"To live outside the law you must be honest." - Bob Dylan

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by Unknown

I did not write this poem. This was written by a kid who was (if I recall correctly) in 12th grade who committed suicide right before graduation. This was presumably his last poem. It is untitled in its original form, but I call it "Stiff". It is one of the most depressing, well-written, memorable poems I've ever read, and thought it belonged here.


He always wanted to explain things
But no one cared.
So he drew.
Sometimes he would draw and it wasnít anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky
And it would be only him and the sky and the things inside him that needed saying.
And it was after that he drew the picture.
He kept it under his pillow and
Would let no one see it.
And he would look at it every night
And think about it.
And when it was dark, and his eyes were closed,
He could still see it.
And it was all of him.
And he loved it.

When he started school he brought it with him.
Not to show anyone, just to have with him like a friend.
It was funny about school.
He sat in a square brown desk.
Like all other square, brown desks.
And he thought it should be red.
And his room was a square, brown room
Like all the other rooms.
And it was tight and close.
And stiff.
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk.
With his arm stiff and his feet flat on the floor.
With the teacher watching and watching.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys.
He said he didnít like them.
And she said it didnít matter!
After that they drew.
And he drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about morning.
And it was beautiful.
The teacher came and smiled at him.
ďWhatís this?Ē she said. ďWhy donít you draw something like Kenís drawing?
Isnít that beautiful?Ē

After that his mother bought him a tie.
And he always drew airplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay alone looking at the sky,
It was big and blue and all of everything,
But he wasnít anymore.
He was square inside.
And brown.
And his hands were stiff.
And he was like everyone else.

And the things inside him that needed saying didnít need it anymore.

It had stopped pushing.
It was crushed.
Like everyone else.

Written by: Unknown
19 May 2008

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[Next: 11 to 12] Total: 12

Posted by:
12 October 2011
This really captures how wrong schools are, both in their structure and their assessment of students' abilities... in my experience teachers treat even honors students as though they have 8-bit processors where their brains should be.

Posted by:
Aj chi
(Ajchi543 AT gmail DOT com )

3 May 2011
Ive never found or even written somthing so beautiful ive tried so hard to express this in words but couldnt he was a master of his art and will forever be missed

Posted by:

29 January 2010
i have never before read something which struck so profound a chord in me. this poem expresses what i thought would never be expressed in words, and does so in a way that's as clear and true as a silver bell, yet dark and despairing as if that bell has been stifled, muffled, and tarnished. thank you very much for posting this poem.

Posted by:
(imatschoolchecktheforum AT gmail DOT com )

10 November 2009
One of the best poems I've read. Sad, and so true..

Posted by:
(imatschoolchecktheforum AT gmail DOT com )

10 November 2009
One of the best poems I've read. Sad, and so true..

Posted by:

25 July 2009
So sad.
He captures it in a sickeningly beautiful kind of way.

Posted by:

5 July 2009
It's things like that, that everyone needs to see. But nobody can show them, so that people can get help.

Posted by:

27 October 2008
That was beautiful. I'm actually crying right now! It's so true, and yet most of the other people I know won't get it.

Posted by:
The Avenger
29 May 2008
*eye twich*
That was great. Really says how we all have to conform to school. I can't really *tear* put it into words.
If you read my comments on Off The Edge Pt 1, you'll see my loooooong story.

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