Featured Poems from local Books of Hope Poets

Poems by Ziona

Lonely Once the Drugs are Gone

When loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right, so I’m still here?
Pulped up with fiction of childless fears
Crying you a river with childish tears
But I no longer want to feel this pain!
No longer want these tears dripping like rain drops,
My brain spinning and spinning insane
Or the cigarette ashes left on my window…pane
Just the feeling to love and have love back
Fantasizing of a lover’s tale…ooh! How I want that
But my soul is aching, my heart breaking, infatuation becoming overrated
Popping pills to ease my sorrows
Distress myself through this day so I can meet tomorrow, outdated
Always wanting what I can’t have and having what I don’t want
Every day I seek it and walk beside it with nonchalance
What can I be doing wrong?
Ooh! Turn up that slow song
If I had one wish, I would wish for death
Because I’m living with an addiction similar to meth
It is so lonely once the drugs are gone

Loving you is wrong and I don’t want to be right. I am still here!?
So punch my throat, pinch my boob, and then kick me sideways
Cause I’ve been getting high all day at the bottom of Cummins Highway
You know that trap house with alley rats and thugs busting through the back way
So what is a gal to do? Much ado about nothing!
But chasing this high is living a lie cause I can’t find wings to fly
My obsession has become frost bites in dead winter
We just break up to make up and rehab’s for quitters
Every day I seek your glitter, but you’re far from gold
The same reason why mommy sold her soul…
I refuse to listen! Cause you’re the chemical romance that I’ve been missing
Ooh! Turn up that slow song!
Baby you’re my meth
This is the time for death
Elevate me as I smoke our last breath
It is so lonely once you are gone
But I’m still here!
Garden of Agony

Somewhere in this Garden of Agony, my thoughts are stolen and my actions are weighted by my emotions. Every breath I take, smothers my glamour or misconceptions of beauty. I’m just looking for my florist…so I no longer have to be part of this sunflower seed trail left behind in this forest. I’m not lost…just neglected, dropped from the hands that once protected and accepted me. In this Garden of Agony, I’ve been kidnapped by nightmares, racing against my fears. My vision is motion sensitive, my heart is pounding me out of breath; disabling my every step…being captivated by its emptiness. Fantasizing of a harvest in this Garden of Agony. Do I want to be rooted here? Just bury all my purpose in this plot of affliction, being watered by my tears of wishes…in this Garden of Agony, my confidence was traded with misfortune and grief, my expectations broken to individual pieces. When I try to speak, the words are hiding, my thoughts are what I have to confide in…in this Garden of Agony.


Iyanna Rivera-Stewart (20), also known as Ziona has been a member of Books of Hope for one year. She was born and raised in Massachusetts—although her parents are natives of Honduras. This May, she published her first book through the program, entitled, “Da Vision: The Veil”. It is a novel about three young women sent to a rehabilitation unit to confront a host of mental problems and emotional trauma. These poems are included in the book. Through her writing, Ziona aims to create social awareness about mental illness and tackle tough social stigmas. She plans to publish more books in the future.

Ayiti Cherie Mwen

The lord is my shepherd
I shall not want –Ps23

That is the prayer I breathe
Thinking of your beauty
Brings me to tears
Your smoothness and length
Give me flashbacks
From the clear beaches
Your tropical food
To your kompas and zouk
That run through my body
From the religious influences
That bribe sinners to salvation
To gang members of Zoe
That walk the streets
Ayiti cherie mwen
Your carnivals set my soul on fire
With every beat of your song
I am a Zoe for life
Strong and filled with pride
For my country

A heritage I stand by
Coming from my roots
I know my people
Can and will survive
7.0 shattered our plantation
Left us with nothing but
Bodies piled up on the streets
Like trash in an empty alley
Screaming out for help
Weeping for the lord
To make a way
We prove everyone wrong
By getting back on our feet
Is not an option
Is not of our language
On the cracked streets
We walk
Along the pavement
Ayiti Cherie

Remembering our legacy
Fighters for our country
First nation to become
Independent and free
1804 we cried out with joy
Celebrating Toussaint L’Ouverture
For his accomplishments
Again we shall rise
Singing praises to our God
The one that has been with us
From the start
Ayiti pour Christ et Christ pour ayiti

Every night I think of you
In the day I will return
I will sing with pride
The Haitian anthem
Repping red and blue
One day we as a nation
Will rise again
Ayiti cherie se ou ki bam-m lavi
Mem si map kitew yon jou fom
Retou nen nan pye

