I wrote this 2001 when I took a break from writing angry breakup poetry-lol. As an immigrant that grew up here, I’ve struggled with my identity for most of my life. Issues with identity are also another trait of BPD. I think this was a time in my life when I was especially reflecting on this part of my identity because I was become aware that men were fetishizing me.
Caught between two worlds what am I made up of more hopefully I won’t ever have to choose sometimes I wish to just cut loose
Too Latina for the American side Too Americanizada for the Latino side So what is the politically correct term for someone like me? Not American, not born here Not fully Latina either for I lack that latin allure
So I’ll call myself one of a kind a girl with much Latin beauty and an American mind like a delicious half and half cream whose taste is an amazing mixed dream
McKenzie Harpe’s debut collection, When Pens Became Megaphones is aptly named because of how powerful the writing is in this book. The poems in this book are passionate and compelling in examining a variety of themes. A few of the themes covered in this book are mental health, relationships, family, racism, and social injustice. . The book is divided into four sections which are, “Speak With Yo’ Mind”, “Speak with Yo’ Soul”, “Speak with Yo Fist” and “Speak with Yo’ Heart”. Harpe does not mince words or is subtle to express herself in her poetry and that is something I greatly admire. I also want to mention that the format and presentation of the book is very professional and flawless in how it’s laid out making it very appealing for the reader. I will discuss 2 poems from each section that really spoke to me.
The first section “Speak With Yo’ Mind” talks frankly and honestly about anxiety and the feelings that come along with it and how the poet copes. The poet presents a true understanding of how some people feel with the burden of anxious thoughts and how trying to find peace with that can feel like an uphill battle. A poem that spoke to me about dealing with anxiety was Medicine. The poem Medicine talks about the healthy coping mechanism that music can be for someone with mental health issues. This is presented in the fourth stanza with the lines “music is my only redemption/the only prevention/for lost hope” (Harpe,15) As a person with mental health issues myself, music is one of my healthiest coping mechanisms. When the world gets too “noisy” for me, I tend to put my earbuds in and play something to either calm me down or hype me up depending on my mood. Another poem from this section that resonated with me was Evicted. Evicted presents a picture about kicking anxiety out. This is presented when the poet states, “see, I only came to organize/my thoughts on my hanger, /but now I’m cleaning out more than my closet. /I’m kicking you out, anxiety” (Harpe,17) There is a power in that verse which shows the poet taking her power back from anxiety taking up space in her mind. As a person who also suffers from anxiety, I completely get it.
The second section pays a tribute to where the poets come from and her family. Harpe does this by talking about the women in her family as well as her friends. One poem that I especially loved was My Day Ones where she captures the ease that comes from long term friendships or connections. This is stated in the poem, “a necessary vent/ after years/of personal growth/and that vibes still the same” (Harpe,31) This poem resonated with me because it reminded me of the connection I have with my childhood friends from Hawaii. Weeks or months can pass by without us talking and out of the blue one of us will say something in our group chat and we’ll catch up on life. Another poem I absolutely loved from this section was Auntie. It displays the resilience and strength of a woman who has breast cancer. Harpe shows this woman’s strength from the first line, “I know a woman/who’s not afraid of monsters” (Harpe,36). This poem resonates with me when I think about breast cancer survivors and victims of breast cancer . Another thing I like about this poem is that Harpe captures the essence of this woman going through something really harrowing in a way that respects her humanity.
The third section Harpe explores the great social injustices that have been happening and still happen in this country. Harpe does this by talking frankly and honestly about racism and white privilege. The poem Armed is one of my favorite poems in the whole book. It speaks about how words can be weapons of change. When Harpe says, “I load my pen with thoughts/the aim with precision/ spit fire on these pages/ and hope you see my vision/ this is more than just a poem (Harpe,59), she speaks the truth with how people tend to underestimate the power that artists can have when to comes to social change. This poem reminded me that one of the reasons I write is to give a voice to the marginalized immigrant community that I come from. Another poem that really resonated with me in this section was the poem The Five Senses. This poem addresses how white privilege continues to undermine and oppress minorities in this country. I was blown away by how the poet used all of five senses to do this. For example, for the sense of hearing in stanza 2, the poet states “what does it sound like? /hearing a native language/and calling it a threat. /yelling at minorities/to go back home/to places they never even met/like we didn’t forget/you never discovered/this country to begin with, (Harpe,66). That stanza gives me goosebumps from how powerful it is in addressing racists and calling out their hypocrisy. This part in this poem really resonated too since I have been subject to prejudice and discrimination due to my ethnicity and former immigration status.
