We love poetry by Bill Holmes…Ten

I felt afraid to confront my ten-year-old self...



The journaling prompt

appeared and sounded simple:

write a letter to your ten-year-old self

but the task was anything but simple

staring at the page,

re-reading the cold, black

words inside the sentence

words that were patiently waiting for,

anticipating my response


I lost my voice

my thoughts became numb

goosebumps rose on my forearms

heart palpitations emerged

between shortness of breaths

fingers trembled in fear

to pick up the pen

for the first time in my life

I felt afraid to write

I felt afraid to confront

my ten-year-old self

because there was much sadness

inside his brown eyes

a traumatic concoction of

depression and grief

whose after effects sometimes haunts

his 50-year-old adult counterpart

four decades later

from being bullied

by a 4th grade classmate

while his homeroom teacher

did nothing to stop the abuse;

to the loss of his maternal grandmother,

his lifeblood, less than a month

after his birthday;

to feelings of rejection

in basketball, baseball,

or football games due to

a lack of athleticism,

always being the last picked

or never chosen at all;

to his family’s happy home

slowly disintegrating away,

less than a year away

from parental separation

with divorce right around

the corner in the next year;

to fears about his fate

in society regarding his race

emotionally disturbed after

seeing the movie Stir Crazy;

no one was aware

that seeds of self-hatred

were planted and begun

to take root inside his

fertile, precocious mind

loathing his racial identity

questioning his purpose

for living at such a young age

sometimes falling asleep

to silent prayers to God

begging Him to not wake up

the next day but finding

disappointment when opening

his eyes in the morning.

There are no words

I can say to

either heal his soul

or alter history

but pushing past the pain

looking on the flip side

of the emotional coin

I see and acknowledge the

joy inside his brown eyes

joy that inspired me

and continues to do so

four decades later

and if there’s anything

I can and want to say

to my ten-year-old self

it is “Thank you, Bill!”

thank you for

finding your voice

through artistic expression

from being influenced by

watching The Empire Strikes Back,

studying Greek mythology,

and reading Marvel Comics;

thank you for

never letting me forget

about our maternal grandmother,

our lifeblood, although she is

with the ancestors, she still

lives inside our spirit

and we are her legacy;

thank you for

coping with both

loneliness and rejection

in your pre-adolescence

through imaginary friends

despite being teased by

family members for

playing with your fingers;

thank you for

gaining strength

through crying many tears

despite your father’s attempt

to stifle your emotions

at his Uncle Fred’s funeral

because Dad didn’t want

to address his agony;

thank you for

discovering pride in yourself

as a Black man

in later adolescent

and early adulthood years

after reading Ralph Ellison’s

Invisible Man and

The Autobiography of Malcolm X;

thank you for

waking up each morning

to unanswered childhood prayers

recognizing there’s a purpose

for living and the best is yet to come…

you, Young Prince, are

and will always be

this King’s hero…

without you,

I would not be

the man I am today.



Copyright © 2020 by Bill Holmes

All rights reserved