Just Because

Just because you know how to write
Doesn’t make you a poet
Just because you attend school
Doesn’t mean you got a good education
Just because you can hold a tune
Doesn’t mean you can sing
Going to church doesn’t mean you’re a Christian
Because you got baptized doesn’t mean
You’re going to heaven

It’s one thing to talk—it’s another to do

Just because he’s with you
Doesn’t mean he’s all yours
Just because they want to be with you
Doesn’t mean they want to stay with you
Just because he married you
Doesn’t mean he’ll be faithful
Just because they say ‘I love you’
Doesn’t mean they won’t hurt you

Love can blind you from cold reality

Just because they wipe away your tears
Doesn’t mean they know what you’ve been through
Just because they’re your best friend
Doesn’t mean they won’t stab you in the back
Just because they’re your family
Doesn’t mean they won’t mistreat you
Just because you exercise free will
Doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences

Be thankful for the blessings you have already received

Just because you have trials and tribulations
Doesn’t mean God isn’t setting you up
For a bigger blessing

Opinion is not fact, so take it in then let it go

Just because this poem is complete
Doesn’t mean that I am done

Poems by Yolandi Cruz Guerrero

There Goes Time

There goes time
drifting and running
In fear—like always
Not selfish, but scared
Giving too much of yourself is dangerous
So time runs back to safety.

Back to her grandmother’s garden,
Where joy lies in
Mud piles with flies
In the soil
Where things grow
In the kitchen
Where coffee boils
With water and cinnamon sticks

Time’s grandmother is sweet
Sugar canes grow on her feet
After grandpa passed,
No one wants to lotion those toes
Or stay the night
Swinging on the hammock
Memorizing bible verses
just for a minute

The wind blows
Looking for somewhere
To crash for the night
Her rocking chair moves back and forth
Without effort.
She is light like weights
Made of marshmallows
Grandma is sweet and has no teeth

There goes time
To be loved
By those who believe
She has betrayed them

Time does not go fast or slow
It just goes
And we always want it back
Time leaves
Right when the first kiss is about to be given
Right when the bus leaves your stop
Right when you’re going to take the last bite
And your mother snatches it off your plate

There goes time.
A loner who doesn’t actually like to be alone
Time goes back to her grandmother’s heart
Giving too much of herself
In fact, all of herself
And still feeling safe
She gives her grandmother
Another a year
Or just a month
Perhaps two weeks
Just a minute

A minute to drink that coffee
With sugar and cinnamon.
A minute to smoke
The last of her blunt
Life slips
Time’s grandma
Had pale lips
Time left

Before Darkness

Before darkness
There was light
And the children
Were in the room

4 children
3 innocent
2 boys
1 girl

I don’t count the last one

Loneliness is
No metaphors needed
Kids shouldn’t be left alone
Because curiosity becomes…
What does this thing do??
What if I copied what people on television?!
What if my parents found out?

Night silence

The girl “sleep.”
“Sleep” is what happens in the morning
When her mom leaves
Just to have coffee at her sister’s house
On Heath Street
And the girl wakes up sore
Chewing on the tips of her hair
Looking for breakfast
But finds nothing

Door cracking

2 boys
Still up
Staring at the streetlight
It’s past their bedtime
This is not living
Why does their father never notice?
Why is the remote within their reach?
They do bad things
They get in trouble with the bus monitor
And swear at their teachers
Because they want attention
Here he comes

3 children hide under the covers in vain
The oldest will wake them all up
Snatch the covers away from them and yell:
Get up! Get up you little fuckers!
(He learned that word in school)
He will do things unspeakable

The moon was the sun before it got raped

At times I wonder
What happened to the oldest?
Was he ever touched in areas unspeakable?

All moons were suns
All children have light
All children have innocence
But sometimes it is taken

I don’t count the oldest

But he is my cousin, too
And although he didn’t harm me
He did by hurting them

Before darkness
There was light
And there still is
Because moons shine
Maybe not as strong as the sun
But pale light is still light
The moon is the sun


Hailing from the Dominican Republic but currently residing in Boston Mass, spoken word artist Yolandi Cruz Guerrero determined to change the world through her art. Whether through poetry or playwriting, Yolandi is constantly pushing creative boundaries that advocate political and social justice. She’s published two books through Books of Hope. Her first book, Jump, written at the age of 16, is a collection of poems that activist, Soul Brown dubbed, “a heart-wrenching and honest body of work”. Her latest release, The Leaf Umbrella, containing poetry and a play of the same name, is a product of her hard work and undeniable passion for self-expression. Yolandi had studied at Boston Arts Academy, Cityterm, and Harvard University. This year she participated in the first, statewide youth slam competition; her team, Words for Deaf Ears, placed second among 16 teams. Yolandi hopes to continue to write poetry and perform it until her words reach all seven continents.

