TEEN SEQUINS, featuring Daniel Blokh, age 14

Welcome to day one of Teen Sequins! Today we’re featuring “Nativity” by Daniel Blokh.

“listen” Daniel Blok’s poem tells us. Here is birth and death, birdsong and technicolor; here is the voice of a new poet, and the story of where that voice begins. “Nativity” spins a type of personal creation myth, run through with spiritual hunger and lyric heights. The world of “Nativity” is a place where the sky has bones and veins, where America is ruled by “..its god of symmetry, its jesus / of the atom.” “The american dream / swallows my nights,” asserts the speaker, and assertion is truly at the core of this poem. “listen” the poems tells us, over and over again. And we want to. — Sophie Klahr

“Nativity” is meant to be read aloud. Narrative, explorative, and declarative, Blokh balances these elements with sound. The alliteration and assonance of the poem gives a music to its story: “Listen: I was born in a land that is not my own,/baptised in oil and taught to drink/gold. Born already buried in light/that I cannot scrub from my skin.” As the narrative follows the speaker from imagined birth to death, from place to place, Blokh’s diction creates a rhythm, rendering his turns of phrase all the more surprising. — Robby Auld


listen: this is where i want to be born
kicking and drowning face-down

in a pool of cosmos, born
in a body woven by sparrows from sticks
and straw. i want to live
with birdsongs fluttering
in my chest. i want to pray
to a bone jutting through the sky, in a land
where leaves unfurl to teach me
their silver dew
of song.

Listen: I was born in a land that is not my own,
baptised in oil and taught to drink
gold. Born already buried in light
that I cannot scrub from my skin.

Here, the sky bleeds, veins unhinged
by careless fingers. They shave
the receding hairline
of the stars.
I run from this country
of soggy technicolor in breakfast bowls,
run from its children drinking coins through juice boxes
and calling themselves americans,
run from its god of symmetry, its jesus
of the atom. I run from a country
that has been braided into my flesh.

I run from myself. The american dream
swallows my nights.

listen: this is where i want to die,
miles away from sam and his golden hands. this
is where i want to die, sky
staining my bare feet, planets
peeling under my nails.

this is my hunger:
to dive through the sky,
to dissolve amongst it. this
is how i want to be born.

Daniel Blokh is a poet and novice filmmaker. Born to Russian parents, English is his second language, but he loves it dearly and enjoys experimenting with it. He pursues creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine arts, and is the recipient of a Scholastic silver medal in writing. His hobbies include combining poetry and photography, writing film reviews, and crying shamefully as he takes more helpings of fries.

Honorable mentions: Sarah Connor (Community School of Davidson, Davidson, NC); Katherine Higgins (Carleton Washburne Junior High School, Winnetka, IL); Kacey Houlihan (Community School of Davidson, Davidson, NC); Rukmini Kalamangalam (Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston, TX); Emma Rizo (Community School of Davidson, Davidson, NC); Shruti Sahu (Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX); BayLeaf Wilson (Oakland School for the Arts, Oakland, CA)