What It Means to Say ‘Thank You’

What It Means to Say ‘Thank You’

While feeling grateful has many benefits, for Pongo youth poets approaching gratitude authentically can present a challenge. Yet, when given the opportunity, the majority have been eager to do so as it presents an opportunity to tell their stories. In anticipation of the 2021 winter holiday season, enjoy these 4 poems by youth at CSTC and CFJC reflecting on the multifaceted diamonds of their brilliant and grateful hearts.


by a young person at CFJC, age 14

I am truly thankful for weapons and armor.
It’s easy to be grateful when you grew up
without a father but harder to be grateful
when your uncle got slaughtered.
But through being grateful, I have to admit
I came a little farther,
which makes me want to say how grateful I am
for my grandma for raising
an intelligent daughter.

I have to admit, for all this and more,
I feel like saying Thank you, Granny
Now may you rest your soul.
In the past, I admit, I might have felt
like your sayings get old,
but now I got to be grateful
because just like lemonade on a hot day
I’m sold.

by a young person at CSTC, age 17

Dear Y,

You were supposed to love me.
Supposed to take care of me.
Supposed to intimidate boys
if they ever asked me out.
But you were never around to do that.

Your absence is like me being stranded
on an island,
and no matter how hard
I try to swim, and escape,
I never find a way out
and you never show up
to help me.

Whenever I think of a father
I never think of you.
I never think of what could have happened.
Why bother?
Cuz in the end,
you’ll never show up.
It makes me want to ask
Did you ever try? Like, really try?

Because with addiction,
I’ve had to try.
I’ve had to work hard
I’ve had to wake up in the morning
I’ve had to deal with the shit
that life gives you

But you
just took the easy way.
You don’t have to worry
about waking up
and dealing with what life gives you.
I’ve felt the struggle of wanting to give up
and leave earth,
but in the end,
how can I leave a family
like you left me?

Instead of thanks for nothing,
thanks for showing
me that life is shit. Yet
I’d never leave
those I love.

By a young person at CFJC, age 17

Thank you, school
for telling me how I should learn
and training me to be another ant among the colony.

Thank you, friends
for thinking about absolutely everything
except for me.

Thank you, father
for leaving me without a role model
or anybody
to teach me what being a man is.

Thank you, government
for giving me character traits that don’t belong to me
in a place I don’t belong in
with people I don’t belong with
in a situation I don’t understand how to navigate.

So no,
I’m not thankful for much
but if there’s one thing I am thankful for
it’s my mother
who, through thick and thin,
never stopped believing in me.

Thank you, mom.

by a young person at CFJC, age 17

I am thankful for my Nanna
She’s supportive
No matter how I am
When I smoked weed
she clearly didn’t want me to
She was worried
that I would end up like my dad
Homeless
Drug addict
Stuff like that

No matter how fed up my grandfather was
she would find a reason why I am ok
She would encourage me to go to school
And I would
Even though I surrounded myself with the wrong friends
And when I dropped out
in the 10th grade
she still supported me

Even now that I’m in jail
it just shows how much people can care
about you
Even though I could have been better
No matter what happens I can trust her
I can talk to her
She will tell me to keep my head up
and pray
She says God put me here
Here in jail
Because I have things that needed to be treated
Things my dad gave me.
The streets would be unsafe because I wouldn’t be treated,
so God put me here.
She tells me stuff like that
to support me

It feels like having a warm blanket
Knowing that it’s always going to be there in your bed
You can always go back there
And know that it’s there
And that it will always be warm there
My grandmother is like that because she’s my guardian

And that’s why I will always love
my Nanna