Poems by Michael Bordenave


Flowing through my blood
Circulating my body
In my veins
In my mind
This drug has reached overload
A deadly lover’s overdose
And I’ve just inhaled
I’ve become comatose

I wonder
How did it get this far?
How did this drug take hold of my life?
Feelings come back and remind me why

As soothing as a night time lullaby
I am obsessed with the thought
It’s the same four letters I recite

L-O-V-E is my drug of choice

It’s all I’ll ever need
The low drumming of a heart
That is beating its last beat
From every vessel
From every valve

Euphoric and diseased
A curse is released
A pain unmatched, only felt when deceased

This is what I carry


In these four letters I’ve found matrimony
Addicted to this drug
I know that L-O-V-E will kill me

But it is not only I
That the dark side of love
Holds victim

The love of money
The love of power
The love of our own deepest
And darkest obsessions

People have become so dependent
On this lethal prescription
Never realizing that
Is man’s most common

Half Empty

Every night another party
Every night another shot
Every night another pill
Every night is all I’ve got

Tonight you can call me half empty

Born beneath the dark seas
Trapped underwater
Chained to poisonous memories
The negative binds me

Built from tears
Mixed with vodka
Drowning in my fears
Barely alive

Tonight you can call me half empty

Falling to my knees
Gasping for air
I am suffocating

Clouds of nicotine circulate my body
Whilst pills of ecstasy provide the luxury
Of forgetting the pains that still burden me

Tonight you can call me half empty

I feel absolutely and entirely incomplete
Like this bag of weed
Will levitate my mind
I find

The real me

Caribbean Treasures

As the sun rises over the horizon,
This country prepares another fractured
Island waiting to be repaired

From afar you can see the heart of the universe
Light up the sky as her deep blue tears
Stand by her side, swaying with the wind

A partner they both have become
A team consisting of sea and sun
A powerful nation and her Caribbean temptations

This country built from the struggles of my ancestors
Is stained with the blood of street soldiers
Still stands because of our forefathers

The only country my heart calls home
I may have been born in the U.S.
But Haiti will always be my birth mother

On this island in the center of sun and sea
Lay six red and blue draped flags,
Separated by a firm palm tree

At the top is a Phrygian cap represents freedom
As the wind gently blows and the ocean splashes
You hear the anthem of Haiti drenched in Caribbean rhythms

The sound of an island breeze
The soft white sand as you fall to your knees
The delicate wave of Haiti’s fresh green leaves –

Greetings with a genuine ‘hello’.
Immediately, this Caribbean beauty grabs
Your mind and captures your soul.

In the midst of madly falling in love,
She refuses to let you go – and that
Is how the love affair begins.


From the streets of Boston, a young artist was born. Michael Bordenave can best be described as a mix of Caribbean culture with a touch of American pride. He is a second generation immigrant from Haiti, infused with ambition, persistence, talent, dedication and creativity, ready to take the world by storm. A closet writer who joined Books of Hope in 2009, Michael is the author of two books of poetry, Half Full (2010) and The King’s Orchard (2012). He is a recent graduate of Somerville High School, who also studies acting and has appeared on stage and screen.


Books of Hope (BOH) is a literacy empowerment program that brings creative writing workshops to at-risk urban and immigrant youth in the communities where they live. Our mission is to inspire the next generation of young authors.

Founded in 1999 by author and educator Anikah Nailah in collaboration with Mystic Learning Center and the Somerville Arts Council, Books of Hope (BOH) has published 150 books of poetry, short fiction, essays, plays, memoir, and hip-hop lit, written by youth ages 13 to 25.

BOH is a literacy empowerment program that brings creative writing workshops to at-risk urban and immigrant youth in the communities where they live. The program trains participants in four key areas: writing, publishing, performance, and entrepreneurship. Youth are mentored by professional writers, artists, and educators; their writing is made public through readings at schools and events. Our books are made available for purchase directly from the authors, through our website, or in independent bookstores. Annually in the spring, BOH authors hit the road on the Mystic Ink Tour, to give readings throughout New England.

For more information about Books of Hope, to order books, donate or volunteer, contact Soul Brown, BOH Director at booksofhopema@gmail.com or visit us on the web at http://booksofhope-ma.org. Your support empowers the next generation of young authors!

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