Font Persona (2020 Pongo Poetry Prize Honorable Mention)
by Gray Ryan
Submitted on Pongo’s website
I see nothing but the average
in place of where the outstanding stood.
I’ve read enough to see the story before it happens
and I crave variation.
I grow tired of my own collection of masks
for the strap is growing tighter
and the polystyrene is starting to feel of flesh.
Graphite etchings act as cheap therapy.
The radio plays ballads from an age that was once,
an inch away from my fingertips
yet I already have grasped.
The members of my clique are as real to each other
as to me
as real to outsiders
as their own shadow.
My own empty hand caresses my shoulder with a sweet
while the other claws at my back
and my face twists in sensual
And they both embrace me
in the most sincere way
until they’re driven away
by the necessity of a capsule
and I forget they ever existed.
A boy in a bamboo forest once told me
I was one fucked up kid.
I took his word for it.
A girl once hurt me
and I couldn’t find it in myself to hurt her back.
And I was furious about it.
These words without a face
are most likely destined to be read as riddles
and cryptic ciphers by most.
I understand them though
even if I wish with all my heart and soul
that I didn’t.
And since they say this happens to everyone
I feel like I should be able to cope.
But I can’t cope.
And maybe there is one more
who I can invite to my pity party
and maybe they’ll get it.
I wish I could meet you
because now you’ve met me.
To be completely honest, I didn’t think anyone would ever see or read it, which is why I think I put so many inner thoughts into it. I just put it down because I needed a way to get some emotions out, after my language arts teacher gave us the assignment to submit something on this platform. But I am truly touched that someone took time out of their day to read and appreciate it, for all the inner demons I spilled into it.
I’ve found myself sometimes writing little poems in the past, simply to get my thoughts on (sometimes digital) paper, after my mom introduced me to poetry itself. I’m very fond of writing, stories, and art, and I want to grow up to involve myself in a profession that involves all three.
I wrote this poem thinking about the apparent cliché of teenage problems and emotional turmoil. Since everyone was saying the same thing about their problems, it didn’t really feel like it mattered anymore. Because everyone told me “everyone goes through it”, I felt that I should be able to handle it, even though it’s so overbearing and isolating. The narrator is reaching out to someone to help end that feeling of isolation.
I don’t really share my writings that much due to anxiety, and I was relieved to see that someone appreciated it….It may be more relatable than I think.