The fourth section “Speak with Yo’ Heart” explores themes related to love and it’s not just centered on romantic love, but it also talks about self-love. I really resonate with the poem Dramatic. In the first stanza the poet states “when you date a poet/understand that your attitude/will become similes/your emotions/will become metaphors/your actions/will be the starting line/for each stanza ( Harpe,83) How true is this for many poets who will take their inspiration from their romantic relationships. Some of us even have a blog dedicated to this type of poetry (😉😏). Another poem that really stood out from this section was Saving Grace. In this poem, Harpe talks about her “toxic relationship with anxiety” and how it has impacted her. A powerful verse in this poem was “this time I felt sad/lonely/and nonexistent. /turns out, he had changed into this person/called depression (Harpe,93). Harpe shows how agonizing it feels like for a lot of us when our anxiety turns into depression. I also want to mention that the end of this poem was very hope and filled with faith. Once again, Harpe captures the painful truth that most of us with anxiety and depression must live with.
With her debut collection, Harpe presents an amazing talent for being open and honest about life, identity, social justice, and mental health. My only complaint about this book is that I wanted to read more. Yes, that’s how good this poetry collection was. I don’t usually read a book in one sitting but Harpe’s writing captivated me in such a way that I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes poetry that’s inspiring and empowering. I look forward from reading more from this poet. Below is a link to When Pens Become Megaphones
I wrote this in December of 2002. Towards the end of the year, I was depressed abotu dating and romance. I hated feeling like I was always just used for fun, objectified, and then discarded like trash. .
Now that I know That between us Can me nothing more Than a story of pure lust I feel so dumb And wonder once again If it’s possible to go numb From all of the jerks that are so damn lame You fucking jerks that don’t want to see past Me being a great piece of ass And I ask myself these questions What does it take for someone like me? To find someone that will make me happy To find someone who doesn’t use me just for fun But maybe it’s okay Maybe this is just my fate
I wrote this in 2019 when I was reflecting about the way men have often objectified in a way thatthey almost always seem to just want the fun and sexy part of me but seem to often have problems seeing the rest of me. I’ve almost always felt like I’ve been good enough to be their lover but never good enough to be introduced to their mother. Do I still feel this way? I honestly don’t know. I like the attention and validation I get from men because of my looks but sometimes it feels so hollow.
Today is National Getting Over It day and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate it than by sharing my ANGRY AF playlist. A huge part for me getting over something tragic in my life is to get angry. And when I get angry, it’s almost like a volcano eruption. This is actually pretty healthy for me because I’ve felt that at times, anger has saved me from feeling all of my sadness at once which for me can get really overwhelming right away. I can even say that Anger has probably saved me from spiraling into an abyss of sadness that would be hard to crawl out of. In other words, anger has helped me survive whatever trauma has come my way. I used to be so ashamed of being angry because of how it would turn me into the most self absorbed and reactive person. I don’t feel that way anymore because I’ve learned how to better manage my anger. Instead of drinking or hooking with random dudes because I’m angry; I exercise or write while I listen to music. Most of the songs in this list are geared more towards someone going through a breakup because that is when my anger comes out the most. Thanks, BPD. Lol. In bold are my favorite songs from this list.
