I wrote a poem. It is about my relationship with literacy. Read it if you like.

i know the narrative of my language quite well

how could i forget, when
all it takes is but a moment of listening
to notice
the tussle of tongues straining to be heard
every time i open my mouth at all;
a fatal four-way between
my studied, polished English and my laid-back slang
the lingoes of my interests and the language that lives, almost literally
in my blood
these traceable lineages that line my every syllable
each a Belt holder for moments, but rarely longer

what’s funny is
in all the times i’ve told it and all the times i’ve written and recounted,
“why i want to be an English teacher”; “why i started writing”
this tale, openly on display, now well worn by my vocal cords
in it always make sure to mention Ms. Barrett from 11th grade,
Stine and Rowling and Sajak and White and Applegate,
those childhood mainstays,
forgetting to mention my other teacher:
simply living at all

now, i’d rather not force the metaphor of life and lesson
but it’s still true
child me plucked up new words from magic: the gathering card backs
read from, through endless screens of video game text and dialogue
helped, where possible, to decode American legalese for my parents
(how ironic that they now return the favor)
finally finding himself home, entangled in an interweb from far too young an age

the discourse of this course
was raw and often profane
in a dialect too inappropriate for children under 13
left to navigate it myself, with no scaffolds and no guides
i slowly crawl my way toward understanding,
learning to mimick the proper codes of protoc(l)ol in the communities
until I could hide in plain sight, sharing all of me at the same time

still do, now
my voice
on topics I know both too much and too little about
sh@ring anything and nothing all at once
to strangers who feel closer to me and know more about me than people I know in real life
I connect
I converse
and my language
still
thrives

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