Incentive to Build

The candles set fire, the ambers burn

as the thin, grey whispers fill the room,

the layers within the mask deepen

blurring the distinction

between reality and illusion

And when the Egyptians and Chinese built

their pyramids and walls, they knew

no one lugged around stones and bricks

without incentive

knew no one ever built a barrier

without reason

The longer the fire blazes,

the more incentive the world provides;

incentive to build a barrier around reality

to sink into yourself

to protect, morph, transform, hide

It starts off slow—but even a forest fire

starts with a flame


You’re six and your best friend,

the one that used to dream

about matching weddings and houses

decides to ignore you

in the bus, in class, during recess, for the entire year

So, dab on some lotion(SPF 30), a protective layer

to ensure that you stop

getting burned


Eight years old when you’re not invisible

to her anymore. When she speaks to you again

the last two years feel like a nightmare, just an illusion

but apply some chapstick

to start healing those cracks

in that smile


Ten when friendship, real friendship,

starts making sense

Ten when your new best friend moves

halfway across the world

So, start getting into the habit of applying

a layer of nail polish to both your hands

purely in an effort to stop

biting your nails because you refuse

to keep losing parts

of yourself


Twelve: the obsession with popularity begins

do whatever it takes to make them like you

replace the enticing chapters

with soporific channels

switch from strawberry flavored chapstick

to nothing flavored pink sparkly

lip gloss


Fourteen when watching the stars

changes from favorite activity to pointless endeavor

because shooting stars remain first on the list

of things you stopped believing in

But you still blow out all fourteen candles

with eyes squeezed tight

all the while thinking,

what’s the point

Fourteen when you figure out

how to apply concealer


Sixteen and life’s transitioned to an amusement park

filled with so many ups and downs

that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of it all

So, start straightening those curls

to assert control over some

of the insanity


The eighteen candles set fire, the ambers burn

the weight of the mask adds up

layer upon layer plastered to your face

Eighteen when the realization hits:

all that’s needed to remove the burden

just the courage to stay

when the clap of thunder rings

to look up into the rain 

to face the chaos of reality

Eighteen when you:

lift your head

eradicate the barrier

face the storm

free yourself from the

ravenous fire

Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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