teenage vitriol viewed from 50

nothing remains but
feelings like a husk cover everything I said

our storm shook me
until damp bundles of tears quivered
in trapped corners of husk covered dreams
cold ashes and swollen eyes
reminding the dead
that they are dead
they bring nothing
to the souls of the living

bolts tighten as life repeats itself

this generation screams angst
with silent text messages
ripping through a plexus
of perplexity
searing scars
that never bleed through anything
but tears and rusty hope climbed for
trapped in its own futility

where did it all begin?

Brenda Warren 2012

For tomorrow’s Sunday Whirl, where I selected the words below from “The Summer of Black Widows,” a poem by Sherman Alexie.Β  My stepson and I had a blowout this week.Β  Writing this piece was cathartic.

39 thoughts on “teenage vitriol viewed from 50

  1. Brenda, those battles are our rights of passage. They remind us that control is only ours for a short while longer. Then we move on to different confrontations. I consider my daughter gassing the car as a major victory! Love this piece. (Maybe aided by the fact I find traces of Walt throughout this. I makes me understand it better,)


  2. Anyone who has ever been a parent and has heard themselves using the words of their own parent, in a fight with their own children is nodding their head after reading this. You capture the heartache, the need to communicate, the uselesness of that struggle (by times) so well. Great write. I loved the lines: rusty hope climbed for reconciliation trapped in its own futility. Just want to say, hang in there, it gets better. Great.


    • Thanks Cheryl. I appreciate your insight, and am glad your son turned out okay. Ours will, too, he has an amazing brain and I have seen him demonstrate compassion. He will be a good man one day, and is a good person now.


  3. Well-written treatise on teenage angst brenda with the wordle words so skilfully woven, I forgot they were there … I remember these times vividly, re-experience them on the odd occasion even now with my grown daughters (think it might be a mother/daughter high voltage issue) but it does get better, and less often – thank heavens … and I like the others love “the phrase”!



    • Thanks Sharon, I appreciate your common experience. My daughter and I are on track right now. She is supporting me with love and understanding. But yes…we have that high voltage thing, too, from time to time.


  4. Ah yes the whole teenage thing. My parents were left-leaning people when I was a teen and it is amazing how their basic agreement with lots of the young ideas of the time really took the fight out of me! But then I think identifying with something or some idea as your own and standing up for it is part of learning to live in the world and who better to practice on than parents! Good luck with your son.


  5. Brenda, your poem strikes deep chords because it is true and honest. Each generation must try its wings, find its own strength. There is no safer place to do that than home, in the midst of proven love. That doesn’t make it simple or easy because as they lean against the limits, the older generation must learn to let go and the depth of the grief becomes the measure of the love held. It is truly the plexus of perplexity. These wordle words scared me because my response was immediate and sure (something that never happens). The words take us where we need to be. Thank you for following,



    • Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Elizabeth. In the midst of all of this I have assured him that I love him through private messages in social networks online. My hope is that he will read those messages and hold them in his heart. He is staying at his mother’s for now, so everything feels unfinished. It is love that grounds me, and makes me believe it will resolve with time.


  6. I have 2 “adult children.” I vividly remember the storms of those teen-age years. You’ve done a magnificent job of capturing the thunder and rage – and PAIN, of those outbursts. Hope it calms down soon.

    PS – I did not write a poem this week.


    • Thanks for coming to read, Marianne, and for reminding me as others in my life have…that it’s a common experience. The pain is still settling, but there is some comfort in numbers.

      Be sure to read Alexie’s piece, I think you’ll like it.


      • There is also comfort in putting the pain into words, which you have done so well. I have sometimes dreamed about teaching a class called “Writing to Heal the Nations.” Your writing-to-heal poem is another nudge in that direction. Thank you.


      • You are right. Although, this poem still feels raw to me. Raw enough that I couldn’t punctuate it. Thank you for your desire to push writing as a healing process. Let us know when it comes to fruition.


  7. The center of this marvelous poem was this:
    bolts tighten as life repeats itself

    Wow. As the mom of a teenager, I felt this to the core. Tough love is tough on everyone.


  8. Ouch. While I didn’t have to deal with the electronics issue…as it wasn’t quite upon us then – We did have a challenge with our eldest. I’m sure other things we tried to harness seemed like his ‘life blood’ at the time. Hoping ‘common sense’ makes a lasting appearance and impression on the situation.
    I popped into the poem the words came from. I kind of like that the spiders held stories. But then too much of any good thing can be challenging. One year our Aunts home was sort of over run by Lady bugs. It was not lucky at all.

    Thank you for your visit and kind words – I’ve not yet had my coffee, but I think I will now. πŸ™‚


  9. They just showed a spot on the news about all of this texting/sexting going on between teens now and asked how damaging is it to their minds. I guess for every good thing technology has bought us, it has its equally bad side. Being 16 now, Chloe recently got a cell phone all she does is chat, chat, chat and text non stop. I laid down some rules. No phone after 10 pm on school nights and she takes breaks from it through the day too. I don’t know what your blow up was but, it’s not easy, is it?
    Where did it all begin, and, where does it all end, indeed. Very powerful poem Brenda.


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