These Are The Words We Give Kindergarten Students When Some Other Child Is Being Cruel

by Alexandra Penland


It isn’t the anger,
the hurt,
or the doubt.
It isn’t the deep-set,
quick need
to get out.
It isn’t my fury,
my friends,
or my pain.
It’s that you don’t care:
It’s your
constant refrain.

It isn’t hysterics,
or dumb,
or inane.
Not over-reacting,
too mad
to explain.
I’m not projecting,
I do
It’s that when you’re shouting
you won’t
take my hand.

I’m not some
conspiracy nut.
I’m not out to shutter
your church
til it’s shut.
I’m not here to slaughter
your kid
(who’s like mine)–
It’s that when I’m mourning
you say
it’s not time.

I’m not here to fight you.
I’m not
here to cry.
I’m not here to bicker
for your
team or mine.
It can’t matter if
I like
you or not.
I’m here to tell you
I’m hurt,
so please stop.


ALEXANDRA PENLAND is an Iowa-centered, DC-born author, whose work is heavily influenced by her childhood adventures in the Smithsonian Institution. You can find more about her work at her website,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *