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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Adulthood (07/30/09)

TITLE: It's Me Again, God
By Ruth Neilson


It's Manuel again, God...
Can't You see that I'm afraid?
The soldiers come nightly, looking to turn me into a man.

They say that I'm old enough to be a soldier.
To carry a gun, to fight, to kill—and not just a game.
I'm barely twelve, God.

I don't want to kill, to fight
Unless it's a wrestling match.
But maybe it'll protect my siblings from the war.

It's John again, God...
I hate to bother you,
But I need Your ear again.

They say that I'm the man of the house now,
But I'm barely fifteen.
I haven't even finished school yet.

How can I take care of my brothers and sisters?
I don't have a job,
And, it's hard to be brother, mother, and father all at once.

It's Michael again, God...
Can You hear my whispered prayers?
I'm alone and scared of the animals in the brush...

I'm the oldest leading a group of young boys.
We're orphans, lost in the African wilderness.
Soldiers are everywhere.

How can I protect my new brothers?
I only have what I carried with me to tend to the flock.
Can I protect this one?

It's Dikeledi again, God...
I just want to know,
Do You really listen to my prayers?

I'm battered and bruised.
They say I'm married now—
To a man who is thrice my age.

He strikes me daily
Stealing from me what was mine to give
And all that I can do is let him.

It's us again, God.
Please hear our prayers.
Protect us.

Forced into adulthood
Long before we were ready
But for now, we must survive...

But it would be nice,
To be grown-up without
Fighting, dying, or crying.

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This article has been read 819 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 08/07/09
A grim reminder that adulthood is not always about how old you are. In terms of the poem, I think that a series of four very different poems, using different poetic forms might have better told the stories rather than putting them all in the one peom.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/08/09
Your poem shows the difficulty of being forced into adult responsibilites at an early age. The situations are sad and too true.
Helen Dowd08/10/09
What a heart-breaking message. I love the way you have put these verses into prayers from a collection of "children-cum-adults" before their time. The last verses especially are tear-jerkers...How terrible to be an adult, unable to run from the present situation, unable to return to being a child, unable to change circumstances...Only God can hear these prayers...Well done! I hope this poem is a winner. It should be...Helen
Connie Dixon08/11/09
This was a great reminder to all of us that being forced into adulthood in other countries is more of a nightmare than we could ever imagine. What a heartbreaker. Good writing.
Mariane Holbrook 08/11/09
This poem affected me deeply. I read and reread it and ended up weeping, knowing there are those young boys around the world who are forced into adulthood way before their immature bodies are ready. This is surely a winning entry. Thank you for posting it.
Seema Bagai 08/11/09
Good take on the topic. The only thing that confused me was how one person's story ran into the next. I had to reread it to figure out the transitions. Maybe an extra line break would help. I'm not a poet, so I'm not sure. I do know that in just a few words, you painted a picture of the sadness that comes to those who have to become adults while they are still children.
Catrina Bradley 08/11/09
Oh, my, the heartbreak of children forced into adulthood. Beautiful work.
Mona Purvis08/12/09
Children being pushed into Adult roles happens everyday and it saddens me. You brought out the ugly picture it develops.
Sara Harricharan 08/12/09
Gave me goosebumps reading it, so very heartfelt and yet heart-breaking for all of these silent prayers as these children move from childhood to the realm of adults. Good job.
Loren T. Lowery08/13/09
I have heard of stories like this, but never heard it told so heart-felt and eloquently. I can see why this was awarded an EC - well deserved!
Lisa Johnson08/13/09
Congratulations on your story receiving highly commended and EC status. I can hardly see to type for the tears in my eyes.
Sara Harricharan 08/13/09
WOOT!!! Way ta go, Ruth!! :P
Helen Dowd08/14/09
Second comment: Congratulations on your "Highly Commended" status...Your heartbreaking story-poem was well deserving of the commendation...Helen