For the Brokenhearted: I’m ANGRY AF Edition (the only where you scream out the lyrics):
FUCK YOU, GOODBYE-The Kid LAROI , Machine Gun Kelly
SELFISH-The Kid LAROI
SAME ENERGY- The Kid Laroi
good 4 u-Olivia Rodrigo
Cute Without the “E” (Cut from the Team)-Taking Back Sunday
Sugar, We’re Going Down-Fall Out Boy
Tell that Mick He Just Made My List of Things To Do Today-Fall Out Boy
The Patron Saint of Liars and Fakes-Fall Out Boy
Better Than Revenge -Taylor Swift
You Oughta Know-Alanis Morissette
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together-Taylor Swift
Stronger Than Me-Amy Winehouse
Death by a Thousand Cuts-Taylor Swift
Look What You Made Me Do-Taylor Swift
Your Name Hurts-Hailee Steinfeld
Great Romances of the 20th Century-Taking Back Sunday
Lying Is The Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Her Clothes Off- Panic! At the Disco
BEST FOR ME-The Kid LAROI
I Bet You Think About Me-Taylor Swift
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things-Taylor Swift
Head Club-Taking Back Sunday
Screaming Infidelities-Dashboard Confessional
Sue Me-Sabrina Carpenter
Below are links to the playlist for your listening pleasure:
I wrote this about John in 2002 after he ghosted me after taking me to see his mom. His mother didn’t approve of me-an uneducated single mom. It was rough and of course I took it personally. So John fell off my pedestal and it was a long fall.
Perhaps you feel too smart to let someone as ordinary as me into your heart Perhaps you think I’m not good enough to be deserving of your love Perhaps you are only sure I’m just good for pleasure Perhaps you wear a know it all smirk And believe I’m just like any other girl Perhaps you believe in your head I’m only good to warm up your bed But darling I’m sorry to say You won’t get your way Because I respect myself too much To let myself melt with your touch Because I am worth a lot more than any of your trophy whores Because I have an actual mind Without you I’ll be just fine But mostly because I would never fall For someone so extremely false
“My last year in my 30s ended up with me being an essential worker during a pandemic while being a mom of three and being involved in two different romantic liaisons. I could look back on what I have not accomplished in my life and be sad but instead I’ll focus on my growth and my goals for the next year. I’ve made a lot of progress this year both financially and personally. I’ve improved my credit score by 100 points by working 2 jobs and paying debt off. Also for the first time in my adult life I’m in a healthy romantic relationship with a wonderful man. This time last year I didn’t think either was possible and at times I don’t feel like I deserve all of the good fortune in my life. As I look forward to my next year and my new decade, I hope to really focus on becoming a confident driver, submit my writing everywhere and try to get published, and continue to work my two jobs to save up to buy 2 houses. I’m kind of excited for what the next decade looks like. My thirties taught me I can survive what I once thought would not be survivable. During my thirties, I felt myself merely surviving. In this next decade I look forward to thriving.”
I wrote this a year ago and so much has changed. I can tell you that my 40th year didn’t go as planned. I’m not involved in any romantic relationships.In fact, for the first time in 26 years, I’m not chasing love or the adrenaline rush of being in a romantic relationship. I can honestly say that I am in the healthiest and happiest relationship at this time-with myself. This time last year, I thought that personal growth meant sustaining a “healthy” relationship with someone and now I’m not so sure. I have more to say about this but that’s something I will share later on. I could talk about everything that went wrong this year but I won’t. Honestly, there are parts of that year that I’m not done processing and not ready to talk about and that’s okay. I learned in therapy that grief isn’t linear and I have to honor my process and not to suppress my feelings. It’s hard to write this but it’s my truth. What hasn’t changed is that I’m still working 2 jobs and am actually paying off new debt that I incurred when I went on several binge shopping sprees this summer and fall. I do have to say that my wardrobe is amazing and I’m the best dressed person in the office. I’ve had tremendous growth this year in a lot of areas. I’m in the best shape of my life after I took up angry power walking and running this summer and lost 20 pounds within a 3 months period. I beat this driving phobia I had through exposure therapy. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality this summer and successfully completed a therapy program that has helped me manage my symptoms in a much healthier way. I started blogging again. I’ve lost count of how many poems and essays I’ve written because this year has been beyond inspiring. The best thing that has happened this year is that I’m finally the woman I had always wanted to be but was too afraid to be. It’s taken a lot of hard work, tears and so much introspection to get here. Here is a place where I no longer run away from my life but I run to it instead. Here is a place where I’m comfortable and in love with solitude and am no longer chasing the high of love in someone else. Here is a place where I look forward to each and every day because I finally understand that my life is a gift and not a burden. Here is a place where I’m no longer just surviving but I’m thriving. Here is a place I want to stay in for a really long time. My goals are for this year are simple:
Continue to thrive by keeping my life as uncomplicated and drama free as possible.
