A LETTER TO THE PLAYGROUND BULLY, FROM ANDREA, AGE 8 ½

Posted On 09, December, 2010


maybe there are cartwheels in your mouth
maybe your words will grow up to be a gymnasts
maybe you have been kicking people with them by accident

I know some people get a whole lot of rocking in the rocking chair
and the ones who don’t sometimes get rocks in their voice boxes,
and their voice boxes become slingshots.
maybe you think my heart looks like a baby squirrel.

but you absolutely missed when you told the class I have head lice
‘cause I one hundred percent absolutely do not have head lice
and even if I do
it is a fact that head lice prefer clean heads over dirty ones
so I am clean as a whistle on a tea pot.
my mother says it is totally fine if I blow off steam
as long as i speak in an octave my kindness can still reach.

my kindness knows mermaids never ever miss their legs in the water
‘cause there are better ways to move through the ocean than kicking.

so guess what,
if I ever have my own team
I am picking everyone first

even the worst kid
and the kid with the stutter like a skipping record
‘cause I know all of us are scratched,
even if you can’t hear it when we speak.
my mother says most people have heartbeats
that are knocking on doors that will never open,
and I know my heart is a broken freezer chest
‘cause I can never keep anything frozen.

so no, I am not “always crying.”
I am just thawing outside of the lines.
and even if I am “always crying”
it is a fact
that salt is the only reason
everything floats so good in the dead sea.
and just ‘cause no one ever passes notes to me
doesn’t mean I am not super duper.
in fact, my super duper might be a buoy or a paper boat
the next time your nose gets stuck up the river
‘cause it is a fact
that our hearts stop every for a mili-second every time we sneeze
and some people’s houses have too much dust.
.

some people’s fathers are like attics
I’ve heard attics have monsters in their walls and shaky stares.
I think if I lived in a house with attic
I’d nightmare a burglar in my safety chest
and maybe I’d look for rest in the sticks and stones
‘cause my mother says a person can only swallow so much punch
before he’s drunk on his own fist

but the only drunk I ever knew
was sleeping in the alley behind our church
and jesus turned water into his wine
so even god has his bad days

but on your bad days couldn’t you just say
“hey I’m having a bad day,”
instead of telling me I’m stupid or poor,
or telling me I dress like a boy
‘cause maybe I am a boy AND a girl
maybe my name is Andrea Andrew.
so what.
it is a fact that bumblebees have hair on their eyes
and humans, also, should comb though everything they see.

like
an anchorman is not a sailor.
like the clouds might be a pillow fight.
like my mother says,
“every bird perched on a telephone wire
will listen to the conversations running through its feet
to decide the direction of its flight.”

so I know every word we speak
can make hurricanes in people’s weather veins
or shine their shiny shine

so maybe sometime you could sit beside me on the bus
and I could say,
“guess what, it is a fact that manatees have vocal chords
but do not have ears.
and Beethoven made music
even when he could no longer hear.

and I know every belt that has hit someone’s back
is still a belt that was built to hold something up.

and it is fact that Egyptians slept on pillows made of stone
but it’s not hard for me to dream
that maybe one day you’ll write me back
like the day I wrote the lightening bug to say,
I smashed my mason jar and I threw away the lid.
I didn’t want to take a chance that I’d grow up to be a war.

I want to be a belly dance or an accordion or a pogo stick
or the fingerprints the mason left
in the mortar between the bricks
to prove that he was here,
that he built a roof over someone’s head
to keep the storm from their faith,
my mother says that’s why we all were born.

and I think she’s right.
so write back soon.
sincerely yours.

68 Responses to A LETTER TO THE PLAYGROUND BULLY, FROM ANDREA, AGE 8 ½

  1. AliJay says:

    Andrea I’m not sure if i could ever express the joy i feel about having this poem to share with my 2 beautiful children (ages 6 and 7), and with my nephew who is gay and battling to find his way while carrying his heart as a shield. so i’m not even going to try, i’m just going to say thank you! thank you. and i’m going to keep sharing!

    “Let’s believe that if we all stand together we’re a force that can shake the whole world.”
    - A Day to Remember

  2. Mac says:

    I love this poem. I’m glad you posted it, since it reminded me of the night I got to listen to you speak. Wonderful evening.

  3. awww. I remember hearing this live in PDX and my eyes teared and my heart beat with you every time you told the bully right. If I was going to school with you, I probably would’ve been the kid in the corner passing notes to you and scheming how to punk the bullies. :)

  4. Dani says:

    I love this poem. It made me think of the times I get bullied. My favorite link is “‘cause maybe I am a boy AND a girl” because there are times when I feel like a boy and a girl. I’m a lesbian but I’m also genderqueer, which is where you see yourself as a boy and a girl at times.

