Dangerous Potential

Dangerous Potential 

you’ll never amount to anything

you have so much potential

you better buckle down

work harder

you can do better

you can’t be that stupid


that was my past

I try not to live there too long

most days I don’t

but like that scar on my knee

from when I fell

that memory will always be there


the fall was more embarrassing 

than painful

lots of bleeding 

while the grit was washed out 

the sting of antiseptic

the sting

of how could you be so careless

why don’t you watch where you’re going


teachers that told me

I’d never amount to anything 

if I didn’t buckle down

try harder

stop wasting my potential

echoed my parents

a culture

that never did tell me 

why amounting to anything 

was so important

when I felt as a queer boy

I was already worthless anyway

they didn’t know how queer I was

I was just different

and that had to be coaxed out of me


that damage was done 

there are moments


when I find myself thinking

I am useless


not worth the air I breathe

I should just get out of the way

of entitled people 

who are moving forward

making a difference


I never did live up to my full potential

I never figured out what that was

other than to survive that era

when chemical castration

shock treatment

were considered the natural effective 

courses to take

if one was caught

with their pants down

fulling some unnatural potential

I’ll never amount to much

more than this 

and if it isn’t good enough

you have the potential to

get over it

Some days I have look at what I’ve accomplished to realize that I’ve accomplished something. If I’m not doing my nanowrimo speed, of 1500 to 2000 words a day, I feel lazy – not living up to my potential. I’m the only one who is measuring that potential. The lazy comes from those high-school/cultural messages of what success really is. 


Getting an A, for remembering data, is good, getting a C+, because the data doesn’t get through the thicket of fear, is lazy. I tried my best to memorize all those trig functions, even had them written on sheets of paper hung on my bedroom walls, forced myself to read them repeatedly. I can still see those sheets of paper but not what was written on them 🙂 I squeaked through, I think. The bigger the mark rewarded the more of one’s potential one is living up to.


Fulfilled potential meant cash rewarding future. Opting out meant poverty or that one was a commie. I remember the back-to-the-land hippy days of anti-consumerism: tie-dyed couples selling over-priced candles, made of all natural goat’s fat, at a farmer’s markets is totally anti-consumerism 🙂 But that’s another story.

I still get caught up in this messaging to buckle down so that I can amount to something. If had I really buckled down I’d have that GG award by now, right? So that something is apparently only defined by someone else. When I define it I am being self-indulgent, lazy & ultimately in the way. One of the reasons I stopped going to poetry shows, doing open stages, is that so many were performing to knock on doors, to get grants, to promote creative writing workshops. I was there to share poetry for the love of it. I was taking up stage time that others needed. They had career potential to fulfill. 

If this post helps you buckle down, or question why you have to, you can thank me by cosine-ing my potential by hitting the like button below 🙂

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.