2023 Barrett Winner

3rd Place Tatyanna Banks

I’m 21 years young, but I know more than I should about hard times.
My clock was built with the same sticks and stones that broke my spine.
I long peace of mind. This is a moment in time I desperately need it.
How do I find peace of mind when my mind is in pieces?

This world is a treacherous place that’s only fair when there's ferris wheels.
If feelings were weapons, it should be illegal how many I’ve forced myself to conceal.
I won't say what, but something grabbed me by my innocence and broke the seal.
I haven't been the same since then…and I don't think I'll ever heal.

I’ve been running from honesty so long, my legs are finally giving in.
This battle with my emotions gets so difficult, I break down and let them win.
the truth and the future are so blurry from here, they’re beginning to look like twins.

I’ve turned the shards from what's left of me into deadly escapades.
I’ve been forging Death’s signature with a razor blade because I'd rather bleed out than relive my internal pain.
It’s as if all of my trauma is in jars, pushed to the back of my mind’s shelf.
I’ve broken all of mirrors because the last time I looked, I didn't see myself.

I keep my mouth shut about my sorrows out of hatred for repetition.
I feel as if everyone around me still views me as an infant.
I’ve cried for help through songs that played for 20 years straight. Now that they finally chose to listen, I lifted the needle from the record. Now they wonder why I’ve gotten so distant.

I color outside the lines, making mistake after mistake on life’s coloring book, yet my peers still say it's perfect.
Pretending makes me sicker than pondering the childhood I never had.
The one I lived is the one memory I’d erase if I were able.
I’m so tired, but I left Sleep alone once I found out him and Death were cousins
Withon of this vessel i.e. my body are demons who come and go in dozens. I wonder if I’d get the help I needed if I looked like the troubles I bear inside.

When everyone around you would rather dance to the pain of the poet, they don’t realize they can save you from yourself.
They don't contemplate a thing until you jump off of the pedestal.
They remain confused after you’ve made it clear that the pressure was unacceptable.
The fake smiles were no longer wearable.
The expectations were immense and unbearable.
These are conclusions I conjure when my headspace is terrible.

To this day, I still tell the lie “I’m fine” and everyone believes it.
This vessel aches inside and out and I suffer from exhaustion trying to relieve it.
My purity is forever diminished and it’s too late to retrieve it.