  5. A girl says:

    So clever and moving, one of the best things I’ve read/heard all year.

  6. Natalie says:

    This is beautiful. I am a straight woman, but I think that this is a poem that everyone can relate to. I love the play on words and the way it flows. Almost made me cry.

  7. Tracy Bednarick says:

    My heart was filled, emptied, and filled all in one full swoop of hearing this poem. As a teacher of sixth graders, I thank you from every cell of my body for writing this poem.

  8. Brenna says:

    I have listened to this poem on repeat for the past three days. You have awakened the wings of my heart that I had forgotten I had.

    thankyou.

  9. Tara says:

    That is one of the most amazing things I have ever read. Thank you.

  10. Jen says:

    Twenty years ago I was the girl who was “always crying”. This poem made my heart smile. You have a beautiful gift! Thank you for sharing.

  11. brittany says:

    my god, this is beautiful. there are simply no words.

  12. valerie says:

    This is dramatic to say, but you saved my life, Andrea. You’re my hero dear. You are an inspiration in the mission of expression.

  13. Dee says:

    OMG this poem is AMAZING!!! to be only 8 1/2 years of age, you are so wise. your writing is superb for your age and your outlook on life is that of an older little girl. i would like to know where i can listen to you? others on here have stated they have heard you perform i would be honored to hear your words. i am a lesbian and have been bullied over the years as an adult it doesnt matter what age a person is bullying is never right…kudos to you Andrea!!!

  14. Marcia Thompson says:

    What an intense expression of feeling. I hope that one day , I can do just one thing to make a difference in the life of just one person. what a dent in the unkindness that we see in this world. If only God had placed the meaning of humility, and being humble as a priority right along with the word Love. What strength would prevail in humanity. Thank you so much for sharing your poem. I am blessed by it.

  15. Rosie says:

    I can’t explain how deeply this touched me. I was bullied when I was about 8 too. The other kids used to say I had head lice, and I clung desperately to the fact that they prefer clean hair. And I sometimes feel like I’m a boy and a girl. Thankyou so much. This is amazing.

  16. Kai says:

    The first time I heard this, I turned around and wrote a poem for my mother. It was her Christmas gift. I cried while I wrote it and I cried while I taped it, and she cried when she told me thank you.

    Thank you for being an inspiration.

  17. Jodi says:

    I had the privilege of hearing you for the first time this weekend in Peoria. This is one of my favorite of your incredible poems, but not one left me with a dry eye. You are amazing and I wish I’d bought all 3 cd’s instead of just 2!

  18. Kayla says:

    I really appreciate the depth to your poem. I’ve read it ruffly 10 times, give or take a few, and I have not left empty handed once. I found this poem to be full of beneficial insight. In the time I’ve spent with your poem I’ve not only been forced to think analytically and objectively (giving my brain that long over due workout I’ve been neglecting) but also, and more importantly, I found myself being challenged to consider fresh ideals and perspectives even if that meant putting my morals on the line. I find the most gifted poets know how to challenge, Inspire, and relate with their audience. This poem covers it all and does it well. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself.I appreciate your poem very much, It was a lovely addition to my day.

    • jim belaia says:

      I think that this poem is pretty backwards thinking. Why would you want to pick the worst players for a sport? If they are bad at the sport, they should bloody practice and get better because otherwise they are learning that you can be successful even if you are not the best at something. Also, most of the time the bully himself has some pretty messed up stuff in his life, so more people should think about the bully. Furthermore, most of the time the reason kids get bullied is because there is something strange or weird about them. Therefore, these kids that are getting bullied should learn to fit in with the majority of people, because the majority of people are going to be the ones hiring once everybody gets out of high school.

      • jim belaia says:

        Also, thats pretty messed up if you think you are a boy and a girl, because if you were born with a penis you are a man and if you were born with a vagina you are a girl.

