“Pressed” at Heartslam 2015


A snapshot from my personal journal where I first drafted “Pressed.”

Hannah Manikowski, Editorials Editor

Simple Charity’s second Heartslam – a night of poetry, vulnerability, and laughs – was held this past Tuesday, April 14 in the NFHS Performing Arts Center. So, I grabbed some friends, grabbed my journal, and had a fantastic time sharing the evening with some truly inspirational young people, all of whom were focused on bettering themselves through writing and bettering their world through Simple Charity.

At the end of the event, I was fortunate enough to walk away with “First Place” and “Audience Favorite” for my poem, “Pressed.” As it had an impact on several people at the Heartslam, I have uploaded it to share with more people who may be in need of its message.

I don’t know what beauty is,

And the plants I grow by the kitchen window keep wilting and dying –

But the ones I tape in my journal are preserved eternally –

A snapshot, a moment locked in amber


And they don’t have roots

And they can’t feel the sun

But they are immortal, and numbness must be a small price to pay for immortality



Then, I remember the perennials in my mom’s old garden –

The daylilies and tomatoes and mint

There half a year –

Big and bright and full

But gone the other half, retreating within the Earth

“Dormant,” they call it –

A euphemism for “half dead”


And the annuals

Loud and busy and brilliant

I don’t know what beauty is – but they do

The moss rose, morning glory, marigold,

Devoured by their own light, alive only for a moment

Just long enough to shine


But who needs immortality with that kind of unmatched brilliance?

Death must be a small price to pay for brilliance



And I don’t know what beauty is

I don’t know where my roots are,

And sometimes, one look out my window makes me want to drop dead, too

I know that perfect, unfiltered numbness –

The feeling of living a single, perpetual moment locked in amber

I know it like warmth

I know the dizzying transition from “alive” to “dormant” and back again

And I have watched girls live like annuals with a sick sort of envy,

So enamored of their uncontained boldness, I choose to forget their inevitable crash


I don’t know what beauty is,

But I grew my hair out even when I wanted to cut it all off;

I refused to go to the hospital

Because I was more afraid of leaving the house without makeup than I was of the pain in my gut,

And sometimes, I have to swallow the validation I feel at the crass remarks

And the wandering eyes of grown men

I swallow it down like bile

Because I don’t know what beauty is, but maybe they do


Just admitting these things out loud feels ugly –

Like a betrayal of the concept of beauty


And maybe it is!

I don’t know what beauty is,

But I know things that are far more important –

And, beautiful or not, I am one of those things!


I am no shrinking violet –

Or daffodil or rose bud or daisy

And, if I must be compared to a plant, call me a tree –

Call me a sequoia

Four hundred feet tall and thirty feet wide and proud of every inch of space it occupies


Don’t ask me what beauty is, because I’m still not sure,

But, in a moment, I will walk off this stage

While the flowers I pressed in my journal on March 23, 2014 will remain there –

Stuck between its pages

And I’m not certain what that means, but I know it means something

In this moment, it matters


And you know what?

So do I.