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Two Poems From Artemis Burkemper - #DearAdultWorld

Artemis Burkemper, 17, he/him/his

Tell Me Why

Ode to the Bathroom Ceiling

Some think it vanity

To believe the rustled leaves

Of hushed conversation

Are about you.

But the incessant clatter

Of a heart against a ribcage

And the flow of paranoia

In taunt veins

Longs to cease

Their chatter.

Crumpled hopes and dreams

Lay in wastebaskets

Because you know

The FBI won’t hire you.

Your own family

Regards you as

A sick sinner

Scary and avoided.

I have no contagion.

But mom and dad pull

Me out of school

To quarantine

Their diseased kid.

My friend’s parents barricade

Their doors.

The delinquent sits

Outside on rainy stoops

A bad influence.

King Midas sulks

Jealous as I

Destroy the lives

Of those I touch.

My “therapist”

Told me

Jesus heals.

But church brims

With stares

Judgement on tongues

For communion.

Don’t worry.

god already punished me.

With screaming lungs

From binded chest.

Severe depression

And cracked mirrors.

A vampire

I cannot see myself.

Every sunrise

Presents another obstacle.

Just existing

Is difficult enough

Tell me

Why must you


And make it harder?

What is gender?

Smooth waters glide

Elusive hands

Hold my body.


Time and purpose


In warm steam.

Only here

I exist.

A true self

With no use

For binding tape or pronouns.

Merely me.

Gender lies


With dirty underwear

In the corner.


From merciful liquid

I sigh

And slip it on.

Visual Art by Devin Box, 17, he/him/his

Artist’s Statement: I have created this piece as a part of my concentration which explores the effects of loneliness on different kinds of people. This piece shows the depression and separation that loneliness can bring a person; the color blue and the single tear is to show the sadness that is represented in this piece. The earbuds represent how the person is blocking out society and trying not to listen.
My plans toward the future are to achieve an associate degree at Tallahassee
Community College, then to transfer to either The School of Art Institute of Chicago or Florida State University to graduate with a major in Animation and a minor in Education.