what happens when in order to be submitted, my poems must be so heavily edited that they are hardly even mine anymore

when asked to write a 
freeverse poem in class,

i pretend that i do not flinch. 

instead, i look at my friends and joke to them,
"Well, you can't judge me on this. I've never done this before,"
and they believe me - though being a good liar
is not a skill to flaunt nor to be proud of

it's funny how the most profound thoughts
invade my sleep-riddled mind early in the morning
when the sun has yet to shine
but my bedside lamp still throws too-bright light
upon my fatigued eyes

yet when my fingertips, sore from 
accidentally getting them caught in doors,
or running into pointy things, 
or burning on too-hot mugs of tea,
meet the keyboard, all inane thought is lost
and i am a slave to my writing

but when i try to write this poem,
simple askance from my teacher,
i seem unable to produce anything
that does not sound stilted and broken.

i could write a million verses
on the merits of paper books,
on foggy mornings in a dreary city,
on the state of mind of subway-riders,
on the taste of victory souring my mouth,
but i cannot do it in class.

i cannot do it where students giggle
and my hands seem to freeze up
and i, for the life of me, cannot be a poet.

for once in my life, my identity is false.
i am nothing in that room. 
i am a student new to writing, 
i am an amateur struggling with words,
i am not a poet, i am not a poet.

and though this is something i cannot condone, 
i don't seem to be able to fight it - 
i could write about how my breath left my lungs
in a haste, like it was running a marathon,
or how my feet were too small to run properly,
or how i was too young to comprehend the meaning of danger,
but i just can't, not here. 

so i guess i'll turn in a mediocre poem, 
endure her corrections and suggestions
as though i have not heard them ten times over,
and i will stare down at my paper, 
wanting to burn it until it is nothing but a smudge of ash,
miniscule in the scale of the world. 

and behold - 
a poet is torn down. 

The End

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