    • Zander says:

      Jim, you are the reason why people write poetry like this. You take everything far too literally! Also, if the kids who are bad at sports should be responsible for becoming better at the game, why isn’t the same true for the bully? Why can’t the bully be held accountable for his actions? Maybe the kids are bad at sports because there are better things to do with one’s time than running after a ball. Perhaps they have an injury or some medical condition that makes it difficult to run, catch, etc. Also, I am gonna take a shot in the dark and say that you were (and probably still are) a bully. You probably do not have an original thought in your head, if your post is any real representation of you. Don’t you know what happens to all utopias? They all fall. If everyone was the same, we would still end up killing, teasing, and harassing each other. We would just as messed up a society as we are now. Yeah, and you really need to fit in to society to flip burgers or bag groceries. You have obviously never had anything really wrong in your life. The differences are what makes us human! The point of poetry like this is to tell people like you, Jim, that you need to start embracing people because that is what we are…people. I hope that you are able to find some happiness, because you are clearly the one that has problems, if you think the world is as black and white as your comment suggests. I hope that you are accountable for your actions and they have consequences, which I doubt you realize. Also, since you are clearly not a creative person, why are you on a site like this? We don’t want your opinions on why/how we are “wrong.” We get enough of it from society.

  19. Pingback: A Letter to the Playground Bully from Andrea, Age Eight and a Half | nicolesiciliano.com

  20. anna says:

    i absolute this!!!!!!

  21. Morgan says:

    Yor are my inspiration. Ou thought me to write using all the emotion I’ve had bottled up for years. Thank you

  22. Pingback: A Letter to the Playground Bully, From Andrea, Age 8 1/2 « presbydestrian

  23. Stacy says:

    I just sent my High School bully a letter that was not crafted nearly as beautifully as this one. He responded that all the pain he caused was not even remembered by him. I was the one who gave him the power to effect my emotions and “like that” could have stopped it at any time. Aw….hindsight!

  24. Jazzmine says:

    I adore this poem with every thing in me. I plan on getting my favorite quotes from it tattooed on my body.
    You are very inspiring Andrea.
    You’ve helped me understand more in life, and that in its self helped me with living in general.
    Thank you so much for all you have done for not only me, but others as well.

  25. Allee says:

    I heard this at my middle school forensics competition and thought I was going to cry right then and there because even though its a mess of pubs quotes and genius writing that takes a while to figure out it makes complete and utter sense! I love it. Thank you for making me smile after it has taken me so long to(:

  26. Rainey says:

    I know you probably hear this all the time, but your pieces really help me through my rough times.
    I am a writer in high school, and every time I have to do a spoken word piece, I listen to this poem, as well as your others, over and over again to help me better understand how I want to present myself.
    This poem has helped me through so much, and I would just like to say thank you.
    Keep doing what you’re doing.

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  28. Courtney says:

    I memorized this whole poem for an eighth grade poetry slam. Everyone absolutely loved it. I couldn’t believe I could memorize this much! I guess if you love this poem so much it just comes natural!

  29. Becky Pope says:

    My adult daughter shared your reading of this poem with me, and I was quite moved by your words, and I loved your beautiful and passionate use of imagery. I am a high school teacher
    and I am pretty easy going, but the one thing that I will NOT tolerate is students being unkind to one another. (I tell them the world can be a cruel place and we don’t need to add to that.) I plan to share this with my students when I can.

  30. Pingback: Andrea Gibson: A Letter to the Playground Bully, From Andrea, Age 8 1/2 | therapoetic

  31. Sarah says:

    This is an amazing piece of work! As an aspiring young author/ spoken word poet (I am only 13) your work really makes me work harder to improve my own pieces! Obviously, I’m not nearly as good as you are, but one day I hope to be! This is probably one of my favorite poems ever written, tied with maybe only The Madness Vase. Please come out with another album soon! :D

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  33. Elisabeth says:

    I love this with every fiber of my being. As a high school student who has been bullied for years, this is just what i needed to read. Thank you.

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    • Gavia Swimmer says:

      This poem inspired me to find the victim of my high-school bullying days, but never could reach her. I wonder if there are other ex-bullies out there looking to make amends? I wonder if other folks also bullied to hide their own pain and weaknesses? Anyway, I love this poem and your work always has a way of hitting a very specific chord with me. Thanks.

  35. Pingback: In Response to “A Letter to the Play Ground Bully, from Andrea, age 8 1/2 | Coming Back to Life

  36. Sarah says:

    I recently stumbled across this poem, even though I’ve been reading your poetry for the longest time, and I just want to say thank you. I’ve been bullied my whole life, and I’m just a junior in high school. I started cutting and starving because of the words that they would say to me, but ever since I’ve read this, I’ve realized that I don’t have to let their words hurt me anymore. Thank you so much, Andrea. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

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  59. Travis W. says:

    Andrea, your beautiful and impassioned performance of this poem has been the central focus of my unit on poetry. My students love your work and are using some of their favorite lines to craft their own social action poems.

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