CEEAS | 2016 WORDS UNLOCKED WINNER: Sticks and Stones
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2016 WORDS UNLOCKED WINNER: Sticks and Stones


School/Facility: Salt Lake Observation and Assessment Center
Teaching Artist: Bonnie Shaw
Poet: M.D.


She walks down the hall at school

Hears:  Slut, Skank, Whore, Tramp, Worthless White Trash

Those names that hurt more

Than the abuse she gets at home when

She hears:  You’re not good enough, You’ll never be good enough.

She gets backhanded:  You are a mistake.


But she doesn’t cry because she knows:

Words will never hurt you.


Sticks and stones.


She walks down

the hallway at school,

everyone stops, stares.

She starts to cry.

The silence hurts more.


When she hears:  Slut, Skank, Whore, Tramp,

she remembers:

Sticks and stones.

She becomes a stone and

A slut, a skank, a whore, a tramp.


So she wears that too-short skirt,

that show-too-much-chest shirt,

those bit-too-high heals,

the too-much make-up,

She wears the too-tough face,

Don’t-mess-with-me attitude.


She becomes good enough

for the guys, good enough

for herself,

Good enough to prove her family wrong

– and right.


Then — Who is that girl?

She is the girl

who lost the respect

of her family,

who didn’t have the courage

to be different,

who couldn’t stand up for herself,

who couldn’t stand not to be in the spotlight.


Now – Who is that girl?

She is the girl who found her way,

remembered her name,

who dug herself out of that hole,

remembered she is not a stone

or a slut,

who learned how to be herself again.