'T he Emperor,/ his bullies/ and henchmen/ terrorize the world/ every day,/ which is why/ every day/ we need/ a little poem/ of kindness,/ a small song of peace/ a brief moment/ of joy." My mom introduced me to this poem ("What We Need," by David Budbill). I like it because it represents the state of the world and much of history. The powers that be have made such turmoil and unrest in the world, but if you have something to make you happy each day, however small that thing may be, your world doesn't need to be in conflict. To start out every day with a moment of joy or peace or kindness would make the rest of the day better.

I believe that poetry will continue to be a significant form of literature as long as people recognize that both the message and the means are equally important. If you take a poem out of its original form and make it into a paragraph or a sentence, it loses so much of its power. Such is the beauty of poetry: the way you write it affects the final result at least as much as the words you write it with.

Another favorite poem of mine is "A Boy Named Sue." You might recognize it as a Johnny Cash song (and you're not alone; I was startled when I found this out), but it was written by Shel Silverstein. You have to love this poem for its audacity. It's a clever (if somewhat cruel) idea, to name your son "Sue" because you know you won't be around to raise him and you know he would "have to get tough or die." With that kind of all-American logic, if somebody were to set it to music, it would sell millions of copies. Oh, wait...-- Kyle Landau, Carlsbad H.S.

P oetry is a mode of expression in which the writer becomes a sculptor of words and thoughts. At age ten, I became mesmerized by poetry. The inspiration came from reading famous pieces and learning how to interpret them. Reading poetry often triggered ideas and thoughts that I soon transferred onto paper, thus beginning my passion for writing. One of the first poems I wrote was a list of wishes, each asking for the healing of what I felt to be the world's worst problems. Although I did not have an accurate perception of global issues at that age, I felt a great deal of sympathy and decided to compose a poem to express my feelings. The piece is entitled "A World of Wishes" and reads: "I wish magic pollen from golden flowers would sprinkle on the Earth and make nature grow healthy. I wish the bright sun would light a smile on everyone's face. I wish the sound of musical instruments would bring harmony and grace to heaven and Earth. I wish a beautiful tree would grow special magic to stop all drugs. I wish a giant hand would slap all wars out of sight."

Although this poem did not follow a particular format and the writing was not impressive, its tone had an element of innocence and immaturity. At the time, I felt peace was the only solution to every problem.

Although I was young, I still considered myself a poet. A true poet can be anyone of any age gifted in the lyrical perception of language. With that said, my favorite poem is not written by Maya Angelou or Robert Frost, but by a young peacemaker named Mattie J.T. Stepanek. His piece struck me as innocent and heartfelt. Coincidentally, his words mirror my thoughts on this genre. The poem is entitled "Duties as Designed" and states, "The job of the poet is to give birth to the words that give breath to expressions of the essence of life. The job of the poet is to leave stains of the storms yet echo laughter of the light that is seen from the soul. The job of the poet is to weave ashes of yesterthoughts into silhouettes that rise gently on the horizon of dawning hope. The job of the poet is to create and to capture and to spirit and to script the pulse of life." -- Nichole Naoum, West Hills H.S.

W ithin the realm of poetry, I connect with song lyrics. I've resolved to never be that dark-clothes-wearing, eyeliner-addicted teenager who walks down the street hugging her iPod, but there is one lyric in one song that, the first time I heard it, caught me off guard and brought me to tears. "Then looking upwards/ I strain my eyes and try/ to tell the difference between shooting stars and satellites/ from the passenger seat as you are driving me home/ "Do they collide?"/ I ask and you smile/ With my feet on the dash/ the world doesn't matter."

Those are a few lines from a song called "Passenger Seat," written by Ben Gibbard and performed by his band, Death Cab for Cutie. It's a simple song, and it's slow.

I'm pretty sure that once I pass the age of 25 and gain some real responsibility in my life, the song will do nothing but remind me of "the old days" in high school. And once technology surpasses the age of cars and dashboards and delves into the age of hovercraft transportation, the song will be somewhat meaningless. But it's the specificity, the imagery, of the song that reminds me of every nighttime car ride home I've had from a friend.

Car rides, for teenagers, are so much more than just point A to point B; they're independence, awkward silences, blasting your favorite song, being alive, and feeling immortal. And when I play this song, I am put in that moment. I'm in a car, with the window down, wondering if my friend will get pulled over for breaking curfew, if he can see me smiling in the backseat through his rearview mirror, wondering when we'll be able to go on a food run, wondering what will happen when he goes off to school in the fall. When I can relate to lyrics such as these, I'm not ashamed to be that music-addicted teenager. -- Amanda Cormier, Westview H.S.

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