed at
and dad is out
working late.

Graduation is getting closer
and I still don’t know how to dance.
I’ve already missed too many dances
I guess not going
is better than making a fool
out of myself
and dad is out
working late.

School confuses
I don’t understand some
of the subjects
what if he calls on me
and I don’t know
what to say
and dad is out
working late.

Monique M.

I’m in the eighth grade
and I’m as tall as a tree
I can’t dance (at all)
and I have ugly feet

I’m scared that I won’t be good enough
to my friends and my family
My sisters are beautiful geniuses
My friends have the best personality
Am I doing what’s expected of me?
Do I have to?

In front of big crowds,
my cheeks turn tomato red
an overload of butterflies swarm my stomach
I become frightened
that I will mess up
that I will embarrass myself

Sometimes I break out
and I feel disgusting
I have an overbite
Braces are expensive
I hate my teeth

I hate not loving myself ENOUGH

Melissa E.

Too big, too small
too long, too short
all these insecurities
stick in my mind
like glue that
refuses to come
off your fingers.

too skinny, too fat
too curly, too coarse
my height, my
hair, my feet,
my voice,
all these insecurities
form in my mind
like water droplets
on a glass window.

I wish they would
all just go away,
why can’t I just
flashback 2, 3 years
when none of
this ever mattered?
too this, too that,
too much to worry
about, and too little
time for it.

Mrs. Dollear
8th Grade, 3rd Period

Jacob I.

On the stage
Playing my trumpet
not missing a beat or playing the wrong note.
But nobody is watching.

Playing music I miss a note
I go too fast then too slow
Some people start watching

I freeze up
forget all the notes
Don’t know what to play
Everyone is watching
I’m front and center
I feel like their eyes are piercing through me
I run off the stage to escape this torture

I hear an applause
A round of cheers
Everyone was watching me succeed.

Nobody cared about my screw-ups
If I looked up at the start
I would have seen the crowd
watching me.

On Point
Cameron A.

I think my dance moves are on point. But, then I see people laughing at me. I try not to care, but they laugh louder. But, still my dance moves are on point. They mock me and call me names. I try not to care, but they mock more. But, still my dance moves are on point. Now I realize they aren’t mocking me. They’re joining me, laughing at other things. And still my dance moves are on point.

The End

Elena V.

Everything is wrong
My eyes aren’t symmetrical
I don’t have perfect posture
I have pimples on my face
I don’t stand out
Everything is wrong

Nothing fits right
My stomach doesn’t lay flat
My legs are too thick
The number staring back haunts me
I try to fix it but I can’t…
Everything is wrong

I’m never funny when I mean to be
I get awkward around people
I never say the right thing
I mess things up on accident
I am never good enough
Everything is wrong.

I like music no one likes
I care about things no one pays attention to
Small things get to me
I try to escape
But it’s never far enough
When will it be right?
Everything is wrong

Mrs. Taylor
8th Grade, 6th Period

Mateusz S.

Math tests
Nobody likes them.
They test your limits.
And make you study.

Math tests.

They make you cry.
And feel dumb.
Without these life
would be a lot better.

Math tests.

What is the point
of testing your knowledge
if we still end up 6 feet under
Death will get each and every one of us
No matter if you are smart or dumb.
Death will find us.
Math tests.

Michelle S.

I am 13 years old
I write like I have arthritis
I walk like a chicken on a
jet pack.
French is gibberish to me
but at least I’m good at
making buckets.

I am 13 years old
My hair looks like George Washington’s
I’m as tall as a giraffe
When I dance, I have seizures
but at least I make buckets.

Matthew K.

The world is in turmoil
Iraq has almost fallen,
and the Islamic State replaces them,
And across the border in Syria,
A horrible man fights for his greed,
while others fight for their freedom,
And the Arabs and Israelis still hate each other,
even after all these years,
And I have done nothing to help.

The world is in turmoil.
The Sudanese still fight with themselves,
as the Egyptians do to the north,
The DR Congo is still red with blood,
and the Liberians live in poverty,
as do the Saharawis, and the Burkinabes,
and many others like them.
And I have done nothing to help.

The world is in turmoil.
The Ukrainians fight for their right to live
on their own land.
The separatists continue to fight
like puppets of the greater Russian power.
And as all the people of the world flee
to the ports of Europe,
they only find persecution and bloodshed,
And I have still done nothing to help.

Mrs. Taylor
8th Grade, 7th Period

Why so many fears
Nicole S.

The big metal tin can
dark small terrifying
the lights flicker as I step in.
I press the number 4 and my heart starts beating like a hummingbird’s wings.
The doors start closing and I feel the air being knocked out of my chest
There is no way out
If this elevator breaks I am done for
but my friends laugh and start rocking the elevator back and forth
just to lead me to the verge of tears
They are laughing
Why do I have so many fears

I step outside into the beautiful rose garden
I hear the sound
The terrible, horrifying sound of bees
I see the black and tallow striped object buzz past my eyes
and my heart stops…
I run with the feeling something is following me
it is
the bee is still there chasing me like an angry bear chasing a camper
why do I have so many fears

The list keeps growing but I can’t control it
Why so many fears?
I honestly don’t know

Hope S.

Do I bother you?
Is the squealliness of my voice irritating
Do I make loud and annoying comments
Am I unnecessarily mean to people?

Do I bother you?
Are my messed up eyebrows distracting
do you notice my double chin when I speak
or notice how big my arms are when
I raise my hand
Is my “smile” so disgusting you cringe

Do I bother you?
Would you rather me go to a different school
or not be here at all
Am I such a bother you want me gone

Small Teeth
Violet S.

OH my small teeth
Oh MY small teeth
Oh my SMALL teeth
Oh my small TEETH

DANG those tiny teeth
Dang THOSE tiny teeth
Dang those TINY teeth
Dang those tiny TEETH

OH narts my mini teeth
Oh NARTS my mini teeth
Oh narts MY mini teeth
Oh narts my MINI teeth
Oh narts my mini TEETH
OH NARTS my mini teeth



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.