“Vanilla” by Jack Rhodehamel

Jack Rhodehamel (age 13)


I should’ve gone out for iced-cream,
Before the doctors pronounced me dead,
Nothing crazy, just vanilla—
Then a bullet in my head.

I should’ve brought along some rainclouds,
For when my mother’s love ran dry,
I thought I could weep myself a river,
But in the end I couldn’t cry.

I just wish I could go back in time,
To leave nothing up to chance,
I’ve been wanting to waltz around the pain,
Maybe I’ll teach myself to dance.

I should’ve made a script and kept to it,
Cause I played the part so wrong,
They’ve all but abandoned me now,
Maybe I wasn’t meant to belong.

It kills me when they yell my name,
Like I never even mattered,
They just screamed so loud I couldn’t hear,
That my own heart had shattered.

I wonder what I thought this morning,
Did I know the world would end?
If I did, why didn’t I realize—
That all I needed was a friend.

from 2018 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Jack Rhodehamel: “I write because it’s intuitive. I have no process nor purpose for my writing; it just comes over me in a frenzy and is gone within the hour. I don’t believe in art for art’s sake. It is a need—not a performance.”

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