I don’t live with my mom. My mom is dead.
Don’t be sad, Ms. Beck. I got a good granny.
My mama’s locked up. My mom’s in Mexico.
We may go back this summer. For good. Maybe.
I have a foster mom. Does that count? I live
with my auntie. It’s okay ‘cept there’s too many
damn kids. I sleep on the pull-out sofa. I ain’t
got a room. I share a room with my two brothers.
We need a bed. Our house got burned up. Can
I go to Youth Service Center for my bag
for the weekend? I need my food. I don’t need
a belt. I’ll put up my pants. Can I go to the restroom?
I just started today. You know. We don’t have
internet at home. I got my phone. Is this a real
rock, Ms. Beck? Where’d you get it? Are these
plants real? My granny grows plants. Sign my
behavior sheet please. I need all three’s today.
I lost my pencil. Can I use the hand sanitizer?
Where’s the hall pass? I go to grief group today.
Can you read this poem? My daddy got shot.
It’s my birthday. I’m turning twelve. We go
to church on Tuesdays. And Sundays. But
mostly Tuesdays. My cast comes off next
week. My daddy gets out next month. We
came across the border. I’m not ashamed
to say it. Can I call my mom? Can I go
to my locker? Who’s that in that picture,
Ms. Beck? Is that your son? Can I write
on the board? Can I at least erase it? Do
you have snacks? Where do you keep
your band-aids? Can I go see the nurse?
This glue stick is all dried up. Can we
use the scissors? When is this card due?
Elizabeth Beck is a writer, teacher and artist who lives with her family on a pond in Lexington, Kentucky. She is the author of two books of poetry and the founder of The Teen Howl Poetry Series that serves the youth of central Kentucky.