Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Feb 23


by a young man at Child and Study Treatment Center

Tired sad hungry depressed fucked



This is how I’ve been feeling lately

Life just ain’t going the way I want it to


Every day someone knows to mention her

Exactly what I want to forget

But I can’t forget her


When you’re in it you don’t want to go to sleep

Because you want to be with her

When you’re out of it you don’t want to go to sleep

Because you’ll dream of her

Also I had my wisdom tooth pulled

Pressure, pain that leads to everywhere

Pain that sinks in

But love is so much worse

Leads to scars, broken bones, reckless behaviors

Puts you in a facility called

Sacred Heart.

Shitty, nice, more shitty, depressed

I want a taco, a burrito, a grill and a truck

I want to get in my truck and go

When I worked with the teen who wrote this poem, we had already seen him once or twice this year in Pongo. I admired the way he came into the group. You could tell he was carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders, but he also seemed, under the jaded and sometimes angry exterior, excited to be taking this small window of time to do poetry. After being asked to share a poem he liked from a pile of provided poetry books, he acted momentarily shy, kind of “I’m not into this.” But then he shared a poem, smiled a side grin, and talked honestly about what it was that inspired him. When I moved to work 1:1 with this student, I asked him how he was doing that day. The first line of the poem is how he responded, and we went from there. As we talked, he revealed a strong self-awareness as he spoke about his hurt around a broken love relationship. I sensed that he wanted to explore this more in his writing. I had to hold back from jumping out of my chair when, in the middle of explaining his heartbreak, he mentioned seemingly out of left field that he had recently had his wisdom tooth pulled. This was, I thought, a brilliant connection to make about what heartbreak feels like physically. The added twist of how, when heartbreak is so bad it leads to deep behavior troubles, you get sent to a psychiatric facility named Sacred Heart, was very affecting. I love how at the end, the writer responded to all this hard, hard stuff with a very universal reaction, one also every teen has had at one time or another: to grab your wheels and just take off, to get away from it all. The fact that he made sure not to leave out his yearning for a grill and favorite foods was like that side smile he shared early in our group session—a wink, and a ray of hope, for his readers and himself.

— Natalie, mentor at CSTC