Say “yes” to anything that brings growth and progress even if it might feel uncomfortable at the time.
Say “no” to anything that feels unhealthy or will stagnate my growth and progress.
Here is me looking forward to a calm year full of growth and progress.
I wrote this poem on February 22, 2021. I wrote this while I still in a relationship with my most recent ex. I really thought he would be the one to stay but it wasn’t meant to be and that’s okay. I look at year 39 that in spite of facing constant depression and craziness because of COVID, I still had something important in life and that was love even if at the end it didn’t work out. It was a year full of magical moments that I will never regret.
Last day of thirty nine and I look back on this decade with love and no regrets The decade started with my third miracle of life and ended with the miracle of love The decade started with a once stable and normal suburban life and ended with a chaotically busy and poly life The decade started with a half loved marriage and ended with an almost separation Toxicity ruled 2 and a half years of the decade but he left Now I’m left with a new determination to fulfill my potential and let no one or nothing stop me
I wrote this on February 22, 2020. I had started working at Kroger in October of the previous year, was still trying to stop my situationship with “C”, and had just started dating my most recent ex-the second Andrew. I was becoming hyper aware of my unhealthy relationship patterns and didn’t want to repeat them and had my guard up but life happens and well I fell in love.
On the last day of 38 I’m filled with so much hate Hate for the life I never had Hate for me and my soon to be ex spouse and for our toxic codependency The year has been filled with highs and lows- I was prolific with my poetry about my toxic lover My toxic lover that follows a pattern of toxic lovers since the age of 15 Toxic lovers that abused me, used me, and discarded me like trash- Toxic lovers that made me question my worth Toxic lovers that left me breathless with chemistry that felt like a drug Toxic lovers that I kept coming back to out of the habit of not loving myself enough Toxic lovers that never want to define an “us” Toxic lovers-that starting 2 weeks ago I will leave forever alone And on year 38 with all of my hate and rage for my mediocre life I decided to fight Fight with determination and purpose for the life me and my kids deserve Fight with my body working endless hours with fatigue and sore knees for the future I always wanted A future that looks independent and thriving on my own A future that will become my own universe who no one can enter I may cry, I may want to die but I will not give up- not when I’m so close And even though I met a ray of hope with my first lover’s name towards the end of year 38 My walls will stay up and guarded No piece of my vulnerability Will be exposed to him until I’m sure it’s not the same old toxic codependent story On the last day of thirty eight I work on inner healing I work on inner peace I work on goals to finally emerge as a butterfly on year 39 On the last day of 38 I say forever goodbye to toxic patterns and lovers I say forever goodbye to the old insecure me to welcome the new and confident me- I say forever goodbye to my once comfortable and mediocre life to welcome a universe full of great potential–
I wrote this poem on February 22, 2019, the last day of being 37. It was a chaotic year that was filled with lots of ups and downs. It was the year I met “C” and who I now referred to as my “good” ex Jake.
Last day at 37 and I am humbled By the calm that comes after the storm That was last year Several waves came In the forms Of the average millenial fuck boy Pretending to converse In hopes of DTF It was fun, it was sexy, it was tiring And when I was ready to quit the tinder world My blond hurricane Torpedoed into my life One sweltering and lonely July Night He took over my damaged heart And mind He took me on a rollercoaster of emotions From rays of happiness To rowdy winds of devastation With more hellos, goodbyes and I love yous That I’ve had in a lifetime It was crazy, it was chaotic,it was love And in one of our Almost solid goodbyes- In waltzed the amber of hope He slowly put back together The broken pieces of my heart The hurricane had left behind He made me believe hope Was within my reach He calmed down my chaotic thoughts He held my peace and happiness In his hands It was good, it was easy, it wasn’t enough And I just crashed back into My previous existence Of married monotony and routine Again, I am alone and empty In my solitude of motherhood and marriage