“Semantics” by Natalia Chepel

Natalia Chepel (age 15)


There is some meaning to the word semantics
It’s why b a n a n a means yellow fruit
A beeping box is called “computer,”
A pencil’s a utensil
And keys are something that you lose

But now you see, thanks to the thoughts of some romantics
I drink from a glass glass, and watch a fly fly
Then in the fall, when the leaves leave the trees
And I hear “duck!”—I duck, but nevermind
It was just a goose

Why is it then, that there’s one meaning to the word “semantics”?
It seems in all their antics, those hopeless romantics
Have all forgot about
“Semantics”—see a man tick, just like a bomb about to blow
Although he’s patient, his roommate’s tics have managed, finally,

To light his fuse.

from 2021 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Natalia Chepel: “When I was nine, my family lived in Croatia for two months. It was intended to be a permanent move, but of course things didn’t quite work out, so my memory of it is more like an extended vacation—it was so sunny every single day, and we lay on the beach eating frozen yogurt with gummy bears on top. I think that’s the greatest I’ve ever felt in my whole life. I remember this one night, I was left alone for a little bit while everyone was out on a walk, and I just sat down and wrote this poem about my sister. It was about two pages top to bottom, and every line rhymed. I just had this spontaneous feeling, like the best kind of freedom. And I remember my dad’s face while he was reading it: he was all sunshine, too. I think about that look more and more often, now, when I’m writing. The thing about poetry is that it can let you go anywhere, and let you talk to anyone. So when I write, and especially when I’m writing poetry, I imagine it’s a chance to tell my father about my life again and I’m grateful.”

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