when i was little
there was a tiny red jelly bean inside me
I’m not about to divulge
where he lived or why
like an aged king
he wore a robe of crushed tomatoes;
his crown winked at me knowingly
as i threw his gold coins over rainbows
he said to stop the orders of my doubts
i must look less into clocks
like they read songs of bible
and more into rivers,
listen to their wispy lullaby
so i could dream of smile-lines
drunken siren, my reflection sang in poisoned honey:
Don’t you know? You are the muddled blurriness that you see
he said my eyes were pathological liars
but even at eight i was a
devout follower of fantasy,
at least to creature-myself:
i am a human, i tried to explain,
i was never created to settle;
my nightmares tell of broken rings and wrinkles.
Like all unconscious nothings,
you will idly spend your life satisfied being
a small red jelly bean.
i couldn’t see him but i knew he shook his head:
one day you will realize
delaying living until tomorrow is like unloving heartbreak,
a wishful jester’s lie
i continued to mock him and complain:
i was not a mind for philosophy
but when i finally stopped planning myself
he got up and left
I lie: i don’t miss you
Gabrielle is a senior at the High School of American Studies. She is an avid writer who mentees at Girls Write Now and performs spoken-word poetry as part of Girl Be Heard and Climate Speaks. She most often writes poetry about her own experiences and about social justice issues.
Author of “My Internal Advisor”
What inspired you to write this poem?
My inspiration for this poem was genuinely from my experiences as a child; when I was very young, I had an imaginary jelly-bean friend who always seemed to give me wise advice. However, the message of the poem is inspired by the pandemic, which has taught me that happiness cannot be procrastinated, and I must enjoy living in the present. The narrator fears aging, mortality, and heartbreak, which prevents them from living vivaciously. The jelly beans advises to “not delay living,” which the narrator ultimately does; I hope my readers will as well!
To give other writers hope, would you mind sharing with us how many edits and/or submissions this poem has been through?
This poem has been through about four edits; the final version is very different from the first draft!
Recommend something to us! This could be a book, a short story, a video game, a project you’ve heard about, something you’re working on, etc. Anything that has you excited and that you want people to know about.
I recommend the book “Glass, Irony, and God” by Anne Carson. It is both feminist and beautifully written, covering a wide variety of themes.