Featured Poet: Naima Contreras

6’s and 9’s

She learned to write with her left hand. They said

writing with her left wasn’t right, so instead of doing right,

she left. She left still using her left hand,


while they still tormented her inability to do right

by not writing with her right.

She realized the discrimination against her left hand.


The mouse was always on the right side, for the right hand writers.

Whenever she wanted to write in a notepad, she had to flip it

upside down because the spirals on the left, for the right hand


writers. Playing the guitar always felt wrong, but right in actuality.

She tried learning how to do right by writing with her right hand,

but it didn’t feel right.


It felt so wrong. h’s looked like n’s, q’s looked line 9’s.

6’s looked like b’s,

and r’s looked like v’s. She tried, but was told


that because it was unreadable, it wasn’t right. She explained

how she left for using her left, so she’s trying

to use her right to do right. But still, she was told it was wrong.


She gave up. Went back to being wrong by using her left.

She learned that it’s okay. She learned

that some people saw 6’s and other saw 9’s.


I get angry at the things I don’t understand. I wonder

why I can’t run fast in my dreams. As the crimson drops

land on the floor, I imagine them seeping through the cracks.


I imagine the old wood soaking in the thick substance

or making its way through the gaps. I pull at the seams


of my old sweatshirt, knowing I’ll ruin it. I pick

my scabs, not caring about the future scar, not caring about the hurt.


I don’t know how love works. I don’t have faith in faith.

I can’t take my own advice.


I feel like Goliath, killed by the smallest of things. It could be

dropping a pen that throws me off the edge. Or someone

who talks to me in the wrong tone that makes me explode.
I could feel like a robot, not having basic human emotions.

I could be immensely sensitive and get emotional about anything.


I think that there ought to be something to help, but I have to help

myself. But I don’t know how. I search for felicity, but I don’t know

where to start looking.
I get mad at the things I can’t fix. I wonder why I can’t scream

in my dreams. I am oil, and you are water, we don’t mix.


I get scared by loud sounds, I’m not afraid of you though I should be.

I wonder why the words “woman”, “human”, and “mankind”

have the word “man” in them. I wonder why “man” refers to everyone.


I panic when there are people behind me. I consider my mind another person,

because of its power and control over me. Shouldn’t I be controlling it?
I get depressed when I remember that I, just being one person, one voice,

one movement, one soul,

can’t do much alone.


I get upset when no one listens to what I have to say about my passions.

I get frustrated when I’m arguing and I stutter or can’t think

of what else to say, but a few hours later I go through what I could have said.


I isolate myself from the crowds and wonder why I’m on my own.

I push those who mean the most away, then wonder why they didn’t stay.


Mother tells me cracking my knuckles will give me arthritis. So naturally

I crack all ten, not worrying about the consequences.

Just focusing on the temporary relief.

Naima Contreras is a student as East Kentwood High School. She is strongly passionate about equality in areas including race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and religion. She has attended a writing workshop and slam poetry performances. She strongly advocates for the idea of transferring thoughts and beliefs onto paper. She has high hopes for her future in writing and wants to send the message of acceptance of yourself and others as far as she can.

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