“We were afraid of everything,” begins the poem “Fear” by Dorianne Laux. I asked students to describe the fears of teenagers and compiled a selection of lines into a collaborative poem.


Manley 9th-grade Poets

Fear of being helpless, like when
you’re alone and you hear noises in the house
you cannot account for.
Fear of gunshots (loved ones being killed).
Fear of the judgement of others when
the real you is exposed.
The harsh words they speak.
Fear of spiders: they have too many legs.

Fear of betrayal.
Fear of darkness.
Fear of someone breaking your heart.
Fear of color.
Fear of babies crying
when they didn’t get a chance to
live their life.
Fear of being fat.

Fear of being gay.
Fear of being in a casket.
Fear of our color getting
Fear of chickens: they look weird.
Fear of police brutality killing young blacks.

Fear of being left out, like when you
see that one person away from the group.
Fear of crazy people.
Fear of being sick, when you see
someone sneeze or cough and you can’t help
but feel the need to wash yourself.

(Tomorrow I got a job interview. I’m afraid
of not getting the job. The boss can be very
intimidating. What am I going to wear?)
Fear of death.
Fear of heights.




“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.