Roots and Wings 2022: Poems by High School Seniors


            During the October 12, 2022 “Roots and Wings” event, panelists gave moving insights into the past and present of WHS’ legacy of writing.  The program ended with a powerful look into the future, as WHS seniors Derek Jimenez and Maya McNeill read their own poems.  Both poems are shared below.

Derek Jimenez (WHS 2023) and Maya McNeill (WHS 2023) at the 2022 Roots and Wings event. 

To My People
by Derek Jimenez (WHS 2023)

I am a Sun
I hide in the shadows
yet when The Sun comes
I fall, descend as ash,
then arises my true form

Does it come as a surprise?
my dark curls used to bounce with
every step I took,
my skin glows like that of a
my eyes they’re almost as dark as my
Do you wanna know what I learned
in this form?

You hate my melanin unless it’s
golden hour because that’s
instagram worthy.
You say you want curls so bad
yet when I say the frizz is annoying
your response is well, I don’t want
the frizz.
You learned to hate me.
But I learned to hate myself before
you ever could.

I am the Sun?
I hide in the shadows
I lie in another state, placeless,
engulfed in the stars.
Do you wanna know what I learned?

Your people live comfortably on the
backs of mine.
Don’t speak.
Don’t hush.
It’s the hardest truth to kill
You don’t like the thought of love
in specific forms. With the
justification of a god
You sent many of my people to me
before their time.
You treat my people as caged birds,
to sit and watch you fly.
But now it’s their time to soar.

To my people
Listen to these words, use them as
your wings.
Let my voice act as your roots
always guiding you home.

I’m here to unlock  your cage
I’m the Black Sun
The son of a n*****
and yet when the sun comes,
I shine brighter.

The Intentions of Poetry
by Maya McNeill (WHS 2023)

poetry isn’t my hobby
not when I’m sitting thinking about racism and the
phobias n the roe v wade turnover
not when I’m sitting healing my traumas through spoken
poetry with so much delivery,
not when I’m all up in my feels n pull out the journaling n
the pen hits the paper n it becomes a never ending
marathon between my hand n the pen.
me writing poetry is like listening to erykah badu singing
her words that bring so much life,
so much wisdom my third eye gets to see when I step
into my artistic element–
poetry is my spiritual guider,
it’s like I’m self/reflecting in the 3rd person most times,
like I’m opening portals of energy because the words flow
like likely poetry is my healer,
healing to me but healing to you,
to let you know stop letting everyone in your space
before you n so,
like let me feed your soul with nutrients of poetry,
when you feel them pulling you away you say you can’t
get a hold of me,
so to poetry, you’re the mirrored reflection of my embodied
individuality, everything I think you say, everything i
praise you say with so much light n wisdom and when i
see someone new i want to gift them w words from