Society Kills Teenager #26

We were promised a freedom to walk barefoot on the bones of our grandparents

Fell from the cradle she traded lollipops for cigarettes and STOP


Voice of an angel she turned the throbbing bottleneck on the beer into a microphone

Glasses of men like Jack, Jameson, and Gin became the boyfriends STOP who fucked her every night


Breasts swallowed up behind an aged t-shirt and hair unkempt as the treasures between her legs

She’s the model mistake for prayers to pray prayers for prey STOP


A glass screen replaced a glass mirror and a glass pipe replaces a glass slipper for a Princess

Too young to outrun the dubious spins of her STOP own corroded kingdom of condoms, cocaine, cash, crime, colors, or just plain cool kids.


She partied hard because society hit her the hardest STOP

So when you see her throwing back a couple of beers, just know she’s holding back a couple tears


In writing this piece, I really wanted to capture the benign neglect that society has for the everyday teenager. In the line, “We were promised a freedom to walk barefoot on the bones of our grandparents /Fell from the cradle she traded lollipops for cigarettes” I thought it would be fair to show how much the passage of time can do to one’s sense of purpose and entitlement. The first line is there to illustrate the fall and rise of all generations. In taking this freedom society has given us to be freethinkers and progressive people, sometimes many people go astray and mistake this privilege for right. By walking around the streets and locations that were once populated by all our ancestors, it is easy to forget that we, too, must return back to this earth one day. “The Teenager” believes they marching for a cause and a stance on rebellion, but they are merely sprinting toward an ultimate truth; nothing last forever, especially age. The girl in the picture inspired the second line because I wanted to show the reader how exactly she came to that part of her young life. The fact that she “traded lollipops for cigarettes” doesn’t mean that this young lady was faced with some type of loss-of-innocence plot in her life, it only stands to attest that as people age, different aspects of life become more or less glamorous to them. It is highly possible that society has created a space where teenagers do not see the need to enjoy lollipops and would rather find their joy from the contents of an alcohol bottle.

            The reason that all the “STOPs” are such an integral part to the message of my poem is because I wanted to mirror the form of a standard text message or Tweet. Twitter has become the leading canon of communication today with over a billion users and growing. Everyone is pretty familiar on how the process works, even if they are not a part of the system. In composing a Tweet, or a standard text message, an individual is only allotted a certain amount of characters to express him or herself.  This is why the “STOPs” are scattered and do not follow a particular visual design. They are not at the beginning or the end of every line because that’s where they belong in the poem’s aesthetics. A “STOP” comes after every 140 characters (which includes commas, spaces, period, etc.).  This means that everything before and after a “STOP,” up until the next or previous one, could potentially be a Tweet or text message. With society placing such an emphasis on fast-paced information, and the rise of technology to sublimate the this fetish culture, the voice of the younger generations, Twitter’s most avid followers, has become a cesspit of techno-bits and pieces of a coherent dialogue. Many young people have become so fixated on receiving news and information in the most concise of spaces, that our voices become just as small. In having never enough of space to say what is meant, society calls on teenagers to create newer, more visually stimulating, ways to express emotions in even shorter ways. Instead of saying “great” it is expressed as “gr8” or “talk you later” has been sliced apart and thrown back together as “ttyl” all over the Internet. When it comes to popular phrases people like to use, “talk is cheap” is one of the more considered ones in terms of language, however, language actually functions as a currency for young adult interaction; everything moves around youth and through youth culture, with lightning speed, that individuals can only afford to give us so much of their time. The words that are stated, as well as those that are only suggested, all shape how language in modernity operates. This intricately laced web of communication, comprised of how much can be said and what one must save for another moment, helps monitor how what we think and say is always being screened by someone and the power society is taking away from the youth.


4 thoughts on “Society Kills Teenager #26

  1. Carlton, this is BRILLIANT! I really liked the first line in the poem… the disparity between our grandparents’/parents’ generation and our own is astounding. The way you incorporated “STOP” after every 140 characters was ingenious… the fact that EVERYTHING about our lives and society is becoming shorter, quicker, and faster is not necessarily a good thing; how you depict this said young woman who has essentially fallen from the graces of past generations is definitely keeping with our societal pressures that we face today.

    • this post is definitely very thought provoking. the way the STOPs were placed to emphasize how short a twitter post is also works to exemplify the content of many of these posts. Though many of us as adults can lament the current situation of this young lady struggling to find herself through her teenage years, we have also witnessed the online popularity of real teenagers boasting of their substance abuse and overall recklessness. before the phenomenon we call social media existed, people’s acts of self destruction were also encouraged and celebrated by their peers because they were “cool”. Now, however , when our “peers” can come to account for a few hundreds if not thousands of people, the lonely teenagers have a virtual stage where they get the attention they desperately need. One thing we never see however, are people expressing their concerns for these teens, asking them what drives them to such ludicrous behavior, maybe it’s because they know they can’t be answered in 140 characters…
      P.S… love your honesty in this piece, definitely evokes feeling and engages the reader, great job 🙂

  2. I love this piece! my favorite line is “Glasses of men like Jack, Jameson, and Gin became the boyfriends STOP who fucked her every night.” As society begins to ruin us as a generation we use alcohol as a way to escape it, all in all self destructing as we abuse the substances. We turn to Jack and Gin for companionship, we find love in them when we cant find it within ourselves or even in another person.

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