Florence-based school Lorenzo de’ Medici recently held The Steps to Happiness event, organized by students in the Event Planning class. The event sought to create awareness of the link between education and the eradication of poverty by supporting Oxfam’s new campaign Even It Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality. Students wrote poems to inspire young people to join Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s important cause to provide access to education for all.
The contest was won by Katelin Pierce with her poem “Elephantmen.”
by Katelin Pierce
Elephantmen are creatures
with big ears and little eyes
who can hear but not understand
and only see in straight little lines.
With their big meaty hands
that wave wildly through the air,
parroting all the phrases they heard in childhood
and they have brains that have have walls and floors
with room to live
but no doors that lead inside.
And these elephantmen know many large words
with very little substance inside.
and they touch
this heart of ours
that beats so fragile
yet so powerful. And with which
we touch the world –
a world ruled by the elephantmen.
Inside and out, their ugliness does not coincide
They spread their seed through our ears
and to our brains,
eating neurons and pions alike,
and they send their roots
down our spinal cords
to wrap around our hearts,
infiltrating ventricles on their way,
sending blood flow to…
slowly draining the life out of our brain.
Then tying us up with string,
to puppet their, and everyone elses’, lies.
In the end it’s not us that suffer, or them,
or their children,
who like rocks are sent away to be –
buffed, polished, and shined
til they glow green, like greed.
– It is the little girls (and little boys)
with little moms (and little dads)
who live in little houses in little places
who have little brains, not by choice,
but because they have so much left to learn,
so much space to fill.
Sadley though they have little means to try.
These little girls may have little voices
but they have large hearts and many hands
and they grab all they can of letters and words and ideas
whispered to them in hushed tones.
to hold them up,
then lift, then rise,
and grow tall into willow trees.
The kind that are old, and wise, and kind.
Who spread branches and leaves into canopies,
a place for other little girls to hide.
And in the storm the willow tree bends and sways
but keeps little girls warm and dry inside.
(And when the storms stops, they brush the droplets off
and left little girls out to play)
They speak the words they learned in secret to new little girls,
who have wide eyes and even bigger minds,
in hopes they too will one day be a willow tree.
And elephantmen are left to stomp and shake
and lift their trunks to the sky and pray to a God,
who long ago took to watching the willow trees grow,
and pays them little mind.