Cover of Black Holes (Finalist, Who Freaking Cares Writing Contest for Poetic Rejects)

Black Holes (Finalist, Who Freaking Cares Writing Contest for Poetic Rejects)

There is a phenomenon that occurs in the vast, deep emptiness of space

where gravity becomes so strong that it collapses in on itself, implodes.

And in its descent into nothingness, it pulls every surrounding piece of matter and light

down with it

and sucks it up into oblivion

And you are barely seven years old when you trip on the playground, and you look over at your uncle, fat tears

welling in your little doe eyes as you wait for his comfort

It doesn’t come

You taste the tears as they drip-drip-drop perfect little circles onto the woodchips beneath the monkey

bars Your uncle looks at your red, puffy seven-year-old face and tells you to suck it up.

Time and space expands, and a child grows up

Playground injuries are replaced by invisible wounds, little scars from harsh words that are forgotten but not

quite healed as the years pass

And somewhere in the vast, deep emptiness of middle school, there is a girl hiding in the bathroom,

wishing she could descend into nothingness, staring into the mirror until she can magically change what

she sees gazing back

Because someone told her that some parts of her are too big, and others too small, and none quite right.

And there is plenty of oxygen in that middle school bathroom, individual molecules of air infused with cheap

perfume and sweat and far too much Axe body spray,

but there is a black hole opening in her lungs, and no matter how hard she tries to take in that sweet, sweet

oxygen, she cannot manage to

suck it up

There is a point when toughing it out when the going gets tough

allows unhealed wounds to become death by a thousand cuts

You take one too many hits and something shatters within you, and shards of glass cut your insides to pieces

Suck it up

and keep smiling, keep scribbling out pages upon pages of English assignments like your life depends on it,

Because if you take away the wisecracks, and the knee slaps, and the clever words that impress people

before they can think to be concerned, what’s left?

Nights where your roughly chewed down nails carve crescent moons into your legs

and you pray for a sinkhole to open right there on your floor of clothe-covered

carpet that can take all the hurt and the sensitivity and the jittery, jumpy energy—

everything about you that’s just a little too much— and suck it up.

Suck it up

Suck it up

Suck it up.

It becomes a mantra, those three little words

Because when you have nothing else, you still have that: your


You still have that power, the ability to make letters dance with a wave of your hand

To move mountains and part oceans

to tell a story no one’s heard

You have the same twenty-six letters as everyone else, but you-

You make them mean something

You can make them magical

When you have nothing else, you have that

So you stand on stage to tell your stories with nothing to hide behind

but your gilded words, the rawest parts of your soul brought to life by the ink of your pen

Pain and euphoria and divine inspiration turned into a performance piece before your tears even dried,

salty stains marring the page where you picked yourself apart from the inside out

You spill your secrets to strangers with sleek, silver-lined stanzas

And they sit and snap, enraptured by your pretty

language And they Suck. It. Up.